The Mistakes I Make Daily

I make mistakes all the time. I rarely admit to making them, though. But, there are a few that I need to owe up because they undermine the quality of my life on a daily basis.

The #1 mistake I make daily is not to pursue happiness. Yes, I do need to pursue happiness actively on a continuous basis. This is the choice I have made for myself.  Many of my actions and behaviours are directed towards this goal. Yet, sometimes I feel that happiness is elusivse. To really feel happy, the approach has to be inside-out. To gain happiness, I have to create happiness through positive thinking and by fulfilling my potential. Many times, in my unguarded moments, I let negative emotions like anger, fear, resentment, guilt overshadow what could have been my good moments.

The #2 mistake I make is not building on relationships. There are people in my life who are very dear to me but these are the same people I neglect because I take them for granted. I need to invest in my relationships for a fulfilling life.

The #3 mistake is swapping the long-term goal for the short term. Sometimes, I focus solely on the day and what it brings, reacting to each and every situation and exhausted in the end.I go in for instant gratification rather than think about my goals over time. Instead I need to be more proactive towards my day, taking things calmly and using my judgement to negotiate the rough curves.

 

You took away all the oceans and all the room.
You gave me my shoe-size in earth with bars around it.
Where did it get you? Nowhere.
You left me my lips, and they shape words, even in silence.

OSIP MANDELSTAM (1891-1938)

Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam was a Russian poet and essayist who lived in Russia during and after its Revolution and the rise of Soviet Union. He was imprisoned by Stalin’s government and died in a transit camp on the way to Siberia.

The Power of 21

Today is Day 21, counting from the day I published my first post on this blog. No, I have not hit the Publish button these many times but I feel like a true blue blogger now. I can write, I can publish, I can play around with formats, I can make widgets work for me(OK, I still have problems with the drag-and-drop bit), I know a thing or two about the layouts, I can reach out to others in the blogosphere…

From not knowing the first thing about blogging almost a month and a half back to reaching a moderate level of proficiency feels like an achievement. I am not zero-to-hero(or heroine) yet, but I am getting there.

There is something interesting I learnt about repetition many years ago. It is not difficult to start and inculcate a new or positive thing in your life. Admittedly, the beginning may be a bit challenging, but if you want to incorporate a particular behaviour in your life, then repeat the activity for at least 21 days in a row.

Author and Motivational guru, Robin Sharma calls it the Magic Rule of 21 in his book, “The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari”. For new behaviour to crystallise into a habit, you have to perform the new activity everyday at the same time for 21 days in a row, he says. This is the time it takes to create a new neural pathway in the brain. At the end of this time, it becomes part of your routine.

I can vouch for the effectiveness of this rule. And now that I am a blogger, let me work on the other things in my life like umm.. getting fitter, eating healthier, decluttering my life. For 21 days I need to be consistent and vigilant and then, it is in the bag!



Have you ever tried changing something in your life for the better? What was your strategy?

Bitter Fruit by Saadat Hassan Manto- A Book Review

Bitter Fruit: The Best of Saadat Hassan Manto
Edited and Translated by Khalid Hassan
Penguin Books

This anthology aims to bring to the reader the best of the works of Saadat Hassan Manto, the noted and mostly controversial Urdu writer who has not had a peer in terms of quality and prolific writing.

Considered a ‘bete noire’ of his time, he constantly challenged the false morality of the so-called civilised middle-class. About his writings, he often commented,”If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth”.

Born in 1912 in British India, he spent his formative years in Amritsar in Punjab. By the age of 24, he had produced his first collection of short stories. He worked as a scriptwriter for many successful and well-known films in Bombay. After that, he moved to Delhi and worked for the All India Radio, marking the beginning of a very productive period of his life. He moved to Lahore in 1948 after the partition of the country. He died of liver cirrhosis at the age of 42 in the year 1955.

The trauma of partition was etched deeply in his subconscious and it shows in the short stories he wrote subsequently. He exposes the mindless violence and the debasement of man in these trying times.

