CHOOSE A LIFESTYLE YOU WANT – NOT OTHERS

Lifestyle and I had conflicts ever since I was born.

Ever since my childhood being little introspective and determined in a variable way, I ensured to be little more intentional in my every step ahead. My lifestyle choices have always amused me, surprised me, shocked me, bored me as well as condemned me as well as other people in my life in many ways.

Being brought up in a typical Keralite family, I was kind of bound to be more like a Keralite had followed most of the things from my mothers’ footsteps. I had to be invariably the same after a couple of mistakes and challenges I took up to blend in various other lifestyles.

My Conflicts with the Girl inside me

I always wanted to be boyish, but again my features never did justice to my thoughts. My thoughts just remained in my deeds but not in my appearance. To some extent, I believed that being a boy was far better because they had the best reward in life – FREEDOM. I used to hate wearing typical girl shoes and pink dresses. It did not give me the comfort to be more girlish in some way.

Again in the coming years, I realised being a girl was a blessing indeed. It is not about the Freedom, but being a Girl mattered me. (I kind of turned semi-Feminist).

My Conflicts in adapting to dressing style

Any time of the day, all I wanted to wear is a Tshirt and pants, but again here my consciousness being little heavy built failed me here. My dressing style was never acceptable to anyone in the family. When they want me to be a typical Kerala style -Salwar-Clad girl, I wanted to escape from all these barriers.

My Conflicts with my routines

Like every other youngster, I too had a lousy lifestyle- sometimes oversleeping, sometimes overworking and much more. And after numerous trials and errors, the curtain fell over it, when motherhood took over my life. I changed myself to craft a beautiful and convenient lifestyle for my children. Something to blend in the lives around me. It actually worked out giving me sufficient time to manage my own things too, which I felt was a better way to live happily.

As I went abroad too, my customized style never left me. It had become a kind of sheath I used to cover my insecurities. My Lifestyle became a burden to my mind gradually.

My Conflicts led me to be a target at every instance, as it had become a vulnerability in me. The more I had disputes in me the challenges just doubled.

It wasn’t easy to fix a lifestyle that suited me. Off and on  I get so motivated and carried away – and all I do is try to blend in. It never worked in my favour.

Until when I realised. It was better to be Just ME.

The Road to No Regrets

Living by persuasion, without being approved is quite hard. It came in as a late realisation that it is easy to choose what actually suits me and which actually befits me. When I realised, it all came perfectly well to me.

I realised that whatever outside influence comes to my mind, it should never bother me. All I have to do is just be who I am, rather than stop becoming what others want me to be.

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ACCEPT YOUR INDIVIDUALITY

I grew up watching my cousins wearing beautiful dresses and spending lavishly. I couldn’t do so as my parents didn’t have enough to allow me to spend beyond the genuine needs. All I could do was look at my cousins and take a sigh. I knew the financial condition of my parents and, therefore, I didn’t ask for more. But I always wanted to have what my cousins and my friends owned. I wanted those pretty sandals, dresses, and what not! 

As an ordinary girl, I too used to get fascinated by the lifestyle of the celebrities. I followed some of them to an extent my pocket could allow. I used to see how those celebrities followed a lifestyle to look elegant and presentable and it did influence me. I used to follow their eating and speaking style so that I too could look elegant. Gradually, I felt like being choked up. The influence of someone’s lifestyle was choking me. Maybe because for me, their lifestyle was hard to accept. For a moment, it did feel like fascinating but eventually, I decided to give up and follow my own lifestyle.

Leave about celebrities, even when I went to my village I saw girls of my age and younger to me wearing salwar-kameez. Honestly, I consider this to be one of the most-beautiful attire a girl can ever have. Influenced by those girls, I decided to quit my trousers and tees. Trust me, I couldn’t take the salwar-kameez for a long time. It was all about a week or two. I guess this happened because I personally never felt the urge to wear salwar-kameez all the time. I started to feel as if I am locked up in a dark room. I guess this happened because I was never used to living like them.

