Monday, August 25, 2008

Let us take a 'mental shower' daily

I do get motivated but off and on. It is never permanent. When I listen to a motivating talk by a professional, I decide to stay motivated and plan to do things differently. But I find in a couple of days that I have gone back to my old ways, mostly negative. Why is it, I ask myself, motivation cannot be permanent. Possibly it is not expected to remain so without some effort on our part.
I read a book recently comparing motivation to a bath. Bathing once does not remove the dirt permanently. We take bath daily to remove the accumulated dirt and bacteria with soap and shampoo. We come out clean, fresh and with fragrance depending upon the soap we use. But this lasts only for a short time. We take bath daily and even twice depending upon the grime and dirt we gather during the day. We wish to come out refreshed and clean.
But our mind gets dirtied daily with all negative and undesirable thoughts. We keep on gathering them layer upon layer without any ‘bathing’ to get rid of them. Motivating the mind is like a daily shower intended to remove the stinking thoughts in our mind and to replace them with fragrant positive thoughts. Nobody need ever reminds us to take the bath and likewise none needs to tell us that we should motivate ourselves. If we fail to do, the wrong attitudes harden themselves making it difficult to remove them easily
Let us resolve to take the ‘mental shower’ daily and exercise our brain in flushing out the unwanted attitudes by reading inspiring books of great authors, listening to lectures of people who can make a difference and spending time with positive minded good persons. This ‘mental shower’ would keep us focused on the right goals and make our lives worthwhile.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Secret of God's bounty

This story has been read 37 times. Sunita heard the ring of the cell phone twice when she was taking her bath. Even as she was dressing herself there was another call. It was her son-in-law Manoj. “Ma, Sonali as you know was having mild pain since early morning. As the labour pain increased in its intensity and frequency, I have admitted her in the nursing home. The gynaecologist feels a caesarean may be necessary. They will wait for some time more before they begin the procedure. Please come immediately. My mom is also not here.” Sunita replied “I am on my way and will be there very soon.” The doctor had predicted delivery only after two or three days and it was a surprise how they could go wrong.
Even as she was rushing out of her house in her car, she heard a shriek from a woman from one of the huts in the bustee opposite her house. She asked the driver to stop the car. When the shrieks continued at intermittent short intervals, she asked the driver to ascertain what it was about. She thought someone was hurting the woman. The driver came back running and said “Memsahib, some young woman is in labour pain. There is none around. All the nearby huts are locked as the inmates must have gone for work.”
Sunita thought for a moment.Sonali was in the safe hands of a doctor at the nursing home and Manoj was also there. A few minutes delay should not matter.Sunita rushed to the hut and found the young woman on the verge of delivery. She was around her daughter’s age. Her maternal instincts did not allow her to leave her there in that condition. Without giving a second thought, she took the woman with driver’s help to the car and rushed to a government hospital nearby. The doctor in the emergency realised the urgency and took the woman directly to the labour room. He came out after a while and said “The case seems complicated. We are tying our best. The head gynaecologist is attending on her. Please fill up the forms meanwhile.” She could have left the hospital then but decided to wait in view of the likely complications. May be they would ask for some payment and it was better she felt that she stayed there. She rang up Manoj and found that Sonali was still in the labour room and the doctors are waiting for some more time.
It was a long and an excruciating wait for more than an hour in the smelly corridors of the hospital and her thoughts were around Sonali. When a nurse came out to announce the birth of the baby, she was relieved to hear that the woman had given delivery to a baby boy after a complicated caesarean procedure and that everything was fine. She saw her from near the door and waved at her telling her that she would see her in the evening.
Even as she hurriedly climbed the stairs of the nursing home, she saw Manoj rushing towards her. ”Ma, I was about to call you on cell phone.Sunita is fine and gave delivery to a twin, a boy and girl. The doctor, who came out of the labour room, said with a broad grin “Congratulations. You have become a nani of two good looking babies. I expected some problems initially but luckily everything went smooth by God’s grace. You can see her after thirty minutes.”
Sunita knew that it was her act of prompt help to the woman must have pleased the God and helped Sonali in safe delivery. "Paropakaram Idham Sareeram" says the scriptures. Paropakaraya vahanthi nadhyaka, paropakaraya duhanthi gavaha, paropakaraya palanthi vriksha, paropakaraya sareeram ethath. Sunita had after all sacrificed her time and her desire to be with her daughter when she needed her most for the sake of helping the hapless woman. This selfless act had not gone in vain.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fear of failure

