Category Archives: happiness

Giving thanks on Thanksgiving


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Your life as a Zen Garden


Best-Zen-Garden-Wallpaper-on-Garden-Decor-zen-garden-wallpaper-iphone-I recently met a person who casually told me that she was in multiple relationships and hence is a bit stressed. I found it a bit strange for someone who I met for the first time said this to me in a formal business setting. Anyway, not wanting to be judgmental and  polite I didn’t make any comments or react to it in any particular manner. Honestly, it didn’t concern me much, its her personal life and it was fine with me. But she went on to explain her relationships a bit more to me in an effort to clarify her position and impress upon me that I or anyone for that mater should not judge her based on this casual comment she made.

This is how she explained:

Her father was a highly passionate gardener who specializes in building   nihon teien – Japanese Garden for his clients. Although a Zen Garden is mostly a Rock and Sand arrangement, he often combined the elements of a Japanese Garden with the Zen garden philosophies which was very popular with his clients.

But he did take the art and the philosophy of the Japanese/Zen garden to heart and made it the basic philosophy of his life in terms of his relationships and life in general. He raised her and her siblings with a strong belief that one should conduct their lives as a garden where they are their own gardeners. Especially, a garden of Zen, – a garden of tranquility, balance, aesthetics, space and peace. In this garden, you choose the elements that will make your life beautiful and all that you desire by you as a gardener, investing your time, passion, care and commitment. Thus, the Zen Garden of your life will be as follows:

The Japanese/Zen Garden. A pristine place of perfectly manicured trees, plants, clear path ways with perfectly located open space. The basic 4 rules to build such a beautiful place of tranquility and peace are

1) most trees and plants should be taken care of by constantly trimming them in perfect shapes and regularly watering them and nourishing them with the right amount of soil

2) some select trees and plants should be allowed to grow as per it’s natural beauty and shape

3) all paths should be clean without clutter and

4) each zen garden should have a space to sit and meditate.

5) Rocks should be strategically placed to support the garden.

Life. It’s similar to a Zen Garden where you are the gardener. Your relationships are like the trees. Each need to be trimmed and cared for as you want them to grow into your life. You shape them in your garden as opposed to them growing out of your bounds and liking. However, a select few of them can be allowed to grow to its own beauty such as a child or someone whose natural self just beautifies your life.

Always keep your thoughts and mind clear as the pathways and make it a point to provide for your personal space. A place to collect your self and your thoughts, meditate and calm down. In your life, similar to the rocks, there are a few relationships that will support you and hold you down to the ground when you need it most. You can always lean on them and use them for support. Pay a lot of importance to these rocks in your lives.

This will make your life a life of tranquility, beauty, peace and balance. Enjoy your own Zen Garden life!

 


Stop being the problem and Start becoming the solution


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We would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism


Many months ago I had watched Conan O Brian being interviewed by Piers Morgan on his show.  Although known for his antics and humor I like Conan for his inspirational quotes and experiences that he shares with his viewers or an audience he is asked to address. His popular address to the class of 2000 at Harvard, his 2011 Dartmouth College commencement address, or just his personal experiences and challenges have all been an inspirational and wisdom filled lessons.

Similarly, reading up several successful peoples biographies have often been a major source of inspiration to me as it has been for several others who seek to learn for other peoples experiences and struggles. As we anxiously seek to read up and learn about peoples success and learn their secrets to their individual fame and fortune, we often end up turning the last few pages of the book with a profound sense of wisdom gained and with an understanding and awe of the person for having the courage and perseverance to overcome their share of adversities and at times impossible challenges to achieve their successes. At times we also learn how their adversities changed the course of their lives to success in the form of new opportunities.

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. ~Garth Brooks

From such knowledge we collectively learn one single and strong fact about life; that even the greatest of them all never had it easy or without problems. The road to any success for all of them have always been paved with several obstacles, hurt, pain, agony, delays,  misfortune, mistakes, blunders, and countless lessons. But with them also came, wisdom, courage, perseverance, valuable experience and amazing successes. And from learning these facts, it invariably begs the question, how ignorant or arrogant are we if we expect our success without such adversities? What makes us so special for us to expect our lives to be easier and pave our path to success with bed of roses?  Weather we expect success in our individual jobs, marriage, relationships, business, good health, sports, education, finances, parenting, or any chosen goals in life, it is almost certain that we will have to face and overcome our share of challenges.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Facing our challenges is very similar to how a mere stone is turned into a precious diamond. From a dirty stone in mud a diamond goes through a strenuous process of cutting, bruiting, grinding, polishing, and further cutting until all its facets are carved out to dazzle everyone.  Liked wise, our share of grinding, cutting, and hardships brings out our courage, wisdom, wit, will, perseverance and determination that enables us to dazzle others by our eventual success.

You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~Walt Disney

People who succeed in their lives often learn and reinvent themselves by bring about the changes that are necessary to help then achieve their ambitions and desires. They are quick to identify their faults, self improve, struggle, and get out of their comfort zone towards attaining their dreams. For they quickly learn that they will get the same results by doing the same things over and over again, and that they need to change their ways to behaviour to drive the changes they seek towards success. They do not fear committing mistakes, they do not avoid challenges or risks, they do not choose to escape from their troubles, but they stand and face them courageously, they develop solutions to their problems, they face their adversities by staring back into its eye. Greatness comes from standing up and doing the right thing regardless of the difficulties in life, they never sacrifice their morals, values, principles and righteousness. They instead draw strength from them, they differentiate themselves from others by upholding such characteristics, and they believe in their self and never give up. From the prophets (who are considered to be the chosen ones by the creator), to several kings, scientists, leaders, sportsmen and women, experts, celebrities or businessmen, inventors or politicians, each have to go their share of challenges to succeed. There is no easy path to success.  It is almost imperative and essential to gain the wisdom and experience for everyone to not only succeeded, but to be able to handle their success and manage it with humility and greatness.

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark

Alternatively those who choose to escape hardships, run away from their troubles, choose the easier options to avoid stress or risks, do not accept to make sacrifices, choose not to change for the better and take pleasure from their status quo as oppose to challenge it, often find themselves in the same place facing the same troubles time and over again. The same monotony, the familiar problems, the sweet self sympathy, and the embraced bitterness and negativity consume their lives. Every challenge remains a problem as opposed to being an opportunity to develop a solution.  Every adversity is a reason to wallow in self sympathy and depression as opposed to face it and overcome them.  The reasons to their problems become excuses and although they remain undeserving due to their lack of positive action, they become consumed by their growing false sense of self entitlement.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

So, if you are tired of your troublesome life and the adversities you face, or have resolved to giving up on turning your life around and giving in to failure, then ask yourself what are you doing to overcome your share of adversities? None of us are any different from the other in our abilities and will to change. The difference is in our minds and choices. Everyman was just an ordinary person until they overcame their challenges to do something extraordinary and succeed. No great person or successful person has escaped life lessons and constant need to face their share of challenges and overcome them by learning new facts about life over and over again.  We live only once and life is too short in today’s fast paced and rapidly changing world. Everything we do daily changes our course and destiny. Where do you choose to be? It is your choice and nothing can stop you from getting where you want to go in our life.  When we learn to compare our troubles with those several others who face physical disabilites, health challenges, famine, war, loss of loved ones, etc, we will quickly find shame in voicing our adversities. Remember that to become a greater fighter or a tennis player, it is important to choose an opponent to practice who is better and stronger then yourself to become good. Hence learn to see your adversities as your challenging sparring partner.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. ~Norman Vincent Peale


Infectious Experiences – How it makes us who we are.


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We all are shaped by our experiences in our lives. And the memories, good and bad have permanently altered our outlook towards our lives and future. We are nothing but a mind over matter that is a product of our experiences under specific circumstances in our lives.  If our circumstances were any different our experiences would have been very different as well and would result in a different memory that will remain with us forever. Perhaps they lie dormant in our minds for long, but only until similar circumstance arises in our lives.  I tend to draw some inspiration from the character Guido; Roberto Benigni played in the movie Life is Beautiful where in the second half of the movie he tries to create a totally different experience of a Nazi Camp for his son by telling him that they are participants in a game to collect points. In the end the son thinks he won the game while his father got killed in the process.

Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones. ~Author Unknown

Our response to situations, and events in our lives are all shaped by our experiences. Your thought process, our mind set, attitude, aspirations, expectations, and social behaviour are all altered or shaped by our experiences.  Many of our experiences are usually personal in nature and there are several experiences that are conceived. The personal experiences are usually deeper in nature that we hold on to for long because we have endured personally as opposed to the ones that are conceived by other people’s personal experiences or opinions which changes over time and based on our individual personal experiences on that subject. If you spend some time thinking about your experiences that have affected you and your opinions about certain things in life, you will soon realize how fragile your opinions could be as it would have been lot different only if the circumstances of your experience were different.

Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him. ~Aldous Leonard Huxley

How you react to an experience and your choice of response leaves an almost  permanent code of response to similar future experiences in your memory. You are more likely to response very similarly the next time you encounter a similar experience. Thus what you chose to do with your experiences plays a major factor in your development, understanding, response, opinions and future behaviours. We all  carry several fond memories of your childhood that we often try to recreate for our youngsters or children. We often try to physically recreate the same atmosphere and circumstances hoping our children have the same experiences in their lives. We ape our parents’ behaviours at times in an effort to invoke similar response from our children, we tell the same old stories we grew up with to our children, or create similar environments such as taking them to a beach, playing in an open back yard etc. The core idea being that we hope our children to grow up with the same fond memories we did from our childhood.

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. ~Mark Twain

When we realize how important a personal experience is to us and how it has influenced our lives in several ways, and how our choice of reaction to these experiences under specific circumstances has shaped our personality, it will dawn upon us the importance it is for us to create good experiences and circumstances for everyone who comes in contact with us in our lives. What we experience under specific circumstances shapes us and what circumstances and experiences we create influences every individual we come in contact in our lives. It is very similar to how we feel when we have met someone who makes us feel good or bad. And the other individuals’ response or reaction to the experience we bring to them affects us in return.

Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself. ~Thomas Jefferson

We all are made of our experiences that we encountered in a specific circumstance. If an individual behave in a particular way, it is because his or her experience thought him these responses and resulting characteristics were born. We are like them too and they are like is. We all are victims of our life experiences. But we each can change ourselves and others by changing the scars in memories by creating new and positive experiences and circumstances. We can influence opinions, understanding, memories, feelings, responses, love, hatred, prejudice, knowledge and lives by how we chose to behave and the experiences we create for ourselves and others. Thus by making every effort to create a positive interaction and experience every time you speak or contact others you create a better world of pleasant memories, experiences and happiness.

To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being ~ John Lubbock

So, the next time you visit family over holidays, go over to a friends home, take the time to inspire someone who looks up to you,  interact with colleagues at work, meet your grand parents, siblings, nephews or nieces, make effort to create a positive experience for them has leave them with pleasant memories of you and your words and wisdom. For they often have a profound impact in their lives like your experiences have impacted you. You can begin at home with your siblings, wife and children and enjoy a life of pleasant experiences and memories. Your personal experiences are created by how others treat you. Likewise their experiences with you are based on how you treat them. It is a chain of continuous actions and reactions. But to change this link from a negative to a positive one needs to come from you.


It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny


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Amongst all the wonders we are blessed with, one of the most powerful things that we have got is the power of “free will” or Choice. Specifically the choices we can make in life on a day to day basis between good and bad and how we wish to be or become as evolving human beings. I must also say that I am aware that choices are at times limited to people based on the circumstances they live in, but I am talking about the choices that still many have in lives in an effort to have a better living and happier and meaningful lives regardless of their circumstances.

It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny. – Jean Nidetch

The ability to choose is an amazing powerful gift we posses that we truly do not realize or take advantage of in our lives. In order to truly understand it and use it to our advantage we need to understand the fundamental definition of Choice. It is a mental process which helps us to judge and analyze from multiple options and selecting one of them based on preference. Choosing from these multiple options usually results in a consequence or a need for action that would eventually derive at a desired consequence. In any given day as human beings we are subject to making several choices that affect our living. They may be from the simplest forms to complex in nature. The consequences of these choices or decision to choose one from another may affect our lifestyle, religious affiliation, political position, finances, attitude towards others, reaction to situations, and health almost daily.

The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice. – George Eliot

Our life essentially is nothing but a collective result of the choices we have made along the way. There are many choices were made at several moments in life, based on several experiences and circumstances, but nevertheless these were our choices and we face and live the consequences of these very choices daily. We may choose to blame the circumstances, but nevertheless the choice was ours and we are solely responsible for those choices and the eventual outcome. We each have the power and freedom to choose right from wrong. Often we end up choosing that which is easy from hard and sadly learn that the hard ends up being the right thing to do. The righteous and the just thing to do often involves hardships, disagreement from common folk, against certain odds, and at times contrary to common thinking. But it is in such choices that great accomplishments lie. Greatness has never been served on a silver platter, but it has only been earned by the choices made against all odds with the will, determination and perseverance. But it begins with the choice. And the power to choose is in your very power.

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”- Denis Waitley (1933-…, motivational speaker and author of The Psychology of Winning)

If we examine history, great accomplishments and even the current popular inspiring stories of our times, we can clearly see that almost each and every single person had to make a very difficult choice against popular thinking, extreme criticism, severe opposition and unthinkable obstacles. Yet, each of these individuals made their choice that was right, stuck to it, persevered and accomplished great things. From a noble prince Siddhartha choosing to give up his royal luxuries life to find greater meaning in life and becoming Buddha, to Socrates’ struggle for independent thinking, to Gandhi standing up against the British Empire, to Martin Luther King’s fight for Civil Rights, to Nelson Mandela’s struggle to abolish Apartheid, the list continues to become an example of what great and right choices in life can achieve. Anne Frank, Mother Theresa, Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Abraham Lincoln, to modern day successes against odds and popular opinion like, Steve Jobs, Barak Obama, Michael Jordan,  Stephen Hawkins, Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong,  Aung Sang Suu Kyi are all people who had the courage to choose and stand by what they believed to be right regardless of what the consequences would be. Even the most ordinary and common folk who may be lesser known do this on a daily basis. In our current day news the Pakistani Girl Malala who stood against the Taliban to encourage girls to go to school is just yet another example of everyday heroes who go great things be having the courage to take the decision and choose what is right in life.

Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable. – Peter F. Drucker

We are always faced with such choices in our lives. We are always given these options and choices to choose from in almost every aspect of our life. But we need to have the wisdom, integrity, and the will to make the right choices for ourselves. The life we live is designed to challenge you to make the right choices in daily. And each of your day to day choices result in a continuous change and the resulting consequences that shape your life. One must always remember that one can change his or her life by simply making the right choices in life. It’s entirely up to you. You can get rid of old habits, change unwanted situations, make better lifestyle choices, choose a better diet, choose better food, better friends, better reactions to situations and problems, and give yourself the wisdom and courage to achieve great things in your life by making good, educated and right choices in life.

“Until a person can say deeply and honestly, “I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday,” that person cannot say, “I choose otherwise” – Stephen R. Covey (1932-…, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People)

In today’s world, many of us are also spoilt with choices. We do not know what is good for us and what is not. Young high school kids have trouble picking a profession, university or a carrier. Young graduates have trouble picking jobs, or company to work for, others have to choose their life partners, financial options, cars, life style, cell phones, televisions, computers, and even a simple cup of coffee is from a list of options and variations. There were times where I can walk into a Café and ask for a cup of coffee. I would get a cup of coffee, few cubes of sugar and a pot of milk. Today in the name of quality service, brand and marketing gimmicks for an extra $4 whether you like it or not, you are forced to pick from Columbian, American, Costa Rican, host of other gourmet beans, ground, coarse, fine, Grande, Venti, Tall, milk, 2% milk, cream, black, white sugar, brown sugar, honey, sweetener, and still end up with just a coffee to kick-start your morning. But for some even such wonderful choices are bigger problems than luxury or convenience in their lives. It is a choice they have to make and yet feel overwhelmed as though it is being forced upon them. The luxury of choices has now become a burden for some while others may struggle to follow the only option they may have got in their lives.

“Man is made or unmade by himself. By the right choice he ascends. As a being of power, intelligence, and love, and the lord of his own thoughts, he holds the key to every situation.” – James Allen (1864-1912, author of As a Man Thinketh)

It takes a lot of work, courage, patience and thinking to make good and wise choices in life. Many of us are dealt with the same amount of choices and possibilities like the list of great achievers had. It is the choice we make that makes the difference in our lives.  There is no excuse for making poor choices but great accomplishments can be made by making simple good choices daily in our lives. From our choices in reactions to situation, to how we express our love to others, to how much hard work we are willing to put for our own success and the words we chose to express ourselves, everything little choice we make daily shapes our life. We  need to realize and truly understand  the consequences of better choices and to indulge in creative thinking and strategic planning and development of ideas for the real world that will live in. Start making better, positive, progressive and wise choices today, and within a week you will see pointed positive differences in your life.


How your thoughts and actions shape your destiny!


 

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Our destiny hides among our free choices, disguised as the free-est of all.
~Robert Brault

Not so long ago I had a near death experience where my heart failed to produce its electrical pulses and a Pacemaker had to be put in to keep it going. Soon after the few fatal episodes of fainting due to the oxygen not being sent to my brains as my heart failed to beat, I found myself at the ER with a temporary pacemaker placed through one of the arteries through my neck.

In the next few days that followed I was going through a series of test before a permanent pacemaker was eventually going to be implanted. While I lie at the Cardiac ward awaiting the day to come and go soon, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and memories about my life, and the realization of how short life can be. Invariably I did question the creator and why I was chosen to be the 1 in a million to have this problem. I am rebuilding my life again and doing all the right things in life to build upon a new found courage and wisdom where I began to make serious efforts to become a better and positive person. I couldn’t get the “why me?” out of my mind regardless the fact that I fully well was aware that it could have been worse and this was nothing compared to the millions of kids and innocent people who are suffering with much more severe and fatal conditions for no fault of theirs.

