You’ve probably heard of the saying, ‘fake it till you make it’ and maybe tried it too. But let me tell you, this is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever experienced. I mean, yes, it works.
And OH, IT WORKS WONDERS!!
It makes you feel everything you’re not and everything that you want to be and that’s great. It kinda even fills a void within you. It makes you feel more powerful, more loved, more attractive and more confident and people really notice that! t changes your ‘vibe’ and people around you definitely feed on it, kinda like how it is said ‘energy is contagious’.
And that is good to hear, OBVIOUSLY!
I mean, that’s validation right?
The entire basis of why social media even exists and works so effortlessly, in my opinion.
A simple 10 letter word that describe almost 70% of our actions and existence; of why we do some of the things we do and why do we do them even when they might not necessarily be right.
I mean, yeah, you can tell me you’re doing a certain activity for yourself and I’d believe you 100% without a percent of doubt. But you’re telling me you’re not gonna enjoy it a little extra when someone notices your Rolex or asks for a ride in your new Mercedes or compliments the smoothness of the expensive whiskey you share?
Isn’t that validation too?
I don’t mean to question your intentions or motivation for working as hard as you do. I mean, if it works for you, it’s good only, right?
But isn’t this also the equivalent of lying? Isn’t anything you fake, a fact or an action or emotion, a tiny part of lying?
Let’s take an example. Imagine that your entire personality is like a sandcastle. Imagine your many inherent traits are small grains of sand and your tiny ‘fake it till you make’ actions as tiny grains of powdered sugar. With time, this sandcastle is only going to get better and bigger, filled with sand and sugar. But as soon as there’s a big wave (problems/truths), it’s going to disperse the sand (which is still fixable) but it’ll dissolve all the sugar which will only lead to more gaps in the reconstruction.
Here’s another way to look at it. This whole practice may be good for you, but you’re probably hurting someone you love or you’re gaining something under false pretences or worse yet, you end up living the lie so flawlessly that it becomes your new/alternate reality and the worst of them all, it’s all of the above.
What’s funny though, is we see this happen all around us all the time. I mean, we’re all well-versed with ‘Window Dressing’ as a concept. Study it professionally and you’ll find a course called ‘Marketing’.
But let’s get back to what I’m really trying to say, because I’m trying to talk about this at a more human and personal level. Because over the years, I have been guilty of doing this again and again and again with it’s adverse effects coming in the form go all the problems I mentioned earlier and quite frankly, IT SUCKS!!
Nothing hurts more than hurting the people you really truly love and care about. Things like that really mess with your mind and daily well being. It’s kind of a vicious circle in itself. You fake it till you make it or until the truth catches up to you, you hurt people and yourself and then pick up the broken pieces and start all over again.
So maybe don’t do it. Or maybe do. I’m curious to know about what y’all think about it!
We’ve read this a million times, and although this mostly applies in an artistic or design context, it is widely misinterpreted. This phrase was first used in 1855 by Andrea del Sarto, an architect who used it when referring to the desirability of less visual clutter in the building of homes.
This saying goes with design too. The idea is to design something that’s not so overly complicated that it robs the fun for the perceiver, who’s trying to make more sense of it than being able to enjoy it. Various studies also show how working excessively hard, putting in extra effort at work is something to brag about for many people, is not always the most healthy thing.
But is less really more?
For design and art? Probably. For your career and work-life balance? Maybe. But for life too?
I mean, what does ‘Less is more’ even mean when it comes to life?
That you sit back and laze around and relax, maybe watch Netflix or go out on during the weekends and non-work hours? I mean, I don’t know. I am no expert to critique someone’s way and neither is there one perfect answer for everybody. So you do you!
Me personally though, I don’t believe that. Having been brought up in a Gujarati family, I’ve seen my father work 14 hours a day and build himself up from nothing. How things have been over the last 20 years, from living in a small 1BHK house to now living in a big enough home to have adequate space for all our luxuries. And while there were a lot of times, annual days or sports days, when I wanted him to be there for me and he wasn’t, it was disappointing but I also understood why it was the way it was.
But it was not like he wasn’t there for the important times, because he was. And having said all of that, I have seen my mother work equally hard, maybe even harder with having to raise 2 sons, take care of their education and extra curriculars, take care of the home, etc.
So yeah, working hard or ‘Hustle’ as the call it, is all I’ve ever known and something I try to duplicate for myself from my parent’s lives. If there’s anything else that motivates me to Hustle, it is Sports & Athletes and Steve Job’s speech at Stanford University. If you’ve heard the speech you know that no lesson as small as it may be, ever goes to waste.
But I want to do it in my own way. I want to learn things I like and that interest me; And I know it’s not going to go waste. It is quite possible that it won’t help me in my career, but it’ll help me in some way and if not anything, it brings me a lot of joy. What price would you put on that?
I am doing a ton of things today – Learning mandarin, taking up dance lessons, working on writing my own book, maintaining this blog, studying for my GMAT exams and taking some boxing lessons and practicing yoga too. I barely have any time to breathe all through the day, but I am also the happiest I have ever been. These activities although physically draining, just bring nothing but peace to me mentally.
