Friday, October 7, 2016

My Best Friend's Wedding

This post was long overdue. It's the one where I tell you how I got locked in the bathroom at my best friend's wedding. That's right. It really did happen. I'm not making it up. But before I go into that story, let me first tell you a little bit about my old school-time bestie.

That's Swati (the one in the front) and me, more than 16 years ago.

She seems like a serious, no-nonsense girl, but this is where you have to remember that "looks can be deceptive". She is the queen of leg-pulling. She knows all the markets in Kanpur better than the lines on her hand! (Shopping wasn't such a nightmare for me with her! Sigghhhh!) And she's probably the only person on Earth who's been able to handle me during my Capricorn "stubborn" phases. (She could make out when I was genuinely bothered about something and when I was just being irritating!)

What exactly are we doing in this pic? No idea. By the way, the SRK & Bobby behind us belong to my sister.

In her circles, she is well-known for walking into medicine shops to buy a loaf of bread!

And for sporting a bright-green contact-lens, in just one single eye (the other being normal), on Holi. And then smiling back at strangers who stare at her, believing they find her exceptionally beautiful that day!

And also for her messy cupboards, that I had to organize whenever I visited her. She once even called me up from Bangalore (after her marriage), when I lived in Patna, saying her cupboard was a mess, so I should come over! From Patna. To Bangalore. Just to organize the stuff in her cupboards.

I really wish though that she didn't stay so far away.

This was the day when her parents were out of town and we had an all-girls' slumber party at her place.

Anyway, her wedding was naturally a big deal for me. Best friend's weddings usually are, for most people. I had to help her with the shopping and the gift packing, and all kinds of miscellaneous wedding chores, you know. So I was the first one to arrive at her place, days before the wedding. And that's when the "catastrophe" happened.

The bedrooms were all on the upper floor, while the living area and the kitchen were downstairs. The dreaded bathroom (where I got locked) was on the upper floor, and had two doors - one from the bedroom, and one from the passage outside, that led to the stairs.

Anyone familiar with a typical North-Indian wedding will know of the custom where all the wedding gifts, lavishly packed on Styrofoam sheets, are displayed to visiting relatives. That bedroom was being used for that purpose. So it was kept locked when Swati's parents were not in it. The bathroom door from that room was also locked. We were told to use the other door to get in and out of the bathroom.

Somebody apparently forgot these instructions though!

One fine morning, there I was, having a shower in that bathroom. When I was done with my shower, I realized, to my utter dismay, that the door wouldn't open. The other door was obviously still locked from the outside. I did what most people do when they get locked in the bathroom. I shouted. And I banged on the door. But here's the worst part... there was nobody else on that floor that time who could hear my shouts! They were all enjoying the delicious calorie-rich wedding-breakfast downstairs!

I have no idea how long I had to wait in that stupid bathroom before I heard footsteps on the stairs. Somebody was coming up. I resumed my shouting and banging. Finally, they let me out! Uffffffff!

Needless to say, I was the biggest joke of the day!

"Kaddu, you got locked in the bathroom today!!! [Guffaws]"
"Kaddu, how did you get locked in the bathroom today? [Giggles]"
"Kaddu, who the hell locked you in the bathroom today? [Chuckles]"

Swati and me, days before her wedding.

Sigghhhhh! One of my life's biggest bragging rights... "I got locked in the bathroom at my best friend's wedding"!

No really! How many people in the world can boast about that?

What about you? Do you have any such crazy stories with your besties?

If you do, then now is the perfect time to share them, because ZEE TV is bringing a new fun-filled chat show, called 'Yaaron Ki Baraat', that will put celebrity friendships to test through a series of fun challenges and tasks. I wonder which celebrities are going to participate in the show. It will surely be a riot of entertainment and fun. Best friends on national TV! I am totally looking forward to the first episode on 8th October (that's tomorrow) at 8pm.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

When Kids go Shopping... Alone!

Having a neighborhood stationery store means that more than 50% of your customers will be kids. School-going kids. Sometimes even just 4-year-olds. Shopping alone. Without any adults.

The arrangement comes with its own peculiar nuances and moments that tickle your funny bone.

