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 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Truth about the plugged in world.

 Read my article published by Kitaab

Friday, June 17, 2022

The Power of the Humble Pen and Paper.

The pen is still mightier than the keyboard.

                                                              Photo by cottonbro on Pexel.

I love the good old-fashioned pen and paper.

In the digital world, we have forgotten the inherent benefits of writing with an old-fashioned pen and paper. The benefits of digital tools cannot be ignored. But we cannot become slaves to technology.

I am a big kindle fan and cannot deny the ease with which books can be searched and downloaded. Even while reading on a Kindle, I have a pen and paper to take notes. Kindle has a feature that allows you to highlight and share to other apps and devices. But I prefer making notes with pen and paper.

I have a weakness for pens, and whenever I am in a stationery shop, I look for ball pens, fountain pens, and colour pens and buy at least a couple of them.

                                                 Photo from Shubha Apte


Saturday, May 21, 2022

‘You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live it’


                                               Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexel

Life is never a straight line, and it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. It always has ups and downs. By experience, we learn to navigate all the potholes and make the journey of life victorious. During this journey, we fall at times. But we pick ourselves up and continue to move forward. Confucius has said, “that our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time, we fall.”

Looking through the rear-view mirror, we sometimes think of our choices and regret our decisions. But time does not standstill. It does not allow us to go back in time and change our decision. This is when the “what if” feeling grips us. We regret what we did, leading to a feeling of sadness.

As humans, we face millions of choices every day. Some of these choices can be good for us, but others can be damaging and significantly impact our lives.

When we make a wrong choice, we experience an overwhelming feeling of regret and know we cannot alter anything. We wish we could have done it differently. It can leave us stuck, always looking backward, and unable to move forward in our lives.

Trapped in this cycle of regret, we can become rigid, constantly blaming ourselves. But avoiding doing anything for fear of regretting it later is also not good as it tends to disengage us from relationships, and opportunities and progress gets stalled. We cannot make all the correct decisions to make life perfect. A perfect life is more of an illusion. Accept that life is not perfect and start living.

“It is easy to mourn the lives we aren’t living. Easy to wish we’d developed other talents, and said yes to different offers. Easy to wish we’d worked harder, loved better, handled our finances more astutely, been more popular, stayed in the band, gone to Australia, said yes to the coffee, or done more bloody yoga.

“It takes no effort to miss the friends we didn’t make and the work we didn’t do, the people we didn’t do and the people we didn’t marry, and the children we didn’t have. It is not difficult to see yourself through the lens of other people and to wish you were all the different kaleidoscopic versions of you they wanted you to be. It is easy to regret and keep regretting, ad infinitum until our time runs out.

“But it is not lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemies.

We can’t tell if any of those other versions would have been better or worse. Those lives are happening, it is true, but you are happening as well, and that is the happening we have to focus on.”

― Matt Haig, The Midnight Library

This quote about regrets made me start thinking about my own journey and the regrets holding me back. Some of the professional choices did not work out the way I had imagined. I decided to join a company based on its brand value but later realized that my personal core values conflicted with the values of the people that I was working with. When frustration set in, I decided to quit the job at the peak of my career. Looking back, I realized I had better choices and opportunities, and I had boarded the wrong bus. The disappointment I experienced from this haunted me for days. With a lot of determination, I did come out of this phase. I did not allow pain and despair to drag me into depression. It required me to look at life with a totally different lens and not allow the past to discolor my present.

I read the New York Times bestseller “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig around the same time when I was deeply entrenched in regrets, and the book resonated with me. This fictional story would resonate with anyone who has faced disappointment and regrets and wants to improve their life. The book is a gentle reminder to live life and find joy in the present moment. It is an affirmation of life’s many possibilities. We keep thinking of the days gone by and the opportunities that we may have missed, and in the process, ignoring the glories of the present.

Matt Haig is an English novelist and author. Through Nora Seed, the fictional character’s narrative, Haig encourages readers to let go of their past and make the most of their present. The central character, Nora Seed, has lost her job, her best friend, her brother, and her cat, her relationships are a mess, and she decides to end her life. She ends it with an overdose of antidepressants, but she finds herself in the midnight library between life and death. Every book in the library offers her a chance to enter a life where she made a different decision and has regrets. By experiencing alternate versions of her own life, she realizes there is nothing called a perfect life and prefers to live in her current state.

I loved the author’s idea of envisioning an infinite library between life and death.

The book compelled me to look at life from a totally different perspective. In life, you need to be strong from within, face the consequences of your choice, and not get caught in the trap of regrets. We don’t need to understand life; we need to live it, and like Matt Haig said, “You don’t have to understand life. You just have to live.”

In the last few years, I have made many changes in my life. I have decided to use my potential to the best of my abilities and learn from my mistakes and the wrong choices that I had made and not get caught up in regrets.

The past does not lead to happiness. The future is beyond our control, but it is the present that we are in complete control.

“It’s not the lives we regret not living that are the real problem. It is the regret itself. It’s the regret that makes us shrivel and wither and feel like our own and other people’s worst enemy”- Matt Haig.

This article was first published in Borderless Journal.