Saturday, December 29, 2018

So,Are You Rational Or Emotional?

Medium Is Best
One confession: I am a diehard rationalist. I do have emotions but when in a quandary I listen to my brain and not my heart-because the heart has no brains!Jokes apart,this has proven to be the most beneficial and error-free method of navigating through life situations for me.Let me recount the advantages of employing rationality as a polestar:--
The best function of the brain is in problem solving.I think no one would confute this.
Emotions cloud thinking.They divert you from searching for a solution to your problem.The problem drags on and the stress increases.
A severe loss,a calamity,abuse or a breakup:such events will make anyone miserable-even a strict rationalist like me,because some events do need a grieving period.It is even cathartic to shed tears.But ultimately life has to go on,and for this, conscious efforts have to be made to accept what happened and switch from the trauma to the daily demands.

Unpleasant experiences like deception,manipulation,exploitation and grievous harm can be very painful.But if you analyse why it happened,whether you had unknowingly made it easy for the perpetrator to target you,and focus on the precautionary measures to be taken for future safety;then your focus will shift from the pain to protecting yourself from further transgressions.You shall no longer be bogged down by what happened.Peace will return.Life will resume as usual.
Those who are highly emotional,experience every emotion very strongly.Tragedies,trauma and abuse hit them hard. They suffer prolonged periods of suffering, thinking only about the tragic event and lamenting their lot.They may refuse to accept reality and chase shadows,disconnecting themselves from everything else.If they do not shake up their perspective soon,this can even devolve into a mental disorder like Generalized Anxiety Disorder or depression.

Even lesser disappointments seem unbearable to emotional people because they they forge strong relationships and expect a lot from them.Their involvement in everything-whether love or work-is total.That is why they find it difficult to get over broken ties or major failures.Emotional fragility prolongs their suffering and delays the healing process.

Problems will come,failures will distress and people will annoy,oppose or deceive.It pinches.But then,you cannot expect to succeed every time;or command people to like you and be on their best behavior when they accost you.But you can take heart from a thought that along with adversaries and failures there are friends,supporters,and achievements too in your life.This acknowledgement nullifies the stress.
On the other hand if you allow the hydra-headed monster of distressing emotions like sadness,anger,hatred and  despair to overpower you,then you offer a BIG space to anxiety;because firstly,emotions can project a spark as a flare,and secondly, such events,being beyond your control,cannot be stopped,and you shall continue to remain disturbed. The only thing you can do is,adopt a level headed approach to life and stay balanced.
                                      MENTAL HEALTH
Those who abide by rational thinking are rewarded by sound mental health.Whenever a catastrophe threatens,a host of doubts,fears,worries and conflicting emotions besiege us,pulling us this way or that.Rational thinking alone can show us the best possible way of getting out of that conundrum. It protects us from emotional problems like anxiety and depression. 
Emotional people are fine human beings:sensitive,sincere,caring and empathetic.But they are more vulnerable to the ups and downs of life.Emotions present a subjective view of a circumstance or imbroglio. They can mislead.They magnify a problem;even scaring you with a worst-case-scenario which may not be likely at all,thus giving a free field to anxiety.You can overcome this tendency by focusing more on your thinking and less on feelings.If only you could build a shield of rationality around your heart you would be so much calmer.

It would be unfair to wind up this post after going on and on about the benefits of logic without sounding an alarm.Too much of reason and minimal emotions will make a person cold,insensitive,selfish and callous.A moderate balance is what one should aspire for.Early exposures have a big role in making us who we are,but if there is a marked tilt towards one side then any time is a good time to correct it.

Sometimes it is difficult to decide where we stand in a wide spectrum.Given below is a quiz to help you along:--

The image and quiz courtesy google search.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Luminaries

Some people have all the luck.They are truly blessed.Not a single incongruous note in the lyrical symphony of their lives.I have often looked wistfully at them and wished for a perfect life like theirs.But almost immediately I chastise myself.How do I know what transpired before that star touched the zenith?More importantly,who knows what the future holds for them? After all a high tide cannot stay high for ever,it has to come down.

Why this happens is food for thought.Is it destiny or mere rotation of the wheel of life?It could even be mere negligence or mishandling of lady luck's boons. Attaining an iconic status is not easy.It requires hard work and vision.But even after reaching the pinnacle one's metier has to be safeguarded wisely:from self as well as jealous rivals.

