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

Making the Best Of

“Every experience in your life is being orchestrated to teach you something you need to know to move forward.” Brian Tracy

One of the very common teachings or saying passed on from one generation to the next, especially when hitting road blocks in life are the words “to make the best out of the bad situation”. On hindsight, once when one has landed on other side of the situation, the thought strikes that every “bad situation” has brought out a different side of oneself. Interestingly, whether the “different side” is for the better or the worse depends on oneself alone.

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston S. Churchill

 

Have you ever observed a lone ant moving on the ground? When it’s path is blocked, it finds a way around it, scurrying towards the intended or alternate direction somehow. Looking through he glasses of “life”, may of us like these ants are forced to find alternate routes to get to the final point. No matter how big the hindrances may seem, time and life forces one to move on, despite the inner resistance to change from the “deemed normalcy”. As one changes the directions pertaining to the situation, a series of effects are created which when done with the right will, manner, intent and effort will aid in achieving better than what was expected by self or by the world around us. Instead of simply making best of the bad situation; let the “worst situation” bring out the hidden best of ourselves.

“The outcome is not up to you. The outlook is.” Germany Kent

 

On another occasion, talking to a friend who was concerned about Salmon P. Chase’s ambition for the presidency, and who thought Lincoln should ask Chase to resign, Lincoln observed that Chase’s department was functioning very well, and as long as it continued to do so he would not worry about Chase’s presidential aspirations. The situation reminded him of a time when he and his step-brother were plowing a corn field in Indiana, he driving the horse and his step-brother guiding the plow. The horse, naturally lazy and slow, suddenly rushed across the field so fast the boys could hardly keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the furrow, Lincoln discovered an enormous chin fly fastened to the horse and knocked it off. His step-brother asked why he did that; whereupon Lincoln explained that he didn’t want the horse bitten. “But,” protested his step-brother, “that’s all that made him go!” “Now,” said Lincoln, “if Mr. Chase has a presidential chin fly biting him, I’m not going to knock it off if it will only make his department go.”
Source: Lincoln’s Humour: An Analysis. Benjamin P. Thomas. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association. Volume 3, Issue 1, 1981, pp. 28-47

“There is always a solution to any problem. Find opportunities in any circumstance. Never become a victim.” Lailah Gifty Akita

 

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

The Need to Listen

“We have two ears and one mouth, so we should listen more than we say.” Zeno of Citium, as quoted by Diogenes Laërtius

The visit to the retailers’ during the end season is marked with a slight wariness. Though the anticipation of rummaging through the variety on display and searching for the “good stuff” are the few of the many reasons that one enters the mall during the peak season; underlying is the feel that one may run into someone that one knows. When the acquaintance is one who has been in regular touch, it is a quick chat but if it is someone who has been out of town for a long time; there is the cup of coffee and a snack brunch or dinner to follow. On the latter encounters, what one later realizes was in the monologue; it was the trait of listening that was being developed.

“Not everyone with a problem needs you to solve it. Sometimes all a person needs is to feel like they’ve been heard. Listening without judging can be more effective than injecting your opinions or trying to solve a problem that doesn’t have an easy answer.” Zero Dean

For those people with a comfortable circle of friends and colleagues, it is the trait of listening that is highly valued. Many a time, when caught in a quandary, more people want to be simply listened to than being poured with advice. The art of listening is indeed a rare one. To be quiet, lend a ear and actually comprehend what one days builds up the relationship, self respect and harmony of both. It may be easy to judge, offer opinions or point out mistakes. Yet those things may be eventually felt by the speaker themselves, once they are allowed to sort out things by themselves. More than speaking, it is listening impartially, openly ans with an interest than builds not just relationships, but also gives insight, forethought as well as learning to be imparted and used in the future. Any relationship is always a coordination of speech, silence, listening, kindness and acceptance. When these seeds are first sown, the plant grows healthy. Only when one learns to listen, will they to be listened to.

