KEEP LEARNING

Another year coming to an end. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes or 31536000 seconds coming to an end. I am not the kind of person who will look back and try to introspect on the year gone by. I usually look ahead with excitement towards the coming year.

But this year has been different. There has been a lot which was different this year and it has taught me a lot of things. So today I feel qualified to write this article. There are two major lessons I learnt this year. Actually, it’s not some new age gyan I stumbled upon. We all know these things, we just tend to conveniently neglect it or forget it.  

Be Grateful: One lesson I learnt in the year gone by is not to take things for granted. Be happy and thankful for what you have. However boring or straightforward your life may seem, there are many blessings in your life. Value them and be grateful for them. You never know when they will go away and then we will realise their importance in our life.

Be ready to Evolve: Or in other words don’t be complacent. I made that mistake. After marriage, kids and family life happened I got myself so involved in these things that I didn’t work on myself.  Keep evolving. Keep learning. Try to improve your qualifications or maybe just learn a new skill or hone an old hobby. Basically, keep adding to your personality. You never know when these skills come in handy.

Life will always throw a googly at you at the most unexpected time it helps to be grateful for what you have and be prepared for what is going to come.

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LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL

2018 is about to finish and now when I look back, I feel nostalgic. If anyone asks me how was 2018 to you, I would say, “It was the best in my life”. Reading this line, many of you might think, I just have got good marks or might have topped university exams or have got a good job with handsome salary. Trust me there’s no such thing. 2018 was best because of many other reasons. All the reasons when combined together, have given me so much. When 2018 started I was having a lot of stress. The reason for stress was some family issues. Though 2018 was not a fairy tale year but it made my year.

I graduated in this year and this really makes me happy. While I was leaving my college, I came to know what I earned so far. I earned love and affection from my teachers, classmates and also from my juniors. While returning back to home I had lots of memories which are going to stay in my heart forever. 2018 taught me the true essence of love. True love motivates us to look forward and work hard for our dreams. It is kind and never brags.

Every day brought some lessons for me. The best lesson that I learnt was “not everyone we meet or have in our lives are intended to stay forever”. The only thing that will stay forever is bittersweet memories. The year is ending day by day and so it is taking away toxic people from my life; for which I am very thankful. The last six month of 2018 proved to be of great teachings. I learnt so much. I saw myself as a grown up, matured enough to make life decisions. I found when we are determined; no one can change our decisions. Once we are determined, we get the courage to walk alone in the city full of crowd. Even though we are alone, we are always surrounded by our determination and willpower.

I hope 2019 will also bring so many lessons for me. It will be a year that will witness my growth as a matured and persevere human. I wish 2019 to award me with success and good health of my near and dear ones.  In 2019, I won’t waste my time in anger, grudges and being disappointed. I would rather invest it in being a happy and cheerful soul. After all, life is all about finding happiness despite the odds. Therefore, welcome your new year with open arms and hopes.

A YEAR GONE BY

A major part of another year gone by! A year with its share of joys and sorrows, pains and gains, wishes fulfilled and some left dry, works accomplished and many left undone, new beginnings and long-dragged closures.

For many, it has been just another year in the annals of time. For some others, it has been special – the birth of a baby, marriage, success in the career, visit a place that one dreamt of, and many such. For yet some others, it has been a year that they wished had never shown them the days it did – sickness, disappointments, the death of a loved one, loss in business, a jolt in the career path, a broken relationship, witnessing a natural calamity, and many such more.

No matter what this year has brought in our lives – whether agony or joy, it sure has left behind its unique imprint.

Each day has challenges galore

And a cluster of 365 days, with still many more.

Some that made us strong to the core

While some that made us crash away from the shore.

As I reflect on this year, I see a mixed canvas of many hues – loss of two precious ones in the family within a short duration, a seemingly impossible marriage of a friend that eventually did happen and the broken relationship of another friend which was supposed to culminate in marriage shortly, to name a few. Emotionally stirring events in their own ways!

We begin a year wishing happiness, fulfilment and prosperity for others. And, we are wished the same as well. That’s how we come to expect each new day to bring good tidings our way. But when something unthought-of happens to shatter our peace, questions spring up in the mind – ‘Why?’.

Well, let’s accept it. Life is not always rosy – no matter who the person may be, no matter how many good works the person may have done, no matter how many blessings and good wishes might have crossed the way. It’s always a mixed bag!

