Posted in m@dness

Everyday Super Heroes

I have personally never been a fan of superheroes. I have always thought that like Santa Clause, they are just fictitious characters to fool kids. Until very recently. There are days that I walk to work. Its perspiring but it’s the time I get for myself. I think while I walk, I listen to music or just take in the sights and sounds. I have seen a lot of aged people work their ass off just to earn enough to feed their tummy. The task they do is so difficult that sometimes it looks impossible. But they do it and smile. Victoriously. 2011 and 2015 were the years that tested my limits as a mere human. These years taught me life. There were days I couldn’t just get up from bed just dreading that I was alive. But I had to keep moving. That’s when I chanced upon the Superhero Stance.

The physical pose in which the superhero stands with legs spread apart, arms on hips, elbows bent. The superhero stance projects power. It’s an example of what psychologists refer to as an open posture, in which limbs are spread out in a way to take up more space. If you can retain the superhero-type stance for a grand total of two minutes, you will feel more powerful and act that way: Stand like a superhero, feel like a superhero, act like superhero. This phenomenon has been proved and I can assure you it works. I have assumed this stance quite a number of times in the last few years; my productivity has increased measurably and my mental state has had a 180⁰ turn from depressing to in control.  I know it will make you look stupid, but I assure you it is life changing! It changed mine, so am pretty sure it will change yours too.

Winning and Losing is  all a part of the circle of life. Everyday, we loose battles as often as we succeed. The key though, win or loose, is to never fail. The only way to fail is not fight. So you fight until you can’t fight anymore. Hold up your head and enter the arena and face the enemy. Fight until you can’t fight anymore. Never let go. Never give up. Never run. Never surrender. Fight the good fight. You fight even when it seems inevitable that you’re about to go down swinging.

Why? You ask. Why do we even try when the barriers are so high and the odds are so low? Why don’t we just pack it in and go home? It’d be so, so much easier.

It’s because in the end, there’s no glory in easy. No one remembers easy. They remember the blood and the bones and the long agonizing fight to the top. And that is how you become legendary. An everyday Super Hero.

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Posted in Uncategorized

Tell me your dreams

My father says dreams happen to people who have unfullfilled things to do in life. He says it takes a lot of effort to dream. Its like you are so active that you dont even rest while you sleep! Dreams, the stories that our mind weaves when we are asleep. And also the visions for future which keep us awake for nights. Dreams are also the hopes that keep us alive when the real world disappoints us. If you ask me, dreams are magnificent journeys that never cost us anything, but are invaluable in the way they make us thrive, inspire us and push us to seek more. In our dreams (especially the ones we see with open eyes) we are strong, we are powerful, we are beautiful, creative and we are forever young. In short, we are everything we aspire to be.
I for one, am an addicted, incorrigible dreamer. I dream with my eyes open and closed. I dream about so many things and people – and so often that at times I find it difficult to believe that they don’t exist. I mean, I get such vivid memories of these dreams that I wonder if in my old age I would actually start considering them real. I dream myself alive. I dream of fascinating places …or experiences I would never have. I dream myself as an eagle sitting on a branch of tree overlooking a valley. I dream myself falling from the peaks enjoying the fall. I also sometimes dream weird. I see deaths and destructions. I see myself trapped in a place. These moments are so real for my mind that I am sure the real experience would not be much different from that.

I am sure there have always been people like me who believe so seriously in dreaming. There are mornings when I wake up giggling with the memory of some weird dream and there are those sudden frightful moments when I force myself to open my eyes to escape some scary dream. There is a good reason why in all ancient cultures and civilisations we have sayings about dreams. We even had people who could interpret dreams.

Many celebrated poets and writers, mathematicians and scientists claim to find their inspirations and discoveries in their dreams. I read about mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujam, who claimed that a goddess , would appear and present mathematical formulae in his dreams which he would verify after waking. The tune for “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream… and so did the idea of Frankenstein to Mary Shelly. Many others kings, statesmen and writers found their dreams guiding them in real life. I totally buy these stories as I have firsthand experience of such guiding dreams.
It is generally believed that the mind plays tricks with our dominant thoughts and concerns to put across a blend of scenes, sounds and emotions as the dreams. But then how does one explain the totally unrelated dreams about things you do not know exist and places you have never been to. I guess, it is this dilemma that led to the explanation that dreams are when angels try to converse with humans.