The night before the surgery, I took a walk around my ward to relax a bit and ease the anxiety a little. While I was observing the people, the tirelessly serving and caring nurses and watching the pictures that were put up on the walls in the corridor, I was stopped by a couple of the posters that caught my attention that were hanging on the wall by an exit door.

One read this:

Watch you thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Needless to say this did have a profound effect on me and my way of thinking about life. Especially after experiencing firsthand how short life can be and things can happen so suddenly and turn your whole life around or end it.

We are often very careless of our own behaviour and the effect it has on the people we interact with. We about life as though we have all the time we can to say and do things without thinking of the effects and consequences that they make have on ourselves and others. As we proceed towards our final destiny we seldom stop to think about ourselves or analyze our actions, deeds and behaviours. We hurt others, become greedy, do and say things without paying any attention to its meanings and how it is perceived by others, do not care about others, and choose to live life as though we have nothing to do with others and this world and we can only care less about them. Yet we rely on others for their compassion, help, assistance, friendships, love, guidance, support, kindness, wisdom, courtesy etc. We expect the world to be fair to us, nature to be kind, resources to be endlessly flowing, weather to be mild, systems to be fair, politics to inconsequential on our individual lives, etc. One day comes along when we will have our kids and younger generations look up to us for our wisdom, guidance, support, assistance, kindness, compassion, empathy and help just as the world we share today does from us as well.  And yet we seldom pay attention to our character. We continue to expect everything and at times demand all that we desire regardless of the fact we are worthy of them or have earned the right to have them.

But if we truly watch out thoughts, pay attention to our words, be mindful of our actions and carefully control our habits, we can certainly build ourselves a fine rewarding character that will pave our success and destiny. For when we are nothing more than just a tomb stone, the world we leave behind shall only remember and love us for our character, and the deeds we have left behind.

The next poster hanging on the opposite wall was a famous quote by William Penn:

I expect to pass through life but once.  If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.  ~William Penn

Need I say anymore?


Are you a blind follower? Living a life with a leader’s mindset.


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Do you have a leaders mind set or a follower’s attitude? Do you believe what you are told or shown or do you seek to educate yourself better with balanced and fact based information? Our lives in many ways take upon the designs that our mind allows it to form. The choices you make, your opinions, reactions to life events, and progress through your life is dependent on your mind set and the attitude you take towards your personal life and growth.  The mindset and attitude we take towards each aspect of our life bears a serious consequence on the outcomes.

Many systems in life are about following. Law, religion, government, processes and work are mostly about following rather than leading. But the successful people in life and people who do greater things in life are those who take a leaders mind set to these aspects of life.  These are the kind of people who bring about change in their personal lives and at times change other people life as well, they inspire, do something different and inspirational, and forever leave a mark that brings about better things in life and change things from old to new.

What is a leaders mind set? Well, a leaders mind is much different from that of a followers mind. A leaders mind consists of a few key behaviours in thinking and ideas. Namely:

Learn: They always try to learn and acquire more knowledge about things. And often they take it upon themselves to learn from various sources to form a balanced opinion as opposed to ask and blindly believe what they are told.

Question: They do not blindly follow things. They ask questions and seek to know why it is so? They have a greater need to understand things in life.

Reason: They thrive on what makes sense to them and adheres to some form of logic. It has to make reason to them. They cannot accept a thing that doesn’t make a good valid case and reason.

Thinkers: They prefer to think things out. They take the time to think things over before they choose a reaction. They tend to ponder a bit more and evaluate things clearly before they say or do anything.

Observant:  They observe people and events very keenly. They do not jump to conclusions or from instantaneous opinions. They calmly observe, think, question and take a higher perspective of what they observe. It helps them see beyond the obvious and often see what others miss.

Reflecting: They like to draw from their experiences and learning’s. They try to reflect upon their pasts and other peoples experiences. The value and remember the right and wrong decisions of the past and project balanced view of eventualities in the future.

Balanced: They are balanced individuals. They tend to take a broader perspective and think of different possibilities and point of views before they take a stance. They do not like to make extreme judgements or favor any extreme point of views. They rather fall back on a balanced opinion.

Decision Making: They strive to take rational decisions rather than emotional ones. And they are firm on their decisions once they have put it through the above processes of thinking.

Courage & Confidence: The display a certain level of courage and confidence in executing their decisions once they are convinced that it is the right thing to do. They remain determined and willingly face and overcome the challenges that they may find in their path to success.

There are no great followers. There are only great leaders. The problems with religions and several such governing systems or theories are that there are too many blind followers and very little leadership mindset applied to them. For example in following a religion: people rather ask others and believe what they say about their own faith and follow them blindly as opposed to read themselves what their books preach, think about it and develop sensible balanced ideas to from better educated opinions.  Similarly, many of us tend to form a sweeping opinion about other people’s cultures and values based on a single event or piece of news flashed in a media.

We are absolutely out of excuses for ignorance in today’s world. You can thank the internet, Google, or any search engine for that. Everything you say can be verified through a mobile browser instantaneously and you will be called out if your statements are not right. Yes, you can be a follower on twitter or like a zillion things on face book today. But when it comes to your opinions, values, statements, and behaviours, you cannot go far with an ignorant or a blind follower’s mindset.

Growth and progress in life is only achieved by learning, questioning, and understanding the facts. Success happens with a lot of hard work and the hard work goes into developing many of the above mentioned leadership characteristics. In the world of today, even the most sensible and valued ideas are questioned and challenged. Understanding the facts, reasons, and forming balanced rational opinions and choices based on well educated thinking is imperative for a successful and happier life. Whether it is understanding your companies strategies, government policies, your work, your relationships, choices in life, opinions about people or your culture, it is absolutely necessary to indulge in some good thinking and balanced and educated opinions and reactions.

A life of half baked choices, and semi educated opinions will often lead to very disappointing and bitter life and eventually lead to a several other problems and confusion. If people do not react to your uneducated opinions it doesn’t mean that they are agreeing with you. Often people choose not to react to such blind ideas of out social courtesy. The eventual loss is yours.

So, eliminate the ignorance in you. Give up on the blind follower’s mentality. Take the trouble and time to question, think, learn and form balanced opinions in life that will help you make educated choices towards your happiness and success.  Put your ego aside and seek to learn. And most importantly, do not blindly accept what people tell you as facts. Remember that subject matter experts such as  doctors, engineers, economists, MBA’s or priests also often go wrong in their decisions and make mistakes. They too have flawed and biased opinions. But if you adapt a few characteristics of the people who do greater things and succeed in life, you will lead better and fulfilling lives. In this process you will educate and inspires others to become better and seek knowledge as well.  This way you too can contribute towards making a better world. But it begins with your attitude and mindset.


Creating experiences that inspire


 

 

We all are shaped by our experiences in our lives. And the memories, good and bad have permanently altered our outlook towards our lives and future. We are nothing but a mind over matter that is a product of our experiences under specific circumstances in our lives.  If our circumstances were any different our experiences would have been very different as well and would result in a different memory that will remain with us forever. Perhaps they lie dormant in our minds for long, but only until similar circumstance arises in our lives.  I tend to draw some inspiration from the character Guido; Roberto Benigni played in the movie Life is Beautiful where in the second half of the movie he tries to create a totally different experience of a Nazi Camp for his son by telling him that they are participants in a game to collect points. In the end the son thinks he won the game while his father got killed in the process.

Experience is what causes a person to make new mistakes instead of old ones. ~Author Unknown

Our response to situations, and events in our lives are all shaped by our experiences. Your thought process, our mind set, attitude, aspirations, expectations, and social behaviour are all altered or shaped by our experiences.  Many of our experiences are usually personal in nature and there are several experiences that are conceived. The personal experiences are usually deeper in nature that we hold on to for long because we have endured personally as opposed to the ones that are conceived by other people’s personal experiences or opinions which changes over time and based on our individual personal experiences on that subject. If you spend some time thinking about your experiences that have affected you and your opinions about certain things in life, you will soon realize how fragile your opinions could be as it would have been lot different only if the circumstances of your experience were different.

Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him. ~Aldous Leonard Huxley

How you react to an experience and your choice of response leaves an almost  permanent code of response to similar future experiences in your memory. You are more likely to response very similarly the next time you encounter a similar experience. Thus what you chose to do with your experiences plays a major factor in your development, understanding, response, opinions and future behaviours. We all  carry several fond memories of your childhood that we often try to recreate for our youngsters or children. We often try to physically recreate the same atmosphere and circumstances hoping our children have the same experiences in their lives. We ape our parents’ behaviours at times in an effort to invoke similar response from our children, we tell the same old stories we grew up with to our children, or create similar environments such as taking them to a beach, playing in an open back yard etc. The core idea being that we hope our children to grow up with the same fond memories we did from our childhood.

