Sunday, 8 November 2015

Happiness and Health

The feeling of happiness - whether we equate it with optimism, joy, well-being, personal achievement or all of the above - goes hand-in-hand with healthier habits. People who are in good spirits tend to eat better, exercise more frequently and get better sleep than those who are not. In turn, these healthy habits engage the hormones and neurotransmitters that influence our happiness. When our mood is down, we are more likely to skip workouts, do some heavy-duty emotional overeating and have difficulty sleeping.
Beyond these rather common-sense associations, however, is an intriguing research that suggests there's something more about happiness that makes us healthy.
Let’s understand the 10 health benefits of being happy…
1.       SMILE
Science suggest that when we smile whether we are happy or not, our mood is elevated. When we smile, even if it is a fake one, muscles of our face are stretched and this muscular movement triggers the brain to release the “Happy Hormones” which makes us feel good and boosts up our mood. Our smile not only makes others happy but does a huge favor to release our own stress.
2.       LAUGHTER
Laughter is the best medicine. (Age old adage known to many) We expel air of the lungs in bouts of laughing that expels more air and lengthens the period of exhalation that is followed by deep inspiration of fresh air having more oxygen. Our blood gets purified more rapidly and we feel more refreshed and rejuvenated. We feel more relaxed too when pure blood circulates in the brain. Some people practice laughter just to reap its health benefits. No wonder we find laughter clubs in almost all parks and open spaces.
As per Psychoneuroimmunology, a new branch of science that studies the mind-body connection, the thoughts and emotions that we choose get instantly transformed into chemicals. These chemicals are, effectively, either self-administered injections of 'slow poisons' or of 'healing medicines' that eventually freeze into and become our physical states, i.e. Disease or Health. So let’s understand the role of the chemicals associated with Happiness.
Happy hormones generally refer to Endorphins, Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin, Phenylethamine and Ghrelin. Technically, some of these are neurotransmitters and not hormones, but we shan’t bother ourselves with those scientific details here. Let’s just understand how they help us to be healthy…
ENDORPHINS - Endorphins block pain they are the body’s natural painkillers. When rigorous exercise depletes our muscles of glycogen (oxygen stores), endorphins allow us to push on. This is why we often feel blisters for example only after and not during the activity.
SEROTONIN - Serotonin boosts our mood and makes us more agreeable and sociable prevents irritability and depression.
DOPAMINE - Dopamine helps us to feel mentally alert. The lack of it might cause lack of attention, lack of concentration and bad moods. It motivates us to take action to achieve the exercise goals so we can experience the pleasure of the reward.
ESTROGEN - Estrogen helps form serotonin and protects us from irritability and anxiety, keeping our mood steady.
PROGESTERONE – Progesterone helps us to sleep well and prevents anxiety, irritability and mood swings.
Do you know a grumpy person who always seems to be getting sick? That may be no coincidence; there is a link between happiness and a stronger immune system. Happy people have a high antibody response to any vaccine which is a sign of a robust immune system. There is reduction in the size of telomeres - the protective caps of our immune cells, which causes premature aging of the immune system in stressed out people. On the contrary happiness seems to be literally working on a cellular level to strengthen our immune system.
5.       HEART
Happiness predicts lower heart rate and blood pressure. There is a link between happiness and another measure of heart health: heart rate variability, which refers to the time interval between heartbeats and is associated with risk for various diseases. Happy people are less likely to develop coronary heart diseases.
6.       BLOOD
Happy people have lower levels of a blood protein called fibrinogen following a stressful task. This molecule makes blood “sticky” and is vital in the clotting process, but high concentrations can signal future coronary heart disease problems.
Unhappiness can be painful—literally. Painful and negative symptoms like muscle strain, dizziness, and heartburn and even arthritis and chronic pain seem to be lesser painful when we are happy mainly as we have more of endorphins in our blood stream effectively acting as the natural pain killers.
8.       STRESS
Stress is not only upsetting on a psychological level but also triggers biological changes in our hormones and blood pressure. Happiness seems to temper these effects, or at least help us recover more quickly. Happiness also seems to carry benefits even when stress is inevitable. The happier we are, the lower our cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone of which high levels are linked to conditions such as type II diabetes and hypertension. And lower heart rates are associated with good cardiovascular health.
9.       GENES
Yes, Happiness can alter our genes!  People with a deep sense of happiness and well-being have lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger antiviral and antibody responses. This falls into the realm of epigenetics - changing the way our genes function by turning them off and on. Epigenetics doesn’t change the genetic code; it changes the readout of a single gene to create over 30,000 different proteins. When a human being encounters happiness and love, the growth genes are activated. When a human being encounters fear, the protection genes are activated. Thus perfectly normal genes can result in cancer or death. Vice-versa, in the right happy environment, mutant genes won’t be expressed.
In the end, the ultimate health indicator might be longevity—and here, especially, happiness comes into play. As we become elderly, the other condition that often afflicts us is frailty, which is characterized by impaired strength, endurance, and balance and puts us at risk of disability and death. However happier people are less likely to be frail. In essence, true happiness - the kind rooted in virtue - can help prevent disease. It keeps inflammation - which is linked to numerous ills in the body, including heart disease - at bay while still fighting off infection and disease.
That’s perhaps one reason Mother Theresa lived to 87, despite being around the sick and dying for so many years.

