Thursday, October 27, 2022

Who are you really? Show them the real you.


Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash
                                                      Photo by Andrea Tummons on Unsplash

“Authenticity is about being true to who you are, even when everyone around you wants you to be someone else.”-Michael Jordan.

Here is a story of how I took off the mask I had been wearing and started to live a life of authenticity.

It all started for me when I began my career in sales. My upbringing always had a significant influence on my sense of dressing. I loved wearing a saree to work and would visit my customers in a saree. One day I had to meet an international client, and the company's CEO was an intelligent lady born and brought up in the west.

Instead of my usual saree, I wore a western outfit. I was not comfortable because I rarely dressed in western costumes those days. Today things have changed, and I love to be in jeans and T-shirts, even though I still prefer saree for formal occasions.

When I met the CEO in her office, she looked me up after our technical discussions and negotiations and asked if I always wore western outfits for client meetings. I told her saree is my favorite attire, and I rarely wear western clothes.

From her expression, I could make out that even though she was impressed with my product knowledge and technical discussions, she was not impressed with my dress sense. She knew I could not carry it off and was uncomfortable.

Later in the week, during a follow-up call with the CEO's executive assistant, I was very clearly told that madam CEO would be happy if I came dressed in a saree.

I felt like the air had been knocked out of me.

I tried to manage impressions, but my client did not like it. Fear of rejection made me avoid authenticity; therefore, instead of showing up as my true self, I showed up as someone I thought the CEO would like to meet.

My boss, a tenured management expert, explained the importance of being authentic. He said people would like you more if they see the real you. Unless you are comfortable wearing a different dress and can carry it off, you should not do it to manage impressions and expectations.

Embracing authenticity does not come easily. It took me a while to be authentic, but I did. Once I had a better sense of how to be authentic, I made it a habit. It made a huge difference.

It is not easy to be authentic. Social groups surrounding us and the environments around us, like school, college, friend circles, office etc., may have some expectations placed on us. Even if we want to be authentic, the expectations and needs of the social groups can be different and may not be aligned with our authentic selves.

In the technology age and the screen obsessed world, it is challenging to be our true selves. But the downside is that by hiding your true self you can end up feeling lonely and disconnected from others.

Developing personal power.

We present a half-honest version of ourselves by overindulging in meeting social groups' needs. In reality, people want us to be more authentic. Once they see the real you, they are more receptive to your ideas and views and like your contributions. Your power gets built as you practice authenticity.I experienced this after I made it a habit to be authentic.

Psychologists have suggested that authenticity is a crucial part of psychological health.

"I think when you're authentic you end up following your heart, and you put yourself in places and situations and in conversations that you love and that you enjoy." Neil Pasricha.

Researchers found that people who followed authentic living were found to be happier in their life and have higher self-esteem.

Authenticity and Relationships

"In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen." – BrenĂ© Brown.

According to researcher and psychologist Brene Brown, authenticity in our interactions with others is crucial. It helps develop meaningful relationships.

What does being authentic mean to you? I would love to hear your views on authenticity.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

The roads are calling. Ready! Set! Go!


Photo by the author

"All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road." – Jack Kerouac, On the Road: the Original Scroll.

This is precisely what I needed—a wheel in my hand and four on the road. I was super excited when my husband and I decided to escape to the hills after a gruelling and traumatic year of medical emergencies.

My husband had just recovered from cancer and spinal surgeries, and the doctors had permitted him to travel after a yearlong fight with bad health. He was not allowed to drive, so I was in the driver's seat. What fun!! 

Speeding into a new sunrise

I don't care how long it takes, but I'm going somewhere beautiful.

A weekend getaway was like a ray of hope at the end of the tunnel. Coimbatore, a heritage destination in south India, was on our bucket list for a long. I wanted to visit the Adiyogi Shiva statue at the Isha foundation at the foot of the velliangiri hills. The focal point of the Isha Center is the Dhyanalinga- a meditative space.

We started very early, at 5 am, as I had planned to cover a reasonable distance before sunrise to avoid heavy traffic. Coimbatore is about 367kms from Bangalore, with good highways connecting the two cities. The route passes through small towns in the state of Tamil Nadu. A trip on the open road is one of the best ways to see any new city and take in the city's sounds and signs. 

I packed a bag full of snacks and drinks to make the journey memorable. We stopped at a few places along the way, and it was great to get some fresh air and see some local attractions. 

The destination

It took us about 7 hours to cover the distance between Bangalore and Coimbatore, with frequent stopovers to enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with locals. 

Before checking into the hotel, we decided to have a south Indian meal at the famous Shree Anandhaas restaurant and relish traditional south Indian dishes. The restaurant was close to our hotel.

The next day was reserved for the Isha Yoga centre at the Velliangiri foothills. The day was cloudy, and it was raining. Rains made the drive to the Isha Yoga centre even more pleasant. 

The Adiyogi Shiva statue is an architectural masterpiece. The 112feet tall and 147 feet long statue dedicated to Lord Shiva is a symbol of inner peace. It is featured in the Guinness book of world records.

