Thursday, April 30, 2009

Speak Softly !!

It is said that one of the first faculties to develop in the child when it is in the womb is the ear and the sense of hearing. Likewise, it is believed that the last sense to fail when a person is dying, is his sense of hearing. Communication is very important for knowing other peoples thoughts as well as to let other people know our thoughts. What and how we speak reflects our upbringing, our maturity and our sense of balance.

Often, we do not watch our speech. At times when we get excited or emotional, we get carried away and lose all control over our speech. Public speaking is said to be one of the most stressful occasions when people get overwhelmed and sometimes have coordination problems between the mind and the tongue. Sometimes, other emotions like fear or anger can adversely impact our speech.

Others, however, are constantly watching us speak and forming opinions or changing opinions that they hold about us. So, it is important that we control our speech. When we speak softly, we win friends and can influence people. Real leaders do not rave and rant when they speak. Rather, they speak softly and gently and appeal to the inner emotions of their listeners.

It is when we are agitated that we need to control our speech the most. If we speak roughly or loudly, we might hurt or discourage someone. Rough speech is the fastest way to lose friends or make enemies. Moreover, we need to be always conscious of the impact that we make with our speech.

Speaking softly helps calm us down and improves the "atmosphere". People get motivated to communicate freely when such an atmosphere exists. Open communication builds trust and creates a positive impact on productivity and efficiency.

So, speak softly and smile often :-)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Let's Change Ourselves !!

At some point of time, most of us would have wondered what is going to be the future of this world. Everywhere we see increase in all the negative aspects like falsehood, dishonesty, corruption, violence, unfairness, pollution, greed etc. We see the world getting tightly caught in the web of negative influences and thus deteriorating and degenerating. When we look back a few years, it seems that life was much better in the past. People seemed much simpler then and life was much more peaceful. We hope that those good times will return and we can re-live the past.

The big question, therefore, could be what needs to be done to stem the rot in our system? What should be done to prevent people from following the wrong path? Should we change the education system - inculcate moral values in the curriculum? Should we incentivise and encourage honesty? Should we teach people to be more selfless and caring? What is the most effective and sure method of improving the world?

In my view, all of these are important. I am sure my readers can think of even more effective and interesting concepts that may be tried. However, more important than attempting to change the world (such a huge task!) it is important that we look inwards towards ourselves. Are we living the right kind of life? Are we getting less selfish and greedy for ourselves? Are we being honest to the core (even when no one is looking)? Are we following the ideal kind of life that we expect the world to follow?

If the answer to any of the questions is no, then we have a serious challenge. How can we expect others to behave in a manner that we do not follow? Also, it should be easier to change ourselves (really?) than attempting to change others. If only we can master ourselves and our impulses, the world would be easy to conquer. People tend to look up and respect people who have mastered themselves. Such people become true leaders - Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela are a few names that come to mind.

I read somewhere that the whole world will become beautiful and clean, if only each person makes the effort of cleaning his house and his front yard. Let’s start with our houses and minds and soon enough, we will become living examples for others to follow and emulate.

"He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty" - Tao Te Ching

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Celebrate your Daughter (CYD) !!

There are several communities (esp. in India) where the girl child is seen as bringing bad luck and miseries to the parents. This is because of certain social evils that still exist (like the dowry system) as well as the feeling that "investing" in the girl child is not going to bring "returns" to the parents in their old age. This has led to some very evil practices such as female infanticide as well as abusing the girl child and not providing adequate parenting.

Very obviously these are practices which are misplaced and will have dangerous consequences for both the immediate family as well as the society in the long run.

Let me explain why I think that the birth of a daughter should be a cause of celebration not only in the family but in the community and the country as well!! Daughters are as lovable as sons. They have proved that, given the opportunity, they are as capable as sons in shining both in academics as well as career. They are much more attached, affectionate and devoted to their families and tend to be much more selfless.

Although, the daughters do get married invariably and move away from their families, they tend to leave their minds with their parents and families and shower them with love on every possible occasion. The daughters are to be seen not as liabilities but rather as assets.

For a society to grow and develop, it needs more daughters. With dwindling female ratio, the society will see more stress and strife. The population will get skewed and will even stop growing. The demographics of the community and country will start worsening and it will be a question of time that the society will denigrate into chaos and anarchy.

Daughters soon become mothers and they shape their children's thoughts and value systems by inculcating the early education. Daughters who get a lot of love in their early lives tend to do the same with their children. Children who get groomed well thus, form good citizens and contribute positively to the country's growth.

Daughters are vital assets both for the family and the country as has been mentioned above. We need to recognise this and change our current practices. We need to introduce incentives and motivation to people who have daughters. We need to encourage and educate young new families on the benefits of having and caring for the girl child.

So, go ahead - Celebrate Your Daughter !!

