5word5 theme 12 – Influence

I think there’s a very thin line between influence and inspiration . Influence is an external nudge – whether by a person, an emotion, a thing or an idea. Whereas inspiration is completely internal. When you are influenced by someone or something, you are usually following whereas when you are inspired, you tend, more often than not, to lead!

No matter how much we may want to deny it, we are all influenced by people, things and events in our life and none of us is truly self-made!

And then there’s the question of being positively and negatively influenced. I believe that the influence is always neutral; it’s our reaction to it that determines whether it is positive or negative for us. Usually something we only realise in hindsight!

Of late, social media is full of influencers – constantly telling us about the latest trends in fashion, electronics, technology, lifestyle and much more. Influencers in marketing today are what door-to-door to salesmen, TVC skyshop and other teleshopping used to be in the early nineties! Don’t get me wrong – I follow a lot of them and love to see their posts on my feed. But I really need to keep my instincts and wallet in check to ensure I don’t buy (literally or figuratively) everything I see!

Also, be wary when you are under the influence (of any substance) – of what you say and what you do. And definitely, don’t drink and drive!!

Here are the 5word5 for the day!

Images courtesy Google. Collage courtesy Befunky.com

Slokabs

Those glass orbs with people inside them that you get in souvenir shops always remind me of the astrologer’s crystal ball. I feel each of us lives within our own crystal ball, bound somehow by our history, choices and destiny – our little sphere of influence that no one from the outside can truly understand!

Dhiraj (blog)

Ms X used her influence to get Mr Y the position of Head Influencer at Influencer.com. But English is a very funny language – I can use the word influence to describe Mr Y, when he was under the influence seeing the energy of a photon in fluence, when he got the call for the interview.

Snacky

Ananya & Ravi owns a YouTube channel called “Celebrity”. Main idea of this channel is to disclose celebrities’ success stories and to debate on a few reality shows. Many started commenting that they both influence people. But they took it in a positive way. Still they continue as YouTube celebrities and attend many public functions.

Julie P

“After-all, Art imitates life”, he concluded to a thunderous applause. Decades ago, he was amongst the many who stood in the hot sun with a canvas on an easel making replicas of famous paintings outside of this very art gallery. His current work was a pastiche of classical paintings.
Only the price tags had extra zeroes.

ShaBby

Sara and Tara are very good friends. Once when shopping, Tara had picked up a dress, influenced by Sara, though it was not her type of dress. Every time, Tara thinks of wearing it, she tries it on, feels uncomfortable, and ends up wearing something else.
> Decide for yourself. Don’t let anyone else influence you.

ShaBby

The most influential people in my life are my family. They have taught me to be honest, work hard to achieve your goals, share and care, respect everyone and most importantly love and value relationships. A positive influence helps us to have a better tomorrow. So ensure that your closest people are influencing you positively!

My musings

I was introduced to “How to make friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie at an impressionable age when I favoured fiction. It was my first self-help book.
Initially, I was hesitant to read but the book has its merits and some pertinent, easy to implement suggestions which interestingly became part of my personality forever.

Anusha Arvind

A smile on her face
She was a ball of grace
Spoke through her expressive eyes
Her dance would mesmerize
So swift and crisp were her moves
Perfect balance of innovation and brilliance
With plenty of elegance
She wanted to be of some influence
Through her dance she charmed her audience
With extraordinary stage presence

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Next theme is already up!

5word5 theme 11 – Unfair

This week’s theme appears to have been unfair to some of you (pun intended) seeing as I only have a few entries!! I hope, dear readers, you are not unduly ‘influenced’ (you’ll see why this is in quotes, shortly!) by this and only feel more motivated to contribute to the next theme!

Lots of things in life are unfair. Heck, Life is unfair! The grass is always greener on the other side. Someone always has better or bigger (or both!) stuff to show off when you are celebrating your achievements. Someone always has more money than you, no matter how well off you (unless you are Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, Ambani closer home or someone in their league). And someone always seems to get away with everything when all you seem to get into in trouble!

But as they say, it all evens out in the end. Though today may seem unfair (and perhaps it is), we realise at some point that everything is relative and the only thing that matters is how far we have come from where we started!!

On that deep gyaan-filled note, here are the handful of 5word5 shorts I received on this theme! Enjoy reading them and feel free to add your shorts in the comments if you get inspired!

Slokabs

Rina (in the cab): Would you like paratha, biryani or noodles for dinner, darling?
Aria: Obviously noodles, mummy! But I don’t want capsicums, zucchinis or peas in mine. Just onions, tomatoes and corn please.
Kumar dropped them off and got home an hour later to his wife, kids and their humble dinner of rice porridge.

