Yoga…..The easy way to self-improvement…self-empowerment…

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21st June, the longest day of the year, was declared as the International Day of Yoga in 2015.Yoga, originally meaning ‘union’ in Sanskrit has been practiced in the India and the countries around since times immemorial. However, it’s only a few years back that it proliferated common households in India. 

True to its name, Yoga is best done in groups. It brings people together. Yoga is truly a symbol of unity in diversity, doesn’t matter what caste, creed, colour, religion, race or region you belong to you can perform yoga. 

Yoga is not just about unity, its about health and fitness. Fitness of mind, body and cleansing of thoughts. Once you are out early in the morning, performing Yoga, the exposure to the fresh air, the pollution free environment and the exercise per se you undergo not just helps in improvement of physique but also empowers you with a healthy mind. Empowers you to think ahead, to think through. Yoga is a complete package for self-improvement. 

Yoga will help you realise your true potential. If you ask people of any age group, to name one thing/ task they find most difficult to do in the day, a majority will certainly say, it’s getting out of the bed, early morning. Once you have achieved that rest all falls in place. Therefore, anyone who is into Yoga has already overcome this problem of getting up early in the morning and after the physical routine of yoga exercises is mentally and physically fit to take on the world. 

“Yoga does not just add years to your life it adds life to your years”. It symbolises addition for happiness. Happiness is in being together, in sharing and caring. 

You improve by adding happiness, spreading happiness, adding knowledge, adding relationships/ friends. 

“Do Yoga….Enrich your body and mind….Detoxify…Empower yourself”

Born Lucky….Born Blessed…

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I was born in a lower middle-class family. At the time of my birth my dad was a clerk in a government organisation and mother a housewife. My father was a high school pass out and My mom, what some will say, a school dropout. 

But then, I was born lucky. Lucky because my parents understood the meaning of good education, more than that they understood the relevance of value education. They ensured that all of us siblings went to good schools and got the best of the education. 

I was lucky that my parents instilled moral values in me, made me capable of differentiating right from wrong. Made us corruption proof. “They taught me to live within my means and that to live happy I don’t have to own too much, rather, no one should own me”. 

I was born lucky to have parents who taught me to stand on my own feet very early in life. They taught me the meaning of ‘Never ever giving up’. They were the best examples of ‘fighters’ I have ever seen. They achieved most with the minimum. They ingrained deep down in my brain that “Happiness had very little connection with material possessions. Happiness has to flow from within”. 

They never differentiated between people, in fact it is late in school, I learnt that people could be differentiated on basis of caste, creed, religion and region. They taught me the value of respecting, maintaining and honouring relationships. 

My parents gave me the freedom of choice, freedom to do what I wanted to do with my life. 

Yes I was born lucky, born blessed and continue to reap the rewards till date…..Yes I am Happy.

Whose permission are you waiting for????….Move out of the shadow to excel….

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All parents desire an obedient child. There is nothing wrong in a child being obedient. There has to be some discipline in life, majority of the parents take it too far and desire that the child should blindly follow all orders; submissive to authority. Most parents desire that the child should seek their permission/ approval before taking any step. This may be correct to an extent in the initial years of life when the child is just learning and may not have the ability to make his own decisions. 

This desire is one of the main reason contributing to the children not achieving their set goals in future. The child gets so used to seeking permissions / approvals that even after his own professional/ business carrier the habit refuses to leave him/ her. He looks around for approvals from parents / seniors / colleagues / spouse before starting something new. This is what leads to failure as maybe he is trying to do something which actually is not his preference/ choice; he is got into it because he is incapable of making his own decisions or mentally too weak to say No to others. 

Learn to make your decisions. It’s your life, you know what’s best for you. You don’t have to take permissions from others. Yes, keep your parents/ partner informed, seek their inputs where needed, discuss with them but final decision has to be yours. Make your own decisions, be your own boss. If you can’t be even your own boss then you certainly can’t lead others. 

“Move out of the shadow…..If you want to grow in life…”

Effective communication…..Key to success….

 

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Communication is the key to success. Communication may be verbal or non-verbal, just expressions convey it all. Good communication skills are a must to convey a view point, to convince people. You may have the facts and logic right but if you are not able to put across it to the target audience in a convincing manner then you may fail to get their approval. 

At home, the art of communication matters in keeping the happiness index high. Dialogues are any day better than monologues. Allow the kids to express their but most of them may be poor in face to face and written communication. Most of them get nervous with the thought of getting on to the stage. It’s the responsibility of parents and teachers to develop the communication skills of the children. This will help the kids in facing the world, head on, in future. They will not develop cold feet facing interviews or giving presentations. 

