My Religion, My Resolution

One more year is about to begin with one more box full of memories to look back upon. With the temperature dropping and the festivities picking up, I’ve been feeling all sorts of things.

You know how I’ve spent nights being grateful* to this year. I’ve been introduced to a new phobia- the fear of not having any travel plans finalised, and have internalised it more than necessary. The RJs and everyone else are singing the jingles and discussing New Years Resolutions.

As a person in dilemma regarding my New Years Eve plans and a higher chance of spending it in my fuzzy socks and beanie with a book and some music, I’m gladly surprised that my procrastination over making resolutions has lead to an enlightenment of sorts. I’m a person who can day dream situations, events and detailed conversations. One such episode had me waking up with a religion while I’d gone to bed an atheist by general definition.

It was an episode of an imagined debate, backed by my take on religion (that it’s a tool of instilling fear in order to create order, which has long been used against the society for power), I realised something about my own belief system. While I’m not a believer of any specific, well-practiced school of religion and way of living, I do identify with bits and pieces of the religion that my family ardently follows.

In an entire debate staged in my mind where I’m arguing against the idea that all non-believers of the textbook religion are atheists, while my alter ego is trying its best to tell me that I’m an atheist and that’s all right! I knew that the debate was quite useless as it wasn’t leading up to anything. But hey! what better place to have such a redundant chat than the thinking seat on a winter night, when the touch of the ceramic against my backside had sent shiver up my back?

So I entertained my own banter, assured that this was the best way to take my mind off the weather and my cold seat. In no time, the banter spiralled and I was telling my alter ego that I’m a person of science and humanity, and that comprises my religion. This new turn of events made everything all the more interesting and suddenly it followed me into my bed at the dead of the night.

For the first time that night, I became an active observer to the antiques of my mind. i was now of the viewpoint that the world can do with one less parameter of division. Instead we are in dire need of a common ground to come together. While climatic change and cruelty against animals is doing their bit, I advocated that right now there is a need for something bigger!

And that’s when I mouthed the word ‘HUMANITY’!

I’d suddenly convinced myself in the charade of this day dream, that Humanity is the religion that the world needs. Don’t get me wrong, all the existing religions are amazing in their own way and I in no way think that they need to be done away with. All I mean is that the primary religion of each individual should be humanity while their sub-religion could belong to their choice of God and Scriptures.

While I haven’t yet the clarity of what this religion will entail, I do have something that are pretty clear.

This would mean placing people and their feelings before things and my attachment to them.

This would mean being more considerate and less demanding.

This would mean sharing rather than scavenging.

This would mean being polite…

POLITE.Yes, that’s what it’s got to mean!

And quickly I came up with three basic ways how I’m going to be polite and try to spread my new found religion.

1. Instead of saying “sorry I’m late”, I’m going to practice thanking “Thank you for waiting for me”.

2. Instead of letting someone know that “Hey, you’re real bossy”, I’m going to try “You have great leadership skills and I just had an idea…”

3. Instead of losing my mind and saying “Leave me alone” I’m going to attempt a “Can I have a minute/some time to myself, before we continue to/with…”

Of course, three changed habits are not going to change the world, but I’m willing to believe that this attempt will change one heart at a time.

So here’s The Hazy Whisperer signing off for this year and looking forward to a more engaging and productive new year with all of you!

The above have now become my resolution for the years to come and if you have any thoughts to contribute to Humanity- a global religion, please do share.

A fruitful and comforting new year to all of you!!

IKIGAI And Ageing

With a growing fascination towards healthier living and being forever youthful, a trend that is fast spreading from the East to the rest of the world, IKIGAI- a Japanese concept/ way of living.

The word IKIGAI is made by combining two Japanese words: Life + To Be Worthwhile. The latter can be further split into Armour + Beautiful/ Elegant. This, for me, is the best way to understand the essence of a word that means ‘The Happiness Of Always Being Busy’. It is a process that helps one find their ‘Reason For Being’.

The Japanese are known for many things, some of them being their discipline, healthy habits and their highest number of centenarians (1). The island of Okinawa is famous for its longevity. And this longevity is usually attributed to Ikigai, along with a few other factors:

  • Healthful Diet & The 80% Rule (2)
  • Simple Life In The Outdoors
  • Green Tea & Warm Water
  • Subtropical Climate

Surprisingly, the Japanese language doesn’t have a word that directly translates to the word ‘retirement’, can you imagine that? Which, to me, seems to have something to do with ‘The Happiness Of Always Being Busy’, or so, I would like to believe!