Dhiraj (blog)

All is fair in love and war, but is it,
The cry for war is generally by someone who thinks it’s unfair,
The despaired lover usually cries out victimhood because it’s unfair,
However Fair or Unfair it may seem, the only real justice is to move on,
Move on to greater things, love and paradise.

Anusha Arvind

It was her special day. She won the award for best actress. Flooding with fame, she added glory to her name. She faced plenty of challenges that came. She dealt with it all causing no shame. Life was unfair sometimes but she shined at the end and proved to be a master of her game.

Snacky

Vishnu and his teammates always give their best shot to their projects. But he genuinely feels that pay scales in the company are imbalanced. Many of them are paid less while others favouring his manager are paid more. He tells his CTO about this unfair treatment in the hope that he will be their champion.

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New year greetings!

2020 turned out to be a milestone year in my blogging repertoire – I published the maximum posts this year! Yay! So happy to share this with all of you and I owe huge thanks to you lovely bunch for following my blog and continuously motivating me to write more and better.

The highlight of the year as far as my blog goes was the launch of the 5word5 series (if you’ve just landed on my blog and don’t know what this is about, head over to this post to know more)! Thanks for accepting it wholeheartedly and contributing your beautiful bytes on the 8 themes we had this year. I look forward to many more in 2021.

That said, I thought it’s only fitting that my new year wishes for you this year should also be 55 word bytes! So here are my new year wishes for you in 6 crisp 5word5 shorts.

Health

If you and your loved ones have been healthy through 2020, consider yourself blessed. I do! 2020 reiterated to me, loud and clear, never to take my health for granted again or that of the people I love. I pray 2021 blesses you and your folks with the best of health – physical, mental and spiritual!

Strength

It hasn’t been easy, this past year. And all of us have had our own set of challenges to deal with. But amidst all of that, we’ve all had silver linings – People, things and events that have kept us strong and perhaps, even made us stronger! Strong enough to ace whatever 2021 has in store!

Hope

Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst, says ancient wisdom. 2020 knocked this lesson into our brains hard and deep – through everything, hope’s one thing that never left our side. I hope 2021 gives wings to all your hopes, aspirations and dreams; and you, the courage to see them through to fruition!

Choices

Every now and then, life throws us a curveball. We can choose to duck and miss for sure or dive and stand a chance! In the darkest times, the smallest actions can make the biggest difference! I hope in 2021, you make the right choices that make your and your folks’ lives happier and richer!

Change

The only things that’s predictable about life is that it’s unpredictable! We saw that in 2020. I pray that you’re able to embrace any change that comes your way in 2021 or in the years ahead with positivity! I hope you see the opportunity in every setback, because let’s face it – life’s full of them!

Joy

Above all, if there’s anything 2020 has taught us repeatedly, it’s to be grateful! I hope you find joy in everything – big or small – in your life! Trust that the future will be better than the past but don’t forget to enjoy the present in the process! Count your blessings, spread smiles and be kind!!

Here’s wishing every one of my lovely readers a sparkling new year full of good health, happiness and fun! Happy 2021!!

Do keep following my blog, contributing to 5word5, commenting on my posts and spreading love 🙂 I look forward to engage better and more in 2021!

Things desired….– (My favourite poems mini series – instalment 6)

The last post in this mini-series is not strictly a poem; it’s a prose-poem. This poem, “Desiderata” (which is a Latin word that loosely translates as ‘something that is desired or wanted’) is touted in various poetry circles as a manual for life.

The poem is steeped in spirituality and stresses the importance of living a life based on high ideals, having faith and trust in a higher power. Though there are some myths around its origins, it is believed to have been written by Max Ehrmann in 1920. But the poem was not really known during his lifetime and only started becoming famous after his death. His widowed wife published a collection of his poems (including this one) after his death under the title “The Desiderata of Happiness: a collection of philosophical poems by Max Ehrmann” in 1948 after which Desiderata‘s use in devotional and spiritual discourses and recordings picked up rapidly because of its universal messaging.

This poem has deep meaning for me. I was acquainted to it pretty late in life and was introduced to it by a senior colleague at work. Ever since, it has been a go-to for me whenever I need some lifting up. This poem also helps me introspect on my actions and my thoughts. Different lines have given me solace at different points of time in life.

Here’s the poem for you to read!

Desiderata_max ehrmann

I really can’t choose a favourite line in this poem because as I mentioned earlier, I have related to different parts of it at different times in life!

Although this poem is written in rather colloquial terms, for today’s post, I want to break it up further to spell out my interpretation of these deeply inspiring lines that have resonated with me in so many ways. At the cost of making this a rather long-ish post, I hope you will find some value in my elaborate thoughts!