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” Doug Larson

We all know what it’s like to get that phone call in the middle of the night. This night was no different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused on the red, illuminated numbers of my clock. It was midnight and panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I grabbed the receiver. ‘Hello?’ My heart pounded, I gripped the phone tighter and eyed my husband, who was now turning to face my side of the bed. ‘Mum?’ The voice answered. I could hardly hear the whisper over the static. But my thoughts immediately went to my daughter. When the desperate sound of a young crying voice became clear on the line, I grabbed for my husband and squeezed his wrist.
‘Mum, I know it’s late. But don’t … don’t say anything until I finish. And before you ask, yes I’ve been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few miles back and…’ I drew in a sharp, shallow breath, released my husband and pressed my hand against my forehead. Sleep still fogged my mind, and I attempted to fight back the panic. Something wasn’t right. ‘… and I got so scared. All I could think of was how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your door and said I’d been killed. I want to come home. I know running away was wrong. I know you’ve been worried sick. I should have called you days ago but I was afraid, afraid …’
Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my daughter’s face in my mind, and my fogged senses seemed to clear, ‘I think …. ‘ ‘No! Please let me finish! Please!’ She pleaded, not so much in anger, but in desperation. I paused and tried to think what to say. Before I could go on, she continued. ‘I’m pregnant, Mum. I know I shouldn’t be drinking now … especially now, but I’m scared, Mum. So scared!’
The voice broke again, and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes fill with moisture. I looked up at my husband, who sat silently mouthing, ‘Who is it?’ I shook my head and when I didn’t answer, he jumped up and left the room, returning seconds later with a portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard the click in the line because she asked, ‘Are you still there? Please don’t hang up on me! I need you. I feel so alone.’
I clutched the phone and stared at my husband, seeking guidance. ‘I’m here, I wouldn’t hang up,’ I said. ‘I should have told you, mum. I know I should have told you. But, when we talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and all, but all you do is talk. You don’t listen to me. You never let me tell you how I feel. It is as if my feelings aren’t important. Because you’re my mother you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I don’t need answers. I just want someone to listen.’
I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my nightstand. ‘I’m listening,’ I whispered.

‘You know, back there on the road after I got the car under control, I started thinking about the baby and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth and it was as if I could hear you preaching to me about how people shouldn’t drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I want to come home.’ ‘That’s good honey,’ I said, relief filling my chest. My husband came closer, sat down beside me and laced his fingers through mine. ‘But you know, I think I can drive now.’ ‘No!’ I snapped. My muscles stiffened and I tightened the clasp on my husband’s hand. ‘Please, wait for the taxi. Don’t hang up on me until the taxi gets there.’ ‘I just want to come home, Mum.’ ‘I know. But do this for your Mum. Wait for the taxi, please.’
I listened to the silence in fear. When I didn’t hear her answer, I bit into my lip and closed my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving. ‘There’s the taxi now.’ Only when I heard someone in the background asking about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing. ‘I’m coming home, Mum.’

There was a click, and the phone went silent. Moving from the bed, tears forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went to stand in my 16-year-old daughter’s room. My husband came from behind, wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the top of my head. I wiped the tears from my cheeks. ‘We have to learn to listen,’ I said to him. He studied me for a second, and then asked, ‘Do you think she’ll ever know she dialed the wrong number?’ I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him. ‘Maybe it wasn’t such a wrong number.’
‘Mum, Dad, what are you doing?’ The muffled voice came from under the covers. I walked over to my daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness. ‘We’re practicing,’ I answered. ‘Practicing what?’ she mumbled and laid back on the mattress, but her eyes already closed in slumber. ‘Listening,’ I whispered and brushed a hand over her cheek.

Author Unknown

“The art of conversation lies in listening.” Malcom Forbes

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

Step Over, Move Ahead

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find a joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.” Helen Keller

With the university applications for the new academic session closed for the present year, many have been forced to decide to apply for the available options or to forgo a year and attempt again for better courses either through scholarships, exams or interviews while doing a regular course or working part-time. For each applicant, witnessing the huge amount of unrest and mental stress warring with their inner dreams and ambitions; the struggle to break out of the chaos is evident and the sheer will required to do so is immense. Similar emotions are felt when trying for employment, change of careers or a higher grade position. Breaking out of the web of constant trials, stress, rejections and fear of the uncertainty needs courage, effort and will, to use what one perceives as road blocks into opportunities or learning sessions.

“Everyone has the ability to increase resilience to stress. It requires hard work and dedication, but over time, you can equip yourself to handle whatever life throws your way without adverse effects to your health. Training your brain to manage stress won’t just affect the quality of your life, but perhaps even the length of it.” Amy Morin

Problems are a part of life, or even vice -versa; life has it’s own problems stored at each turn or corner. At times, they may all pop up together; while at other times it’ll be one by one, most common though when we least foresee or expect them. When one learns to step over the rocks in the path or shake off the dirt and grime; continue ahead altering or following the route; the journey then taken may be more interesting, than simply sitting and staring at those very rocks. Like the river that goes on it;s course finding a way across the rocks, turning the rough corners smooth over time; such should be the attitude that one adopts towards the “rocks in their path”.