A commonly known and addressed factor leading to ageing is stress. Yes, STRESS! We experience it in varied proportions each day.  So do the people of Okinawa. Then how is it that we show signs of ageing while they continue to glow, you wonder? Well, I did! So, to develop a perspective and with hope to find some mystical secret, I started reading about Ikigai, and here’s what I could understand.

They believe that we age in two ways: physically and mentally. And to better handle these signs, they have a set of practices. But before getting to prevention,they like to remain Mindful against stress. Here are a few steps on how:

  • By noticing responses, even if they are conditioned by habit. Its not about over analysing, its just about knowing how we react in various situations and why
  • By connecting with the here and now and avoiding presuming and assuming the cause and effect of things that may or may not happen. This helps in managing thoughts that have the potential of spiralling out of control and further elevating our stress levels
  • By avoiding working on autopilot mode. People who work on autopilot also tend to be mindless about some tasks such as an individual eating/ snacking while watching the television or talking on the phone usually is not sure of what and how many portions has he consumed.

The most effective way to avoid physical ageing is by keeping active at all ages and times. The Japanese are believers of minimalism, so to be involved in mild physical activities on an everyday basis is what keeps them moving at an age when the world retires. Our sedentary lifestyles, that include sitting for the better part of the day, are also considered responsible for physical ageing. There are a few simple lifestyle changes that could help all of us:

  1. Take the steps as often as possible instead of escalating and elevating your way up.
  2. Walk to your colleague’s desk once in a while instead on using the intercom.
  3. Walk the short distances for completing your chores.
  4. Actively participate in social and community activities to reduce screen time on a daily basis.
  5. Use pen and paper every once in a while instead of typing and swiping. This will help your fingers maintain their dexterity.
  6. Stay hydrated. Regularly consume water (preferably warm) by sitting down instead of standing. Sometimes the brain perceives thirst as hunger and sends faulty signals.
  7. Replace the junk intake with fruits and other healthier alternatives. (3)
  8. Get the right amount of rest; seven to eight hours is ideal. (4)
  9. Interact with kids and spend time with pets; they almost always make you move around.
  10. Be Mindful! Be aware of your daily routine in order to convert counter productive habits into fun activities.

However, not all signs of physical stress lead to physical ageing. This is because stress is psychosomatic (5) in nature. So basically, mental ageing also shows through physical signs of ageing? (double doomed!)

It is a known fact in the nervous system student community that in our 20s our neurons begin to age. While this happens at an alarmingly slow rate, our sedentary and high stress lifestyles play catalysts in this process. The process of mental ageing cannot be stopped but it can be slowed down through mental workouts.

Mental workouts are as important as physical ones. While it could sound intimidating, the neural connections can be activated and put to work by making simple habits.

  1. Regularly present your brain with new information. It could be by changing the genre of books or the school of music that you read.
  2. Learn a new language. Practice a different accent.
  3. Change the hand with which you perform simple mundane tasks, such as brushing your teeth, pulling out a hanger, turning knobs, etc.
  4. Solve puzzles and riddles. Play mind-benders.
  5. Learn how to use a new gadget.
  6. Get out of your comfort zone and talk to people from different social, historical and cultural groups.

Just experiencing new situations can work as an anti-ageing strategy for the mind. And a positive outlook towards it all will generate better mental benefits.

“A healthy mind in a healthy body”
to me now seems like the Ikiagi way of healthy ageing  

*Picture credits to the very talented photographer Francisco Rosário and my friend Pei. They were graceful in sending me a fitting picture.

** This article is based on my knowledge and understanding of the concept thus far. Any form of suggestions, corrections and conversations are welcome!

Note:
1: People who live upto 100 years of age and above
2: To eat only to the point where you start to feel full and not until you feel stuffed
3: Refer to http://www.thehazywhisperer.com/2018/10/10/sugaring-it-down/ for some tips on healthy eating.
4: During sleep our body produces an important antioxidant called melatonin which helps in immunity system strengthening, delayed onset of Alzheimer’s, fighting heart diseases, protection against cancer, etc.
Post 30 years the melatonin production naturally reduces but can be improved by consuming a balanced diet, soaking moderate amount of sunlight regularly, avoiding alcohol.
5: A mental situation that manifests through physical signs such as acne, indigestion and ulcers.