I’ve also linked up my earlier posts wherever they relate to the lines of the poem – I was surprised to find that so many posts of mine have been subconsciously influenced by a thought process so similar to the essence of the poem! Probably the reason why this one’s the last in this series – it’s one that I relate to the most in the list and ties up all the earlier poems in this series (and some more!) together in a dramatic way!

So here we go!

GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

Find your peace even amidst all the chaos you may be experiencing in your life. Silence is golden – You don’t have to speak only to break it.

I wrote recently in my post on Daffodils about ‘the bliss of solitude’. I truly find that when nothing else works, silence is the best therapy because in silence, you can hear and connect with your inner voice. Here’s a link to an earlier post on the ‘The bliss of silence’ that I wrote long back!

Silence – in personal and in professional interactions – can really help you perceive things differently and achieve results that many a time, words can’t!

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

This one’s easy – don’t pick petty fights with people. Don’t compromise on your values in doing so, but try to be the bigger person whenever you can. You can be friendly without being friends with someone!

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Don’t be afraid of the consequences as long as you have done nothing wrong. Be honest and true to yourself.

We are all on our own life path and no matter how much we try, we can never really, completely understand another person because we’ll never go through what they are going through or experience it in exactly the same way. Being nice and showing some empathy goes a long way, as I have also written about in the posts linked here. The golden rule of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you‘ applies here. In fact, go one step further and ‘Do unto others as they would like you to do unto them‘ – read more on this in my earlier post on the Platinum rule of relationships.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

This one’s a bit hard seeing as we don’t always get to choose our company! But as far as possible, keep joyful and civil company – people who bring out the best in you! This circles back to the first stanza of the poem – don’t let the noise outside of you drown out the voice inside your head!

One can’t help compare – whether its lifestyles, wealth, opportunities and/or fortune. Yet, it’s important to train the mind to not compare – To be able to be happy for others without being jealous of them.

Something I HAVE to mention here – Social media and TV today serve as constant reminders to us about the imperfect lives we are leading – imperfect only because they are stacked up against picture perfect instagram posts, travel feeds and a digital idyll that some people seem to be living in. It’s these comparisons that we need to be wary of!

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Enjoy the journey as much as the destination. Take time to make merry and soak in the joys of the present moment because you’ll never get it back! As I mentioned in an earlier post in this series, you may have miles to go before you sleep but you won’t cross this abundant forest again.

It’s interesting that the poet talks about career specifically in the midst of the other generic life advice that the poem offers because it just emphasizes how much our life really depends on it. Choose your career well and resist comparing it with others. As I mentioned in my previous post, life is a decision tree and we are defined by the choices we make. Have faith that you will have your time to shine and when you do, no one will be able to stop you. Remember that while you’re cribbing about a lost promotion, someone else is desperate for a job! So have patience and take pride in your work.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Don’t let the 5% of negative and treacherous people make you lose faith in the 95% of humanity that’s leading their life on the basis of goodness and strong values. Be careful but not paranoid.

Be happy for the little niceties that you see around you – that honest cabbie who returned your mobile because of his own integrity, a delivery-boy who got you your Subway amidst pouring rain because he was committed to his job, a co-worker who stayed back at work to help you finish yours because she genuinely cared – there are scores of people out there who are still being nice for no reason and with no ulterior motive. Don’t be blind to the possibility of being cheated, but don’t let your suspicion come in the way of creating valuable, positive and lasting relationships.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Don’t be apologetic for who you are! Be yourself and take pride in it. My first post in this mini-series was about ‘being YOU’ which you can read here. Another of my posts that you should go check out is this one – Being authentic. In a world that’s constantly trying to pigeonhole you into some some kind of boxed up definition, don’t lose yourself and your free spirit! And remember, part of being yourself is allowing yourself to change! So don’t stick yourself up against some past “ideal” that you set if it’s holding you back from being the best version of yourself today.

Love is all-encompassing. Love truly, widely and freely. And when you are loved, receive that gift with open arms because it’s nature’s way of telling you that you’re special and worthy and deserving of every iota of that love coming your way! But most of all, love yourself – the most – and not in a selfish way but in a caring, forgiving and accepting way!

