Creating your normal

You are what you surround yourself with. Whatever your environment is, becomes your normal. The music you listen to, the books you read, the nature of the people around you, their behaviour, their way of speaking all becomes your normal and that becomes your life.

Some are privileged with good environments, supportive people around, intellectual conversations and that becomes their normal. But, some of us are not so privileged and then we can either choose to let our surroundings, our background dictate who we are or we can choose to create the environment of our liking., one that would nurture, inspire and satisfy constantly.

I am not a fan of external dictators in whatever shape or form they come in and I do not therefore believe that what I see around me is all get. I know that a lot of what I surround myself with is a choice. I also know that some things are out of my reach and cannot be chosen and I do not live with the distant hope that they will come true.  But, I know that around me, in my situation, wherever I am, I do have choices and I do have good choices to choose from.

I can intentionally choose the kind of music I listen to, the words I let enter my ears or the chatter that I choose to listen to while watching television shows. I can choose the kinds of books I read, because there are many out there with varying benefits. I can choose to tailor my Facebook newsfeed or my Instagram account and choose to be flooded by positivity and daily inspiration by following those who share my mindset.

So surround yourself with good. There is darkness out there, but there is light too and choose as much as the light as you can and create your new normal. It is something that you do have control over, even if you think you don’t.

Thoughts while driving: Why must we be so selfish?

The selfishness of the human race is on full display when you drive through the streets of a town or a city. It is in these moments of waiting in traffic or cruising slowly through the streets or stopped at a traffic light when you notice the small instances of human insensitivity and selfishness that explain why the lack of consideration for people has become a major threat to the foundation of our generally hospitable and warm society.

On the street I see pedestrians not moving to give other pedestrians way, taking over the entire footpath in groups of 3 or more. On the street I see drivers driving bang in the middles of 2 lanes because they might have to go either way in a couple of minutes. On the street I see vehicles stuck in a deadlock around the roundabout just because no one thought of letting the other car pass through. On the street I see cars and bikes stopped right in the middle of the road to disembark its passengers and I have even seen pedestrians in the middle of the road, not caring about their lives or the lives of others who have to swerve to avoid them.

I see impatience and insensitivity all around and I know, without a doubt, that none of these people would even think for a second that they were selfish.

Selfishness is only believed to be in its extreme forms such as when a mother neglects a child for her beauty treatments, or a husband puts work drinks before his wife. It is then no surprise that with this thinking these subtle forms of selfishness and insensitivity have slowly crept into our lives and have become the new normal.

You might even question me, for a second, and ask me how driving the way you drive or walking the way you walk has to do with selfishness becoming a part of your entire life and character. We are in a hurry, you might say, and we need to get somewhere and sometimes things happen. I understand that completely, as I myself often find myself being late. But, I am sorry to say that you are remiss in thinking that what happens on the street stays on the street. After all, the street is not Vegas.

Slowly and eventually the character we display with strangers on the road becomes the character we display with our near and dear ones and then it becomes our character. Lack of sensitivity thus becomes ingrained in our lives and the lines between sense and nonsense becomes so indistinguishable that we find people hacking each other up for selfish reasons.

So, the next time you find yourself cutting lanes, or jumping red lights or doing anything even off the road that is mildly insensitive to those around, stop! Stop right there and think about the people. Think about that tired businessman, that sick auto driver and that scared child in the back seat. Think about the new salesperson you are shouting at, the timid school teacher that you are questioning, that weary mother whose line you are cutting.

Think about the people. People matter. Treat them with respect, care for them, and look out for them. Make this world a better, safer and warmer place to live in.  Think about the people!

How rebels without a cause are taking over our world

When I see the hastag  #rebelswithoutacause on my social media platforms I wince internally because even though said in jest, I see this very thing around me-people rebelling without a cause. There are people debating passionately, arguing violently and judging others all based on trivial things that do not really matter. That so much of energy is being put into causes that are not even significant is not only reflecting the pitiable nature of our society but reflects the lack of apparent humanness in people,  hence this outcome.

Isn’t it enough that our country, our beautiful country of India, ranks low in just about any kind of survey that the world takes relating to the economy, quality of life, education, corruption, and the environment, that we need to further poison it and bring it to its knees.

India is ranked 141 out of 163 countries in the ranking of peaceful nations in the world according to the Global Peace Index 2017, ranked 122 out of 155 countries in the World Happiness Report 2017, ranked  136 out of 180 countries in the World Press Freedom Index 2017,and ranked 131 out of 188 countries in the Human Development Index.