Soirée

Over a drive with someone close, I realised that each one of us likes the same music/songs for our own unique reasons. Intrigued by this thought, I decided to share with you all a bunch of songs that I love dearly, along with the reason why!

So here it goes…

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out
I am brave, I am bruised
I am who I’m meant to be, this is me”
-This Is Me by Keala Settle

The strength of the vocals, the scene that leads to the song in ‘The Greatest Showman’ and everything that the song stands for; its an absolute package deal for me! With the layers of complexes that each one of us deals with on a daily basis, a song that asks you to brace yourself is a perfect fit.

 “Vaqt kee Kaid mezindagee hai maghar
Chaand gadiyaan yahin hai jo azad hain
Chaand gadiyaan yahin hai jo azad hain
Inko ko kar meree jane jaan aa
Umar bar na taraste rho”
– Aaj Jaane Ki Zid Na Karo by FaridaKhanum

(Translates to: Life is restricted by time, it’s only these few moments that are free. So don’t loose out on them and then regret it for the rest of your life)
This song has always helped me when I know I’m in the dilemma of doing what is expected of me and what I really wish to do. It also reminds me to enjoy every little and big thing. For me its about travel, about reading and about all those things that I wish to do, that don’t necessarily add monetary or tangible value to me immediately.

“If it hadn’t been for Cotton-Eye Joe
I’d been married a long time ago
Where did you come from, where did you go?
Where did you come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?”
-Cotton Eyed Joe by Rednex

This song is like a pandora box of memories and a gateway into my childhood. Its my favourite song to get everyone dancing at an informal party. For me its about letting go and being childlike once again. You should try the dance!

Dil ki patang chahon mein gothe khati hai
Dhel toh do dekho kahan pe jati hai
Uljhe nahi toh kaise suljhoge
Bikhre nahi to kaise nihkroge”
-Pankhon Ko by Salim Merchant

(Translates to: Your heart is like a kite that runs wild in the shadows, but youry need to let it loose and then see where it reaches. If you aren’t ever messed up, you can’t be sorted. And if you haven’t been shattered, how will you ever glow.)
This one has always been very close to my heart. The lyrics sure are inspiring and romantic of life. The simplistic lens with which life has been penned down is something that I admire. But it’s the voice that first caught my attention and then the rest. And ever since I had the chance to hear Salim Merchant sing it live, it’s a sure shot at goosebumps for me.

Guaranteed (Humming Version) by Eddie Vedder
The entire album by Vedder for Into TheWild is beautiful and fitting. But this specific one finds me peace. I’ve heard it on loop when I just wanted to block everything out. Give it a try and go figure for yourself.

“You hit me once
I hit you back
You gave a kick
I gave a slap
You smashed a plate over my head
Then I set fire to our bed”
– Kiss With A Fist by Florence + the Machine

As opposed to popular judgement, this one for me is about a love/hate relationship. Its about two things that can’t exist with and without one another. The energy that this song presents has made it my wake up song on many days; on days I don’t wish to wake up but I know I have to.

“Tu Soche Ki Ziandagi Ye Na BadalegiKabhi 
Mai Sochu Sab Badalta Tu Na Badlegi Kabh”
-Tu Bole… Mein Bolun by A R Rahman

(Translates to: You think this is life and it’ll never change. I think that its you who will never change)
The lyrics dwell on the ‘glass half full and half empty’ logic (even the lyrics have the same analogy) about people. Its beautiful how two opposing perspectives about the same thing can be equally right. The music has elements of jazz and all things amazing.

“And they scream
The worst things in life come free to us
‘Cause she’s just under the upper-hand
And goes mad for a couple of grams
And she don’t want to go outside tonight
‘Cause in a pipe she flies to the Motherland”
-The A Team by Ed Sheeran

Talking about addiction and its struggle,this song offers a new perspective as opposed to the stereotype of pity and hate. I caught on to the meaning way after I’d already fallen in love with the ease of the tone and his sweet voice.

When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide”
-Demons by Imagine Dragons

The band today needs no introduction and nor does this song. I’m in love with the rawness and vulnerability that’s been captured in these lyrics that we often don’t find the words to express. Its about coming clean of all the layers and hoping to be accepted; of admitting about all your secrets and wishing to beloved despite them.

