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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

A to Z of Happiness: O - Optimism #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

We've all heard of the famous quote by Winston Churchill that "a pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

But, there is also a not-so-popular quote by Marianne Williamson that sums up optimism quite brilliantly. She says - "Children are happy because they don't have a file in their minds called 'All the Things That Could Go Wrong.'"

I think that's all the difference between an optimist and a pessimist.

What Is Optimism?

Optimism is a mental state that expects things to get better, even during times of hardship. It is the belief that negative situations can be transformed into positive ones, and that we HAVE enough control over our lives to shape it in whatever manner we choose to.

While pessimism would have us believe that every little mistake or obstacle is "THE END", optimism lets us see it for what it actually is, and motivates us to find solutions and better ways of doing that task.


Both pessimism and optimism are ways of thinking though, and not a permanent part of our personality. It means that we can CHOOSE to be either of them - a pessimist or an optimist. Our experiences during our growing-up years do tend to shape our inclination towards one of them, but it doesn't mean we are "hard-wired" and cannot change. And I know this from personal experience.

Why then should we choose to be optimistic rather than pessimistic?

Research has shown that optimism offers a lot more benefits than pessimism, in practically all areas of life, and ultimately, all these differences add up to making us happier individuals. Here are some of those benefits discussed in detail.

How Does Optimism Lead To Happiness?

Optimism Keeps Us Detached From Negativity.

If you are an optimist by default, then you wouldn't know how a pessimist thinks. I do, because I am one. Pessimists blame themselves for everything. Even if someone else is being a jerk, our first instinct is to see what we did wrong! Remember that "inner-critic" we discussed under DISREGARD (covered under 'D')? That inner-critic is especially loud and active in our cases. Add to it a critical environment too, and that's it. You'll never get us to do anything! I've learnt that adopting an optimistic way of thinking is the best way to remain unaffected by both the inner as well as outer demons.

Optimism Makes Us Hopeful.

While pessimism is rooted in our own lack of self worth, optimism is the belief that we have the ability to change things around us. Optimism is the feeling of "empowerment", as against the "helplessness" of pessimism. Optimism fulfills two out of the three HOPE postulates of Snyder (covered under 'H') - 1. Agency and 2. Pathways.

Optimism Prevents Us From Quitting.

Pessimistic people think along the lines of "This well never work!", "What's the use?", "I'm destined to be doomed!" They quit very quickly, be it a new diet plan, or a new exercise schedule, or jobs, or relationships... you name it! Whereas optimistic people bounce back more easily from setbacks and disappointments. "It didn't work out today. Maybe I'll have better luck next time!" That's how they think. In short, optimism makes us more RESILIENT. (Covered under 'R'.)

Optimism Improves Our Health.

Research has shown that optimism has a positive effect on our physical and mental WELL-BEING. (Covered under 'W'.) It gives us a stronger immune system and helps us recover from illness more quickly and completely. It also makes us less prone to anxiety and depression. Besides, people with optimistic way of thinking naturally make healthier lifestyle choices, because they believe that they have control over their health.

Optimism Helps Us Maintain Good Relationships.

Optimistic people are mentally and emotionally better equipped to dealing with relationship challenges. They are more willing to give things another shot and try other ways of interacting. They are also more open to working upon themselves. Pessimism makes us withdraw from people, but optimism encourages us to go out and patch things up, or "put in the effort", as we call it. In short, it makes us look at all our relationships with LOVE (covered under 'L'), including the one with our self.

With so many benefits, it only makes sense to inculcate a mindset of optimism. I have realized that the "shift" happens when we take control of our own life. When our thought process changes from "there is nothing that I can do about this" to "what can I do to make this better". That is the point of transformation from pessimism to optimism.

What is your default state of mind - pessimism or optimism? What tactics do you use to get out of pessimistic situations and recharge your "hope meters"?

This is my 15th 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.

A to Z of Happiness: N - Nature #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

With the advent of cable TV, internet, and now mobile phones, our pastime activities have got more and more confined to the indoors. A lot of us spend weeks and months without any proximity to natural surroundings. But studies have shown time and again that getting involved with nature makes us healthier and happier, and not just because of the little bit of exercise we might get in the process!