In offices, a word of appreciation or even a ‘smily’ through the email from the senior will go a long way in keeping the junior motivated. Hugs still matter and can-do magic. An arm round the shoulder, a pat on the back or a casual inquiry about the well-being helps in keeping the atmosphere stress free in the work places. Hear everyone, take feedback, it positively helps in improving and making the right decisions. Empathy matters more than sympathy in work places. 

Communication helps social interaction. Many professionals have lost out on growth prospects because of bad word of mouth reputation. This doesn’t mean a senior should mollycoddle the juniors. Be firm in your professional dealings and have total control on the language you use and be humane in behaviour. 

“Communication skills matter the most in a professional career and personal life….You can honestly convey whatever you wanted to…..without actually saying much” 

“ Boys …You are likely to lose out on a potential girlfriend for want of good communication skills …..learn to communicate effectively…”

Feet moving ,mind ticking…..you will go places….

 

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It’s a blessing in anyone’s life that, at the end of it all, when you bid final adieu to life, the mind and limbs are fully functional. People should remember you as the one who loved and lived life to the fullest. 

Feet moving and mind ticking basically implies a positive state of mind and making all attempts, going to any distance, meeting people to find solutions or resolving issues. Even as people are getting more and more desk bound, sticking to their work stations for long hours it is the active limbs and mind which are keeping them on the go. 

An active mind implies the power to be decisive, to translate your thoughts into vision. It’s the combination of active feet and mind which will help translate dreams into reality. The mind imagines, thinks things through, lays down a vision and the strong body helps in reaching the set goal. Invest in body and mind, feed them well. Keep upgrading knowledge base and keep fit. When you walk the distance, you will be in a position to understand your team better, you will learn to empathise. 

Most negative issues crop up in personal or professional lives due to our inability to move out and meet people, discuss issues. Though technology aids in interacting online, without leaving the comfort of the office or home, but such meetings are generally devoid of emotions, the personal touch is lacking. One has to get out of the comfort zone, take risks to excel. Technology just aids, it cannot replace the personal touch and emotions. 

Desk bound, long hours in the office is taking its toll on the body and mind. Breaks are a must to rejuvenate and re-energise the mind and body. Stop living from weekend to weekend, enjoy life, live each day. Have time for yourself, family and friends. Be active mentally and physically, move out with family, move out to meet friends or just move out to just be with nature. 

“There is a life beyond work stations, walk the distance….you are bound to make friends …find friends… and certainly find answers to most of your perceived problems..”

You can consider yourself successful only when you own your Time…….

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Everyone is here to succeed in his / her chosen field but it’s also true that most are not happy with the way their life is progressing. Some are in too much of a hurry to succeed while others are a bit too lazy. Everything you want in life has a price tag attached to it. This price tag may not be in just terms of money but mostly in terms of time and effort. 

To succeed, first step is to identify your purpose in life, what your heart and mind is into and follow it with passion. Have a clear vision, a well laid out step by step approach to your goal. Most of us waste our time trying to achieve perfection in a field selected by somebody else for us (generally our parents). 

You will certainly not be perfect in all fields (finance, human resource, material management and others) hence take assistance, hire people if you can. Understand the needs of the people who work for you, empathise. 

There is no alternative to hard work. Put in those extra hours and keep your work force motivated to give in their best. 

You have to have your own definition of success. Some may measure it in terms of money or property they build up, the respect they get, the important appointments/ positions they rise to. You may rise to any position, own anything, but if you don’t own your time then owning everything else doesn’t matter much. 

“Ultimate success lies in owning your time….having the freedom to use your time your way”

Life is beyond School Exams….

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June is the month of results in India. Results of the 10th and 12th standard school Board exams and all major competitive exams are declared in this month. A student who has appeared in any of these exams can be easily identified, as the month of June approaches, with the signs of nervousness which are so evident in their body language. Even the students who had supposedly under done very well, are under stress till the results are declared. Why do exams instill such fear and stress in the mind of students? 

Depending on whether the result has been good or bad a period of celebration or sorrow starts. Well emotions have to be expressed and small periods of depression is natural, however what is worrisome is the increasing number of suicides which take place when the result is not on the expected line. Has the life has become so cheap that a failure in one school exam can finish it? 

Life is full of exams and opportunities. A single failure doesn’t close the doors to success in future life. History is replete with examples of people who failed in school exams not once, but many times or failed to complete formal education and still went on to become role models of success in life. The only reason being that they treated failure as it ought to be treated… it is not the end. Maybe they realised that life was beyond the books. Success and failure, both, should never be taken to heart or made to burden the mind for too long. This is where the education system, both formal and informal, fails. Both do not prepare the students to face failures. Not just the parents, and teachers but most of the so-called preachers generally fail in preparing the child for life. They only prepare the students for mere school exams. 

