Saturday, January 19, 2019

Book Review: Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance by Osho

Book Review: Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance by Osho

Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance, by Osho, is the very first book of this great mystic that I have read. For a less-than-200-page read, this book contains a wealth of life-changing philosophy, though it is impossible to read it in one go. I finished all the four books in the Egyptian series by Wilbur Smith in about half the time it took me to finish this one book! And not because of lack of interest, but because of the depth of the content presented in the book! It is difficult to read more than a few pages at a time.

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Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance

Author: Osho
Genre: Spirituality, Philosophy, Self-help, Mindfulness
ISBN13: 9780312275631
First Published: 2001
Format: Paperback, 194 pages

Book Blurb:

Underlying all meditation techniques, including martial arts-and in fact underlying all great athletic performances-is a quality of being awake and present to the moment, a quality that Osho calls awareness. Once we can identify and understand what this quality of awareness is, we have the key to self-mastery in virtually every area of our lives.

According to great masters like Lao Tzu or Buddha, most of us move through our lives like sleepwalkers. Never really present in what we are doing, never fully alert to our environment, and not even aware of what motivates us to do and say the things we do.
In Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance, Osho uses incidents from everyday life, anecdotes from Mulla Nassruddin, examples from Buddhist teachings, quotes from Enlightened Masters and findings of famous philosophers, to challenge readers to review their pre-conditioned belief systems and break free from them.

  • He teaches the essence of meditation and living in the present moment.
  • He shows how, with practice, we can avoid being entrapped in the vicious circle of our thoughts.
  • He explains the techniques for relaxing our mind and body, and letting go of all tensions.
  • He points out the difference between religion and spirituality, between character and consciousness, and between a man of quality and a man of awareness.

Book Review: Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance by Osho

This book is written in Osho's characteristic style -- full of wisdom and understanding, insightful and challenging, humorous and down-to-earth, yet, at times, exasperatingly all-knowing and condescending (especially when he talks about the Western world). The book tends to get a bit repetitive at some places, especially in the first half, but that may be deliberate to make sure the concepts sink in. Besides, you'll be flipping back through the pages anyway, re-reading certain paragraphs.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5. Awareness - The Key to Living in Balance, by Osho, is a strong and much needed book in today's stressful living conditions. I will highly recommend it to everyone. Buy it for yourself and gift it to the people you care about, especially those who may be experiencing a low tide in life.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Book Review: The Immortality Trigger by Douglas Misquita

Review: The Immortality Trigger by Douglas Misquita

The Immortality Trigger
Author: Douglas Misquita
ISBN: 978-1973285373

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The Immortality Trigger, by Douglas Misquita, is the fifth action thriller by the author, the second featuring Luc Fortesque, after The Apocalypse Trigger. Yet another fast-paced and visual epic adventure, this book won the Silver Literary Titan Award in December 2017.

Known for his vast plots and meticulous research, Misquita manages to meet the expectations of his fans yet again.

Blurb from The Immortality Trigger:


Allied paratroopers raid a secret Nazi research facility. The operation is reported as a success. But, the lone survivor, Benjamin Ezra, knows otherwise.


A drug lord, El Fantasma threatens to plunge Colombia into an era of bloody drug wars. DEA Country Attaché, Zachary Mason is in charge of a covert operation to remove El Fantasma, with the help of a vigilante, El Angel, and a retired undercover agent, Raymond Garrett.

In Naples, INTERPOL agent, Sabina Wytchoff, is investigating the death of her parents, when the Wytchoff family's association with an ancient cabal comes under investigation.

After the events of The Apocalypse Trigger, Luc Fortesque, is scouring the world for the man who tested experimental drugs on him.

Wei Ling works for a shadow Transhumanist faction within China's State Council, developing drugs that will enhance human longevity.

Does it even seem possible that these five completely different tales could be connected?

In The Immortality Trigger, Douglas Misquita has done exactly that. And that is why I call this novel an "epic" adventure. From Berlin in 1945, you are effortlessly transported to present day South America, Europe and Africa. So many different places, time periods and characters! This book, like Misquita's previous novels, is vast!

Inhuman science experiments towards the end of World War II, the impending battle between an insatiable Colombian drug lord and his nemesis, supported by people in "high places" who have "vested interests" in this fight, the truth about the "superheroes" of illegal fight rings, and the technological advances fueled by man's never-ending quest for immortality. The book comprises of all this and more.

Misquita's attention to detail continues to awe. Be it the artillery, or the accuracy of the historical timeline, or the sociopolitical references, or the science and technology, his research cannot be refuted. And from his fourth book (Diablo), he has started creating an emotional connect with his readers too. The horrific German atrocities towards the end of World War II have been described in very few pages, but they carry enough graphic vividness to make you thank your lucky stars that you aren't actually there, you're only visiting that era in the pages of this book!

Overall, The Immortality Trigger was yet another fast-paced read in Misquita's trademark style, but this time, it felt like it got over too soon! I would have liked to stay in that world a little longer, know all the main characters more intimately, go on deeper and more incredulous journeys with them. Also, there is bound to be some jargon in a book that speaks military, but when it starts to take away from the natural visual appeal of the story, when the movie playing out within your mind suddenly loses clarity because of a mere word or two, then maybe it's a little too much.