Spending time with, interacting with, or even just observing and appreciating nature can have a marked difference on our happiness and vitality. Here are some ways in which being connected to nature promotes a sense of happiness.

How Does Spending Time With Nature Make Us Happier?

  1. Creates Acceptance.

    Spending time outdoors and interacting with nature, causes a shift in our perspective. We remember that we are not alone, that we are a very tiny part of something infinitely bigger and grandiose. And that helps us ACCEPT things as they are. (Covered under 'A'). We understand that everything around us has a role to play, and so do we.

  2. Reduces Anxiety and Hyper-Tension.

    There is something about nature that takes our stress away. Whether it is the deep blue of the ocean or the earthy greens and browns of plant life. Or maybe it is the realization that a force so much bigger than us has created all of this. And, in comparison, all our worries tend to fade away into insignificance. And CALMNESS descends over us. (Covered under 'C'.)

  3. Encourages Us to Explore.

    Being in nature brings out our sense of wonder. The different patterns on sea-shells, the varying colors on butterflies' wings, the shapes in the clouds, a new nest in the trees... we keep striving to discover more. The "new" doesn't frighten us anymore. Rather, it excites us. It fills us with a sense of possibilities. We become more open to EXPLORE. (Covered under 'E'.)

  4. Promotes A Sense of Gratitude.

    My shop is just a 2-minute walk from my building, but even that little bit of time fills me with GRATITUDE (covered under 'G'), as I notice all the trees along the way and the clear blue sky above me. And I'm reminded how nature provides for all my needs. Most of all, it reassures me of my own place in the grand scheme of things.

  5. Inspires Creativity.

    You look up any article on dealing with writers' block, and one of the suggestions will be to spend some time in nature! nature fuels our curiosity. Why do apples fall down and trees grow up? How do birds fly and fish swim? nature is perhaps the biggest source of INSPIRATION (covered under 'I') for human minds.

  6. Brings about Mindfulness.

    Spending some time with nature, just experiencing it and observing it, can help us become more grounded in the present moment. Whether we are gazing at the stars billions of light years away, or listening to the birds chirping at our window sill. (In my case, it's the top of my shop shutter! And they are busy chattering away right now, as if the fate of this world rested upon their tiny shoulders!) A connection with nature makes us more MINDFUL. (Covered under 'M'.)

  7. Makes Us Kinder and More Generous.

    In a research, one group of participants were made to stare at some very tall trees, and another group spent the same time looking up at high-rise buildings. The first group showed a measurable increase in feelings of awe, and demonstrated more helpful and ethical behavior even long after the experiment was concluded. Being in nature enhances our ability to connect with others and feel a part of one whole, making us more XENIAL. (Covered under 'X'.)

  8. Improves Our Health.

    Exposure to nature has scientifically proven benefits on our physical and mental WELL-BEING. (Covered under 'W'.) It strengthens our respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and alleviates depression. It relieves the attention fatigue and "burnout" caused by constant information overload in these times of ubiquitous technology, and restores our depleted mental circuits to their normal health.

Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, says that "nature is fuel for the soul". His advice to us is that when we feel tired and reach for that cup of coffee, we should instead go for a stroll in the park.

Nature makes us "feel more alive". No matter how busy our schedule may be, we must always try and find some time to appreciate the beauty and oneness of nature around us.

How do you make time for nature in your life? Do you have your own vegetable garden to nurture? Or a dog perhaps, to lead you in search of rabbit holes? Or are you a part of some photography group that holds weekly "photo walks"? How do you get your daily dose of nature?

This is my 14th 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.

A to Z of Happiness: K - Knowledge #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

What makes us humans different from the rest of the animal kingdom? What makes us more "evolved"?

It is our ability to process and store knowledge, and to use it not just to survive, but to thrive. The rest of the animal kingdom adapts or goes extinct, but we have the ability to think and innovate. This applied "knowledge" is what makes us an "intelligent species".

Seeking knowledge is intrinsic to human nature. Knowledge about our world, knowledge about how things work, even knowledge about ourselves and our very existence! (Of course, there are some things you're better off remaining ignorant about. For example, knowledge of what it's like to have kidney infection or UTI!)


