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Happy Birthday, Stupid.

December 3rd, 2018.

Midnight in Singapore.

Sarah, it’s your birthday!

You’re asleep right now (unless you aren’t; hi then) and you’re not expecting this kind of greeting but then I’m weird and I do weird stuff so here goes my little birthday toast to you:

You have been one of my closest and best friends since I was eleven. You are kind, smart, and just great fun being around. I am grateful for the time we had together at school because you made every second better. 

And I know I can’t really do much to make your life better, because you now live like a thousand miles away, so the least I could do is try to make one day of your life better. And so here I am, typing away on my keyboard, trying to throw as much love and joy towards you as you could feel. I wish you a very happy 14th birthday, and I wish you all the love and happiness and success and friends and cake in the world.


Cheers,

Udita.

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Why Diwali is The Best Indian Festival

I don’t really have a lot of time to write right now, because I’m about to go down and celebrate Diwali with my friends (don’t worry I’m not going to burst any crackers) but I had a lot on my mind that I needed to get it all out before I lose my thoughts.

The lights. That’s it. That’s the best part about Diwali. I’ve talked about how lights are often used to spread a sense of knowing everything, and that’s often bad. But if you ever have been part of Diwali celebrations, you’ll know that the opposite is true. As I was walking down the street in my community, I saw almost all the houses decorated with dozens of lights, and every other community had the same. It’s very rare to see so many people do the same thing and do it for the same purpose. On Diwali, all the lights are lit in our homes to spread love, unity and most importantly, courage. We light up our worlds on Diwali not to get rid of the darkness in our world, but the darkness in our hearts. We do it to make sure that whatever happens, if we follow the light, both in the world and in our hearts, we’ll never lose our way. These lights are different in ways that I can’t really explain. These lights are a way of humanity saying that no matter how dark the world seems, hope is here to stay.

I wish you a happy and safe Diwali.

It’s gonna be lit.

Pun intended.

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8 Powerful Habits To Create During Vacations

Featured Image by Lidya Nada on Unsplash


Go cycle.

One of the best things you can do during vacations, especially in the mornings, is cycling. Not only does it boost you with motivation for the entire day, but it also helps you clear your head. Cycling is easy, not very straining on your body, and it is a great way to increase your health and stamina. So tomorrow morning, take your friends with you and go on a ride. Go on. It’ll be fun, I promise.

Read a book you never thought you would.

I emphasise on the second part of the heading. It’s easy to read a book that you know you’re gonna read because you’ve already made up your mind about it. I don’t want you to read the book you bought for your birthday, or the new book release from Hank Green, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (although you should buy it- it’s great), or the book you’ve been wanting to read for ages. Save those for later, honey.

I want you to pick up a book from the back of your bookshelf, one that you never knew existed, or one that you simply forgot about, sit down, and read it. I want you to do this because it will open your mind to new ways to excite itself. And this applies for most things in life, not just books. By constantly finding new things that you love, you are stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning to enjoy new, completely different things in life.

Write.

Great, you’ve read a book. Now, it’s time for you to write! It doesn’t need to be really good (*cough* like this one *cough*), or properly structured. It doesn’t even need to make sense at first. All you need to do is put your thoughts out of your mind and onto paper. The more you do this, the easier it will become. This site is an example of that.

If you start to write consistently, you’ll start to notice that you’re able to think more clearly. The more you become comfortable with writing down your thoughts, the more you become comfortable with your thoughts.

Cool, eh?

Meditate.

I can almost see my friends cringing badly as they read that word. We millennials seem to hate the idea of meditating so much, but I just don’t know why. Maybe it’s because we are so used to running around doing stuff (basically just running around in circles), and we’re kinda afraid of stopping. And I totally get that.

If you can, and you honestly should, take 2 minutes out of your schedule in the morning and just breathe. If you’re drowned by your own thoughts, accept them all and continue breathing. Some great mobile apps for meditation are:

Manage your time.

Oh my god, I cannot even EXPLAIN how much time management helps you organize your life. The moment you set your priorities right and schedule everything properly, life becomes 10 times clearer. But I’m not a time-management expert. Creating a schedule that’s right for you takes lots of time and effort getting to know yourself better.