The self is the first wall of defense against a downfall.Many luminaries have come to a sorry end because of their own imperfections. They topple to the ground when their luck runs out.
  Causes of Downfall
Corruption is rampant in our country.From politicians,bureaucrats and big business men to the humble peon,at every level you will come across people who strive to grab more than they are entitled to.The higher the strata the greater the loot.We do not know how many escape unscathed but some,like Suresh Kalmadi,A Raja and Lalu Prasad Yadav are finally caught and sent to jail.What a dire contrast to their earlier,opulent lifestyles!

The immense power which politicians wield propels them to subvert the law and milk their status to rake up as much wealth as they can.Unfortunately,with their cohorts shielding them to the best of their ability,many escape the net and must still be at large..

When someone is recognized as an ace in his calling,he sometimes regards his juniors as lesser beings and exploits them without any compunction. MJ Akbar,a minister in the central government,used his clout to satisfy his carnal desires.He had to resign from his post after intense public humiliation.

There are many,many more of this kind,but why go deeper in this filth?

Illegal Activities

It is not corruption or sexual exploitation alone which can turn a lucky spell into a sorry phase. Some icons break the law nonchalantly,thinking no one would dare to question them. Sanjay Dutt did just that and had to spend many years in jail for buying an illegal weapon from a known terrorist.

An elite family background and powerful connections embed in some people a conviction that they have special rights and privileges and this misperception one day brings them crashing down from their high horse.Remember how Manu Sharma,born in an affluent family with strong political connections,blew it all when he murdered Jessica Lal for refusing to serve him liquor? He was sentenced to life imprisonment after a huge public outcry and media pressure. 

Personal Failings

Having loads of cash in hand is temptation enough for some to splurge it on their pet fancies:profligacy,alcoholism or drug abuse have left many Bollywood actors penniless.How painful it must be,to be reduced to a near beggar like state after having been idolized by millions.

How much does one need to live a comfortable life?There can be no definite answer to this.The higher you go the more zeroes you will add to the figure.But why do those who belong to the top echelons,who are virtually rolling in wealth,deploy questionable tactics to extract more or satisfy illegitimate desires?

In doing this,they even lose the amenities they once enjoyed;well not always-the judicial system being what it is-but the risk is always there.Had they been more ethical,content,and law abiding;they could have enjoyed a longer,more satisfying innings.What's more,they would have been acclaimed for their integrity.But no,insatiable greed overcomes every other consideration.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."

Image and quote from google search.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Self-Acceptance-The Key To Happiness

"The moment you accept yourself just the way you are is surely the moment you find peace".Many of us do not accept ourselves the way we are,which means we are perennially dissatisfied.

Causes of non-acceptance
You are fine as you are
Discontent most often arises from comparisons and comparisons can never be fair since each person is born with a unique package.

Many people feel inadequate or inferior because of the community,family or social stature to which they belong. 

Then,there is Body Dysmorphic Disorder which can be very excruciating.A minor flaw or an imagined one,can adversely affect the whole range of that person's activities or behavior.Today's emphasis on the externals adds fuel to the fire.

Sometimes those who have been exposed to abuse:whether physical,sexual or emotional, also feel uncomfortable in their skin.Abuse makes them feel like the under-dog and they blame themselves for having attracted abuse.

If it was someone else whose personality we disliked we could easily have shunned that person and carried on blithely, but it is the imperfections which we see in our own selves which pain us hugely and prevent us from enjoying life to the fullest.

The image which we build up of ourselves is not merely an image for us but it is what others see us as,because it governs how we work and relate to others.It holds us from realizing our full potential and it is best to change it.

   In order to accept yourself better:
  • Realize:you are a unique mixture of many qualities and skills which no one else is.
  • Recount your plus points-daily if need be.
  • Remember,nobody is perfect.Those who appear to be so,do a good job of projecting themselves.
  • You too,put your best foot forward.Don't be your own adversary.When you disregard your plus points and focus only on your flaws, this is what you are doing. 
  • Which is that quality which gives you an edge over others?Exploit it to the fullest.
  • And which deviation hurts you most?If it is God-given then you cannot change it.Just accept it and be at peace.
  • If that anomaly can be corrected then make it your mission to correct it.
  • Just think of the people who like you-do they not like you as you are?Including the real or imagined peculiarities?
  • Nobody is the living personification of all that is good or completely bereft of what makes a person worthy,except maybe,the criminal psychopaths.
  • Try to fathom from where and when this tendency to think of yourself as being below par,different,not so worthy,arose.Whatever triggered it can be better used as a learning lesson,a guide for future.Forgive yourself for any gaffe or miscalculation committed by you.It is Self-compassion that you need and not self-hate.
Love yourself,accept yourself,and be proud of your good qualities.When you begin to love yourself-not to the point of narcissism mind you-more people will pay attention to you and you will no longer feel inadequate or inferior.Acceptance of self is imperative for growth and happiness.    