Photo by Author

Away from the city's hustle and bustle, the temple's environment is tranquil, and you can experience positive vibes while meditating.

Our next stop was some of the famous historical temples.

Coimbatore is famous for its textile industries and cotton production. The shopper in me could not resist visiting the shopping street.

Travel is one of the greatest teachers.

A road trip is always an opportunity to explore the unexplored. While this was not the first time I was driving long distances, some important life lessons I have learnt from the drive to Coimbatore,

  1. Relax, let go of the fear and go with the flow. 

Fear of unknown challenges on the road, dealing with different languages and cultures, breaking down, road diversions, and getting lost was some of the everyday worries I would deal with and get stressed while driving. On introspection, I realized that instead of enjoying the drive, I was allowing fear to rob me of happiness. Road trips taught me that travel has the power to connect different cultures, languages and traditions. There are good people who always come to your help. So, relax, let go of the fear and enjoy the drive.


2. Staying calm.

We are so used to controlling and planning our mundane activities that when caution and planning go out of the window and you meet unexpected happenings on the road, you get stressed. But staying calm and having a laid-back attitude can make your journey enjoyable.


During the trip to Coimbatore, Mr Google decided to change the travel route. I thought I had lost my way. A wrong road bend made google maps to replan the route. When we realized what had gone wrong, we had a hearty laugh. It increased our travel time, but it allowed us to see some more new places on the way. We went with the flow. It gave us some time to poke around small towns, soaking in the scenery and exploring some exciting traditions.


I stopped looking at my watch and instead took in the scenic green fields and colourful people that we passed by. We Spent time chatting with locals while sipping a cup of coffee.


3. Patience is a necessity.

Be patient while driving. However good your planning, something will always go wrong and upset the apple cart. Traffic jams, road diversions, construction activities, and sometimes religious activities can block your way.


Avoid road rage. You meet some careless drivers who overtake you or try to speed past you on the highway. Staying calm without losing your temper is the best thing to do. Be careful, do not speed and overtake from the wrong side to save time.

 Embrace the chaos and enjoy the trip.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Magical Spell of the Shining Lamps


                                                      Photo by the author

Out of the world divine experience!!

Rishikesh, a quaint town situated at the foothill of the Himalayas, is known as the world's Yoga capital. It is also famous for Ayurvedic healing and water sports. 

Here the Ganga aarti is performed on the banks of the river.

The aarti is performed by chanting bhajans and beating drums and bells. It is an excellent spiritual experience.

It is a way of showing respect and gratitude to the river Ganga. 

Tourists from across the world gather at the river bank during sunset to observe this ritual. It's a mesmerizing sight with the lighted diyas spreading their shine on the calm waters of river Ganga.

During my visit to Rishikesh in 2019, I could attend and experience this ritual at Triveni Ghat, just about a 10-minute walk from my hotel.

The joyful harmony of the shining lamps steals your heart. The loving vibrations moved me.

The Ganga aarti was the most memorable part of my visit to Rishikesh.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Food is an experience to be explored and enjoyed.


I agree with what Andrew Zimmern has said. Food can connect people and is even more critical when experiencing a different culture. The ethos and culture of a place shine through the cuisine.

When travelling to new destinations, I always love to try the local cuisine. During my visit to Thailand, I tried Miang Kham in a restaurant in Bangkok. 

The name Miang means “ one bite-size wrap”. I had heard great reviews of this dish. The chef told me that this is mainly eaten as an appetizer. When he placed the lotus petals wrapped bite-size appetizer dish on the table, I was eating it in more than one way. The visual appeal was incredible, and before I could eat with my mouth, I had eaten it with my eyes. The carefully planned dish balanced taste, texture and colours. The lotus petals are the focal point of this dish.

Lotus is an incredibly versatile flower. Besides looking beautiful, it is also edible. It has many nutritional benefits and is used for detoxifying and nourishing health. 

I love seafood, so even though the beautifully plated dish with lotus petals was feeding my eyes, I could not resist the urge to eat it.

"The world is getting more connected through technology and travel. Cuisines are evolving. Some people are scared of globalization, but I think people will always take pride in cultural heritage."John Mackey

Friday, August 12, 2022

Hope sprouting after a major setback - A photostory.


                                                        Photo by the Author.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Avoid Rear Vision Thinking and Look Ahead


                                               Photo by Kier In Sight on Unsplash

Can any of us claim life without regrets? Probably not.

We all go through this feeling in our lifetime.

In the book “ Believe and Achieve” author Paul Hanna calls it the Rear- vision thinking and explains it.

If you are driving a car and keeping your eyes focused on the rearview mirror, you will find it challenging to reach your destination in one piece.

Instead, if you grab your steering wheel and look ahead, you will negotiate, avoid all obstacles, and reach your destination safely.

He calls this hands-on steering wheel thinking. Life works in the same way.

Regrets can control your mood and make you feel miserable. If you overthink the past, you are likely to be depressed.