Posted in close to heart

Adaptation

Remember when we learnt about solid,liquid and gas. Thats when I learnt about a particular property of water…in standard two. It takes the color of the thing it’s mixed in and it takes the shape of the container that holds it…. Very mundane, very simple and very commonsensical isn’t it…. And imbibing this very property makes life slightly complex, if not entirely complicated….

This property of water is nothing but one quality that I can safely say, is common to everyone “living”: Adaptatio. Prnoven beyond doubt by Darwin’s theory of evolution and tested easily when you changed a bit of yourself to get accepted into a group. We have thus, evolved and adapted in varying degrees to become what we are today…. The level of adaptations could range from linguistics adaptation (where you use the slang that group uses often) to behavioral (where you tend to alter your behavior to give “acceptable” reactions to certain events.)Every group you were a part of throughout your life would have been distinctly different from each other…. And as a result, you would have modified yourself over and over again.

Some people weed out the unwanted qualities through these adaptations and become better individuals while others go to an extreme and become clones of the most influential person in the vicinity completely losing themselves…. The net result is that there are many aspects – which are not completely you – that now form a part of your personality- The new you!

At this point, I wouldn’t dare generalize but just talk about how I have adapted in due course of time (may be some people identify with it). During the first few years of schooling, I was with this guy, y very own dear brother who was creatively “gifted”! While I did have some potential, my association with him made my “music” good.  Not stopping there, I went on to take my talent serious and learnt music for 14 years… During the later years at school, my gang was heavily into sports,volleyball and basketball. Net result, I was a part of both the teams . At this point I wonder, had my group been the studious, teachers’ pets kinds or the culturally inclined kinds – would I have done these things? Is me becoming good in music and sports – intentional or associational?

During graduation, my group was this simple living, high thinking sort of a group. It was with them that I was exposed to giving back to the society bit and I started doing volunteering work. Well yes there were bouts of shopping sprees etc. But you gotta admit that was part of growing up. College was primarily about writing (again my group had elements very active in it) ,reading (my beat friend was an English graduate and I became a voracious reader) and cooking (very good friends who were amateurs themselvesbut great at experimenting. )SO, after 3 years when I graduated, I was a tomboy who was not literally challenged and a decent conversationalist . My final year roommates were avid photographers and I learnt the basics from them. I must admit I am good now!!Ms. A, I must thank you for the little knowledge you shared with me now and then…I know aperture, shutter speed,lenses etc 🙂

RSOM came and I was placed with the CROWD as everyone puts it. With such high standards, came a serious jolt to my personality as well. I became intensely competitive (everyone was just so good, that becoming better needed constant reminding), was prey to the hunger to make my mark… But the most prominent was becoming immensely practical bordering on callousness about things. My dear and near are still bearing the brunt of this change…

As I write this today, I am reminded of this conversation with a very old friend. She asked me for some advice and when I proffered she exclaimed, “What kind of advice is this? The mad I know would have never said something like this”.

I was forced to think that while I have adapted every time to find myself in this “grey” zone (sort of acceptable to all), is it the case that I have lost my “blacks” and “whites” (the core which defined me). Is it that in process of weeding out and becoming better, I have just lost what “Mad would have said/done”?

Is it fear or is it not knowing yourself??

Posted in m@dness

Choices

Life is about choices! People have always argued with me about the lines on one’s hands and head playing an important role. However,the destiny argument has been of little use to me, for I believe that even if it is true, we will never know its role in our lives. Every time we are at a crossroad, we have to make a choice and that path takes us to another crossroad, thus deciding our journey and therefore the destination. I see making a choice as the power to respond to a given situation.

Of course, championing free will in the context of fate is one thing, but to see the ability to choose as an absolute, is another. Recently, at a relatives’ place, the post-dinner chat turned into a heated discussion about choices. My uncle vehemently argued that everybody has a choice at all times. No matter how difficult that choice is, it does exist for each one of us. He went on to illustrate his point by saying that, even the woman who suffers an abusive marriage, is choosing it over her freedom, for things that are more important to her. Undoubtedly, her circumstances like having small children, economic dependency, fear of shame, lack of support from her own parents, etc, make the choice difficult. He was emphatic, that even though the choice may be between a rock and a hard place, it is still a choice.

