Corona on Our Minds

Corona On Our Minds

First thing we read about in the morning these days or hear about from friends and family, is about the fast spreading viral disease; the COVID -19… be it in the form of news, memes or/and random health tips and remedies on social media. This is causing stress and anxiety in all of us in many ways, both personally and professionally.

This is a global situation and is the best time to see ourselves as citizens of the earth rather than our continents / countries / cities. There is STRESS calling out from every part of the world.  The multiple changes in lifestyle, due to the fast spreading disease, are creating huge confusion in most of us causing a sense of uncertainty in our minds about various things like our health, the health of our near and dear ones, our ability to cope and handle changes on personal and work front, fear of losing jobs, children’s schooling (online classes) and many more. These uncertainties are causing enormous anxiety in human arousing panic across the globe.

We have a lot of tips on how to stay physically healthy. On the other hand in this crisis it is equally important to take good care of our psychological / mental well-being. Coping with the anxieties related to the pandemics is crucial and challenging and could be an important aspect to focus on. A few ways that could help us cope are:

  1. Focus on things one can Control: The first thing we can control is our own health. We can evaluate our physical health, check for symptoms and take precautions as per parameters and norms set by WHO and country government; behave responsibly and stay at home and help stop spreading the virus; Control frequency of checking news related to COVID-19: Always remember, the size of news coverage need not be same as actual issue and always know to believe and follow reputable sources and not fall prey to rumors and fake news that causes panic.
  2. Keep the larger picture in mind: This is a global issue: we as individuals are not alone. We can together work ways and motivate one another to overcome and stop the spread. Instead of worrying about new online classes for kids or taking an online training session from work for the first time, let us feel motivated that we have an opportunity for learning new techniques of working, training and academics. It’s always a good thing to learn new methodologies and appreciate technological advancement. 🙂
  3. Focus on thought processes: Most of the places in the world have taken extreme actions of locking down the whole country. Be home, be safe. This means: no entertainment, no outdoors games, no shopping… here comes the need to focus on where our thoughts are flowing. Make sure your thought processes are positive. Keep your self and your mind busy always to avoid negative thoughts and low feeling, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. A few ways we could keep ourselves positive could be by: Reading positive stories; Revisiting our hobbies that didn’t get time during busy schedules; Watch positive- comedy movies; Talk to friends and family and spend time with people who live with us at home. This way we can be happy and keep others happy too.
  4. Don’t let fear influence decisions: Reading a lot of negative news can induce fear which results in decisions like panic shopping and over stalking of necessary products that might be useful for everyone. This way we might be depriving the needy from the precautionary products hence spreading the illness and global panic even more. God forbid but if we fall sick and are advised to quarantine ourselves, let’s take it as an opportunity to take rest and rejuvenate instead of letting our fear control our decision to escape isolation and run around. This way we will not only be straining ourselves but also be putting 1000s of fellow humans into trouble. Another decisions we need to be careful of making is travelling to our home country if we are abroad: Please remember, even if our loved ones are not with us, both us and them will be much safer being where we are than traveling and risking the chances of being affected. It’s always wiser to calmly and logically think and make decisions.
  5. Virtual Socializing: Social distancing… means being restricted from social activities and avoiding gatherings and parties. This can be really challenging, specially for those who love being around with people. The sudden restrictions can lead to feeling low and gloomy. Well, we can still party! A virtual party, by inviting cousins/ friends/ family for a drink/ hi-tea/ lunch on WhatsApp/ Skype group video call and talk, sing and even dance our hearts out together!!
  6. Spread positivity: Now that we get so much time indoors, there is a lot we can do on social media such as upload personal videos and photos Instagram / Facebook showing how you are spending quality time at home/ with families. Learn, execute and share creative DIY crafts;  or share information that spreads positivity and motivates people to take responsible participation in contributing towards fighting this battle. This way we would be modelling peaceful behavior and giving hope to the world about the positive sides of the situation.

With these few tips on coping with the current crises, we can also learn and take forward the positive changes in life styles during this crisis for a much happier future ahead. Let us hope and pray that we will soon win this battle with these tiny invisible creatures and wish speedy recovery for all those who are infected and affected by the virus.

Following Dreams Towards Success

Dream is not what you see in sleep, dream is something that doesn’t let you sleep – Dr. Abdul Kalam

Dreams, ambitions, goals, aspiration, hope… they are the drive to keep us developing and evolving in life, both personally and professionally. One dreams big and makes that a meaning of life to achieve and live the dream life. Walt Disney quoted, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” As he rightly quoted, it does take a lot of courage for one to chase their dreams and to say, ‘Yes I can get there one fine day’. To get there however would not be a very easy route. There should be a mental map that we need to follow to reach our destination (our dream).

Some of the aspects that we could keep in mind to create our own route to our dreams could be:

  1. Knowing What one Wants: “You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”, quotes Dr Abdul kalam. We need to first know what we want to be and where we want to reach. We need to Explore our strengths and talents and dream of contributing to our fields of interest through these assets.