“We’re far from home, it’s for the better
What we dream, it’s all that matters
We’re on our way, united”
-SaveThe World Tonight by SHM

Oh the collaboration of these three God-like DJs and their music has been on my playlist in some form or the other. This one is just a reminder of the fact that they came together, gave a lot of us some great memories and times, and then they parted as already promised. Its the life of the super-group that has caught my attention as much as their work; they came together with a pre-decided end, and still aced it all!

Late Night Gratitude

Lying in bed at the owl hours of winter night. Spread out like I’m making snow angels. Staring at the overhead fan, trying to count the number of rotations it makes in a minute and miserably failing each time. I laugh to myself and start over; there is no mad rush for doing something better. The strays on the streets have finished their scavenger patrols and the moon is glowing bright enough. It’s a strangely fulfilling feeling, to not be worried about wasting away time on mindless tasks.

It could be the weather or just the effect of watching multiple hallmark movies over the years. After having a full Wednesday and snoozing through most of it. But for now I’m just happy to be wrapped up in my washed-up comforter, wearing yoga pants from when I was two inches too short and a t-shirt I’m not sure how I procured. The night air is a bit chilly, but I’m just too comfortable to get up and reduce the speed of the fan.

Tomorrow is a workday, but for now I can only think of all the things that have been good and great. My mind is swell and humming a song I heard in an Italian movie with subtitles. I mean, we all have our days; I know I do. I have a range from Buttercups to Lisa Simpson, from Olive Oyl to Roadrunner, from Merida to Cinderella. But today, I’m just feeling good.

I’m feeling good, particularly about nothing and yet about everything.

On last new years’ eve I had made a resolution. It was to make sure that I’d try out all activities that have brought joy to me in the past. Why did I make it? I’m not sure; maybe I was just lazy to think of something new. Or maybe becauseI knew I would still find simple pleasure in some, if not all of them. And here I am, feeling content at the end of the year, making lists for the year to come and mostly feeling grateful.

If the past year were a book, its cover would be a vibrant blend of colours light and dark, all thrown together to create something abstract yet so beautiful. If it were a music piece it would have the music of a saxophone, electric guitar and a violin, all together. If it were a garden it would have grass in shades of green and brown, with some weeds and beautiful little flowers.

The opportunity to meet new people, from different places, has always interested me. I’m not big on socialising, but every once in a while I enjoy getting to know someone completely new and preferably very different from myself. I’ve had the privilege of befriending many people this time. Took a weeklong trip with strangers who became friends and some even influencers in their own way.  Took multiple weekend trips and re-connected with old friends and got introduced to some more. Travelled with family and had the chance to re-connect.

I took up many challenges, aced a few and failed a few, but tried all! Started the blog on the word of a stranger who is now a well-wisher. Tried to shrink the waistline, but that never panned out. Learned how to cook something new.Found some of my work targets unrealistic after having have dived headfirst. Defeated my sweet tooth and gained better control over my impulsive binges. Spent another year desperately wanting for a canine companion. Joined the management class and am actually enjoying it. Enjoyed some beautiful sunrises. Missed quite a few night outs and events. Lost my phone.  Ran the 10k I dreamt of. Read very little by comparison. Exploited netflix subscription. 

I found inspiration and admiration in nature. Learned to be more accepting of others. Struggled a bit with my self image. Mended some fences, lost track of some others. Indulged in self-care, gained some sunburns. Sprained my ankle. Developed better calf muscles. Started being more sensitive towards the environment. Dabbled in make-up. Cried till I couldn’t remember why. Laughed until I was doubled up with pain. Danced by letting it all go. Stayed hydrated through party nights. The year has been a ride, not a very smooth one for sure. But today when I look back at all that has passed and everything that I’ve learnt, I know it’s been a beautiful one.

Taking stock of everything that’s putting an aimless smile on my face sure feels good. While the fan continued to reel over-head, I can’t be bothered by the ramblings of the world. For once I’m not in a hurry to fall asleep or do anything else,because right here everything seems to be comfortable.

The song that I’ve been humming  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gk8oSNMQ6xU

The First Run

Heart racing at an exorbitant rate, a parched mouth and eyes burning due to the invasion of sweat.

A kilometre short of the finish line, my mind began to make notes of everything that I had to share.

Today,when I woke up before sunrise and got dressed for the long awaited event (read as: very very long awaited), I consolingly told myself, ‘You haven’t run in a month. Your body has been out of touch for way too long. Do your best. Remember this isn’t your only chance but this IS your only body. So, be a bit considerate.’

