Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Stories Around the World, Work

Cups, Perfection or Happiness

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Abraham Lincoln

As per the recent health surveys, the growing levels of stress are increasing steadily, not only among white collar workers, but also among young adults, adolescents and even at school level. In 2016, an estimate of over 1.1 billion people worldwide ( 1 in 6 or 15-20%) had mental or substance use disorder with around 4 percent of population had anxiety disorder ( Source: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Global Burden of Disease study). As per the Cigna 360 Well Being Survey (2018), around 9 in 10 Indians suffer from stress. With all this statistical evidence and data of mental as well physical health correlations, the glaring fact or query is whether happiness or health is defined by the boundaries of pre-defined standardized success or by the quiet inner serenity of “being successful within”.

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” Albert Camus

One of the reasons why we often sink into the pits in our journey in life, is because we are too busy looking around to notice our own. One becomes too busy in concentrating on how “our coffee cup” is shaped, styled and modeled in comparison to others either by wealth, career, assets or other parameters. Unfortunately in doing so, we fail to enjoy to taste, flavours and pleasure of indulging in the freshly brewed coffee in our own cup. Wouldn’t it be better if we enjoyed our own cup in the short time that we have?

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer

To attain the happiness in life, doesn’t imply to concentrate only on the cup that we have. Perfection doesn’t define happiness. Rather define what is important to one and find comfort and peace of mind in those. The choice to remain at peace and serene lies within us and our thoughts. Choose to stay calm, happy and content by finding the value and worth in things that really matter to us and our inner peace.

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” Aristotle

A Cup and Coffee

A group of highly established alumni got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation among them soon turned into complaints about their stressful work and life. The professor went to his kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups, including porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive and some exquisite. The professor told them to help themselves to the coffee. After all the students had a cup of coffee in their hands, the professor said: “ Did you notice all the nice looking cups are taken and only the plain inexpensive ones are left behind. While it is normal for everyone to want the best for themselves, but that is the source of problems and stress in your life. “ “ The cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most of the cases, it’s just more expensive and hides what we drink.”, the professor continued. “What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but all of you consciously went for good looking expensive cups and then began eyeing on each other’ s cups.”
“Let’s consider that life is the coffee and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position are the cups. The type of cup we have, does not define or change the quality of our lives.”

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Posted in Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Exchange Points: Adolescence to Adulthood

“You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Neil Gaiman

Last week an unexpected mail had appeared in my inbox from friends of the middle school year. As kids of government employees, transfers were inevitable as a part of resource allocation, promotions and training. Consequently changing school every three to five years was the regular norm. Thus receiving this email had opened the box of memories and moments, considering the fact that middle school was a time when we were all evolving.

“Nothing happens unless something is moved.” Albert Einstein

Looking back, every year of our life as we grow older involves a change. Refreshing the memories as middle-schoolers, life was mostly about assignments, sports, dating and the cultural. Academics had featured a role when relevant. Yet fast forwarding, adult life signifies mostly an exchange. Academics were replaced by work, dating by either relationships, marriage, family and sports or cultural as bucket lists, leisure or recreation. Time became more and more precious. Personal life had taken a back seat once, when career life had started.

“It happens to everyone as they grow up. You find out who you are and what you want, and then you realize that people you’ve known forever don’t see things the way you do. So you keep the wonderful memories, but find yourself moving on.” Nicholas Sparks

Reunions, spontaneous unexpected run-ins with old acquaintances, opening the high school year book or college class book and the like, all bring back memories of the best, worst, embarrassing and nostalgic memories at the different time frames in our lives. The difference lies in how we have progressed, view situations today and has the picture changed for the better or worse. The dreams and hopes as children or adolescents combined with the unbiased and open thinking as well as the willingness to embrace change, mistakes, criticism and appreciation as well; have they been lost or matured to finer aspects.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates (Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior)

While the younger years were marked by learning through self experiences, formation of groups or peer pressure, forging of new bonds and learning to protect one’s self esteem from being shattered as well as trying to fit into the society; adulthood takes on a different turn with the lessons that we have learnt and experiences underwent to prepare us for the journey ahead. Yet the fact remains on whether we have progressed beyond the classroom thinking and contours of “adolescence” for the kindness, maturity and love that adulthood offers or have we accepted the fickle matters of life with all the lights, sound and the glorification as the truth. Only time will know, can tell and foresee.