My rating: 4 out of 5. The Immortality Trigger, by Douglas Misquita, is mostly a large-scale action thriller, carrying a hint of historical fiction and science fiction. Multiple stories, each with its own mystery and adventure, integrating into one big story, narrated from multiple angles. Kind of like the X-Men series, only a bit too crisp.

Buy more books by Douglas Misquita from: Flipkart | |

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for reviewing, but that has, in no way, affected my rating and opinions.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Is It Worth Having a Facebook Page For Your Blog Now?

As Facebook grew popular, more and more bloggers created Facebook pages for their blog, to give their blog readers an easy way to follow their blog updates. But, the last few years has seen a constant decline in the organic reach of Facebook pages, so much so that it's time bloggers finally ask themselves whether it is even worth having a Facebook Page for their blog.

Facebook Pages' Declining Reach: Case Study

It takes a considerable amount of time and effort to maintain a Facebook Page properly. And for the past couple of months, I have been seriously considering whether it's worth it. Without wasting any time in idle chit-chat, I will get into the Math straightaway. (And this isn't the kind of Math used in Rocket Science!)

I participated in the A-to-Z Challenge in April this year. And even though I didn't complete the challenge, I still managed to publish 20 posts in April. At that time, roughly 650 people "followed" the Facebook page for this blog. (I say "followed" because you can "like" a page but then "unfollow" it.)

Naturally, I shared all 20 of those posts on the Facebook page for this blog, but do you know how many of my "followers" got to see those "shares"?

Only about 42 to 48 of them on an average!

Out of a following of 650, that is roughly 7%.

And that's when each one of those page updates was re-shared by my personal profile on FB too!

Occasionally, my sister liked/shared my page updates through her FB profile. Then the post visibility (a.k.a. "post reach") shot up to roughly 95, because some of her friends also got to see those posts then. (And she has a LOT of friends on Facebook!)

But this was only the "post visibility", i.e. Facebook showed a particular page update to so many people. It doesn't mean that all those people actually clicked on the link and read the post.

In fact, the highest number of "Post Clicks" I've had this year on any of the link updates on my Facebook page, is... hold your breath!... 9. Yupp. NINE. And only FOUR out of those 9 were "Link Clicks". Take a look at this screenshot of the insights for that particular post...

Which leads me to the conclusion that either these insights are wrong, or Facebook Pages are now a complete waste of time for bloggers.

Here are 5 reasons why I think that it is not worth having a Facebook page for your blog now.

5 Reasons Why It Is Not Worth Having a Facebook Page Now For Your Blog

  1. The base organic reach is dismal.

    If you did the Math above, you must have figured this out by yourself. Hardly 7% visibility... to people who have liked your page because they WANT to get your blog updates!

    Let's assume an average click-through rate of 10% (unless you've shared a link-bait kind of post). So 10% of 7%... that is 0.7% traffic to your blog! Which means that in order to get a 100 page views, you will need a follower base of over 14 thousand!

    Is it even worth the time invested in maintaining the page? And what about your followers, who think they'll get all your blog updates via that page?

  2. The extended organic reach has little worth.

    I have heard so many people say that the advantage of having a Facebook page for your blog is the extra visibility (or exposure) you get when someone likes/shares your update. Yes, the visibility does increase if you get a few interactions on your updates, but does that extended reach necessarily translate into more traffic for your blog?

    We have friends, family and colleagues in our Facebook friend list. It is a diverse list. And naturally, all of them do not share our exact same interests. For example, I'm interested in blogging. But hardly any of my Facebook friends are interested in it. So if I like/share a post from a blogging related Facebook page, will they even look at it? No.

    There are very few topics that work well (i.e. "go viral") on Facebook.... things that are of mass interest.

  3. Facebook is turning into a control-freak.

    Today, the Facebook algorithm controls what kind of content it will show to its users. It doesn't control the "quality", mind you, (like Google does) but the "kind". And at the time of writing this post, it favors videos. If you post videos on Facebook, they get maximum reach. And not just on FB pages, but on your personal FB profiles too!

    So, for example, if my best friend posts a link from her personal blog, with her own life updates, Facebook won't show that to me. But, if the same friend happens to hit "like" on a birthday video of her neighbor's one-year-old baby (who is not even acquainted to me), I will get to see that video, just because that neighbor didn't have the commonsense to change Facebook's default privacy settings of "public"! Go figure!

    But that's as a user. As a blogger, I find it even more disconcerting to be forced into sharing a type of content that I don't want to otherwise. My expertise is writing. And that's what I want to share. Not videos created by paid freelancers on my behalf. I feel that it's a bit restrictive of Facebook, forcing us into creating the kind of content it wants to show to its users, manipulating the natural flow of content on the internet.

  4. Facebook wants money to send traffic to your blog.

    Yupp. They want you to pay them for getting more followers to your page, AND pay them again for showing your blog updates to those same followers (as well as non-followers). And they want you to keep doing this for ALL your Facebook posts that contain any outside link, because they don't want their users to "step out of" Facebook unless you pay for it.

    Personally, I don't see anything wrong in their wanting this. They aren't here to do free social service forever. They're here to make money. After all, we bloggers also charge money for giving links to other websites and sending traffic their way!