With acceptance in mind I went ahead and followed all the procedure before the finish line. Before the start mark I took a deep breath and told myself to remember to be at a comfortable pace. Slowly but steadily kilometres passed. I over took a few co-runners and was overtaken by a few. And the longer I ran, the more I wanted to run. After every checkpoint, I wanted to see if I could continue running until the next.

Just like the climax scene of most movies, things started to go on in a slow motion in my tenth kilometre. I could see the finish arch. There was a reinstalled sense of confidence and it felt like a secret packet of energy had just been released in me because my steps were more rapid than the last few kilometres.Oddly enough, while everything was getting faster, my thoughts seemed to begetting clearer and time seemed to be passing slower.

And in the final 1000 meters I started to make a list. A list of things that I had done right, things I was going to get better at and things that I’m going to keep doing.

  1. Wearing a pair of shoes that my feet were familiar with rather than new ones seemed like a great advise I’d implemented.The comfort of wearing the right shoes was an added support
  2. My first stop was because my shoes suddenly felt too tight. I’d forgotten to factor in the swelling up of my feet once they were strained
  3. I lasted more than I expected because I made sure to slow down every time I felt out of breath or exhausted
  4. To stop running and just walk for a bit seemed enticing, but I remembered that it would also make me lose my momentum. So I reduced my pace instead
  5. To avoid an excessive raise in body temperature,I shifted to breathing with my mouth as soon as I felt hot and continued the same.
  6. On seeing my fellow runners fidget with their sponsored t-shirts, I was glad to have remembered to wear an old t-shirt under the new one
  7. Halfway through I realised I should have carried my own Gatorade. While there were multiple refreshment pit stops, your body isn’t conditioned to get dehydrated based on the proximity to a re-hydration supply
  8. ‘Short-term goals’: That was my constant mantra.I was constantly setting short distance and visible goals based on landmarks or objects (not once on the basis of time or distance). Only after crossing the current short distance goal, would I pick the next one. Yes, I was tricking my brain into regularly releasing dopamine along with the feel-good endorphin. But I didn’t want my brain to feel cheated, so I only set the next goal after I had put the current goal behind myself (literally)
  9. Short steps reduced the load on my knees and also improved the frequency of my steps
  10. A regular and longer arm swing improved my momentum at the times when I wanted to be a tortoise. Thanks to stationary, arm swing exercises that we were asked todo, by a marathoner, with 1kg of weight in each hand
  11. During the last few minutes, when I was only a few hundred meters away from the end, I knew I’d superseded my expectations. Being the fickle person I am, I wanted more than I had and knew I could have had more only if I’d been more consistent
  12. SMILE!I remembered that I could release for feel good hormone by smiling and I did that. As the run got more taxing I started smiling larger- as was suggested tome
  13. The last 200 meters was a single sprint. I’m not sure of the how I could do it butI know why I did it. Maybe because I was so excited to have completed it!

WhileI sit washed, in the comfort of a sofa while writing this, I have mixed thoughts about having have had enjoyed every second of the salty water running down and entering my mouth when I first got into a shower. It was strangely exhilarating.

(With all things said and done, I feel gratitude towards an inspiring friend who started off as being my mentor 10 months ago. He has always shown faith and supported me despite my inconsistencies. Thank you!)

Afloat in Mulki

Back flat on the grainy floor of a front porch, eyes closed, she truly enjoyed the burning of her skin under the sun. It was hotter than usual but her body continued to feel like she was bobbing on the river in a kayak. The harmless insects took their own time starting at the heel and climbing to the toe. The slow crawling felt oddly welcoming.

The heat soothing the strained muscles, the coconut trees making the light play peek-a-boo on her face; nature’s care in the most tender form. Clothes a little damp from all the water splashed by her amateur paddles, the skin was well pickled by the minerals of the sea. With a colour block vision of lush green and muddy blues, her brain seemed to be playing games with her relaxing eyes.

The fresh water caressing the parked kayaks on the shore created a prolonging sensation, amplified by the smell of moss, mush and all things tropical. Moist hair, dressed in a bizarre runway fashion, feeling flakey against the pruning fingertips didn’t seem like a concern anymore. The soreness between the index finger and the thumb from rowing, a sweet reminder of ticking another experience off her list and enjoying it just as much as she had imagined. The circular, dance-like movement of the vultures in the sky will always remind her of them joining in her own merry making.