At this point I do not even need to specify the myriad of frankly useless things my fellow countrymen are fighting about, to the point where the value of another person’s life is considered negligible in comparison to their protests and ‘causes’ they are protesting. Where the common man is struggling under the burden of all the effects of the game that politics and its selfish relatives are playing, the powerful, the greedy, the violent, the angry are seemingly thriving and unfortunately, torching the world we live in.

This time around, there are no external entities dominating us, exploiting us and reducing us to nothing, it is our very own brethren and these rebels without a cause are suffocating us to a point where we can either give in and give up or fight for those saving breaths of air.

I say, we fight!

We have enough causes to fight for, why then are we letting the flimsy ‘causes’ to take up our time, energy and our lives. Why can’t we become rebels with a cause? What more will it take for us to say, ‘that’s enough’? How much longer are we going to allow this to go on? How much is too much?

I leave these questions with you today because you and only you can make a choice today. A choice to fight rather than just sit and take it.  A choice to be active rather than passive. A choice to raise your voice rather than remain silent. But remember,silence is also an action.

More on this in my next video coming up on Sunday, the 18th. Subscribe here.

Travelling on the road less travelled

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 

I took the one less travelled by, 

And that has made all the difference.”

I could not have said it any better than Robert Frost. He has described my life in such beautiful and apt words. The schools I attended, the college I was accepted into, the places I’ve lived in, the people I have met, the friends I have made, the opportunities I have gotten, the choices that I have made and the problems I have faced, are all on the road less travelled.

The road less travelled has been my companion regardless of what others have said, what society expected of me or even what I might have thought my life would turn out to be. The road less travelled has challenged me, moulded me, and changed me into the person I am today and I am sure that it will continue to do so till the day I die.

It has, however, not been an easy road, for obvious reasons. Obstacles have been a daily part of the journey but the worst of all has been the explaining I have had to do for the choices I have made. There have been people who have been supportive and there have been many others who have not. Some have silently been disappointed in me. Others have voiced their displeasure more openly. And I have had to explain. Again and again.

Over the years, however, I have developed a thick skin, a way to squelch the constant desire to justify my actions, and I have found an inner peace that is now my constant companion on the road. I have learnt not to use other’s reactions as my compass. I have learnt to trust myself, my values, my beliefs and my conscience. I have learnt and I am still learning that who I want myself to be is a much more trustworthy indicator than who others want me to be.

The road less travelled is fraught with thorny brambles, overgrown bushes and lesser visibility than any other road I’ve ever been on. It is strange and slightly scary most of the time. I cannot even see a few months ahead. But, I still keep moving, past all the darkness, hoping to find the light, past all the noise of the onlookers who with good intentions are still unfortunately trying to pull me down to a place of doubt.

In the beginning of my journey I felt alone, left out and frankly weird for being the only traveller on that path but over time I have come to savour, even enjoy the lonely moments, and make the most of them. I now cherish the fact that I am the only person on that path and it makes me walk fast, run often and work more harder to blaze the trail.

The road less travelled has given me great moments, happy memories, and so many life lessons than I could possibly have asked for. It has been a friend, a mentor, a therapist, a teacher and everything in between and I am thankful that I chose to stay on the road that looked a little or maybe even a lot different from the others because it has meant a lifetime of unique experiences.

Today, as I look back at my life, I realize that I love being on the road less travelled and  I would not exchange it for any other and I hope that if you are on this road that looks way different from the road that others are on, stick it out, it is worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

What I learnt this month: May 2017 | Courage

Be courageous, it can make a world of difference. This is one of the biggest lessons that I learnt this month and it is something that is worth sharing to encourage, uplift and motivate you to get up, get out there and go for it, whatever the ‘it’ is in your life.

What made this past month really satisfying personally was the fact that I faced one of my fears of being in front of the camera and started my YouTube channel. The statement, “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear”, has been ingrained in my mind since I watched Princess Diaries as a young girl. But, its meaning became as real as it possibly could this last month when the benefit of starting a channel was more important than my fear of it.

I knew that to get my message across to a larger audience and more effectively, I would need the medium of video and this understanding was much much much more important than my fear and so, here I am, living and writing about courage.

I think, unfortunately, many of us are protected and contained in our own bubble of life and are unaware or ignorant of the outside world and its effects on our lives and the lives of others in society. Looking at the state of our outside world right now, I believe, it is high time that we get outside of our lives, our family, our circle and start looking at what we are doing or not doing and how it affects the outside world. It is time to gather up our courage and finally do something.