    So, if you have big pockets... great! You could empty them out to Facebook... or you could instead use that money to run Google Adwords campaigns, which, I think, have a higher click-through rate than Facebook promotion.

  5. Do people really pay attention on Facebook anymore?

    I know I don't. I have set aside a limited time per day to check my Facebook feed. And I scroll through it at full speed, pausing only when something really catches my attention. I'm sure majority of Facebook users are doing the same. Some maybe be spending as little as five minutes per day on Facebook. And some might not even login daily.

    The thing is that there is just too much information on Facebook now. Information that I'm not necessarily interested in. Makeup tips that my sister "likes", exercise routines that my fitness-freak friends "like", Hindi shayari that I don't remember who in my friend-list "likes", even Kananda posts (or maybe Telugu or Tamil, I can't really tell the difference) that some of my South-Indian friends "like"! Also, let's not forget all the "sponsored" posts that Facebook pushes in our timeline, that are usually of little relevance to us. (At this very moment, I see posts on counseling, celebrity kids, real estate, footwear, some men's magazine... REALLY? Men's magazine? On my timeline?)

    Do I really have the time to sift through ALL of this crap, in search of stuff I actually want to see? (Posts from Pages I have followed. Updates from people in my friend-list.) What in the world is Facebook thinking?

Based on the above 5 reasons, I really don't think that it is worth having a Facebook page for your blog anymore, unless you are selling actual products/services through your blog, worth a decent sum of money. (Like say an ebook worth $149. Or a course worth $209.) And, even then, you might want to consider creating a Facebook group instead of a Page, because that lets you create an interactive community, where REAL conversations take place, instead of you simply buying paid "likes"!

Well... I, for one, have had enough of Facebook. I can't delete my personal profile at the moment, because I have joined some good blogging groups where I'm learning a lot of new stuff. But, I am definitely going to delete the Facebook page for this blog.

Facebook groups are quite good at the moment. So much better than Facebook pages. If I were to start working on one of my niche blogs now, I would make a Facebook group for it, instead of a page. But even that could be short term. Social media websites just can't be trusted, can they?

That is why, I have finally started my Weekly Email Newsletter. (I should have done this long ago!)

I think Email Subscriptions are, by far, the best and most reliable option now, for following blogs that you like. And I personally invite you all to sign-up for mine, so that you never miss another post from me, AND get FREE Bonus content every month too!

P.S. - You will not get more than one email in a week. Your email ID will be safe with me. You can unsubscribe any time you wish to.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

30 Odd Questions #BlogFest

So Debbie, of Doglady's Den, (Yes, the same one who hosted the A to Z of Me tag last year!) came up with another blogfest this summer... the "30 ODD QUESTIONS" blogfest. It is another one in the "know-more-about-me" series. So, naturally, I decided to play along.

Here are her 30 Odd Questions, and my answers to them.

30 Odd Questions BlogFest
30 Odd Questions #BlogFest

  1. What did you want to be when you were a kid?
    I wanted to be a private detective like Nancy Drew. What can I say? I was reading Chacha Chowdhary when other girls my age were reading fairy tales.

  2. Which “Friends” character do you relate to the most? Why?
    I have watched very few episodes of the show, and from the little bit I remember, I'd say, probably Monica. Cleanliness freak, obsessive-compulsive, hard-working. But I could be wrong. I think it would be better to ask someone who has followed the show through all its seasons, AND knows me as well.

  3. Do you like your name? Why?
    Of course, I do! Who wouldn't love a name that decodes to this! :D
    By the way, this is how I got my name!

  4. Are you messy or neat?
    Didn't I just answer this in Question 2 above?

  5. How tall are you?
    Not tall enough. Sighhhhhh!

  6. How tall were you when you were 10?
    Oh WOW! Does anybody seriously remember this?

  7. What is your guilty pleasure?
    Eating ice cream. :P

  8. What are you saving money for right now?
    For the higher education of the kid I'm going to adopt. Hopefully soon. If I get cleared for adoption, that is.

  9. How many Pringles can you eat at once?
    I have absolutely no idea, but I'm quite sure that if there was a contest on this, I'd end up in the bottom percentile. I'm one of those rare specimens in the world who (sometimes) have to bite a gol-gappa, instead of putting the whole thing into their mouth at one go.

  10. Tea or coffee?
    Ahhh! My old blog readers already know the answer to this one, right? :D
    For the new ones, here it is... My Favorite Hot Drink!

  11. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?
    Without a doubt, an introvert.

  12. What will be your Halloween costume this year?
    Hehehe! I call myself "the alien pumpkin". What do you suppose I'd dress up as, if I were to dress up for Halloween? :D
    (Hint: Look at my blog header image.)

  13. Sweet or salty?
    Ummmm... mostly salty.

  14. Favourite social media?
    None. I think the only reason I'm still using any of the social media platforms today is to promote my blog. And with constantly changing algorithms, even that seems pointless now.

  15. Who is the last person you kissed?
    A baby girl in my building. Cute little thing. Hyperactive. (Aren't they all, these days?) Addicted to music since she was born.

