There is a difference between who you are and what you want to be

I have been hearing a lot about minimalism recently. Almost all advocates of minimalism claim that it has improved their quality of life and I completely agree with it. I am not a minimalist by any standard yet but I hope to become one some day. I do make it a point to get rid of things that I haven’t used in years periodically. I feel that’s a good start but there’s a long way to go.

I often come across people who call themselves minimalist just because its cool but don’t really practice it. I’ve had a friend who was living in a rented room with another family in their house and when she was moving out, she had a truck load of stuff to carry to her new place. I couldn’t imagine how someone living in one room could possibly have so much stuff. And here’s the funny part, that friend calls herself a minimalist.

Sometimes people have an idea about a state of life which they would like to achieve and often hope that they can achieve it if they talk about it often.

Most people when asked a question about themselves or asked to answer a survey about their personality, would often unconsciously reply based on what they want to achieve or see themselves in the future and not how they actually are.

For example, a question as simple as “How clean is your work desk” with the following four options 1- Very clean, 2-Relatively clean, 3-Could use some organizing, 4-Messy, often results in people answering 1 when they are a 2 and 2 when they are actually 3.

One of the key things to make a change in your life is to identify what you need to improve. By turning your back against all your negative qualities will only result in taking you one step backward rather than moving closer to your goal. Awareness is the key here, the more you are aware of who you are, the closer you get to changing it. No matter how much you hate it, don’t be ashamed of what you are now; everything is fixable.

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Staying at home during long weekends

travelLong weekend’s here and almost everyone I know is out of town for vacation. Most American holidays are 3 day weekends except for Thanksgiving when we get 4 days; but occasionally we get lucky when the 4th of July falls on either Tuesday or Thursday making it a 4 day holiday weekend. This year is one of those and although its a 4 day weekend, I ain’t got any big plans. No bag packing, no camping, no flying, no traveling.

Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling, I love vacationing but just not when the whole country is out traveling too. I like to do it at my own pace during the time that best suits me. At a time when I can take a road trip without worrying about running into bumper to bumper traffic or where I don’t have to worry about booking a campground or a lodge months in advance; where I can go to a tourist spot without having to worry about finding a parking. And that is why I always stay at home during most long weekends, unless I am visiting family or friends.

I have traveled close to 30 states and none of it was done during national holidays. During holidays, I like to relax at home, read a book, draw a painting, do a backyard BBQ, get my hair cut, eat brunch at a new restaurant and whatever else I don’t find time to do during regular weekend. It seems like a fair deal to me. Most locals are out which means less crowd at my local restaurants or the salon or even the nearest park or beach. It’s like having the whole neighborhood to yourself.

The only part I don’t like about this is answering to my colleagues who ask what are my plans for the weekend. I hate having to explain to them that its ok to not have any plans; that its ok to stay at home. That the world doesn’t turn upside down if I don’t travel during holidays. Some times I even make up things that I plan to do just to avoid answering more questions.

You don’t have to follow the crowd, no matter how much out of the norm it feels like. Do what’s best for you and most importantly, do what makes you happy.

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Is change good?

changeI have written several posts in the past advocating how change is always a good thing; how not wanting to change can limit your growth and exposure to what’s there outside of your boundaries. However, there are some aspects of change that I often contemplate on whether it is good or bad. For instance, the type of food that I like, the idea of how I want to spend my holidays or weekends (staying at home vs going out).

I have come to a point where I no longer enjoy things that I used to 5-10years back. May be because I am growing old, may be because I have passed that stage in my life where it doesn’t make sense to do what I did 10 years back.

The thing about moving forward is that sometimes people in your life don’t move at the same pace as you and are often stuck in the place where you were 10 years ago. I left home 16years ago and ever since then I have met my parents only during vacations which spanned anywhere between 1 week to 1 month. And most of my vacations are usually spent with excessive eating and pampering. To my parents I am still a 17 year old who likes to eat x,y,z and even now when I am 33, they assume I like the same 3 things. I do like the same things but not in the same order or in some cases my list now has a, b and c as well.

The point is, I don’t really care if I get to eat x.y.z now or a.b.c; I care more about getting to spend quality time with my parents which often doesn’t happen when I am with them because they are too busy cooking for me or doing things to make my life comfortable. Eating my favorite food was priority to me when I was living in a college dorm starving because I hated the food there but now food is not important, having a hearty conversation with my mom is.

Sometimes, I feel sad that I am not the same person anymore. I guess it’s part of growing up and no matter how much one wants to remain in the same place, change is inevitable.

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Do you know your life’s purpose

purposeHave you ever felt that you are stuck in the wrong profession? Even if everything around you is going well. You have a good job, good money, fame, success – do you feel empty even after achieving everything?

Sometimes, we spend all our life chasing the wrong rabbit. And once we are in the finish line we look back and see that the rabbit that we really wanted wasn’t even in the race. We didn’t even have to train for the race, participate in it and win it. Instead all we needed to do was take a detour and head to the woods to get to it.