It is all well and good to be courageous for oneself but being courageous for our fellow humans and our society is more noble and relevant in our current context and whether small or big, this is something that we really need to be thinking about.

There are so many things today that are more important than our fear – the rights of a human to life, the rights of a person to live without unnecessary harassment, the rights of the media to report the truth , the rights of a woman to travel alone without fear, the rights of a child to be protected and not exploited. If these events, issues and situations do not generate even a sense of anger within us, we are anything but courageous. We are cowards.

Being courageous can mean talking about these atrocities on social media. Being courageous can mean educating a child to protect himself. Being courageous can mean changing the discussion in your living room. Being courageous can mean generating dialogue and discussion to find a solution. Being courageous can mean doing anything and everything to counter the negative forces that are swirling all around us.

I do not know what being courageous means to you today. But, I hope that you remind yourself of this one sentence over and over again until something  clicks and you finally get it.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.”

 

P.S.I think I have more to share on this topic and will be doing a video on it soon. So, subscribe here if you want watch it.

 

 

UPDATE: New YouTube Channel

Hi Guys. Just wanted to give a quick update. I have started a YouTube Channel as an extension of my blog. In addition to my blog posts, I will also be creating content on my channel. Though the content might be sometimes linked to my blog posts and at other times completely separate, the thrust of my channel is going to be the same. It will be all about life and the lessons I learn from it.

I am going to be putting in a lot of effort and love in providing you with good content on a weekly basis. So, please subscribe to my channel  so that it is easier to be notified about new videos.  Thanks for supporting me.

-Rhoda

The benefits of writing letters to my future self

There are many who write letters to their past selves sharing with all those who read it what they would have hoped to know at that stage in their lives. They write about the fears they might have had that are inconsequential now, the burdens that were not theirs to carry, the warnings that could have saved them from regret and all the love and the words of wisdom that they hoped that someone had shared with them and what they now want to share with others. These letters are helpful for anyone to see how far they have come and others to benefit from their wisdom, especially if it catches them at the right time.

I, however, write letters to my future self.

Though I love the learning that comes with looking at the past and I do that often through the reading of my countless diaries and regular introspection, I try very hard to also ensure that mistakes and miscalculations of a different sort do not take place in the future and that my future is laced with triumph and celebration rather than regret and misery.

Therefore, my letters to my future self that I write and even open from time to time have taken on various roles that have helped me along the way.

The Protector:

The protector letter provides me with clarity when I find myself in situations that I have been through before. I know that often in the heat of the moment, it is harder to have a clear head about your weaknesses and which road to take, but these letters written in moments of awareness protect me from regret. I have check-lists to tick off against people and situations, I have clear warnings against patterned behaviour and all I would want someone to advise me in that moment or situation.

The Therapist:

In some instances, I have predicted the ebb and flow of my emotions and have written letters to counteract them. The ‘for when you are sad’ letter, the ‘for when you are just done’ letter, the ‘for when you are hurting’ letter all fulfill the purpose of a therapist as they tell me that this too shall pass. Sometimes they also tell me exactly what I need to do to get out of that funk and lo and behold my non-talking inanimate piece of paper makes more sense of my life than anyone else.

The Motivator:

There are many turning points in life in which I want to be reminded to move forward thinking about a specific life goal or vision that I have for my life. These turning points are both the known ones of age or other usual life milestones such as graduation, the first job or marriage or the unknown ones which I can anticipate such as the time I feel I have achieved something or the time I feel I am on top of the world. At times like these, the motivator letter tells me there is more to come, more to do and more to live for. It motivates me to keep moving without getting complacent.

The Reality-Check:

The Reality-Check letter is especially for those times of triumph and glory in my life when I need to be reminded that everything I have is a gift that can be taken away at any moment. It corrects me against pride, greed and even jealousy especially when I clearly anticipate and know what might go wrong in certain situations. These letters are often hard and firm but are the most loving letters I could write to myself to bring me back to reality.

There are many roles even other than these that my letters take, often overlapping with each other but these roles are the ones I cherish and am thankful for the most. In a bid to ensure that my life is as smooth as it could possibly be, putting thought into and writing these letters is my contribution and I will continue to do so as I open some letters and seal some.

 

7 tried and tested ways to fall in love with your job

Wherever you are at the moment and whatever you are doing, it is not a mistake.

