Friday, September 11, 2015

Enjoying simple things

It's 2:53 pm as I have started writing this post and it is just about small things that make me happy. I came to university in the afternoon today after having my lunch at home. Did some work in the morning but lots more to do.

I had to stop by at the bank (on-campus) and there's a bookstore next to it. Campus bookstore. I love spending time there. Whenever I need a break and if I am closeby to the bookstore, I just stop by. It's usually just for 15-20 minutes since I never buy anything from there. I get lot of good ideas there (not about my research but shopping ideas!). If I like some book, I note down its title and then go home and check it out on amazon. Quite often, the same book that costs about $15 at the bookstore can come at $4 or less from amazon including shipping. So, pretty good deal. Recently I saw some ideas for journals which were so cool. I absolutely loved them but as you would imagine, did not buy yet. They are on my list though! Here's a link to one of the journals if you are curious what I'm talking about. 

Who said, bookstore is just about books!

Next, as I stepped out of the bookstore and walked outside student center, this was what was happening - Food trucks on campus!

It was a fun site. It really cheers me up to see the energy and enthusiasm on campus. Only to realize in the next few minutes, that I need to get away from there and be in the library to work on my stuff. I should graduate!

On another note, sometimes it helps to notice that I do recognize these activities on campus and they bring a smile on my face. Life is not just about big moments but probably also about finding happiness in day to day life. 

The irony is that although I understand this fact but it becomes hard to apply sometimes. Glad that today was one of the days where I could feel its prescence!

- Dippy

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hard Work and Destiny - complementary?

What works ultimately - hard work or destiny? People who believe in one or the other can provide ample examples of the side that they follow or advocate. And each of those examples would make sense. When you hear stories about people who truly succeeded by working on themselves, hard work wins. These are stories of same people who clearly faced hard situations. Situations where even a strong person may give up. They worked hard towards achieving something but failed numerous times before they were finally greeted by success. I'm reading a book 'Mastery' by Robert Greene these days and actually it's the second time I am going over it (mostly with my markings from the first reading though). It offers several examples from real stories of great scientists and explorers such as Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Benjamin Franklin to name a few, who received the success and recognition by which we have always known them, only after several hardships and lessons learned along the way. It becomes clear from reading their stories that the thought they benefited from their connections or the families they were born in (or any other reasons that we think of when talking about successes of such people) is a myth. They succeeded only out of sheer determination, inner drive to excellence and dedication. 

That's one side of the story. The other side is the 'luck factor'. While success by hard work is clearly measurable by reading life histories of people, I think the believers of luck find it hard to convince people of their side of the story. They may find themselves being labelled as superstitious or lazy who are living with a sort of illusion. I have hit this question very often in my life - do these two factors enjoy equal footing? Is luck totally a myth? My mind brings stories in front of me where I do not have a clear explanation. 

The way I see it now is a hybrid of the two school of thoughts. I do not completely deny the existence of luck factor but I've learned by reading biographies and stories of great achievers and the fact that I can relate some of their situations to my everyday life makes me a strong proponent of focusing solely on the combination of hard work and perseverance. I think this philosophy works in several ways:
1. Considering that luck factor exists, we should also realize that it is still beyond our control. It is better and motivating to channelize our energies in our present and future. 
2. As we work persistently and wholeheartedly towards a goal, as a worst case - even if we do not achieve that particular thing that we are seeking at that time, because we put our soul and mind into it, we would have learned and acquired tremendous skills. The experiences we had along the way prepared us for future but only if we look at our failures from that perspective. 

I was watching a documentary from National Geographic Channel this evening. It came out this year and explained the Titanic mystery. Here's the link if you are interested in watching it. The point from that feature that is relevant to this article is the following: - Titanic sank in 1912. Scientists found the answers this year - 2015. More than a century later. Was this hard work? Luck that they found evidence this time? I would call it a hybrid of three - hard work, perseverance and luck. Hard work clearly stands out. Luck? Probably yes. The areas that scientists explored in this expedition were never looked upon before. But had they given up on their efforts, neither hard work, nor luck would have made any difference. So, according to me the winner is - Perseverance.