Do we all know our purpose in this life? I hate to see so many people just following the rat race or doing things not know if it’s right or wrong. It saddens me to see the wrong people at the wrong place.

Find your purpose in life, try our different things. You won’t know what you’re good at, what you really want or what gives you happiness unless you start exploring. Life is too short to be on the wrong path, it’s never too late to take the detour.

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If you could give one advice – what would it be?

Well, let me first start by stating that I am not a sage neither am I a philosophical guru or an age old grandma. I am just a normal person who likes to learn. Life teaches us lots of things during its course and everything that we learn out of it is a great life saving lesson. If one can gather all the teachings that life has taught them, they can perhaps compile a book full of such advices.

And although while writing this, my mind is battling with all the wisdom thoughts, begging me to pick them for this post; I am going to put all of those thoughts aside and write about the one advice that I think is the most important and useful. The advice is very simple and can be applied in any situation and it goes like this-

“When in anger, do not react immediately.”

Anger in my opinion is the worst of all the emotions. It cripples our ability to think straight; it impairs our listening capability and is often accompanied by rage and sense of revenge and nothing good comes out of it at the end. For an emotion as strong as anger, one might be surprised to find that it is also one of the short lived emotion. Which is why the second part of my advice above is important.

The best thing to do when you’re faced with a situation involving anger is to let it go at that moment. I am saying let it go forever, depending on the issue sometime you might need to take follow up actions about it, but not doing it at the heat of the moment is the key. Nothing positive can result when responding to anger immediately. Taking as much as a few seconds to cool off can go a long way.

A very practical example for this that I put to use often is while responding to emails at work. Sometimes due to deadline pressures or other misunderstandings people start off a cold war in emails pointing fingers at each other. When I encounter such an email, I often wait an hour or two or if time permits wait until the next day and respond with a cool mind. This gives time for both parties involved to cool off. Another common example is road rage. Living in California, I cannot begin to list the number of angry drivers I encounter on the road everyday. In this situation, there is really no time to cool off and respond, and the best thing to do here is to let go. Wise men said, you should pick your battles carefully and trying to get revenge on an angry driver is not a good battle to pick especially on your morning commute to work.

Other than the obvious benefits, I also find myself being more calm and patient practicing the above advice. It makes me a better person and at the end of the day that is all we want – happiness and peace.

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How I stopped binge watching Netflix and started reading books

watching TVI have to first admit that I love Netflix. The ability to watch your favorite TV shows or movies at anytime without any distraction is great. But it can also get addictive if one doesn’t maintain self control. For instance, I watched 9 seasons of “How I met your mother” during Thanksgiving and Christmas break last year. Which roughly translates to 225 episodes in about 45 days. It initially started because I was alone while my husband was out of town and then it continued even after he returned.

I felt pathetic about it later and as a self correcting action, I didn’t touch Netflix for the next 10 days. But of course, that wasn’t the end of it. Time and again I would start binge watching again, until I realized, it was getting dangerous for my lifestyle. I was practically just sitting while binge watching, though sometimes I used to multi-task; for example do some office work (which took me twice as much time to complete).

So here’s what I did to remediate:

1. Spring – I would like to blame winter and extended rains this year for my behavior but once Spring was here and days were getting longer, I didn’t want to give that as an excuse. I decided to put an end to it.

2. Duolingo – I usually start watching Netflix when I return from home, since I am tired and want to clear my head. So instead of watching Netflix, I started practicing Spanish using the app Duolingo. I completed 34 levels in 2 weeks.

3. Watch only while you eat – My hands are occupied while eating, so I made the rule that I would watch Netflix only when I eat and that too for less than 45 min.

4. Reading – I made a reading list and based on my speed I decided to set a goal of 1 book a month.

5. Walk the dog more often – Winters also meant less walking time since it gets darker quickly. Now that Spring was here, I decided to go on long walks with my dog.

Honestly, all of the above items were already part of my lifestyle except that I ignored them when I start binge watching. It took me some soul searching and guilt shaming myself to get back on track. I hope this serves as an inspiration to all of you to spend your time doing things that improve your life.

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Stop stressing and enjoy your life

stressWorry, stress, thinking about the worst, these are some things that comes naturally to us. We worry about what others will think, we stress about our future, our present and also about things we did in our past. And while doing all of it, we impair our heath and our capability to move forward and do something better.

Stress can easily take up a good amount of our life, the kind of time that we could have used doing activities that we enjoy; like going to a beach, or playing football or writing a poem or hanging out with family or friends.

The way to get rid of stress is to understand that misery or problems or whatever else that you are stressed about is temporary. A couple of years from now everything you are stressing about now won’t matter. Keep moving forward. Don’t try to dwell in what you can’t control, try to take charge of what you can do.

Stop worrying about the inevitable, cease the day and live like it was your last.

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