For instance, the time when this 7-year-old kid unclenched his fist and produced a thousand rupee note. I was like - "Woah! How DO parents give a thousand rupee note to a less-than-three-feet-tall creature, who isn't even able to calculate the amount of change due to him?" And after he was done shopping, he started walking out of my shop with his purchases in one hand and the change (worth over 900 bucks, including coins) in the other. Such a lot of change in such a tiny hand! Ufff! Scary! I had to stop him and make him shove all the money into his pockets first.

Then there was this 3-year-old. He's been a visitor to my shop since I opened it, i.e. when he was still a thumb-sucking baby. He usually comes with his elder sister and mom or grandfather. While his sister does  the shopping, he simply asks my Dad for a balloon (by pointing his chubby finger at the jar that contains balloons), and then busies himself with blowing it. The other day, he walked in by himself. (His grandpa was buying something from another shop in the market.) He is so short, I didn't even see him enter the shop. Nearly jumped out of my skin when he came and stood beside my table and said "balloon lena hai"! He then proudly placed a 5-rupee-coin on the counter, took one balloon, and started running out with a big grin on his face. Five rupees for one small balloon! So I called him back and tried to explain to him that he'll get 4 more balloons for that money. I don't think he understood that though, he was already too busy blowing the first one! Eventually, I just stuffed 4 more balloons inside his pockets and his grin just grew wider with happiness!

There are also those kids who spend almost all their pocket-money on stationery. (My favorites... naturally!) Sometimes they come with 100 rupees, sometimes with 500, and they have to spend it all. No taking back any change. And naturally, their shopping cart always exceeds the amount of cash they have. Then I'm supposed to do the math for them... help them remove items they can't afford that day!

Then there are all the "puzzles" that we've had to solve in the last 2.5 years.

For example, a "rule" is not a "ruler" here, but a "pencil". And "drawing" can mean any of the following:

  1. drawing notebook
  2. drawing sheets
  3. coloring book
  4. colors
  5. drawing box (pencil box)
  6. and once it even meant the photocopy of a drawing from one of the coloring books in my shop!

Once, there was this kid who wanted pins for "the machine used for covering notebooks". Dad and I were stumped. They'd invented a machine for covering notebooks! Wow! In our days, we had to do it all by hand! Turned out that he just wanted a box of stapler pins after all. And please don't ask me how we figured that one out finally!

Pins are, anyway, quite puzzling. There are stapler pins of course, but then there are also drawing pins, safety pins, gem clips and three different varieties of push pins. Kids usually just ask for "pins". After that, we play "20 questions".

We play "20 questions" a lot actually.

But some kids are smart.

Like the one who came in the morning today. He's probably 5 years old. Doesn't speak very clearly. Today, he asked for what sounded like "two apple waali copies". Dad asked him - "English copy?" He said no. I asked him - "four-line copy". He again said no. I asked him to come closer and repeat what he wanted. It still sounded like "apple waali copies". Eventually, he just walked around the counter, to the shelf with the school notebooks, and found it himself. English notebooks. "A for apple". Get it?

I know! And people think running a shop is easy!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian
Author: Andy Weir
ISBN: 978-0804139021

Buy from:


The Martian, by Andy Weir, is, in short "Apollo 13 meets Cast Away" or Robinson Crusoe in space. It is a gripping narrative of surviving against all odds, of resourcefulness and ingenuity in the face of adversity.

Blurb from The Martian:

I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Hermes or Earth. Everyone thinks I’m dead. I’m in a Hab designed to last 31 days.

If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death.

So yeah. I’m fucked.

I saw the movie adaptation of The Martian before I read the book. I didn't even know then that it was based on a novel. I was searching for a different movie to download (My Favorite Martian), but I found this instead, and Matt Damon on the cover image caught my interest. I LOVED the movie! Weeks later, a friend mentioned on Facebook "the book has a lot more details". That's when I found out there was a book behind the movie. Naturally, I had to order it immediately! I loved the book so much that I read it twice within a month of ordering it!

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is the story of Mark Watney, an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars after a freak accident almost kills him, and his crew mates are forced to abort mission without him. He survives that one accident by sheer luck, but luck alone is not going to help him last four years on that barren planet, with the limited supplies he has on hand, until he can be rescued by the next manned mission to Mars. As Watney says -

"In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm gonna have to science the shit out of this."

