Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Happiness Project

"Ask yourself if you are happy and you cease to be" - John Stuart Mill

I had a fair bit of assumptions on the subject of happiness and the above statement used to echo my thoughts on this subject. I also strongly carried the superstitious belief that you jinx your happiness by invoking cosmic displeasure if you keep anticipating or talking about it. Reading "The happiness project" by Gretchen Rubin inspired me to start my very own happiness project and also made me check my assumptions.

There are a couple of ideas in this book that strongly resonated with me and I felt like I could apply the same in my life. 

On the subject of money and happiness, Gretchen asserts that money could buy happiness depending on the type of person you are. There are 2 types of shoppers in the world :
Satisficers (yes, satisfice is a word, I checked) are those who make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied.
Maximizers want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photograph that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice.
Most people are a mix of both approaches.In a fascinating book, The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwartz argues that satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers must spend a lot more time and energy to reach a decision, and they’re often anxious about whether they are, in fact, making the best choice. I was thrilled to identify my shopping style to be that of a satisficer and I hope that significantly contributes to my bucket of happiness.
Another idea that resonated deeply with me was to boost my happiness through writing. Gretchen claims that the idea to write a novel in a month filled her with lust for thrill of exertion like running marathons or climbing mountains. The book "No Plot? No Problem! " by Chris Barty claims you can start writing without any preparation , you don't edit yourself and by writing 1667 words a day, you write a fifty thousand word novel in thirty days. I like the idea- even knowing that this will take a lot of time and energy , that I could be happy doing it. Making a self published book with the end result - even if the novel isn't great - a hardcover complete with even a dust jacket and my name as the author, will cost under 30$, but will give me immense happiness.
I particularly liked the tips to make marriage work better and especially the ones aimed at reducing nagging your hubby. I personally hate being a nag - it causes me a great deal of guilt when I indulge in this kind of behavior. But the need to get the job done makes me an unwilling nag. Gretchen 's tip says: "Think about how money might be able to buy some happiness. Eliminating conflict in a relationship is a high happiness priority, so this is a place to spend money if it can help." My hubby and I had been squabbling for months on whose turn it was do the dishes. I just decided to buy a dishwasher and our home is more peaceful now.
Some of the quotes that inspire me in my quest for happiness:
“The things that go wrong often make the best memories.” 
“Enthusiasm is more important than innate ability, it turns out,because the single more important element in developing an expertise is your willingness to practice.”
"It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously -- and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition."
"Did I have a heart to be contented? Well, no, not particularly. I had a tendency to be discontented: ambitious, dissatisfied, fretful, and tough to please...It's easier to complain than to laugh, easier to yell than to joke around, easier to be demanding than to be satisfied.” 

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Visual Garden Blog

On a day with a light breeze, walking in your garden with the watering can, scanning the plants for new sprouts, new flowers, fruits, vegetables - looking out for weeds, infections and smiling at the produce - there is something magical about plants. I get so thrilled when I see a seed transform into a plant and watch it give out vegetables. Its breathtaking. I was thrilled recently to see pumpkin flowers become a nice, round, young pumpkin. I couldn't wipe the grin off my face. Here's a visual trip of my plants ( many of whom have now died, but new plants are in the process of growing ) .


Green Chilly 
Blue Lamp in the balcony

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Footie Fever hits home

I read this article in today's newspaper and it resonated with me. Hence dedicating a post to it!

Football fever is burning high… And Brazil is the place to be! The constant roar of crowds, crowds singing en masse, strangers embracing or fighting over whose team is better… the sights and sounds are guaranteed to send any football fan into ecstasy.

 The elegant Brazilian style versus the clinical Dutch and the military German precision — what a visual treat we are experiencing now! The speed with which Arjen Robben runs down the field, the touch that Lionel Messi uses, the finesse that sets Andrea Pirlo apart…

What? Don’t you know football? Oops, my mistake. So you are one of those who are not having a good time now. I know how it feels, because I’m a recent convert to the religion of football myself. I converted because I found myself an alien in my own home. 

I knew football fever aka World Cup football was coming up, thanks to stray hints and bits of conversations overheard. A suggestion came up, to make the TV room sofa more comfy, in fact more like a bed. The dedicated couch potato that I was, I enthusiastically okayed it: I could watch my favourite shows while recumbent. Little did I know that I was literally signing my fave spot in the house away. Stashes of snacks were laid in, and I was ecstatic over the development. Best of all, one day I turned on the TV and found that hitherto unknown channels had cropped up. I was over the moon.

I should have known better. Conversation at home — and fights — that were only local in nature, now became international. “Can you believe Suarez is having a knee operation a month before Brazil!” my husband exclaimed once. I offered my sympathy and also my advice. I too had had a knee operation. “Tell him to rest up for a month or two, and then he can start walking around,” I said, and he looked at me in horror. I was duly informed that Suarez was Uruguay’s leading forward, and that he had to be there for the team to perform well. It was now my turn to be horrified. Play football within a month of a knee operation? I went straight to bed and rested all day, praying intermittently for the poor kid.

Then I heard that Iker Casillas may be dropped from the Spanish squad. Into the gloom, I tried to reassure my man that there will be other people there to play for Spain, and got an earful about what a good goalkeeper this guy was. I shut up.Well, I could do with speaking less, I reasoned. They did say that speaking less made you healthier.

As days passed, conversations began to go entirely over my head. Names were mentioned that I had no clue about. Drogba, Uchida, Van Persie, Gerrard, Oscar, Neymar, Dos Santos, Podolski, Klose… just who were these people that my hubby and friends knew so much about? And what was the big deal about offside and penalties?I quickly realised that if I didn’t join the family football madness, things may come to such a pass that I would have to introduce myself to my husband on July 14. So I have learned a few things.

