Making healthier choices

“We were meant to grow. When we don’t grow, we seek diversions–some harmless (if unproductive), others destructive–to fill the emptiness.”

Jim Clemmer

Day 15/30

I truly believe we always have two choices while taking any decision in our life, a right one and an easier one. The easier one gives immediate reward which is short term, the right one requires hard work but gives fulfilment and the reward is long term. Which option do you choose in most of your decisions in life?

Well, I have mostly picked up the easier option. Well, who doesn’t like an instant reward? That’s what we all crave right? But true happiness and fulfilment lies in making the harder choice.

Choose your hard! We always pick one that gives instant gratification. However, picking the difficult one makes sure that the reward is worthwhile and long lasting. Choose your hard!

Let go

“Things are as they are—we suffer because we imagined different.”

– Rachel Wolchin

Day 12/30

Certain things in life are just not meant to be. We try our best, fall down, get back up, try again, fall back again, get back up YET AGAIN and this cycle continues. We never lose hope but never get closer to our dreams either. We stumble and fall so many times that the dream seems too far fetched now. We still hope that things will miraculously change for the better and life will turnaround. But it doesn’t happen YET AGAIN. Things don’t change, we are still hurting yet we still try not to lose hope. That’s what is taught to us right? Try, try, try again. But what if we tried for the 1000th time and failed, yet again? Do we continue trying?

No, absolutely NOT. We let go, GRACIOUSLY. We did our best, prayed, wished, worked hard, begged at times, cried, but it still didn’t happen. Boy, we need to understand Universe’s signals by now. Some things in life is just not meant to be.

Let go, move on, focus on things that are under your control. Focus on yourself, focus on your happiness. Be at peace with yourself, with or without such things.

You’ve tried really hard, it’s time to let go. It’s time to forgive ourselves and forget about such things. It shouldn’t be this hard. It’s not meant to be.

Be in charge of your happiness. You can do better, you are better and bigger than this.

Action replay

“All it takes one song to bring back 1000 memories.”

-Anonymous

Day 9/30

While mindlessly scrolling through YouTube today, I stumbled upon an old song that I was addicted to as a kid. I played the song and it felt like I was transported back to my childhood days when I used to listen to that song on loop. Who needs a time machine to revisit your past when you have music? I relived every single memory I had of those times when I used to listen to this song, my thoughts, aspirations and dreams during those time and most importantly, my innocence. Before all the setbacks and failures, the roller coaster like ups and downs in life, I was a young kid beaming with POSITIVITY and HOPE for the future. I used to think and believe that I will achieve all my goals and get everything I ever dreamed of. After all, hope is all I had during those days.

I also experienced deep emotions. I used to smile, laugh and also cry a lot. Now I’ve turned into a zombie who rarely cries and can literally count on her fingers, the last time I experienced the feeling of exhilaration and excitement in life. Life was so different back then. I had envisioned my life in a much different manner as a kid. I’m grateful for all the opportunities and blessings in my life. But, I want to be hopeful again, in the same manner and passion as I was as a kid.

There were certain things that I thought I’ll experience for sure (especially after watching countless rom-coms) which still haven’t panned out in my life. There are many things that have happened in my life that I could never dream of, I’m extremely grateful to the Universe for bringing abundance in my life, in the form of food, financial stability and opportunities.

I am currently reading a book called “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. If you’ve seen the Arabian Nights, you would know how Aladdin felt when Genie told him that he will grant him 3 wishes (anything that he could dream of). This is how I feel with this book in my hand. The tagline of Flow is “The classic work on how to achieve happiness“. That’s what I need, I want to be happy, in any circumstances. Even if I fumble or fall, I want to bounce back stronger.

In Csikszentmihalyi’s words, flow is “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” (1990)

Now imagine if you know how to be in flow, always. You’ll have a much better quality of life and be HAPPY effortlessly. That’s what I seek. I plan to read this book over the weekend so that I can reset my life and start afresh. I want to completely get rid of the feeling of being STUCK in life and I trust this book to get me out of this dilemma.

Let’s do this.

Make it right

“I just wanna be happier”

-Lyrics from song “Blue & Grey”, Album “BE’ by BTS

I had a 2 weeks mandatory leave from office (to be taken once a year as per company policy) which ends today. Since I value time off from my office way too much, I tried to live every moment of these 2 weeks. I travelled to Bangalore with my mom to my younger sister’s place as she works there, to spend time with her. We planned a short trip to Mysore and enjoyed it to bits. We also had a grand reunion with all of my maternal cousins and had a house party. More than the party, I just enjoyed the presence of every single member of my extended family whom I met after 2 years and loved spending time with them. When I was younger, we used to visit my maternal ancestral home in Mangalore once a year during summer vacations. Although we never had a full house with all of my cousins during most of these trips, we always had a blast whenever we met. This time too, we cherished all the old childhood memories and just loved the fact that everyone was present in the same room, at the same time after almost 2 years!