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Don’t be afraid of growing up. It’s not something you can control. Instead, enjoy the process. As you grow, a lot of things will change – the things you enjoy may not hold your attention anymore, the things you once found annoying may start becoming more bearable or even important to you. Being young in the mind does not mean not accepting the wisdom of the years. So you can still keep your spirit childlike while accepting gracefully, the changes that age brings.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

In simple terms, this translates as ‘hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst’. Steel yourself to fight anything that comes your way so that when misfortune strikes, you don’t cower down. But don’t let that stop you from being positive and cheerful. Don’t ever come under pressure to sell yourself out. Meditate on the good things in your life. Surround yourself with the people who matter to you, communicate effectively and try to uplift the people around you whenever you can.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

Irrespective of everything, love yourself and be kind to yourself. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to falter along the way. Ask for help when you need it.

You are special and one of a kind – there’s no one else quite like you!! So own your place under the sun!

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

You may or may not believe in God. But know that there is a higher power that is keeping the cosmic checks and balances in order. Follow the principle – ‘Change what you can, accept and let go what you can’t and most importantly, know the difference’! Be positive, cheerful and kind, spread love and be honest to yourself. Everything will pass and what will eventually matter is not HOW you got through it, but that you DID!

No matter how broken or flawed it may seem, the world is still a beautiful place with lots to cheer about.

Focus on the sparkle in your life – The happiness you desire is within you. Allow yourself to feel it and spread it!

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Phew – I did say it was going to be a long-ish one. Maybe we can take the ‘ish’ out now!!

But if you got to the end of this post, you’ll agree with me on how this poem really covers EVERYTHING there really is to finding your sunshine!

Let me know if there’s a specific part of the poem that resonated with you the most!

That brings me to the end of this mini-series. I’ll be back with something new soon. Keep reading, keep following and keep commenting on my blog!

Take care you guys, and stay safe!

Being authentic – Day 30 of 30 – #30days blog marathon

Yesterday’s post was about being nice. Today, I’m writing about being authentic. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive! But it’s important to know the difference.

If you feel under some kind of pressure to behave in a certain way, then you’ll have trouble sustaining it because you aren’t being true to yourself. Pressure could be social – put on you by those around you or personal – put on you by yourself.

The important difference between being nice and being authentic is this:
Putting your heart into what you are doing is being nice.
Doing what your heart is in is being authentic.

Going the extra mile to be nice does not mean that you fake it! Care and concern, love, an innate need to connect to people – these are traits that cannot be be cultivated. They either come from within or they don’t. And they could be different towards different people, as they usually are. It is humanly impossible to behave in exactly the same way with every person you meet. But what you can do is be genuine every time.

Quite interestingly, one of the management lessons that I’ve been taught  – generally with regard to conversation skills, networking, marketing and other client-centric roles – is to ‘fake it till you make it’! Sip on that single glass of wine over three hours just to ‘fit in’. Act interested in an offer even when you aren’t to maintain relationships.

We live in a society where we are constantly under pressure to hide our emotions, smile even when we don’t want to. That’s us being nice. To be authentic, is to wear your heart on your sleeve. How then, in today’s society do we be authentic?

Don’t want to go to that party? You can either go and be nice or not go and be authentic. Or go for a bit and be both.

Not the sort to make an effort to keep in touch? Being authentic. Returning a call if someone had made the effort – being nice. And, being able to delight someone who does by picking from where you left off the last time. That’s you being authentic and nice all at once.

Not giving feedback because you don’t have anything good to say – being nice.
Calling a spade a spade, giving that negative feedback to someone’s face – being authentic, but probably hurtful to the other person.
Giving the feedback in a constructive manner that’ll actually help them – being both!

Avoiding confontation – being nice
Confronting a situation – being authentic, but probably detrimental to the relationship
Confronting diplomatically and with a genuine intent to resolve matters – being authentic and nice.

You meet someone and they’re coming for a hug but you don’t want to give one! Tricky situation!
Give the hug and be nice.
Don’t hug and be authentic.
Bring out those reflexes, and thrust your hand out for a handshake! On the fence!!

X shares a secret with you that you think Y should know. Tricky again!
Tell Y yourself – being nice to Y but not to X
Don’t tell Y – being nice to X but not to Y
Tell X to tell Y – being nice to both and being true to yourself!

Attending an event where the dress code is formal.
Wearing a dress or business suit because everyone there will be wearing one – well, I’d call this as being safe rather than being nice.
Wearing a saree because you want to – being yourself and authentic.

These are just a few examples but I’m sure you get the drift of what I’m trying to express.

Why go through the effort of being nice? To please others
Why, then, try to be authentic at the same time? To be happy and true to yourself because, at the end of the day, you are answerable to yourself. And most importantly, to drop the fear of letting our true selves be seen.