In order to properly manage time, you need to understand what uses up most of your time in the first place. Then, you need to get rid of the stuff that’s a pure waste of your time. That’s half the job done. The other half is to do the things that matter the most to you and doing them with full commitment, in the time that you have. And if you ever don’t have enough time to do the things that you want to, then make the time for them.

There’s always time.

Learn a new language.

I might have said this earlier, but I’m going to say it again. Learning a new language is the best way to use your free time. I mean it when I say that. I’ve been learning Spanish on Duolingo for more than a year now, and the experience has been extremely gratifying. There’s something very rewarding in putting a little bit of effort every day into learning something, which, over time, becomes a skill that’s stronger than you ever could imagine. The bottom line is this: learning a new language is an investment that lasts for a lifetime, and you should definitely get into it.

Socialize. With the right people.

ok, coming from an introvert, that word just sounds WRONG in my head, but I gotta admit, the experience of meeting strangers is worth it. But only if the strangers are a valuable addition to your life. Over time, such strangers become your closest and most loyal friends, who genuinely care and hope for the best for you. It’s an equally exhilarating experience to make friends with people who you never expected to be friends with.

So, to my fellow introverted friends, I encourage you to take a risk, step way outside of your comfort zone, and just go make a few new friends today. I’m going to go do that right now.

Just go make a few new friends today.

Brush your teeth twice a day.

Yeah, well, I don’t really mean just that. I mean “keep yourself well groomed and reasonably hygienic.” It’s fine if you don’t bathe sometimes. I mean, it’s the vacations! Who’s got the time or interest to bathe?! Still, you probably should love yourself enough to care about your own wellbeing. The best way to take care of yourself is by making the tasks automated. And the best way to make tasks automated is to do them first thing in the morning or last thing before sleeping. That’s how most tasks work (eg: brushing).

So, starting tomorrow, create one new self-care habit for the morning, and one for the night. It can be anything from applying moisturizing lotion on your skin to combing your hair. It doesn’t matter, as long as you do it with love (omg, so cheesy) and do it consistently.


To all  Indians: Have a happy Dusshera, and happy vacations!

 

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Let’s Deal With Disappointment, Shall We?

The tension in the room is palpable.

Everyone in the class is eagerly waiting for the bell to ring.

5…4…3…2…1

*ringggg*

Once the teacher leaves, we all rush to the nearest bulletin board on our floor. All of us want to know whether we cleared the test, or failed.

No, we weren’t looking at the results of our final exams.

We were looking at the I-Section entrance test results.

Every year, our school conducts an entrance exam for secondary school students to test their smartness. Then, they segregate the “smart” kids into a different, Integrated-Section.

Yes, I’m in this section. No, sometimes (such as now) I don’t like it.

So our results are on the bulletin board, but I already know my marks- 45 out of 50.

I don’t want to say this, but – oh god – I was disappointed with my marks.

Sometimes I wonder whether I could be the definition of a typical Indian teenage nerd- smart, constantly worried, over-analytic about marks, overpressured and overburdened. Ok, the last part is a bit of an exaggeration. Seriously mom. I’m fine. Don’t send me to the counsellor or to math tuition.

The funny thing is, though, that even though I got through by a big margin, I still felt kinda uneasy. Like I hadn’t done enough to prove my nerdiness to other people. Even though I had accomplished my goal, my mind was too fixated on the smaller picture. Marks.

My whole day went past me like a blur, while all I thought about was how bad I was at acing tests and how much I sucked at them.

That afternoon, during my bus ride back home, my history teacher, who’s a very sweet person (I’m not being paid to say this), asked me if I was sick or something. ‘Cause apparently I looked like I had a fever.

I told her about my rather disgraceful test performance, and she just broke into soft laughter.

“Don’t worry so much, ma. If the teachers are happy with your results, then it’s fine! Don’t take it so seriously.”

Those words gave me just the perspective my naive mind needed. My mood went from sullen, brooding, contemplative and disappointed to accepting, and ready to make a change. I was ready to change my day into one full of opportunities at my disposal.

Here are 5 things I did that evening to lift my mood. You should try them too.

Talk to a friend.

If you’re feeling low, pick up your phone and chat up with an old friend. The feeling of having someone who listens and talks to you can be therapeutic at times.

Tell yourself that it’ll pass.

Because it will. You know that. Stop for a moment, tell your little irrational brain to shut up, and remind yourself that whatever you’re feeling is perfectly normal, and your despair with come to an end.