Why should a failure in school exams or love life lead a young boy / girl to suicide? This a clear sign of weak grooming. Why do these young people fail to understand that their death only affects their parents and siblings who live with the loss all their life maybe with a feeling of guilt. By taking their life they have deprived themselves of the opportunities which might have come their way to excel and more importantly they have deprived their parents / dear ones the moments of joy and happiness which they could have given them in the journey of life. Suicides are no solution, they just cause a life long pain for people left behind. Failure in exam can be easily made up by putting in that extra effort or by putting your heart into something you love.

 

“Life is precious …Love it …Live it….Life is certainly much beyond school exams…”

“Failures , more often than not, provide a strong base for a bright future….provided you learn from them …”

Do not fear the mistakes…….

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I firmly believe that my happiness is my responsibility, I cannot let it depend on someone else. If I do that I may never be happy, but if my reigns are in my hands then I can change directions whenever I want, take a break when I feel the need and just be happy. Some may feel that it is easier said than done but take it from me, not very difficult to achieve. 

One thing which affects the happiness most in all phases of life is the zero-error syndrome. Mistakes are not just accepted by parents, teachers or bosses even when everyone is fully aware of the fact that mistakes will happen. No one can be always perfect. What is in our hands is to accept the mistake, understand the treason and make suitable corrections and ensure it is not repeated again. Most of the time actually it is not a mistake but a difference of opinion / perception specially in the offices. A senior wants a thing to be done in a particular way when there are multiple ways of doing it. The junior may not be actually wrong, he might have only done the task in a different way hence he is made to feel that he is wrong. This is the problem with most bosses and teachers / parents. Instead of complimenting the junior / child for putting in the requisite effort and accomplishing a task, they usually just point out the perceived mistakes and want the task to be done their way. 

Unfortunately, this junior, when he becomes a senior, more often than not repeats the mistakes of his juniors, sitting at judgement and wanting his juniors to do the tasks his way. The seniors / teachers / parents are not willing to accept the mistakes and the juniors / students are being tutored. Innovation and creativity is hardly encouraged.  Freedom of choice is being curbed. Every mother / teacher wants the child to score full marks always. It’s just not possible. Tutoring can help a child score 499 out of possible 500 marks in school but will certainly not help him in the exam of life. Creativity, risks are required to succeed in life. Teachers / parents should only assist the child in finding the solution and not tutor him. 

One may be the best student in school and topped all exams but that doesn’t guarantee success in everything he attempts later in life. Partial success / failures are part of life and should be taken that way. Failures throw up new lessons and most of the time lead to creation of altogether a new product, provided you are willing to accept the failures and more than that are not willing to give up. 

It is the fear of failure and the zero-error syndrome which is the main reason for creating unwanted stress in the schools and work places. Burdening the young minds for no reason. Accept mistakes, do not humiliate, just guide. Let the minds be free to think new, to create new. 

“Anyone who cannot accept & handle mistakes will seldom succeed in life”

Developing and Sustaining Relationships…Part II

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In the previous article I had discussed the factors which bind a relationship, in this part I will bring out some issues which may hinder healthy growth of any relationship. If love, trust, respect and space help in binding a relation together than what are likely threats to it. An understanding of the causes leading to breakups, may help in taking precautionary measures, if one wishes to take.

In my view, one of the main reason which adversely affects relationship is the ownership right or in simple words a tendency to control a person emotionally and physically. No sooner we get into a relationship; marriage or friendship, we have a tendency to exercise our ownership rights, we don’t feel comfortable to see our partner with somebody else. He or she is not expected to enjoy (in most cases) same relationship with other people, which they enjoyed before marriage or before getting into friendship. There is an evident dislike towards any person who is trying to get closer or just wanting to be friendly with my friend. This dislike, more often than not is a result of fear of losing control and may be due to lack of confidence in one self as also in the friend / relation (husband / wife). This behaviour can be seen even in so called short term friendships, one may develop in a social networking sites by virtue of being part of same group or having common interests. This tendency to exercise control on another person gives rise to the emotion of hatred, anger which will definitely be harmful for any relationship. 

Opposite to the habit of exercising control is the tendency of one partner to be totally dependent on the other specially in the area of decision making. Total dependency on making decisions concerning one’s life, may at times, lead to ruining of a relationship. Tendency to exercise control or being dependent on someone else for decision making is very evident in Indian households, where usually the father (in some cases the mother), exercises total control. I have come across many married ladies and children who have given up their hobbies like dancing, singing, just because the husband or the parents do not like it. 