We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it – and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again – and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore. ~Mark Twain

When we realize how important a personal experience is to us and how it has influenced our lives in several ways, and how our choice of reaction to these experiences under specific circumstances has shaped our personality, it will dawn upon us the importance it is for us to create good experiences and circumstances for everyone who comes in contact with us in our lives. What we experience under specific circumstances shapes us and what circumstances and experiences we create influences every individual we come in contact in our lives. It is very similar to how we feel when we have met someone who makes us feel good or bad. And the other individuals’ response or reaction to the experience we bring to them affects us in return.

Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself. ~Thomas Jefferson

We all are made of our experiences that we encountered in a specific circumstance. If an individual behave in a particular way, it is because his or her experience thought him these responses and resulting characteristics were born. We are like them too and they are like is. We all are victims of our life experiences. But we each can change ourselves and others by changing the scars in memories by creating new and positive experiences and circumstances. We can influence opinions, understanding, memories, feelings, responses, love, hatred, prejudice, knowledge and lives by how we chose to behave and the experiences we create for ourselves and others. Thus by making every effort to create a positive interaction and experience every time you speak or contact others you create a better world of pleasant memories, experiences and happiness.

To do something, however small, to make others happier and better, is the highest ambition, the most elevating hope, which can inspire a human being ~ John Lubbock

So, the next time you visit family over holidays, go over to a friend home, advice someone who looks up to you,  interact with colleagues at work, meet your grand parents, siblings, nephews or nieces, make effort to create a positive experience for them and try to leave them with pleasant memories of you and your words and wisdom. For they often have a profound impact in their lives like your experiences have impacted you. You can begin at home with your siblings, wife and children and enjoy a life of pleasant experiences and memories. Your personal experiences are created by how others treat you. Likewise their experiences with you are based on how you treat them. It is a chain of continuous actions and reactions. But to change this link from a negative to a positive one needs to come from you.


Conformity is that jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth


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Somewhere in this world today sits a senior executive in a company boardroom secretly disagreeing with the popular consensus of the people in the room because he or she sees something that is morally wrong and greedy objectives. Across their country perhaps sits a young graduate working on his or her secret aspiration to develop the next big software that could possibly change the world of mobile phones. Sitting at the desk in India, which was once popularly known to be a poor country, sits a billionaire working on how to take over an American corporation.  Standing in a line up at the security check in USA, perhaps stands a father watching his young teen daughter being stripped of her basic dignity and being scanned through a machine and people watching her and thinks what can he do or say that could challenge the system and inspire them to develop a less invasive and more sensible process.

No man can cause more grief than that one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancestors.  ~William Faulkner

Similarly today there are those who choose to appease their immediate management and superiors and comply with programs and actions for personal benefits. There is a teen on his or bed thinking of ways to convince their parent to buy them the next greatest feature filled expensive mobile phone. And across the room sits their parent figuring out what can they sacrifice from their personal lifestyle to siphon out a few more hundreds to help pay their credit card bills that they never thought will be a problem one day. And there lays another young uncorrupted mind thinking about the biased information fed by someone who he or she thinks has the knowledge and wisdom and has managed to  entice them to join a popular growing opinion that benefits the propagators more than the activists.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – even if I have said it – unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.  ~Buddha

In this advanced and fast developing world of ours are people who are passive non conformists, those who challenge the popular opinions against harsh objections or possible persecutions and there are those who indulge in ritualistic and monotonous day to day living by conforming to popular norms and processes as dictated by those who they consider are authoritative figures, experts and intelligent people who know what they are talking about.

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.  ~Bertrand Russell

If one thing statistics, recent and past history has proved to us is that the popular opinions, democratic decisions and expert advice have often been more wrong than right that has resulted are severe and damaging consequences. This is was not true the economists would have foreseen and avoided the crisis that grips the world of finance today, doctors would not have misdiagnosed several critical cases and get sued for their gross negligence, there wouldn’t be contradicting studies from researchers over drugs and food, America would not vote the president for two consecutive terms who drove them to economic crisis for personal and collective personal gains, and all corporations and their respective experts, authorities and top executives will not pay themselves millions of dollars and run their organizations to bankruptcy and  get bailed out by the common mans money. These and several other such examples goes to prove that experts, authoritative figures, popular opinions, and majority decisions are not necessarily the right ones. If anything they have often proved to be grossly wrong and biased. Our dependency and reliance on such figures, people and decisions needs to be based on individual sensibilities, common understanding of morals, values and the responsibility to educate ourselves on unbiased and sound facts before we make our choices. Especially the decisions and choices we make that deeply impact our own personal well being and those who depend on us or seek our wisdom and advice that may influence theirs.

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly. –Albert Einstein, in a letter to a professor emeritus of philosophy at the College of the City of New York, defending the appointment of Bertrand Russell to a teaching position

Such individual sensibilities, the power to change their world and surroundings stems from ones personal beliefs, educated opinions and self confidence. Many great scientists, inventors, musicians, politicians, revolutionaries and contributors to society were able to bring the inventions, computers, systems, and many things that has made our lives better were able to do this only by going against the popular opinions, total dismissal, humiliation, objections and over bearing influence of powerful conformists of their times. Also many organizations and corporate are brought to their knees by those individuals who stand by sound morals and principles when the collective top executive decisions are biased and unethical. So are the popular uprising in countries against their once powerful and controlling regimes, and political figures.

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. –Ralph Waldo Emerson

But the challenge for every individual is to develop the courage, self-confidence and the wisdom to seek and form balanced opinions based on sound values, morals and beliefs without prejudice. These qualities are needed by those who choose to progressive evolve themselves, their societies, their world and make positive contributions towards their own prosperity, happiness, achievements and growth. Alternatively one can choose to continue to be ignorant conformists, passive non conformists, and follow popular opinions against their own sensibilities and conscience. Great countries, communities, corporations, families and people are inspired by intelligent, educated and progressive thinking without prejudice. If one feels the need not to confirm to processes, decisions, and opinions, it has to be based on intelligence to truly make positive progressive progress and gains for self and to the world we live in. Weather they are  political beliefs, religious or communal rituals, mundane processes,  or authoritative decisions, each needs to be examined, thought, understood and practiced on intelligent,  educated and balanced principles for positive and progressive living and growth. Allow your individuality to shine based on your sound moral beliefs and progressive attitude. Lead and make a new path for others to follow.

Individuality realized is the supreme attainment of the human soul, the master-master’s work of art. Individuality is sacred. –Frank Lloyd Wright

And a few more quotes:

Public opinion is a compound of folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy, and newspaper paragraphs.  ~Robert Peel

And who can doubt that it will lead to the worst disorders when minds created free by God are compelled to submit slavishly to an outside will?  When we are told to deny our senses and subject them to the will of others?  ~Galileo Galilei

Conformity is that jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.  ~John F. Kennedy

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.  ~Vincent Van Gogh

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. – Albert Einstein Quotes


Life is not being who you are…..Constructive Dissatisfaction!


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It is commonly said that we need to be who we truly are. This is of course said in the context that we need not to be what others want us to be or spend a life trying to be someone who we aren’t.  But does being who we are good enough? Is that a right goal for an individual living in a fast, progressive and competitive world?

 

We aren’t perfect people and most of us are far from being what we truly can become. We have several flaws in our habits, choices, behaviours and decisions. Some of us strive to do good and change while many spend a great deal of their lives with the desire to change but without any significant steps taken towards becoming better. A very good friend of mine once pointed out to me that one seizes to progress when they begin to believe that they are right about everything and have the best of opinions. That is absolutely true because one thing that is constant about our lives is “change”. And if we refuse change and accept the fact that we constantly need to keep learning and adapting to the knowledge we gain all through our lives.  If we do not keep learning and keep progressing we invariably get clouded with stagnant opinions, old bad habits, repeating out mistakes, addressing the same drudgery and never making any serious gains in our life. In other words we live a reactive life and fall victims to what life throws at us.

 

But there are those who change the world, do great things within their own little worlds or do great things that leaves a major impact on several others.  These are individuals who think beyond being who they are. They are constructively dissatisfied with themselves. They want to do better, change for the better themselves, they want better things in life, better family conditions, better jobs, better earning potentials, and progress. They fight the status quo, they feel the need to go beyond who they are and live to their fullest potential. These are not people who play the blame game. They take responsibility of their own lives and set out to do something with it. For many of them life is not about work, family, rest time, TV time, Beer time, and socializing time. They make time to do things differently. They take the time out of their lives to think, put the hard work required to change, self improve, learn, and progress. Some of them dream bigger, work harder, think smarter, make sacrifices, and move ahead from changing one aspect of their life at a time to another all through tier life.