  2. Believing in Dreams and Following Intuition: There could be times that we all dream big and see ourselves in the best form we aspire to be… such as maybe get a job in a dream company such as Microsoft or Google, or get into teaching in a renowned university or maybe lose a good amount of weight and then we might think, ‘okay can i really get there?’. This thought hinders us from working towards our dreams. It’s always the best option to be positive about ourselves and appreciative of what we have and how our possessions can help us reach our big dreams. We need to be passionate about our interest and work towards growing and developing in the field… Of course we should keep in mind how real our dream is, for instance one can not be positive about a dream of becoming ‘Superman’ or ‘Spider-man’ 😛

  3. Taking Help and Helping Others: There is a time in everyone’s life where we are new to the field that we aspire to one fine day shine in. We could be freshly out of college, or newly shifted to a place or even might want to consider change of career such as maybe theater/ acting, or singing/music and have no contacts or networks to start the first step towards our dreams. That’s when we need others’ help and guidance. We could reach out to people in our circles who are well established in the field of our dreams or make our own new circle and take their help in getting networks and recommendations to start our journey… Maybe we could do a course, get certifications, meet people in our own field and take their help to build future networks. The same way, we could be open to guiding others who are in need… this could be another way to expand our networks and learn through experience.
  4. Stepping Out of “My World”: Most of us have our own comfort zones and are happy and contented in it! Sometimes we are so ‘adjusted’ to our own worlds that we tend to forget there are so many more ‘worlds’ outside. Stepping out of our own worlds and exploring outside could help us realize we have so many opportunities to spread our talents and knowledge. Sometimes stepping out could also help us make new dreams and give hope to achieve more than we thought we could. Stepping out could mean even personal vacation, we go see new places, learn about new cultures. We could also travel to different places for seminars and conferences to learn about global trends and opportunities in the areas of our interests.
  5. Imagination is Powerful: As Azim Premji (Wipro), quoted, “Success is achieved twice. Once in the mind and the second time in the real world.“, the journey to reach our destination needs to start in our mind first… through imagination. Being open minded and imagining a dream state of life could help us achieve unique things. We need to be open minded to try out things. For instance, places such as UAE are known for many world records such as tallest building, fastest roller coaster, biggest frame shaped building and some unique architectures such as the coin building. They would not have been able to make all this happen without imagination and big vision. We need to learn from them that creativity and the drive to be unique and best is the key to achieving our dreams.
  6. Being open to Failure: One thing that most of us have not learnt in schools is to be open to failure. We have mostly been drilled to avoid failure. More marks we score the more we are rewarded and if we fail to achieve a ‘good score’ we would be disregarded. This way we grow up with the mindset that failure is a shameful thing and we would if we failed, we would lose respect. This causes mental blocks and hinders us from trying new things because of the fear of failure. We need to realize failing is okay and is a stepping stone for success. Edison’s quote, “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”, suggests that he couldn’t have invented bulb if not for trying several ways to get there despite of failing many times. We could also achieve something as great if we are open and learn from failure and try different other ways to achieve our dreams.

This way one will be able to make dream into reality and simultaneously attract opportunities to live one’s dreams.

To conclude, let’s be inspired by another quote by Dr. Abdul Kalam that summarizes this article… “If four things are followed – having a great aim, acquiring knowledge, hard work, and perseverance – then anything can be achieved.”



Finding True Happiness

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

Abraham Lincoln quoted “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” which throws light on the fact that happiness is a state of mind and one can be happy when he/she makes up their mind. There ware many ways one can find true happiness within themselves some of them are highlighted below:

First of all, one needs to be aware that the concept of happiness is subjective and differs from individual to individual. Once one is aware of  this, one can understand and be able to express what happiness means to them, and go ahead and achieve their happiness.

Although it’s subjective, there are certain common ways that can help one attain their happiness, irrespective of one’s subjective definition of happiness. One of such universals approaches to reach a happiness is to appreciate and find pleasure in the littlest and smallest things. This can be done when one does not have high expectations about self or others.

Another way to find a ‘short cut’ to reach one’s happiness is to make time for activities which help stay healthy and fit (physically, mentally/ emotionally and socially) … these could include activities of one’s own interest and that one enjoys such as sports, gym, creative hobbies, socializing activities with friends/ family etc.

Being surrounded by people/ things which make one happy is also a good way to attain an inner path to happiness. Although one’s surrounding does play a role on the way they feel and perceive things, one should make sure not to completely rely on others / external sources for their personal happiness. As mentioned earlier already, true happiness comes from within an individual.

It would be important to keep in mind that ‘it’s okay to be you’… One needs to learn and feel comfortable being oneself. One cannot be happy pretending to be someone else. A quote by Mahatma Gandhi stated “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”… This focuses on one being clear and open about their intentions and actions, (which can be done being oneself). This way, one need not suffer any kind of guilt or fear of being caught or exposed and are generally happy in nature.

Positive self-affirmations would also help pump in happiness in individuals. This would bring in optimistic approach without any stress in one who is aiming the perform his/her best (professionally and personally). This would lead one to be a generally happy person. Talking about giving one’s best performance, another positive approach to make it a happy and stress-free process is comparing one with oneself instead of others. Seeing growth and development within one’s own self will always bring inner happiness and satisfaction.