“That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.” Rainer Maria Rilke

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Reflections, Work

From the Ashes to Hope

“The darkest hours are just before dawn.” English proverb

Of recent times, the town had seen a couple of new start ups’, businesses that have been flourishing over the past three years. Initially they had started small, one had crashed in between and had later had caught on; while few others had stayed steady on from the beginning. Yet what comes to mind on walking down the market road, was how fragile time is and how we must learn to rise up every now and then from the ashes of our efforts, similar to the phoenix.

“Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.” Jonas Salk

 

As per the Greek mythology, the phoenix (Ancient Greek: φοῖνιξ, phoînix) was a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. The phoenix is believed to die in a show of flames and combustion, although there are other sources that claim that the legendary bird dies and simply decomposes before being born again. Among the different traditions concerning the lifespan of the phoenix, by most accounts the phoenix lived for 500 years before rebirth. Among the old records of Herodotus, Pliny the Elder, Pope Clement I, Ovid among others, the retelling and transmission of the phoenix motif has been done in detail. As per these historical records, the phoenix symbolized renewal in general as well as the sun, time, the Empire, metempsychosis, consecration, resurrection, life in the heavenly Paradise, Christ, Mary, virginity, the exceptional man, and certain aspects of Christian life”. In the Old English Exeter Book,  an anonymous 677-line 9th-century alliterative poem has been written consisting of a paraphrase and abbreviation of Lactantius, followed by an explication of the Phoenix as an allegory for the resurrection of Christ.

Þisses fugles gecynd fela gelices
bi þam gecornum Cristes þegnum;
beacnað in burgum hu hi beorhtne gefean
þurh Fæder fultum on þar frecnan tid
healdaþ under heofonum & him heanna blæd
in þam uplican eðle gestrynaþ. (In the Original Old English)

This bird’s nature is much like
to the chosen servants of Christ;
pointeth out to men how they bright joy
through the Father’s aid in this perilous time
may under heaven possess, and exalted happiness
in the celestial country may gain. (In Modern English translation )

Source:Thorpe, Benjamin; Corson, Hiram (1842). “Codex exoniensis. A collection of Anglo-Saxon poetry, from a manuscript in the library of the dean and chapter of Exeter”. p. 244.

 

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” Helen Keller

In the various phases of one’s life, we have all our “phoenix” moments, to rise from the ashes of downfall. With the turn from winter to spring, nature teaches us time and again that hope will bear fruit as long as we aim to work for it. With the new crops planted in the last few weeks, one can hardly believe that few months ago it was the time of cold, dry and rainy days of the winters. As the season changes and time moves on, staying stuck lasts only as long as we allow it to be so. Like all plans and dreams that may be fulfilled or go astray; it’s the will to survive that beats the intermittent thunders and storms in one’s life as well as to dust ourselves from the ashes to start rebuilding.

“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu

 

I will return as grass in spring,
I’ll try to reach you, germinating,
As buds reach forward to the green
When they are waiting to awaken.

To start the blossoming anew
One morning, secretly and shyly,
Already sparkling with the dew,
That dries away if sun is shining.

The sun arises every time
To warm the humid earth for seeding,
It reaches joyously your eyes
But I already do not see it.

It cannot raise my heavy eaves,
My closed eyelids, cannot force them.
And it’s ridiculous to grieve
For me as for a single person.

For I am grass and autumn leaves
That fly and fall to putrefaction,
But there is nothing new in these
Banal ideas and reflections.

It’s the eternal hope and dream –
To be, to stay, at least, as grass does,
To grow through the soil in spring
And join the life, the new one, lasting.

Gennady Shpalikov

 

Posted in Daily, Family and Society, Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Work

Hold the Condemnation

“What we don’t speak burns more than the spoken words especially when the actions, expressions and emotions radiate the sense of censure as the silent unspoken disapproval.”

If we ever sit down and reflect on the number of times we had condemned or felt extreme disapproval at the actions of others or towards the circumstances, the list would be formed for most of us. The tendency to condemn or sentence another is one of the most common follies and fallacies of man. If we look on the pages of the local town news or reflect on the “hearsay” at the office, communities, neighbourhood centers and even schools, the “good news” gets less attention when compared to the “bad”. Though it is indeed important to know both, a fact that stands true is that the more disreputable the news is, the faster it spreads and believed.