 

Life isn’t fair or easy. No one ever has claimed to be so. From the richest to the poorest have their problems and moments of happiness. They each face their set of challenges and shattered dreams.  Many feel trapped with unhappy relationships, stagnant careers, hard working conditions, bills and day to day living. But there are those who do things to fix the unhappy relationships with open and constructive discussions, change careers or take on a diploma or other courses to get better jobs, look for easier jobs, manage their finances better, and progress. They do not accept their conditions. They take life by its horns and make the necessary changes. These are the people who make progress and life happier and accomplished lives.

 

The key to such progress towards a better life begins with constructive dissatisfaction. And this begins with self. Some honest introspection about our choices, character, progress, life and potential often leads to a certain level of realization for self improvement. We often see and judge ourselves by what our potential is, but others see and judge us for what our actions and accomplishments are.  Often there is a huge disparity between the two. If we truly are progressive people who love to live a successful and happier life, we need to bring these two sides of our lives closer. We need to bring our potential and dreams to meet with our actions and behaviours. There is always room for improvement, there is always a better way to do things. The need is to do it. We need to take the trouble to make things better from the inside out. Just dreams, desires, wishes and will always get us the same challenges, excuses, and same conditions of living.  We need to get off the couch and stop finding reasons and excuses for our troubles and dissatisfactions.

 

We need to be constantly constructively dissatisfied if we truly desire to change our lives and become better individuals and live a happier and accomplished life. Ask yourself what are you dissatisfied about today and get up and take action towards changing it today. There is no magical Monday to begin a change. There is no “let me start that diet on Monday”. There is no Monday to begin a positive change. Great ideas and inspiration comes at the darkest times and way past mid night. And the action begins that morning or that very moment. There aren’t any magical prayers or miracles that will help change your situation either. If there was one, everyone would be aware of it and will all be having a great life. There is just one thing that will change your situation: the old fashioned and worn out wisdom of simple “hard work”. So stop being who you are and set out to become who you can be!


Inspiration from Adversity


A few months ago I had watched Conan O Brian being interviewed by Piers Morgan on his show.  Although known for his antics and humor I like Conan for his inspirational quotes and experiences that he shares with his viewers or an audience he is asked to address. His popular address to the class of 2000 at Harvard, his 2011 Dartmouth College commencement address, or just his personal experiences and challenges have all been an inspirational and wisdom filled lessons.

Similarly, reading up several successful peoples biographies have often been a major source of inspiration to me as it has been for several others who seek to learn for other peoples experiences and struggles. As we anxiously seek to read up and learn about peoples success and learn their secrets to their individual fame and fortune, we often end up turning the last few pages of the book with a profound sense of wisdom gained and with an understanding and awe of the person for having the courage and perseverance to overcome their share of adversities and at times impossible challenges to achieve their successes. At times we also learn how their adversities changed the course of their lives to success in the form of new opportunities.

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. ~Garth Brooks

From such knowledge we collectively learn one single and strong fact about life; that even the greatest of them all never had it easy or without problems. The road to any success for all of them have always been paved with several obstacles, hurt, pain, agony, delays,  misfortune, mistakes, blunders, and countless lessons. But with them also came, wisdom, courage, perseverance, valuable experience and amazing successes. And from learning these facts, it invariably begs the question, how ignorant or arrogant are we if we expect our success without such adversities? What makes us so special for us to expect our lives to be easier and pave our path to success with bed of roses?  Weather we expect success in our individual jobs, marriage, relationships, business, good health, sports, education, finances, parenting, or any chosen goals in life, it is almost certain that we will have to face and overcome our share of challenges.

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Facing our challenges is very similar to how a mere stone is turned into a precious diamond. From a dirty stone in mud a diamond goes through a strenuous process of cutting, bruiting, grinding, polishing, and further cutting until all its facets are carved out to dazzle everyone.  Liked wise, our share of grinding, cutting, and hardships brings out our courage, wisdom, wit, will, perseverance and determination that enables us to dazzle others by our eventual success.

You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~Walt Disney

People who succeed in their lives often learn and reinvent themselves by bring about the changes that are necessary to help then achieve their ambitions and desires. They are quick to identify their faults, self improve, struggle, and get out of their comfort zone towards attaining their dreams. For they quickly learn that they will get the same results by doing the same things over and over again, and that they need to change their ways to behaviour to drive the changes they seek towards success. They do not fear committing mistakes, they do not avoid challenges or risks, they do not choose to escape from their troubles, but they stand and face them courageously, they develop solutions to their problems, they face their adversities by staring back into its eye. Greatness comes from standing up and doing the right thing regardless of the difficulties in life, they never sacrifice their morals, values, principles and righteousness. They instead draw strength from them, they differentiate themselves from others by upholding such characteristics, and they believe in their self and never give up. From the prophets (who are considered to be the chosen ones by the creator), to several kings, scientists, leaders, sportsmen and women, experts, celebrities or businessmen, inventors or politicians, each have to go their share of challenges to succeed. There is no easy path to success.  It is almost imperative and essential to gain the wisdom and experience for everyone to not only succeeded, but to be able to handle their success and manage it with humility and greatness.

If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. ~Frank A. Clark

Alternatively those who choose to escape hardships, run away from their troubles, choose the easier options to avoid stress or risks, do not accept to make sacrifices, choose not to change for the better and take pleasure from their status quo as oppose to challenge it, often find themselves in the same place facing the same troubles time and over again. The same monotony, the familiar problems, the sweet self sympathy, and the embraced bitterness and negativity consume their lives. Every challenge remains a problem as opposed to being an opportunity to develop a solution.  Every adversity is a reason to wallow in self sympathy and depression as opposed to face it and overcome them.  The reasons to their problems become excuses and although they remain undeserving due to their lack of positive action, they become consumed by their growing false sense of self entitlement.

Much of your pain is self-chosen. ~Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet, 1923

So, if you are tired of your troublesome life and the adversities you face, or have resolved to giving up on turning your life around and giving in to failure, then ask yourself what are you doing to overcome your share of adversities? None of us are any different from the other in our abilities and will to change. The difference is in our minds and choices. Everyman was just an ordinary person until they overcame their challenges to do something extraordinary and succeed. No great person or successful person has escaped life lessons and constant need to face their share of challenges and overcome them by learning new facts about life over and over again.  We live only once and life is too short in today’s fast paced and rapidly changing world. Everything we do daily changes our course and destiny. Where do you choose to be? It is your choice and nothing can stop you from getting where you want to go in our life.  When we learn to compare our troubles with those several others who face physical disabilites, health challenges, famine, war, loss of loved ones, etc, we will quickly find shame in voicing our adversities. Remember that to become a greater fighter or a tennis player, it is important to choose an opponent to practice who is better and stronger then yourself to become good. Hence learn to see your adversities as your challenging sparring partner.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. ~Norman Vincent Peale


Our vital life lessons often lie within our experiences


 

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

– Tom Bodett

Life provides us with many experiences. In these experiences, regardless of them being good or bad, there can be many lessons, inspirations, solutions, and wisdom one can learn from. It only takes a short moment of reflecting upon them with an intention to learn and move ahead. Similarly there are many parallels in life with certain basic things we do. Organizing our work, use clear and analytical thinking, being courteous and tolerant, and choosing our words carefully are some of the things we do at work and in our professional environment. But we seldom choose to adapt to such behavior at home and amongst our family and friends. If we choose to adapt such behaviors at home as well, we can avoid a lot of simple problems the clutter out personal lives.  Maintaining discipline, controlling anger, choosing a calm and composed demeanor, choosing the words we speak, taking a more relaxed perspective, choosing to listen more and inspire by our own behaviors are some of the key things we can apply in many different aspects of our lives. If we can apply these principles, and demeanor at work, we can do the same while playing sports, and in our personal lives, at home, amongst friends etc.

 

Experience is not what happens to a man.  It is what a man does with what happens to him.  ~Aldous Leonard Huxley, Texts and Pretexts, 1932

Here is a short story which helps illustrate how such parallels come together to help understand life better. It is a short story of a young man, who, like many of us has been through some tough times in life and lost his will to keep fighting to keep his sanity in this world of treachery, deception and injustice. Life is full of wonderful experiences, that give us a lot of happiness and joy, but often along with all the joy we each have our share of sorrow and pain. This short story is about an experience that changed his life.

This young man has had more than his share of sorrow over his share of happiness, but the pain and turmoil he has been through has left many a deep scars that he is unable to cope with. Corporate politics, being penalized for doing what he thought is the right thing, unable to live a life of clear-cut principles but instead having to cope and adjust to what we call the “Grey Area” under the banner of diplomacy. Deceit in friendships, and failure in love, loss of trust in people, and the faith he once had in good. Looking around he finds himself surrounded by nothing else but violence, greed, selfishness, betrayal, arrogance, ruthlessness and disorder. One can imagine the state of mind of any individual in such circumstances. Many of us have or continue to experience many of these symptoms of social integration as I like to call it. Some have faced more hardships and hurt and some few, nevertheless, which often leaves a lasting change in behavior or attitude towards normal social interactions.