The land was solid and stable yet the mind believed that it was drifting under bridges, around groves. The reflection of white migrating birds and their graceful flight inches away from the surface still had her wondering. She still felt an unreasonable pang of jealousy when she saw fishes skipping with no worry in the world and the jets leaving a relatively permanent trail like a longer lasting reflection of the water lines cut through to move ahead.

The frogs croaked gleefully like in a fare, the dragonflies wheezing around occasionally and slowly the crickets were starting to claim their space. Pockets filled with sand, the lips were smile kissed.

There was a nearing sound of moving tarpaulin under approaching feet and she heard her name. And just like that she knew that even though she had rested, she never really had parted from the sea and it was time to be back in it!

*An experience this beautiful is to be credited to its curators. I first met Rakesh in Manali on a trip put together by Wandermile (Chennai based). This group’s experiential itineraries are soul-felt and enriching.

Read more about them at http://blog.wandermile.com/ or get in touch through contact@wandermile.com

Churning Wheels: Needs

(This is the third and last article of the Churning Wheels series)

If we were to be absolutely honest with ourself, place our hand on our heart and admit. Admit to how often have have we measured ourself up against the world or others against ourself! And in doing so, we have all used accomplishments as the most handy tool for measuring and comparing. While its easy to quantify most successes and its easy to draw conclusions and arrive at results with numbers, have you wondered why?

Why are achievements the way to measure us and grade our abilities?

As one part of my two-fold plan was satisfied, I found myself at relative ease. There was one more view to explore and a decent amount of clarity on the topic if not the content. I began with what I already knew- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is one of the most often referred to theory for understanding any behaviour and growth related situation across fields.

According to a Mr. Maslow, human needs are of five kinds, arranged in a hierarchy from basic necessities to the ones concerning higher levels of the self. The hierarchy begins with:

  • Physiological Needs (food, water, sleep, sex)- at the bottom
  • Safety Needs (clothing, shelter, employment, health)
  • Love and Belonging Needs (family, friends, society, intimacy)
  • Esteem/ Ego Needs (respect, achievement)
  • Self-Actualisation (meaning, inner potential, creativity)- at the top
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On the basis of this theory, it was proposed (still holds true) that all living being, irrespective of their individual differences, have the same needs. My churning wheels liked this pyramid as it helped me answer the unasked questions. But somewhere I wanted more. Something beyond the philosophy of survival.

At this point, I’m not sure if I was curious for the over-achieving yet unhappy man. Or was I curious because even I have felt dissatisfied when I had no reason to be. By now, I had repeatedly asked myself if I was truly happy. And I instantly had known that my happiness wasn’t always honest, sometimes it was just an over joyed laughter that did not touch my eyes.

So while I read further I found that the five needs are often categorised by some, under something called the ‘Trio of Needs’; namely Power, Affiliation and Achievement.

  • Power: it is closely associated to the ego need of individuals. It is the boost in self-esteem when one exercises control over their surroundings or on the people around them
  • Affiliation: It is similar to Maslow’s social needs. It suggests that human behaviour is strongly influenced by their desire for acceptance and to conform. The need for belonging and companionship
  • Achievement: This can be related to Ego and Self-actualisation needs. It makes achievement or success feel like an end in itself.

Different people place different weightage on each of these needs; the ratio changes but rarely does anyone completely omit any. I noticed that the Trio was far more fitting for my situation because if doesn’t try to explain the basic physiological needs along with safety. It just gets to the point of where we make choices.

We do not choose whether we are hungry or sleep deprives, whether we need to feel safe or wish for a healthy functioning body; they are constant and unchanging. But we all, at multiple points, revise and rearrange our priorities. So maybe the question is about how we prioritise? Maybe it is as simple and important as asking ourselves how we feel, from time to time. And based on the answer to that we could create our ratios. The trio are the three parts of a see-saw, the centre is always the one keeping the other two ends in place and balanced.

So if I feel under-confident then temporarily I could place achievement at the centre, it will boost my self-image, improve my confidence and eventually increase my power quotient. When achievement alone stops satisfying me, I will have to ask myself again what I need, and it might be time to rearrange. When I fail to feel happiness inspite of all the success, it will be time to put achievement on the other end and let affiliations sooth me back.