I would quote Voltaire here - “I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health.” Have you?

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Club 99

Once upon a time, there lived a King who, despite his luxurious lifestyle, was neither happy nor content. One day, the King came upon a servant who was singing happily while he worked. This fascinated the King; why was he, the Supreme Ruler of the Land, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly servant had so much joy. The King asked the servant, 'Why are you so happy?' The man replied, 'Your Majesty, I am nothing but a servant, but my family and I don't need too much - just a roof over our heads and warm food to fill our tummies.'

The king was not satisfied with that reply. Later in the day, he sought the advice of his most trusted advisor. After hearing the King's woes and the servant's story, the advisor said, 'Your Majesty, I believe that the servant Has not been made part of The 99 Club.''The 99 Club? And what exactly is that?' the King inquired. The advisor replied, 'Your Majesty, to truly know what The 99 Club is, place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it at this servant's doorstep.'

When the servant saw the bag, he took it into his house. When he opened the bag, he let out a great shout of joy... So many gold coins! He began to count them. After several counts, he was at last convinced that there were 99 coins. He wondered, 'What could've happened to that last gold coin? Surely, no one would leave 99 coins!' He looked everywhere he could, but that final coin was elusive. Finally, exhausted he decided that he was going to have to work harder than ever to earn that gold coin and complete his collection.

From that day, the servant's life was changed. He was overworked, horribly grumpy, and castigated his family for not helping him make that 100th gold coin. He stopped singing while he worked. Witnessing this drastic transformation, the King was puzzled. When he sought his advisor's help, the advisor said, 'Your Majesty, the servant has now officially joined The 99 Club.'

He continued, 'The 99 Club is a name given to those people who have enough to be happy but are never contented, because they're always yearning and Striving for that extra 1, saying to themselves: 'Let me get that one final thing and then I will be happy for life.' We can be happy, even with very little in our lives, but the minute we're given something bigger and better, we want even more! We lose our sleep, our happiness, we hurt the people around us; all these as a price for our growing needs and desires. That's the "Club 99" 

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Happiness depends on ourselves

Jerry is a manager of a restaurant. He is always in a good mood. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would always reply, "If I were any better, I would be twins!"
Many of the waiters at his restaurant used to quit their jobs when Jerry changed jobs, so that they could follow him around from restaurant to restaurant.

Because Jerry was a natural motivator.
If an employee was having a bad day, Jerry was always there, telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up to Jerry and asked him, "I don't get it! No one can be a positive person all the time. How do you do it?"

Jerry replied,
"Each morning I wake up and say to myself, I have two choices today. I can choose to be in a good mood or I can choose to be in a bad mood. I always choose to be in a good mood.
Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be victim or I can choose to learn from it. I always choose to learn from it.
Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or I can point out the positive side of life. I always choose the positive side of life."