  16. What is your favourite breakfast?

  17. When is your birthday?
    11th January. I was actually born on 11th January 1978... the day when Soyuz 27 linked with Salyut 6 and Soyuz 26 (first time three spacecrafts linked).
    My blog buddy, Abhiroop, once mentioned (on this post): "This link up was engineered to mark the day you were, ahem, unleashed. It was a Salyut from Space from the Soviets!"
    Hmmmm. Maybe he has a point. Maybe the link up really was engineered... not to give a 'Salyut' from space (as he thinks)... but, to create a "portal" for this "alien pumpkin" to land on Earth. What do you guys think?

  18. When did you start your blog?
    December 4th, 2006. More than 10 years ago... WOW! And I haven't even done the 10th birthday post yet! I AM getting lazy!

  19. What is your opinion on the Kardashians?
    Never watched this show.

  20. How would you describe your style?
    Not sure if I even have a style.

  21. What colour is your hair?
    Still black. I did notice a strand of silver last year, but, it's gone now... alas!

  22. What colour socks are you wearing?

  23. What is your dream job?
    Honestly... anything that pays the bills and doesn't negatively affect my physical/mental health.

  24. Dogs or cats?
    Still dogs.

  25. What makes you weird?
    Ummmmm... probably the fact that I get seriously annoyed when little kids call me 'didi' and not 'aunty'!

  26. Celebrity crush?
    Sighhhh. They keep getting younger and younger! No more celebrity crushes for me!

  27. Opinion on cigarettes?

  28. Do you want/have children? How many?
    I want some. Preferably two.

  29. Three favourite boy names?
    Three is too many. I can think of only one right now - Saagar.

  30. Three favourite girl names?
    Again, I have only one at the moment - Anjali.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: V - Values #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

What are your values?

If I were to ask this question today on my Facebook wall, majority of the answers will either be vague, or they'll be generic traits that are considered desirable in the section of society where that particular respondent belongs.

It is true. Our societal and familial backgrounds do shape our values to certain extent, but not completely. The reality is, that most of us blindly do whatever our parents tell us, or the society expects from us. We never even bother to stop and think about what WE want in life, what are OUR priorities, what inspires us and what doesn't.

And that's where our unhappiness begins.


How Do Values Affect Our Happiness?

They Give Purpose To Our Life.

Our personal values are the driving force in our life. They are a central part of who we are. They define what's important to us. They define us. They could be anything... family, career, ambition, service, honesty, reliability, punctuality, independence, selflessness... there are dozens of values, and any number of them could be important to us.

All of us have our own set of personal values. For example, my Dad could have some values, but the values that drive me could be different from his. And if I try to live my life according to his values, I will never be happy.

That is why, we use our values to identify what is right or wrong... for US. We use them to identify our priorities. We use them to understand what we want from life. They are the guidelines based on which we take decisions in life. When we face multiple options in life, our values point us in the right direction.

Whether we recognize them or not, they continue to mold us and our life. They give us goals, and they give us the INSPIRATION (Covered under 'I') to achieve those goals.

They Remove Clutter From Our Life.

Mahatma Gandhi said - "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."

When our words and actions are in sync with our personal values, we are content. When our life is in direct conflict with our values, we experience feelings of frustration, guilt, confusion, discontentment, and even anger or resentment, if those conflicting decisions have been forced upon us. In short, we become unhappy.

For example, if you are a family oriented person, but you're in a job that frequently requires overtime, you will always be stressed. If you value honesty, and you're in a sales job where you have to constantly bend the truth to meet your targets, you will never be satisfied with your job. If you are an ambitious career-oriented girl, forced to quit job to take care of family, you will eventually lose all your self worth and become very frustrated with your life.

That is why, it is important to acknowledge our values, and then make life choices that align with those values. Knowing our values helps in removing the unnecessary distractions from our life, things that do not add meaning to our life, things that deviate us from our life purpose. It helps in SIMPLIFYING (Covered under 'S') our life.

They Keep Us Going When The Going Gets Tough.

So many times in life, we face setbacks and disappointments. Everything seems to be going uphill for us. We lose focus of where we were going, and why we were going there anyway. We lose the urge to fight. We feel like quitting.

Remember this popular quote? "When you want to give up, remember why you started." - author unknown

Our values do that for us. They remind us why we started.

Whenever we come to a point in life where we find ourselves fumbling in the dark, we should stop for a moment and rethink about our values. If we have lost track of our goals somewhere along the way, reassessing our values will set us on the right path once again. And if we are on the right track, the sight of our goals ahead will encourage us to keep going.

Remembering our values in times of adversity, gives us the strength to overcome our challenges. It make us RESILIENT. (Covered under 'R'.)

When we know our values, we can make decisions with clarity and confidence. Some choices in life may seem difficult, but we are able to make them anyway, because they feel right... for US. Remaining true to our values gives us a sense of integrity. It gives us a reason to be happy.

Do you ever feel restless and frustrated, but you can't put a finger on why? Do you ever feel "scattered" in all directions at once? Or that you have a little too much on your plate? How do you sort things through then? Do you know what your personal values are?

This is my 22nd post for A to Z of Happiness.

I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: U - Unplug #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z ~ Ten On Tuesday

A decade ago, who would have thought that an A to Z list of happiness will have an entire article on unplugging from technology. But addiction to social media, internet, television and mobile phones is a very real thing in current times. So much so that there was actually a news item on Akashvani (All India Radio) last year, that several Facebook de-addiction clinics have opened up across the world!