According to some schools of thought, acquiring knowledge could perhaps be the only reason for our existence. We are born, we learn things, we pass on our knowledge to the next generation, and then we die. Remember the movie Lucy?

How does pursuit of knowledge lead to happiness then?

4 Ways In Which Knowledge Leads To Happiness

  1. Pursuit of Knowledge Gives Us A Goal.

    Pursuit, of anything, gives us a sense of purpose, or a goal. When we go after our "goals", it activates the "seeking" neurological structures in our body, which in turn generate Dopamine - a chemical, responsible for increased alertness, focus and concentration. And doing something with all our concentration creates a state of MINDFULNESS. (Covered under 'M'). It leads to a sense of greater satisfaction, making us happier.

  2. Knowledge Helps Us Shape Our Destiny.

    Knowledge is power. Knowing our VALUES (covered under 'V') and PASSIONS (covered under 'P') helps us identify our goals. Knowledge, then, gets us closer to those goals. Whatever we want to achieve in life, we need to take constant steps in that direction. And knowledge gives us the power to decide what steps to take. Our life is the sum total of the outcomes of our decisions. And "informed decisions" can influence those outcomes towards a course that makes us happier. A very small example... if I KNOW that kids will come looking for friendship bands at my shop, in the first week of August, I can plan ahead and stock them in time. Satisfied customers, AND more sales for me! That is the power of knowledge.

  3. Expansion of Knowledge Increases Our Self Confidence.

    Snyder's HOPE postulates (covered under 'H') included creating "pathways". Multiple routes to reach our goals. Keeping an open mind and always pushing our self to learn new skills and new things, ensures the creation of those multiple channels. Knowing that we have more than one way of achieving our dreams, makes us more confident of our own abilities, and increases our self esteem and OPTIMISM (covered under 'O') in life.

  4. Knowledge Improves Inter-Personal Relationships.

    Being knowledgeable about the world and the things around us gives us something to talk about with strangers. Makes it easier to engage with others, whether it is at work, or during "solo" train journeys. Having knowledge about the people around us... what motivates them, what shaped them in the past, their likes and dislikes... helps us interact better with them, leading to fewer conflicts. It enables us to ACCEPT them for who they are (covered under 'A'), and FORGIVE them (covered under 'F') for any mistakes. And lastly, knowledge about our self makes us aware of our "buttons", so that we can avoid reacting when they're pushed.

Without knowledge, we cannot progress in life. And without progress, there can never be happiness. But sometimes, too much knowledge can also seem overwhelming. For example, if I had known ten years ago that blogging would require such a lot of work, I might not have started it. But then I would have missed out on a secondary source of income. And some lovely friends.

So maybe not "all" knowledge is right for "all" of us. And maybe not "all" of it is right at "all" times. But knowing the "what" and "when" requires more knowledge. Ignorance, then, is not bliss... it is chaos. We need knowledge to be happy in life, but we also need the knowledge of "selection" of that knowledge.

Have you ever made a mistake in life, because you didn't "know better" at that time? Have you ever missed any opportunity in life because you didn't have the required knowledge for it then? Did an unexpected "door" ever open up for you because of some knowledge you acquired years ago but never thought you'd use?

This is my 11th 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.

A to Z of Happiness: J - Jest #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

There are these two 10-11 year old girls in my neighborhood, who come to my shop very often to buy pens and other small stationery items. And they always have jokes to share with me.

"May I tell you a joke?", one of them will ask me, and then continue on without waiting for an answer! :D

Then there is this other girl, probably 7 year old. She usually comes with her grandpa, and she has him totally wrapped around her little finger, with all her wit and playfulness! Always manages to coax him into buying more than he'd originally agreed to! (But you don't see me complaining at that, do you?)

A lot of kids at my store are like that. Everything seems funny to them. When they run short of cash, that's something to laugh about. When that expensive pen they bought 2 days ago got "lost" at school and they got scolded at home for it, naturally that was one of the funniest things to happen to them. So was the time when they fell off their bike and scraped their elbow. (Oh yes! I get to hear "those" stories too! Little boys love to brag, don't you know?) One 12-year-old finds it most amusing when his mom threatens to lock him out of the house if he spent more than "X" amount of money in my shop that day!