First of all, Uruguay and Cote d’Ivoire are not the names of diseases, they are football-playing countries. And, a country may have a population of only 2 million people or be in abject poverty, but still produce a world-class football team. Don’t eat your heart out, wondering about why India never qualifies for the World Cup.While watching a clash between two countries, figure out who the best players are, and keep a look out for them. This will make those 90 minutes (plus stoppage time) more bearable. Being able to drop names like Robben, Honda and Rooney strategically in conversations doesn’t hurt either.

Accept that football players are whiny tattle tales. A huge brawny tattooed midfielder will collapse like a ton of bricks and fall down if an opposing player so much as breathes on him, and then complain and make puppy eyes at the referee until he gets to kick the ball and a lollypop.

Goals are times when you get to see body show. If you love to see rippled muscles, don’t miss out; if it gives you a complex, look away. It is also when there is an overt show of affection among grown men. If it embarrasses you to see men kissing each other, please do look away.

Finally, here is an absolute no-no: NEVER get caught wondering, “Well, if they all want the ball that badly, why don’t they buy one each for themselves?” You’ll never be able to live it down.

Good luck making it through the final! And be sure to keep watching!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Football Humour

I started watching football seriously this World Cup and am actually enjoying it. My hubby ,who is a minehouse of football related information, patiently explained to me the history of some of the players and educated me on the rules in football. One among them was the offside rule. He had explained this to me earlier and I always tend to forget it and find it difficult to spot the application of this rule in a football match without replays. After hours of animated discussion with mugs of beer, I think I finally understood the rule and came up with the definition which I intend to patent or publish in the Oxford dictionary to help beginners to understand the rule in one shot. I feel that the lack of a formal good definition made it difficult for me to follow the rule in one explanation.

So here is my definition for the offside rule in football : 

" At the time of the pass, the prospective receiver(s) who are ahead of the ball affecting the play, must have at least two people of the opponent team ahead of them ( in the direction of opponent's goal ) for the play to be valid."

Oxford dictionary printing people- you may use this with my blessings! :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The 5 minute Hobbyist

I was watching BBC News yesterday and heard the term " weather hobbyist". I was intrigued and found out that a weather hobbyist , as the name suggests, studies the weather. I immediately turned to my husband and said " That sounds like fun. I wanna be a weather hobbyist". Pat came the reply " You can only be a 5 minute hobbyist! " Since the reply came almost instantly without any filters, I took it seriously and realised it's probably true. Any hobby interests me only for the first 5 minutes.

As a child I was interested shortly in clay modeling and pottery. I was intrigued enough to try it, but couldn't sustain the interest. The same was true with sports, dance ( this I flirted with for a few years before giving up ). Off late the interest is in Kathak and gardening. I am yet to join Kathak, but gardening I have tried and now all my plants have died. I intend to start afresh and hopefully it will not be a "5 minute hobby".

May be I could make it a fad to be a 5 minute hobbyist.After all some credit must be given to having the drive to even attempt your hand at different things even if they can't be sustained!

Friday, June 27, 2014

"Damn! I really did need therapy! "

Q: "What are your thoughts on behavioral therapy?"
Me: "They are for people with large gaps in social interactions. It is for people with scarred pasts and not really applicable to a normal person like me."

I went into a group behavioral therapy session with exactly that attitude and was pleasantly surprised to know I was wrong. Self awareness is for everyone and being tuned to what are the manifestations of your behavioral pattern matters a lot. The program involved 3 phases - Believe, Own and Act. At the time of writing this blog, I have only completed the first 2 sessions.

The first 2 phases involve a group of ten people and this group becomes your mirror in reflecting to you how you are perceived. In the first phase, we got to know each other via some exercises. We did the strength finder test to know our unique strengths. We represented our inner and outer selves via art material and listened to the group reflect on how they perceived us. It was a new experience and I came out thinking " Ok. This was an interesting experience. But am I more flawed than I believed myself to be?"

In the one month gap between the two phases, I digested what I had learnt and prioritized the items that I wanted to work on. Listening without interrupting was one such item. I practiced it and every-time I did interrupt made a mental note of it. I still am working on it, but having been made conscious of this - I notice this more in myself as well as others.

Phase 2- the own phase was a 3 day residential growth lab experience where the group stayed and bonded with each other. The 3 day program was intense - physically and emotionally exhausting. We spent days on exploring our inner selves. We used crayons, paint , theater and even dance to express ourselves.I enjoyed acting and this experience brought out the inner "villain" in me.Some of the experiences were intense and some were surprising.The experience was new and I did learn some things about myself and also re-inforced certain beliefs about myself. I still couldn't connect all the dots, but I do know my strengths and areas of improvement. I also now know a little bit of my behavioral patterns and why is it that I behave the way I do. This experience was a unique one and I would urge those of you who haven't tried it - to try it once.It will be interesting, if nothing else.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Being the "magu"!

I have always in my head believed that I am an independent girl and that I can really do anything that I set my heart to. But off late the realization strikes that I really have a need to be babied. I probably don't need it as much as want it.

Part of it probably comes from being the youngest one from dad and mom s side of the family. But suddenly after marriage I am not even the youngest between my hubby and me. I am more of a child now than what I ever was when I really was a child. Does that make any sense? All my childhood I was this mature, responsible person who frowned upon toys and cartoons as these I believed were too childish for my taste. But suddenly I like being the child - having someone fuss over me, get me the things I demand, eat some favorite food items without sharing and the like. 

An not sure if this indulgence is healthy or not, but I do know I am loving the attention and I pray that it lasts.