In those situations where I run low in confidence and questions such as - Am I going to succeed despite of all my hard work or creating explanations based on luck for other people situations; when such thoughts cloud my mind, I remind myself of the following:
"Sometimes hard work and good timing intersect. Sometimes they don't. But they likely at some point and when they'll be ready" - By Katie Couric in one of her books

- Dippy
P.S. If you like this post, please do let me know by commenting instead of clicking on the 'like' button. Google does not allow me to see who liked the post. Thanks!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is Every Advice Useful?

Nowadays, we can get advice from anywhere and everywhere. It need not be from meeting someone in person but the digital world offers numerous other sources as well - blogs, videos, articles, forums. I myself read a lot of articles and I'm very fond of watching interviews. Over the course of time, I have found that while some set of advice may be absolute in nature in terms of whether it applies universally to every person regardless of his or her current situation. Guiding someone on the importance of honesty or being kind to others. This is the behavior that each one of us would like to conform with.

The question that I raised in my post here is in the context of another set - which may work for some people but not for everyone. The same advice of following your heart and choosing a career that you you feel passionate about may not be possible for someone who is really trying to make ends meet and so on. As another example - we all understand and read about the importance of perseverance. Keep trying, don't give up and eventually you'll succeed. But Albert Einstein also said: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid". 

So, right there, we saw an example of two pieces of advice. Each of them accurate in their own respect but if you place them next to each other, it makes you wonder. The first one is telling you not to quit until you succeed while the later also calls for paying attention to the feasibility of the goal in terms of your capacity and abilities. The second one may seem to be more practical, but the way I look at this is the following: If I only concentrate on the later one, the chances of quitting and giving up will become higher because mind does creates a sense of fear in struggling times. Confronted with some tough situation, we can easily create self-deflating thoughts and feelings of self-doubt. We can begin questioning ourselves about our abilities. 

I agree with both bits of advice. But to answer and respond to the sense of conflict, I try to balance them off. I have started to realize that everyone's capacity is different. A quality or habit may come naturally to someone while for some other people it may require significant amount of effort to cultivate it. If someone is really disturbed or hurt, the same advice that he or she would have nodded to may not be that easy to accept. Things can differ based on person's life's circumstances. 

My take on whether every bit of advice is useful and accurate is that in an ideal situation, yes it is. But that's not how life goes - ideal! So, I would think that as long as we are honest to ourselves, it is not wise to beat ourselves too hard in following some principle or advice only because at the core, we may know that it IS actually right but you do not have the capacity at the current moment at least to adopt it. Give yourself some time, decide which pieces to pick up at the current moment, make sure to revisit the ideas with a calm mindset and you will be able to resolve the conflicts in your mind clearly.

I wonder if you are going to buy my advice here?! :) Look at it as my opinion and I'd be happy to know yours. 

- Dippy

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Self-discipline - Art of overriding our minds

You have set some goals and are determined to pursue them. Started to work towards them. Got success one day and feel super motivated to work harder and keep going. But then, on another fine day, something happens and you don't feel like doing it. May be you are tired or running low on confidence in your abilities. Your feelings at that moment offer enough reasons to allow yourself to digress from what you had once decided. You choose to go with how you are feeling and put off the task for sometime telling yourself that you will come back to it. What just happened? I would say the race between self-discipline vs. motivation has just begun. 

Self-Discipline involves giving higher importance to what you think or have once decided is important and not how you feel about it in the moment. 

Now one may wonder that if someone is not motivated or passionate about working on something, then how can you push yourself. You will do it halfheartedly and then results will not pan out. Yes and no. I think motivation is the main factor when you are in the goal setting phase. Asking yourself if it is worth doing? Why do you want to do it. What if things do not go exactly the way you expect. Are you ready to still take the risk? Answers to all these questions will come through the level of motivation. However, motivation is fleeting. It will come and go once you start working towards your goals based on your current situation. But self-discipline is sustainable.