Throw your responsibilities away for a day.

One primary reason for disappointment is high expectations. From anyone. So since you can’t control what others expect from you, the best you can do is control what you expect from yourself. Don’t push your limits for a few hours. Just. Relax.

Play a sport.

Sports are awesome! They are also scientifically proven to reduce stress and depression. So if you have a basketball court or just a park in your neighbourhood, call a couple of your friends down and play for a while!

Write about it (as I am now).

Writing helps because nothing provides perspective through self-realisation quite like writing. The minute you put a sad feeling on paper, it loses its dramatic, overestimated impact on your mental wellbeing. There’s no need to amplify a situation through writing. As long as you write down the bare facts about what happened and how you feel, this works.

That day, I learnt that no matter how bad a day goes, I can always change how I feel about it with a simple shift in mindset.

I learnt that if I just change your mindset from one of disappointment to one of acceptance and growth, everything will be okay.

Hopefully, you learnt that too.

“I’m sad, hurt, angry, mad, disappointed. But you know what? I will put on a happy face and move on. It will hurt but I will survive.”

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The Joy of Missing Out

Disclaimer: This post is not meant to offend phubbers of any kind. However, this post might change your view on phone usage (or maybe not). Please proceed with caution.

Imagine this:

You’re outside, without your phone. You have no access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube. You have no idea what your friend is uploading on social media. Nor do you know if you’ve gotten any likes of that picture of your lunch on Instagram. You are absolutely devoid of virtual contact with people.

How does that make you feel? Anxious, or relieved?

If you chose the former, read on.

Actually, it doesn’t matter what you chose. You should still read on.

Phones have blurred the lines between real and virtual life. Phones are the new public menace. It is so hard to stay of your phones these days, it’s next to impossible. Honestly, I checked and edited my Instagram posts 3 times while writing this paragraph.

We have become so glued to our phones, it’s past the point of entitlement. Now, it’s more of a delirious attachment. Let me warn you, what starts out as a plain attachment or addiction can turn out to be a serious mental health issue in the long term.

Dr Larry Rosen, who is the author of ‘The Distracted Mind’ and ‘iDisorder’, provides an explanation for our irrational love for virtual reality:

“With our extensive commitments to our smartphones and our connections to the world through that phone, we check with the virtual world, and then our adrenal gland starts secreting cortisol (among other chemicals), which makes us feel uneasy that we have not checked in recently.”

Whether people describe phone usage as addiction or an obsession, they’re definitely a distraction.

45% of Indian phone users admit that they use their phones for more than 4 hours a day. Say you sleep for 7 hours and work for 7 more, you’re wasting 40% of your free time just using your phone!!

76% say that they check their phones before sleeping and 53% say that they check their phones first thing in the morning. They don’t even brush. They just leap out of their bed, thinking, “Social Media!!!” That’s what I think, anyway. Well, that’s what I used to do, anyway.

Clearly, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a prime motivator of their mindless phone usage. Because no sane human being would use their phone for 4 HOURS A DAY.

And I get it, because I’ve been there. We’ve all had that crazy fear of missing out on something infinitely more important (at least in our perception) than the work at hand. Maybe you had your holiday homework to do (which I still haven’t finished; my school reopens in 5 days) to do, while all your friends were going out and having the time of their lives.

What FOMO does to you is convince you that what you’re doing is simply less important than what others are doing. You might be writing a PhD on Climate Change, but your Facebook feed will still find a way to make you doubt what what you’re doing. Just when you think you’re getting on the right track, FOMO will knock  on your door and coax into taking a break.

So if you think you’re losing hope, fear not! In the words of master hustler and iisuperwomanii, Lilly Singh,

Temptations to slack off will always be there, and that will never change. What has to change is your ability to deal with temptation. To be successful, you need to be able to look FOMO in the eyes and say NO. In response, FOMO will stand there, pout, and throw a temper tantrum, but you have to be strong and hold your ground. The only way to overcome FOMO is to recognize that the joy of accomplishing your goals is much greater than the disappointment of missing out on a little fun. Parties are fun in the short term, but fulfilling your goals will bring you great happiness in the long term.

There’s more to life than just seeking validation from superficial people. If you do want to use your phone, use it for a good purpose. Don’t just use it to gain more attention. Use it to make a difference.

