Some of the things I have learned during my first 23 years on this planet.
When you are a kid you naturally assume money grows in trees and get
pissed at your parents when they do not buy you your favourite toy. With
time you realize they did their best and you overestimated the financial status of your household and got disappointing in the process. Only after I
joined my job and currently trying to figure out ways to cut cost and save
a little I have understood how hard it is to make money.
And my parents grew up without mobiles. internet and every other thing we
take for granted nowadays.
No matter how much money I make now I can never go back to school and do things I did not care about at that time. I really wanted to stand for School President but never had the guts to take up a public post. I tried to compensate by getting elected to my College’s Student Council as a Representative but it is not the same thing. Nor can I go back and ask out the girls I wanted to. Or have the carefree life again. College is also over and there are many things I wished I had done but never did due to my own procrastinating nature. Live in the moment and seriously do the shit you want to. Once you do not and time passes you wont be able to go back.
I wrote about this earlier too in my answer : Manas J Saloi’s answer to What are some things people lose that they regret the most? Trust me as you go older you will make fewer friends and the innocence of the old friendships will no longer be there. You will talk mature stuff and try to hang out with your colleagues. Both are not mutually exclusive but still not the same.
I had much more hair a few years back and will have fewer as years go by. I
was never satisfied and used a lot of hair gel and other stuff I regret using now. I was never satisfied with myself. Remain fit but do not obsess with losing too much weight or having the perfect hair do. With time you will learn to be comfortable in your skin. I know this is sick but whenever I feel bad about myself I wonder what does my paralyzed cousin feel who has lost the workings of both his legs in a freak accident and has remained bed ridden for the last 10+ years.
You are OK however you are. Do not bitch about your friend with beautiful hair or that guy with the perfect abs. Be happy with your less than perfect curly hair.
Most people wont be in their dream jobs. You will come back pissed at something that happened at work today or how your Boss thinks you are an idiot. Unless you have some activity to relax, calm your mind, make you smile again you will really feel like shit. Start going to the gym, start writing, start learning new languages. Occupy your mind.
There will be problems with your parents, at your job, in your love life. You will be frustrated if you try to make everything right all at the same time. It is only because you think everything should occur as you planned that you become sad. Learn to let go. Accept you will always face problems. You girlfriend is not perfect, nor is your job and the least of all this planet. Everything is not all sunshine and honky dory.
While you are being angry for not getting the attention of that cute girl at
office you forget to notice your room mate going out of the way to do something for you that day. Or that call from your parents. Or that perfect moon lit night where you can take a stroll. Learn to enjoy the little things nearby than the things you have no control over.
People see their friends getting hitched all the time and often wonder how nice it would be to have a girl friend. Most get into a relationship just for the sake of getting one and not because they are ready. Do not make the same mistake. Love will happen. In time. You will make a lot of mistakes in relationships and will end up a better man because of it.
We tend to drift away from our parents as we grown up. Settle in a different place. We never realize how much that one phone call at night means to them. No matter how much busy you are do find some time for them. For most Indian parents we are everything to them. The result of all their sacrifices, blood and tears. See the happiness in their voice when you announce about your new job. Soon they will be gone and you will miss them. And one day you will turn into them too. You will have your own kids. Treat your parents like you want your own kids to treat you one day.
Think about it. We have all seen people doing over time at their office, working on things they do not enjoy to earn money they won’t be able to spend. Even if we earn millions in a financial year but have no time to spend on things that matter to us then there is no point of that millions.
Do not wait until it is too late. I wrote about this in Manas J Saloi’s answer to What makes young men turn into grumpy old men?
Read this line somewhere and it is the most profound thing a guy in his early 20s can learn in this life. For an Indian the race to be ahead of everyone else begins in his childhood- Tuitions, School Classes, Olympiads, IIT Coaching, IIT, Tech Job, fight for promotion, the biggest house. Only when you are old enough you learn to look back in retrospect and wonder if it was all worth it and if a big house with a pool was all you wanted from your life. So stop for once and think. Do not run after things you have no interest in because society thinks it is important. Leave the rat race. NOW.
“You might want to travel around the world. Live an exciting life. But always remember that no matter where you go, as long as you do not have the people who matter around you, you will never be truly happy. You might think that we live a boring life doing the same thing everyday but it is still worth it because it has made your education possible and given you the facilities we never had.”
The above two pieces of advice were given to me by my mom once.