Seeking some peace and perspective he turns to his parents who have tried to support him with all they could offer within their limited means and wisdom they had to share, based on their wisdom and experience. After a lot of trials and support one day his parents call him over and hand him an envelope. In it lies a round trip ticket to his uncles’ cabin located in a totally secluded part of the Rockies.

Surrounded by still lakes, lush trees and majestic mountains, lives his uncle who is a renowned Mountaineer and adventurer. Having conquered a few Mountain peaks which were named after him, he spends his summers with a few fellow adventurers in his cabin teaching people how to climb mountains or run practical classes in wild adventure trekking. He was a man of many interesting and varied experiences and a collection of even more interesting friends with varied lifestyle.

So, one day our young man arrives at his cabin with a back pack looking totally tired and beaten up. Upon setting his eyes on him, his uncle pauses and takes a gulp in shock. Seeing his favorite nephew, who was once considered to be a dashing personality filled with vigor and zest for life is now nothing more than a bundle of nerves and sorrow. Although hurt by his appearance his uncle hugs him in his usual pride and love for him concealing his displeasure, shock and dismay.

Turn your wounds into wisdom.  ~Oprah Winfrey

That night, after supper uncle and nephew have a long chat over a few drinks. The young man cries his heart out to his favorite uncle and tells him of all that he has experienced and how he has lost faith in Good, God and Justice. How he felt he was betrayed by his friends and the person he loved, and the scars he has borne. Further due to these experiences how his behavior and attitude has changed and he has become very cynical and negative as a person, which is affecting his work, social live and his loved ones at home.

Having heard in detail of his life, and feeling very sorry for what he has been through his uncle continued to ask several questions in detail and listened to him with great attention, patience and interest. It was almost past 1:00 am and his uncle told his nephew, that he wants to take him the next morning to climb a mountain that he himself has never climbed before. He said that if he would help his uncle conquer the peak which should probably take a large part of the day, he would give him a gift that would solve all his problems and sooth all his sorrow. The gift would make him a very strong and a dynamic individual and he will be able to win all that he wishes for, and in due time and live a very happy and content life by turning things around his way.

Not having climbed a mountain before and looking for something different to do, the young man agrees. He spends his reminder of the night thinking of what the gift can be? Soon his thoughts drifted to all that he can do and how wonderful his life could be once he gets this gift. The life he will live, the things he would get for himself and the life of joy that he would lead. A good long spell of escapism filled with dreams and wishes coming true all that night as he lay staring at the ceiling.

Next morning he finds his bag packed and ready for the climb. His uncle gives him a pair of pants and a light tee shirt and is all excited as this is yet another mountain he has been waiting to climb and possibly map it right, which could give him the right to name the peak yet again. Sharing his excitement the young man, joins his uncle for the hour-long drive to the foot of the mountain. On reaching there he is left speechless standing at the foot of the mountain looking at the sheer size of the rock. He and his uncle stand there for a few long minutes scaling the rock in detail. The terrain filled with rugged surface, the sharp edges, the several crevasses, the steep rise and the jagged edges. The young man thought of the near impossible task that lies ahead of him. But having faith and total confidence in his uncle, he puts on his climbing shoes and with the help of his uncle, he puts on the climbing gear. The waist harness, the pulleys, sling harnesses, the various ropes around his shoulder, and several hooks and gloves, a small hip sack with chalk and sand in it, a bottle of water, and a very heavy back pack over his shoulder filled with more hooks, ropes, first aid, spike nails, four claw shoes, hammers, etc. He felt he was carrying at least twice his weight and wondered how he will manage the ascent.

 

There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience, and that is not learning from experience.  ~Laurence J. Peter

The Climb

Once they were all loaded up with their equipments, they began the assent. The uncle began leading the way and shouting his instructions to his nephew as they began the accent. Look out to the left, foot hold to the right, hand hold at two 2 O’clock, etc. Since the uncle lead the climb, he was responsible to hammer the nail in the rock, grip the pulleys, run the ropes through them, assemble the hooks and continue to do so as he climbed. Quickly the young man learned the basics and was doing well. Hold on to secure grips and scale the immediate 2 to 3 foot ahead, look for secure hand holds and quick foot stops. Use his hands to lift his body with little force on his foot stops. Moving from one hand to another, and using the help of the ropes his uncle keeps dropping down he continues to climb. Every once in a while he briefly looks down and feels thrilled to see how far they have climbed, but every time he looks up he is unable to see the peak due to the slopes and curves of the rock. However, he makes good gains in his climb for a first timer and keeps getting valuable tips from his uncle. Hold on to the grip, don’t climb now, take a breather, let go of one hand and feel for a hand hold in blind, pull yourself up faster etc. Before they realized they were half way up the mountain and quiet tired. The uncle was now scaling for a rest stop which is typically a short but firm horizontal plain where the climbers could typically stand on their two feet with no hand support. Often here the climbers leave behind some supplies to reduce their weights and take a short break depending on the reminder of their climb. While the uncle tried to swing towards a rest stop side ways that he thought could work, he happened to slip and lost his grip. He now began to fall off the cliff but firmly holding on to the ropes. He knocked his elbow on the rock and kept pushing himself away from the rock every time he came near and fell several feet down very fast, but he held on to one of the ropes he had run though and began to try and break his fall by tightening the harness to the rope by which the fall ended by a quick jerk on his harness as the rope locked on. The young man felt he was done for. Several thoughts ran through his mind while watching the whole episode. He being stuck alone, loosing his uncle, his family, and the possibility of loosing his life, how will he survive etc.? But he also tried to closely watch his uncle struggle to get back to his hold on to the ropes. The sigh of relief was like never before. As the time went by his uncle managed to scale back the altitude and managed to find a rest stop for both of them. A short break was surely warranted after their near death experience.

A bend in the road is not the end of the road… unless you fail to make the turn.  ~Author Unknown

Both of them took advantage of their break by sharing a few tips, while the young man had a few questions, they decided to drop off a few of their supplies which they didn’t need for the rest of the climb and took quick notes on the points where they have had secure nails and hooks planted firmly onto the rocks. Having scaled slightly over the mid-point of the rock they were pretty confident that they will be able to make the climb before sunset. Quickly they began to ascend again.

This time the conditions were a bit harder as the edges were sharper, colder temperatures, and slippery rocks as several years of hard windy conditions have smoothened the surface. There were fewer hand and foot holds how. But there were deeper crevasses, and sharper edges. They had to rely more on their strength and agility and speed rather than the tools and equipment they had. They had to rely on their experience of the first half of the mountain to understand where the possible holds could be based on the sheer character of the mountain. There were several short and steep cliffs that they couldn’t climb and hence had to swing themselves to wide spans to look for grip holds and supports. Each swing being a dangerous one and taking all steps necessary to ensure they do not slip like earlier. Now both had to rely on each other for support as they climbed the final few feet of their mountain. One clinging to other for support and at times one carries the other person’s weight when required. Giving a helping hand to one another, and looking up towards the peak they went on to continue their mission. When they looked down they couldn’t see the foot of the hill as it was covered by haze and dust and the rocks. But the peak now was in clear view. Soon they were at the top. As the young mans uncle grasped the final sharp yet strong edge of the final peak he looked down to his nephew and said we’ve made it!

 

The Lesson

Yet another mountain conquered! Another tremendous feat accomplished, that only very few can accomplish in this world perhaps. It sure was an exhilarating sense of achievement that perhaps, can only be experienced by such few individuals. As they off loaded their equipments and released their harness and sat down looking around, the young man couldn’t help notice that his uncle was not jumping ecstatically of his accomplishment. But he was calm, a wide grin on his face and kept looking at his nephew and enquiring how he felt and how was the experience. Looking around, the view was something the young man had never seen before, imagined or experienced. The sky was lit in several shades of orange, blue and purple as the sun began to set. He could see a string of other mountain peaks gleaming in the riot of colors. Total silence which was almost hurting his ears. He for the first time felt and realized what it meant to have a breadth taking experience. Although every inch of his muscles was hurting and he was in pain, the sense of accomplishment and scene was worth every second of the experience. He looked over his shoulder and saw his uncle sitting beside him and thanked him for the wonderful experience. He realized that this experience will last him for the rest of his life. Then he asked his uncle what he was thinking of naming this peak.

His uncle quickly replied with a big smile on his face that he had already decided before the climb to name this peak after his dear nephew! The young man couldn’t believe what he just heard. He stood up in disbelief and began shaking his head urging his uncle to not name it after him as he has done nothing worthy of such love and recognition. His uncle assured him that he did want to name it after him and this was the gift he had told him about last night before they went to sleep.

This confused the young man. Although over whelmed by his uncles’ gesture and gift, he couldn’t understand how this could end all his turmoil and bring him all the happiness and joy he spent the night dreaming about. His uncle could see the total state of confusion in the young mans eyes and smiled. He asked him to sit down and he sat beside him. He asked the young man to listen to what he was going to tell him today at this mountain peak and try to understand it. He urged the young man to hold on to every word he was going to utter and to ponder over the greater meaning of his words. And then he went on to explain to his nephew the following:

Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.  ~Doug Larson

Life is like climbing a mountain, he said. Today, consider that you have learned a great lesson in life by climbing this mountain. Think of every single move you made and every single action of yours while climbing the mountain. This is exactly what you need to do in life if you truly want to succeed and experience true happiness, peace and sense of accomplishment as you do right now having climbed this mountain.