Openly expressing gratitude towards people and things that have helped and supported one to achieve would also add on to the general inner happiness of a person. This act would not only make one individual happy but also spread happiness and positivity which is another way to increase happiness within oneself.

It’s always necessary to accept changes in life. Of course some changes that occur in life would pull one’s mood down, however it should not stop one from being a happy person for a long time if one always hopes and expects the best and at the same time be prepared for the worse.

Quoting Dalai Lama XIV,  “Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.”… meaning, once one makes sure he/she does’t hurt oneself or others, through their actions, there will be more room to happiness and our world will be more beautiful to live!! Finally, it can be concluded keeping in mind Max Ehrmann’s  quote “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” 🙂

Forgiving: A Strength; A Therapy

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We all face certain mental blocks and fears to try new things, specially in areas where we have faced embarrassment or disappointment earlier. The reason behind the block is not the embarrassment it self, but the bad feeling or anger on the situation or the person responsible for the embarrassment (Could be either oneself or some other person). One of a mature ways to get rid of the hesitation or block would be to forgive the situation or person we perceive is responsible for the earlier unpleasant experience.

Forgiving is, as all of us perceive a challenging action. One might say “it’s easier said than done” but conquering this challenging job could release one from mental blocks and many other negative thoughts and feelings and enhance positiveness in one’s mind. A positive mindset is after all to key to success – both personal and professional.

When we forgive others, it also gives us the space and opportunity to identify and acknowledge our own flaws and weaknesses and gives us a path to accept and rectify them. Forgiving is an act of a strong person as it’s more challenging to forgive when one is hurt rather than staying angry on the other person/ situation – as Mahatma Gandhi quotes “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Taking an instance, A teacher from high school comments on a student’s scores and presentation skills. As the student grows up (s)he gets a mental block to take up any competitive exam or deliver presentations. The reason behind the hesitation is the grudge (s)he is carrying on the teachers words. The best way for her/him to overcome the block is to let go of the feeling of embarrassment and forgive the teacher. This way (s)he gets a space to identify her own strengths and areas of improvement and move towards learning and developing.

In the above instance, how does one forgive someone who is still not in touch?

Forgiving need not be directly going to the person and saying “I forgive you”! Sometimes the other person would not be aware that they have hurt us. What one can do is, think of the person, what he/she told, the situation, and one’s feeling in that situation and mentally let go of the feeling and say to the person in the mind, “you may have knowingly or unknowingly hurt me! I forgive you and move on”! This activity might take few repeats till one feels they have finally let go of the feelings and ready to break through the challenge of facing exams and presentations without hesitation (referring to the instance)

Another way of forgiving would be, directly going and talking to the person (if he/she is available) and clearing it all out with them and finally forgiving. Another way could be writing down in the diary / personal journal about the person, situation, and one’s feeling.

Here one could also add the perceived reason behind the feeling, alternative reasons behind the other person’s actions, and the changed feeling considering the alternative reason. – Taking the above instance, the teacher could have commented keeping in mind encouragement for the student to pull up his/her socks and perform better rather than putting the student’s confidence down. Considering this reason behind the teacher’s comments, the feeling could be changed and written as “motivated” “need to improve and grow”… which will help one in breaking through the ice and coming up the ladder.

There could be any situation, person causing mental blocks in people and using these techniques of forgiving would help as a therapy for overcoming and liberating oneself from fears and blocks and come across as a more free and positive person!

To conclude, let’s all keep in mind this quote of Martin Luther King Jr, “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid the power to forgive is devoid the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover it, we are less prone to hate our enemies”. He also quotes “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that!”- and that spreads mental freedom and positive mindset!

Storytelling – An Effective Learning Method

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All of us have fond memories of being told stories in our childhood in order to learn morels and values. Some stories motivated us to try better when we failed to achieve and to stay humble when we did achieve while some others told us about the mistakes committed by our kings and ancestors and their consequences. These stores, be it true time stories or fictitious, have played a role in our lives in the process of learning ways of living and behaving. Some of them also have impacted our learning of concepts and theories. For instance – we remember Newton’s Theory of Gravity through the story of the apple falling and Aristotle’s theory through the famous “Eureka” story.

Stories are one of the forms of communication that bring in a personalized touch to the  learners. This form can be used by teachers, trainers and learners themselves to inculcate ownership of subject/ concept. Storytelling in the context of training and learning does not mean an elaborate fairy-tale starting with “once upon a time…” and ending with “…happily ever after”. Being able to relating to stories that are commonly known to understand/ apply a concept or to create stories that can make application of concepts easier is a vital role of storytelling in the world of learning.

It can be kept in mind that the climax of the story should be able to provide opportunity for the learners to relate themselves as a hero of their own stories in similar situation. Situation based teaching and learning methods such as role plays, case studies or even inviting renowned people in the study field to share the stories of their journey could play a role in enhancing teaching-learning processes and enable learners to think and apply what they are learning in a more effective way.