"But it's not always that easy," I protested.

"Yes, it is." Jerry said.
"Life is all about choices.
When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice.
You choose how you react to situations.
You choose how people will affect your mood.
You choose to be in a good mood or a bad mood.
It's your choice how you live your life."

Several years later, I heard that Jerry did something that you are never expected to do in a restaurant business. He left the back door of his restaurant open. And then?
In the morning, he was robbed by three armed men. They forced Jerry to open the safe box. While Jerry was trying to open it, his hand, shaking from nervousness, slipped of the combination. The robbers panicked and shot him.
Luckily, Jerry was found quickly and rushed to the hospital.

After 18 hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, Jerry was released from the hospital with fragments of the bullets still in his body!

I saw Jerry about six months after the accident.
When I asked him how he was, he replied, "If I were any better, I would be twins! Want to see my scars?"

I declined to see his wounds but did ask him what was going through his mind as the robbery took place.
"The first thing that went through my mind was that I should have locked the back door," Jerry replied.
"Then after they shot me, as I lay on the floor, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or I could choose to die. I chose to live."

"Weren't you scared?" I asked.

Jerry continued, "The paramedics were great. They kept telling me that I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the emergency room and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'He's a dead man.' And I knew I needed to take action."

"What did you do?" I asked.

"Well, there was a big nurse shouting questions at me," said Jerry. "She asked me if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes,' I replied. The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, 'Bullets!' Over their laughter, I told them, 'I'm choosing to live. Please operate on me as if I'm alive, and not dead'."

Jerry lived thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. 
I learned from him that:
Everyday you have a choice to either enjoy your day or to hate it.
The only thing that is truly yours- that no one can control or take from you- is your attitude. So if you can take care of that, everything in life becomes much easier.

Now you've two choices to make:
1. You can just read and forget this story
2. You can share it with someone you care about
I hope you'll chose #2. 

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Happiness is a choice

A man of 92 years, short, very well-presented, who takes great care in his appearance, is moving into an old people's home today. After waiting several hours in the retirement home lobby, he gently smiles as he is told that his room is ready. His wife of 80 has recently died, and he is obliged to leave his home. As he slowly walks to the elevator, using his cane, I describe his small room to him, including the sheet hung at the window which serves as a curtain.

"I like it very much", he says, with the enthusiasm of an 8 year old boy who has just been given a new puppy. 
"You haven't even seen the room yet, hang on a moment, we are almost there." 
"That has nothing to do with it ", he replies.
"It is already decided in my mind that I like my room. It is a decision I take every morning when I wake up."

"Happiness is something I choose in advance. Whether or not I like the room does not depend on the furniture, or the decor rather it depends on how I decide to see it."
"I can choose. I can spend my day in bed enumerating all the difficulties that I have with the parts of my body that no longer work very well, or I can get up and give thanks to heaven for those parts that are still in working order."
"Every day is a gift, and as long as I can open my eyes, I will focus on the new day, and all the happy memories that I have built up during my life."
"Old age is like a bank account. You withdraw in later life what you have deposited along the way."

So, my advice to you is to deposit all the happiness you can in your bank account of memories.
Thank you for your part in filling my account with happy memories, which I am still continuing to fill.

Remember these simple guidelines for happiness.
1. Free your heart from hate.
2. Free your mind from worry.
3. Live simple.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Happiness is in sharing

Here is an interesting story on two seas with some interesting lessons. I had heard of Dead Sea in school. No one ever told me this side of the story. You may find it interesting.

A tale of Two Seas 

Sitting in the Geography class in school, I remember how fascinated I was when we were being taught all about the Dead Sea. As you probably recall, the Dead Sea is really a Lake, not a sea (and as my Geography teacher pointed out, if you understood that, it would guarantee 4 marks in the term paper!) It’s so high in salt content that the human body can float easily. You can almost lie down and read a book! The salt in the Dead Sea is as high as 35% - almost 10 times the normal ocean water. And all that saltiness has meant that there is no life at all in the Dead Sea. No fish. No vegetation. No sea animals. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea.

