When Worth Meets a Wall – 3 Tips to Help You Bounce Back

Merit + Hard Work = Success/Appreciation.  Right?

Not Necessarily, actually!

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One of the biggest myths of contemporary popular culture hinges on a direct causal relationship between merit and success. Shows like Big Bang Theory and movies like The Pursuit of Happyness would have you believe that even if you are socially awkward like Sheldon in the former or on your own like Gardner in the latter, eventually the world is compelled to recognize your worth and reward you.

Fact is, it always doesn’t work like that. If you are good at your work and wish you prove that at your workplace, your co-workers, boss and even the organization may not always be willing to give you the opportunity – no matter that it would benefit others more than anything you would make out of it.

Met with opposition, you prove your superior capability, turn on your charm and when nothing works, You push harder! Of course it all backfires. At best, you end up where you started and at worst, you are thrown out. Before you, even with all your genius and dedication, find yourself with a pink slip, here are 3 ways to meet rejection:

  • First out, do not take it personally. Realize that the organization is not yet ready for your innovation. Your boss may not want you to get credit for any good work while your co-workers may be plain jealous of you being better than them. The rejection is not always a reflection of your worth – it is the outcome of many different emotional and organizational processes.
  • Diversify – Remember the old adage, when a door closes, look for a window! Explore other organizations, mentors or even online platforms where your ideas and skills will be appreciated more. The road is bound to be long and hard but it is better than being stuck at one place. And you never know who might like your vision or where you might be a better fit.
  • Finally, do not anchor your self-worth in work. Be thankful just for the fact that you are alive. Practice gratitude exercises and appreciate all that you have been blessed with – perhaps a loving spouse, loyal pet, pretty home and other skills like baking or photography.

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In 1984 the global computer industry was transformed by the launch of the Macintosh computer. But just the next year, the company fired the very man behind the major innovation – Steve Jobs. And yet he went on to design the most iconic devices and emerged as one of the most successful entrepreneurs of all times.

Whether or not you reach such heights, have confidence in your worth – Keep trying but differently!

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3 Freedoms for India

Each time I go back to Tagore’s famous poem, ” Where the Mind is Without Fear…” I am stunned into reflection on how vastly relevant it is now, more than a century later when it was written in 1913. After a morning of rumination on Independence Day, here are three freedoms that I believe India needs today.

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Freedom from violence

This fundamental trait distinguishes life in a civil society from one in a jungle. Each citizen of India and especially  oppressed and subjugated groups in our country – across gender, class, caste and tribe – deserve freedom from violence. And by this I include violence directed at a woman for travelling in public transport at night, at a child simply for being an orphan, at a Dalit for drinking water from a well, at a tribal for demanding education, at trees and forests to make way for garish hotels, at historical monuments without which we lose our heritage ….and all such atrocities which are simply unacceptable in this age. And the cesspool which feeds this Hydra of Violence is naturally, Corruption – the most insidious, toxic and destructive form of violence perpetuated on the people.

Freedom to lifestyle

If I am not eating your food, wearing your dress, living in your home, playing in your yard  – then I should be allowed to eat, wear, pray, drive, run, sing, write, walk, socialize as and how I please. Work is a contentious issue made murkier by reservation policies – even then if I have all the skills, then my gender and origin should not bar me from working where I want to.

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Freedom to opinion

That’s right – you have a right to your opinion as I have to mine. At best we can learn from each other’s point of view , at worst we can agree to disagree. Politely Please. No need to threaten me or my family members with rape. Of course this will be comprehensible only to people who know the difference between expressing an opinion and exhorting multitudes from city pulpits to violence. But there are legal experts who can hopefully clarify such trivial points for those devoid of Reason or Ethics.

There are so many other freedoms that can be added to the list. Can you think of more what India needs today? Tell me….

4 Habits to Give Up Today

Though they demand time and effort, bad habits can be got rid of and good habits learnt anew. So if you are struggling to adopt a positive healthier lifestyle, here is a handy guide to get rid of these 4 habits today.

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Manage your Time

# Putting things off

One of the easiest ways to stop yourself from putting things away for a later date, is to break a big task into smaller, more manageable bits – for example if you need to write a research paper by the end of the coming week, start by drawing a conceptual framework, then write down your hypothesis and eventually get on with data collection etc till you arrive at results. Tackling the toughest bits early in the day, giving yourself a pep talk every now and then as well as rewarding yourself with treat like a pizza in your favourite flavours could be other ways to put an end to procrastination.

# Spending Beyond Your Means

The best way to stop overspending is to give up all your credit cards but one to pay only utility bills. Draw up a budget on paper so that you can see your income and expenses in black and white. Another useful tip is to sign up for auto-debit feature in your salary account, so that as soon as your pay comes, a part of it is swept into savings. At the same time, learn to be more aware of the power of consumerism so that you develop the inner resources to resist the lure of advertising.

# Not Moving Enough

39% of the world adult population are overweight and 13% are obese, according to WHO statistics which means that one of the most physically harmful habits is lack of exercise. In order to get moving, choose any activity that you enjoy – start brisk walking around your neighbourhood or lifting weights in the gym. Take a Yoga class or join the gorgeous gang in aerobics.

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Affirm Your Self

# Putting Yourself Down

None of the above bad habits can be completely unlearnt if you do not affirm yourself. This simply means to separate your selfhood from your bad habits so that while you recognize the harm caused by your actions, you do not get into the vicious cycle of self-blame, negativity and then more bad habits. Make an effort to give yourself the gift of unconditional self-acceptance so that you are not only ready for positive changes but attain emotional balance and inner peace in the long run.