"As son is a son only till he is wed
but daughter is a daughter till she is dead" - Anon

Cultivate good company

A man is known by the company he keeps, goes a saying. And indeed it is very true. People recognise us and label us based on the type of people whom we move around with. We also tend to develop our interests and preferences based on the friend circle. Therefore, our Seers have advised us to keep good company (Satsang) i.e. People who harbour good thoughts and intentions and people who are pious and spend their time doing useful things. In such company, our minds get moulded and shaped in the right direction. We tend to pick up similar habits and characteristics. And this takes us on an upward spiral.

On the contrary, if we have friends who have perverse interests or negative traits, we also go on a downward spiral. Unknowingly, we start thinking negative and developing pleasures from doing things which harm us or others around us. Good people start shunning us and we attract similar minded people.

We should always be conscious on the company we keep. We should take extra efforts to cultivate friendship with positive people and put all efforts to avoid such people who are negative. From time to time, we should take an inventory of our friend circle and assess whether we are on the right path and do course correction, where required.

Do not let things like loyalty and commitment come in the way of your progress. Do not let people who seem to be fun but are otherwise harmful (to you, themselves or others around) to be part of your friend circle. Find reasons to stay away from such people. In the event, circumstances prevent you from shunning them; try to influence them to be better rather than succumbing yourself.

By doing thus, you will start seeing a positive impact on your life.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Love your Parents

When we were in the womb of our mother and had yet not completely formed, we were loved and cared for. We were small, helpless and dependent on the love and care of our parents to bring us into this world. They undertook pain and sacrifice to make sure that we had all the comforts. They welcomed our birth and celebrated it in their own way. They made sure that we had the right kind of nourishment for body and mind. They inculcated good values and provided for our education. They fiercely guarded and protected us during our infant years…

Yes, our parents who have done so much for us deserve our love and gratefulness for everything. Every parent loves their child tremendously and selflessly. They have no expectations in return. They are ever willing to give up their luxuries and comforts to address our every single need. They were our first teachers patiently explaining everything to us and satisfying our curiosity. We learnt how to express ourselves by watching them and imitating them…

Our entire existence is a debt to our parents which can never be fully repaid. The least we can do is to love them and care for them when they need us the most. By telling them how much we appreciate what they have done for us, we can make them feel good. By taking care of their needs, by giving them company and by talking to them and listening to them esp. in their old age, we are doing our duty. Just as they were there for us when we need them, we should be there for them always.

As they grow older, it is but natural that they may suffer from some health problems or develop habits which are unusual. Sometimes they may have memory lapses and may not be as sharp as they used to be. We need to be patient and not get vexed. We need to remember that they too were patient with us and took care of us during all our illness. We need to be extra careful not to hurt them or their sentiments.

Parents are divine. They are verily our God for having created and nurtured us. As per Hindu scriptures, in the order of importance, it is the Mother who comes first followed by the Father, Teacher and God. Therefore, when we shower our parents with love, even the Gods will be pleased and will appreciate us.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Aim For Perfection (AFP)

Sometime back I had written a blog called "Do your best" (DYB). This blog is in similar lines....

Right from the time we wake up till we go to sleep, we do several tasks. Some of them are very personal in nature meant for upkeep of the body and soul, while other tasks could be those which we do for a living. One principle that could be commonly applied while doing any and all of these tasks is to "Aim For Perfection" (AFP).

When I say AFP, I mean we do the task in the best possible way and keep looking for ways to improve it. Say for example, one is brushing her teeth. One way would be to do it as a routine task and get it over with quickly and without applying any thought to it. The other way would be to be conscious of the task and the reason why we are doing it. The apply the right technique of holding the brush, rinsing the mouth, applying the paste and ensuring all teeth are evenly and completely addressed.

When we do all our tasks in this manner of AFP, we stay focused on the present and the task in hand. No past events or future problems occupy our mind. We get the right kind of value of the time spent and we feel good about accomplishing whatever we have done. If we AFP like this, people sit up and take notice as we stand out amongst the crowd. Whether it is the way we are groomed or the way we conduct ourselves with others or the way we carry out our duties, we appear to be a role model for others. Our life becomes more meaningful and fulfilled.

Someone commented that perfection is impossible to achieve. My response to that is aim for the stars so that we at least reach the moon. Aim for perfection and you might reach the state of excellence. Being in the state of excellence is in itself a major achievement. So, start AFP from the very moment onwards..

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Be Happy !!

For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness, said a wise man. I agree completely. Being happy is a personal choice and we need to make this choice all the time. There are many delusions that come and tempt us to make the wrong choice. We need to be wary and on our guard all the time not to fall prey. Instead, irrespective of what happens to us, we should consciously decide to be happy.

Being happy makes us see the world differently; and the world sees us differently too. Imagine there are two people - one fully of joy and the other sad always. Whom would you like to spend time and be associated with ? Naturally, we all gravitate towards the happy person - perhaps in the expectation of some of the joy rubbing off on us.

When we are happy, we have more friends and are more in demand. People seek us out and try to find out what keeps us so happy. When we are happy, our health dramatically improves. Our internal organs work more efficiently and are more charged up. Our happiness is infectious and affects others around us.

Realise that happiness is a state of the mind and is purely internal to you. It has no dependence on external events. Being happy does not mean everything is perfect. It only means that you have decided to look beyond the imperfections. As you learn to reduce your expectations and begin to accept things, you will see a dramatic improvement in your happiness quotient.