So, I am not going to tell you to leave the job you do for the job you wish to do. Nor am I going to tell you that if you don’t love what you do, you need to do something else.  I am going to share with you how to continue doing what you do and to do it with love, passion and energy overflowing from within the core of you.

  1. Find purpose in your job or industry

There is always always always some kind of contribution you are making to people, or the world at large no matter what you do. For one job description, there are different kinds of ways you can see your purpose. If you are writer, you are influencing lives. If you are a graphic designer, you are helping others with their dreams. If you are in construction, you are building the lives of a family. So, if you don’t know the purpose of your job, find your purpose and hold that close to you whenever you work. It will make all the difference and motivate you to start loving what you do.

2. Go beyond your job description

Most people who have progressed in their chosen career or even switched careers to pursue their passions will know that there is an organic way of this happening and that is by going beyond your job description. This is the best way to make things interesting and learn new things at a faster pace. The sooner you get stuck in the rut of what is expected of you, the sooner you will fall into the boring routine of work life and that’s that. Find out what you can do that is not expected of you whether it is learning a new software or supporting another team in their project. The more you go that extra mile, the more it will benefit you and your love for your job will keep on increasing.

3. Put in the extra hours

Sometimes, you might have to put in those extra hours at work and sometimes that is okay. It is often easier to focus after hours or on Saturdays when there are lesser people around. Also, it gives you the time to put in some extra effort in your job and get ahead of yourself. It is the best time to do the work that are important in the long-term but get pushed back due to more urgent important items that crop up during the work day and to do the tasks that you feel would add value to your work. It will make your work more satisfying because you won’t be just fighting fires, you will be building fire-proof structures that will help you and your peers in the future.

4. Immerse yourself in your subject

Remember your first day on the job when you had no idea what you were doing or supposed to do. Well, you will continue to feel that way if you not take the initiative to get to know what you are doing. It is way easier to love your job if you know what you are doing and are constantly striving to know more. You will feel more involved, engaged and energetic when you immerse yourself in all that sweet learning. So, read, research and don’t forget to ask questions.

5. Say yes to opportunities

The extraordinary conductor Zubin Mehta has been known to acknowledge that most of his big breaks have come to him because he said yes to opportunities that came his way. Once, he even went so far as to say yes when asked if he could conduct a particular piece of music and fill in for an absent conductor, even though he had not seen that piece ever in his life. He then proceeded to put his life into learning that piece before the concert. Though I would not always recommend doing that, it is totally worth it to say yes to giving something a try whenever it comes your way. These were meant to be your opportunities, so use them to make your life.

6. Compete with yourself

The best way to make things more interesting is to constantly compete with yourself. Set goals and slay them. Then, set more goals. This can be as small as increasing the speed of the task to making a proposal of improving the efficiency of staff and getting it approved by the top bosses. Life and work will become more exciting if you constantly challenge yourself to be and do better. Work becomes a game, and you always win.

7. Surround yourself with people who also love their jobs

There are always people who make complaining about their job a part of their life and who wait for the weekend to live. Do not become these people. I repeat. Do not become these people. It is definitely easier to join this gang if you spend time with such people either at work or outside. So, stay away but more importantly find people who love their jobs too. These people are happier, more passionate and they will rub off on you. You will also get to share your experiences with each other. They will understand why you do what you do, especially if you have to work harder, longer and smarter and they will build you up rather than tear you down.

Our jobs form a huge percentage of our life. Isn’t it better to enjoy it rather than dread it? I think so.

So, happy working!

What I learnt this month: April 2017 | Health

Disclaimer: I am not the world’s healthiest person nor am I the most knowledgeable on the matters of the human body. But, I am learning more and more every day and enjoy sharing my growing knowledge and its practice that has become a part of my life, especially making me reach new realizations in this past month.

  1. Strength training makes you feel like a superhero.

Using your own body weight to train is hard enough, add a couple of dumbbells or if you are more ambitious, barbells, and you will know what a superhero feels like. I can attest to that. Yes, you might fail ( I still can’t do burpees) Yes, you might be sore in places that you didn’t even know muscle existed (hello, little muscle on the small of my back).  Yes, you might also give up after a certain number of tries (I certainly have laid down for a good 20 mins after just 5 crunches). But, whether it is 2 reps or 20, once you complete what you had set out to achieve, you will feel like the strongest person alive. Soon, you will place your goals higher and higher focussing on doing the exercise in the best form possible. Soon, you will notice how your strength can be seen in your daily life like being able to carry more groceries or open a stubborn jar no one can. Soon, you will feel invincible  and whether you get any physical benefits or not (which you will) the self-esteem boost it gives you will be enough for you to make it a part of your lifestyle.