My Dad started using Facebook in April last year, and today, he is more addicted to it than me! I used to wonder what he did on it for so long, because he has hardly 10 people in his friend list. So I took his phone one day and decided to check things out. (I must confess... I was a tad jealous! :P) Turned out that Facebook was busy "suggesting" videos to him! Funny videos, 5-paperclip-hacks kind of videos... you know. (His FB timeline is actually quite engrossing! I like it more than mine!)

But the thing is that he decides to check Facebook for just "5 minutes", and he doesn't even realize when those "5-minutes" turn into an hour! And this happens with all of us, doesn't it?

Our Addiction To Technology

The moment we wake up, we plug into technology, sometimes, without even getting out of bed. And we don't unplug throughout the day. There was a time when I used to chat on yahoo messenger till 2 in the night! And my computer remained 'on' round the clock, unless we had to lock up and go out of the house or we had a power cut. Now, we don't even need a computer, we have our "smart phones". We eat with them, sleep with them, travel with them, and even watch TV with them! If we wake up in the middle of the night, we immediately reach out for them!


The usefulness of technology cannot be doubted. We are more connected to people who matter. It is a fantastic medium to learn new things. It has created so many new career opportunities. But there has to be a moderation in all things we do, right? Same with technology. It is a good servant, but it shouldn't be allowed to become our master. We need to unplug from technology periodically, if we want to remain truly happy.

10 Happiness Benefits of Unplugging from Technology

  1. Remember how we discussed under QUIETUDE (Covered under 'Q') that the things we hear and read during the day, continue to replay in our minds long after? Setting aside technology-devoid time every day helps in reducing this unnecessary chatter, so that we can free our mind to focus on what's important to us.

  2. Constant information download, and then the repeat chatter in our mind, creates "brain fog", or a "mental blur". We go on auto-pilot mode, doing our mundane things, without actually noticing anything. A break gives us the space to become MINDFUL (Covered under 'M') again.

  3. Social media provides us constant updates about what everyone else is doing. And we get so caught up in the FOMO syndrome (Fear Of Missing Out), that we start doing what they are doing. Irrespective of whether it has any benefit to us or not. A conscious break will help us realign our strategies and actions with our goals, and SIMPLIFY (Covered under 'S') our life.

  4. Too much time on media increases our exposure to negativity. Politics, shootouts, terrorist attacks, rapes, murders... these are the things that hog mass media these days. Personal insecurities are growing. Relationships are getting more superficial. We need to limit media to DISREGARD (Covered under 'D') all this negativity.

  5. I just found out that one of three Facebook users report feeling more dissatisfied with their life after spending time on Facebook! It is natural, isn't it? If we are constantly bombarded with "happy" updates of other people, we will find it difficult to ACCEPT (Covered under 'A') our own life and circumstances.

  6. When we are constantly exposed to negative news, and feelings of jealousy and inadequacy, it can be absolutely impossible to keep our THOUGHTS (Covered under 'T') positive. Thoughts of lack and loneliness can only create more of the same in our life. We should make a habit of going offline every once in a while, to ensure we don't get caught in a negative loop.

  7. If we keep thinking about the vacations we can't afford, or the family we don't have, we'll forget to appreciate what we DO have. Unplugging ourselves from technology allows us to remember our many blessings and be GRATEFUL (Covered under 'G') for them.

  8. Too much of technology consumption keeps us distracted throughout the day and is a huge time-waster. We are unable to focus on our work, due to which our productivity suffers. We miss deadlines, we commit mistakes, we forget to do things. All this leads to a build-up of anxiety. We need regular breaks to maintain our CALM (Covered under 'C').

  9. Did we have this constant sense of emergency back in the 90s? This pressing need to remain "connected" at all times? To reply to work mails even on weekends? Then why now? This constant "connectedness" has stolen everyone's "YOU" time. (Covered under 'Y'.)

  10. Lack of exercise, bad postures, constant eye-strain, plus all the health issues that arise because of stress and negative thinking. We even tend to eat more when we are distracted by the TV or internet! Regular "time-outs" are, therefore, essential to take care of our physical WELL-BEING. (Covered under 'W'.)

Technology is a boon, yes. But it can also be a curse if we don't unplug from it periodically. Real life doesn't happen on screens, it happens in the real world. We need to disconnect from technological distractions if we want to increase our productivity, and nurture our relationships. We need to spend at least some quality time every day with our loved ones, and not with our eyes and ears glued to screens!

How much time do you spend on social media or phone every day? Do you feel the urge to check your phone even when it doesn't beep? What about television and news? Do you experience "withdrawal symptoms" if you don't get your minimum daily quota of news?

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

This is my 21st post for A to Z of Happiness.

I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: T - Thoughts #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Human mind is a fascinating thing. It can be our biggest strength, but it can also be our biggest weakness. If allowed to run amok, it is like a wild elephant, creating havoc wherever it goes. But, if tamed, it can be our very own, wish-fulfilling, magic genie!

Throughout centuries, a lot has been written about the "secret" power of mind. Ernest Shurtleff Holmes and Norman Vincent Peale, Buddha, Swami Vivekananda, and, in most recent times, Rhonda Byrne, they have all emphasized upon how we can shape our own destiny with what we choose to give space in our mind.

