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Life Personal Thoughts Viewpoint

8 Things 2013 Taught Me

By all means, 2013 was a roller-coaster of a year; so much to the extent that I’d like to borrow an oft-abused cliche to describe the year – ‘life changing’.

Yes, 2013 changed the course of my life.

And what a year it was! From exhilarating highs to excruciating lows, from dizzying successes to debilitating failures – my life kept zig-zagging through a trajectory of the most unpredictable occurrences. Today, as I look back at the year that has sped by, I realize that I have changed. I’m not sure whether it’s for the better or worse, but the life-lessons I’ve learned over this year have been amazing. Things suddenly make more sense than they used to, and I’m sure these vital life lessons would go a long way in helping me live my life in a better way. I’d like to share some of them with my dear readers. 🙂

Life – As you know it

Here’s a list of 8 things that 2013 taught me:

  1. Stay Detached – I know, detachment is easier said than done. But, trust me, staying detached will solve a lion’s share of your problems. And by detachment – I certainly do not endorse living life in your own little shell (we’re all social animals for God’s sake!) Complete detachment practically impossible too  for lesser mortals like us. That said, we can definitely curb our desires. Give that overpriced, fancy new phone you’ve always craved for a miss. You’ll slowly notice your life changing for the better. Speaking from experience.
  2. Find time to do what you love – Thanks to economic pressures, we all end up doing day jobs we hate. We don’t have other options, many among us need to code our way to glory to earn our daily bread! It’s necessary evil. Yet, we all get our share of spare time – which, sadly, we end up whiling away doing the most unproductive of tasks. I hope I don’t sound like a management guru when I say this – but, try finding time to do what you love. Even if it’s for thirty minutes a day. If you’re a bibliophile, grab that John Greene book, if you’re into arts and crafts, start making seasons-greetings cards for your loved ones, in your spare time. These little joys of life have helped me survive the most traumatic of experiences all through this year. I’m sure it’ll work out well for you too 🙂
  3.  BE Selfish! – Okay, I know some of you guys are gonna beat me up for saying this – but trust me, you HAVE to be selfish to survive in these cut-throat times! For a person who virtually ruined his life trying to do good for his loved ones, this nugget came as quite a revelation! No, I’m not asking you to step on others shoulders and put them down so that you could climb up. Just realize this fact – at the end of the day your life is YOURS ALONE  – so is your happiness and your problems. So the next time you make that sacrifice for that friend, just think twice: Is what you’re about to do worth it?
  4. NEVER Stay Idle – How often have you been in debilitating situations, all your life? Situations which pull you down to your worst… As they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade from it!”. Never ever let your depression leave you paranoid. The idle mind is, and will forever be the devil’s workshop! So whenever you’re down, or whenever you’re idle with nothing to do – find something to engage yourself. Preferably indulge in tasks that excite you. 🙂
  5. Never Take Anyone for Granted –  Oh, so you have that super-awesome buddy who has been with you through thick and thin. You consult him/her for your life decisions and you pretty much tell everyone that he/she will be with you till you dying day, right? Well, brace yourself – it’s easier said than done. This, my friend, is the age of unpredictability. People change, and before you know it, your ‘best friend’ will leave you for reasons that could be downright silly! Of course, all your love and care, all the sacrifices you’ve done for them will vaporize instantly. Be prepared for that loss – it might come any day. Practicing detachment will help ease your pain too.
  6. Brace yourself… The Sky is about to fall! – Yes, you read it right, my friend. With the randomness of life destroying all existing rules of probability, you’ll have no idea what’s about to happen to you in the days to come. Life has a habit of surprising you ever day. The surprise may be for good or bad – if it’s good, you rejoice. But what if it is bad? What if it destroys your life, as you know it? Always be prepared for the worse – you never know when your world comes crashing down. Quoting my dad: “Expect the best and prepare for the worst.” 🙂
  7. “Love your job… But NEVER fall in love with your company!”  Thus spake one of the front runners of the Indian IT Revolution.  Even whenone of the most-renowned CEO’s vouched for this axiom – I always rebutted this… only until I realized the bitter truth. If you’re employed, you are just a RESOURCE for your company. (In fact 99% of the IT companies publicly refer to their employees as resources). And like all resources, once you’re depleted, you must be set aside (read: kicked out!). Just make sure you do your job without fail and also ensure that you actually have a life outside work. And there’s absolutely no harm in changing jobs for a better package. When you’re nothing but a ‘resource’ for you company, what’s the point in being loyal to it?
  8. There is a better life outside the social network – This was one of my biggest lessons from 2013. Those of you who know me personally know how addicted I was to the whole concept of social networking. True, it did add a lot of brownie points to my resume – from introducing me to the career of freelance journalism to making me a professional social media manager. But at the end of the day, my life began and ended in the internet. I did learn the hard way about the dark side of social networks. That said I haven’t abandoned them; that would be sheer escapism – but I decided to ‘disconnect to connect’. And I must admit – I am happy. 🙂

The Last Ink Drop:

Just a disclaimer for some of my ‘intellectual’ readers – these realizations that I’ve had, these ideas… they’ve been around for a while now. They are not strictly speaking, ‘original’. But they have been discoveries for me personally. I can’t speak for you, but they have changed my life for the better. 🙂 If you feel like implementing any of them in your own life, be my guest. 🙂 I’ll only be too happy that I brought a smile to your life – if it makes you feel better.