It is not only about clothes. When you follow a lifestyle, many things count in it. The food you eat, your sleeping schedule, your way of speaking, weekend plans, and much more. And it is completely okay if you are having a different lifestyle. Most of my friends go on a trip or go to some pubs on weekends. I, on the other end, love spending time with my books, answering Quora questions, and reading blogs. For me, going to parties and shopping seems way too boring and time-consuming. This amazes my friends and they wonder if I ever enjoy? Trust me, I enjoy a lot because I have my own life and a way of living. And I love it. It is not necessary that everyone will have a similar lifestyle.

Unless our soul is not convinced to follow a lifestyle, not just for the sake of following but because we love it, we can’t go a long way with that lifestyle. Lifestyle is not just a matter of a day or two. It is all about our comfort, upbringing, and the environment we live in. Today, I earn on my own but not as much as my friends do. With the money I get, I can buy whatever clothes I want or eat whatever I want but I can’t. I am more influenced by my lifestyle I have been following so far. But if you think the other person is having a better lifestyle then you must know it is not easy to step into one’s shoes. The best thing is to accept your individuality and live accordingly. 

LIFESTYLE: A CONTINUOUS PROCESS OF ADAPTATION AND ADJUSTMENTS

Geographic location, family background, socioeconomic status, culture, people and individual personality patterns give shape to our lifestyles. There are certain commonalities in the lifestyle of the human race. But, the ways of living out those lifestyles often varies. For example, all humans eat to live and all wear clothes to be socially presentable. However, who eats what and who wears which type of clothes may differ even between houses on the same lane.

And so, we all have our lifestyles. As adults, we either choose to maintain the lifestyle that we are brought up in or we opt to change that lifestyle radically because of certain thought processes or influences in our lives. Many of us decide to tinker with our foundational lifestyle and imbibe a few features of a new lifestyle and find a middle path to retain the old and imbibe the new. Whatever said and done, we all have certain unique lifestyles.

For a little more than twenty years of my life, I grew up in a city that defined my lifestyle with its mannerisms. Later as I moved to the national capital, I found myself blending in with the capital city’s lifestyle all the while holding on to the mannerisms I grew up with. Close to nine years of my stay in the national capital helped me discover myself and be me. That was something I didn’t get to do in the initial years of my life. Presently, my job has brought me to a semi-rural place with its share of challenges. The transition needed a huge lifestyle shift because since the last four generations no one in my family has lived anywhere close to a rural habitation. To live and work in such a set up requires lifestyle changes.

We, humans, are shaped with such personality traits that help us to adapt to our surroundings on most occasions (though the extent to which we adapt varies from person to person). That’s how we thrive. 

But, then some aren’t able to cope with lifestyle changes. There was this family I know who moved to New Zealand from India, on getting more promising work opportunities. Their children were quite small at that time. However, they had to return to India in a year’s time as their little daughter wasn’t able to acquaint herself with the new place and the lifestyle changes. 

Also, there are some who don’t wish to cope with lifestyle changes. There’s a friend’s vegetarian husband who was to travel to London for an official trip of a week. From the day he received the order, he fell sick with rising blood pressure (though he is an absolutely healthy man). His worry was how would he have his meals at a place that served non-vegetarian food! (He assumed there is no space for vegetarians in Western countries). Well, finally he ended up stuffing his suitcases with a lot of eatables so that he won’t have to eat a thing in London. Of course, he had a different story to tell on return!

The most demanding lifestyle change of all is brought about by marriage. No matter how well the couple know each other before marriage, staying under the same roof with a commitment for life is a different ball game altogether. It requires huge lifestyle adjustments. Sometime back I heard a person nearing sixty describe how his and his wife’s tastes are polar opposites in every matter. One needs the fan to run at full speed while the other barely needs the fan. One dislikes cold drinks while the other dislikes all hot drinks. He cited many other such instances. It was really amusing to hear him narrate. But, he concluded that in spite of all these differences they have loved each other all these years and have remained committed without any major argument between them. Well, I won’t call it ‘the perfect marriage’ as I have written in one of my previous articles that there aren’t any perfect couples and perfect marriages – only well-adjusted ones.

Lifestyles can be static – especially if people do not wish to let go of traditional generational mannerisms. But, lifestyles can be vibrantly dynamic as well, for people who are open to exploring and imbibing newness and variation.