Kids don't take life as seriously as us adults. They simply find the humor in everything, jest their way out of any tricky situations, and win everybody's hearts with their innocent laughs. Nothing fazes them. They know, then, what we tend to forget somewhere between getting voting rights and becoming grandparents.

3 Ways In Which Humor and Jest Lead To Happiness

  1. Humor Improves Our Physical Health.

    A good, hearty laugh is good for the heart. No, really! It's a fact. Laughter exercises those muscles and blood vessels, and increases blood flow. It releases endorphins in our blood stream, that act as temporary analgesics and promote overall WELL-BEING. (Covered under 'W'.) It also reduces stress hormones in our body, and boosts our immune system.

  2. Humor Keeps Us More Positive.

    Remember Bruce Willis in the Die Hard series? Even in hostile enemy territory, he never stops making wisecracks and funny one-liners. Humor not only puts a stop to feelings of anxiety and anger, but also helps release stress and recharge our energy, leading to a state of CALMNESS. (Covered under 'C'.) It shifts our THOUGHTS (covered under 'T') and perspective from "I am doomed" to "Anything is possible". And, most importantly, it helps us get emotionally detached from our stressful situation, putting us in a state of mind from where we can find better solutions and ways out.

  3. Humor Enhances Inter-personal Relationships.

    Humans naturally gravitate towards jovial, optimistic people. We bond more easily with people whom we laugh with. Our jocular colleagues are the ones who are considered first for that promotion at work. Humor makes people forget their hurts, resentments, disagreements, and doubts. It helps us FORGIVE. (Covered under 'F'.) And nothing diffuses conflict faster than humor. Besides, remember Jim Carrey in that boardroom scene in Liar Liar?

One of the best ways to develop our sense of humor is to stop taking ourselves so seriously. Everyone loves a person who can laugh at himself.

You want proof? Alright!

These are my two most popular blog posts on social media (i.e. Facebook):

  1. When I blushed
  2. When I got locked in the bathroom at my best friend's wedding

See? Everyone loves a good laugh at someone else's expense! :P

So... do you have any such personal "goof-up" stories to share that could tickle my funny-bone?

This is my tenth 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.

A to Z of Happiness: I - Inspiration #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

The Oxford Dictionary defines inspiration as:

"The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative".

People usually associate inspiration with the creative sorts - artists, musicians, writers, scientists. But inspiration isn't limited to only a select few. The fact is that all of us, regardless of what our profession may be, need inspiration to remain happy and productive.

It is very easy to spot an inspired person among us. He could be a doctor or a teacher or even your neighborhood shop-owner. (Like me!) He could be anybody who does his job with love and imagination. Anybody who keeps discovering new, creative ways to solve the challenges in his line of work. A person who is FUELED by problems, not discouraged by them. A person who is inherently curious, and every new challenge is an opportunity for him to learn something new.


6 Ways In Which Inspiration Leads To Happiness

  1. Inspiration gives us a purpose in life, or a GOAL. Like that apple did for Newton. It gives us something to strive for. Remember Snyder's first HOPE Postulate? (Covered under 'H'.)

  2. Inspiration opens us to new possibilities and changes the way we perceive our own capabilities. Inspired people have higher self-esteem. They have greater confidence in their own competence and creative ability to achieve their goals. (Snyder's second and third HOPE Postulates - Covered under 'H'.)

  3. Inspiration makes us more receptive to new experiences. Inspired people are naturally more willing to EXPLORE. (Covered under 'E'.) They are like kids. A little spark can set them off on new "treasure hunts"!

  4. Inspiration leads to greater absorption in our work. And it is a scientifically proven fact that whenever we do something with all out heart in it, we enjoy it more. MINDFULNESS leads to contentment. (Covered under 'M'.)