And, I know an update here was long due. My apologies to those who still come back here searching for new posts and were left disappointed.  I’m going to be regular from now on. 🙂 Have a few surprises ahead for you guys too. Do keep checking back.

Season’s greetings, folks! Here’s wishing you a great year ahead! 🙂

Categories
General Life

Silence is Golden!

Silence – It’s one of the world’s best virtues.

Being silent is an art in itself, and I happen to be a master of that art. 🙂 I’m basically a silent person. I’ve never mastered the art of being loquacious.  I just can’t go on to talk for hours on end. Whenever I talk, I convey my points as briefly as possible and end with a majestic full-stop. That doesn’t mean that I’m proud of being silent. I would ideally love to talk for hours on end. In fact, there was a point in  time, when I used to talk more than what I do now. But then, something happened… something snapped within me, and I lost the ability to talk.

It happened one fine morning. One day, I wake up and I realize that I’ve lost the ability to talk! It’s not like, I went mute or anything. I could technically talk. Voice would come out of my mouth, I could utter syllables, alright. But my communication was just essential. I suddenly became brief in my conversations. My conversations were short (and not necessarily sweet).  That was when I noticed that silence was a part and parcel of me. I’m inherently a listener. NOT a talker. I could listen to people talk for hours on end, but if you ask me to talk for a couple of hours, I’d go mute. I just can’t do it!

I’m not exactly proud of being silent. In fact, I detest it. I envy everyone who talks a lot. Which means, I envy most girls. 🙂 They just manage to dig out topics out of the blue and go on to talk, talk and talk. Whew. I would LOVE to do the same. Sigh!

Next comes the issue of what to talk. That’s where I’m stumped again. I’m not exactly full-of-beans. If you thought I was a walking-talking Encyclopedia Britannica, you couldn’t be more wrong! 😐 They say, “Known’s a drop. Unknown’s an ocean”. For me, ‘unknown’ makes up Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean combined. 😐 I often feel a bit deprived because of my lack of knowledge. Can’t say that I’m not doing anything about it. I’m reading my way to glory. 🙂 Hoping that content will solve my quagmire of not being able to speak up when I want to.

Despite not being able to talk volumes about what I like, a part of me loves being silent. 🙂 I prefer listening to people talk, rather than the act of talking. Listening is good. Everyone talks, few listen. I’m quite a good listener; I listen to friends’ problems for a living. 😉 When you listen to people, it makes them feel happy. They feel important, because there’s someone to listen to what they  have to say. In fact, there’s a friend of mine who’s exactly the same.

I guess I’ll find it a tad too hard to break my mould of being silent. But in a way, it’s made me a good listener.

Let’s see where silent listening takes me to… 🙂

Categories
Musings

Being Positive

Life hasn’t exactly been a bed of roses for me. Especially over the past month. The going just got tough all of the sudden. Before I knew it, crisis loomed large and engulfed me in a veritable storm of sorts — a storm that’s quite likely to stay on for a long long time.

Be positive

This isn’t the first time things have gone bad for me. I’ve lived through worse situations. Can’t say that I came out unscathed all the time. Each bad phase has left an indelible scar. Some scars still hurt, pain bringing back memories from the past. Each bout of pain has one startling similarity with its predecessor — the element of surprise. But that’s the beauty of life, it hits you on your belly right when you’re gaily indulging yourself.

One thing I’ve realized while swimming through a vast ocean of problems is the potency of optimism.

Optimism is a powerful sword that can cut through life’s many adversities with ease. It’s a rejuvenating principle that charges you up, and equips you for the worst while expecting the best. Optimism is all about seeing opportunities in every problem. Yes, every crisis is an opportunity in disguise. Even the most seemingly-dismal of adversities could turn favourable in the long run. But how often do we realize this? We fret more about our problems, doing little to solve them. We beat about the bush in careless mourning, wasting valuable time instead of taking control of the situation to make our ends meet.

Being positive when the going gets tough helps us focus more on our problems. Just believing that greener pastures aren’t far away is all you need to do. Trust me, happier days aren’t far away. All your problems are temporary, it’s only a matter of time until they ward themselves off. Days, weeks, months or years later, you’ll look back at your problems and smile at how silly they were. Nobody can make a lock without a key; likewise, every problem has its solution. To smith the key to your lock, you’ll have to mould it with patience. And patience has a direct relation with a positive attitude.

As someone rightly said, the happiness of your mind depends on the quality of your thought. Negative thoughts pull you down, deep down into the ditches. Positive thoughts lift you up, high up, onto the pedestal of happiness and inner peace.

So, be positive.