While it sounded logical, it seemed to undermine the circumstances within which people actually end up making those choices. It may seem I am contradicting my own mantra that life is about choices, but speaking for the disadvantaged, I often find myself saying things like, “…but she didn’t have a choice”, as I don’t want to judge others through my own prism. Isn’t the ability to make a choice a privilege that we take for granted? Conceptually, everybody has a choice. Even if you are committing suicide, you are exercising a choice, but in practice, how can one overlook the circumstances that push a person to take that option?

My first field placement while doing my bachelors in Psychology was with mentally challenged children, and I used to wonder, what choice do they have? Or for that matter even their family? In fact, the more vulnerable a population, more limited is their choice.

Having said that, in human rights’ work, one of the main things one does is to make people aware of the choices that exist for them. And when one teaches, more than anything else, one learns. When I feel helpless, I remind myself that I do have a choice, but the challenge is to make the right one. But to say that everybody has a choice could perhaps be conceived as a way of shifting collective responsibility to individual responsibility, a bit unfair in a world of huge inequalities. Sure, as a human race we have choices, especially in the way we use or distribute our resources, but as individuals, for many it is akin to choicelessness. While theoretically there is no question that every situation presents a choice, the fact is that most people are neither aware of all the available choices, nor do they have the ability to follow up on the choices, even if they make them.

The debate that night did disturb me much beyond that post-dinner conversation. I was conflicted between what sounded right and what felt right. Anyhow my take-away was that, while it may not be true for everyone, surely those of us who are privileged can make choices that are more responsible. Then there will be less room for excuses and blame-games.Perhaps it all sounds confusing, but to explore the gray, we will have to resist the temptation of simplistic black and whites. There are times when I find clarity in the exploration of ambiguity.

Posted in m@dness

First day at work-On joining work

After breaking a coconut at the Ganpati temple, Ramesh rushed to his new office. He could barely contain his excitement! He was to begin work at his new company! When he reported to the new boss, he was asked to wait in the reception area; after a seemingly interminable wait, Ramesh saw his boss fling open the door and walk past in a tearing hurry. As he passed, he threw a glance at the new recruit and said, “please wait, someone will show you to your desk,” and hurried on. By now Ramesh had waited for nearly an hour and a half. By and by, a lady walked up to him and said gruffly, “you must be the new person in Exports; come with me”. She proceeded to lead him briskly through the corridor and into a work area. Looking around, Ramesh saw a sea of unfamiliar faces, apparently immersed in work. But as he tagged along behind the lady he could feel curious looks pursue him. Are they hostile or am I imagining things, he wondered. The lady stopped abruptly and said, “this is your work station. You’ll find keys to the desk in the drawer”. And with that, she turned on her heels and walked away. The people around him did not even acknowledge his presence. As Ramesh sank into his new chair, so did his hopes.

While Ramesh’s experience on his first day is an exaggerated example, I suspect that in many organizations, it is not too far from reality! New recruits need to be cared for in a special way until they find their bearings; otherwise, they are well on their way to indifferent job performance and eventual exit in quick time. Look at it this way: every new recruit is generally highly enthusiastic, eager to learn and motivated when she joins a new company. Have you ever heard of a demotivated new recruit reporting for work on the first day? But as time elapses, she slides down the motivational graph. A combination of callous HR practices, lack of training and clarity in roles, responsibilities and performance objectives vitiated by an atmosphere of indifference combines to erode the person’s motivation rapidly. If you plot a person’s motivational level from Day One in the organization, don’t at all be surprised if you find the graph sloping downward from left to right! Allowing the new recruit to slide down the motivational graph is an unconscionably costly exercise for any organization. Motivation is undoubtedly the major determinant of job performance. Therefore, it holds the key to productivity; and it is productivity that ensures profitability and survival. So, to prevent the new recruit motivational slide syndrome it is vital to incorporate the following nuanced sequence: orientation and induction, job and expected performance description (written Role, Responsibility, Objectives and Standards), training and information on rules, benefits and organizational structure and culture. To ensure regular feedback, periodic performance reviews are absolutely essential. And, to enable the new recruit to feel a modicum of security, an internal mentor can be designated.

Tip: A new recruit is like a tender new bud in a flowerbed; as a gardener, constantly tend to the bud with patience and care. Then you’ll see the bud blossom into a beautiful flower! If the buds don’t blossom, perhaps its time weed out the gardener!

Posted in m@dness

>The Cockroach,women and the mind!