Majority of us, of course, shrug it off as fantasy, but the few who DO decide to give this "secret" a try, manage to create a life of their dreams. If you learn to harness your mind, there is no limit to what you can achieve. Financial success, professional success, health, love and, above all, happiness!


How Do Our Thoughts Affect Our Happiness Quotient?

Our lives and our happiness depend upon what thoughts we choose to hold in our mind, because it is our thoughts that create our feelings. And our feelings create our moods. But the process doesn't stop there, because our moods affect our decisions and behaviors, which, in turn, can create further happiness or sorrow for us.

For example, when I'm in a happy state of mind, and a customer at my shop asks for something that I cannot provide, I will say no to him with a smile, and will also suggest alternatives. He might settle with one of those alternatives, or he might just smile back at me and say "no thanks". But, if I'm already in an irritable state because of something that might have happened half an hour ago, I will reply curtly to him, and I won't bother to give him any other suggestions either. The customer will think I am rude and unhelpful, and might decide to take his business elsewhere. Or, if he's also in a bad mood, he could even give an angry retort, making things worse for the both of us.

Bottom-line is that if we think negatively about any situation, it gives rise to negative emotions within us, which make us react negatively, creating MORE negative situations. And we get caught in this loop of negativity. On the other hand, if we try to remain positive about things, then we can avoid creating further negativity, and maybe even turn possible stressful interactions into positive ones!

But how do we think positively about something bad that has happened in our day? For example, the maid did a no-show without prior information. Or the kid accidentally knocked over his glass full of milk. Or someone else got in the cab that we flagged over, in the morning rush hour. Or we reached office and discovered that we forgot an important file at home.

There could be hundreds of other things like this. Is is even possible to NOT get upset at them? I don't think so. Not for majority of us anyway. So how do we keep our thoughts positive in these situations?

How To Remain Positive In Negative Situations?

  1. ACCEPTANCE (Covered under 'A'.)

    Bad things happen to the best of us. And there will always be some people in our lives who bring our energy levels down. Instead of giving these circumstances and people any more space in our mind than the bare minimum, we should just accept what happened and move on.

  2. MINDFULNESS (Covered under 'M'.)

    The longer we remain in a negative state of mind, the more likely it is to become a habit. The good news is that we can hold only one thought in our mind at any point of time. The moment we think of something else, the first thought is gone, until we think of it again. And here's where mindfulness comes in. If we recognize that our chain of thoughts is going negative, we can consciously choose to think of something positive. In this way, we can replace all our negative thoughts as soon as we become aware of them.

  3. JEST (Covered under 'J'.)

    Finding humor in adversity is one of the best ways to come out of negative situations as quickly as possible. It not only keeps our spirits high, but also keeps us emotionally detached from our stressful situation, so that we are better able to find our way out of it.

  4. INSPIRATION (Covered under 'I'.)

    When we are in an inspired state of being, we are not affected so much by the "small stuff". It does not hold significance for us anymore. We are driven by something stronger, something within us. And we derive our strength and positivity from our inspiration.

  5. DISREGARD (Covered under 'D'.)

    If we spend too much time surrounded by negativity - negative people, negative work environments, stressful situations - it becomes difficult for us to keep our spirits up. (I speak from personal experience.) We should let go of negative people and environments before they start affecting us in any major way.

By using these five techniques, it is possible for us to keep our "dominant" thought state positive. Our dominant thoughts are the ones that have a greater impact on our happiness and life. They occupy maximum space in our mind, and are recurring. They are the ones that shape our BELIEFS. (Covered under 'B'.)

By using these techniques, we can ensure that our negative thoughts become transient, or "non-dominant". The non-dominant thoughts are merely superficial "reactions", that disappear as quickly as they flare up. These thoughts don't stay in our energy field long enough to create any substantial effects.

Summary: Benefits of Positive Thinking

Inculcating a habit of "Positive Thinking" has several benefits.

  • It has a positive effect on our health and WELL-BEING (covered under 'W'), reducing chances of depression.
  • It helps us remain CALM (covered under 'C') in times of stress.
  • It makes us more OPTIMISTIC (covered under 'O').
  • It increases our RESILIENCE (covered under 'R').
  • It helps foster an attitude of GRATITUDE (covered under 'G').

All of these, in turn, add to our "happiness meter".

What is your dominant state of thoughts? Do you tend to dwell more on the positive or negative? Is it easy for you to move on from negative situations in life? Or do you get stuck there for quite a while?

This is my 20th post for A to Z of Happiness.

I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: S - Simplify #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Simple living is usually thought of as minimalist living or spartan living, or even miserly living.

Grow your own food.
Don't keep a car.
Give away ALL your possessions.
Don't outsource.
Cut off from the world.

In short, go to the Himalayas and live like a monk!

Personally, I don't see anything wrong in doing that. I think it would be an immensely empowering experience to be so self-sufficient. But, if everyone took off to the Himalayas, wouldn't it get too crowded?

Jokes apart, I have a slightly different interpretation of simple living... a SIMPLER interpretation.


What Is Simple Living?

Every individual in this world is different. And we all have different roles to play in the grand scheme of things. So how can one size fit all? It can't.