As we enter another year, let’s wish for each other strength to face each new day of the year, courage to face the challenges, an open mind to receive the teachings of life experiences, a vision to move forward and break barriers and the zeal to discover oneself no matter what life throws our way.

Each new day . . . each new year . . . adds on to the multi-cuisine called life. Its an amalgamation of sweet nuts, tangy lemons, bitter herbs, cocktails and mocktails, cool shakes and hot cordials. Let’s resolve to uphold each other to live life to the fullest, knowing that the God of the universe is our Creator who knows each one personally and wants to see the best in all. He crowns each year with His bounty!

IF THEY CAN’T BE SMART, YOU HAVE TO BE SENSIBLE

Why are you so obsessed about photographs?” asks my irked husband whenever I ask him to click me (only on occasions called festivals).  And I am ever ready with my taunts “why not? My sister, my sister-in-law, my friends – everyone gets clicked, and not just once but hundreds of trial and error shots, I only ask you once but you have a problem with everything I request (command, let’s leave it 😁)” and it depends on mood swings of the other party whether  to continue the taunt parade or call it quits. But the fact is he and me, both of us know why I want to squeeze in the memory of phone storage, simple! only to display the best one on FB 😂😂  and to count the likes and comments ensuing.  And I admit that I am guilty of liking to be “liked“.

I mostly complimented on my smile. I am angry with Chiradeep at this point for giving me this surprise question/task 😡, just kidding.

What’s the secret? It’s just that I believe in this: A hug should be warm; A wish should be heartfelt; A smile should be infectious”.

If warmth and love are missing, then everything you do – a hug, a wish, a smile – are nothing but gestures covering your pretence.  I know for some reason that when I smile (not to the camera/mirror😁) at someone, for instance, greeting fellow parents at my daughter’s school, neighbours, for that matter a fellow passenger in bus who is a complete stranger, it’s the same positivity or happy vibe that I get reciprocated with. A simple thumb rule of life…at least what I believe and try to inculcate always – YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE.  So I have decided to “Smile” to keep the negativity at bay.

No rule is without exception: Do my Facebook page show you the “True Me”?  Do I smile 24×7 (a question is invalid, to say the least)? No! I have other faces which rarely people get to see. There are instances when my smile could be a pretence or a mere smirk because other options to speak out my heart are closed. I feel like shouting letting my disapproval known, I feel like rolling my eyes showing my disinterest in the person or conversation. But I fail to do so on numerous occasions, especially when family and relations are involved. And most importantly I find it really hard to say “NO” lest I make them unhappy, I break the harmony of the atmosphere. A recent example: Everyday when I return to home after dropping my daughter at school I have to pass a cafe. The owner of the cafe, a middle-aged man became my acquaintance after he noticed me for a few days. Things were fine till cordial exchange of pleasantries. But then he started inviting me to his cafe to have a cup of coffee. He was quite persistent in his urge. And I declined politely every day as I  always have heaps of chores to finish off at home. I was like always smiling and putting down his offer as gently as I could.  I didn’t want to hurt him or rude at him but after some time I could feel the irritation running in my veins on locating him. I even took a long route to avoid seeing him. Though nothing personal, though he meant business only in a very literal sense it irritates to me no end that people fail to decipher beyond the smile, beyond excuses that there could be a strong reason or a problem doing rounds in our lives. It’s not just him, I know people (more than acquaintances) who see the gloss but reluctant to see and accept the pain underlining other’s life. “Grass is always greener on the other side” so true.

Shall I trend a path more unlike me? My friend Chiradeep asked me “Can you ever be harsh on anyone?” Yes, I can be but only with people who see my true emotion without judging me and without holding any grudge against me. My siblings, my kids (kids pure souls and smart indeed) – perhaps the people who know me in and out. I can be me with them. And with others, I choose a more diplomatic way of dealing things – avoid conversation and if it’s not possible to avoid an argument. It’s not about safeguarding my image but I feel hurting someone in the spur of the moment is a foolishness when it doesn’t serve any good big time, period! Because to damage is easy than to build.

Bringing it to an end “I wish people are smart enough to read between the lines, if not so let me be more sensible“.

PREPARATION FOR ETERNITY

As a child, I used to wonder where people go when they die? When the body is placed in the coffin and the final nail is struck, and all seems to be over, what if the person inside opens his/her eyes again? Won’t the person feel suffocated and afraid of the darkness inside? What if s/he wants to come out? There would be no one to hear his/her cry for help from where s/he is buried deep down in the earth! Such thoughts often scared me.