It’s wise to be open to exploration, but instead of blindly aping on newness, it is prudent to adopt the lifestyle that is good and acceptable in the eyes of God.

MULTITASKING: FEW INTERESTING CASE STUDIES

It was a winter time when my beloved cousin sister hurried to the bathroom for taking bath and poured warm water on her body before mixing cold water in it… And guess what… She burnt her skin. Her mind was elsewhere…probably on a multitasking mode. As we know that there are tasks which don’t need our sole engrossment and our concentration can be divided. My sister knew that taking bath doesn’t need her soul engrossment though she forgot that her soul concentration was much needed before pouring down warm water on herself.  She had a tough time managing her wounds though we had so much fun discussing her absentmindedness.

Guess what? I just called her up right now and we had a laugh talking about the same incident all over again.

Let’s move on to the next cases…

It was a morning time and my wife was screaming at me, asking me to store water in the buckets before the water runs out. And I was about to get inside the bathroom when my aunt called me. I received the phone and kept talking to her while filling the water in the first bucket. I was fine till the water came to the brink of the bucket. I bent down to lift the bucket keeping my phone between my left shoulder and head. The handle of that bucket was broken and I had to lift it by using both my hands. As soon as I lifted the heavy bucket full of water, my second wife, my beloved Nokia E63 slipped out of my embrace and ‘plop’ drowned in the deep sea water… Oops, I mean in the bucket full of water.

I quickly rescued her, took off her clothes, applied resuscitation but to no avail. She went into a lifetime comma. I had to divorce her and claimed an alimony of Rs.500 from the bakra (scapegoat) that I handed her to.

I had loved her so much and regretted multitasking at her cost…. 😛

Many times I have climbed to the 4th floor leaving my office flat which was on the 3rd floor while chatting on WhatsApp or talking to someone on the phone. Many times I have thrown the tablets into the dustbin instead of the torn wrappers while my mind is occupied with my work on the computer.

Found them funny? Did you have a good laugh? Good! I wanted it too… 😉

So to speak I am not at all good at multi-tasking. I usually give up on one while doing the other. And when I am asked to multitask, I shout back literally or show my displeasure. When my wife requires my attention while the TV is on, I ask her either to switch off the TV to talk or let me watch…do just one thing at a time.

Rajnandini, offered some good advice this week as she usually does every time and most importantly she talked about how multitasking adds heavy loads on our shoulders like – Reduced effectiveness, Lowered productivity and performance levels, Increased stress, Disorganised and cluttered mind, In many cases, more time spent than saved. Don’t you think we should get rid of those loads before getting into troubles, either with the funny ones or the serious ones? Keep thinking about it.

In the end, I am happy to close this week by bringing smiles to your faces.

Stay blessed!

MULTI TASKING – IT’S NOT SUPER HEROISM!

She: Hi!

He: Hello Dear! What’s up?

She: Nothing…just feeling bored and alone. What are you up to?

He: Working on my presentation for tomorrow’s meeting.

She: Oops…Sorry, I am disturbing you!

He: No…no, it’s okay! I can manage it! I’m good at Multi-tasking!

She: Thank you for giving your time… you’re a superhero!

He: Mention not! You too are important to me!

Isn’t this our everyday story? Then what’s exceptional and notable!

The daily demands of our professional and personal life are so much that hardly we have time for anyone. In school we were taught about 10 to 5 is work hours and the evening is meant for socializing…but alas today socializing only exists on social media. Whereas, in reality, the human is a social animal. Everyone needs at least a little amount of time for someone to refresh life.

The Bible says,

“Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed”.

But the big question is HOW?

Often we treat people multitasking like him (‘He’ in the above chat) as, Superhero! And there is no doubt we all have at least one such person in our life whether we have discovered it or not! But what is extraordinary in their superheroism? Are they from some other planet? Are they gifted and we aren’t? If they can do multi-tasking then why can’t we?

One of the brightest minds in human history, Sir Albert Einstein said,

Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.

Problems and Responsibilities in life are obvious and its journey only finishes in our grave! But that does not mean we will compass our life in I, Me & Mine. We all have problems and God often teaches and answers while we live for others. But DO WE LIVE FOR OTHERS?