  5. Inspiration motivates people intrinsically rather than extrinsically. That is why, when we are truly inspired, we are not affected so much by our work conditions. Workplace clutter goes unnoticed. We forget to have our meals. (I know I do that!) We can thrive on fewer hours of sleep. We don't care what others around us are doing. In short, the "small stuff" doesn't affect us anymore. Inspirations fuels our inner drive... our PASSION. (Covered under 'P'.)

  6. Inspiration inculcates GRATITUDE in our life. (Covered under 'G'.) Ask anyone who was ever "hit" by inspiration, and he'll say it felt as if the idea was suddenly "planted" in his mind by some "higher force". The more inspired we are, the more grateful we are... to whatever it is that guides us.

If inspiration gives us so many reasons to be happy, it naturally makes sense to remain inspired, right? So how do we do that?

How Do We Find Inspiration?

Well. Inspiration is like lightening. It can hit us anywhere, and at any time. So, obviously, there cannot be a set "formula" that might work for everyone, right?

At the most, what we can do is to learn how to create a state that attracts that bolt of lightning to us. In other words, we can figure out what works as a "Lightning Rod/Conductor" for us.

All we need to do for this is:

  1. Monitor the things and situations that inspire us most.
  2. Incorporate them in our natural work flow, so that we become constant "magnets" for inspiration.

Some Common Sources Of Inspiration

Different people find their muse in different places and situations. My top five sources of inspiration are:

  1. Stimulating phone conversations
  2. Spending time with kids
  3. Necessity (that makes me very innovative!)
  4. Quiet (at night in bed, or in the shower)
  5. Reading (books, blogs, even Facebook updates)

Your turn now. What are your top 5 sources of inspiration? Do you feel happier when you are inspired?

This is my ninth 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.

A to Z of Happiness: H - Hope #atozchallenge @AprilA2Z

Life is full of challenges, disappointments, and failures. At times, we feel so stuck in our life situations that we feel like giving up... on our dreams, on our health, on the people in our lives, even on ourselves. But Nature didn't create us to quit. Nature made us RESILIENT (covered under 'R'.) We're not meant to give up. Not without a struggle, no. And that is why we possess something called "hope".

Hope is the belief that things will fall into place, even if it doesn't seem so right now. Hope shows us a better "future", even when the "today" looks bleak. When logic screams in your head - "This will never work!"... hope whispers gently - "Anything is possible!" Hope is what keeps us going, when the going gets bad. Hope is that state of mind that allows us to believe that things will change for good.


10 Documented Effects and Benefits of Hope

  1. reduces anxiety and depression
  2. brings about positivity and optimism
  3. induces a greater sense of meaning in life
  4. increases productivity and makes you persistent
  5. enhances self-esteem and builds self confidence
  6. leads to physical, emotional, and financial well-being
  7. promotes healthy living and increases longevity
  8. makes you more tolerant, inspired and grateful
  9. improves your relationships and social life
  10. helps in easier and quicker recovery from illness

So if hope is so beneficial and is supposed to be a "natural" mental state for us, how come so many of us end up without it?

Psychologist Charles Richard Snyder states -

"hope is a process of goal-directed thoughts that reflects both - the belief that one can find pathways to the goal, and has motivation based on one’s perceived capabilities or thinking."

Snyder postulated that hope requires the following three thought components:

  1. Goals: Clearly defined, meaningful objectives, that give you a sense of PURPOSE in life.

  2. Agency: The sense of empowerment, that you have what it takes, to facilitate CHANGE in your life conditions.

  3. Pathways: The knowledge that you are capable of figuring out MULTIPLE channels/routes to achieve your goals.

And how exactly do these three things add up to form hope?

Snyder's Hope Postulates (Requirements for Hope):

  • Hope Postulate 1 - GOALS:

    Human beings are dreamers. We dream, and then we work to make those dreams come true. And when we achieve them, we weave some more dreams. It is what we live for. It is what makes us jump out of our beds every morning. And look forward to the day in hand.

    But sometimes, our dreams get broken, leaving us without anything to aspire for. And sometimes, they can be so brutally trampled upon by other people that we might even become too scared to dream again!

    Not knowing where you want to go or what you want to do in your life can easily suck you into feelings of despair. You lose your sense of purpose in life. You don't know what you're here for. You don't feel like you're adding any value to the world in any way. You are merely... existing.