- by KParthasarathi 11 Aug 2008
I was once asked to address a large group of workers and employees on target setting. Generally workers fear stiff targets and would be happy with a comfortable figure that they can achieve without strain. I began the talk with an illustration. I asked the audience how many of them would be able to walk on a large diameter pipe of 24 inches diameter lying on the ground. We have all walked easily as kids on the roadside kerbs. Everyone lifted their hands. I asked them how many would run on the pipe. Most signalled they can. I then asked them that if I place securely the pipe between two tall buildings at 40 feet above the ground, how many would walk on it. Not one hand went up. There was an uneasy silence. I reminded them that it was the same pipe of same width on which they said earlier they could run but with a change only in the location. But they felt they would surely fall down. The reason for unwillingness is the fear of failure. The mind is capable of wreaking havoc or bringing out wonders. If you fill the mind with fear, it robs you of the power to succeed. Fear paralyses the mind and prepares it for failure. The thinking facility goes haywire and self confidence is destroyed. It is only the fear of falling that prepared them for a certain fall. I told them if they think they can, they will certainly accomplish whatever the target be, so long as they are not unrealistic. What is needed is a positive frame of mind along with an abiding faith in their ability. Most of us fear failure because of inadequacy in our own effort, likely criticism, fall in the opinion of others and possible rejection. While the successful do not allow the fear of failure to constrain them, most of us get incapacitated by the mere thought of failing. Before Edison successfully produced the bulb, he failed thousand times. He was not defeated as he didn’t consider them as failures but thousand ways to find the correct method. He profited by not repeating the mistakes and he never quit. Most of the unsuccessful persons drop the idea at the first sign of failure. Successful people do not give up. They persevere avoiding the pitfalls of the earlier attempts. The best example of perseverance is Abraham Lincoln. Born in indigent circumstances, he had a string of failures. He lost eight elections, failed in business twice and to cap it all he had a nervous breakdown. Despite all these, he never quit as most of us would have done. He was not afraid of failure. Because he did not quit, he became one of the illustrious presidents of America. Our own Mahatma Gandhi is another example of fearlessness and a success story.
Let us understand that fear is one great reason for holding us back from our full potential. We try to play safe and most often miss the good opportunities that come our way. One must realise that without taking certain amount of risk we cannot exploit the opportunities that present themselves before us. We would live in the security of risk free life but without achieving substantially anything of note. I read about a few ways to overcome such fear.
Take calculated risks: It is not jumping blindly into anything without examining the pros and cons. Every proposition has certain uncertainty be it business or finding a partner for life. All things do not unfold before us in the first instance. If you think about the likely loss of a missed opportunity against playing safe, you may be in a better position to evaluate the risk. There is no free lunch, the price being the calculated risk. Despite all this one may fail but that is part of life’s game.
Unknown risks: Most of the fear is because of unknown risks. You find a pretty girl for matrimony but not sure whether she would be compatible with you, whether she would get along with others in your family, whether she can manage the house within your income and not have extravagant habits, whether she is good natured, whether she would work to augment income, whether she would be willing to raise a family etc.Most of these can be resolved by a little bit of research about her family and its antecedents and by a frank discussion with the girl. The fear vanishes once you have more information. Lack of knowledge is the origin of vague fear.
What can happen if you fail: Assuming that you fail by taking the risk, evaluate the cost of business failure and whether you can recover it or go down irretrievably. It is likely the worst case scenario may not be as scary as it initially appeared and the risk may after all be worth taking instead of a missed opportunities. It would be good to have an alternative plan at the back of our mind if we are not fortunate. That may give confidence. But persevere unmindful of the initial hurdles and possibly doing things in different ways as Edison did.
Plunge into action: Once you have examined the issue carefully plunge boldly into decisive action. There should be no vacillation after the action has begun. Once we are in the thick of action the fear vanishes just like the initial fear of taking bath in cold water in a river receding.Proceed carefully but surely forward.
Never look back: I read in an article that the Greek armies after travelling across seas to conquer other lands burnt their boats once they got down.. This gave the Greek soldiers the only option of winning to avoid dying at the hands of the local armies. They invariably won. The moral is not to look back and march ahead with confidence. Fear of failure vanishes like snowflakes in sun when it realises it has no scope to invade your mind.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kill the negative by cultivating the positive