“When you reach for the stars, you are reaching for the farthest thing out there. When you reach deep into yourself, it is the same thing, but in the opposite direction. If you reach in both directions, you will have spanned the universe.” Vera Nazarian

One day the donkey of a farmer fell into a well. He brayed and screamed terribly, calling for help. The farmer ran up and threw up his hands: “How can you get him out of there?” Then he reasoned: “My donkey is old. He did not have much time left. I was still going to get a new young donkey. And the well, all the same, almost dried up. I was going to bury it for a long time and dig a new well in another place. So why not do it now? At the same time I’m burying a donkey so that there is no smell of decomposition ”. He invited all his neighbors to help him bury the well. All together they took up shovels and began to throw the earth into the well. The donkey immediately understood what was happening and began to publish a terrible squeal. And suddenly, to everyone’s surprise, he fell silent. After a few earth shots, the farmer decided to see what was down there. He was amazed at what he saw there. Every piece of earth that fell on his back was shook off and crushed with his feet. Very soon, to everyone’s amazement, the donkey appeared above – and jumped out of the well!

“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” Arnold Palmer

Posted in Daily, Life, Personal Musings

Gaining the Second Wind

The exhaustion is setting in with the limbs being slowly drained out as they move in tandem motion. Suddenly a spurt of energy like an electricity bolt charges through the tired muscles giving them a new life for what may be perceived then as “the minutes that may make a difference to reach the finish line.”

The above emotions may be experienced by many from a wide variety of genres with variations. Consider a first time runner preparing for a long distance marathon, new time jogger or cyclist trying to cover more ground, racing for the train or bus about to leave the station or even worse, running to reach the airport departure terminal before the boarding gate closes. Add to the list, the daily event of running behind a toddler especially when he is racing towards the main road from the porch, taking part in an endurance challenge as a bet with colleagues, old time friends or the “eternal rush against time” (although the internal batteries are near empty) for the next planned event to start.

While some of us may fit into one of the above or similar scenarios, the rest of us may have many more to add to the growing list. On scientific terms, all these instances correlate with the phenomenon of “second wind”. Most common as an exercise phenomenon or a sleep phenomenon, both involve the sudden increase in energy during a period of fatigue. Similar to the runner’s high (happens after the race is over), second wind is a occurrence in distance running or similar sports whereby an athlete who is out of breath or too tired to continue suddenly finds the strength to press on at top performance with less exertion. While science relates second wind to be a result of the body finding the proper balance of oxygen to counteract the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles; endorphins may also play a role to it.

Descriptions of second wind go back centuries old, found initially associated with strenuous exercise. Metaphorically speaking, second wind often translates as “continuing on with renewed energy past the point thought to be one’s prime, be it in sports, careers or life in general.”

We all need to gain our own second wind in life, especially during the low points in life. While the trigger may be from within or from those around us directly or indirectly; finding the “energy to move on ahead” is important to come out of the dregs that life sometimes throws at us. The best part is that each one of us has “that second wind within us”. All we need to do is to gain the will, faith and courage to bring it out and charge through to get to the “better side” of life that each one of us secretly harbours within. As the adage proves time and again, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”; gain one’s own second wind to reach the “temporary finish lines” and breakthrough the barriers and obstacles that each journey has. Each road is one’s own.

“The fatigue of the climb was great but it is interesting to learn once more how much further one can go on one’s second wind. I think that is an important lesson for everyone to learn for it should also be applied to one’s mental efforts. Most people go through life without ever discovering the existence of that whole field of endeavor which we describe as second wind. Whether mentally or physically occupied most people give up at the first appearance of exhaustion. Thus they never learn the glory and the exhilaration of genuine effort…” Agnes Elizabeth née Ernst Meyer

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

At the Next Chapter

“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.” Roy T. Bennett

With one of the extended members of the family entering into the “college” phase of their life, stepping out of the “home nest” becomes a must in order to enter the accepted college. As the young adolescent enters the “independent phase” maturing into the young adult; adapting to the new environment, doing well both in academics and social life, making wise decisions and moving on comfortably in life is the prayer in the mind of every family elder, especially parents.

“Do what is right, not what is easy nor what is popular.” Roy T. Bennett

Being solely independent for the first time in college life may be slightly scary where one is uncertain of the next step or what may happen. Yet staying true to the own conscience, doing right, being fair, understanding, kind as well as practical helps in the transition from home to college. Meeting various fellow individuals with different perspectives and personalities may seem a bit daunting at first, especially for the pure introverts. Yet believe in oneself and the goodness of life; things mayn’t seem so difficult then. Situations will arise, judgement and opinions will be made, either within or out loud by society. Be kind when judging for those shoes may be worn by oneself at some other point of life.