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Image courtesy google.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Worry-part two

Lives there a man so blessed,
Not a single worry in his head?

Not possible.We have plenty of worries circling in our heads.But do we accomplish anything by worrying the hours away?It is true that worrying about a problem does take us to the solution and also readies us to face an impending crisis;but beyond this it has little value.The tendency to worry about each and every spec on the horizon clouds the mind with fears and apprehensions-often without any positive results.The real problems are best dealt with when they knock on the door;why add fearful thoughts to the tasks which are waiting to be finished today?

Scrapping this habit  can result in a calmer you.Less tensions and more enjoyment.I have covered a lot of ground in Worry-part one,which I will not repeat here.But since this malaise often crosses constructive limits,here are a few suggestions for getting rid of it:
Maintain A Worry Journal
A Worry Journal is an effective tool for cutting down the disquieting spells.Start a worry journal and enter the various worries which stressed you,at the end of the day.Number them.Enter the matter which demands urgent attention at the top.

Next day decide what you will do about worry number one,and do it.Hopefully,that should be one important task accomplished and one worry less for you.Procrastination adds to the worry list and action decreases it.Repeat the same exercise at the end of the day.

On the third day again,attend to what requires your immediate attention,and in the evening jot down the worries which have been troubling you since morning;entering the severest one at the top again.

After a week,look at the various worries which had been plaguing you since you started your journal.Did any issue flare up to destroy your health, peace,performance or concord?How many were mere storms in a tea cup?And how many were just flights of your imagination or the result of over thinking?

Also,don't forget to pat your back for having settled some important problems instead of merely worrying about them.
Be More Rational In The Way You Think 
Whenever you feel threatened by ominous thoughts,check them with the ground reality.You may surprisingly realize that what you are fearing is not likely to happen.Or you have the potential to tackle it if it does.
Try To Tilt Your Mind Towards Happy Outcomes
Whenever you find yourself thinking about the outcome of a new development,focus more on the chances of it being good for you.When you know nothing about how it is going to turn out,why imagine the worst outcome?Planning what you will do if a crisis erupts is one thing,but obsessing about it till your equanimity touches the ground is another.
Talk It Out
Talking about what is troubling you with a friend or a family member will clear your mind and decrease anxiety.They may even suggest a way out of your predicament if there is a genuine problem.
Get Active
Instead of sitting and thinking,do some exercise.It will nullify the  ill effects of sitting and ruminating and also divert your mind from baleful thoughts.Yoga and meditation are very good for calming the mind.
Search Your Mind
The best way to tone down your worries is to search for the reason why you fret so much.Are you over-sensitive,pessimistic or ruminative by nature?Do you panic too soon or lack self confidence?Has a past incident jittered you so that you cannot be at ease?Whatever it is;try and get rid of that element which pushes you into the worry valley.          
Be Present In The Present
Neither the past,nor the future is in your hands.Inculcate more optimism in your thoughts and have faith in your own powers.And remember  

Image from google search.    

Saturday, November 3, 2018

#Histrionic Personality Disorder

There are three kinds of people:those who are happy in their own selves and merge into the background even if surrounded by people,those who like company but can also do without it,and those who are happy only when they are the center of attention in any group or gathering.

The last,as you might have guessed,is the histrionic personality.Mostly it is women who fall in this category.All activities of a histrionic female are designed to attract attention and adulation.

She uses her physical appearance to achieve this end.She is always spic and span, immaculately dressed.Her speech is highly theatrical and emotionally charged.She is capable of paying false compliments and making never-to-be-kept promises in order to increase her fan-following.She professes lofty ideals to gain approval but ultimately turns out to be shallow and unreliable.

She is emotionally unstable,extremely self-centered and callous of others' emotions.She is quick to spot competition and will lose no time in undermining her rival or indulging in melodrama to grab eyeballs.In order to safeguard her reign she may even choose to hang out with those who pose no threat to her supremacy.

