PURPOSE OF LIFE

Mamma, why is my soap always white? Why do you have colorful soaps?” asked 4 year old Mohit while his mother was giving him a bath.

Because your soap is the baby soap and my soap is an adult soap which comes in various other colors?” replied Anusha

But I also want colorful soaps.” Said Mohit stomping his foot hard on the wet floor of the bathroom while Anusha ignored his tantrum and continued to clean him. 

Later in the day, she logged on Amazon and ordered few of those colorful, animal shaped baby soaps for her son – just to avoid any more tantrums and so that he could enjoy the bath time. 

The trick worked and first soap that he got was a yellow colored lion shaped soap. He loved it so much that he started taking bath himself. He would make lion roars in the bathroom, would talk to this lion and keep it nicely in the soap case after every bath. Bathing time became the most enjoyable fun time for little Mohit. 

A week later, the detailing of lion’s face started to fade off. A couple of weeks later – it became just a soap, it wasn’t a lion anymore. 

Mamma, where is the lion now? Why can’t I see him?” said Mohit staring at the yellow soap which now was just a soap. 

The lion got dissolved in water.” Anusha said smiling nicely to her son.

Mohit had tears in his eyes now. “Why did the lion dissolve? Did I hurt him?” 

No my dear, you didn’t hurt him. You just helped the soap fulfill its purpose.” Said Anusha.

What is a purpose, Mamma?” asked Mohit

Purpose is something that you are supposed to do in your lifetime. The soaps are made so that they can dissolve themselves in order to cleanse others. This particular lion soap was created not only to clean you but also to entertain you. It did its job well. You loved the lion for the last two weeks, didn’t you?” said Anusha 

Can I get an elephant this time, please Mamma?” asked Mohit with a twinkle in his eye

Of course, I will get it for you once this lion is completely gone. See, even when the face of the lion is gone – its body is still there. You got to use it and when it completely disappears, I will get you an elephant.” Said Anusha.

Ok, Mamma.” Said Mohit now busy with the lion once again.

Anusha continued to wonder about the important lesson of purpose she had just imparted to her son. Every soap is made with a purpose to clean others and in that process it selflessly dissolves itself. While fulfilling its purpose, it completely vanishes and then is replaced by another soap. 

Similarly, we are sent on this earth to fulfill our purpose and while doing so we spend all our energies and one day we just vanish only to be replaced by our next generations. Life goes on this way for ages and ages. And there cannot be a better purpose than to cleanse others of their dirt while dissolving our own life little by little each day.

MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

When Shalini reached office that morning, all she wanted was a few moments of quietness to gather herself after all that had happened the previous night. She couldn’t get this privilege, though. To her utter dismay, a pile of files landed on her table with a call from her authority to wrap them up in an hour and report. Jostling with the thoughts within, she managed to work on all the files and get them sent. Within minutes, she was called by her superior and given a mouthful for the shabby work and issued a Notice of Show Cause.

Shalini’s story is the story of many working men and women. Physical well-being impacts mental health and mental well-being impacts physical health, though physical fitness is not always an indicator of mental fitness. So often, we focus on our physical health not realising that mental health is also a part and parcel of ‘health’.

For people who work outside home, the workplace is where they spend a large part of their time. Hence, mental health in the workplace ought to be important.

What are the threats to sound mental health in the workplace?

  • Long work hours without breaks
  • Partial/ unjust favours rendered to others at one’s expense
  • Labelling and gossip
  • Spying on personal life and leaking stories at the workplace
  • Personal ill-health
  • A disturbed family life
  • Insensitive authorities
  • Lack of adequate rest
  • Abysmal work area conditions (poor lighting, stinky surroundings, dirty walls/ rooms, etc.)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Life threats
  • Lack of job security (frequent lay-offs)
  • Underpayment/ Irregular payment
  • Pressure to conform to the work culture at the cost of one’s individuality

What happens when workplace mental health is not emphasized upon?

Efficiency and productivity at work reduces – Work performance dips. Energetic confident performance gives way to sluggish below-the-mark outputs.

Irritable temperament develops – Ever observed a colleague/ subordinate/ superior being up in arms about something or the other all the time? Well, it is not just the behavior that needs to be modified there but the underlying cause needs addressing.

Psychological disorders crop up – Most cases of Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GAD) in working people develop overtime due to workplace demands.

Psychosomatic symptoms – Body pains with no medical reasons, persistent headaches, and nausea are just a few of the physiological manifestations of psychological causes.

Unwanted relationships – Having to spend a large chunk of time away from loved ones creates space for unwanted relationships to develop which ultimately causes disturbance in one’s personal, familial and work life.

Addictions – People take to alcohol or other addictions to douse certain workplace flares – humiliation from the boss, lack of job security, etc.

So, then how can mental health in the workplace be addressed?