And while I play see-saw, I will have to remember that my constant needs are the grass bed at the bottom- unassuming and easily taken for granted but also the one that catches me when I fall.

Have I arrived at the right answer? Do I have all the answers? Is this a go-to formula? Is it fool-proof?…. Well I’m going to find out sooner or later. Until then I’m going to ask myself about how I feel and try to remedy it as and when I feel discomfort.

References:

Philosophy and Psychology of Branding |Solomon Managament Consultants. (2014, April 23). Retrieved November 12, 2018, from http://www.solomon-mc.com/philosophy-and-psychology-of-branding/

Schiffman, L. G., Kanuk, L. L., & Kumar, S. R. (2010). Consumer motivation. In Consumer behaviour(10th ed., pp. 88-116). Dorling kindersley (india) pvt.

Churning Wheels: Potion Quotient

(This is the second article of the Churning Wheels series)

With a whirlwind of ideas that I couldn’t address all at once I was left restless for a day or more. So I did the best things that I could think of- ponder, wonder, ignore, convince myself that it’s not my monkey hence not my circus. Over time I tried digging deeper, finding articles or asking people if they knew what I felt; well let’s just say there wasn’t much success there either. Internet is smart but it didn’t know the answer to my unsure questions and left me clueless.

After some more time of self-tormenting I decided that the best way to understand what an individual goes through is by looking at it from a two-fold system:

  1. Their chemical proportions
  2. Their needs as individuals

With better clarity than before, there finally was a direction to look at.

A little reading and some permutation and combinations later, I realised that there are four chemicals that are responsible for most human happiness. The beauty of such chemicals is that they needn’t be injected but we can learn to produce and help product more of them within ourselves.

  • The first chemical is ENDORPHIN. It’s the one responsible for making us feel good after a session of physical exercise, despite all the muscle strain, by reducing the perception of pain and are also responsible for feeling of euphoria; also known as the body’s ‘feel good chemical’.
  • The next one is DOPAMINE. This motivates us into performing better and being achievers. It creates a sense of contentment and high through achievements. It is also called the brain’s ‘reward and pleasure centre’ ; more the dopamine more the productivity. Lowered motivation and enthusiasm is an indicator or low levels of dopamine.
  • Third in line is SEROTONIN. This motivates us to indulge in pro-social behaviours. Its released when we perform acts of kindness towards others, making the world seem like a better place. Commonly known as the ‘happiness hormone’, it can affect the body temperature, cause migraine and regulate appetite.
  • And finally OXYTOCIN. This is the social potion, often also called the ‘love hormone’. It is released through proximity. It’s the reason why sometimes hugs feel more therapeutic than words. It works on the trust, warmth, openness and empathy of individuals.chemicals.jpg

On gaining this new information, the next seemed obvious. I had to know how I could improve the production of these hormones in my body without resorting to chemical substitutes. With it began the next phase of my research and I was surprised at how simple it is to make myself happy!

Here are some steps that can be adopted easily in everyday:

  1. Soak in the sun as vitamin D is fat-soluble and directly effects the production of Oxytocin.
  2. Exercise regularly as it has many mind-body benefits. Staying active helps the physiology and is directly related to the production of Endorphin.
  3. Sleep well because your body needs the rest. It is said that most of these hormones are produced when the body is in a resting state that’s why when we wake up after a good night’s sleep we feel energised and refreshed. By the end of the day, the body has usually exhausted its supple of these hormones, making it tired and deserving of the rest.
  4. Eat a protein rich diet and avoid processed foods. Veggies, unsaturated fats, nuts and seeds are the best way.
  5. Quit or limit your sugar consumption*
  6. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and caffeine. They create dependence and interfere in the natural hormone production process.
  7. Listen to music that you enjoy as it triggers the pleasure centres.
  8. Try aromatherapy; esp. lavender and chamomile, as they are known to have relaxing properties.
  9. Practice yoga and meditation as they are known to relieve stress and relax the body and mind.
  10. Practice the art of giving, volunteering and donating in-order to feel good.
  11. Cuddle with loved ones and your pets because love spreads positivity and joy.
  12. Laugh! Laughing in real time is the best medicine for all kinds of situations.
  13. Take up hobbies, do creative things and invest time in yourself**
  14. Have celebratory rituals for all small and big accomplishments (eg. A celebratory dance, treating self with favourite food, etc).