Luckily for him, he happens to be the botanist and the Mr. Fix-It for that mission, and his knowledge of botany and mechanical engineering is what's going to save him. Another thing working in his favor is his attitude--his natural disposition towards making light of stressful situations with humor. He knows there is a high possibility of his dying there, but he doesn't spend too much time feeding that thought in his mind. Instead, he is all business-like, focusing all his attention on solving one problem after the other. Weir has portrayed him as an intelligent, funny, witty and a mentally strong person, not easily swayed by fear and despair. This is how he handles the routine fear that comes with his unique circumstances (of being stranded on Mars)...

“I’ll be playing with high-voltage power tomorrow. Can’t imagine anything going wrong with that!”

“From this, I concluded the following:
1. I’ve been in a dust storm for several sols.
2. Shit.”

“Just once I’d like something to go as planned, ya know?”

And this is him at the extreme depth of despair...


You know what!? Fuck this! Fuck this airlock, fuck that Hab, and fuck this whole planet!
Seriously, this is it! I've had it! I've got a few minutes before I run out of air and I'll be damned if I spend them playing Mars's little game. I'm so god damned sick of it I could puke!
All I have to do is sit here. The air will leak out and I'll die.
I'll be done. No more getting my hopes up, no more self-delusion, and no more problem-solving. I've fucking had it!


Sigh...okay. I've had my tantrum and now I have to figure out how to stay alive.”

Mostly though, he's just making fun of everything--of his situation, of scientists, of NASA and of himself. Here are some samples of Watneyism...

“I started the day with some nothin’ tea. Nothin’ tea is easy to make. First, get some hot water, then add nothin’.”

“Maybe I’ll post a consumer review. 'Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.'”

“I tested the brackets by hitting them with rocks. This kind of sophistication is what we interplanetary scientists are known for.”

“They’re not much different from kitchen trash bags, though I’m sure they cost $50,000 because of NASA.”

“I started with a large rigid sample container (or “plastic box” to people who don’t work at NASA).”

“Also, I have duct tape. Ordinary duct tape, like you buy at a hardware store. Turns out even NASA can’t improve on duct tape.”

The rest of the characters in the book have very short roles (naturally), but I liked them. Venkat Kapoor, the JPL guys, Mark's crew mates on Hermes, and Mindy! I specially liked Mindy Park in SatCon.

The Martian, by Andy Weir, has been written predominantly as logbook-style entries by Mark Watney, interspersed with third-person accounts of what's going on back at NASA and with the rest of his crew mates. I loved that style of writing for the scenario presented in the story. What didn't work for me was the sudden non-linear approach at certain places in the book. Those random "flashbacks", despite being very few, disrupted the natural flow of the book and seemed unnecessary.

The amount of research Weir has put in the book is clearly visible and makes the story completely plausible and realistic. This is hardcore science fiction, and parts of it can seem really complicated to those not interested in so much science. But I liked it. All those problems related to mass, weight, speed and time etc. took me back to my Physics classes in school. The plot moved along at a brisk pace. One problem after another. Combined with Watney's own brand of humor. I loved the book more than the movie. It has many more problems for Watney to solve.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5. The Martian, by Andy Weir, is probably the best science fiction I've read in a very long time! Highly recommended for all sci-fi lovers. It will suck you into the world of Mark Watney and will leave you in a "hangover" that could last for weeks.

Here's more in Books.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A to Z of Me: 26 Things About Me

Found a new blog tag after a long time. Saw it on Shilpa's blog. It's been started by Debbie Doglady though. I've got to share twenty-six things about me... from A to Z. And here I go...

A. Age : Forty. Oh alright! 38 then. But I will be 40 soon. Like real soon. :)

B. Biggest fear : Having a surgery. (I keep thinking they'll leave a needle or a pair of scissors inside me. Or worse... a watch that plays "Om Mangalam mangalam" every hour!)

C. Current time : 8:09 PM

D. Drink you last had : My favorite... tea!

E. Every day starts with : These days... it starts with pain! :( And then the hot-water bag.

F. Favourite Song : Already told you guys about this one. It's the song Pehla Nasha from Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. You can watch it again here.

G. Ghosts – Are they real? : They could be. Anything is possible unless proven otherwise.

H. Hometown : Was born in Patna, Bihar, but I certainly don't think of it as my "hometown". Got horrible memories of that place.