Here’s an image I found online that explains being authentic very succintly. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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And it’s a wrap – the 30 day blog marathon is done and dusted! Hope you’ve followed through and enjoyed reading my posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.
I have received a few topic suggestions and in the past 30 days, I’ve gathered some blogging momentum so I hope to continue blogging frequently even after this blogathon. If you dont’ see anything up on this blog for a while, do feel free to reach to me and give me a friendly shove!

Being nice – Day 29 of 30 – #30daysblogmarathon

I sincerely believe that none of us are born or pre-disposed to be mean! And I’m quite sure none of us likes or enjoys being mean.

Our true self wants to be nice to others – that is our natural behaviour. The reason that the old saying – ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time’ – must have been coined was possibly because people were trying.

However, it seems these days, that old-fashioned manners, gracious social etiquette and generally being unconditionally nice to people (i.e. without expecting anything in return) are seen as too cumbersome and  people demonstrating such behaviours are chided as being goody-two-shoes (or unnecessarily setting the bar high!).

Of course, it’s not always black and white. It’s not as if you’re mean if you’re not nice – there is that zone in between where we all try to hover – the “Why do more, when I can get away with less or when less is also enough?” zone. The problem with being in that zone is that we often swing wildly between the nice and mean ends showing bouts of unpredictable behaviour.

Why are we mean at times? When we are mean, we are usually in either of the following situations:
– We are not mentally present in the situation at all. We are preoccupied with other things that seem to demand our attention more
– We are overwhelmed with a multitude of things and venting our frustration of one on the other
– We have been bottling in a lot of grief, grudges or anger over a period of time without any avenue to share or let it out and therefore spit it out once we reach saturation
– We expect others to read our minds, expect too much and resent it when they don’t live up to that
– We are busy eking out our life without paying attention to our natural calling – in other words, our heart is not in what we are doing (not from the perspective of our day jobs… Well that too… But mostly what we do to and for others)

The common thread between all the above reasons according to me is quite simply a lack of time – lack of time to focus, lack of time to heal, lack of time to think or lack of time to feel.

Much of our anger, resentment and frustration can be bucketed in at least one of the above situations (all that I could think of, but there could be more) which results in bringing out our unnatural mean side. But remember, that is not who we really are.

Being nice is not out-of-fashion, even though it might be made to seem like that. So go out there and make a difference! Be nice, especially when you don’t want to – because that is when you’re most likely to fall back on the mean side of your spectrum.

Pick up the phone
and call a friend
who you haven’t spoken to
in quite a while,
because who doesn’t like a call,
from a friend that’s just to say hi?!

Read a book
or watched a movie
that reminded you of someone,
send them a text, give them a shout,
Because who doesn’t like to be told,
That they’re remembered or thought about?!

Going out in a group,
Watch out for your pals,
Text them to know they got home safe,
If everyone’s drinking, be the one to drive,
Because who doesn’t like it,
When someone cares all the time?!

Hold doors open,
Show up on time,
Get gifts for no reason,
Make people smile,
Because who doesn’t like it
When someone goes the extra mile?!

When you’re feeling really mean,
Don’t react or talk,
Calm down and try hard
To smile your best smile
Because who can resist that sparkle
of niceness that’s hidden in your eyes?!

Be grateful and genuinely kind,
Spread some love all around,
Even if you’re alone,
Don’t give up,  just think
How being nice
is such a beautiful thing!

Not that we need an excuse to be nice but if that didn’t inspire you enough, here’s a lovely post I saw on FB yesterday that should do it!

 

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P.S. None of the content on this blog to be reproduced or lifted without permission

Need or want? – Day 26 of 30 – #30daysblogmarathon

Roti, kapda, makaan – food, clothing and shelter – the three things that, since time immemorial, have been impressed upon us as the basic necessities of life. Anything beyond these were considered as ‘good-to-haves’ or ‘wants’.

But as times have changed, so has the definition of necessities or needs. A lot of things that were wants earlier have become needs. And there is often confusion around the classification of things and experiences, that we spend on, between needs and wants.

The key question for me when I choose to spend on an item (whether, gadget, clothing or even an experience) is not whether I really need it but what would I lose for not having or doing it. Am I richer mentally, emotionally by choosing to become financially poorer for it?

I am not a saint so I don’t just spend on my needs. In fact, a large percentage of what I spend my money on are wants. But as long as I am conscious of that and aware that should the requirement arise, I can very well go without it, I see no harm. It’s not the ego of being able to afford something but the gratitude for it that makes the distinction meaningful.

So instead of listing down the questions that I ask myself when I want to buy something to decide whether I really need it or not, I thought it’d be more fun to put them together in a poem. So here we go!

I set out to discover
The difference between want and need;
Because with changing times
The difference is just a thin line!