Like me. 🙂

Categories
Technology Viewpoint

The Curious Case of Collective Attention Deficit Disorder

It’s a bright, sunny morning. Airily filling up your lungs with a (city variant of) the fresh morning air, you rev up your car and drive to work. As you’re half-way through, you notice a very obvious vibration from your jeans pocket – it’s the usual suspect, the mobile phone. You pick up the call – it’s your soulmate. She rants on and on about the brand-new outfit her dad purchased for her…But you’ve no clue as to what she’s talking about, do you?

Ah, yes. You’re driving – but did you just notice a city bus shave off the side-view mirror and the side-beeding of your car? Oh, okay, you were on the phone.

Yeah, right.

Later that evening, you watch one of those art-house flicks at the friendly-neighborhood multiplex – with your girlfriend as arm-candy. Suddenly, the screen goes dark – it’s apparently a part of the movie which is standard art-house flick material. You jerk your arm into the pant pocket and jerk out your office BlackBerry – can’t miss those mails from your US-based Boss, can you?  It took you a long ten seconds to realize that your arm-candy wanted to make, err, ‘better use’ of the ‘dark break’. You take five more seconds with the BB, before you give in to the girl.

Any of these situations ring a bell?

The second one might be a tad too far-fetched (it’s true though – scene from PVR Mumbai, circa December 2009. ‘Avatar’ was the ‘arthouse flick’, however). But the issue is indeed  a grave problem we all have faced at some point in time

Welcome to the new millennium of Collective Attention Deficit Disorder.

Image Courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brookhavenlab/

Patients with ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder’ would find it difficult to focus on a particular task over a period of time. They get bored with the task fast, and quickly move on to other tasks. They have high tendencies of procrastination and exhibit escalated physical movement.

Today, this disorder is spreading rapidly, directly proportional to the growth of technology in our lives.

It’s necessary evil. We’ve accustomed ourselves to a ‘fast food culture’. We just cannot wait – we want instant results. Be it in any field – we rue traffic blocks, for they don’t allow us to reach our destinations on time. We curse slow computers, ’cause they don’t help us complete our task on time. Our bosses want tasks to be done in unrealistic deadlines. And in this survival of the fittest era, you can’t afford to budge.

Reading is a direct casualty of ADD – first it was hesitation to read long books. Thus, abridged versions were born. Then, people didn’t have time to read even abridged versions; short stories and blogs became the order of the day, for a while. Then came twitter, smashing all existing ‘literature’ with its 140 tiny characters. No, twitter and microblogging is yet to win over traditional publishing – but at this rate of exponential growth, that too could happen.

Even ‘Google’ has moved with the times, pun intended, with Google Instant, for lazybones like us reluctant enough to press the enter key on our keyboard. Remember ‘Google Wave’? It had the ‘revolutionary’ technology that directly posted what we typed (making the ‘enter’ button redundant again) – thus ‘increasing productivity’. In fact, Google’s obsession for fast results was evident by their hiring of the guy who made YouTube instant.

Alright, what’s wrong with shifting attention spans?

Simple – you’d end up wrecking your mind. Accept the fact, we’re not made of Dual Core processors – at least the males amongst us. Women have been multitasking for a while, but they too have a limit. Quoting a friend of mine, “Multitasking IS screwing many things at once.” You may not realize it – but you will, over time. Every time you indulge in more tasks than you can, simultaneously – your mental capacity takes a toll. Your mind’s like any machine – it needs rest. Give it some cool-off time, will you?

With short attention spans, you’d simply reach nowhere.

Here’s a DIY test:

Lay your hands on one of those short stories. Any simple story would do – it shouldn’t be too long. Get a stopwatch, set it on zero. Now, open the first page of your book and start reading – remember to switch on your stopwatch when you start. Once the story is over, note the time spent to read the story. Now that the story is over, choose a second short story of roughly the same length and complexity as the original one. Repeat the process – with one difference. Switch on the music – it should be your favourite track, and read the short story. Record the time taken.

Needless to say, you would have taken at least 50% more time, when you read the story with music on. And trust me, you wouldn’t even remember a lot about the second story – you’d just have a broad idea of what happened. You wouldn’t have enjoyed the music either.

Enough proof, innit?

So how do you tackle this attention deficit disorder?

The sad reality is, there’s no definite solution. You just cannot dump your blackberries and iPhones into the dead sea – they’ve irrevocably become a part of your life. But you can always try to give your full attention to one task at a time. While you are at a critical task, avoid interferences – you’d have the mental push to reply to that text – and if you intend to do that, you may certainly go to hell. 🙂 Spend some time with yourself each day – take a walk, enjoy the beauty of the stars and the night sky (don’t forget to leave that confounded mobile handset in your couch as you go about it. :P). Try meditation and yoga – with time, you’d be more focussed and productive.

Attention definite disorder is necessary evil – but you can’t afford it to ruin your life. Push it to the wall and leave it there. Go about your life, focussed and ready.

And yeah, give that new BlackBerry/iPhone a miss. it ain’t worth it.

P.S.
You CERTAINLY suffer from CHRONIC attention deficit disorder if you did not complete reading this post. 😛

P.P.S.
Watch this video.