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.” Carl Jung

 

One of the sad realities of the social order is that people are more engaged in passing the “bad news” rather than the good happenings especially of others. Unfortunately condemning anyone unless the entire picture is known will strike back at us, especially when we are at our worse. To not condemn anyone may seem simple when said, but to actually do it is quite difficult. At some point of time, each one of us would have been at the wrong end of the receiving line, sometimes at no fault of ours or we have been grossly wronged. In such situations, it seems easier to condemn and castigate the other. However one’s real character is reflected when we hold such thoughts, emotions and actions.

 

When the wrong has been done to us, instead of engaging in harsh words or negative behaviour, feel angry but don’t feed the anger. Then acknowledge that what has been done was wrong and just move on. The harsh words, gestures or behaviour may aid one in letting off some steam for the moment, but a little later the regret, guilt and ramifications set in. The more we engage in the act of condemnation, the guilt may not bother us; yet when the day back to us as a boomerang it may be too late for the remedial actions or reparative measures. Eventually if we try, we can learn and master the art of  avoiding condemnation. If we do so, one discovers life’s simple pleasures and good moments. Above all, we learn to move with the flow, treasuring the memories of happiness, kindness and simple joys.

“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.” Dale Carnegie (How to Win Friends and Influence People)

 

Posted in Family and Society, Life, poetry, Quotes, Work

Time, Change and Addresses

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Anatole France

Like all events that come to an eventual close, yesterday had marked the farewell of two colleagues at the workplace. While attending the meet, what came to mind was the fact that predictability and stability works only for a time. During my younger years, with both parents working, transfers and promotions went in hand with address change. Although as kids we had met many friends and been to many localities, there was always an underlying feeling in me that certain things can never be permanent or sure.

“People lose people, we lose things in our life as we’re constantly growing and changing. That’s what life is is change, and a lot of that is loss. It’s what you gain from that loss that makes life.” Thomas Jane

Change, development and growth go in tandem in life. People change, addresses change and routine alters, yet nature remains true to its’ unpredictability. As literature and history, unfolds the story of the great conqueror of their times, Alexander the Great, the truth that we come carrying nothing and we leave empty handed too holds true. But what we do leave behind, is the legacy of our work as footprints behind. Every man will disappear, but leaving those marks for the future to learn from them, is dependent on each individual alone. One always has the choice to change, either for the better or worse. The wiser we act, think and live; the happier, serene and at peace, we will be.

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” Lao Tzu

Addresses Change

The people change addresses, move,
They part and leave and disappear,
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.

What in the very end remains?
Not idle talks or strained relations, –
– A mowed field, the vast of plains,
A forest road to a train station.

The path by empty villas winds,
The homes of wealth, prestige, renown.
An old dray-cart left us behind –
A guy was driving to the town.

And this is what, for sure, stays:
The river, white in the night haze,
It is bewitched and charmed by mist,
Adorned by a camp-fire shimmer
And beacons twinkling in the midst –
All for the safety of shipping.

The people change addresses, move,
They part and leave and disappear,
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.
And only an autumn grove
Is permanent, it will be here.

Gennady Shpalikov

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.” William Shakespeare

Posted in Family and Society, Life, Quotes, Reflections, Stories Around the World, Work

Choices, Expectations and Opportunities

“Applications are closed.”

The above sentence, seen across recruitment pages of websites, office circulars, school bulletins and so on; have caused numerous emotions, ranging from regret, anger, hopelessness, defeat, despair to feeling of unfairness, on the events that have taken place. Yet one constant reminder through all these circumstances is the irrevocable fact that time is always short and the windows or doors are left open only for a limited period of time.

“Opportunities are like sunrises. If you wait too long, you miss them.” William Arthur Ward

 

Reflecting back on missed chances, the reason for the delay when examined seem inconsequential then but significant now. From the excuses of lack of time, failure to read the notice, busy schedules, lack of planning and the like; all these when compared to the chances lost lead to severe regret and mental anguish for a time.

“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.” Klaus Schwab

As history has taught us, every one gets their fair share of opportunities, but unless we keep our eyes, ears and minds open with hearts and will brave, we will never have the option to use them. “Fortune does favour the bold.” Not because they were lucky, but they were willing to change to give a try. Contrarily always flitting around in search of greener pastures, would cause us to miss the fruit that the first garden bore. As nature always teaches us, everything happens in His time as long as we take the Chance when offered, instead of whiling away in self comfort and idleness. If one chance is missed, learn from it and don’t lose out on the next.