Here are some questions I framed,
For that item or experience I think I need;
To help me figure and decide
Whether it’s actually a want in disguise!

Why do I need it?
Are the traditional methods archaic?
Are the erstwhile tools so obsolete,
that I absolutely can’t do without feeding the need?

Does the need satisfy
A basic requirement for life?
Do I need it only to fuel my happiness,
or even to just survive?

Gadgets and clothes;
The most enticing, the fastest changing;
While the basic varieties may well be a need,
Are the latest models or trends a must indeed?

And most importantly, is the need or want
Worth spending my money on?
Do those financially worse off than me
Also feel this to be a burning need?

Of course there’s nothing wrong
In indulging a want;
In fact it’s quite the harness
For a nice little burst of happiness!

But I don’t want to go around
Believing it’s a need;
When the answers to these questions moot
Do not as much prove!

Some examples of needs and wants in today’s context –

1. Mobile phone – This has replaced most stand telephones, cordless telephones and cameras even. I hardly know anyone who doesn’t own a mobile. It’s pertinent to note that traditional telephone devices and old fashioned basic cameras are no longer sold in most places. Does that make a mobile phone a want or a need? In today’s context, it is a need. But do we really need the IPhone or is a simple phone that allows us make and receive calls as well as send and receive texts enough? Seems like that is enough? It is! Anything beyond that is likely a want! It’s something you only spend on if you can afford it and have the willingness to! Also, if you have one of it, then that can be justified as a need but having more than one is likely a want (unless you’re someone who gets a lot of calls or needs to keep calls discreet from one another like a busy professional, celebrity or the prime minister of the country in which case, owning more than one might just become legit!). Same principle applies to most gadgets and technological items such as, for instance, TVs, laptops/computers or flash drives.

2. What about commuting? Is that car or bike a need or a want? Can public transport satisfy your needs or is owning a private vehicle a need? It almost never is a need! Public transport may be cumbersome or it may not have door-to-door connectivity for you but it still serves the purpose of transferring you from one place to the other. You can choose radio cabs that do this even better and you almost don’t need your personal vehicle at all unless you travel such long distances everyday that it becomes uneconomical for you in the long run. In owning your vehicle too, you can always choose between two-wheelers and four-wheelers, basic four-wheelers and sports cars or luxury vehicles. It’s near impossible to classify this as a need in India. However, if you think of some countries like the USA where the public transit system is not as well connected or because the country is so vast, its way more economical for you to own a car then the question of whether its a need or want should be seen in the context of the geography you are in.

3. Holidays – We all want to go on holidays. But going on a holiday itself is not really a need! Once you decide to go on one, the choice of staying in a lodge or a hostel or a 5-star resort are all based on how much you want to spend. There is no need to go for that spa treatment when on holiday but I want to because it makes the holiday complete for me! It makes me happy but do I need it? Questionable….because a getaway can also be a quick day trip to a nearby park and need not be a week-long (or weekend-long!) vacation!

4. Clothes – We all need clothes. But we all want good clothes! I may want to own the latest fashion but that’s very much a good-to-have. One thing to note here again is the context – I need to show up at work everyday in a well-groomed manner so I need some good clothes but whether that need to be a particular expensive brand or anything smart and crisp will do is entirely up to me. And how many of them should I own is also a qood question to ask.

5. Kitchen appliances – Fancy appliances like roti makers, waffle makers, cake moulds, confectionery ovens may be wants (unless you’re in the business of making roits or cakes!). But quite honestly, I can’t imagine a home kitchen without a pressure cooker, a mixer-grinder, a hand blender or a coconut grater. And I know most people would own one of these! So I would definitely reclassify some of these from wants to needs.

These are some of the things I could think of. What are your thoughts on wants and needs? Let me know in the comments!

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P.S. None of the content on this blog to be reproduced or lifted without permission

Share the load – Day 22 of 30 – #30daysblogmarathon

Ashley was a seven-year old girl travelling from Mumbai to Dubai. She was an unaccompanied minor (UM) which means she was travelling by herself. The way this works is – her parents would drop her off at Mumbai airport and hand over their daughter and her documents to an airline representative who would guide her through the airport, immigration and security procedures and ensure she boarded her flight. At Dubai, an airline representative would collect her, get her through immigration, baggage collection and stay with her until she met her aunt who was to come and receive her.

That means for the approximately 3-hours duration of the flight, she was pretty much on her own. Quite a feat for a seven-year old!

Ashley was very thirsty and as soon as her flight took off, the air-hostess passed by. Ashley stopped her and said “Excuse me, could you please get me a glass of juice or water. I’m extremely thirsty!”. The air-hostess snapped at her saying, “I’m already doing a million things. I will come back in a while with drinks”, and went off.