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Three woman meet. Yeah, you can guess? Lots of discussions, exchange of news, loads of information. One particular part of their discussion caught my attention. One of the ladies, with a lot of interest, was sharing some interesting facts about cockroach. With a lot of amazement she was telling how a cockroach can run three miles in an hour and can change direction 25 times in a second. A cockroach could live a long time, perhaps a week without its head. There was nonstop excitement in her voice as she continued saying. “A cockroach has amazing adaptability. It can survive in any climate, in any house condition, inside any crack, etc. Its antennae, which rivals NASA’s Global Positioning System, helps it to locate other cockroaches with state of the art precision. Cockroach could be used to place surveillance device in the military installations. In fact, a cockroach can survive even an attack of atomic explosion. “

Suddenly, a cockroach flew from nowhere and sat on there. I wondered if this was the cockroach’s response to all the glory that was spoken about it! She started screaming out of fear. With panic-stricken face and trembling voice, she started doing stationary jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach. Her reaction was contiguous, as everyone in the group got cranky to what was happening. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach on to another lady in the group. Now, it was the turn of the other lady to continue the drama. The waiter rushed forward to their rescue. In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter. The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed its movement on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement,my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, “Was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior? If so, then, why the waiter was not perturbed? He handled it to near perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.”

I realized, “Even in my case then, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss that disturbed me, but it is my ability to handle the disturbance caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It is not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but it is my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me. In all, it is not something that disturbs me, but the inability to handle the disturbance caused by that something that disturbs me. More than the problem, it is my reaction to the problem, which hurt me more.”

A natural question popped up in my mind, “Then, how do I outgrow this limitation?”

maybe I should not react, I should always respond. The woman reacted, whereas the waiter responded. Reactions are instinctive, whereas responses are intellectual. Between the stimuli (what happens me) and the response (what happens through me) if there is no gap, it creates reaction. But, between the stimuli and the response, if I use the gap to think and contemplate, then I can respond thoughtfully. :”

“An intelligent person responds; a fool reacts.”

Posted in m@dness

>Like a TV (Part 2)

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I was recently speaking to this person who was concerned about me after reading my last post. I was touched at this person’s thoughtfulness, but was glad to explain where it came from (literally).

I am multidimensional, and i am very aware of this. The day i published that post, i was just expressing one part of me: the part of myself that sometimes feels lost in being human.Being aware of being multidimensional means that you can experience, and express a state of being, but you are not consumed by the emotion that goes with it.

I am being able to do that these days which is an incredible achievement really, because i am an extrovert with very limited attention span but lately, i am able to return to centre much more quickly. it’s as if i descend into the state, get lost in it for a while, and then say – hmm. what’s this really about? I am guessing its because the things we are getting stressed, upset, or even happy about, arent really the reason we’re feeling how we’re feeling! They are triggers that bring up our human needs (in psychology this is called transference :) )The key is to identify what is ‘the need’ underneath the emotion and sit with it and you’ll find that the emotion lifts.

Eg-if you realize you got upset because you need to be appreciated, try to feel the need to be appreciated – not the emotion and as you feel it, notice if a judgement comes with it. (e.g. “i am pathetic”, “no one will ever love me” etc.) The need you have gives birth to an emotion, but the judgment is what causes pain. The inner criticism you hear is not even you – it is the internalized opinion of someone who happened to be around you at a time when you were feeling vulnerable, low or whatever those feelings were.

When you start paying a little attention to what you do,think etc you really begin to notice how unreal emotions are: they can come and go, and change in a heartbeat! I suppose this all bring me back in a round-about way to the subject of this post:

You are not just your thoughts, your emotions, your body and you are not just your soul! You have grown into a complex, beautiful creature and you may look at yourself from whatever angle you choose, and see a different reflection. But as we peel away the layers of conditioning, and lies, our vision becomes wider, deeper….

and we get closer to….

?

For those who have still not understood:

If youre not sure what i mean, or think i have gone mad, then think of it this way: no one is straight forward. we all have different aspects to our person. you dont have to be spiritually inclined to believe this; it is just a fact. e.g. someone feels sadness – they will deal with their sadness in an infinite amount of ways, depending on the extraneous factors:same person, multiple approaches.

P.S- i have been doing a bit of psychological reading lately and this just might be the effect the reading is having on me. Forgive and forget till i write next time!