You will face challenges. They will vary in degree for different people. But what is important to remember is that during these hard times, it is the self-discipline that will pull us through that phase. Self-discipline is when you do not let your feelings at a particular moment in time dominate your vision. Motivation fails to help at those low points in life. Our self talk tends to be weak. But the principles we had made at the first place and our dedication to stick to them is what is going to make all the difference. 

How to cultivate this trait? Whenever I find my self-discipline being tested, this is what I repeat to my myself: - When one gets success, anyone will feel motivated to do more and keep going. Practicing discipline may seem hard at this point but I will feel good and empowered afterwards. So, sometimes it does becomes important to tell our mind to just shut up!

I hope you enjoyed the post. 

- Dippy

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ordinary..yet special

Came across this scene today morning.  Found it very beautiful.

Pedestrians have right of way!

As I saw them from a distance, slowed down the car and stopped. The way all of them were moving at their own pace and  cars from both directions stopped to yield way - I just smiled looking at them and then quickly took this picture. 

There wasn't anything spectacular I guess? But somehow I found that moment of waiting for them and watching them cross the road very amusing and thought of sharing!

- Dippy

Monday, March 23, 2015

When wisdom sounds like a cliché

Have you come across situations where you find yourself in no mood to take any advice? When no words of wisdom seemed to comfort you? The theme of this post is to share some of my thoughts on dealing with such situations. A lot of these come from my experiences (so do not assume them to be unbiased) and some lessons I learned - not while going through those rough times but once I get through them and look back. You're not wrong if you are thinking that this article is no less than a piece of advice and so if you are not in a mood for it now, I know that feeling. I hear you!

#1: First of all, accept that you are going through a rough patch. At least acknowledge that inside your heart. You may not want to share your problem with people outside and this can be for any reason. May be you do not have the right set of people around, it may be because you like to take time before sharing your problems or any other reason for that matter. Sometimes we tend to enter into a denial phase where in our attempt to be bold and strong, we try to believe that the situation is not that hard.

#2: We hear this phrase very often -'Everything happens for good'. Over the time, I have started to believe in a slightly different version of this which goes like:- 'Everything happens for a reason'. This may sound like a pessimist tone but it is not. My logic behind adopting this variation is that when I tell myself that everything that has happened is for something better in the future; I tend to create a sense of expectation and hope based on my definition of what is *good*. As an example, let's consider a situation, where you apply for an interview and things do not turn out your way. Someone may tell you that do not worry and that may be you have a better job waiting for you. You see what just happened? I created a hope (if not consciously, then in my subconscious mind) that I'm going to make it to a job higher in my list than the one where I just interviewed for. You can draw a parallel to this example with possibly every situation in your life. 
        Now, let's look at the perspective which says - 'Everything happens for a reason'. First of all, you are embracing what has happened in its current and raw form.  Without coating it with any dream and imagination about how things will turn out in future. Without labeling it as good or bad. This feeling is liberating and can also empower you to sit back and may be reflect on the outcome. You may be able to identify some things that you would like to change before you try again next time. Or you may even reach the conclusion that this was indeed a strong or best attempt from your side. So, it may be a matter of time. When the destined time will come, it will work or destiny will weave another path for you to follow. But a word of caution with this ideology is that we need to be honest to ourselves to say that we did try our best. 