I. In love with : Books, music, sunsets, perfumes... so many things man!

J. Jealous of : People who can eat ANYthing and still NOT gain weight!

K. Killed someone : In my mind... yes! So many times!

L. Last time you cried : Crying is frequent these days. Last time was in the afternoon, while doing the physio. God! When will the pain go?

M. Middle Name : None.

N. Number of siblings : Just one sister by blood, but have got several "adopted" brothers.

O. One wish : Right now... I just wish I was healthy again... with no food restrictions and no movement restrictions.

P. Person you last called : One of my "adopted" brothers!

Q. Question you’re always asked : (By the kid customers in my shop) "How can we call you Aunty? You're not married..." :|

R. Reason to smile : Watching the dance series Step Up and imagining myself doing all those wicked arm & shoulder moves! (Yupp, that's the injured part of my body. I'm not even allowed to hold my handbag with that arm currently!)

S. Sounds that annoy you : Incessant honks, hammering/drilling, electronically "enhanced" songs!

T. Time you woke up : The alarm went off at 7... I finally woke up at 8 though, after the pain/hot-water bag routine.

U. Underwear colour : Really now!

W. Worst habit : Overthinking, definitely! (We are alike in this, Shilpa!) There have been so many times when I've wished I could take my brain out and put it in the freezer for a while!

V. Vacation Destination : Anywhere not cluttered and crowded.

X. X-rays you last had : Abdomen.

Y. Your Favourite Food : Woah! I've said this earlier, and I'm saying it again. How is it possible to choose one food over the other? They're ALL my favorite!

Z. Zodiac Sign : I'm a Capricorn. And this is what Capricorns are like.

That was quick. Feel free to take on the tag. Cheers! :)

P.S. - I just realized... I have done another version of the A to Z tag long ago. Check it out here. Some of my answers were so silly back then! :P

Here's more in "Tags (or memes)"!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Why Haven't I Blogged For Two Months?

There I was, doing the A to Z challenge in April. Then I announced I wouldn't do it as a daily blog challenge. And then I completely disappeared from this space. You guys must have been wondering what happened to me.


The physiotherapy (refer to this post if you have forgotten) didn't go well. I was started on a new set of exercises, which severely aggravated the pain, until I couldn't take it anymore and changed my physiotherapist.

The good news is that this guy seems to know what he's doing. He's taking it slowly and is able to release any pain during the session with him every alternate day. The bad news is that I am now doing one-hour routines of physiotherapy four times a day.

So, obviously, blogging has taken a backseat.

Have you ever thought about this? It takes just a moment to get hurt, but then it takes months to heal from it! And then there are always some wounds that never get healed...

So much for today, folks. See you when I see you...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A to Z of Happiness: E - Explore #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Have you ever noticed? Kids are always so much happier than adults! What is the one big difference between kids and grown-ups? Kids love to explore. They are constantly exposing themselves to new things and new experiences. Grown-ups, on the other hand, like to stick with the tried and tested, the familiar, the comfortable, the well-beaten path.

In order to be truly happy and to enjoy life, we need to be like kids. We need to let out our adventurous side. We need to allow ourselves to stray away from the beaten path and try something new every once in a while. Here are a few things we should be open to exploring.

Four Things We Should Be Ready To Explore

Explore New Ideas

The world is a huge place with so much to offer. Most of the time, we don't bother to look beyond the obvious. We never bother to scratch below the surface. "Think out of the box". We've heard it so many times, but how many people actually DO think out of the box? At the risk of sounding stale, I'm going to refer to M. S. Dhoni again. During tough situations in a match, he pulls out fresh ideas like rabbits out of his magic hat, e.g., bringing Virat Kohli out to bowl! There is an ocean full of ideas, and all we need to do is go fishing!

Explore New Opportunities

When I was hired as a Technical Support Executive for Dell, I had no prior experience or training of computer hardware. I only knew of software installation and computer programming. I decided to explore the opportunity that had presented itself before me, and I discovered later that I was good at the job. I opened my store also without any prior business experience, and I would say I'm doing pretty okay at it, considering the fact that about half a dozen other businesses, that opened in my neighborhood around that time, have either shut down or relocated. Life presents strange opportunities to us at times. It is up to us whether we give them a try or not.

