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.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A to Z of Happiness: A - Acceptance #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Most of us have so many expectations from and pre-conceived notions about life and everything in it, that we spend all our waking hours measuring the gap between how things "SHOULD BE" and how they actually "ARE".

But happiness begins with acceptance.

Acceptance of what?

Acceptance of self.

We have created this image of a perfect "self" in our mind, and we keep trying to live up to it. That perfect self is naturally neither too fat, nor too thin. It is not too dark or too short either, and it has the perfect set of eyes, nose, lips, and a perfectly toned body as well.

We then set restrictions upon ourselves, based on that perfect image. "Don't wear shorts if you don't have slender legs. Hide your body if you're fat. You must be a good cook if you are a woman. Don't get married if you're a man who isn't earning such-and-such amount of money every year."

All these restrictions are prisons WE lock ourselves into! We need to set ourselves free. We need to accept ourselves as we are. If we don't accept ourselves, nobody else will either.

Acceptance of other people.

Acceptance of self is the first step in acceptance of others. And we all know too well - people can be really self-centered and hurtful, whether intentionally or unintentionally!

Sometimes they lie without blinking an eye. Sometimes they drop by at our house uninvited and without calling. Sometimes they use us for their selfish gains and totally forget about us when their work is done. Sometimes they are just so mean and hurtful that we feel like wringing their neck! Sometimes, they are just harmless little annoying pests with an OCD for cleanliness.

We need to just let them be whoever they choose to be in that moment. We cannot change them anyway. So why raise our blood pressure? We should just accept them and find a workaround.

Acceptance of circumstances in life.

If things can go wrong, they will. Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

Lost a job because of the economic meltdown? Gastritis won't go away? Ex got married to someone else? Pet dog died before you could take him on a trip to the mountains?

Face it. Shit happens. And more shit is just waiting to happen. If we try to stop it from happening, then a different shit will happen, but it will happen nonetheless. Best to just accept it, let go of stuff we can't have, and move on.

Most of us spend our entire life wishing we were different or the people around us were different or even that our whole life was different from what it currently is! We set benchmarks and we remain unhappy because the reality is nowhere close to those benchmarks. We keep wishing for things to change so that we can be happy, and we don't realize that we need to simply accept them the way they are, in order to be truly happy.

Do you accept things the way they are? Do you wish certain things were different? About you? About others? About your life? Does wishing so make you feel better?

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