    You try to picture yourself five years into the future, and you see yourself exactly where you are right now, doing the exact same things. You're stuck here, in this very spot, for the rest of your life. You cannot move, well... because you DON'T KNOW where to go! That's when you start questioning your very existence. "Why am I even still alive?"

    That is why, dreams are important. In order to have hope, we need to have realistic goals in life. Always. No matter how badly we failed in the past, or how much it hurt in the past.

    And what do we need for setting goals? We need knowledge about the following three things:

    1. Our VALUES (covered under 'V'):
      What are your priorities in life? What drives you from within?

    2. Our INSPIRATION (covered under 'I'):
      What ignites your creative spark? What makes you even think of stepping out of your comfort zone?

    3. Our PASSION (covered under 'P'):
      What are the activities that you enjoy doing so much that you even forget to be depressed while you are doing them?

  • Hope Postulate 2 - AGENCY:

    Human beings need to feel empowered. We need to be able to believe that we have some amount of control over our lives, that we CAN affect change when required. Feelings of "helplessness" can very easily turn into "hopelessness".

    This is probably where most of us get stuck. We grow up in such critical environments that many of us aren't even aware of our own capabilities. Oh we all know what we're bad at... we keep hearing it so often, both from others as well as our own inner critic... but what we're GOOD at is something that we're never quite confident of!

    In order to have hope, we need to be able to recognize our own strengths and skills. Ask yourself:

    What are you good at?
    What can you do?
    What do you know?
    How can your specific skill-set help you realize your goals?

    If we have conviction in our abilities, and believe that we can reach our goals, we will never despair.

    And for that, we need to learn to DISREGARD the negativity in our lives. (Covered under 'D'.) We need to allow only those people in our lives who are appreciative of us, who help us see how wonderful and amazing we are.

    We need to network with people who BELIEVE in us, so that OUR self-belief becomes strong. (Covered under 'B'.) And we need to keep doing more of what we know we're good at.

  • Hope Postulate 3 - PATHWAYS:

    We've all heard of the saying, "Do not keep all your eggs in one basket", haven't we? Well... Snyder's "Pathways" are our multiple "baskets" of hope. Even if we drop one basket, we still have other ways to get to our destination. And all it requires is a little bit of proactive thinking.

    You need to prepare for multiple options/ways of reaching your goals. (Plan A, Plan B, Plan C... the more the merrier!) Some of those options may be less desirable than the others, but the fact that they ARE there, in case you need them, provides a higher probability of reaching your goals. The knowledge, that you have multiple cushions to fall back upon, automatically makes you more optimistic of achieving your goals.

    So invest in the diverse... be it your financial portfolio, or your relationships, or your skills.

    1. EXPLORE new possibilities and ideas. (Covered under 'E'.) Take up new challenges and hobbies. Interact with new people.

    2. Gain KNOWLEDGE (covered under 'K') of new skills, technologies and trends. Work on your own imperfections and limitations.

    3. Most importantly, work on your physical health and WELL-BEING. (Covered under 'W'.) Because health, truly, is the real wealth.

    Always keep striving towards creating new channels and pathways towards your goals. (See? That, in itself, can be a goal to wake up for!)

People without hope are not just unhappy, they are depressed. They are stuck in a tunnel with NO LIGHT at the end. They are the ones who flush their medicines down the toilet and put a knife to their wrist, or a rope around their neck. They hide in their "cave" and refuse to come out.

I am no psychologist. And I'd never heard of Snyder or his three postulates until yesterday (when I started doing research for this post). But I DO know what living without hope means. And I know that Snyder's theory is correct. I had to work upon all three of these to come out of that mental state. And I wish now that somebody had told me about them back then. Maybe my phase of "despair" wouldn't have lasted for so long.

Today, I'm only going to ask you ONE question at the end of this post.

Do you know of anyone who might be exhibiting signs of such acute despair or depression?

If yes, then PLEASE share this article with him/her. Just knowing that they're not losing their mind, and that there actually IS a step-by-step method they can follow, to restore positivity and meaning in their life, will give them the hope they so badly need. Thank you.

This is my eighth 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.