In the last 3 days of the vacation, my youngest cousin joined us at my sister’s apartment and we had fun like it was no one’s business. She shares similar personality traits with me and my sister which makes it a blissful experience whenever we spend time with each other. We talked till the middle of the night, shopped till we dropped (well my sister did, she doesn’t particularly enjoy shopping at local stores, ate a lot of JUNK food, laughed our hearts out and had a really GOOD time. I had planned to continue all my good habits such as reading books, meditation, workout, write in my journal on this vacation. I did it the first 3 days and didn’t feel the need to do any of it to be “HAPPY” the rest of the days. I genuinely enjoyed myself on this vacation and was stress free the entire time. I never skip any of these good habits back home because I REALLY need them to keep me SANE and HAPPY. These good habits are my escape from the monotony and stress of my life and that’s the reason I didn’t reach out to them to make me happy on my vacation.

I came back home after having a mind blowing vacation and still had 5 days to go for my leave to end. The next 5 days were spent lazying around, cleaning (tried cleaning my wardrobe and closet partially using the Marie Kondo method), EATING and enjoying every single second of free time that I had earned after living a year full of routine (Wake up > Office > Home > Repeat). It honestly felt amazing to not stress over waking up early, having a specific train to board, reaching office at a specific time, making a to-do list, waiting for lunch time to get out of the office and chill for sometime with my office bestie, get back to work, wait for the day to end, pray that I get a empty seat in the train, reach home starved and fatigued, have dinner while watching random videos on YouTube, finally go to sleep feeling unsettled and unproductive.

By the end of the day, the voices in my head keep questioning me about my life decisions,

  • Where am I heading?
  • Why can’t I do better?
  • What do I really want?
  • Why do I dread going to office?
  • Why do I hate my career path at the moment?
  • Why does office feel like a professional prison?
  • Why did I feel like a free bird (like a prisoner on parole) during my vacation?
  • When will I stop feeling like this?

I try to reason with my mind, find answers to these questions by self introspection without respite and eventually fall asleep. I wake up to a new day feeling optimistic but end up feeling the same way after repeating my monotonous routine.

I’m sure people reading this might find my dilemma trivial. Just find a new job, take a break, quit your job, follow your passion, think deeply about what you like, so on and so forth. I really admire people who LOVE their career. That’s what I am aiming for. Finding a career that doesn’t make you feel like running away from it during weekends and vacations is what I seek. I may seem delusional at the moment but I sincerely hope to find it soon. In the absence of this discovery, I might lead a robotic life, devoid of any emotions, passion and excitement in life and regret how I spent my time on earth by the end of it.

For all those who enjoy your work, I admire you and hope to be like you.

For the ones who feel the same way as me, hang in there. It’ll all make sense soon, just don’t stop trying. Fight hard!

A brand new work week awaits for me. Please send me all the positive energy in this Universe, I really need it tomorrow!

“One” connection in millions of conversations

What greater thing is there for two human souls than to feel that they are joined to strengthen each other, to be at one with each other in silent unspeakable memories.

-George Eliot

Day before yesterday was Valentine’s day and like every year, there was nothing special about the day for me. I remember in school, excitedly waiting for Valentine’s day to get roses or chocolates or gifts from my secret admirers. Well, didn’t I think too highly of myself?! I didn’t get as much as a fallen leaf or a chocolate wrapper from my “invisible” admirers. I felt a little empty, at the end of each Valentine’s day and hoped that next year would be better. Well it’s been more than 14 years than when the thought first crossed my mind and I’ve spent each and every one of them, lonely and a tad bit depressed.

Initially I thought that my appearance was the culprit. I was overweight and had no trace of self confidence or self esteem in me. To top that, I was shy and introverted in nature. It was a mammoth task for me to talk to a new person (especially boys) without feeling the need to revisit every conversation thousands of times and mentally murder myself for saying something boring or stupid. Having guy friends was a HUGE step outside my extra comfort zone. It did make me feel less conscious of myself and I started becoming less critical of my appearance. Yet, I didn’t find the one, “MY ONE

Time passed by and I graduated to the “adulting” zone from my teenage phase. There were way too many things on my mind to think about having a meaningful relationship in my life (yet I felt the absence of it on some days, Valentine’s day being the prominent one even when I vehemently denied it to my family and friends). I still was a work in progress on the “love myself” and “personal growth” space. I had an extremely hectic life which I absolutely hated and wanted someone to “save” me from my pitiful existence (yes, that’s how low I thought of myself back then!). None of the knights in shining armor found their way to my place and I was left all alone, to fight the demons of my mind and life.