I believe that simple living is all about removing the UNNECESSARY clutter and noise from our life. The stuff that we don't really NEED. The stuff that DISTRACTS us from what is really important in our life.

If a car helps you do your work more efficiently and lets you spend more quality time with the people who matter, then what's wrong in keeping a car?

If using a mixer-grinder-juicer in your kitchen allows you to eat healthier, then why give it away?

If outsourcing your cooking gives you more time to do stuff that gives you greater satisfaction, then what is the harm in it?

If an internet-enabled smart phone lets you make video calls to your grand-children, halfway across the globe, then how can it be a bad thing to have?

Simplifying our life doesn't mean that we give up all worldly possessions, dreams and desires. It just means that we set our priorities, and then align our life with those priorities. It is a simple 3-step process.

3 Steps To Simplify Your Life

  1. Identify your goals.

    Personal goals - could be related to health, travel, education, hobbies, etc.
    Professional goals - your career ambitions and financial targets.
    Relationship goals - marriage, kids, social clubs, etc.

    Make sure these goals are not in conflict with each other. Remember what happened in the movie Cheaper By The Dozen?

  2. Identify what you need for those goals.

    Do you need more sleep and exercise? Or maybe a course in photography and a new camera? Or a new job with flexi timings? Or perhaps you need to move to a smaller town, so you can afford a bigger house for a bigger family?

    Figure it out in simple actionable statements.

  3. Remove everything else.

    Let go of all the habits, beliefs, possessions, and even relationships (Yes, those too!), that don't align with your higher goals. Most importantly, let go of all the secondary goals that conflict from your higher goals. Majority of them will anyway be things that the SOCIETY expects you to do, not what YOU want to do.

    Yes, this won't be easy. But this is all the difference between a "simple life" and a "complicated life."

3 Tools For Simplifying Your Life

These are our three sharpest tools for simplifying our life.

  1. MINDFULNESS (covered under 'M')

    Watch what/who you let in your life. Watch WHY you let them in your life? Do they take you closer to your goals? Or do they deviate you from them?

  2. GRATITUDE (covered under 'G')

    Always appreciate what/who you have, and remember how they are helping you fulfill your dreams.

  3. RESILIENCE (covered under 'R')

    And once you identify that something/someone is important for you, then commit to them. Don't let anything/anybody else come in between you and what makes you truly happy.

10 Things We Can All Do With A Little Less Of

Here are a few things that we all can do with a little less of. And they are:

  • Worry less.
  • Complain less.
  • Compare less.
  • Think less.
  • Want less.
  • Talk less.
  • Doubt less.
  • Hate less.
  • Fear less.
  • Say 'Yes' less.

Have you got all your priorities sorted out in life? Do you need what you're chasing after? Do you need what you already have?

This is my 19th post for A to Z of Happiness.

I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: R - Resilience #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Life is full of all kinds of challenges, hardships, setbacks and disappointments. So many times, things don't work out the way we planned. We fail in our endeavors, we suffer financial losses, or health issues, or heartbreaks... or all of them at once! (Oh yes! For some, all hell DOES break loose!)

But the thing about life is that it WANTS to live.

What Is Resilience?

We all have an inherent survival instinct within us. And I'm not just talking about us humans, but about ALL living things. The whole planet, in fact. We are NOT made to give up. Perhaps, that's the reason for evolutionary adaption.

Our "default setting" is that of resilience. It is the ability to bounce back up after a fall. It allows us to come out of difficulties and adverse life conditions, by adapting and learning.


So if "resilience" is in our very nature, why do SO MANY of us find it so difficult to "come back"? Why does it take so many years for some of us to heal, to recover, and to move on? And why do some people just quit? On their very existence?

As I was researching the internet on this topic, I learnt that resilient people have a specific set of characteristics. And surprisingly, all of those characteristics are present in my A-to-Z list of happiness! Which means that resilient people are naturally HAPPIER people! Have a look at these characteristics:

10 Ways In Which Resilient People Are Happier

  1. They have faith in their own strength and ability to overcome challenges. And they BELIEVE in life (Covered under 'B'), that it will give them a second chance.

  2. They have a goal to fight for, a goal they believe in, and that gives them the HOPE (Covered under 'H') and INSPIRATION (Covered under 'I') to get back on their feet and continue chasing their dreams with renewed vigor.

  3. They are OPTIMISTIC people (Covered under 'O') who look for the silver lining in every situation. For them, even their failures are opportunities to learn something new and better.

  4. They have a childlike desire to experiment and EXPLORE new possibilities (Covered under 'E'), which makes them more resilient. Their interest in "what was" is very quickly replaced by their curiosity of "what could be".

  5. They ACCEPT (Covered under 'A') that there are certain things they can't control, and simply DISREGARD them (Covered under 'D'), so that they can focus all their energy towards those battles which they have a chance of winning.

  6. Resilient people don't take life too seriously. They don't take their successes and failures too seriously either. They tend to look for the humor in every situation. And this element of JEST (Covered under 'J') is what helps them bounce back up so easily.

  7. They keep trying to find innovative solutions for their problems. When confronted with a challenge, their focus automatically shifts to "How can I better equip myself to deal with this?" They are seekers of KNOWLEDGE (Covered under 'K')... about themselves, about others, about their business/profession.