The Bible says,

For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Being multi-tasking is spending time, energy, and concentration. Every second is eternal after a second comes another second but not the same one! Hence, when we share our time diverting our attention towards a person and do our work alongside, it is an Eternal Gift that we gift to someone. The biggest gift we can give to someone is time! But DO WE DO SO?

“Everything that is good demands some amount of Sacrifice”.

Undoubtedly, multi-tasking demands an awful lot of sacrifices and often we may not get rewarded with our expectations rather we get cat-calls. But do we need to compromise with our goodness just because someone goes wrong! THEN WHAT’S THE RETURN?   

The Bible says,

And do not forget to do good and to share with others,

for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

However, will we still configure “MULTI-TASKING as the Super Heroic work” and inbox the term by categorizing it to a certain amount of people? How long will we be confined to our I, Me & Mine World? A life lived with giving the value of time – love and care to others alongside accomplishing our tasks and responsibilities is a life worth living…

Keep thinking!

DON’T DEFINE LIFE, JUST LIVE IT

Me then:

Sitting in computer class, learning Microsoft office package, trying my hands at different fonts available, scribbled down few lines in a poetic style:

“Life is a book, read it;

Life is a game, play it;

Life is a dish, taste it;

Life is lesson, learn it”

Me now : While thinking of all that stuff, ” Oh please cut the crap, what were you trying to do, you ain’t Shakespeare and that’s anything but poetry and last thing to be beautiful 😁.  But as they say you grow only when little wisdom is added with every passing day, I have realised one thing – there’s no need to draw comparisons and parallels, life is meant to be only lived.

Are we living in true sense?  We eat, drink, sleep – are we living?  We are chasing our dreams, celebrating occasions, mourning losses, hating people, loving things, loving to hate but are we essentially living?  Perhaps NO.  We are just filling the gap between our date of birth and death which is nothing but a number.  And everything in between in our lives is about numbers – age, number of hours you sleep for, calories taken, weight gained, targets achieved, number of bedrooms in-house, digits in salary, number of likes and follows on social media, price of accessories….. Typically everything under the sun, but where is life in our lives which is beyond any such quantification?

Happiness is the essence of life:  All our actions in our lives aim at attaining happiness.  Grabbing an ice cream at the wee hours of day gives happiness, parking that newly launched beast in the backyard is happiness, catching that extra five minutes of nap when the alarm is hell-bent on throwing you out of the bed is happiness.  I can go on.  What’s happiness for me might be a matter of indifference for you.  It’s a subjective issue.  But everything mentioned (not mentioned for that matter) doesn’t even constitute an iota when it comes to the real essence of life – the Eternal Happiness, that lies and comes from within, that’s once attained never dries up, the one which our supremacy intend us to unleash from within.

It’s not that we are completely aloof or oblivious from what our destination is.  Accidentally listening to spiritual talks, our festivals, times of distress do draw our attention towards important questions like “What’s the meaning of my life” , “how to get closer to the one and only supreme power called God”.  But again for majority of us (that includes me, I am not ashamed to admit the obvious) that’s a passing cloud before we fall to the trap of materialistic bliss of this world.

How to march towards Eternal Happiness?

Well that’s a continuous evolution before He can say that you have finally evolved.  And to begin with it’s an uphill task for sure.  That reminds me of the fact that our skin is weak that gives in easily before our souls could reap the fruits of eternal happiness.  Prayer, chanting, meditation are the three tools to keep our efforts from falling apart midway.

And here comes two fulcrum to utilize the aforesaid tools.  Two simple rules to apply in life:

Act without expectation:  When was the last time that you dropped a message wishing your long-lost friend without expecting a reply?  Or when was the last time you just picked up a big boulder impeding the way just to make a safe path for others without expecting appreciation?  Such instances for us may be countable on fingers for we all are so self-absorbed and self-centered  that we want every action of ours to be noticed even if it is for near and dear ones.  When expectations are tied to our actions, non-fulfillment of such expectations brings in gloom.  So the first rule of our journey towards Eternal Happiness is to act without expecting.  Begin with petty things and closed circles, practice and practice, just do your part with all your heart and soul in it.  See the difference of being indifferent to the laurels, soon criticism won’t affect your inner peace.