And hence the name: Dead Sea.

While the Dead Sea has remained etched in my memory, I don't seem to recall learning about the Sea of Galilee in my school Geography lesson. So when I heard about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea and the tale of the two seas - I was intrigued.

Turns out that the Sea of Galilee is just north of the Dead Sea. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea receive their water from river Jordan. And yet, they are very, very different.

Unlike the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee is pretty, resplendent with rich, colorful marine life. There are lots of plants. And lots of fish too. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is home to over twenty different types of fishes.

Same region, same source of water, and yet while one sea is full of life, the other is dead. How come?

Here’s apparently why. The River Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee and then flows out. The water simply passes through the Sea of Galilee in and then out - and that keeps the sea healthy and vibrant, teeming with marine life.

But the Dead Sea is so far below the mean sea level, that it has no outlet. The water flows in from the river Jordan, but does not flow out. There are no outlet streams. It is estimated that over 7 million tons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day. Leaving it salty. Too full of minerals. And unfit for any marine life.

The Dead Sea takes water from the River Jordan, and holds it. It does not give.

Result? No life at all.

Think about it.

Life is not just about getting. Its about giving. We all need to be a bit like the Sea of Galilee.

We are fortunate to get wealth, knowledge, love and respect. But if we don't learn to give, we could all end up like the Dead Sea. The love and the respect, the wealth and the knowledge could all evaporate. Like the water in the Dead Sea.

If we get the Dead Sea mentality of merely taking in more water, more money, more everything the results can be disastrous.

Good idea to make sure that in the sea of your own life, you have outlets. Many outlets. For love and wealth - and everything else that you get in your life. Make sure you don't just get, you give too.

Open the taps. And you'll open the floodgates to happiness. Make that a habit. To share. To give.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Balloons sharing happiness

Once, a group of 500 people were attending a seminar. Suddenly the speaker stopped and decided to do a group activity.

He started giving each person a balloon. Each person was then asked to write their name on it using a marker pen. Then all the balloons were collected and put in another room. The people were then let into that room and asked to find the balloon which had their name written on it within 5 minutes.

Everyone was frantically searching for their name, colliding with each other, pushing around others and there was utter chaos. At the end of 5 minutes no one could find their own balloon.

Then, the speaker asked each person to randomly collect a balloon and give it to the person whose name was written on it. Within minutes everyone had their own balloon. 

The speaker then began, "This is happening in our lives. Everyone is frantically looking for happiness all around, not knowing where it is. Our happiness lies in the happiness of other people. Give them their happiness; you will get your own happiness."

Happiness is the only thing that multiplies when you share it.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Classifying Different Emotions

We interact with many individuals daily and most of our interactions have an exchange of emotional expressions which we try to decipher. We too have experienced many, many emotions throughout our lives, yet only a few of us are experts in depicting and differentiating them. However, as with most things, we can learn to be better at emotions. But where to begin? Emotions are so complicated and confusing as there is a whole kaleidoscope of textures and nuances of what we can feel. Although these emotions may seem haphazard and disconnected, they actually are connected like colors of the rainbow, flowing into each other from on end to the other of the emotional spectrum. They just need be classified so that we can understand them better.

However understanding the realm of emotions is beset by an elemental difficulty: The meaning of words that refer to an emotion are so confusing that we hardly know what we are talking about.  Emotion terms, especially in English, are wildly ambiguous; what one calls envy would be jealousy for another. Even the current vernacular usage of some well defined emotions has changed. For example FEAR which meant as the emotional signal of physical danger to life or limb is now used to mask other emotions, expecially shame and humiliation. "I fear rejection" or "social fear" has nothing to do with danger of bodily harm, rather they refer to the anticipation of shame or humiliation.

Another large piece of evidence that disputes the universality of emotions is language. Differences in languages directly correlate to differences in emotion taxonomy. Not all English words have equivalents in all other languages and vice versa, indicating that there are words for emotions present in some languages but not in others. Emotions such as the schadenfreude (pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune) in German and saudade (deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing for an absent something or someone that one loves) in Portuguese are commonly expressed in emotions in their respective languages, but lack an English equivalent. In english usage, a clear distinction is made between embarrassment and shame however in Spanish the same word verguenza means both.