Her behavior is often inappropriately seductive and voluptuous.She is cheerful and charming,and it is easy to see why people are drawn to her.They are impressed by her charm and she believes she enjoys strong relationships.But when the veneer fades she loses her credibility.As people spot the real person underneath,they slowly distance themselves:making way for the next bunch of gullible souls. 

Dealing with a histrionic personality is very taxing.How long can you continue to feed someone's ego and overlook her lies and underhand ways?The best way is to recognize her tactics and save yourself from being walked over.Walk out if you can but if she is a family member,this too is not possible.All you can do is,avoid being manipulated by her and ignore the spurious stuff. 

It is not easy to be a shining star 24/7.Why does she do it?Maybe early abuse and neglect set her off on this road.Perhaps there is an inner insecurity and not enough confidence in her own worth.She finds it only through others' validation.It is quite pathetic actually.Her life is very glitzy on the outside but inside?Only she knows.

Experts tell us that this is a lifelong condition-it is not possible to cure it.But Talk Therapy can offer relief.An histrionic female may feel depressed but even then she is not likely to seek therapy unless a major life support crumbles.In extreme cases she may indulge in suicidal threats or behavior to grab attention.It is up to those who are close to her,to persuade her to seek psychotherapy.It can ease their predicament to some extent.

Do you know  any histrionic personality closely?Which other characteristics did you spot in her?And how do you deal with her?

"The exact cause of histrionic personality disorder is unknown. Scientists believe it is an outcome of both environmental and genetic factors."

Image courtesy google search.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Good Old Days

Is there any specific age at which one begins to reminisce about the good old days?I don't know.I only know that I often dive into the good old days.Not that I have any complaints about my life today.But there are certain phases of life which appear to me to have been just perfect-full of joy de vivre.

We all have good and bad stretches in life.When we are dissatisfied with a certain component of our lives we slip back into an era which we believe was idyllic in every way.But is it really possible?Can life ever be so utopian as to not have a single jarring note?If we dig deeper we will realize that those days too had their own pin-pricks and rifts but we skim over those unpleasant episodes.

Why do we do it?A very strong reason is that some of the people in those memories now exist only in our memories.They have been gone long.Like I said in Something Breakswe just love to relive the moments we had with them.The memories of our family life,old homes or dear friends were so enriching that they have strong connections with our mind and whenever we look back;maybe due to ennui or lethargy,we just bask in the cool breeze of those memories.

Yes,there must have been squabbles and fights too,but with hindsight we realize that whatever the unpleasantness,we too were not entirely blameless and therefore we forget the ugliness and appreciate the good times.

It is easy to go into a nostalgic trance but this can also be a way of disassociating from the present and it's demands.So it is better to stir ourselves and come back to the present.If we give it all we have,some day we will recall these days also as the'Good Old Days'.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

If You Have Anxiety,Don't Think About This.....

When you have anxiety it is natural to think about your self and how this scourge has changed your personality,moods,thought processes and behavior.It has curtailed many of your activities too.You are naturally aggrieved by these changes.Your self image has dipped and you shy from facing people.You have become reclusive and inactive.Since you don't feel like going out or doing anything,you merely sit and think,and these thoughts are naturally very depressive.The more you ruminate the more lethargic you become,and the more lethargic you are the sorrier you feel for yourself.Thus a vicious cycle is established.

In order to feel better once again,the first requirement is to stop thinking about yourself.But what to think? The mind cannot be stopped from thinking.What you can do is to think of those things which make you feel,if not better,then at least not worse.Open some new channels for it to roam and discover.

One way is to go out and relax in the lap of nature.The greenery all round and the chirrups of birds are incredibly calming.Have you noticed,every tree or bush has a different color,shape,texture or smell?Look at the flowers,inhale their scent,feel their softness.What a wonderful variety!

Now pay attention to the bird calls.Try to trace a call to it's owner.You will soon be able to identify a bird from it's call. Isn't all this very engaging?

And the children-are they playing and screaming near you?Watch their antics.Even a small kid clearly denotes whether it is going to be a leader or a follower;whether it is amiable or aggressive.

And what about the adults?You may see people of various ages around you.Some may have aged well and some others not so well.Some may be accompanied by friends and some others may appear lonesome.An aged person might be walking determinedly,while another may just have sunk down on a seat soon after reaching the park.What does this signify?That everybody has some problem or the other.You are not the only one.

