March 31, 2009

What you might henceforth learn at B-school

Good business schools are becoming aware that apart from learning how to maximise wealth, they need to also learn how to maximise happiness - their own and of those around them.

There is a difference between happiness and what we describe as joy and pleasure. On a warm day what a glass of cold lemon juice gives you is pleasure for it is momentary and sensory. Happiness, on the other hand, is experienced in the mind and is therefore infinitely more powerful.

Are we happier today than we were a hundred years ago? If we're not, isn't it amazing that technological aids have not been able to add to our happiness?

What could we do to feel happy or happier?

1. Identify what makes you happy: I have met very few people who are clear about what makes them happy. Since they are unclear about their objectives, they live a perennially unhappy life. List down what will make you happy. Generate goals that are specific, achievable but challenging.

2. Compete with yourself: A study conducted at Harvard demonstrated that people are happier when they are relatively more prosperous than their compatriots. Respondents chose between two situations: a) Your annual salary is $1,00,000 while your compatriot gets $75,000; b) Your annual salary is $1,50,000 while your compatriot gets $1,75,000. Though the salary was more in the (b) situation, respondents overwhelmingly preferred (a). Why not compete with oneself instead of grieving over others' achievements?

3. Don't expect everyone to agree with you: We usually equate disagreement with enmity in spite of knowing that intelligent people rarely agree on anything; every individual has a perspective that's unique. So try and persuade the other person but don't be unhappy if you fail.

4. Live life according to your beliefs: Intellectual independence must follow financial independence. Implement your beliefs without inconveniencing others and be happy.

5. Live in the present: The past is dead and gone. Peep into it only to learn from mistakes. Dream of the future but remember you can't enjoy it until it becomes your present. So don't postpone what you can do today.

6. Increase the sources of your happiness: Gardening, singing, playing an instrument, exercising, meditating... The more the merrier.

7. Limit your desires: We get caught in that vicious spiral of infinite wants. The happiness you derive from moving from one product to another 'bigger, better, more expensive' is at best short-lived. Try to figure out what you can do without. Incremental benefits as you climb up the value chain of materialism are fewer than the incremental costs that you might incur.

8. Forgive and forget: Forgiving your opponents who played dirty may not make you a winner but it would surely make you happier. Jealousy and prolonged anger are agents of death.

9. Keep your curiosity alive: People who vigorously retain the childlike habit of questioning are happy on two counts. They enjoy getting to know the answers and their curiosity keeps their mind alive and kicking.

10. Shun hypocrisy: We worship women as goddesses but don't respect them at home, workplace or any other situation. We keep our courtyards clean by dumping garbage in the neighbour's compound or on the street. Double standards don't contribute to happiness.

11. Spend time with the young: Their happiness is infectious and costs nothing.

12. Give liberally: Share your smile, advice, cheer, money, help or just company. Giving should reduce your assets but giving happiness actually increases your own inventory - just try it out!

Courtesy: The Times Speaking Tree

March 30, 2009

Abstract musings

I've been in a pensive mood during the last few days. It is that part of life where I frequently traverse through. It is like the one-step-back-two-steps-forward way of going through life, if there ever is a way like that to spend life. But then, who cares. Life is very personal!

These days three abstracts are occupying my mind a lot. Death, poverty and future.

Death is painful, always, for everybody. Not for the dead, but for the surviving. I am scared of being a survivor too, witnessing such painful deaths. Very scared. Dying is easier than leaving someone behind when you die. I feel so. I believe so. Death is a great leveler. Most people get more respect after death than they earned when they were alive. When someone around you part away from you forever, for how long would you feel the difference, the absence, the void? A month, a year, few years? The question sounds harsh, but the question is real. Reality can be harsh. Reality does not try to appear before you in a manner you wish or like. it just appears. Reality is. IT simply IS.

I was seeing a movie the other day in which a little girl, who has lost her mother, retorts while she is crying, looking at her mom's snap: I am afraid I will forget mom. Very deep words. Truthful words. Only a child could say that. Adults are incapable of that.

Nobody prefers to be poor yet many are. Poverty makes you lose perspective of what you are capable of. A person living on hand-to-mouth basis cannot, in most cases, think of creating a better world. And there is a lot in this world that has degraded. A less poorer world can take care of other tangibles more aptly. Many of us have a genuine chance to make a real difference to the world around us. Many of us do not. Give me a crore of rupees and I could spend it away for the greatest of comforts and luxuries. I am already doing it. Not a crore, but may be a million. For a bigger house, for a more peaceful life, for a more secure future.

Future. It could mean hope. It could mean gloom. I spend my millions, some their crores, for hope. I leave many to look forward to gloom. I could change it for them. I could at least try to.

I do not fear MY future. I do not fear MY death. I do not fear MY poverty. But I fear each of it for many OTHERS.

March 25, 2009

Punctuality: a virtue of the bored?

As much as I would want to think otherwise, I cannot help but believe that being punctual is a crime in this world around us. I have my experiences with this unpunctual world more often than I would want to have. From lectures to trainings, official meetings to personal meetings, a vist to a doctor or a marriage reception, it seems it is cool and trendy to be late. An appointment scheduled at 9am is supposed to be at 9am only for the stupids among us. For the trendy lot, it means 9.30am or later. The stupid lot amongst us must wait for the trendy lot. Yeah, punctuality definitely seems to be the virtue of the bored and useless in this new, cool world.