So now lets begin to understand emotions in the realm of the scientific, where experts have tried to define and differentiate emotions.


In understanding emotions it is important to see that there are basically only two emotions one that feels good and one that feels bad. The one that feels good is giving us a yes answer to whatever we are doing or thinking, and the one that feels bad is giving us a no answer to whatever we are doing or thinking. The body reacts to the feel good emotions by entering into a healing / growth mode and in case of the feel bad emotions it enters a protection flight / fight mode and the body can be only in one mode or the other.

As this simplistic classification fails to define all the emotional upheaval we face, many phycologists have tried to differentiate emotions in a more scientific way. One such psychologists and researcher Robert Plutchik has simplified the study by developing the psychoevolutionary wheel of emotions. Plutchik correlates different emotions to colours in this wheel. Just like primary colours can be mixed to form different colours, basic emotions too combine to form complex emotions.
In the adjoining image of Plutchik's wheel we find emotions arranged according to intensity. More intense emotions are at the centre of the wheel. Rage is the stronger form of Anger, while Annoyance is the weaker. Also this theory suggests the existence of 8 bipolar emotions - joy versus sorrow, anger versus fear, acceptance versus disgust and surprise versus expectancy.

Basic emotions combine just like primary colours to form complex emotional dyads - primary, secondary and tertiary. Thus love is a combination of joy and trust. Still more complex emotions are formed when dyads combine with basic emotion. Eg.- contempt and joy combine to be smugness.

Emotion is actually a chain of events, with cognition at the beginning of the chain followed by the feeling state which then causes the behavioral reaction. Cognition can be influenced by events happening later in the chain through a feedback process.
Overall, emotion is a kind of homeostatic process in which behavior mediates progress towards equilibrium. This means every emotion has a function and Plutchik's integrative theory based on evolutionary principles is consistent with psychodynamic thinking. Emotions are adaptive and have a complexity born of a long evolutionary history. As seen in the chart fear serves an evolutionary function to help us escape to safety and anger helps us overcome the perceived obstacle. 

Thus we can now successfully identify the emotions we feel and also know its function. However in some cases emotions face an identity crisis. Sometimes we behave as if we are in the grip of an emotion (mostly fear, shame or anger), while we deny feeling that emotion. Thus it is perfectly possible that individuals sometimes remain unaware of their emotion states, which is one reason that subjective experience isn't used as the sine qua non of emotion. It is in such cases where the knowledge about the expression of emotions is useful.


The ability to express and interpret emotions plays an essential part of our daily lives. We express our emotions in a number of different ways including both verbal communication and through nonverbal communication. Social interactions and communications are regulated by subtle expressions of emotions - smiles, eye contact, nods, postural shifts and vocalisations. Body language such as a slouched posture or crossed arms can be used to send different emotional signals. One of the most important ways that we express emotion, however, is through facial expressions.
Research by Dr. Paul Eckman tells us that there are 6 basic facial expressions that even blind people make the same faces to express the same emotions. These are: surprise, fear, disgust, anger, sadness and joy. While the facial expression of joy and sadness are distinct, fear and surprise share the wide open eyes. Similarly, anger and disgust share the wrinkled nose. 
It is these early signals that could represent more basic danger signals. Later in the signaling dynamics, facial expressions transmit signals that distinguish all 6 facial expressions. These first, early danger signals confer the best advantages to others by enabling the fastest escape. Secondly, physiological advantages for the expresser - the wrinkled nose prevents inspiration of potentially harmful particles, whereas widened eyes increases intake of visual information useful for escape - are enhanced when the face movements are made early.