But you can obviously not sit in a park the whole day.So how to ward off those negative thoughts when you are at home or in the office?Look around you carefully.What is it which needs organizing?How can you declutter your work place or spruce up your wardrobe?If there is anything which you have been postponing since long,take it up now.Expending energy doing random jobs subdues anxiety and makes you feel more in control.

You might be harried at present,but one reason why you are feeling so low is,because you are focusing only on the gnawing aspects of your life.Change your perspective.Think of those who have always-well almost always-stood by you.Recall happy memories,look at the bigger picture.Count your blessings.You have to accept the thorns with the roses and learn how to deal with them.Self pity is not the way to do it.Shift your gaze from the thorns to the roses.You will feel good.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Five Habits Which #CauseUnhappiness

We all want to be happy.No one in his right mind would choose unhappiness.Yet we could be harboring habits which make us unhappy.Habits which have become a way of life,of dealing with or reacting to people and circumstances.These habits govern our behavior, shape our perceptions and generate corresponding emotions.

Delving into the past
This is easily the most potent cause of unhappiness.If your past life was much happier than it is today and you are constantly yearning for the days gone by,how can you ever find peace?On the other hand if it was traumatic then too,always going back to those dreadful times will divert you from appreciating and enjoying the gladdening features of your life today.Similarly,dwelling on your past blunders or misdeeds will detract from the happiness which could have been yours if only you had consigned your past to the past.

 Worrying about the future
If ruminating about the past is harmful,worrying about the future unleashes fears and apprehensions--all mere conjectures,or the work of an overactive imagination.Your child is leaving home for higher studies abroad and you begin to speculate if he will successfully counter unhealthy trends and temptations he might be exposed to.Why not have faith in your own upbringing and the child's sagacity to overcome evil influences?Worries and apprehensions do not have the power to change future,they only causes trepidation.Don't anticipate problems,solve with them when they really appear.

Breaking relationships over trifles
Strong relationships can be a mighty source of joy and support.If you are very sensitive or quick to anger,and break off with people whenever you feel wronged or hurt,you are likely to feel lonely and isolated after the fervor has dissipated.Therefore don't be hasty in breaking relationships.Understand people,mingle with them,care for them,forget minor squabbles;and you will be happier.

Overthinking about everything said and done by you or someone else,or even about daily events;causes anxiety,restlessness and fatigue.It will make you suspect others' motives,intentions and allegiance.Such skepticism destroys confidence and peace of mind.Instead of spending so much time in analyzing every word and deed,get into action,address the issues which confront you and take charge of your life.This will put a brake on overthinking and lessen your anxiety too.

#Negativeselftalk and a defeatist attitude
Negative self-talk is an insidious enemy of happiness.It usurps confidence and discourages you from going forward and proving yourself.It might even blame you for things which were not your fault.A defeatist attitude is it's natural offspring.These two will not allow you to advance and find happiness.You will have to silence this inner critic if you want to be happy.
You can read more about it at this post.

We are creatures of habit and it is difficult to change habits which have become instinctive reactions.But it is our happiness which is at stake here.We cannot avoid the unhappiness which arises from external factors but we can delete the sadness which is the result of our own habits.Quite a lot of our happiness is in our own hands. 

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Self-help,Psychotherapy or Medication?

When you catch a disease you know exactly what to do:you go to a doctor,follow his advice and get cured.But a Mental Disorder is a different ballgame altogether.The treatment is delayed first of all because it's incipience can easily be misconstrued as a transitory emotional state and secondly because of the stigma attached to it.Any doubts that you might be on the threshold of a psychiatric illness are quickly expunged.

But when you finally realize that you might be suffering from,anxiety,depression,OCD,hypochondria or Bipolar Syndrome;there is no alternative but to do something about it.Educated people like you and I will search the internet and adopt self help measures to get relief.These might extend from a physical routine comprising exercise,jogging,yoga,pranayam and meditation to spirituality,going out,meeting people,and talking out our problems with friends or family.

But if any of this does not work,then?Obviously the next option ought to be consulting a counselor or a psychologist,but lots of people have compunctions about this, lest they be branded as a mental patient.In this way they unknowingly prolong their suffering and enable their problem to take deeper roots.

Therefore when you realize that your own efforts have failed to perk you up,psychotherapy is the next option.Look for a counselor or a psychologist.Find one with whom you can establish an easy rapport.This is important because only then will you be able to reveal your innermost thoughts which will hasten your recovery.Moreover you will follow the guidelines suggested by the counselor only if you trust him/her.