by KParthasarathi 07 Aug 2008
. It is a common trait in all of us to get defeated when things go wrong. It is rarely we come across persons who can smile in such circumstances. But a person who can smile and remain cool and collected when he faces adversity is generally a winner. He is not cowed down when things go wrong but finds ways to overcome the hurdles. But most people spread misery when they fail making others also miserable. I had a colleague in my younger days. We were required to pass a departmental examination to be eligible for futher promotion. This guy failed twice and was always crying that his juniors had overtaken him without any real attempt on his part to improve his performance. Initially people sympathised with him but started avoiding him when he spread gloom around. He finally made the grade after two more attempts but had to wait for his elevation for want of a vacancy. Instead of rejoicing at his success in the examination, he started whining that he was not promoted. He got that too after a few months which should have normally made him happy. It did not lighten his heart. But instead he radiated his misery telling that his juniors have gone above him and that his further promotions would be delayed. There are some like this man born to be miserable in whatever circumstances they are placed. While it is one’s prerogative to be happy or sad, no one has the right to make others unhappy with his sob stories.
In fact some have vicarious pleasure in being miserable like my another acquaintance who would constantly talk about his health problems , his ailments, his test reports, his visits to various specialists and hospitals that you would instantly feel getting the smell of chloroform when he is around. His constant refrain on diseases and medicines made him morose and gloomy inviting further ailments. Friends avoided him whenever possible. Even when participating in joyous games like cricket there are players who pull long faces when they fail to make big scores or take wickets. They get depressed and worry about the next selection leading to fits of blues and further failures. They should take heart that even a Tendulkar doesn’t score centuries in all matches and only in about thirty percent of matches he scores fifty or above. These purveyors of misery become victims of their moods and as a result often to fail to succeed. This is prevalent in every section of human activity. The society also detests the company of such persons as in the case of an elderly relative known to me. When everyone in the house opts for a pizza dinner, he would insist on his rice and sambar.When others want to watch the finals of French Open, he would demand to see his favourite serial. When everyone wants to go on a picnic he will feign indisposition and want someone to stay back. He was always complaining unhappy with weather, about neighbours and about everything around him. He would be unaware of his negative approach. In contrast there was his wife who was a diabetic and of delicate health but endowed with boundless enthusiasm and optimsm.Whenever she was present in the room with her radiant and smiling face ,her cheerful spirit caught on others like a contagion bringing laughter and mirth all around. We have never heard her complaining and always brushed aside questions about her health. The lady would adjust herself to any situation as the company demanded putting her personal preferences in the backburner.
I have read in a book The Secrets by Rhonda Byrne that thoughts are like magnets attracting things like themselves. If you think of failure or poverty or ailment, such thoughts would only bring them. If your thoughts are negative and filled with fear of failure, they will smother your efforts and neutralise all your work making success a remote possibility. The mind prepares you on the basis of what you think. One must develop the habit of thinking positively with full faith instead of being assailed by doubts and uncertainties. The mind then prepares for success. Banish thoughts of what you fear. If you wish to be rich, do not think of poverty. If you wish to succeed in examination in flying colours, do not harbour uncertainty in your mind. Go to the examination with optimism. Repeatedly affirm what you want be it health, wealth or happiness.
The story of Dasari Pradeep Kumar, an Andhra boy, born in cobbler’s family in indigent circumstances making to IIT by sheer perseverance and hard work is a lesson that unfavourable circumstances can be overcome with a positive outlook and hard work.Naga Naresh Karutura who joined Google after his IIT is another case of adversity overcome by determination. What is so special about IIT boy joining Google, one may ask? So many do, no doubt. But Naresh is special. His parents are illiterate. He has no legs and moves around in his powered wheel chair. Many would have been defeated by such cruel misfortune and reconciled to a humdrum life. Not this young man who is ever smiling and optimistic.
The secret behind the success of many such people however black the outlook is that they refused to accept anything unfavourable to them as their lot but worked their way up with a positive frame of mind.”The craving for something higher and better is the best possible antidote or remedy for the lower tendencies which one wishes to get rid of.” The motto should be “kill the negative by cultivating the positive.”