#3: Other strategy that can be helpful is to be alone for some time. This gives one a chance to calm and silence or at least slow down one's thoughts. I no longer need to pretend to be happy or at least as if everything is going normal. What I have learned over time (have not yet put into practice) is that talking about problems over and over is only going to make you feel worse. You may want to talk about it with someone (to seek advice or just to vent out your feelings) and that is perfectly fine. In fact one needs to do that to some extent otherwise it can weigh very heavy on your heart and sap you of all your energy. But after sometime, if you find yourself repeating it and especially when deep down your heart you know that there is nothing new in what you are going to say and sometimes we also know that the other person can not help much, then I feel it's better to be quiet. I think that when we repeat our problems, we are creating negative energy for none other than but our mind, body and soul. Our energy that should go towards finding solution or may be just to maintain our sanity, it is instead flowing towards these negative thoughts. Thoughts such as - "I cannot do this", "If this thing does not work out, X, Y, Z in the future, all of those will fall apart and so on". 

I have to admit that I am not immune to failures. I still struggle to stay strong when faced with repeated failed attempts. But when I sit back and think with a calm mind, what keeps me going is to see myself trying towards emerging stronger and wiser.

-- Dippy

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Those times when you miss home....

My trip back home is the time,
when I do not rush for the big malls,
But it's all about shopping at the small markets,
In and around the city, that excites me!

When it comes to evening snacks or tea-time,
It's not about eating at the grand restaurants,
Instead following the road-side eating options,
Who would like to miss the 'chat' and 'gol-gappe'!

When it comes to main meals,
Who wants to think about even eating outside,
I'm ready to plan the day so that I am always home to eat homemade food,
Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner!

It's no longer about the car trips,
But riding on rickshaws, as much as possible,
It's about enjoying and laughing at the moments,
when my mom haggles with the rickshaw wala bhaiya for 5 or 10 Rs.
And me asking her to let it go for at least the next few days, if not for more.
It's about hearing the same arguments from her,
stating that it's not a matter of 5 or 10 Rs. but they are being unreasonable.
While I know that sometimes she may be right in saying that!
But I still want to ignore that and be indeed happy,
Paying a little extra, if that's the case.

It is rightly said that we do start taking things for granted,
When they are readily and easily available.
It's the same food that I crave for now,
That I used to find boring when I had the luxury of having it all the time!

I miss home...

~ Dippy

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Too Busy to Respond?

Telling someone - "I am busy". Do we need to put some thought before using it in our communication? I have started doing so recently and would like to talk about that here today.

There are different ways and situations where we hear these words - "I am really busy". Let's take two such scenarios. First, when we are having a casual conversation with someone and the person asks about how are things going. The other case may be when a friend is trying to reach out to you and you have not been able to get back to him/her even after your friend's repeated attempts. Eventually, when you meet after few days, you try to shrug it off by saying - "Hey, sorry could not respond. Was busy [full stop]"

There's a difference in the two situations and I started this post to share about how the overuse of this word, "busy" can harm our connections. So, I will limit myself to the discussion of the second situation. I feel that in this case, essentially what we are telling the other person is the following:- Hey, you are/were not in my priority list. Remember, this friend of yours tried to reach out to you not just once but several times? So, even if you are extremely busy, after seeing repeated contact attempts you can very much spare a minute or so to at least drop a line showing that you care for the other person and that you consider his/her time as valuable as yours (unless you have reasons beyond your busy schedule for not reverting).

Now, next point would be - the tone of your message. Instead of just saying, you are busy and stopping there, wouldn't it be nice if you explain just a little bit more (if you are genuinely busy)? This just shows that you are interested in speaking to the other person but because of the time constraints, this may not be the best time. More so, you can tell them when would possibly be a good time to catch up and then stick to it!

I am not denying the fact that there are times when we are genuinely busy and can not afford to be courteous, thoughtful or conscientious at the expense of missing on something really important that we may be doing at that point in time. After all, your friend may not be aware of your schedule. All that I am trying to say is that it would be nice to reciprocate to some extent (a quick message will do) and show that the other person is important to you, if you actually care about him/her. If you end up not responding, that's also your choice. Just accept that the the word "busy" then is just an excuse to cover you up.

Although it's just a four lettered word, it has enough power to harm how you connect in your relationships. 

If you have read till this point, thanks so much! 

- Dippy