In this anthology,the short stories talk predominantly of partition. For the readers of our generation, the partition of the country does not evoke very painful memories or touch wounds. It is a secondhand experience, read-about and heard-about. Still, the images in the stories are stark and the characters haunt the minds of the readers. The brutality sears the consciousness. The short stories shock and it is easy to see why the morality of the middle class was offended. If they shock today, in his time they must have opened festering wounds.

The book includes diverse writing styles and the sketckes of people are equally riveting. One is thankful to the editors for including his plays. The essays help the reader to understand the persona of Manto through the eyes and words of those who knew him.

The translator has done a beautiful job of capturing the nuances of Urdu language.

All in all, it is a must read for understanding the psyche of the Indian subcontinent.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

The book I would definetly re-read, even if I do not have the time is ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse.

‘Siddhartha’ traces the spiritual journey of a young man as he goes through the various phases of his life, from youth to old age.

A simply written book, it brings forth the idea that every man has to look for his own salvation for knowledge can be communicated but not wisdom.

The eponymous ‘hero’ chooses his own path and is enlightened through his worldly and even sensual experiences as also through his life devoid of comforts and while being devoted to contemplation.

Herman Hesse was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946. He considered India as his spiritual home and this book explores the Indian philosophy.

This book rejuvenates me whenever I feel weary or confused.

Shoma Learns to Fly- A story for Children

Shoma was a fluffy white sheep in farmer Bholu’s pen. She was the fattest of the young sheep. While other sheep ran here and there when they were let out, Shoma merely waddled. Other sheep thought she was lazy and teased her.

Shoma, at last was tired of all the teasing. She wanted to do something different. As she was moving near the chicken coop, she saw the little yellow chicks trying to fly. They would flutter for a while and then settle down.

‘I would learn to fly! That would show all the other sheep how smart I am.”

This made her feel very happy. The rest of the afternoon she chewed the cud in a daze, dreaming of flying.

The next day, as the sheep were let out of the pen, Shoma went straight to the chicken coop. Now, she sat in the shade of a tree pretending to sleep. But she watched the chicks from half opened eyes. It all seemed so easy. ‘Oh, but I do not have wings!”, Shoma thought. “Well, maybe, I can use my arms”. She tried flailing her arms but felt tired after a couple of tries. The chicks and the hens saw her and spluttered with laughter. The rooster crowed loudly to scare Shoma away.

Shoma turned to go and saw a large cloud of dust a little far away. It grew bigger and came closer. It was Bumpy the sheep dog! He was rounding up all the sheep into the pen. Shoma ran for her life. In and out of fences, over the puddles, around the bushes and trees, Shoma ran. And ran.

As she reached the pen, she panted and heaved. Then she heard other sheep clapping loudly, “Whee, Shoma can run too!”

Shoma smiled and felt SO proud.

Flavours of my Days

Yesterday was just bland-it had no flavour. Thankfully, it had none of the bitterness of the days I feel down and out, with the thoughts joining hands to make a loop, going round and round, like the song ‘posies in my pocket’, round and round with dizzying speed till I am ready to collapse in a heap.

It did not have the tantalising tanginess of beautiful opportunities, the delicious feeling of wanting to explore, the freshness of the potential, the sweet and sour that promises excitement, at the same time unknown and alluring.

Sweet? No, how could the day be sweet? There was no nostalgia, although these days memories are bitter, as if I have reached the end and know that I can neither go back to rectify or change tracks, nor are there any crossroads at which I stand, ready to choose a direction. The bitterness is all about the unfinished business and unfulfilled promises.

My day did not have the saltiness of worldly pleasures. I have forgotten the need for pleasures, relaxation, for looking around and smelling the flowers. I clutch, disbelievingly at my Incredible List, wondering how I could manage to get up to a hundred wishes and desires. These days my desires are all neatly slotted into eight categories-ones which make up the majority of my thoughts. I sort my thoughts and stack them precisely, not letting them go an inch either way. Only I know what is piled where and for what reason and things almost never get cleared up.

No, sweetness these days lies in Gratitude. In contentment, in simple lotus flowers that I see as a motif on top of a page on inspirational living. When I immerse myself in Gratitude, a sweet fragrance wafts up from my being, like a bud that now opens as a flower, rejoicing in ‘being’.