Now Ashley could have responded to this rude behavior in many ways. Below are two typical ways in which the scene could have played out!

Scenario 1

Ashley got very irritated and bellowed, “I am thirsty and I have paid for my seat on this flight so you will get me that juice right NOW!”

Scenario 2

Ashley checked if the seat belt sign was switched off and got up from her seat. She followed the air-hostess to the galley. She told the air-hostess, “I see that you are terribly occupied and I am sorry to bother you but I am really thirsty. Can I help myself to some water from here and then if you like, I could help you out with your work.”

The air-hostess’ reaction in both scenarios can easily be predicted. In Scenario 1, the air-hostess would have probably got Ashley the drink but with a lot of under-the-breath grudging and swearing. Or she would have just walked away and given her the drink when she came with the cart. Also, she would have probably snapped at anyone who spoke to her all day.

In Scenario 2, the air-hostess would have hugged her, thanked her profusely and given her the drink right away. And she would have been happier for the rest of the day than she would have been in Scenario 1. She would have been nicer to others and may probably have passed the kindness along.

When people are upset, they tend to carry the burden of the world on their fragile shoulders. The best thing to do in such situations is to not add to the load but to help offload some from their shoulders. They may or may not thank you for it explicitly but be sure that they will feel good and remember to help someone else when they have the opportunity. You will begin a circle of kindness that will get passed on and on, spreading smiles and joy along the way. And in most cases, it’ll find its way back to you!! No greater joy than spreading some then, isn’t it?

There are so many little ways in which we can do this. We don’t need to wait for an occasion to be kind.

  • Your mum’s busy cleaning the house, cooking the food, planning the evening and setting the table for guests. Help her with some of the tasks without her having to ask.
  • Your colleague is neck-deep in a project that has to be delivered tomorrow and you have some free time. Offer to help and do it geniunely and meticulously, such that he/she does not have to then spend time checking and correcting your work!
  • Your neighbour is carrying a bunch of shopping bags. Offer to carry a couple of them for him/her
  • Your friend is going through a personal crisis. Sit with them and let them vent without judging. Don’t add to the crisis by dissecting the situation and pressuring them into ‘getting over it’.

You don’t have to do great things to make people happy. Being good and kind in the smallest of ways is enough.

In fact, I was having this conversation with a close friend, Manisha and we were talking about how, in our pursuit of doing great things, we miss out on the little ones that actually make a world of difference. Jim Collins, in his book ‘Good to Great’ said ‘Good is the enemy of great’. He talks about how being happy with good or ‘good enough’ prevents greatness. But as Manisha and I were talking, we actually felt that this quote can easily be turned on its head as ‘Great is the enemy of good’. In our quest to do big and popular deeds of  kindness, we go through life overlooking the seemingly straightforward situations in which we could have made a difference. Don’t let that happen with you!!
Share the load and appreciate the small ways in which you can impact other’s lives!
P.S. Inspiration for the story in this blog post came from this FB post shared by my friend Vidya, that I came across recently.

Empathy – Day 17 of 30 – #30daysblogmarathon

What is the most important quality that brings about understanding between two people in a relationship?

I think it’s the quality of empathy – the ability to truly put yourself into another’s shoes, to feel what they feel, to be able to anticipate their reactions to your behaviour and accordingly modify your behaviour wherever possible.

You may not agree with everything they think or feel. But your ability to respect their point of view is crucial to the relationship – whether it is in marriage or friendship, between parents and children or siblings, boss and employee or peers at work.

Many of us say ‘I understand’ very loosely as a response in conversations but do we truly understand and appreciate the other person’s point of view from their position or do we simply agree to disagree in order to avoid confrontation?

We all respond to circumstances and situations in a certain way that seems completely rational to us at the time. It is important to think before we speak or act yet, the fact remains that in most cases, we say and do things that feel right to us at a particular point in time. We may not feel the same way about them in hindsight or even if we were to be posed with the exact same situation in a hypothetical setting. But right in that moment, when faced with the situation, we behave in a certain way.

It’s the same for others. No matter how much we say, that we understand their position, we are not physically capable of living their life, getting into their mind or truly experiencing their situation. So we can only make a genuine concerted effort to appreciate their situation, constraints and emotions to genuinely ‘understand’ why they behave or react in a particular way. Trusting that the action or words were driven by esoteric factors and and not intent can make this more doable. Of course, you’d only make this effort for relationships and people who hold some amount of significance in your life.

Certain behaviours demand an apology but empathy makes forgiveness easier, making the relationship stronger.