“Judge tenderly, if you must. There is usually a side you have not heard, a story you know nothing about, and a battle waged that you are not having to fight.” Traci Lea Larussa

Be kind. Be just. Think well. Do one’s own best. Be prepared for the worst. When yours truly had attended college and “dorm life” for the first life, these were the first few pieces of advice received. Following these basic guidelines will help later in life as well. Life is there to make memories, receive new teachings, learn, undergo experiences to remember as well as to make mistakes, forgive and learn from the “bad moments”. The journey is complete when one learns to use the downhills to view the uphills. The path was never easy but that’s what makes the travel beautiful and meaningful.

“Life is about accepting the challenges along the way, choosing to keep moving forward, and savoring the journey.” Roy T. Bennett

Going out into the world from the threshold of the earth
Do not deprive yourself of good thoughts, –
Do not judge strictly and unequivocally,
And do not rush down to look down.

Understand: maybe something did not understand
You’re in a strange, very difficult fate.
Or outta – in the pursuit of truth?
Did pride leap at you?

Maybe before you invade the soul,
You forgot to look in the eyes?
Very rarely we know how to listen,
Very few are able to endure.

Do not judge unequivocally and strictly –
Keep the joy of your heart.
Do not judge: we all walk under God,
All are His beloved children.
-Rus Svyataya

Posted in Life, Personal Musings, Quotes, Stories Around the World, Work

Of Criticism and Growth

“The greatest success is by helping others succeed and grow”. Gregory Scott Reid

Daily meetings, brain storming sessions, weekly to monthly audits and assessments are just a few of the many routines that become a part of the working hours. Besides the stress of getting prepared for these meetings is the onslaught of criticism that often comes along with them. Many a time, the harsh words, though said for improvement on the whole, have the potential to ruin not just the mood for the day or the project, but also destroy the cordiality and communication between colleagues.

“Criticism, like rain, should be gentle enough to nourish a man’s growth without destroying his roots.” Frank A. Clark

An open two edged sword is criticism; for it has both the power and potential, to create as well as destroy, even if done with the best intentions at heart, albeit a poor deliverance. To grow, one needs to know the better way of doing things as well as new methods. Fresh perspectives are often given when viewed from far, or when heard from a fresh viewpoints. Criticism is needed to grow and flourish; but certain practicalities need to be kept in mind when dealing with them.

“Every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration. Constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought.” Margaret Chase Smith

For the criticizers, learning to objective, non-biased, fair and practical, removing undesirable or malicious personal intentions from the root, while thinking to criticize. There are always different ways to say the same thing. For instance, “Although the planning is good, there are few gray areas that may not help it to work out” sounds better than “this plan is preposterous“. While truth is truth, “practical be practically feasible” and “direct-to-the-point sayees” not sugar-coat their words; there are ways to be gentle, direct, kind as well as truthful, without being hurtful, malicious or derive pleasure from the downfall of others. After all what goes around, comes round and back to the initiator in the long run.

“I criticize by creation, not by finding fault.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

On the receiving end, learning to accept and discard the right words, objectives, advice or plans are equally important in improving the self in the long run. In order to experience growth and progress; one needs to improvise, remove possible errors and initiate changes at the right time. All these and more can be made by accepting fresh perspectives, once in a while. Criticism will always come no matter what. It’s up to oneself to show the right attitude and deal with the words, actions and deeds that one may come across, especially at the work front. As a matter fact, stone are thrown only at trees bearing fruit.

“Stay positive and happy. Work hard and don’t give up hope. Be open to criticism and keep learning. Surround yourself with happy, warm and genuine people.” Tena Desae

Many years ago there were a group of brilliant young men at the University of Wisconsin. The group of men seemed to have an amazing creative literary talent and were extraordinary in their ability to put their literary skills to its best use. These promising young men met regularly to read and critique each other’s literary works. These men were merciless while they criticized one another. They dissected the most minute of the expressions and offered tough and even mean criticism to each others work. Their meeting sessions became arenas of literary criticism and the members of this exclusive club called themselves the “Stranglers.”

Not to be excluded to the opportunity to level up there literary skills, the women of literary interest in the university started a club of their own, one comparable to Stranglers. The members called themselves the “ Wranglers.” The member of the lub too presented their literary pieces in front of each another. But the feedback from the members were much more softer, more positive and more encouraging. Every effort from a member, even the most feeble one, was encouraged by all.