I could not get into IITs even during my second attempt and secured a place in the extended merit list. It was after I had dropped a year ins pite of getting into a few NITs. It became hell for me. People began to poke fun of me saying IIT’s are not for everyone. You have to think outside the box and what not. And most of these people were not Engineers or had a remote idea about IIT preparation or B.Tech degrees. I got a good score in BITSAT and joined BITS Goa CS Dept. It was the best decision I ever made. Not only I managed to live in Goa for 4 years I met there some of the smartest bunch of people I could have hoped to spend my college years with. I have a comfortable job now, good friends, managed to do a lot during my college time and in retrospect could probably achieve a lot more only because I failed at JEE. So never lose hope
There are endless sources of inspiration. You just have to keep your eyes open. But these four might be the most prominent/significant:
1. Nature/The Universe
Its so varied, vast and beautiful. And we are all a part of it. I’m inspired by how interconnected I am to all of IT.
2. My own potential
Like Johnny Bosche mentioned, we are fraught with imperfections, but we have potential to be better. Its improbable that I reach this ideal version of myself, but knowing (or thinking?) that I can be great, however illusory that may be, inspires me to try. And by doing so we can come close.
3. Human potential
Although sometimes it feels like the world is going to shits
..I know it could be better, actually, I’m SURE it could be MUCH better. We are not like the rest of the matter in the Universe. We are thinking, feeling, conscious matter. We may seem very dumb at times, but we have survived despite many odds and roadblocks along our history. We can be very very clever and sometimes even good. I have hope in humanity and I am inspired by what humanity could achieve.
We could explore the stars, far away galaxies, the universe and maybe even time. I’m flabbergasted by our potential, but more importantly, inspired to be part of a push(however minuscule) in the right direction.
4. The Unknown
Already mentioned by Bernardt Vogel, but still one of the most, if not the most, powerful sources of inspiration: That which I have yet to even imagine. The idea in and of itself is just…thrilling.
– above quote by Carl Sagan
by James Clear
There are choices that you make every day, some of which seem completely unrelated to your health and happiness, that dramatically impact the way you feel mentally and physically.
With that said, here are 10 common mistakes that can prevent you from being happy and healthy, and the science to back them up.
Ultimately, the human experience is about connecting with other people. Connection is what provides value and meaning to our lives. We’re wired for it and research proves just that.
For example, people with strong social ties were found to be healthier and have a lower risk of death. Additionally, it was found that as age increases, the people with stronger social ties tend to live longer. And it seems that friendships can even help you fight cancer.
The benefits of deep relationships extend to marriage as well. Being in a long-term relationship decreases the risk of depression, suicide, and substance abuse. And one study of almost 6,000 people found that marriage led to increased longevity while never marrying was the strongest predictor of premature death.
Finally, multiple studies (here, here, and here) show that strong family ties are one of the primary reasons the people of Okinawa, Japan have incredible longevity despite being one of the poorest prefectures in the country.
What do all of these different studies tell us?
Connection and belonging are essential for a healthy and happy life. Whether it’s friendship, marriage, or family — humans need close connections to be healthy.
For more about the connection between loneliness and health, I suggest reading the New York Times best-seller Mind Over Medicine, which was written by my friend Dr. Lissa Rankin.
You might want to stand up for this. The internet has gone crazy over this infographic that describes the harmful effects of sitting all day.
The short version is that “recreational sitting” like sitting in front of a TV screen increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and death, regardless of your physical activity. Obviously, sitting at a desk for work isn’t too good either.
This troubling data doesn’t come from small sample sizes either. These trends held true in one study with 4,500 people, another with 8,800 people, and a final one with over 240,000 participants. If you’re looking for more details on the health risks of sitting, this New York Times article covers some of the basics.
A few years ago, I was speaking with a yoga instructor who told me, “I think people love my class because it’s the only time in their entire day when they just sit and breathe.”
That provides some interesting food for thought. From the time you wake up until the time you go to bed, do you ever take 15 minutes to just sit and breathe? I rarely do. And that’s a shame because the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are huge. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety. Meditation improves your quality of life and boost your immune system. Meditation has been shown to decrease anger and improve sleep, even among prison inmates.
There is an interesting and growing body of medical research that has discovered the positive health effects of religion and spirituality. The science doesn’t necessarily say that there is anything inherently healthy about religion, but it’s all the by-products that come from practicing religion that can make a big difference.
For example, people with strong faith often release control of their struggles and worries to a higher power, which can help to relieve anxiety and stress. Religious groups also offer a strong source of community and friendships, which is critical for health and happiness. In many cases, the strength of friendships formed with fellow believers can last for decades, and those strong personal ties are crucial for long-term health.