Explore New Methods

Have you ever left a baby with food? He'll stare at it, poke it, drop it, smash it, play ball with it, stuff it under the sofa cushions, and rub it in his hair. He'll do everything with it and... maybe... even eat it! I'm not suggesting you do the same, but there can be more than one ways of doing things. There's actually a book on 365 Ways To Cook Eggs! (Check it out on or We may have been doing something a particular way throughout our life. That doesn't mean that we cannot try any other way. One approach may not work, but the next one just might. Remember those maze puzzles we solved as kids? No need to despair without trying a new method.

Explore New Perspectives

We usually tend to go by first impressions, whether we're dealing with situations in life or people. We look at something, read the first interpretation that comes to our mind, and hold it as the truth. Rarely do we stop to look at it from a different angle or viewpoint. But we forget: even a dice has six different faces. Life and people are so much more multi-dimensional and multi-faceted than a dice. So just pause to look at your problems and worries from a different perspective. (Recommended reading: Live Life: Find A New Perspective) You might realize they're actually blessings in disguise.

It is easy to fall into our comfort zone and remain there, but life gets stagnant there after a while, and it becomes difficult to find happiness in the same old day-to-day routine of doing things. Opening ourselves to newer experiences brings an element of freshness in our life and infuses it with renewed joy and vigor. It also brings a sense of achievement at having tried something new, which leaves us feeling more positive.

How do you add the element of newness in your life? Do you like to explore new ideas and opportunities? Or do you like to stick with the old and comfortable?

This is my fifth post for 2016 AprilAtoZ. (I'm doing it bi-weekly instead of daily, because of health issues, time constraints and internet connectivity woes. So yeah, I'll finish sometime in June!)
Link to the previous post: A to Z of Happiness: D - Disregard.
What is April A to Z?
My kindle eBook on A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A to Z of Happiness: D - Disregard #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

All of us want to be happy, but all of us are influenced by negativity from all directions, be it from the outside or from within us. Negative criticism from people we know, or own own negative habits, or even the negative voices in our head--all of them steal our joy, self confidence and happiness. In order to be truly happy, we need to learn how to ignore and disregard all such negativity in our life.

There are three sources of most negativity in our lives - negativity from our relationships, negativity from our environment, and negativity from within us. Here's how we can deal with them so that they don't affect our happiness.

Negativity From Our Relationships

Have you ever noticed how conversations with some people leave us feeling totally drained and bad about ourselves and our life? There are people who never have anything good to say about us. They can only criticize us whenever we are around them. And there are some who never have anything good to say about their own lives. They are always unhappy about something or always complaining about something. Such people are like energy vampires. They suck all happiness out of us. (Ok, I guess we can call them "dementors" too.)

We must make it a point to spend as little time as possible with them. And whatever time we do spend with them, we must make a habit of disregarding all the negative words they throw at us, so that their negativity doesn't get to us. We must set clear boundaries in our relationships. At the same time, we need to surround ourselves with more positive and upbeat people. Their passion, enthusiasm and energy will keep us mentally and emotionally charged.

Negativity From Our Environment

Once upon a time, more than 15 years ago, there used to just one TV channel, and news was telecast once every morning and night. Now, we have innumerable dedicated news channels, bombarding us with negativity 24 by 7. On top of that, we also have the self-proclaimed jury on social media, ready to give their verdict (mostly negative) on everything under the sun.

The media will constantly tell us that the world is a bad place to live in, that life consists of sufferings, and that we need to meet really high standards to be accepted in the social world, but all that is not true. (Just look back to your life 15 years ago.) We need to limit such toxic media. Instead, we must spend more time doing stuff that makes us feel good and helps us appreciate our life.

Negativity From Within Us

We can cut the negative media from our lives and avoid the negative people, but what about that voice inside our head? Our inner critic. The one whose favorite pastime is to regret our past choices and worry about our future. The one who keeps telling us all the time that we are not good enough. How do we distance ourselves from that voice? Is there a way we can throw it out of our head?

No, there isn't. But we can practice to ignore that voice and make it shut up for at least some time during the day. We need to develop the habit of focusing on our DREAMS instead of our fears. We need to accept ourselves as we are, to shut our inner critic. We must learn to forgive (will be covered under "F"), to let go of the regrets. And we must believe in the best of ourselves and others, to let go of the worry.