A child’s mind is not developed enough to fathom the deeper truths of life. Nor can it rise up to the higher levels of cognitive functioning. Hence, my wondering continued to wonder. I was told that when people die, they go to God. But I wasn’t really able to gather this abstract reality much, as a child.

As the truths about life and death sunk deeper into me gradually, I realised how transient earthly life is! And how perpetual the future eternity is!

The concept of eternity still doesn’t mean much to many, especially because it is too abstract to imagine and understand. To explain in simple terms – ‘eternity is endlessness in time’ – no count of years or months or days or hours or minutes. And, eternity is what awaits the human spirit once the earthly stint gets over.

Life on earth is for a few decades at the maximum. Even the person with record-holding life span, ultimately dies. One wise writer writes thus ‘What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. True enough, generations have come and gone by all across the world. No one stays on forever.

So if the earthly life is temporary, and eternity is everlasting, don’t we need to prepare for it? If we decide to holiday out-of-station, how much in advance we prepare and wait with excited anticipation! This involves preparation for a few days or may be for a few months at the maximum. What then ought to be the magnitude of preparation for eternity!

Life on earth is a preparation for what is in store for eternity. Each day each moment of our lives on earth takes us one step closer to eternity. How carefully ought we to live our lives on earth, then!

How do we then, prepare for eternity?

To answer this, we must first be sure of what is in store for us in eternity.

Eternity comprises of eternal life and eternal death. Eternal life is life in the constant presence of God. How blissful! The thought itself excites the mind! And, eternal life (a life that never ends) is in store for all those who confess their sins while on earth, repent for them, seek forgiveness from God and strive to live a life for the glory of God. This is because, if we are to spend eternity with a Holy God, we need to be holy as well. Eternal death, on the other hand, is a total abandonment from the fellowship of God. Those who choose to continue with sinful lives without remorse, regret, repentance or seeking forgiveness from God, those who do not acknowledge the existence of God are banished to eternal death. This is because no one can thrive in the companionship of God without being cleansed from sin.

Eternal death is horrible. That is why, even for a joke’s sake or even for one’s most hated enemy, one never ought to say – ‘Go to hell!’ – which is often considered a casual statement when one is angry or is in a light mood.

Eternal life is what we all ought to strive for and encourage all around us to aspire for. None should be left behind from savouring the eternal bliss to which God invites each of His handmade human beings. The pains, tears, anxieties, sorrows and sickness of this earth will be brought to nought when one enters eternal life. Words cannot do justice to describe what eternal life would be like. To explain the wonders of eternal life, the Bible says – “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

An eternal life of bliss invites us all. Are we prepared?

BE AN EMPATHIZER, NOT AN ADVISER

Advises!

Suggestions!

Taunts!

They irked me so much during my sickness last month. I even warned few of my family members, shouted at them and reprimanded few of my friends lovingly.

People usually showed their sympathy and started giving examples according to their thinking and understanding of the matter or issue. There were very few who could really understand what I was going through at that particular moment of my suffering. ‘Empathy’, what I was needed, not sympathy from the people around me.

In sympathy, emotions are predominant. The sympathizer relates emotionally with the person concerned. But in empathy the intellect and discerning are predominant. The empathizer focuses on understanding the person’s frame of mind, his/her context, how he/she feels and why. Then it becomes easier for him/her to talk, counsel, console and comfort the victim in a better and successful way.

A classic differentiation between sympathy and empathy was displayed by Liza  in her poem: Sympathy and Empathy a Poem have a look at it.

A week ago I elucidated few encouraging messages that I received while I was in the hospital. And I was elated and strengthened by each of one of those messages because each of those messages reflected the sender’s empathetic heart.

An empathizer always puts his/her feet into the victim’s shoe and try to understand how it feels to be in that shoe.

Just imagine about the person who has lost his/her spouse or children. Consoling that person or a bereaved is all the more difficult as the grief level of a bereaved is the highest in comparison to any other sadness or grief. How can we be empathetic in that case if we do not have any such experiences in our own life?

Let me give an example I just remembered. When my cousin died of an accident and I was weeping for him before flying for his funeral my aunt here in Kolkata was trying to comfort me as she was also in pain. She was saying, “I can imagine how it will feel if my son would have died today. The pain of that mother is so great who had lost her son.” That’s a cry of an empathetic heart. And I have seen her comforting me, my wife and few others at different times. She is the best in doing so.