As an adult most of us can consciously put in an effort to improve our own happiness. But as adults we should also take up the responsibility of equipping children with the ability to do so by providing them an environment to be happy and helping them inculcate little activities into their routines. What could be better than a generation of humans being brought up with happiness improvement mechanisms?

Note:

*Refer to “Sugaring it Down” https://thehazywhisperer.com/2018/10/10/sugaring-it-down/

**Refer to “Try It” https://thehazywhisperer.com/2018/07/26/try-it/

References:

10 Best Ways to Increase Dopamine Levels Naturally. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-dopamine

33 Ways to Increase Dopamine to Boost Your Productivity. (2018, March 15). Retrieved from https://helloendless.com/10-ways-to-increase-dopamine-to-boost-your-productivity/

Email OF The Day. (1970, January 01). Retrieved from http://emailday.blogspot.com/2015/09/wwwkeralitesnet-4-happy-hormones.html

Jason Nutzman. (n.d.). What Are Endorphins And 7 Ways to Boost It Naturally. Retrieved from https://mindhealth.co/what-are-endorphins-and-7-ways-to-boost-it-naturally

Mojor, C, (2018, November 06). Te Mystery of Serotonin:Can It Really Make You Happy? Retrieved from http://www.developinghumanbrain.org/serotonin-mystery/

Churning Wheels

I sat there in the evening breeze looking out the balcony, changing my view from the carved metal railing to a monochromatic sky as my feet pushed the swing back and forth. My companion, pushing along- in sync with my feet, was a straight A, trophy hoarding, an apple of everyone’s eye kind of person. In the company of heavy silence, where the grey skies seemed to be mimicking us, my sense of self was undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts. My self-concept wasn’t altered much at its crest, but it did change attire as our seldom-worded conversation progressed.

It first began with being a small bundle of rather morbid feeling nerves. I mean, the only straight ‘A’ that I’ve been consistent with is the last alphabet in my name! Slowly, after some self-cheering I realised that I couldn’t possibly be all that gloomy, I mean I do have people who love me despite all my flaws. Don’t the bees only stick around if there is some honey to have? So there had to be some amber in me.

Over the seconds that bloomed into minutes and blossomed into an hour, I found myself feeling happy about my muddy pond even if it wasn’t a golden bowl. Don’t get me wrong; I did not dim out the star to make my glow bug bum look brighter. I just started to realise that both our sparkles glow well, just in our own unique colours. In this mental monologue I had come to also realise that there was something disturbingly different about our independent sparkles- could it be that mine was in my eyes and his was in the eyes of the people that looked at him?

Being the hopeless romantic that I am, with the desire for a story, my violent curiosity uttered the first audible dialogue- “What’s wrong?”

Were those the right words, should I have bothered, will this have a desired response, was there a happy ending at the end of this- I was still unsure.

Well, the first response was an instant passé smile; as if asking me to mind my own business in the most gentlemanly manner known to mankind. But some delicate prodding by shamelessly extending an expectant look with sub-zero words uttered, changed the direction of vocal dialogue delivery.

What began with a sigh, went onto being a jumble of words trying desperately to catch up with the speedy mixed thoughts and thoughtful pauses. He said, “I’m not sure what it is. Its like- I design cars from the scratch and yet your joy of driving a hand-me-down is far more potent than what I feel… You know, I’ve achieved more that most people my age and have never done anything that I’m embarrassed of- not that I’m trying to boast. Everyone’s parents wish for their kids to be like me, my parents couldn’t be more proud of me… Sorry, I’m just rambling… Uh, I’m just not feeling it! I have all reason to be happy, but I am not. You know what I mean?.. Or not?… I’m sure I sound like a loony right now. Forget whatever I just said. I don’t seem to make sense to myself sometimes… What I’m trying to say is that your smile intimidates me.”

And just like that the tables had been turned, roles reversed.

Now I was the one with a passé smile while he just gave expectant glances and gallons of empty silence for me to fill.

There sure were thoughts in my head. There were appropriate questions that I could ask. There was just one little problem- too many wheels had started to turn at once. It felt like my brain was supplying so much data to my tongue at once that it couldn’t choose the best alternative to provide as an output. Now I was lost, not for thought, but because I had too many thoughts that prevented my clarity of thought, you know what I mean?

And just like that I knew I was going to need some time to declutter and better compartmentalise my reaction…

 

*continued at http://www.thehazywhisperer.com/2018/11/12/churning-wheels-potion-quotient