If psychotherapy too proves to be insufficient,consulting a doctor is the last resort.He will rule out the possibility of a disease being the cause of your problems and also prescribe the required medicines.But very few people go to a doctor for a mental affliction.

According to World Health Organization mental disorders affect one in four people at some point in their lives and nearly two- thirds of them will never seek help from a health professional.

Stigma is not the only factor which bars people from consulting a psychiatrist.There is a general distrust of psychiatric medicines and their side effects.These could range from nausea and vomiting,sleepiness,weight gain,diarrhea and sexual problems to other more serious ones. I am reminded of a lady who suffered from OCD. She has been on psychiatric medicines since many years,her symptoms have subdued but she is only a caricature of her old self.You can read her full story over here.

But we cannot condemn psychiatric medicines altogether.What if a patient is severely depressed,suicidal,or excessively violent?What if the symptoms shown by the patient far outweigh the side effects?WHO's report has this to say about the efficacy of psychiatric treatment:--

Over 80% of people with schizophrenia can be free of relapses at the end of one year of treatment with antipsychotic drugs combined with family intervention. Up to 60% of people with depression can recover with a proper combination of antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy. Up to 70% of people with epilepsy can be seizure free when treated with simple, inexpensive anticonvulsants.

At the end of the day I would say that the decision to take psychiatric medicine should be considered carefully.If you start the medicine but experience some ill effects,collaborate with your doctor and get it changed.Mental turmoil is extremely tiring for body and mind.It almost always disrupts sleep and this itself,creates a lot of stress.A sedative or a sleeping pill given by your doctor could provide enormous relief.

A short spell of medicine might even revitalize you enough to once again adopt one of the earlier two options.I have seen this happen.But if you wish to stop the medicine,then too do it under the doctor's guidance so that you do not have withdrawal symptoms.

Ideally,medicines should be accompanied by psychotherapy and lots of family support.The term 'family support'has been kept to the last but it's importance overcomes everything else.I say it from my own experience.

Stress,anxiety and the accompanying problems are omnipresent today.If you happen to be bogged down by such problems it does not reflect on you as a person,it is just a reflection of the countless demands being made from a person today.Look at the larger picture and you will perceive many saving graces too.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Hidden #CausesOfUnhappiness

Life,characterized by varying degrees of joy,sorrow,hope,despair,lassitude and initiative,is a dappled path.Everybody passes through different phases from time to time,but some people look inordinately bogged down with sorrow and despair.An objective appraisal of their life-conditions fails to explain their despondence.An unknown factor seems to be at work.

Could it be because of their thought processes-the way they interpret what happens to them and around them?Very likely.Because the same event elicits different reactions from different individuals and gives rise to corresponding emotions.Those who look at everything with alarm and distrust will have a lot to be pessimistic about.

A small disruption in life,an unsatisfactory relationship,a deficiency in personality,occasional bouts of anxiety or listlessness:any of these will impact different people in different ways.Someone who is satisfied with less,who is a happy-go-lucky kind of person,will just take it in his stride and not think twice about it.But a perfectionist who wants everything in his life to be just so,without any jarring note,will be unhappy even at the presence of a minor shortcoming,and fail to savor the advantages he has been blessed with-until he lowers the bar a bit.

Overthinking is another habit which can make you miserable despite having all the amenities required to enjoy a perfect life.An analytical brain blows up tiny flaws to gigantic proportions.Your thoughts go into a downward spiral accentuating negativity and preventing curative measures.Overthinking being a big issue these days,requires a separate post later.Suffice it to say that it causes stress and anxiety.

You can read more about the ways to control anxiety in this post.

It is not the situations,but how we react to them which makes us happy or unhappy.For example,a major obstacle might be taken as a moment to think up another strategy by one person,but a dead end by another.Naturally the first one will be fired with enthusiasm while the latter will give up hope and initiative.The former will be happy and well adjusted while the latter will be downcast and full of misgivings.

A fight with a friend may impact a girl to the extent of her concluding that she is not likable,does not know how to get along with people,and is likely to be ostracized by the whole group.She is obviously generalizing one episode to pass a judgement on her entire personality, predicting the future,and making a mountain of a molehill.Sounds very erroneous doesn't it?But we often do blow up something out of proportion and lose sleep over it.