We had a week for a topic called, “Managing Grief” last year in 2016. I wrote an article where I had mentioned about few things that we should remember while consoling or comforting a bereaved. They were: Listening to them patiently, Giving them a hug, Allow them to weep or wail, Cry with them, Talk less with them, Don’t force them for anything and so on.

I quite liked this statement that I stumbled upon in WordPress:

What is the true essence of therapy? What is a key aspect in loving? What is understanding? The answer to these questions is an ability within self that requires learning and growing, this ability is empathy

Recently, I came across the term, “Validation through Empathy“. Psychology Today says, “Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings,  sensations, and behaviors as understandable.  We may approve it or not that’s a different matter but we accept and understand the person and his/her feelings.

I have a video which can really make sense and help us all to understand the concept of Validation through Empathy. Let’s watch it.

Whoa! Excellent! Isn’t it?

I have been trying desperately to be a person like that… A person who will not judge other’s frailty but understand and accept his/her actions, emotions and mind. I sensed people feel comfortable with me, sharing their hearts because to some extent I could provide the warmth of that empathy which they desperately need when they are vulnerable. And I will strive more and more to be validating their emotions through empathy.

Dear Friends! Our level of empathy actually determines how good we can be in consoling or comforting those who are going through difficult situations.

Keep reading, keep learning and keep leaving your feedback.

Stay Blessed!

LOOK AT ‘BITTERNESS’ OUT OF THE BOX

In a general sense the word ‘Bitterness’ makes us understand about the taste of something, as the web dictionary defines ‘Bitter’ as, “having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste”. But when we use that same meaning for life then it seems very grievous. The other definitions of bitter are: Hard to bear; grievous; distressful….etc. – as I said the matter becomes very serious when we lose the taste of our life.

“My life has no joy… It’s so bitter.”

“The bitterness towards my life is increasing day by day.”

“I am so bitter about my life. I don’t wanna live anymore.”

“I want to quit.”

“No any more.”

The above statements indicate how someone can feel when s/he is bitter about his/her life.

What can make us bitter?

Let me explain a case study…

A girl of 4-5 years lost her mother. The mother didn’t die but left her. The girl grew up with her siblings but the trauma was heavy on the whole family though she suffered the most. She suffered combating jealousy, wicked schemes of outsiders, injustice from the single parent she had with her. All these things happened not only for a year or two but year after year. The girl kept feeling rejected by all. She cried, she yelled but there was no one to come to her rescue. Her father fixed her marriage to a boy who was a terminally ill person. She loved him despite of his sickness seeing his caring nature. She got married to him but the problems never ended. The bitterness to life increased in her heart and mind.

This case study gives us a picture of a lady with extreme bitterness towards her life. If we look around us there are many such people who have lost hope in their lives.

If I take my example, I have felt bitter towards my life lots of times. I was bitter because I wasn’t given good health so that I could play with my friends in school. I was bitter because I was restricted to ride a bicycle and used to go to school with my aunt in the cycle rickshaw. I was bitter because I was unable to be used in any physical activities which any young kid or college going boy loves to do. I was bitter, in fact felt disgusted of me when I used to see the girls coming to the college by motor bike yet I used to come sitting at the back of my friends’ bicycle or motor bike or come alone in a cycle rickshaw. I used to depend a lot on my friends to do many things for me. Sometimes they used to deny me of doing it for me. I felt disgusted when my family members were looking for any physically handicapped quota for my college admission. I was bitter when I was unable to do any professional course for my future.

So what we observe in both of these true life experiences that the life situations, the people around us, sometimes family, sicknesses etc., are the causes of our bitterness towards life.

But what about the lady? She never gave up, despite the devilish thoughts of death coming to her mind again and again. She never gave in to that thought of quitting her life.  She lives with a hope that her Creator God will definitely bring changes in her life one day.

She says, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Bitterness never came to an end in my life. What do you think it’s finished just because I smile and stay jovial? I have overcome it?

NO WAY!!!

But it could not overpower me after I understood the perspective of my life. I changed the way I  used to look at bitterness in my life. My focus shifted from what I don’t have, what I can’t do to what I have, what I can do. My motto in life became to “Smile and make others Smile” instead of counting how much I suffered. The scripture portion – “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” became My Motivation.

Friends! Look at your life differently, change your perspective to make bitterness negligible.

Stay blessed!!!