Monday, August 4, 2008

A reunion

This story has been read 1 times. It was the memories of her last years and our conversations on a variety of subjects that have frozen in my heart. The places we visited brought a flood of recollections. It could be one of the routine visits to the hospital to see the cardiologist when while sitting in the lounge we would exchange notes on what to tell the doctor, the canteen where she liked the soft and fluffy white idlies forgetting for a while the further restrictions imposed by the doctor on her salt and water intake or a peep on the way into a supermarket to get some cosmetics. We were foolishly smug that our lives would go on like this happily for years although her condition was deteriorating fast with each passing month. Her heart had enlarged and the pumping was weak. She could hardly exert and breathing was difficult. Doctors couldn’t do much except changing the medicines and increasing the dosages. Yet we refused to accept that our lifetime together was coming fast to a close. There was an expected sudden demise of a neighbour of her age after a heart attack. She wanted to climb the stairs to pay her last respects to her friend unaware in three months she would also be a victim of the same cruel destiny. I persuaded her not to climb and gently led her back home. To both of us tragedy occurred always elsewhere far away from us despite all the signs of an impending misfortune. Each of us tried to please the other and endeavoured to make light of our worries. We attended social functions of close relatives and always smiled engaging in small witty talks to ward off the worried looks of our friends and relatives. Yet one night my wife was gone forever leaving me alone amongst multitude. Her gentle touch, her soothing conversations, her assuring smile disappeared with her in unseemly haste but the memories were the only refuge to which I clung. Years passed by and still I could hardly reconcile to the separation and the loss. Nothing seemed to interest me and l was living like a recluse in a time warp. Friends after initial commiseration reduced their visits. There would be sympathetic nods and forced smiles from relatives and they kept away whenever possible. I spent my time reading several news papers of the same events or wrote depressing stories or read her letters written when she was away in US for the umpteenth time.I tried to relate everything to my dead wife and kept the odds and ends she used in my cupboard. I covered all the four walls with her photos. My daughters chided me that this was not the sight their mom would relish and that I should lead a normal life. One evening I was walking in the neighbourhood park and chose our favourite bench overlooking a tiny pond with its lilies and ducks. We used to sit here in the evenings till the sun went down. It was then to my spine chilling sensation, I saw her coming towards me. She was in a flowing white dress with the ends smudged. There was a faint smile in her face as she beckoned me towards her. It was clear she was no spectre but yet there was something unworldly about her. For the first time I feared her. As she came close to me I felt I smelt her favourite sandalwood smell. I wanted to get up but my knees buckled. She extended her arms towards me and said “Come my dear, you thought you missed me and would never find your way to me. I see your face daily and hear your voice always. I have not left you and was always around you. But today I am taking you with me forever to the peace elsewhere. We can be free as chirping birds, swift as the breeze that rustles past you and shine as the distant stars. We will be in spirit with boundless world for us to be together. Do not worry or weep in fear. I am there for your keep.” As I heard her talk so clearly the last traces of fear vanished and found myself light and airborne along her side. I could see the ducks swimming in the pool amidst their cackles and the sun gone into hiding with the moon holding its sway over the dark sky. Arm in arm we travelled together towards the unknown mysterious space. I told my wife “Let me have last look at our daughter before we depart from this place.” As we neared our house we heard loud wails and shrieks of my daughter. When I moved quickly to comfort her telling her that I am with her mom, I saw her falling on my body and shaking it crying “Dad, why did you leave me, an orphan? I have none in this world to call my own. After mom’s death, you were the only pillar of strength. Why did you have to take your life away? Did I not take care of you well?” she cried in heart rending way as she gathered the sleeping tablets strewn around the bottle nearby besides my body.