Learn from the past and seize the opportunity in front.

“Regret is like tears seeping through closed eyelids.”- Galway Kinnell.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Joy of Baking a Loaf of Bread

Time, love and patience are the secret ingredients for a crusty, golden bread loaf

                                               Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

“No matter the weather outside, the smell of fresh-baked bread can lift your spirits on a cold day”- unknown.

During my career, I had no time to focus on creative activities in the kitchen. Once I had given up my 9 am to 5 pm job, I had an opportunity to reset my goals and focus more on things that matter in life. It included healthy eating, spending more time with family, investing time in learning new skills and, more importantly, baking treats. I tried recipes I had collected but never had the time to cook.

Baking, I found, was one of the best ways to relax. It triggered many happy memories for me. The smell of vanilla, cinnamon and other ingredients brought back childhood memories of my mom’s kitchen.

During the pandemic, when we were all stuck indoors due to the lockdown, I decided to try my hand at bread making.

Baking bread, I am told, is therapy. Experts say bake your bread if you can’t meditate.

I have always been a bread lover. Baking bread turned out to be a very satisfying experience for me. I love the smell of freshly baked bread. The finished crust, as seen in the picture below, is what makes me happy. Time, love and patience are what helped me bake this bread.

Crusty golden bread fresh from the author's oven

                                A slice of bread with a hot cup of coffee -picture from the author's album

Baking benefits

Baking bread has taught me to be patient. A lot of critical baking tasks required me to wait. For example, I had to wait for the yeast to activate. Even though I was tempted to fast forward, I had to wait and picture myself with the crusty golden end product.

I realized you don’t need to read books to understand patience. Bake bread in your kitchen and you will have practical lessons in patience. The yeast works at its own speed to double the size of the dough. You cannot rush it even if you want.

Besides teaching patience, homemade bread is a lot healthier. I could control the ingredients and use whole wheat flour instead of refined flour. I could use herbs of my choice to customize and make it tastier. I avoid adding preservatives and artificial ingredients, which the store-made bread has, as I don’t need to increase the shelf life. Homemade bread is enjoyed as soon as it is out of the oven.

The added benefit of baking bread at home was I could finish listening to a few chapters of the audiobook while kneading the dough.

It is also cheaper to make your bread at home.

Nothing is more satisfying than the smell and taste of freshly baked bread just out of the oven.

“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.” — M.F.K. Fisher

Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Instant Gratification Trap

Balancing near-term rewards with long-term goals

                                                Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

"No one wants to be patient. No one wants to wait for anything. They want it right now - that instant gratification".- P J Tucker. 

Let's face it. It is a common human weakness to give up on long-term goals for immediate gratification. We decide to go on a diet, but when someone offers us a chocolate cake, the urge to grab it cannot be controlled. And we determine the diet can start from tomorrow. 

We promise to save money, but when we decide to save, we see a new bike, a pair of good shoes that we must have, and we cannot control the craving to buy them.

Something similar happens with healthcare as well. Everyone knows preventive medicine is more cost-effective and suitable for catching and avoiding health problems if diagnosed early. But we often procrastinate and avoid getting health checkups done regularly. 

Many coaching clients talk about how they would achieve their self-development goals and have impressive action plans, but in reality, they struggle to get them off the ground. So, what holds them back? Busy schedules, lack of confidence, or absence of instant rewards? Often it is the absence of instant rewards.

The era of 10min delivery is a classic example of instant gratification. I no longer have to plan and make a list of my groceries. My family feels like eating a particular food item, and I don't have the ingredients available. I order them through any 10 min delivery app on my smartphone, and wu la la! I have items delivered at my door in 10 mins. 

                                               Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

When making decisions in our lives, we think we are in control. But actually, we are not. 

In the book "Predictably Irrational" behavioural economist and author Dan Ariely talks about the hidden forces that shape our decisions. In a series of experiments, he shows how expectations, emotions and other factors skew our reasoning abilities. And this is the reason why we can't do what we want to do.

According to researchers at Princeton University, two areas of the brain compete for control over behaviour when a person attempts to balance near-term rewards with long-term goals. One area of the brain is associated with our emotions, and the other with abstract reasoning. When offered a cake, the brain's emotional response to instant gratification; we get pushed to grab the cake even if other healthy options are available.

Try these self-control mechanisms to stay in check and make the right choices.

  • Pre-commit to achieving goals. Know your "why" clearly.
  • Don't allow your emotions to overpower your logical thinking. Tie your feeling to a goal that you want to achieve. I wanted to develop a habit of getting up at 5 am and going for a walk. I kept putting off this idea, but then I started reminding myself of the positive benefits of this habit.  
  • Delay gratification when you urge to break your diet plan or your goal to save money—Journal and note what you have done to overcome instant gratification.
  • Set limits for yourself.
  • Get an accountability partner who will nudge you and make you answerable if you fail to follow through.

"Don't sacrifice your future dreams at the altar of instant gratification." Ashley Borden