Each one of us has a responsibility to take care of our mental health. We need to take care of our minds like we take care of our children. There are different things that work differently for people but here are some guidelines that can be followed to ensure that we don’t lose it. 

Take time out for your own hobbies – This is really important. For some people reading or writing can be stress-buster for others it could be cooking. Somebody might enjoy meditation while somebody else can enjoy dance. Whatever it is that works for you – invest at least an hour each day on your hobbies.

Give priority to self and learn to say “NO” – Well, this is the toughest thing to do – saying NO to your boss. Take a step back and think that if you work for an organization, where you don’t have an option to say a NO – you deserve a better workplace. 

Relook at the definition of success – For many of us, the definition of success is to reach a certain level of organizational ladder or to have a certain amount of bank balance. Such a definition of success puts us in a rat race that we can never win. Relook at what success means to you. Is it being a CEO or is it being a successful parent? Is it having X amount of money in the account or is it being a happy person? Decide for yourself.

Build a support system – It scares me when I see the number of people (apparently successful) giving up their lives. I wonder why they didn’t have a support system. We can never build our support system when we are stressed. We need to build it when we are happy (normal). Have a set of friends who can be your “Agony aunts”. It is really important to have people who can pull you out of a stressful situation.

Learn to identify when you are stressed – This is very challenging. So, have a checklist of stress. If you mark most of the items in that checklist as YES, then you need to take a break. The checklist might have things listed above as symptoms of bad mental health. 

Of course, each individual is different and these guidelines might not be enough to cover everything. Follow what makes you happy, don’t follow a rat race. Don’t wait for that heart attack to give you an alarm of your situation. Look at it right now and make it better right away.

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY RAJNANDINI SAHU AND PRABHJOT SAINI

PHYSICS, MY DEAR PHYSICS BOOK

Magnetic effects of Electric current. Reflection and refraction. Centripetal and centrifugal force. Oh man, I haven’t even read these topics once. I’ve Physics exam tomorrow.” Thought Deepa. 

Then out of nowhere a book of Physics comes flying and falls on her lap. She finds herself in an open area that is full of book racks loaded with books. She’s sitting down on the grass and when she looks up, she can see stars twinkling and the moon shining down on her. On her sides, there’re two book racks extremely tall, which seems to be touching the sky. She cannot see the top end of the book racks. 

She opens the Physics book and finds Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice inside it. 

No, this is literature. I need Physics book”. She shouts and feels the panic rising inside her. 

Another book falls on her hand again. It says – “ICSE Concise Physics – Class 10, by RP Goyal and SP Tripathi”.

She sits down on the grass again, opens the book. It has only one chapter – Stars and the Solar system. “This is class 8th Physics book. Where’s my book? I need to study Reflection and refraction. I’m going to flunk”. She starts crying and feeling terribly helpless. 

Can’t you hear me? I need my class 10th Physics book.” She shouts to the sky. 

Another book comes flying to her. This time it has to be the right book. She opens it quickly and to her relief, it’s her own Physics book complete and intact. She’s relieved, as she opens up the page of the chapter – “Magnetic effects of Electric current”, she feels something on her legs. She ignores it, after all, she has to prepare for her exam. Slowly, she feels something tightening around her ankle. She looks down and there’s a black snake circling around her leg, crawling up her knees. 

In an impulse, she throws the book up in the air and as soon as the book is out of her hands – snake disappears. She looks around for the book, then for the snake – there’re none. She frantically looks for the book again on the book racks. She finds all other subjects of all other classes but not her Physics book “ICSE Concise Physics”. 

The book racks are infinitely extending in all directions. She kept walking looking for the book. Suddenly, all the books start flying in the air hitting each other. She tries to save herself. There’s one book that’s ready to hit her on her head. She starts running for her life but while running she manages to read the title of the book – “ICSE Concise Physics Class 10”. 

She wakes up sweating and panting for breath. It’s twilight already. Her clock reads 5:58 am. Her alarm will go off in 2 mins. She has her board exam in another 3 hours and her Physics book is sitting silently on the table. She smiles at the book, picks it up, and hugs it. “You’ll never hurt me ever I know, my dear Physics book”.

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

Prompt: She turned to see who was behind her…

(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

She turned to see who was behind her, but before she could completely take in the view – somebody hugged her tightly. It was dark and she couldn’t figure out who it was but it was a similar touch, a similar fragrance of the man she had loved all her life. Now at the age of 83, she didn’t have to see his face. She knew him – every touch of him and the feel of his aura. They knew each other so well and even after 60 years of marriage, they were deeply in love.

She let him hug her while the quiet tears moistened her cheeks. He said – “I told you I will never leave you till you are alive, and I never did.” She closed her eyes and remembered the day of her husband’s funeral. It was his encompassing love for her as he had promised, remained then and forever. 