Life is full of crevasse, foot holds, hand holds steep ascends and sharp declines. Life is huge with several sharp edges and rugged patches. Amongst these lie our several hidden opportunities and dangers. And it is how we make use of these and how we maneuver ourselves is what makes our life a success or failure.

Let us reflect on what you did today from the very beginning. You first looked at the task on hand and wondered how big it is and how you will accomplish it. Then you took some time scanning it and studying the sheer magnitude of the task before you set out to accomplish it and then you firstly began preparing yourself for it by putting on the appropriate gear and taking up the proper equipment along. Similarly life is like this too. It’s filled with rugged surfaces, sharp edges, steep climbs and deep falls. But amongst which lies the foot and hand holds that help you climb, the gears of knowledge are at your disposal, and there is always a lot of support one can find. You will need to look for these supports, identify them, test them, and use the appropriate tools and gifts of skills that life gives you.

Convert difficulties into opportunities, for difficulties are divine surgeries to make you better.  ~Author Unknown

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. ~Horace

Each event, turn or a phase in your life is like a mountain. Be it love, work, relationships, friendships, family etc. Each is like a task, it looks like it expects too much from you, and its an enormous task, but once you take a step back and have a broader perspective of it and understand it for what it is and have a mental clear understanding of the issue at hand and most importantly you prepare yourself with the right education, knowledge, and attitude you will have a greater chance of succeeding in accomplishing it or overcoming the obstacles. Many always approach their problems with a very wrong attitude and never prepare for it properly. People, and in this case yourself, lay thinking of the life they can have, after they have succeeded in life and waste their time instead of taking the much-needed steps to achieve the task. For example, if you had slept well last night without staying up in excitement of what life would be after you get the gift you would have been lot more agile today and we could have climbed faster. People are often blinded by their instincts and emotions which prevent them from taking an objective view of the issue at hand. Some handle their problems with no proper thinking and some with no proper equipments. The hooks, harness, gloves, sand and chalk, proper shoes are very similar to knowledge, experience, life lessons, smartness, education and wisdom. And the wrong tools are limited vision, narrow-mindedness, immature thinking, cluttered mind, cynicism, negativity, anger, rage etc.

Then consider how you climbed the initial phase of the mountain. Like the mountain, life too gives you several hand holds and foot holds. It is important for you to search for them and identify the good ones from the bad. Each hold or grip is like a change and opportunity in life. You have to choose the ones that will help you get ahead in life safely, faster and on secure paths. Some are weak opportunities and some are strong. Many make bad choices in these and hence end up where they are. Be it education, path in life, career, love, friends, they are let down only if they make poor choices in these. Each of these opportunities is plenty in life, but you have to search them and choose the ones that will take you to your destination safely without letting you down. They are also like any particular short-term situation in life. Each hand hold is like a situation you experience in your life. Here you have to understand that you will have to experience it and let go of it and move on. If you hold on to your hand holds and never let go, you will never get hold of the next one, hence never go ahead in experiences. Usually it’s common in relationships, especially when in love. People hold on to broken relationships like for the longest time and never move ahead in life. They spend more time hanging on to it which was primarily their lack of wisdom or a bad choice to choose that hand hold. They tend to over analyze and hang in there in sorrow and wallowing in self sympathy. They hang on way too long and hence never go ahead or move on. Remember that you will always have to leave one for the other. Unless you let go of the hand hold first, you cannot hook on to the other and pull yourself higher. Or else you will stagnate and eventually get tired of being stuck in the same place far too long.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  ~Marcel Proust

Next, the ropes you used and they way you used are the few precious relationships everyone has in their lives. And these relationships are based on your good deeds, acceptance, respect for them, behavior, honesty and loyalty towards them which are like the hooks and pulleys these ropes were passed through. The better your deeds towards them, they stronger the hooks and nails are. As it’s very important to secure the nails in the rocks and the hooks and pulleys, it is equally important for you to build these relationships on strong and secure deeds honesty and integrity. After all the ropes/relations lie and depend on these. So then again, it’s in your hands how you build these relationships. Their dependability lies in your hands based on how you have securely planted the hooks and what kind of hooks and nails you have used to ensure their integrity. These very relationships are the vital life saving lines for you in your life. Like you reach out and grab on to the ropes when you fall or climb up, it is these relationships that play a similar role in your life. It’s these relationships that help you climb in your life and they are always there when you fall to help you and support you. These relationships are often found in close friends, and some family members. They last you a life time. But again it is how you build these relationships and when do you rely on them and for how long and how much. Like the ropes there is only so much weight and pressure it can take. Nothing can be taken for granted in life.

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.Colin Powell

In general many things in life are totally dependent on our choices, approach, attitude, planning, and execution of the plan, preparation, and commitment and in this particular order. It always begins with our choice. What do we choose to do? Like, you choose to climb the mountain today along with me. Next is the approach and attitude, even if it’s not your choice, how did you approach the task or situation? Did you step back and try to understand it? Studied the task on hand? Where you negative, positive, willing to cope and adjust, manage the situation as best as you can? Then did you plan what to do and how to do it and did you follow the plan? How did you prepare for the task? Pay attention to your back pack, which is yet another vital aspect of your life and climbing a mountain. It best compares to your education and experiences. Many of us think it’s useless or don’t pay much attention to what we are supposed to learn from it. Like the back pack, its heavy in the beginning, filled with things we need and some we don’t. But as we climb and we use these tools the back pack becomes lighter and easier to carry. Similarly, we need the experiences and education. As we go ahead in life we often use them up and often collect some new ones too. But regardless of what it is if we do not learn and use them we waste what life has given to us.

So, life is such. And life is very similar to climbing a mountain. Always look ahead and up towards your future and the next move up. Do not look down as your past could be too steep a fall and it’s also something you have left behind and moved on and as you continue your climb up, you loose sight of the past, but the experience always lives on. But let your past be such were you have left behind the nails and hooks and ropes which your next generation and others could use and follow. Let it be your legacy that you can be proud off. In you life as you go ahead you will find the resting places as well. Stop by, take a breather, think things out, and clear your cluttered mind. Use these breaks to reflect a little of your past and plan your next move towards your future. It’s ok to do nothing at all for a while in life, but you can’t stay there for ever, or else it will go dark and you not have the daylight to climb the mountain. Leave behind what you don’t need there, as the higher you go, you will need more wisdom than tools. Also remember you cannot do anything alone, you often have to learn from others as well. Some people live a pseudo life pretending to know it all and done it all who never truly learn. They may impress the like-minded or the uneducated people but fail to impress the wise and the accomplished. You weren’t arrogant, or too proud to learn, you took tips and learnt a lot today. Thus you were able to get ahead with some help. And lastly, when you get to the top? Don’t loose your character. Be humble and modest about yourself. People who celebrate wildly at the top of the peak often loose their balance and fall back down. The peak is very narrow and just enough to plant your accomplishments which others can follow and learn from. Now this is my gift to you. Hope you will cherish this experience and carry the credit of this peak and your name associated to it with humility and pride as well. I would want you to share what you have learnt with others and use what you have learnt today for the rest of your life. By doing so I assure you that many of your concerns will end and you will begin to live a life with more caution but yet with more happiness, accomplishments and success. Let this Mountain of experience take you to your peak in life and set a path that many others can follow.

Wisdom begins at the end.  ~Daniel Webster

With these profound words and the experience the young mans life changed that very moment. He sat there and watched the sun set as he recollected every single experience he gained today and was clinging on to every single word his uncle told him. He then decided to set his past down and begin tomorrow with a renewed vigor and use this wonderful experience he gained this day as a lesson about life.

Such are many profound lessons one can learn from simple experiences in life. Perhaps this story will help many of us to rethink our lives and experiences and help us make better choices, and draw some strength from the lessons this young man learned. Life is very similar to climbing a Mountain. There may be some mountain we need to climb again, but we have to persevere until we conquer the peak!


THANKSGIVING – What are YOU Grateful for?


THANKSGIVING – What are YOU Grateful for? November 17, 2012 For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends. ~Ralph Waldo EmersonI used wake up with a head ache often. Lying on the bed and staring at the morning sun light tearing through my curtains on the wall, I reluctantly think of my sad life briefly and curse every moment of it. Why do these things happen to me? What did I do wrong to deserve this? Why can’t anyone understand me or just simply reciprocate my honesty and genuine love with theirs? What does it take for people to be nice and honest?…… this bloody job I got to go to this morning… ah! I hate this life, I hate it vehemently and I hate everything about it!He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~EpictetusThese were the things I used to think almost every single morning when I was depressed a not so distant past. These feelings and thoughts were often compounded by the drudgery of day to day living with my bitter self and extremely critical and cynical outlook towards life. And I loved it! It soothed my soul with self pity. I could cuddle my thoughts and my love of pain and sleep away in my tears until the next

via THANKSGIVING – What are YOU Grateful for?.


