Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Avoid # Overwork and be Happy

Stress is fine as long as it does not distress us but these days most of us are distressed because of overwork.If we are here,doing this,we are at the same time thinking of what all we have to do after that.We decide that once we have dealt with the various tasks which come popping in our minds we will take a long rest,but the to-do list elongates like an elastic till it breaks, or we break down.

There is little doubt that over-work has it's own incentives.It begets us appreciation,rewards and material benefits.But it is also true that after a certain point the productivity and quality of our work diminishes and negative effects creep in.

When we are dog tired the first casualty is the Circadian Rhythem.We sleep late and less,get up late,wreck our eating hours and skip a minimum physical routine.Many of us resort to substance abuse in order to make up for all these aberrations in our routine.The adverse effects begin from here.

Tiredness,irritability,headache,backache and eye fatigue are common.If we consistently work for more than 10 hours every day,our memory and cognitive abilities too,could decline.Depression and anxiety could follow.Physical ailments like high blood pressure,cardiovascular problems and digestive disorders also make their way if we stretch ourselves too far.Even the immunity depletes.As if this was not enough,our family and social life too,are adversely affected.

Not much good comes out of over work,eh?It could be a sorry necessity for those who are hard up,but it is also a chosen lifestyle for many.A yen for perfection,a desire to climb up the social ladder and be seen as a successful person,a hunger for material wealth and status symbols--any of these can push a person to work himself to death.

We drudge so that we can lead a happy,satisfying life;but if we go on like this without knowing when to stop, when will we enjoy the fruits of our labor?The goal of happiness keeps shifting farther and farther and the whole exercise becomes self-defeating.

Being stressed now and then is fine,but that constant feeling of having lots to do or very little time to do all that needs to be done is very detrimental to our well-being.Something needs to be done to avoid this outcome.

*It is necessary to prune our to-do list and garner more time to relax.We can chuck out the chores for which we have no aptitude if they are not really that important;or hire help to get them done.One way of beating stress and finding satisfaction from work is,to prioritize our tasks,finish the most important ones first and tick them off as we go on. 

*We often cling to everything because we fear that no one can do it the way we can.Very often it is not the truth,but our yen for perfection rearing it's head.If we could lower our standards a bit or trust someone else to do part of the work satisfactorily then we would have much more free time in which to relax.

*Sometimes we saddle ourselves with lots of work just because we cannot say 'No' to anyone.We shall have to learn this technique if do not want to become beasts of burden.

*One thing which makes even normal amount of work seem laborious is clutter.If we organize our work station and get rid of spurious distractions we shall work much faster and better.

*Lastly,Taking a break whenever possible can be highly refreshing and energizing.It will also stave off a burnout

It is essential to remember that there is more to life than work,success,achievement and material acquisitions.Our bodies require a minimum time to rest and recuperate or they will fail us.Similarly our minds too,need some form of recreation in order to function at their full potential.A life bereft of relaxation and entertainment is more like a punishment.

If our work creates friction at home and weakens our relationships, then it needs to be reassessed so that we do not lose the love and companionship of our family and friends.The joy of just sitting idle in the company of those who care for us,exchanging thoughts and sharing memories,relaxes us as nothing else can.True happiness lies in our relationships and not in the external symbols of wealth or success.

Image courtesy google.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oft In The Stilly Night--by Thomas Moore

Oft, in the Stilly Night (Scotch Air)
Oft, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Fond memory brings the light
Of other days around me;
The smiles, the tears,
Of boyhood’s years,
The words of love then spoken;
The eyes that shone,
Now dimm’d and gone,
The cheerful hearts now broken!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain hath bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

When I remember all
The friends, so link’d together,
I’ve seen around me fall,
Like leaves in wintry weather;
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some banquet-hall deserted,
Whose lights are fled,
Whose garlands dead,
And all but he departed!
Thus, in the stilly night,
Ere slumber’s chain has bound me,
Sad memory brings the light
Of other days around me.

# Old Age and # Unhappiness

Being old today is more stressful than it ever was before.

The sea-change which we are witnessing in our lives leaves us oldies panting to keep pace.Hitherto simple activities are becoming more and more complex and tech-driven.Whether it is using your mobile,viewing the T.V,opening car doors and windows,operating the faucets in plush new-age buildings--everything is in a state of flux.Even lodging a complaint for a land-line phone or booking an L.P.G gas cylinder is not as simple as it used to be.And going to the cinema or mall is fraught with challenges of basement parking,lifts,escalators,A.T.Ms,credit cards and more.An attempt to grab some entertainment results in tension and perspiration. 

We learn a few tricks only to be confronted with many more.A deterioration in physical prowess and mental faculties makes all this an uphill task and if we give up, then there is the danger of being side-lined for ever.Life today is all about smartness and achievement.We lag behind sorely on these counts and it is very humiliating.

Lack of Support

Gone are the days when we could entrust the difficult jobs to our kids and rest in peace.They have moved out in search of their dreams.Very natural and understandable,but it leaves the whole drudgery of running the home upon our frail shoulders.It no doubt,energizes us and keeps us agile but it can also be very tiring.

There are groceries to be bought and countless bills to be paid;beginning with electricity,water,mobile,DTH,clubs and house tax etc.Then there is the upkeep of our homes,the umpteen repairs which crop up from time to time.Day and night connectivity is of little use when there is work to be done at the ground level.