  1. You can rewire yourself to crave wholesome foods.

Cravings are always for something bad, or so we think. But newsflash, that is SO NOT TRUE. Ever noticed how on bad days you tend to carve things that remind you of happier days like your mother’s cooking or the restaurant you went to as a kid. I have often craved the food that made me remember my childhood or my times with friends and if they were mostly junk, I did crave junk. But, for a while now I  have intentionally been eating a lot of fresh fruit, vegetables, multi-grans and superfoods and when I savoured those moments remembering them for the happiness they bought me, I craved those wholesome foods on those off-days.  I therefore found a way to re-wire my brain. It is very simple and may be simplistic in its theory but it works for me and there is no reason it shouldn’t for others too.  I am now constantly devising ways to make these moments of eating delicious nutritious food as memorable as they possibly can and enjoying the benefits of those healthy cravings.

  1. Running can not only make you fitter but smarter too.

When I started running, listening to anything other than music was unthinkable to me. I needed that push of the fast beats, the peppy lyrics and the imagination that went with it just so that I could get through a run. Over time though, I felt myself running out of new songs to listen to every week to keep that pep in my step. So, one day I switched over to audio books and boy what a difference it did make. I could run and listen to a book syncing my pace to the pace of the author’s voice and focussing on what he or she was saying instead of on the fact that my entire body was dying a slow death. I could constantly have new content and never get bored. I could finish 1 book per week listening to it and I could get fitter week by week as well. Who says we can’t have it all?

How we use the mother of all excuses to self-destruct

I cannot even begin to count the number of times I have heard someone say- ‘But, he also does that’, in response to someone enquiring about their behaviour. It is a split second response to any kind of perceived personal affront or threat. It is something that is said without thinking whenever a comfort of numbers is needed to convince someone or ourselves that all is okay and nothing needs to change.

It is the number one excuse used by a majority of human beings, whether it is said loud or thought within the confines of our minds. It is the number one excuse that not only hinders our progress but, depending on who we meet, see or hear about, can pull us a hundred steps backward as well. It is the number one excuse, while ‘I am like this only’ comes a very close second.

If we are pulled up for being late, we point at others who arrive late as well and do nothing to improve our own punctuality. If we are caught for not following rules, we point to others who don’t follow the rules too and do whatever our rebellious hearts tells us to do. If we are called out for mediocrity, we comfort ourselves by the fact that to err is human, others make mistakes too and we don’t do anything to better ourselves.

There is always someone who is lesser qualified, lesser disciplined, lesser organized, lesser skilled than us and we have no qualms whatsoever about using them as our yardstick and continuing to live our lives in that state of mediocrity.

It has become our shield against well-meaning friends, our protector from guilt, our safety raft and we do not want to let go of its comfort for fear that effort needs to be made when we take out our rose-coloured glasses and have a look around.

For when we do step out of our self-created bubble, we find that we have been stuck in the same location for I do not know how many years with the fake crutch that everyone else is in the same place as us while those who desired success and greatness have moved far far ahead.

Our tendency to compare has been and will continue to be our downfall if we compare our lives, our achievements and our character to others less educated, less disciplined and less aware than us.

Instead, what if we compared ourselves to those who are or have been greater than us in their life and lifestyle?

Are we sleeping as little as Indra Nooyi? Are we reading as much as Oprah? Are we exercising as much as John Abraham? Are we as disciplined as Serena Williams? Are we helping the community as much as Bill Gates?

These are the people who we need to compare ourselves to, if we are so inclined, the people who are the best at what they do. Otherwise, we are simply selling ourselves short and telling ourselves that we are doing the best we can when we quite clearly and evidently are not.

If our unit of measurement is low, it goes without saying that our achievements will be lower and subsequently so will our life. If it is higher though, the story changes and we can go to any heights, or depths or horizons that we choose to measure our life against.

We can choose to have a greater vision of where we want our lives to be and regardless of where we are at the moment and who we are surrounded by, we can actually achieve it. But, for that, we need to stop saying, ‘But, he also does that…or ‘She also does that…’ or ‘They also do that…’, even if it means biting our own tongue the next time these words threaten to even cross our lips.