If you don’t consider yourself to be a religious person, then the lesson to takeaway from this body of research is that we all need a sense of belonging and community in our lives. It’s important to share your beliefs (whatever they happen to be about) with a community of people. People who have a community like that to lean on find themselves happier and healthier than those who lack that type of support.
Expressing yourself creatively reduces the risk of disease and illness while simultaneously strengthening your health and wellness. For example, this study from the Harvard School of Public Health revealed that art helps to reduce stress and anxiety, increase positive emotions, and reduce the likelihood of depression, along with many other benefits.
Another study, which was published in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, discovered that creative writing improved the immune system response of HIV patients. For more ideas on why creating art is healthy, read this: The Health Benefits of Creativity.
Exploring the world around you — whether that means traveling to faraway lands or hiking through the woods in your area — provides a wide range of mental and physical benefits. For starters, the benefits of sunlight (and the negative effects of artificial light) are well-documented in research.
Additionally, researchers have begun to discover that wilderness excursions — known as “adventure therapy” — can promote weight loss, improve the self-esteem of people with mental illness, and evenreduce the rearrest rates of sex offenders.
The central theme that runs through all of these studies is that exploring the outdoors and spending time in nature can increase the confidence you have in yourself and improve your ability to interact with others.
When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
Contribution is an essential part of living a life that is happy, healthy, and meaningful. Too often we spend our lives consuming the world around us instead of creating it. We overdose on low quality information. We live sedentary lives and passively eat, watch, and soak up information rather than creating, contributing, and building our own things.
As I wrote in this article…
“You can’t control the amount of time you spend on this planet, but you can control what you contribute while you’re here. These contributions don’t have to be major endeavors. Cook a meal instead of buying one. Play a game instead of watching one. Write a paragraph instead of reading one. You don’t have to create big contributions, you just need to live out small ones each day.”
As you might expect, it’s dangerous to work too much. In Japan, the overtime and workplace stress has become so bad that they actually have a label for the people who die because of it: karoshi, which literally means “death by overwork.”
Basically any way in which your job makes you feel stressed is bad for your health — unpredictable commutes, tension and disagreement with your boss or coworkers, feeling undervalued or unappreciated. Even working overtime increases the risk for coronary heart disease, independent of outside factors.
What can you do about it? No one strategy will work for everyone, of course, but the principles in The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor offer a great place to start.
Brian Wansink, a Cornell professor and author of Mindless Eating, has written that when people eat alone they are more likely to have a large binge feeding. Additionally, diets suffer when people eat alone. Lonely diners tend to eat fewer vegetables and less healthy meals. It seems that we make less of an effort to eat well when we are by ourselves than when someone else is involved.
Given that an estimated one out of three people eat lunch at their desk, it’s easy to see how these little choices add up to big health problems over the long-term.
Brene Brown is a researcher at the University of Houston and she has spent 10 years studying vulnerability. In recent years, her work has exploded with popularity as she delivered one of the most popular TED Talks of all-time and has written multiple best-selling books including Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.
As Brown studied fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability, she discovered one key insight…
There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging and the people who struggle for it. And that was that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they’re worthy of love and belonging.
That’s it. They believe they’re worthy. The one thing that keeps us out of connection is the fear that we’re not worthy of connection.
If you allow your fear or vulnerability or shame to prevent you from showcasing your true self, then you will be preventing yourself from connecting fully with others. If you want to be able to move past fear, judgement, and uncertainty and into a healthier and happier life, then you have to give yourself permission first. You have to decide that you’re worthy.
Living a healthy life is about much more than just diet and exercise. Don’t forget about the 10 areas above because they play a significant role in your health and happiness.
As my friend Lissa Rankin often says, “What does your body need to heal?”
In many cases it’s not a better diet or a new workout program, it’s one of these areas that might be impacting your health and happiness without you even realizing it.
Neil Gaiman talks to a graduating student body about his life, philosophy, and experiences. His attitude towards life and how to reach his dreams are interesting to hear.
That we have to fight and achieve something “grand” to stay happy. This cartoon sums it all.
The easy roads are crowded,
And the level roads are jammed;
The pleasant little rivers
With the drifting folks are crammed,
But off yonder where it’s rocky,
Where you get a better view,
You will find the ranks are thinning
And the travelers are few.
Where the going’s smooth and pleasant
You will always find the throng,
For the many, more’s the pity,
Seem to like to drift along.
But the steps that call for courage
And the task that’s hard to do,
In the end results in glory
For the never-wavering few.
~Messick / Edgar Guest
A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.
A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.
A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
Always chase your dream.
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Ryan Miller: author, blogger, and father who can't draw hands
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chasing the world, finding bliss