The tendency to call a partner (husband or wife or friend) as ‘mine’ to show the authority was always there and is still going strong. More often than not boys and even girls now can be seen stamping their authority on their friend by calling him or her as ‘only mine’. Same holds true for some husbands, who after marriage think they have owned yet another property. Yes, he or she is yours, your relation or friend, but certainly not your property. In any relationship, all partners have same rights, all are equal. No one is, or should be treated as subservient, if the relation has to be long lasting. Everyone has a mind of their own, consultations and discussions can be there to come to a decision, but one individual’s decision cannot be forced on other partner(s). 

Why should a lady become just a surname after marriage? How can she be expected to give up the identity she has lived with, till she got married? She should always retain her identity as an individual, as a human. This feeling of ownership further leads to encroachment, that is not leaving any free space to each other. Wanting to know everything happening in spouses or friends life; both professional and personal. Snooping in your partner’s (even your children’s) mobile and other gadgets to find out with whom he / she has been talking, is not love, it is pure jealousy or over possessiveness which has a potential to kill any relationship. These encroachments are best avoided. 

Expectations that one of the partners has to change him or herself to make the relationship sustaining, is actually damaging. Relationships are not about changing yourself as per convenience but it is about respecting and loving the person the way he / she is. Relationships are about complementing each other. Complementarity helps in growth of a relation, If one is looking to filling the voids in life through a relationship, then it may become counterproductive. 

Conflicts, due to differences of opinion are bound to happen, but these should not put a relationship in danger of a breakup. Handling the differences in a mature manner, understanding the other persons view point and may be finding a middle path, if need be, to resolve the differences is what is important to make any relation strong. Differences of opinions are to be respected and in no way should lead to loss of respect. 

Mis-communications and lack of communication (or complete breakdown) can lead to major problems, even ending in divorce; separation, suicides. Communication is not just verbal but reflected by actions and emotions as well. You may not talk but yet convey the right vibes by your actions and emotions. 

The ill effects of breach of trust, lack of respect for each other’s habits, views, hobbies, friends and relations, is well understood by everyone and needs no elaboration. 

Separation (in any relation), how so ever compelling may be the reason, and whatever deliberations partners have gone through, before taking the final call, will still cause pain. The two partners and their relatives / friends should try and make the separation process as smooth as possible, with minimum scope for dirty issues rising again and causing heart aches. Smoother the separation process, easier it is for the wounds, if any, to heal as also the chances of recurring pains due to bad memoirs are also lesser. 

It has to be understood that relationship is between two humans or two souls and not between two appointments or father – son, teacher- student etc. Two humans only meet each other because of a particular relation or appointments in office or schools etc but the relation can only further evolve based on the human (e) behaviour of the two individuals. Without human factor no relationship can survive. A strong relation is built around the bond established by love, respect and trust and is very difficult to break. The following quote of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, American author, aviator and author of the popular inspirational book “Gift from the Sea” sums up the essence of a relationship: –

“The only real security (in relationship) is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not even in hoping. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was, nor forward to what it might it be, but living in the present and accepting it as it is now”

 

Developing and sustaining Relationships…

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Friendship is the only relationship a person selects as per his / her choice. All other relationships are based on birth and marriage. Relations like Parent- child, Uncle, aunts are all based on birth and are beyond the realms of choice. Relationships in Indian sub-continent, whether by birth or choice, have generally all lasted the test of time, however, cases of strained relations in marriage are on the rise now. 

What makes a relation sustain? Is it love, respect (family or self), trust, or peer and family pressure. All are very valid reasons, however, in my view two main factors that bind any relationship are love and respect. Love is the bedrock of any relation, irrespective of whether it is by birth or by choice. The main factor which bonds two people in a relationship / friend is love. Though, it is argued that a boy and a girl cannot be ‘just’ friends. The use of word ‘just’, in friendship , itself is wrong. Friendship between two persons should not need any justification or scrutiny. In fact, use of the word ‘just’ to justify a relationship, itself raises doubts on the nature of relation. The main reason two person would like to be in each other’s company is love. Whether this love is for the hobbies, habits, subjects is a matter of choice. It is not just love for each other but also love / liking for common things which may act as a source of attraction between two people. Love, one of the most sacred words used to describe a relation is one of the most misunderstood today. 