Things changed eventually and I started hating myself a lot less. I embarked on the path of self discovery and found a lot of love and respect from my inner self along the way. I discovered my hidden talent in “long distance running” and hobbies (blogging, learning Korean language) that I absolutely enjoyed. The gaps in my life were filled up by these new activities. I enjoyed my own company and didn’t find anything amiss in life except the occasional bout of loneliness on certain empty days.

But then I turned 30 and suddenly everyone around me (courtesy : I have relatives-_-) started behaving as if I’m suffering from an illness (courtesy : I am unmarried) which needs a speedy cure. No matter how hard I try to ignore their talks, fears and expectations, it gets to me at times. I feel lost, directionless, lonely and unhappy many a times. Don’t worry, I try my level best to get out of it and always manage to do so. However, I’m seriously wondering how long this phase will last, when will I stop feeling (or made to feel) like an outcast, will there be a “happy ever after” in my life too?

Today is one of those blue & grey days where everything feels like an uphill battle. I’ve become less expressive and more neutral after all the misses & “almostencounters of finding love in my life. I’m exhausted, drained and somehow numb to the constant barrage of “When will you get married?” questions and many many rejections! This phase of my life is totally out of my control and that irks me the most. Can the Universe atleast send me a sign so that I stop hoping for my happy ending and an escape from this painful phase?

I am genuinely tired!

Life goes on

“Life goes on, let’s live on”

-BTS

My mental health was in shambles right before BTS’s last release “Dynamite” on August 21st this year. I remember having listened to the song on loop for hours on end during my bus travel to and fro from office as it was one of the very few things that gave me comfort during that time. The song felt like a tight hug and helped pick the broken pieces of my soul together to heal it. Exactly 3 months later, I’m not feeling my best self again. I had vowed last time when I felt disoriented to keep finding happiness in the small things that make up life and focus on keeping myself sane. Currently, I’m struggling to consistently do it yet fighting hard against the demons of my mind to not give up.

Right when I need it, BTS have dropped their new album “BE” today. I’m in office again, away from social media as I wait to get back home and watch the music video with my sister. I don’t have to go through an excruciatingly long bus ride this time, my travel time has eased up. I’m extremely excited to listen to the song, I’m sure it’s exactly what I need at the moment to get back on track. BTS’s existence in my life and listening to their songs have unfailingly been a rock solid source of my happiness. You can imagine from this description how special each one of their album comebacks is. I’m glad BTS have come at the right time as my knights in shining armour to save me from falling into the dark hole of negativity.

Less than 3 hrs to go for me to reach home and I can’t contain my excitement. I’m sure all of us must have that one thing that acts as their constant source of happiness. Hold it tight and keep coming back to it to keep the negative emotions at bay. For all the BTS armies out there, a new era has begun!

Change is the only constant

#83/100

“It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

– George Eliot

I was talking to my colleague today and ending up learning a lot of things from him in what started off as a casual discussion. There has been a lot of changes in my office recently. The colleague I was talking to is a sales professional who handles a clientele belonging to a particular sector in the industry. The changes I was talking about relates to shuffling of these sectors and the client base in the process. While other sales team handle sectors and clientele that have been part of the organisation since a long time, my colleague used to handle a sector that was newly introduced in our department. He along with his teammate were responsible in setting up the sector from scratch and building the client base.

I asked him if he was upset that his sector was taken away or if he had any apprehensions about the change. His answer just blew me away. He said, “Not even a bit. I would have had a regret had I not been able to give my 100% to my work. I sowed the seeds, watered the plant diligently and was blessed enough to enjoy the fruit of my labour. Now, I seek a change in the routine, a new challenge, a new adventure.!” He also asked me if I see myself working in the same organisation 6 months down the line, although my reply is a glaring NO, I chose not to comment. If you cannot see yourself working in the same place even for the next 6 months, what is the point of being so attached to the work you do? I was astounded by the clarity and ease in his replies.

I still remember my attitude towards work in my previous organisation. The attrition rate was very high causing a lot of team shuffles and changes in work profile. I dreaded it every single time. I was too comfortable with my daily routine and couldn’t bring myself to test my skills in a new and challenging environment. Basically, I had zero confidence in my ability. I have outgrown this phase however still haven’t been able to develop a thick skin to any big change in life like my incredible colleague. He did tell me it takes time and patience, all I can do is work on it consistently.