Giving Thanks


For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

I used wake up with a head ache often. Lying on the bed and staring at the morning sun light tearing through my curtains on the wall, I reluctantly think of my sad life briefly and curse every moment of it. Why do these things happen to me? What did I do wrong to deserve this? Why can’t anyone understand me or just simply reciprocate my honesty and genuine love with theirs? What does it take for people to be nice and honest?…… this bloody job I got to go to this morning… ah! I hate this life, I hate it vehemently and I hate everything about it!

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has. ~Epictetus

These were the things I used to think almost every single morning when I was depressed a not so distant past. These feelings and thoughts were often compounded by the drudgery of day to day living with my bitter self and extremely critical and cynical outlook towards life. And I loved it! It soothed my soul with self pity. I could cuddle my thoughts and my love of pain and sleep away in my tears until the next time the sun breaks through those bloody curtains in my room. A lifestyle as my beloved brother so eloquently puts it: “wallowing like a hippo in a swamp”. A despicable life of absolute ungratefulness, total disregard to the people who still love me, support me, care about me, and stubbornly displaying my disrespect to my work, my colleagues, their collective support and understanding and all the wonderful things I am gifted with in my life.

After the daily ritual of waking up with such extreme negativity I choose to conveniently forget the wonderful shower I have under the 10 inch Rain shower head that I had installed, sit in my super gorgeous Audi A6, listen to the soothing music on my Sirius Sat Radio, and glide to the prestigious company that I work for. I treat myself to a fancy lunch with my colleagues, return home in the evening and visit my brothers house and share a few million laughs with my ever entertaining and extremely funny nephews, get smothered in love, affection, concern from my family, then continue to meet with my friends and enjoy a few drinks and share a few more laughs and get back to my dungeon late at night. Dungeon: that is exactly where I lived. A nice 3 bedroom brightly lit house filled with old bad memories and my lonely self. And then I continue to wallow like a hippo in a swamp.

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues. — Cicero

Oh yes. I did many other things I could to divert my attention and try to appreciate the pain and sorrow of others. I sponsored a child, gave away money as much as I could with all the generosity I could muster. I helped everyone as usual without any regard for self and my own need for rest, money, security etc. Volunteer at the local shelter for the homeless, donate food to the food bank, and be as charitable as I possibly can be.

Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life. — Christiane Northrup

But what I never did was to be grateful for what I have and the amazing life I could live where I could do all these wonderful things for others become useful for self and others, and the endless love, support and the joy I enjoy from my family and friends. The concept of Thankfulness and Gratitude didn’t exist in my swamp! Not a single bit! Yeah, yeah! They told me everything I knew already. Be positive, look at the tragedies that other people have gone through and still continue to be positive in life, take up a hobby, appreciate life so on and so forth. But they haven’t been hurt like I have. They haven’t experienced my pain. How would they ever know my pain and how it hurts me? They were never betrayed, they weren’t emotionally abused, looted, pillaged and lived through what I called a “Shakespearean “betrayal! Ha! Advice is cheap! Save your breadth, do not teach me the things I already know, but just simply keep giving me love and sympathy. That is all I needed now. And I continued to become a bitter person every day and morphed into this obese sloth that always had something negative or cynical to say about almost everyone or anything that I came across. Look at that idiot how he is driving his car, stupid waitress, ruthless boss, unjust and over demanding customers, lazy goal keeper, bloody airline staff, and thus the list continued.

To live a life of gratitude is to open our eyes to the countless ways in which we are supported by the world around us. Such a life provides less space for our suffering because our attention is more balanced. We are more often occupied with noticing what we are given, thanking those who have helped us, and repaying the world in some concrete way for what we are receiving. — Gregg Krech

Then one fine day, I woke up just simply tired! TIRED! Tired of being me, and what I had become. No, I didn’t have any life altering experience, no incident of intense inspiration, no epiphany, no bolt of lightning! Just simply woke up totally tired of being a despicable negative slob. I dragged myself to the mirror in the washroom. Took a good look at myself. And there I found this animal I never knew. Jouls hanging like a bulldog, a big pot belly, man boobs, un kept 70’s style long hair, a permanent frown, bags under my eyes, and just horribly haggard. And I couldn’t help think of this whole world around me and how they continued to still respect me, tolerate me, love me, and support this monster I had become. This negative, ugly, bitter and ungrateful monster, that I myself would never want to do anything with.

I soon began to realize a few very important things as I continued to ponder on what I had in my life as opposed to focusing on what I didn’t have. I am an intelligent person with great wisdom. I am free and without any serious responsibility but for my own self. I have sufficient time on my hands. I am educated, smart and well travelled. People value my opinion, seek my advice often, some look at to me for guidance or inspiration. I am nothing short of a perfectly able person with the ability to think on my own and free to choose how I want to live. And yet I chose to live the way I did. There was nothing holding me back from achieving whatever I wanted or desired for. And if there were any obstacles on my chosen path, like they always do, I could certainly come up with something to overcome them or avoid them based on my skills, intelligence and choice. But in order for me to become useful, and continue to be valuable in this world and inspire others to make changes towards a positive life I needed to do one thing first. I had to realize and deeply understand the amazing things I am truly blessed with. I needed to learn to appreciate the things and people around me with absolute honesty and humility. I had to learn to be GRATEFUL! And once I do that I need to take the responsibility to express my gratefulness everyday by my actions.

What if you gave someone a gift, and they neglected to thank you for it–would you be likely to give them another? Life is the same way. In order to attract more of the blessings that life has to offer, you must truly appreciate what you already have. — Ralph Marston

Since that day my life began to change a little every day. I laugh at the silliness of the drivers in rage, I have learned to be more patient with the waitress, understanding of my bosses challenges and limitations, more empathetic of my customers situations, cheer on the goal keeper for at least trying his best to stop the puck, request for the window seat as opposed to rudely demand at the check in counter, and understand their challenges too and not to expect to get a window seat and be pleasantly surprised when I get one. Life became easier, and suddenly I begin to notice nicer people, kinder people, more smiles and tolerance. With this came the “can do” attitude, the courage, the art of working towards solutions as opposed to worry about problems, and above all making better choices and taking full responsibility for my choices and the resulting outcome.

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. — Marcel Proust

I believe that all of us are too busy in our respective lives lost in our work, sorrows, pains, relationships and momentary self gratification by accruing materialistic things. We are too busy satisfying our bosses, our friends or loved ones, or just pampering our own self, our inflated egos, our sorrows and complexes. And being lost in this fast changing indulgence of momentary experiences of small satisfactions we often neglect the very core things, people, and experience that nurtures, feeds and holds our soul. These are often the experiences and things that mater the most in our lives, which we unfortunately only realize after having lost them.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

So, take some time from your life to think about those people who hold you, understand you, support you, and care about you. Take some time to list the wonderful things that you have in your life for a change. Take the time to count your blessings. And think how your life would be without these people, and things. And when you learn and realize these blessings, GET UP and GO EXPRESS YOUR APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE! Express your gratitude just in action, words and your attitude in life. Honor their love for you by taking care of your life. And there beings your first step towards living a truly happier and satisfying life.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward

A few things you can do to become a more thankful being and appreciate life more.

  • Count your blessings, the things you have and the people who are always there for you (in person, morally, emotionally etc)
  • Enjoy what you have and do not cry over the things what you don’t. But also work towards getting the things you desire. They will not come to you by being bitter. Work towards it, earn it.
  • Exercise your choices in life and choose to be positive and better. Not negative and bitter.
  • Be generous and help others. By sharing their problems that you can help diminish will help you appreciate the problems that you do not have. Offer to help others if and when you can.
  • Be charitable. Support those who are less fortunate.
  • Thank others as much as you can. Express and show your appreciation for the things they do for you. Send a thank you note, give a hug, phone them and let them know you appreciate their presence in your life.
  • Practice some self criticism in an effort to self improve always. Learn to look at your life as an opportunity to do something positive as opposed to wasting it away in worries, anger, bitterness and hatred.
  • Turn your negativity to positive behaviour and inspire others to do so.
  • Earn others respect and love by developing a fine character and behaviour.
  • At times, take a break, stop, breadth and soak in the abundance of natural surrounding you are blessed with that you can enjoy.
  • Appreciate life, and the good health you have. It will eventually fade away and your end will be very near. Trust me this does happen too fast.
  • Make efforts to bring joy and happiness to everyone you touch in your this short life. You live only once and for a very short time. Let people remember you for your good rather than your bad.

Read my other post “If I die today..” it helps focus on all the great things you can do today if you knew how close your end can be.

Be Grateful to life, your family, friends, and everything that is around you that you often take for granted. Just like your mobile phone, you will be lost and troubled without them. They are your connection to your inner self! Be Grateful!


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