If we go to a restaurant and happen to order something new that doesn't quite agree with us, we don't feel obliged to eat it anyway, do we? We just leave it. We need to practice the same approach when we are served any kind of negativity in life. Just disregard it.

What do you do when you encounter toxic people? How do you deal with them? How much time do you give to the media and social media per day? What techniques do you practice to control the negative thoughts in your mind?

This is my fourth post for 2016 AprilAtoZ. (I'm doing it bi-weekly instead of daily, because of health issues, time constraints and internet connectivity woes. So yeah, I'll finish sometime in June!)
Link to the previous post: A to Z of Happiness: C - Calmness.
What is April A to Z?
My kindle eBook on A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

10 Reasons For Quitting DAILY #AtoZChallenge @AprilAtoZ ~ Ten On Tuesday

The April A-to-Z Challenge is meant to be done as a daily blogging challenge, with all the 26 posts published in April. However, I’m bending the rules a bit. I’m going to do this round of A-to-Z on a bi-weekly posting schedule, instead of a daily posting schedule.

My reasons for this deviation are as follows:

  1. I have some health issues due to which I have to set aside at least 1.5 hours a day for physiotherapy and Reiki.

  2. April is one of the busiest months at my store. So I don’t have much time for blogging in the evening (when I’m at my store).

  3. Plus, I have access to stable internet only at home. I’m forced to use my intermittent mobile 3G, via hotspot, at my store. As such, doing anything on the internet is a pain during the evenings.

  4. I'm at home till 4pm. So I have to cook three meals, eat two of them, exercise, do my Reiki, do all the other household chores, AND write my post and reply to everyone’s comments… all before 3.30 pm!

  5. Writing daily is affecting the quality of my writing. I’m not completely satisfied with what I have written so far in this series.

  6. With daily writing, I’m left with hardly any time to read and comment on the blogs of other A-to-Z participants, and I’m not okay with it.

  7. The theme I have chosen—inspirational posts on the A-to-Z of happiness—is one that could benefit many, if I do proper justice to it.

  8. The selected theme calls for posts longer than 100 words, and it is not an easy job reading long posts on a daily basis. I don’t want to burnout my readers.

  9. Reading such long posts is even more difficult for my fellow A-to-Z participants, ‘coz they have to keep up with something like 50 blog posts a day (just taking a rough average).

  10. On my last 3 posts, I've received a few comments that have clearly been made without reading the post, which is a shame, because this series ought to be read. It can actually help people.

For these reasons, I have decided that I will complete the series but not as daily blog posts. I will do only two posts in a week. It will give me enough time to write them properly. And it will give my readers enough time to read them completely. Plus, it will give me time to read and comment on the blogs of as many A-to-Z participants as I’d originally planned to.

What do you guys think of this plan? Will it be easier for you to follow my posts if they’re not daily? What about my co-participants in this challenge? Will you guys continue to read my A-to-Z posts even after April is over?

Here's more in "Ten-On-Tuesday"!

Monday, April 4, 2016

A to Z of Happiness: C - Calmness #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Anxiety is a big sucker of happiness. It makes us lie awake at night, tossing and turning in bed, while millions of random thoughts stream through our mind. It keeps us in a mental hyper-drive throughout the day, eating away at our productivity and draining us out faster. It makes us fearful about things that will probably never happen. It steals all joy and wisdom from our present moment.

I have often looked at the Indian cricket team captain, M. S. Dhoni, with admiration. No matter what happens on the field during a match, he never has a trace of anxiety on his face. He remains as calm as the deepest part of an ocean, and that enables him to think out-of-the-box and take game-changing decisions, even in the midst of adversity.

How do we do that then? How do we maintain our inner calm when our external world is in a turmoil?

How To Remain Calm in Stressful Situations

Here are five techniques we can practice to inculcate the habit of remaining calm in stressful situations.

Regular Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins. They're the natural stress busters and mood boosters of our body. Exercise also results in deeper breathing, leading to more mindfulness. This helps in reducing feelings of anger and panic, and promoting a sense of calmness and well-being.

Enough Sleep

Good sleep is essential for beating anxiety. If we don't get proper sleep, we become more prone to stress. Even the slightest things can give us panic attacks. It becomes important, therefore, to ensure that our body gets complete rest while we sleep. Listening to soothing music helps a lot in this respect.