That is all I can do. Work on my skills consistently, learn whatever I wish to learn, be attentive in the present moment, do what makes me happy, make time for myself and celebrate my life. I might not be able to predict any big changes in my life but I can be prepared by striving to be the best version of myself, each day, every day!

Importance of mental health

#78/100

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

John Green

It’s “World Mental Health Day” today and I couldn’t find a better day to talk about this topic. My parents belonged to a generation where talking about mental health or any of the illnesses and disorders related to it was considered a huge stigma. It is considered an untouchable topic by many even today. But am glad the present generation has made continued efforts in breaking the barriers surrounding the most important aspect of human life. People of our generation are open about their feelings, do not shy away from discussing their mental health issues and seek out help when they realize that something is wrong.

I woke up today to the news of a young boy who chose to commit suicide due to depression. He was just 13-14 years old. I’m unable to comprehend the pain that the boy had to go through before he chose to end the misery altogether. He couldn’t talk about it with his parents and they are left with innumerable unanswerable questions in their mind.

For the longest time, I did not talk about my feelings with my parents as well. My relationship with my mother changed after I had a heart to heart discussion with her about everything I had in mind. This step is a lost cause as far as my father is concerned. But I’m glad my mother understands the importance of mental health and lends a patient ear whenever I vent out my frustrations to her.

Many of us might feel that this topic is overrated and we can overcome anything if we wish to. When we experience mental health disorders like panic attacks, anxiety, OCD or depression, our brain undergoes changes that are definitely not under our control. Many a times, we just don’t feel in the mood to do anything in life. We lose all hope for the future and are unable to experience happiness. These feelings are real. The first step to deal with a mental health disorder is “acceptance“. We need to accept that something is wrong with our thought patterns. The next step is to “seek help“. I’ve tried talking to various counsellors with the sole reason to get me out of the negative pattern my brain has gone into. I always wanted a quick and permanent solution to the problem. But it doesn’t work that way. Mental health disorders can be caused due to genes and family history, environmental stress, a traumatic experience, childhood trauma, life experiences or a combination of these factors. These causes accumulate over a period of time and take a long time to show red flags. By the time we realize it, we might not be in a condition to come out of it on our own.

There are few effective ways in which we can maintain a stable mental health if we are willing to work on it every single day. These are techniques that each one of us is aware of yet we are unwilling to take time out to work on ourselves till the situation gets out of hand. I’m trying my level best to create a routine and habit out of these techniques so that I follow them every single day on an “auto-pilot mode“.

  • Workouts : Exercise in any form is a proven way to release endorphins in our brain which makes us happy and healthy. This one has dual effects in maintaining our physical as well as mental health.
  • Meditation : I can’t stress enough about the benefits of meditation in our life. It is incredibly difficult to make this one a habit. We need to push ourselves very hard in the beginning. Yet, the benefits are incredible and almost instantaneous. I have started a practice of meditating right after I wake up. This has proven very effective in maintaining a good routine so far. Meditation has powerful benefits in the long term if practiced daily. It helps us become aware of our thoughts and teaches us not not dwell on every thought in our mind.
  • Journaling : It’s the best way to let out our emotions and understand the pattern of our thoughts. Journaling and writing has helped me find answers to the questions I never had. It helps me in self introspection and understanding myself better. Sometimes, when we are unable to find people to talk to, our journals help us deal with our loneliness. It also helps us to focus on the present moment and live each day as it comes.
  • Gratitude : I wrote an article about this a few days ago. The most powerful practice suggested by my counsellor was to write 3 things I am grateful for every morning and 3 great things that happened during the day in the evening. This is an incredible practice to count our blessings in life and more reasons to be happy.

I wish and pray for your mental health and happiness.

I am my hope

#60/100

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” 

― J.K.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

There was a time when I endlessly waited for happy things to take place in my life. I believed that I was stuck at the same place without any respite. My life seemed dull and eventless. I truly believed that I was a victim of the situation that I was in and waited to be rescued by a prince in shining armor. I couldn’t see any way out of the situation and was unhappy with the way things were progressing in my life. I hated my job, the crowded local trains, my work, my profession, basically everything that accounts for a fulfilled life. I thought that I was living my life for other people and didn’t indulge in any activity that truly made me happy. I somehow couldn’t find a way out and my future seemed very bleak at that moment.

But….

I don’t feel like this anymore. I am truly happy with my life now. I have time to work on all the activities that make me happy. My work is the same but it doesn’t frustrate me anymore. I’m in the same profession yet it doesn’t drain all my energy. I do feel sad and upset at times but am able to bounce back to my happy self soon. What has really changed?