After twenty years, a university alumnus was doing a study of his classmates’ career when he noticed a huge difference in the literary accomplishments of the Stranglers and the Wranglers. Among all the brilliant young men in the strangler, none had made any significant literary achievement. But the Wranglers had several successful writers and some renowned national literary talents. The talent and the education between the two groups were almost the same. There were not much difference. The Stranglers strangled each other while the Wranglers gave each other a lift. The stranglers created atmosphere of contention and self doubt while the Wranglers brought out the best in each other. (Source: vk. com)

“If we had no faults we should not take so much pleasure in noting those of others.” François de La Rochefoucauld

 

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

Circles, Time and Again…

“I drop kindness pebbles in still water everyday, and I watch the effect they have on other people’s lives. My favorite kindness pebbles are compliments. Drop a compliment and watch the ripple affect that it has in your life.” John A Passaro

Amidst the melee of living the modern life, very often one never stops to think of the far reaching impact of one’s actions, words and thoughts. Little does one realize that when one is really happy, it blooms from within silently triggering the “blooming effect” in those around them. Similarly with kindness. A single kind thought stems the anger or unrest growing within. That stemmed unrest is instead transformed to kind words, starting off a chain reaction that may or mayn’t end with the initiator. Although it mayn’t end in a full circle, the peaceful and mental calm that kindness leaves behind is worth the effort taken to practise a little bit of kindness daily.

“Don’t look to others to give you happiness. Grow it within yourself and share it with the world around you. Bets are, if you give a bit of your happiness to the world, it will begin a ripple effect, and who knows how many other people you can help. It’s never too late to decide that your happiness (or whatever it is that you want) is yours to create and not the other way around.” Leigh Hershkovich

Time and time again, the existence of few laws of life that withstands the test of time has been proven. Among them, is the law of kindness; which like the ripples of a pebble dropped into water has consequences far reaching even after the initial ripple has faded away. The more one practises creating the “good ripples”, the more one experiences life to its’ fullest with the best moments that the latter offers.

“The help we give to others creates the ripple of good feeling we give to ourselves.” Gina Greenlee

Once in a woman’s apartment a cactus bloomed. Prior to this, it was four years old, stuck on the windowsill, like a gloomy and unshaven janitor and suddenly such a surprise. In pleasant thoughts about a blooming cactus, she accidentally stepped on the foot of a gloomy man in the subway. She didn’t scream her remark as usual with an offended look. But smiled:
“Do not be angry with me, please, I had nothing to hold on to; if you like, you can step on my foot and we will be quits.” The grim man swallowed what he was going to voice about her. Then he went to his station and bought a newspaper. Instead of haggling the saleswoman, confused with the calculation of delivery or calling her stupid, he said to her: ” It’s okay, count again, I am not good at math either early in the morning.”
The saleswoman, who did not expect such a response, was deeply moved and gave free of charge two old magazines and a whole pile of old newspapers to an old man, a pensioner who was a regular customer, fond of reading but buying only one cheap newspaper every day.

A contented old man went home with an armful of newspapers and magazines. Having met a neighbor from the upper floor, he didn’t give her a daily talk on the topic: “your child is stomping around the apartment like an elephant and is preventing rest, it is necessary to bring up better”, but he looked and said: “Your daughter has grown. I don’t understand whom she is more like you or her father, but she will definitely be a fine lady.” The neighbor took the child to the garden, went to work at the reception and did not shout at the senseless grandmother who had signed up for an appointment with the doctor for yesterday, but came today. Instead she said,” Come on, don’t be upset, I also sometimes forget my schedule. You can sit for a minute, and I will check with the doctor the visit for now.” Having received an appointment, the grandmother did not demand that she be given a very effective, but inexpensive medicine that can instantly help cure the disease; threatening in case of refusal to write complaints to all public bodies or media but sighed and said: – “I am not completely out of my mind. I understand that old age cannot be cured, but can you forgive me, doctor, for dragging myself to you all the time. ”

And the doctor walking home in the evening, suddenly remembered his grandmother and felt sorry for her. He suddenly thought that life in its usual rush flies by, and, giving in to a sudden impulse, stopped at the nearest supermarket, bought a bouquet of flowers, a cake with cream roses and went the other way. He drove up to a house, climbed to the third floor and knocked on the door. “I’ve been thinking, about time and you. I bought you a cake, but I accidentally put my briefcase on it. I hope this is not a bad thing, because it will not affect the taste. I also bought you flowers, but they also got a little crushed by the same portfolio. Maybe they can be saved ?” “That will be alright,” the woman replied, “we will reanimate them. And I have news. Just imagine, I woke up today, I looked at the window, and my cactus has bloomed. See? ” (Source: vk.com, translated to English)

“Our power lies in our small daily choices, one after another, to create eternal ripples of a life well lived.” Mollie Marti