Thursday, April 22, 2010

Flexibility - To be or not to be

Sometimes in life we face a difficult situation. Imagine, we have given an opinion about something or have taken a decision. Then, we are confronted by an alternate view or course of action. On top of it, the alternative looks logical or is backed by someone influential. Some of us will readily consider the option and change our stance. Many of us, worry about the consequences of changing our position. We feel that we will end up looking hasty or not intelligent enough if we change our minds.

Flexibility is something that most of us advocate or recommend but when it comes to ourselves, we prefer to be otherwise. What we call as firm mind is seen as and branded as 'stubborn' by others. Inflexible people are seen as closed minded people who have a difficulty in accepting fresh thoughts or ideas. To avoid this, some people (esp. politicians) cleverly refuse to reveal their thoughts till everyone's thoughts are known.

When we are flexible and accomodative, people find it comfortable to deal with us. We have better relationship with our family and friends. Our circle of influence increases and we tend to attract more open communication. We tend to listen with empathy and do not get into 'positions' from where we cannot extract ourselves. Flexible people are solution oriented and want to move forward rather than getting stuck with issues.

There are some situations where flexibility ceases to be a virtue. When we have made a commitment or a promise, we cannot show flexibility in the performance. When it come to a question of values, one should never show flexibility even if it results in us losing out in the short term.

A lot of pressure and stress is generated when values are upheld. Lot of people avoid this and try to take the easy way out. Rather than fight for the truth and pay the price for it, people tend to compromise and dilute standards. Such an approach might look easy and positive in the short term but will have significant impact on the longer term. The sub-prime crisis that hit the world economy in 2008 is a clear and recent example of this.

Flexibility is a virtue except on questions of values.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Laugh a lot

As children, we used to laugh a lot. Every small thing seemed funny and tickled our funny bones. Whether it was the way someone dressed or the way someone spoke, we would find everything funny. And yet our laughter was very innocent and not the least malicious. In fact, our laughter was also infectious as it made others also smile and laugh along with us. In this manner, we ourselves were happy and created a happy world around us.

As we grew older and 'wiser', we started taking things more seriously. We started becoming more analytical and skeptical. Some of us even became cynical. We started smiling less and scowling more. Things that once made us laugh now seemed silly and childish. Some of us even show our 'maturity' by controlling our laughter. We feel that people may take advantage of us if we laugh too much or too often.

Laughing is healthy. The amount of stress that we adults accumulate in our day to day lives needs to be released. Laughter is probably the best and the cheapest way to do it and have fun at the same time. No wonder then that laughter clubs are mushrooming all over. All the pent up frustration and suppressed laughter are released in these clubs without any inhibitions. People feel relaxed after a good round of laughter.
However, it is not necessary to join a club to laugh. It only needs a tweak in our attitude and approach. We can literally laugh our way to good health. When we laugh our body generates and releases a lot of positive and good enzymes which not only makes us feel good but also healthy.

On a different level also, laughter makes sense. If we reflect on this world and all its ups and downs, one can really feel like laughing. Realise that everything around us is temporary and neither good nor bad situations will last forever. Therefore, when life does seem stressful, use this understanding to laugh your troubles away. People who have reached the pinnacle of knowledge will tend to laugh at every situation.

"Laughter is a tranquilliser with no side effects" - Arnold Glasow

"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people" – Victor Borge

"Between the laughing and the weeping philosopher there is no opposition: the same facts that make one laugh makes one weep" - George Santayana

"A young man who has not wept is a savage and the old man who will not laugh is a fool" – Confucious