  8. They have a set of VALUES in life (Covered under 'V') that are important to them and that give a sense of purpose and direction to their life, like a "Vision/Mission Statement". When they face setbacks, they just pause for a moment, and then realign themselves with those values.

  9. Above all, they take responsibility for their health and WELL-BEING. (Covered under 'W'.) Because they know that they'll be able to fight again ONLY if they have sound physical, mental and emotional health.

  10. And lastly, they understand the importance of having a strong social support network, for dealing with personal tragedies. So they continuously strive to BUILD such a network around them, by being XENIAL (Covered under 'X') and spreading LOVE (Covered under 'L'.)

What these characteristics show us is that resilience and happiness are very closely linked to each other. But, MORE IMPORTANTLY, it also gives us an implementable action-plan to become more resilient, so that problems don't break us that easily. (Or at least not in so many pieces that we, like poor old Humpty Dumpty, cannot be put together again!)

And HOW do we become more resilient? By adopting the above characteristics as a part of our own personality.

What Makes Resilient People Different From The Rest?

Resilient people don't let adversity and stress define them. They always remember that things tend to work out in the end, because that's how life is. They live by the motto "this too shall pass", and believe that "what doesn't kill them, makes them stronger".

They experience grief, anger, pain, and all such negative emotions, just like everyone else, but they don't get "stuck" in those emotions. And, because of all the characteristics discussed above, they tend to find greater contentment from their lives.

I think I'm fairly resilient. And I think it's mostly because of my curiosity for learning new things. Although I DO need to work more on numbers 9 and 10.

What about you? Do you find it easy to bounce back up? How many of these characteristics do you think you have?

This is my 18th post for A to Z of Happiness.

I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A to Z of Happiness: Q - Quietude #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Most people, when asked about their top 5 sources of inspiration, will list 'laying in bed', 'taking a shower', and 'a quiet walk'. What is common between these three sources? The quiet.

We live in times where quietude is a rarer commodity than real estate! Honks of traffic, TV debates, mobile phones buzzing at every Whatsapp message... that's the world we live in. Add to it the silent (i.e. non-verbal) chatter of social media. Constant information bombardment! Even when we are alone, our minds keep replaying most of this chatter back to us. And we probably don't even need to know 99.99% of this information, but because they occupy so much space in our mind all the time, we often miss hearing the 0.01% that actually might be useful for us.


When I was in Patna, we stayed at one of the busiest intersections of the town. Right in the middle of the market. But when we moved to Jaipur, we selected an apartment towards the outer end of the town. Know why? Because of the greenery, the clean air, and the quiet. After years, I could finally hear the sound of birds chirping in the morning, instead of the honks of school buses.

What is the co-relation between quietness and happiness? What positive effects do peace and quiet have on our life?

5 Ways In Which Quietude Leads To Happiness

  1. Quietude Abates Anxiety

    While it's true that man is a social animal, it is also true that we need a little bit of peace and quiet too, to function optimally. Constant noise sends our mind into hyper-drive, whereas quiet surroundings have a settling effect on our minds. With practice, of course we can learn to quiet our minds even at noisy parties and busy malls, but for most of us, CALMNESS (covered under 'C') comes easier in undisturbed silence.

  2. Quietude Sparks Creativity.

    It is in silence that we are able to reach into the most creative and resourceful parts of our subconscious minds. That's when we are able to find solutions to our most challenging problems. That's when the "bulb goes on". That's why most of us find our muse in the stillness of mind. INSPIRATION (covered under 'I'), apparently, speaks in low volumes.

  3. Quietude Increases Awareness.

    Quiet and peaceful environments create a stillness within us. When our mind is not jumping around all over the place, like a hyperactive kid, we begin to notice things more. We become more aware of our surroundings and of ourselves. We are able to individually identify all the thoughts and feelings crossing our consciousness. In short, we become MINDFUL. (Covered under 'M'.)

  4. Quietude Cuts The Negativity.

    In my personal experience, too much of "connectedness" with the world only exposes us more to negativity. Be it TV or social media, or even social calls and visits. Most of the time, we only end up gossiping about others or comparing ourselves with others. I remember, during the few occasions when I went off Facebook for a month or more, I've been the most productive and most self-content. We need such moments of quiet to DISREGARD (covered under 'D') the negativity in our life.

  5. Quietude Intensifies Learning.

    Quiet environments facilitate alpha and theta brain states, the state of heightened learning and concentration, of insights and intuition. Children are naturally in alpha state most of the time, but, as we grow older, our default brain state shifts to beta, the state of reasoning and alertness. Beta is the state where we apply what we've learnt, but for absorption of KNOWLEDGE (covered under 'K'), we need to be in alpha.

In silence, the world seems full of possibilities. In silence, the past and future cease to exist, and we become content in the now. In silence, we hear voices we never get to hear in the rush and turmoil of life.

Quietude is perhaps a stimulating conversation for our spirit.

How much peace and quiet do you require in a day? Several hours or just a few minutes? How do you take a break from the noise of technology these days?

This is my 17th post for A to Z of Happiness.

I have completed this challenge once before, and published it as a kindle ebook. You can get it on amazon: A to Z of Blogging: Take Your Blog To the Next Level.