The old me truly believed that the situation she was going through, the bad ones, the frustrating ones, were her reality. She couldn’t find happiness in the present nor had any hope for the future. She wasn’t able to disassociate her future from the present. She believed that happiness exists in the big events and the small ones are either insignificant or don’t last long. She was on a constant wait for her life to change for the better but didn’t know how her ‘better future‘ looked like.

So what changed now? I know that my present situations have little or no control over my future. I consider myself limitless, I don’t feel tied down by my current circumstances. I find happiness in the tiniest things, they could be as basic as making homemade chocolates or shopping for stuff online. I feel an immense sense of gratitude for everything that I have and count my blessings. I hold myself responsible for my life. I know I have the power to change it for the better, anytime, every time. This has helped me build my hope for the future. In all the self help books that I’ve read till date, the most prominent hack for a happy life is to find happiness in the present. I always found it difficult to find happiness in my present life when everything seemed going downhill. It felt absolutely impossible to like a job I absolutely hated. One day I just happened to watch a good show and it filled me with immense happiness. The show was great, but I longed to feel that happy always. That’s when I decided to revel in my happiness, find it in as many things as possible (be it big or small) and live a fulfilled life.

Ever since I’ve started looking at the bright side of every incident, my life changed. I don’t feel trapped by any situation. I take a deep breath rather than being frustrated by any inconsistency and think calmly to find the best possible solution. No matter how difficult the situation is, I know that it’s not my reality or future. That helps me look at my life as a spectator and pick the option that makes me most happy. This has made me realize that it’s not that difficult to stay happy if we put in a little effort each day. Happiness is liberating and I want to be happy and positive in every situation I face in life.

Lost and found

#14/100

This story dates back to year 2008. I had recently started lectures for my first year in degree college. I was studying for chartered accountancy exams along with a bachelor’s degree in commerce. I used to attend college lectures in the morning from 7 am to 10 am and head to a Chartered Accountant’s office for my articleship for the rest of the day. (Every C.A. student has to serve a mandatory internship under a qualified chartered accountant for 3.5 years called as “Articleship”)

It had barely been 10 days since I was gifted a cellphone by my mother. I was over the moon with this gift as I’ve always been a gadget freak and was waiting to own a cellphone for myself. This cellphone was a huge investment for my mother as we weren’t financially stable during the entire period of my student life. It was more of a necessity rather than a luxury owing to my erratic schedule with college, articleship and tuitions.

The day started with college early in the morning. I wanted to inquire about the travel concession provided by my college and had paid a visit to the college administration department. I went there with the cellphone tucked safely inside my wallet. I was extra cautious not to misplace it or accidentally drop it. But I didn’t pay any attention to my ‘absent mindedness‘ and left the whole wallet with my cellphone at the counter of the department on my way back.

I didn’t realize it till the end of my lectures that day. I bid goodbye to my friends and tried to find my wallet for some cash and went numb when I couldn’t find it inside my bag. A shiver ran down my spine when I realized that I had misplaced my wallet and the cellphone with it. Teary eyed I went back to the lecture hall and searched every nook and cranny but couldn’t find it. I went to the canteen, library and finally the administration department only to be told that they haven’t found any lost item.

I just wasn’t ready to accept the reality. I couldn’t tell my mother that I had lost the cellphone which she had bought for me with much love and after many sacrifices. I called her up eventually and told her the sad news. I burst into tears while talking to her. She tried to calm me down and told me to keep calling my number with the hope of connecting to the person who had caught hold of my cellphone. This felt like a lost cause to me as I knew people aren’t sincere enough to return a brand new cellphone directly placed on to their lap.

I kept calling my number on the way to office. I was in a sunken mood at office and told them about the incident too. They tried their best to cheer me up and kept calling my number to see if someone would receive the call.

That’s exactly when a miracle took place. Someone picked up my number!!! My colleague talked to the person who turned out to be the librarian. He told her that a student had found my wallet and gave it to the librarian for safekeeping. I absolutely couldn’t believe my ears. I was going to get my cellphone back!

I ran towards the college (technically took an auto but in my mind I was dramatically running towards my cellphone), reached the library and collected my wallet with the biggest smile on my face. The call was received at the exact moment when I had lost all hope of getting the wallet and cellphone back. I prayed for the student who gave back my lost stuff without any malicious intent. I went back with chocolates for my colleagues to celebrate the unusual ‘lost and found” incident. I again got moist eyed when I told my mother that I had found my precious cellphone.