Philosophers and Fish

Beginning work on a collection of political thinkers, I came across a few Medieval names my Post Graduate curriculum has blissfully skipped. After getting the publisher’s go-ahead, I sat down with the list again and was intrigued by one in particular, Maimonides. After some preliminary web search, I found he was a Jewish philosopher from Spain and one of the most revered Torah scholars of his time. I was also surprised to find that he is the craftsman of the very popular proverb,

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Give a man fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime

But my meandering didn’t stop at that. Like a good non-resident Bangali, I then began looking for other proverbs featuring fish.

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Image source: BestFunnies.com

And after around 25 odd minutes of fishing – a thousand apologies, the temptation was just too ‘maach’ (Shucks! last one, promise) – about, here is what I gathered…

Never forget that only dead fish swim with the stream” –  Malcolm Muggeridge

Governing a great nation is cooking a small fish – too much handling will spoil it”- Lao Tzu

Many men go fishing their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after” –  Thoreau

Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days” –  Benjamin Franklin

Fishermen own the fish they catch but they do not own the ocean” –  Etienne Schneider

No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise” –  Lewis Carroll

And perhaps my personal favourite:

A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle

Or right now, maybe this one:

“Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath” –  Arnold H. Glasgow

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Image Source: The Musings of Mark Haggan

 

 

 

Crazy about Karaoke – 3 Ways to Get it Right

Whether it’s a night out with pals or a date with that special someone, doing karaoke makes for loads of fun. However if you are not a trained singer, the idea of being in the spotlight with a microphone in your hands can be a little scary. Here are 3 surefire ways to banish the jitters and get crooning with karaoke.

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Crazy about Karaoke 

Your voice sounds best when the microphone is held a little away from your mouth. Actually imagine you are holding an ice cream cone for that perfect distance.

When choosing tracks, stick to what works for your voice and what you are familiar with. That way you have got some chance of actually sounding like the song you are supposed to be singing. However if want to do a song whose words you are unsure of, avoid dancing. This will help you to focus on your singing and if you really feel the urge to move, gesture with your hands and keep your feet still.

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Finally you can enjoy karaoke even if you are totally tone-deaf or unbearably shy. If so, head out in a group – that way you wouldn’t have to sing A) because there probably won’t be enough mikes to go around and B) the more confident singers would likely hog them anyway, so you can merely hum along as you soak up the experience.

 

Back To School

Let me get this straight

“You mean you are actually – willingly – doing this?”

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Back to Studies

My daughter’s incredulity would’ve been funny had the scene been playing out on the TV screen, like in a Man with a Plan type of family comedy series where teens perpetually talk to parents with an arched eyebrow.

“Why should it be so strange that I might want to do a course?” I tried to keep my equanimity even as I felt fine tendrils of self-doubt uncurling in my heart.

“Who would want to voluntarily study, take an exam, go through this —?!” the last word was quite expressive of the hatred that kids have for exams.

As you may have guessed by now – this mini inter-generational drama was all about my signing up for a college course.  I had a sneaking suspicion my teen daughter’s reaction was actually resentment at the possibility of not having me at her beck and call for a few months the following year when I would be in the thick of my studies. But over the next few weeks my suspicions evaporated. I found her actually happy that she had a co-sufferer now and eventually my darling even began taking on the much-despised pet-related chores off my shoulders.

The rest of the family was just relieved I had found something to plug my intermittent whining about the absence of a ‘proper’ career.

Outside, my revelation was generally met with varying degrees of interest – from an off-hand “oh really” in the middle of a rambling description of shopping in Dubai’s Gold Souk to real concern that I might be subjecting my brain cells to more than it could bear at this age. Two reactions stand out in my memory – one:

“Really – But why? What possible good can any course do now – will you even make enough to cover course fees?”

And the second was, of course, what started it all:

“I see…if you are so interested in the subject, maybe you should go ahead with it – just find a way.”

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Minerva and the Nine Muses by Hendrick Van Balen – Minerva is the Greek Goddess of Wisdom

Some words, uttered by someone, in a moment of pure congruence – you never know where it can lead you.

 

Lessons In Letting Go

Can it happen already?

I remember the first post written after I settled down in my cosy nook here, in the Nilgiris. There I had reflected on difficulty of uprooting oneself and changing homes ever so often.

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And almost exactly a year later, I am back facing the same questions. Freshly moved to another house though still in these sylvan surroundings, here I go planning wall decor even as my half-awake mind seeks the familiar door handle at 3 in the morning when I have to let out my dog.

But most of all, my heart searches for the colours and blooms of the garden I have left behind. The burst of colours on the flower-beds, grass so green it would hurt the eyes and the perpetual humming of bees as they hovered over the hedges.

And yet I find myself embracing my new surroundings with some equanimity now. I roam its expansive grounds, feel the silken warmth of gladioli petals that bloom here in abundance and admire the gorgeous bougainvillea that embraces the porch.

But curiously I feel no desire to do more. No compulsion to impose my ideas of Beauty on these grounds, no need to recreate what I have left behind. I sit in the filigreed shade of the pine trees and watch my dog chase squirrels and rats. I know the boundary is secure but thankfully I have no more exotic flowerbeds to obsess over.

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Am I moving towards the Nirvanic ideal of detachment? I’d like to think so…and turn towards an ancient Australian Aboriginal proverb for understanding,

“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. We are here to observe, to learn, to grow, to love, and then we return home.”