Forget and Forgive:  How I wish the first part was easy.  I simply can’t forget the words exchanged in the heat of argument that occurred two years back then how to expect  (again expectation 😁) people to forget the misdeeds of others directed towards them?  But without forgetting the past forgiving stands next to impossible.  And if one can’t forgive, can’t let the baggage of past and grudges go, there’s no way that a person could march ahead in the path shown by the supreme power.  Forgiveness is a way of easing the burden from our souls that renders us from being able to identify God in every soul.  And with God all around us what’s there to stop the stream of inner happiness from flowing.  When nothing but change is constant why let the past be stagnant in our present to disturb the future?

The idea is to commence the process of detachment from emotions that could lead us to sin and finally deviate us from the way that could lead us to our Sole (soul) destination.  Indifference to the happiness, worldly acknowledgements, tranquility of mind in adverse, in-your-face situations are the signatures of successful lives in true sense that comes from practice of these two simple rules.

Let’s inculcate these habits, , let’s just live life to the core of it and not just enact it.

LIFE – A MYSTERY YET TO BE COMPLETELY UNRAVELLED

Life is an adventure, say some.

Life is a challenge, say others.                     

Life is a puzzle for many, while for some others it’s just a smart juggle.

No great philosopher of the world has been able to give a comprehensive definition of ‘life’. Many have tried, but succeeded in giving only a partial picture.

Thinking of ‘life’, the first thing that comes to mind is the biological aspect of it. In simple terms, anything that has breath is said to be living.

So then where does this breath come from? You and I cannot infuse breath into a non-living object and make it living. We do not have that power.

To quote a verse from the account of creation given in the Bible – “Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.”

Hence, the source of all life (plants, animals and human beings, though we will limit the purview of this article to human life only) is the Creator God Himself. He alone is the source and the sustainer of life. For this reason, keeping all debates aside, taking of life – be it by abortion, euthanasia, suicide or murder is a sin against the Creator – the life giver. Scientific advancements have made it possible for clones and humanoid robots to be invented, which is all marvelous indeed but, cannot in any way be equated with the creation of the Creator.

Life is meant to be social. The social aspect of life ensures that human beings live in a social relationship with fellow humans and not in isolation. Hence, the innate desire of human beings to seek and forge relationships of various kinds. Sociological research has enough data to establish that lack of human contact robs humanness of human beings. Social apathy is considered to be a sign of an underlying psychological disorder.

Life is a myriad of emotions. Without emotions, there won’t be much of a difference between human beings and vegetables. Socio-biological humans laugh, cry, love and live as an expression of their emotionality.

Adding to all the above, is the spiritual aspect of each human being. Having been created by God, there is a God-shaped vacuum inbuilt within each person. Some choose to seek and fill this vacuum by a relationship with God, some choose to substitute this space by things and people other than God, while some others decide to ignore and stifle this vacuum altogether.

All the above aspects put together give us a holistic picture of human life in general – as it ought to be. Take one slice out of it, and the picture will be fragmented.

This being life, the purpose of it is important as well. At times, we tend to flow along with the tide without sparing a thought towards its purpose and direction. That’s when the going seems easy. But, if we stop and ponder, things may not make much sense. Where is all this heading? Where am I heading? Earning, eating, drinking, enjoying, raising children, taking care of family, growing old and then waiting for death – is this all what life is all about? Or is there anything beyond this?

Sometimes, our actions seem meaningless. Sometimes, the daily toils and struggles seem monotonous beyond description so much so that we try our best to attach meaning to life by way of our jobs, children, spouse, etc.

If we look around, try to stretch our thinking skills and try to look for a complete meaning of life, it would not be possible for us to succeed at it. The reason being that while in our physical states we cannot, completely comprehend the meaning and purpose of something that has more to it than mere physical existence.

Life is more than the body.

Life is more than living, earning and procreating.

Life is more than the mundane humdrum of daily hassles.

The entirety of life can be understood only in eternity. Till then, a part of it remains a mystery. Instead of unsuccessfully trying to unravel the mystery (which can never be unraveled in the duration of our earthly existence), we can live this life to its fullest by living the revealed life to the best.