“A great attitude does much more than turn on the lights in our worlds; it seems to magically connect us to all sorts of serendipitous opportunities that were somehow absent before the change.” Earl Nightingale

 

The parable of “Not a Fulfilled Dream”

There lived a young man in the world. And he had a dream – to have a high-paying job, marry a beautiful woman and become famous throughout the world. Once in a frosty winter, a man was in a hurry for an interview at a well-known company.
Suddenly an elderly man fell right in front of him. The man looked at the fallen, the thought arose in his head that he was most likely drunk and did not give a hand. This helped not to be late for the scheduled meeting. But the interview was unsuccessful: the person was not taken to the desired position.
Somehow a man walked around the city on a summer evening. Noticing a troupe of street performers, he stopped to enjoy the spectacle. After the end of the action, applause rang out and people began to disperse. The young man also turned back, but someone timidly touched his shoulder. It was the main character of the play, the old woman-clown. She began to ask him about whether he liked the show, whether he was pleased with the actors. But the man did not want to lead the conversation and, disgustedly turned away, went home.
Once on a rainy evening, a man hurried home from a friend’s birthday. He was very tired, and thoughts of a fragrant bath and a cozy warm bed flashed through his head. Suddenly he heard someone muffled sobbing. This is a woman crying. She sat on a bench near the man’s house, without an umbrella. On noticing the young man, she turned to him for help. She had a family affliction. And she needed only a spiritual companion. The young man wondered, a bath and a bed appeared in front of his gaze, and he hurried into the porch.
This man had lived an unhappy life. And he died. Once in heaven, a man met his Guardian Angel. He said, “You know, I lived a very miserable and worthless life. I had three dreams, but nothing came true. It’s a pity.” “My friend,” the Guardian Angel replied, “I did everything to make all your dreams come true, but for this you only needed your hand, your eyes and your heart.”

– Do you remember a fallen man on a slippery winter road? I will now show you this picture … That person was the CEO of the company you wanted to get into. You waited dizzy career. All that is required of you is your hand.
– Do you remember the old clown who, after a street performance, came to you with questions? It was a young beauty actress who fell in love with you at first sight. You were waiting for a happy future, children, undying love. All that was required of you was your eyes.
– Do you remember the crying woman near your entrance? It was a rainy evening, and she was soaking wet from tears … It was a famous writer. She was experiencing a family crisis, and she really needed emotional support. If you helped her to warm up in her apartment, to warm herself with Soul thanks to your wise words of consolation, she would have written a book in which she would have told about this incident. The book would become known to the whole world, and you would become famous, because on the main page the author would indicate the name of the person who became the muse of this work. And all that was required of you then was your heart. You were inattentive, my friend.
The man sighed and walked along the lunar path into the star’s distance …
Listen to the world, it offers opportunities. One should not only ask for help, but also be able to accept the help and help others with dignity.

“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” Benjamin Franklin

 

Posted in Daily, Life, Reflections

Time for “Own”

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” Aristotle

With the current pace of today, finding “alone time” takes a backseat. Multiple reasons can be attributed to the lack of “me-time”. Professional, person or family and even community obligations always take up a few more precious seconds. Yet once in a while, it feels wonderful to leave everything to get some quiet time.

Research has shown that at least ten minutes per day to indulge in self time really helps. Speaking from a personal viewpoint, taking time for one, be it a whole day or couple of hours, depends on one’s choice. A few minutes of indulging in one’s personal interests to a whole day of the same; should both serve the same purpose. Of being happy and finding a sense f calmness and peace of living in the daily melee.

Be sure to leave at least one day for yourself. Get up when you want.
Take your time to drink fragrant mint tea or aromatic coffee.
Leisurely walk. Confused tracks among the favorite streets of the city.
Or maybe spend the whole day at home, in soft beloved pajamas,
leafing through the pages of your favorite book.
At last, to do what one had long dreamed of.
Pick up a camera, and maybe a brush and paint.
Bake a cake for a new recipe. Learn the first words in French.
Just live the day the life you dream about.
Just be yourself. Just be happy …
Anna Koryagova