The important aspects of love are commitment & nurturing without which it is just infatuation and will wither down in no time. Even in the 21st century India, the society does not accept that a boy and a girl can be only friends, they may have no intent of marrying each other nor have a sexual relation. Even if they have a sexual relation…… so what? Is the love between parent- child, between siblings different from the one, between two friends of opposite sex? Love cannot be defined differently depending on situations and the personalities involved. It is same in every relation, only difference being that love between two persons related by blood develops naturally due to strong sense of belonging and responsibility, whereas in case of two strangers it develops slowly as they meet and understand each other and develop liking for each other’s traits, habits etc. Having a great friend from opposite sex, at whatever age, is an amazing experience. You got to have one, to understand this. 

Respect is another reason which bind two persons together and is responsible for the longevity of a relation. Respect, for each other’s values, views, likes and dislikes, habits, emotions, friends, relatives all goes towards making a relation strong. One of the main reasons which makes marriages last in India is the respect husband and wife have for each other and their respective relatives. Respect for each other’s values is a must .Each one of us , is generally , brought up differently and probably may have a different way of doing a thing and have diverse beliefs. These differences have to be understood and respected by the partners. I am a Hindu from Uttar Pradesh whereas my wife comes from a staunch Sikh family of Punjab. Both, naturally, have been brought up in different environments. We met by chance, developed a liking for each other and married with the blessings of our parents but what has kept us together, despite our different upbringing and habits is the love and respect not just for each other but also for the values our parents have imbibed in us. 

After love and respect comes understanding of each other. This includes understanding of views, requirements, priorities in life. Maturity and understanding are two interdependent factors which have a long-term effect on any relation. If one is mature enough, he / she will understand the issue well and deal with it in a balanced manner or it can be also said , if one understands then any issue can be handled in a mature manner. Maturity is not as much dependent on age as it is on experience and off course the type of experience; good or bad. 

Trust is another factor which is vital for success of any relation be it friendship, siblings or marriage. Lack of trust can mar any relation in no time .Trust is built over a period of time and can help overcome any obstacle which may threaten a relation .Transparency in activities is what trust is based on . The actions over a period of time build or breaches trust. 

Space , yes I mean space, is a must in any relation . Even a husband and wife require some independent space, at times; Space for work , friends and may be relatives. Space , at crucial juncture , also helps in healing hurts and setting the perceived wrongs, right . 

Communication, is another factor which binds two people together. As long as smooth communication exists between two person, the relation cannot be easily affected by smooth talks of anyone else and any issues or problems can be easily resolved. 

Another factor, which keeps a relation going is the willingness on the part of partners to sustain the relation. Each individual has a different emotional and intelligence threshold and accordingly his / her understanding of a perceived problem differs. What also affects this threshold, is the environment, both present and the one the individual has been brought up in. During our growing years we observe our parents and elders doing a thing in a particular way, and that becomes the only way of doing that thing, for us.  Any variation, even if logical, is initially resisted and may lead to heart burns / arguments. This is where time ‘space’ and communication matters most in a relation. Take your time and if required maintain space but don’t forget to keep the communication alive, in whatever way. It’s a matter of time, and one will get to a right solution. Fortunately, Indians have patience and willingness to sustain a relation, in abundance. I remember, as a child once telling my mother not to maintain relation with one of our relatives because of his continuous ability to cause problems for us(my perception) but my mother just said, Breaking anything, even a relation is not difficult but what is difficult is building, maintaining and sustaining a relation. Hiccups, differences of perception and thoughts will be there in any relation, what matters in life is the ability of understanding the difference and finding the solution. Isn’t Human Resource management, more about this and less about evaluations and dismissals. Indian culture and traditions have stood the test of time based on our strong family values and bonding. Family bonding is seen in all our relations including professional. When even in professional field we do not dismiss employees easily  (this may not be true in some new corporate/business houses) , how can relations break easily. Whereas if u see, some western cultures have a system of hire and fire and this can be seen not just in professional life but also in personal relations, where even institution of marriage has no value, you get married one day and divorce the next day…heights of Hire and fire concept. 

Listening is also an ability, most of us lack. If we can listen to each other with patience half the problems won’t arise in life. Even if some problems do arise, these can be resolved by effective communication and listening. 

These are some of the factors, which if adhered to, help in making a relation healthy and prosperous. In part 2 of the article I will deal with some of the factors which, if not taken care of, are capable in harming a relation ,at times irretrievably. 

“A happy marriage perhaps represents the ideal of human relationships A setting in which each partner, while acknowledging the need of other, feels free to what be what he or she by nature is……A relationship in which instinct as well as intellect can find expression , in which giving and taking are equal, in which each accepts the other and I confronts thou”         

                                                                                                                    Anthony Starr