Cut the Caffeine

Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants. Yes, they keep us more alert, but they also exaggerate our stress response and disturb our sleep cycle. Excessive intake of either of these makes us more prone to anxiety. We need to minimize caffeine and nicotine if we want to remain more calm and centered.

Limit Negativity

If we expose ourselves more to negative people and negative environment, we become more easily stressed out. Watching the news at night might seem necessary, but it triggers the most negative chain of thoughts in our mind. Listening to someone rant for long periods of time may seem like the right thing to do, but it can create havoc with our own mental equilibrium.

Practice Detachment

We need to focus less on the outcome of our actions and more on the act of doing our best. What will happen will happen. We have no control on it. The only thing we can control is our response. So, in order to maintain this detachment, we need to learn how to distract our mind with stuff that make us feel good. We need to keep ourselves busy with activities we enjoy doing.

Anxiety need not always be a medical disorder. And it is most certainly not a permanent life state. You are not your anxiety. Brantley and Millstine describe it as "part of the present-moment experience [...] instead of as an absolute truth or an immutable personal defect." If worrying can become a habit, so can remaining calm. Win or lose, pleasure or pain, joy or sorrow, we must remain calm and at peace with our circumstances and feelings. Acknowledge everything but don't let anything take over, and you have a recipe for happiness.

Do you get anxious at the drop of a hat? Or do you remain calm even when things are falling apart all around you? How do you keep your mind at peace in stressful situations?

This is my third post for 2016 AprilAtoZ.
Link to the previous post: A to Z of Happiness: B - Believe.
What is April A to Z?
My kindle eBook on A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A to Z of Happiness: B - Believe #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Money is the root of all evil.
Love is an illusion.
Romance happens only in fairy-tales.
Good guys finish last.
It's a hostile world out there.

And so many other such limiting ideas we grow up with and choose to believe. And in doing so, we forget:

We are what we believe.

Our world and our life is an exact replica of what we believe in the deepest parts of our heart... about ourselves, about others, and about our life and the world.

Belief in Self

If we believe we are not good enough, then we will never be good enough. If we believe we can't do something, then we will never be able to do it. If we doubt that we deserve a certain thing, then we will never get it.

The ironic thing is that most of the time, we are the ONLY ones who don't believe in our own awesomeness. The people who know us may think we are amazing. They may want to be like us. Some might even be jealous of us. Yet, we remain filled with self doubts. (I know I do that.)

Why is it so difficult for us to see our own beauty and self worth? Why is it so difficult for us to believe that we are wonderful, lovable people, deserving only the best in life?

Belief in Others

We don't believe in others too most of the time. We are scared to depend too much on people or share our feelings with them. We don't entrust them with responsibility. We believe they will let us down. Or hurt us in some way. And if they make mistakes, we don't give them second chances. We simply write them off.

If we do give people a chance though, we'll often be surprised to see what they can achieve. Believing in a person usually brings out the best in him/her. (Usually, not always. But it's well worth the risk.)

So why is it so difficult for us to see the goodness in other people? Why is it so difficult for us to believe that they're not "out there to get us"?

Belief in the World

We finish school and then step out into the "big bad world". None of us are ever told that we'll step into the "big beautiful world". Life is not a bed of roses. Life screws everyone. Life is a bitch. Sighhhh. We haven't even met life, and we already believe that it will be the worst thing to happen to us.

Life is what we make it. It is nothing but a series of choices and their consequences. We can't blame life for our choices, now can we? If we choose to not eat right or live healthy, then how is it our life's fault that we are not happy?

Is life really that bad, or do we just give it a bad name? Why is it so difficult for us to believe that the world is a friend to us? That life is a gift for us?

In order to be truly happy, we need to have a little bit of faith. We need to believe in our own strength and capabilities, and we need to believe in those who love us. Most of all, we need to believe in life itself. When I opened my store, I received help from the most unimaginable places, and in the most unimaginable ways. The whole world is there to support our dreams. If we believe that we can, we will.

What do you believe about yourself and the world?

This is my second post for 2016 AprilAtoZ.
Link to the previous post: A to Z of Happiness: A - Acceptance.
What is April A to Z?
My kindle eBook on A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.