While the facial expressions of the six basic emotions are innate and hard-wired in the brain for a purpose, there are many other factors that influence how we reveal our inner feelings. Social pressures, cultural influences, and past experience can all help shape the expression of emotion. Sometimes we consciously mask our true emotions when our interests are in conflict with others. Also a threshold may need to be crossed to bring about an expressive signal, and that threshold may vary across individuals.Emotions thus do occur without any evident signals. So in such cases, is there any other way to identify the emotions?


Emotions have evolved to deal with fundamental life tasks, hence they not only provide information through expressions, but also show physiological changes preparing the individual to respond differently in different emotional states. Different emotions cause different messages to be sent through the nervous system to the heart, face and body. Chests puffing up with pride — and happiness felt head to toe — are sensations as real as they are universal. And now we can make an atlas of them, thanks to experiments aimed at mapping the bodily sensations in connection with specific emotions.
Researchers found statistically discrete areas for each emotion tested, such as happiness, contempt and love, that were consistent regardless of respondents’ nationality. Although each emotion produced a specific map of bodily sensation, researchers did identify some areas of overlap. Basic emotions, such as anger and fear, caused an increase in sensation in the upper chest area, likely corresponding to increases in pulse and respiration rate. Happiness was the only emotion tested that increased sensation all over the body.

In the research laboratory, one of the easiest ways to see how emotions and feelings affect the nervous system is to look at how the heart speeds up and slows down. The changes in the heart's rhythm reflect the activity in the two branches of ANS (autonomic nervous system). There is evidence for distinct patterns of ANS activities for fear, anger, disgust and sadness. These ANS patterns evolved because they subserve patterns of motor behavior which were adaptive for these emotions, preparing the individual for quite different actions. If no specific pattern of motor activity had survival value for an emotion,  then there would be no specific pattern of ANS activity as seen in case of joy, trust and anticipation . However they have different patterns of CNS (central nervous system) activities as all emotions have a distinct expression in our brain. Now that advanced brain scanning can map the way our brains light up with each thought, word, or action, it’s clear that no experience escapes the brain and we can now identify our emotions with their neural signatures.
In everyday language we often use the terms 'emotions' and 'feelings' interchangeably. This shows how closely connected emotions are with feelings. But for neuroscience, emotions are more or less the complex reactions the body has to certain stimuli. When we are afraid of something, our hearts begin to race, our mouths become dry, our skin turns pale and our muscles contract. This emotional reaction occurs automatically and unconsciously. Feelings occur after we become aware in our brain of such physical changes; only then do we experience the feeling of fear. Our heart activities have a significant influence on how we feel as seen in the adjoining image. The brain is constantly receiving signals from the body, registering what is going on inside of us. It then processes the signals in neural maps, which it then compiles in the so-called somatosensory centers. Feelings occur when the maps are read and it becomes apparent that emotional changes have been recorded—as snapshots of our physical state, so to speak.

A new study released by Carnegie Mellon University represents the first time researchers have been able to map people’s emotional state based on their neural activity. It makes use of the fMRI or Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology.  When a person lies in an fMRI machine, scientists can see their brain activity in real time.
Each of the emotions examined fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and joy; was characterized by consistent neural correlates across studies, thus providing evidence that different emotions have distinct neural signatures.
To know more about the basic structure of emotional experience and how is it represented in the human brain check this video.

The gold standard for understanding how people feel has been, quite simply, to ask them, "How are you? How are you feeling? How was your day?" But with the above information about how emotions express themselves physically, physiologically and through neural maps we can accurately point out the emotions involved even if the answer seems contradictory.  Although it is important to pay attention to emotions, always remember that though we might know the emotion, we don't know the cause. If someone seems angry, upset or disinterested it could be for a number of reasons other than the current conversation. Hence its best to extend this inquiry and care to ourself and  to acknowledge our own emotions. 

Every emotion - from joy to sorrow, trust to disgust, love to remorse - is a movement of life energy which has tremendous effect on our behavior as well as health.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Reaction vs Response

A beautiful speech by Sundar Pichai - an IIT-MIT Alumnus and Global Head Google Chrome:

The cockroach theory for self developmentšŸ‘
At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and  sat on a lady.

She started screaming out of fear.

With a panic stricken face and trembling voice, she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.

Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky.

The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but landed on another lady in the group.

Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.

The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt.

When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior?

If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos.

It is not the cockroach, but the inability of those people to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach, that disturbed the ladies.

The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it's my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me.

It's not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it's my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story:

Reactions are always instinctive whereas responses are always well thought of.

Reactions are automatic while the responses are calculated.

Reactions come from the heart (riding spontaneous emotions) while responses come from the mind (keeping in mind the 'correctness' of behaviour).

Thus reaction (which is more often than not a retaliation) is considered the root cause of most of our relationship issues, while a response is considered acting with responsibility.

Reactions take a toll on relationships and leaves one feeling guilty. On the other side responses keep relationships going smoothly and yet makes one feel smug. This kind of responsive behaviour helps us keep peace in our outer world however there is something simmering within.

The main reason why this happens is because reations are biological process, connected with the release of certain hormones. When we react we use up these hormones and help our body achieve homeostasis.

On the other hand responses mask our spontaneity and vulnerability and help us project ourselves as 'in control'. While we choose strategies to cover our reactions, the reactions are there nonetheless; albeit swept under the carpet of 'correct' response.

Hence all our unresolved, unexpressed, suppressed, denied emotional reactions lie within to seek expression one way or the other, usually in diseases and chronic pain.

The best way to handle them is to be aware of thier presence and vent them out through creative work or positively discussing about them. This is an ongoing process which calms our mind and eventually helps us reach an equilibrium where we no longer need to mask our reactions with a response.

Till then remember we should not react in life. We should always respond.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Happiness is an inside job

After years of hard & dedicated service to his Company, Rahul was being appointed at  an elegant reception as the new Director.
It was a small function where his wife Anita, a Home Executive & some of the wives of the other persons in top management were also present.
In an adjacent room, Ann, the wife of the CEO of the Company, asked Rahul's wife a very odd & usual question; "Does your  husband make you  happy?"

The husband, Rahul, who at that moment was not at her side, but was sufficiently near to hear the question, paid attention to the conversation, sitting up slightly, feeling secure, even filling his chest lightly in pride & hope, as Anita would definitely not publically lower or degrade her husband, would answer affirmatively, since she had always been there for him during their marriage and generally in life.

Nevertheless, to both his & the others' surprise, she replied simply; "No, no he doesn't make me happy…"

The room became uncomfortably silent, as if everyone were listening to the spouse's response. There was a sudden coldness in the air. The husband was petrified. A frown appeared on his face. He couldn't believe what his wife was saying, especially at such an important occasion for him.

To the amazement of her husband & of everyone!
Anita sat up firmly & explained in a modest but stern tone to the other wives who were present;
"No, he doesn't make me happy… I AM HAPPY. The fact that I am happy or not doesn't depend on him, but on me. GOD has granted each of us intellect & discretion to reason, interpret & decide. GOD made me the person upon which my happiness depends.
I make the choice to be happy in each situation & in each moment of my life.
If my happiness were to depend on other people, on other things or circumstances on the face of this earth, I would be in serious trouble!
Over my life I have learned a couple of things: I decide to be happy & the rest is a matter of 'experiences or circumstances' like helping, understanding, accepting, listening, consoling & with my spouse, I have lived & practiced this many times. Honestly true happiness lies in being content"

Relieved & reassured, a smile was clearly noticed on Rahul's face.

Happiness will always be found in contentment, forgiveness & in loving ourselves & others.
To truly love is difficult, it is to forgive unconditionally, to live, to take the "experiences or  circumstances" as they are, facing them together & being happy with conviction.

There are those who say I cannot be happy  :
· Because I am sick.
· Because I have no money.
· Because it's too cold.
· Because they insulted me.
· Because someone stopped loving me.
· Because someone didn't appreciate me.
But what they don't know is that they can be happy even though sick, whether it is too hot, whether they have money or not, whether someone has insulted them, or someone didn't love or hasn't valued them.

Being Happy is an attitude about life & each one of us must decide!
Being Happy, depends on us!
It Depends on Me.