During my last days at my last organisation where I worked, I turned up late many times. I hated it myself. I quit very soon thereafter. I find it difficult to justify/tolerate people coming late for my lectures, trainings, meetings, etc. And then a lame sorry with a equally lame smile does not help either. How can everyone be late at the same time? Every time? Is it a problem that I have to tackle? The concept of democracy/majority applies so blatantly to everything around us. We can see what it has done to our political system. I can see it changing the rules of our daily lives too. Punctuality is surely passe. It is making a fool of ourselves to be on time and wait for the more useful, busier, worthy lot. They did not ask us to be on time, did they? Yeah, may be they suggested that we are meeting at 9am. So what? We must be aware of the way it works.

A doctor coming late can be understandable many times if he is coming from another clinic/patient. Yet, I believe it is manageable by keeping a good buffer between two clinics. Why would they? It would mean lesser hours/patients to make money during a day. In any case, it is the useless lots of patients that are waiting.

A lecture/training/meeting starting late because students/participants are not in on time? It is a criminal waste of time. Period.

Marriage receptions starting late! Holy crap. I cannot find a more stupid thing than that. The next reception I attend and not starting on time, I hope to walk off from the venue. Will that change the way the receptions are held? Of course not. The majority walks in only with/after the couple. So neither of them mind that. What about the time printed on the invitation card? Oh, that's just a formality.

I wonder whether the army at the border protecting the country decides to start a counter-attack 15 minutes late! Would they also believe punctuality is an act of stupidity? Does a doctor who has to operate on a critical patient decide that going in on time would mean he is sitting vela? So he decides to wait for 15-20 minutes before he enters the OT? My sense is that they do not. And I am very thankful for that.

If there is a true punctual person reading this, my sympathies are with you. I can imagine the numerous minutes (accumulated into many hours) you would have wasted waiting for the more important others.

For the readers who are late generally, do not offer the mortals like us a suggestion that we also must accordingly set our watches and come late. We cannot do it even if we want to. Being on time is a habit, and you must know habits do not die soon. Your habit of not coming on time, for instance.

As a closing note, imagine a world around us where the flights and trains always run late (this is not the case now, mind you), the financial markets start whenever the majority decides to, movies at cinema halls are a function of majority coming in, examinations never stay true to their timings, television programmes are always not on schedule, banks operate without timings. Would you want to live in such a world? If not, change yourself. Respect time. The only thing that is equally distributed to everyone in this world is time unlike money, respect, opportunities, intelligence or happiness. Value it before it stops valuing you.

March 17, 2009

A simple conversation... again!

Well, yes. I had to write something more on my previous post. Something that I deliberately refrained from writing in my original post. I wanted to experiment something through that post. A style of writing which I think I have used for the first time. But going by the comments the post triggered, albeit few, it seems that I have failed in that style of writing. It was interpreted as a witty one, and perhaps that is how the post seemed like.

I did not intend at even an iota of humour in that post. The post was a very brash attempt to point out the disparities of this world, highlighted through the humidity and the air-conditioner stuff. They were mere metaphors. The post was an attempt to reflect on the ignorance of the two sides of this country and pretty much the world. The not-so-rich and the rich. The privileged and the not-so-privileged. The aware and the not-so-aware. The awakened and the not-yet-awakened.

The way the character explains his fight to beat the humidity and the matter-of-factly reply of the other character was hinted at the stark difference in the way they are. More importantly, the absence of understanding each other's point of view was an omission I intended. It is like being shown a world that you never thought existed. Fact is, a lot of us are those characters.

Alas, I failed in doing so. The very moment I started writing this post to explain the thought-process behind the earlier one, I have failed in the experiment! Yet, I enjoyed that post a lot and personally think it is one of the better ones/most original I have ever written. I repeat, me thinks so.

Happy reading! :)

March 13, 2009

A simple conversation...

'It is so humid these days, you see. Becomes so very difficult to sit at home on a holiday. I wish there are no holidays only, ha ha. But need holidays to complete the work at home. Wife and children always complain. One side they, other side boss, ha ha. Cannot blame either. Wife and children are so frustrated at home. It's so humid these days. On top of it, the power cut. I read in the newspaper the other day that load shedding will be reduced. What is happening to it? Nothing. I feel politicians are all corrupt. They must have used all the power for their houses, ha ha. Common people like us have to suffer. Full day sweating. It is so humid these days. During night time also, we are not able to sleep properly. Forces us to wear nothing really, ha ha. Two table fans also are not enough. Ceiling fan never seem to give us proper comfort. That is also corrupt like politicians, ha ha. I use many ideas during night time. I soak the bedsheet with ice water and spread it on the mattress. Then I spread a dry one on top of it. When you lie down on it then, makes you feel good with the coolness. Sometimes we keep the windows open. Problem is that lot many mosquitoes come inside. They also must be feeling hot outside no, ha ha. We also pour cold water on the asbestos to keep it cold. That helps, you see. I use all these ideas, ha ha. What to do, it is so humid these days. What do you guys do?'

'Who, we? We switch on the AC.'