HOW DO YOU KILL?

Delhi, my dear Delhi
Why did you stoop so low?
How do you kill your fellow Indians?
Where do you get this extreme hatred from?
Do you not think what will happen when that bullet you just triggered hits somebody on the chest?
Does it not even strike you even once that you are destroying a whole family?
How does your religion and belief become bigger than life?
How do you think you get the right to end a life?
Why does your hatred become bigger than your sanity?
Do you have no fear of God and no love for humanity?
Is your religion and politics above life and death?
It makes my heart weep that you could stoop so low!

 

A MOTHER’S GUILT

Guilt is the feeling that comes when you fail to meet your own expectations. Understand that the feeling is an unmet expectation of yourself and not of the world. As a mother, I have felt guilty a number of times for leaving my son back home while I go to work. It is very common for a young mother to be tempted to quit her job and be with her baby at all times. I too had that temptation a million times. Well, but as they say feeling guilty is part of being a mother. Which guilt do you wish to live with, is the question to be rightly answered.

I have seen women who have felt extremely guilty for leaving their newborns in day cares or with maids so that they could work without an interruption. I also know of a lot women who feel guilty of leaving their shining careers because kids needed the attention at that time. So, when I became a mother I knew it is not glorious to do either of things. I need to choose which guilt is less and I am ok to live with.

And I chose to live with the guilt of leaving my son at home and focusing on my work.
Summer vacations are coming up and that is always a tricky time because it is impossible to keep the kids engaged at all times. Since last year my in-laws take my son to their place and he lives with them for a month or so during summer vacations. I have such fond memories of my summer vacations which were always with my parents and I want the same for my child; so it is a difficult decision for me.

However, I know that I cannot be at home for a month or even work from home for that long – and with that thought I let him go. The thoughts like “I am a bad mother, I am a selfish mother, and he is going to miss me so much, how he will stay without me etc.” are  devilish thoughts that I deal with every day. But I must do what I must do. My son is quite happy with his grandparents and he likes to be with them. He misses me but not as much as I fear. But the feeling still kills me.

I am sure there are many such moms like me who are struggling. But remember it is the quality of time that matters not the quantity. Kids grow up as long as they have right people to take care of them. So as long as you trust your child’s caretaker – go ahead for your take on the world. And if you are the mother who feels guilty of letting your own career down for the sake of the kid – believe in your choice. You know the best for your child and you will provide the best for him/her.

Choose which guilty road you are willing to take because I have learnt that feeling guilty is part of being a woman. Mother’s guilt is only natural and is the consequence of wanting to be a good mother to your child.

 

MY RECENT LOVE FOR SOUPS

Well, I am going to talk about a food that isn’t very exciting for people – Soups. But since the time my relationship with food has moved from “Eat for taste” to “Eat for nourishment”, my taste has changed too. I love doing simple things that aren’t heavy on my stomach and are nutritious and healthy.

I have always been fond of soups but since ages I have been having those Ready to cook soups which are so full of preservatives and tastes horrible if kept for a while. One fine day while doing our daily evening walks, my friend just casually mentioned that she cook soups for her hubby every day. And it struck a chord with me. Yes, I could also cook soups. 

For those who don’t know me, I am very lazy in cooking. My creativity totally gives up on me when it comes to culinary skills. I am big time foodie but my cooking really sucks. I have disappointed my son multiple times and once recently when I messed up baking a cake on Christmas. Only this morning while trying to roast foxnuts – I ended up burning them and throwing away the whole bunch of them. There are only a very few limited items that I am comfortable in cooking and I limit my cooking to that alone. Well, when I am alone – I try to experiment with food a bit but it is not a very common agenda in my “me time”. I can probably write another article on the number of disasters that I have done while cooking.

Well, so coming back to soups. Just the idea of cooking soup (and it sounded really straightforward) sounded good to me. This friend of mine gave me a few options and thanks to her – the way she explained, the soups turned out really well. 

So, the common goal for all soups was to pressure cook the veggies together. After the cool down a bit, grind them up in the mixer and cook for a while with salt and pepper. As simple as that. The fun begins at the combinations that can be tried out. 

The first one that I tried was Tomato and Onion. I took 3 tomatoes and one onion and with water just covering the veggies. I boiled them in the microwave for about 10 mins. Once done, I put the whole thing in the mixer for grinding. After that I cooked it for over 5 mins with salt and pepper. Added a couple of basil leaves on the top and had it with yummy soup sticks. It turned out to be so yummy that my confidence went up to the ceiling. 

There are a few more combinations that I tried

  • Broccoli and peas
  • Tomato, carrot and onion
  • Spinach with ginger and garlic
  • Mushroom and Broccoli
  • Tomato and Apple
  • Mushroom and almonds 

I love experimenting with the soups now mainly because I also know I am eating something super healthy and I love them.