By being happy, we are also pleasing the Lord Almighty. We are subtly telling Him that we accept His decisions completely and we are surrendering ourselves to Him. And that we have full faith in Him and that we know He has only good things in store for us.

"If can't be happy where you are, you can never be happy where you aren't" - Charlie Jones

"There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way" - Wayne Dyer

"People are as happy as they make up their minds to be" - Abraham Lincoln

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Work is Worship !!

I met a friend yesterday and he was mentioning to me that his father has been working for a company for the last 62 years !! He has almost never taken a day off in his entire career and has been attending work religiously 6 days a week. I was at a loss for words at this level of dedication and passion for work.

It reminded me of the path described in the Bhagvad Geeta (to know more, please google on Bhagvad Geeta) where Lord Krishna talks about Karma Yoga. He says that one sure way to attain immortality / Nirvana is to dedicate oneself to ones work without expectation of any reward. The attitude described is similar to one of worship. While one is worshiping God, one needs to be sincere and focussed. One has to be religiously regular and should do the act of worship with a feeling of love and have no expectations for the service done.

If one chooses to work in this manner, then irrespective of what work one is doing, it can be described as worship. And such a type of worship surely qualifies one for the "Ultimate", as affirmed by the Lord Himself. If one works in this manner success is guaranteed !!

Choose a job / career based on your skills & knowledge and work sincerely. No work is bad / low. Any work which is assigned to one has to be treated with utmost respect and be given full attention and focus. One should do ones best in the given job. If we treat work as worship, then we do not need to go to places of worship separately. Going to work is good enough as God is present everywhere (even in the work place).

Yes, indeed work is worship.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Be Contended !!

Someone once said "There is no person richer than a contended person". When I reflect on this statement, I find it to be the absolute truth. As long as one is dissatisfied with his / her lot, one is poor because there is a feeling of shortage. In contrast, if one is feeling satisfied with what one has, then that person has an abundance mindset and therefore is richer than anyone. Therefore, Contentment becomes the most precious wealth. Simple, isn't it ?

One of the biggest source of our miseries is this feeling that what I have is not enough. If I have something more, I will be happy and fulfilled. But guess what ? As soon as we get what we desire, our heart yearns for something else. It is funny. Our satisfaction should not lie in what we do not have. It should be in what we have already. If our satisfaction lies in what we do not have, we will be eternally dissatisfied and therefore eternally unhappy.

Being contended means that we are at peace and we are full of joy. We see things with pleasure but without seeking to own them. We start enjoying the small pleasures of life. We are close to Nirvana. Being contended is the first as well as the last step to attaining God.

Be Contended !!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Care & Share !!

Sometimes I wonder what I have done to deserve such a good life. I was born in a decent family, had good support for my education, had good friends and siblings etc. Till I was about 8 years old, I never knew what hunger was, thanks to a very caring mother. In contrast, there are millions of children born into poor families and deprived of the very basic necessities of life. What have they done to deserve this?

In my later life, I have been fairly successful in my education and career. Was this all my own effort or was I assisted in this by others? Do I really deserve all this? Do I have any obligation towards others or should I behave selfishly and keep accumulating riches while others struggle on a continuous basis?

In reality we are all linked in this world. From morning till night we use a variety of products and services which are produced by some unknown people. Our entire life depends on the efforts of others. If this is true, what are we doing to serve others? If one questions thus, one will realise that a truly fulfilling and successful life is one where one feels the pain that others feel. A life well lived is one where one learns to care for others as if they were your own.

When we care for others and are happy to share our wealth / riches, the world will reciprocate and reward us with similar positive reaction. The joy we can see in others when we care and share without any expectation, is sufficient to gladden our own hearts. By caring for others, we are carrying out God's work of spreading happiness and joy around us.

So, care and share always.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Eat Healthy & Be Happy!!

Often when faced with the prospect of choosing what to eat / drink, we tend to pick on what appeals to our sense of taste. If an article of food is dressed well, presented well, smells right and has the taste that we love, we make that as our first choice. Some people go to extra-ordinary lengths to get such food of their choice.

I take my decisions on what is good for me and my body and not worry so much about the few seconds that the food lasts either on the plate or in my palate. What I mean is that the food that we consume must be right for us. It lasts a few hours in the body and the effects (in the form of energy and impact) lasts much longer. So, one must strive to consume such food that has the best impact on the body.

So, even though fried stuff tastes a whole lot better, we may consume it in moderation as it can lead to a variety of disastrous after effects if consumed liberally. Likewise, sweet desserts are tempting but unless controlled, it could lead to some permanent problems. I am not going to go into depths here about different types of food, health foods etc. as I am not a dietician nor do I want to appear prescriptive.

All I would like to reiterate here is that each one of us need to assess what is it that we want from our meal and choose the meal accordingly. Each of us need to be also conscious that by cultivating the right kind of eating habits, we will lead healthier and therefore, happier lives.

So, what are you waiting for ?