Another likely cause of unhappiness is jumping to conclusions.Your partner informs you that he will be late at work.You immediately begin to speculate if he had a date with his secretary or if he was cheating on you.An overactive imagination will go into the worst possible scenario and leave that person worried.Jumping to conclusions or visualizing the worst possible outcome of any development is common where health issues are concerned.A tension headache might be construed by someone as the beginning of a brain tumor,depressing that person without any basis. 

You can learn more about illness anxiety or hypochondria at this post.

It is obvious that much of our unhappiness is the result of faulty thinking.Loss,pain and grief are an inseparable part of life.We cannot escape the sorrow which some events inflict on us,but we can stop ourselves from ruing over baleful scenarios concocted by distorted thinking.

In order to do this it is necessary to recognize the incipience of such thoughts and nip them in the bud.Don't let these thoughts entrench themselves in your brain lest they become a permanent feature.Divert your mind when you see it running into a wrong channel.Start something you really enjoy doing.Try to be more balanced and logical in the conclusions you draw and the opinions you form.This simple course correction will yield greater happiness and peace of mind.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Common Cause of Unhappiness:Comparisons

They say happiness is a state of mind.It follows that the various constituents of our mind are what make us happy.And if we are sad,then too it must be because of the workings of an element of our mind only.In order to be happy we need to weed out that element,tendency or habit which  cooks up despondence for us.

One such culprit is the human tendency to rate oneself in comparison to others.I hasten to add that comparisons can be useful too.When we recognize we are far more talented than many others,our self esteem climbs up many notches.Even negative comparisons can inspire us to jack up our performance or cultivate in our own selves a quality which we admire in others.

But this happens only if we remain level-headed and do not bemoan our inadequacy or mediocrity every time we come across someone who is more accomplished than us in any way. When unfavorable comparisons become a habit,they also become a major source of unhappiness because they  spawn discontent and wither our self esteem.This  throws a damper on our confidence and zeal.Even a hitherto happy person begins to feel restless and dissatisfied after such comparisons.Anxiety arrives,followed by jealousy and rancor.Peace of mind goes out of the window.

You can read this post to raise your self esteem.

All of us are different in each and every way.No clones around.When our genes,upbringing,education,backgrounds and responsibilities are all different,then what is the use of rating ourselves in comparison to others?We are born with certain innate talents and aptitudes which,if nurtured,will take us far.But negative comparisons can deflect our attention from the goals which best suit our abilities. They may even goad us to take an inappropriate route in pursuit of that charisma which we espied in someone else.

By all means keep a benchmark in front of you to guide your journey.Evolve and learn new skills,but imitating anyone is not the best way to do it.Even if you do come abreast with the person who unknowingly kindled your race;given your tendency to compete,you will soon espy another person who is superior to you and in this way the race will never end.You will remain dissatisfied all your life.

For more on the merits and demerits of competition you can read  this post.

It is no doubt very disconcerting to realize that you are less than someone else; but instead of getting upset,seize that moment to discover the potentials which you have and make the best use of those God-given gifts.Compete only with yourself.Better yourself every day and one day people will look admiringly at you and strive to equal you.

I am reminded of Anand (name changed) who was depressed because he was was doubtful of gaining admission in a prestigious institute.When I asked him if he had a plan B in mind he said his uncle and his son had graduated from that very institute and if they could,why not him?He was determined to end his life if he failed.See the extent to which a comparison can disrupt our thinking? It led this boy to the brink of suicide.

These days it is more difficult than ever to keep away from negative comparisons.The high achievers and the glitterati are all over the media,as are the glossy updates of friends and family.To safeguard your cool,remember that the ground reality may be quite different from what you see on the social network sites. If you pay more than cursory attention to them,you are bound to be frustrated.Instead of being grateful for what you have,you will be depressed because of what you do not have but others do.Give up such comparisons and you will be happy as you are and where you are. 

Image courtesy google search.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Bitter Truth

To tell you the truth
I have no hometown
There used to be one
My heaven on earth
A safe cocoon
A warm embrace

I grew up assimilating 
It's different vibes
Never knew that life 
Also has a flip side
Which revealed itself
When I left it's side.

I went to it again and again
To recover lost treasures
And be my old self again
Like all good things
This too came to an end.

What is a hometown
without a home
And what is a home 
Without those loving souls
What used to be my hometown
Is now a deserted town.