Friday, July 22, 2016

“Slow down” to health-up in life!

It is a fast-paced world. Every one of us at a young age is encouraged to keep pace with the hypersonic modern lifestyle. However, how satisfied are we with our busy lifestyles? Have we lost the art of being happy in the midst of the rush and the rat race? Can the haste be maddening at some point? 

Hurrying with your daily routine leads to a perpetual state of alarm and unquiet in the body resulting in stress. Long-standing stress takes a toll on your body and mind. It is linked to an array of problems like sleep disorders, elevated blood pressure, worsening of painful conditions, gastritis, indigestion, constipation, worsening of skin diseases, reduced immunity and susceptibility to infections. Stress can also disrupt the mental health of an individual causing disorders like depression and anxiety disorders.
Does it pay to slow down? Yes, to slow down is to de-stress and there are many health benefits from it. Surprisingly, the proverbial tortoise does win the race! 

The next question, how to slow down? The answer lies in the way you breathe. When I was young I was informed by a wise man that the slower you breathe, the longer you live. My skeptical mind thought that this was some bogus claim. However, years later after understanding how our body reacts to stress and how slow breathing can regulate the stress response, I am convinced beyond doubt that slow breathing makes you healthy and increases longevity. No wonder all forms of meditation, yoga and other ancient techniques rely heavily on the control of our breath. So, keep reminding yourself to slow down your breath whenever you are feeling stressed. 

We have known from time immemorial that a healthy mind resides in a healthy body. Our body influences the way our mind feels and vice versa. We feel sad when experiencing pain. We are fidgety when we are anxious.Understanding this mind-body link is crucial to good health. 

Be aware of your body and behaviour. Slow down when you are walking.  Open up your senses. Be mindful of the beauty around you. Take a moment to notice the wind in your face. Notice the blooming flowers and the green trees after rains. Smile and greet people you meet on the way. Drive slowly. Start early and enjoy the journey. Rushing will save you a few minutes but your body will feel the stress all day long. Slow down when you eat food. Enjoy every bit of it. Notice the texture of the food and how it tastes as you chew. Slow down when you talk with someone. Listen to them attentively without rushing and closing the conversation with a quick answer. 

Slow down your mind. It is always trying to rush in to the future. Drag your mind and make it to pay attention to the task at hand. Don't worry about what's next, focus on the here and now

Most of us are unhappy of our present state and wish to move ahead in life. We want to grow up fast when we are young. We want to finish school and get into college. In college, we want to get into a job. This goes on till the day we realise that what we left behind was way too precious. Slow down and take time to appreciate wherever you are in life, rather than chasing the place of your dreams. 

Slowing down is an art. It is going to be difficult at first, given our habituation to rush with our daily routine. "Slow down" -- make this your mantra for the next few days and watch yourself transform into a happier and healthier person.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Secrets of Success

What does it mean to succeed? Youngsters seem to think that becoming extremely rich means to be successful. But if we study the lives of people who have attained great success, they never started out with the sole aim of becoming rich. If you compare success with an Iceberg, then what we look at is just the tip of the iceberg- the riches and fame of successful people. However, hid deep is the journey filled with risks, sacrifices, persistent hard work in the face of failures. So what is crucial to achieve success?

Richard St. John- marketing guru, photographer, writer and motivational speaker was asked the same question. What are the secrets of success? He went on and interviewed nearly 500 successful people, right from businessmen, sportsmen, hollywood actors to nobel prize winners. He analysed all these interviews and assorted the keywords that came across repeatedly in all these interviews. He called them the 8 secrets of success or 8 to be great”.

Passion: At a very young age, we all have some unique interests. We should try to nurture them. We should also be open to experiences and explore the world around us, to find out what excites us. We should be mindful of our gut feelings, as more than often we find our passion serendipitously. This can happen at any age and in the most unlikeliest of ways. Watch for it! Is it possible that our passions may change? Quite possibly, as we go on experiencing life, our interests may change and we may discover more wonderful things. Passion is a dynamic entity which may change through one’s life. Nonetheless, whatever we end up with, we have to develop a passion for it. As Steve Jobs says, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. ”

Work: There is no replacement for hard work. If you have to see the magnificent view from the Himalayas, you have to risk it all and take the strenuous climb to the top. There is no elevator which will take you there. Never post-pone work, it's now or never, just do it! Talent is over-rated in our society. However, Tim Notke says, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”. Some think that successful people are just plain lucky, but as Gary Player says, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.” We all have dreams, but dreams don’t work, unless you do!

Focus: We are familiar with the figure of speech, Jack of all trades, master of none. Focus all your energies on what you want the most. Make measurable, realistic and tangible goals Focus on the task at hand, and forget everything else. Starve your distractions, feed your focus. You may even have to sacrifice few things which you like, for achieving things you love.

Push: You are on your own, in this journey to success. You have to keep motivating and pushing yourself in the face of obstacles. Keep telling yourself that problems are opportunities to excel. If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you! Push your limits, get comfortable with being uncomfortable!
Push yourself through self-doubt. Don’t believe everything that goes on in your mind. Don’t believe what others may opine about you. Opinions are not facts! Push yourself through shyness, grab every opportunity with both hands!

Ideas: Be creative and have innovative ideas. Think outside the box! Don’t just follow the herd! When that apple fell on Newton’s head, he got curious and started asking a lot of questions to himself. If Newton was not so observant, he wouldn’t have got this path-breaking idea which changed the course of Physics.

Improve: Nobody is perfect! We all have to strive everyday to enhance our skills and abilities. Improvement begins with I. Stop getting discouraged by the situation around you. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20. You are your own benchmark. Be the better version of yourself!

Serve: Make sure your skills are of some use to the world around you. Swami Vivekananda said, “Service to man is service to God.” Helping others to succeed is a sure shot way for you to succeed.

Persist: Failures are part of life. Persisting in the face of failure is the key to great success. Michael Jordan said, “I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.That is why I succeed.” Charlie Chaplin was rejected numerous times during auditions stating his art is silly! But he didn’t quit.

Finally, how do you know you have succeeded? If you are contented and love what you are doing in your life, then you are successful. However, don’t stop there, as success is a journey and not a destination!

(This is an excerpt from the motivational lecture i gave to tenth grade students at my Alma mater, Sri Sathya Sai Loka Seva Institutions, Alike on 8th July, 2016)

Credits: Richard St. John: Secrets of success in 8 words