Think about the following –
– That parent who couldn’t make it to his child’s sports day because he had to close a deal that would decide his bonus for the year!
– That sister who couldn’t make it to her brother’s wedding in another country because she was pregnant.
– That colleague who couldn’t meet a deadline because he fell asleep on the laptop after a week of sleepless nights
– That child who sleeps with the lights on because he is too scared of monsters (remember that the monsters seem very real to the child so saying something like ‘you’re being silly’ can just make matters worse and make them feel as if they can’t confide in you)
– and as I am learning as a new mother, empathy is so important with a baby. Trying to decipher your baby’s cries when he’s fed, has slept and should ideally be very playful can be the most frustrating feeling ever but maybe he doesn’t want to go out, or maybe I’m forcing him to sleep more or maybe he’s too hot – as long as he can’t speak, trusting that he’s crying for a genuine reason and not just to throw a tantrum is so important to maintaining maternal sanity!

What do you think strengthens understanding in a relationship? Let me know in the comments!

New post tomorrow….ta-da!

Thanks to science and technology! – Day 13 of 30 – #30daysblogmarathon

In the last 3 days, I’ve separately thanked nature and scientists. It’s time to now be thankful for the science and technology that has transformed our lives for the better and is continuing to do so every day.

If it weren’t for the curious and talented geniuses that have walked this earth, we never would have progressed as much as we have! These are some of the things that technology has enabled us to do for which I feel so grateful.

 

– Simplifying routine tasks – If we look, we can find that there is an appliance to help us do practically everything that we usually do during the day be it in the kitchen, at work, in the gym, you name it. If you like to and can afford it, you can actually automate every aspect of your life. There are now mobile applications for every little thing from tracking your finances to tracking menstrual cycles; ordering food to buying gold, from reading books to watching movies to listening to music, to meditating – anything that you can think of, chances are that there’s an app for it.

 

– Being connected – whether by mobile, email, voice or video chats, technology has made distance quite redundant when it comes to reaching out and staying connected with people. This, for me, is by far technology’s greatest gift to mankind. Facebook has made it easy to find anyone no matter how many years it’s been since you last met. Whatsapp has practically replaced phone-calls and made it so much easier to communicate with people. I remember talking to someone about this recently – Earlier, people had open doors and visitors would feel free to drop in when they want because someone or the other would be home. Then there came a time when people would call to ask if they could come over. Now they Whatsapp to ask if they can call!

 

– Medical advancements – probably the most significant of science’s achievements is the strides it’s made in the field of health and medicine. No matter what the disease, science has given us at best, a longer life and at worst, some hope. Of course, not all maladies are curable but a lot more of them are today than a few decades ago.

 

– Mobility – Getting from one place to another was never so easy. App-based ride hailing services have changed the way we commute. Earlier, our only options were owned vehicles or public transport but not anymore! Cruise control, parking guides and other helpful features for safe driving, autopilot for aeroplanes – there have been betterments across modes of transport and or access to them.

 

– Shopping – I suffer from Digishopaholicism which is a name I coined for my chronic online shopping addiction so that it seems a tad more legit and somehow makes it feel like it’s out of my control! I have found that if I can think about something, I can find it online and there’s a way for me to procure it. I can get everything I need at my fingertips if I want to. This has been made possible only because of the supply chain and logistics facilities that technology has afforded. Imagine connecting vendors and buyers from across the globe just a century ago – that entailed ships and months of waiting. Not any more though. I absolutely HAVE TO thank technology for that! Also, credit cards and digital payments…..so much more convenient than having to carry around wads of cash! We live in a time when everything is sold in hundreds and thousands of Rupees. So without digital payments, we would have to carry a lot more cash around than earlier generations where this was not so much the case.

 

– Any post on technology would be incomplete without thanking the big daddy of them all – Google! There’s practically nothing that can’t be found on Google and it’s the new age equivalent of  ‘if you don’t know, then ask your elders!’

 

Technology has changed the way me move, the way we communicate, the way we interact with our surroundings in this Instagram age (capture it even before you can experience it!), the way we make ourselves heard in the Twitter age, the way we eat and shop – bringing the world to our doorstep giving us a ton of options for everything!

 

Of course, there’s always cynics that will say that technology has not been all-good. If it has given us medical advancements, it has also given us nuclear weapons. While it has given us comfort and convenience, it has also made us sedentary and there more prone to disease. Where we have ease of being connected, there’s also the fear of loss of privacy. All of which, I will not deny.

 

But isn’t that true of any discovery? It’s only as good as the choices you make on how, when and how much to use it. I use them just enough to feel good about them! What about you?