Failing Health

All this becomes very difficult due to failing health which is the hallmark of old age.Any new symptom is cause for concern and the whole exercise of fixing doctors' appointments,undergoing various tests and procedures and coming to terms with the assault of a new disease on your body--all this has to be suffered mostly all alone.If you are lucky you may have your spouse with you but s/he too is likely to be in the same basket.

Diseases are not only painful and alarming-they are also very demeaning,especially when you lose control over your body functions.Being bathed,sponged,clothed,diapered and fed on bed--all this is hard to adjust to.You are forced to jettison your modesty and body-shame.Your children will do all they can to alleviate your suffering but the agony of being a burden upon others is ever present.
We all love the company of friends and relatives.It is an excellent mood booster.But the company of our peer group dwindles at an alarming pace.One by one,they leave for their ultimate destination.This leaves us lonely and worried.It is not easy to strike up new friendships at our age.The vacuum remains.
Lack of Occupation
We have all the time in the world but very little to occupy us.The drudgery of running our home does not count.Those whose life till now was focused upon their family and career are suddenly bereft of all responsibilities.The career has come to an end and the children are capable of managing their own lives.Is it any wonder then,that we feel useless and redundant?This results in a lot of rumination which is poison for peace of mind and good health.
A Feeling of Insignificance
This is the last straw.When you feel that your knowledge,expertise and skills are no longer required you feel useless and insignificant.It destroys your self respect and you lose the will to live.Mental disorders like anxiety and depression barge in.Your children will be anguished to see this change in you and they will try their best to help you but the spark has to be kindled from within.You have to banish negative thoughts and believe in yourself.

In order to bring this about it is necessary to join the mainstream and connect with people.Strike up a conversation with those you come across,whether it be a shopkeeper,a vendor or someone standing next to you in a queue.This will ward off loneliness,which,research shows,can cause early death.It will also give you something to think about in the lonely hours.

Daily walking too,is a must.When you go out you meet people,greet them,they smile back at you and the cloud lifts up a bit.You absorb Vitamin D,which maintains bone density,reduces Triglycerides and cures depression.Stretching exercises,yoga and meditation too,are excellent tools for nurturing body ,mind and soul.The idea is to keep up an optimum level of activity.

Entertainment comes close behind.A hobby you could not pursue earlier can be taken up now.Even simple activities like playing cards,board games,coloring,solving puzzles watching TV or listening to music can add freshness to a dull day.The whole purpose is to pass the time in a happy way and stop your mind from reveling in distressing thoughts.

Many people find solace in prayer meetings.Gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us,the good times we lived through and a faith in the Almighty will enable us to live the sunset years in the best possible manner.

Any more ideas anybody?

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Image courtesy google.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Cudgelled into Obedience--All facts no Fiction.

What could be the reason behind a decent 27 year old B.Tech boy smashing mobiles ,breaking his watch and even taking a swipe at his wife-though instantly regretting it?This is what brought him to my counselling centre.He was at the end of his tether.Anger and agitation were written all over his face.

No prodding was needed.He blurted out instantly'My father and his elder brother have destroyed my life.'He had planned to take the GMAT test but his elders conned him into getting engaged to a girl three years ago.He was even beaten up to comply.But he managed to break that tie after a few months.The girl in question attempted suicide.This plunged him into depression and he was treated for it by a psychiatrist who warned his father to not thrust any major decision upon him.

Despite this,the duo got him engaged to another girl after one year.He broke off that engagement too but six months later he was forced to marry a girl citing his grandfather's illness.The girl was not his equal intellectually or culturally--she had a village background,although she was a post graduate.So they were not happy.

After he had narrated all that was boiling inside him,I gave him suitable advice.When I followed up after a few months I came to know that he had gone to Delhi to prepare for his exam.

I hope they are better adjusted now.But his father and uncle did their best to mess up the lives of their son and three other girls.Obedience,children's compliance-at this cost?

Image courtesy shutterstock

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Shriveling of The Extended Family

I remember when I was young we used to have a fixed two months' summer vacation and every year without fail,we would visit my mother's brothers in those vacations.My father did not have any sibling or living parent.There was never a doubt that my uncles' families may not be at home or it may not be convenient for them to have us.

We would halt at Ambala,where my elder uncle lived and then proceed to Nahan where my second uncle and grandfather lived.We were always welcomed with open arms and had great fun with our cousins.During the rest of the year our home was a focal point for our cousins to visit.These meetings fostered affectionate bonds between us.

I wonder how many of us mingle as frequently and informally as we used to,then.Our lives have changed phenomenally.The idea of an extended family might seem incongruous to the millennium kids but a need for togetherness and belonging is ever present in the human heart.Today this hunger is being satiated by social networking sites and countless gadgets.But even a hundred facebook friends or a thousand 'likes' cannot take the place of genuine human warmth.

No wonder,despite 24x7 connectivity this age is being termed as the age of loneliness.This is partly responsible for the hike in mental disorders.Our support systems have dwindled.From an extended family to a nuclear family to one-child-norm to broken homes to live-in relationships;how many loving persons will there be in a child's ambit tomorrow when s/he feels lonely and confused?

But even as I say this I know that the clock cannot be turned back.This is a natural progression of events--no body's fault but everybody's lot.