So, the next time you decide to focus on your priorities instead of aimlessly scrolling through your phone, stop for a minute and soak that feeling of joy in.

The joy of missing out.

And feel proud of yourself.

This blog post has been written with inspiration from The Times Of India newspaper, dated 27th May, 2018.


Also, please do check out my last post, How to Steal Ideas, and show it the love it deserves! Any feedback is greatly appreciated:)


Check out my gal Kasvi Methi’s blog, Profound Findings of an Unfound Highbrow and show her some love! She’s my new contributor, and from next week we’ll be collaborating and providing you with even better content!

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How to Steal Ideas

Stolen from Austin Kleon.

Nothing’s original.

There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

Originality is undetected plagiarism. Nothing, absolutely nothing in this world is original. “Original” art is just connecting the same old dots in a different pattern. And the best way to get more of these dots into your life is to steal them. There are bajillions of things to steal in the world, and many people to steal it from. Use what you find interesting, appreciate what you don’t, and move on to the next thing to steal.

You are your own remix.

You are a mashup of your mom and dad and your ancestors. Your ideas are a mashup of the people you surround yourself with, the friends you make, the music you listen to, the movies you see and the blogs you read. 😛 In the same way, your ideas are a mix of other people’s ideas. You might feel like the ideas in your head are 100% yours, but that couldn’t be more far from the truth. Your job is to pick the sources and ideas that you want to be influenced by.

Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. -Jim Jarmusch

Build your own creative lineage.

One good way to keep the art flowing is to consider yourself as part of a big creative family tree that has all your role models in it. Start with one thinker. Study everything there is to know about them. Then find three people that thinker loved and study them. Grow branches of your tree as far out as you can. Seeing yourself as part of a bigger picture gives you a sense of purpose, makes you feel less alone and more empowered to continue doing what you’re doing.

Putting up pictures or quotes of your favourite people in the world is a great way to do this. They’re like friendly ghosts, pushing you forward.

Teach yourself.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it also cured polio. Keep your eyes open for anything worth Googling. Whenever in doubt, Google. Google your dreams, your nightmares, your problems and absolutely any random thought on your mind. It’s sure to either give the right answers or lead you to better questions.

Write it down.

If you’re in the hunt for ideas, there are two things you’ll need to carry with you all the time: a pen and paper.

If you see something worth remembering, chances are you’ll forget it in the next twenty four hours. The difference between a genius and a normal person is that when a genius comes across something cool, she notes it down.

See something worth your attention?

Steal it.

It is better to take what doesn’t belong to you than to let it lie around neglected. -Mark Twain

Sorry this post is a bit short. Next week will be better, I promise!

What do you want to see next? Any ideas on your mind? Leave a comment below!

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10 ways to be happy and in the moment

  1. BREATHE. This is the best way to detox and live in the present moment. This could be in the form of meditation, taking a shower, or walking your dog. This lets you pause for a moment and check in on yourself.
  2. WRITE. Maintaining a daily journal (or blog) helps you address all that went right or wrong in your day. Once you write something in a journal, you don’t need to think about it anymore.
  3. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE. If you’re feeling down, maybe you haven’t done something you enjoy for a long time. Every day, take some time pursuing your hobbies and passions.
  4. TALK TO FRIENDS. Ring your best friend up and meet them over the weekend. Talk about the things that make your heart sing. Get all the fresh gossip you possibly can. What you’re doing doesn’t matter as much as who you’re doing it with.
  5. TRY SOMETHING NEW. Watch a different news channel in the morning. Wear a different hair tie to school. Take a new route to the office. Whatever it is, take your time to embrace the new sensation you get by doing something new.
  6. GO FOR A RUN. Exercise is scientifically proven to reduce depression and anxiety. And it helps get rid of those sushi rolls under your shirt. So why not run a mile in the morning? You’ll get to see the sunrise too.
  7. SLEEP. Having problems with your day? Sleep on it. It lets you slow down for a while and not consciously do anything. so if you’re not feeling happy, a nap is completely fine.
  8. WATCH A MOTIVATIONAL VIDEO. It doesn’t need to be just motivational. Anything that makes you inspired to do better is great. Binge.
  9. CLEAN YOUR HOUSE. It’ll get your mind off of anything that’s bugging you, and you’ll make your bed ready for a good night’s sleep.
  10. SMILE! Just do it.

You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.
―Albert Camus