I always knew academics weren’t my strongest suit and I am living my truth today. I have an amazing mentor at work who invests time and energy in me to ensure I’m growing and pushing myself. My workouts help me channel all my excess energy (and sometimes rage) in a productive way, my reading helps me gain more perspective and knowledge, my writing helps me express my feelings and emotions and learning Mandarin (and already knowing English and Hindi) means I can speak to roughly every other person on this planet.
But here’s the funny part : I never did any of these things for the reasons I’ve mentioned above. I just did these activities to plug holes in my daily routine where I was simply wasting time watching TV or idling around; and because I had very easy access to them. But it kept on adding joy to my daily routine and overall value to my life and I love it. Because,
I am not here to live, I am here to leave a legacy.
If you can spare 7-10 minutes of your time, read this Commencement speech by Steve Jobs at Stanford in 2005. It changed my life, maybe it inspires yours too!
Source : Stanford News | Disclaimer : I do not own this article. I am simply publishing it here.|
I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned Coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and sans serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But 10 years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backward 10 years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down — that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
The alarms went off, not the physical ones which are ever so kind and ring only when they’re supposed to and stop at your command, the alarms in context here have no sense of respect, they will come at you with a vendetta solely meant to disturb you and your balance and ironically get stronger the more you try to stop them. Apparently labelling them as anxiety, intrusive thoughts or ‘stress’ makes you more aware of them, only acting as a paradox to pull you in more towards them. I was up, immediately, unlike the days where you feel like a cocoon just not ready to open itself up, this was one where the moment you open your eyes you know it is going to be an exhausting one from the minute you are awoken, not awake.
I didn’t shower, the thought of water trickling down my face, my body while I just sat there stirring in my own thoughts, losing the grip on my reality, almost morphing into an immovable object didn’t seem so appealing to me. I put on what I wore last night, the clothes still smelled of hope, something I needed. To make this an entirely dismal morning, I topped it off with some espresso, and it was good to go through my day feeling like shit.
I did have something to drown myself in, a social gathering at my aunt’s place and the drive was over 30kms, though I cannot say I don’t love it. It is something that puts me at ease, it is dynamic, the experience is never the same, every time it is different. You can drive through the same route for over 30 years of your life, wearing the same attire as you step into your office every day, but the people you see on the road will always be different. It’s change, the one thing associated with fear, but the one thing true to life. The realisation of the moving nature of life is a respite, it is a safe haven because the passing nature of my feelings is now in front of my eyes, all i need to do is to be (and not move my eyes away), let them displace themselves while i observe the little guy knocking on my window. He probably doesn’t even know what anxiety is, for him his fears are only limited to his tongue tasting his own saliva throughout the day, or water if he can get lucky.
I could hear his muffled voices through the window, their sounds drowning out the voices in my head which were overflowing with anger. I pulled down my window. The trembles in his speech now clear, ‘Sir, 20 rupees only, high quality tissue paper, please sir. Kuch nahi khaya hai subah se. Please sir.’
He had the face of every beggar I’ve come across, they tilt their heads, frown, engaging more face muscles in that activity as opposed to smiling, which really does not help their cause. But his honest attempt at the pre-trained English has led me to giving him a crisp 20 rupee note. He smiles at me, the windows in his mouth give me a clearer look at his plaque ridden gums. I move away. He is now waiting for the next set of cars to arrive while I look at him through the mirror.
Looking at him, that desolate child who was brought into this world by his parents only to suffer everyday made me think about last night and as I was moving through space and time here in front of the wheel, while I let my body steer, I permitted my mind to wander. The couch sinking in from the weight of my body, and a paperback leading me to a world of its own, the night seemed flawless. We keep the gate of our home open, laziness being the reason here. A family of three walked in, I put down my book, the couch returning back to its original shape as I greeted them. I didn’t know we were expecting guests.
The man was a distant relative, and had the marks of struggle all over his body, his beard probably around the third day of him not shaving, the eyes expressing nothing but exhaustion and drowsiness, and his smile gave a peek into his teeth being red, probably from him chewing paan, his anchor to his painful reality. He smelled of despair and his aura was contagious. You could see the same colours on his wife, her distinct forced smile as she greeted my mother hinting at the frayed relationship they had. What stood out amongst this humble family was their 4 year old child, who was supposed to tie them together but now was probably another reminder of their unhappiness, the intentional knot was now an obligation.
He has the average height of a 4 year old, skinny, but had a mouth full of teeth and a black dot at the corner of his forehead, ironically to ward off evil energies. The father sat besides me and started making small talk while my mother and his wife went in the kitchen to let their woes out. I don’t enjoy involuntary conversations, but i felt pity for that man. Whenever reality gets too painful you shift towards imagined ones because they seem hopeful. I knew he would be excited about movies as I am no stranger to the pleasures of an escape to a fictional world. I ask him, ‘Did you see that new show on Bombay Mafia which was released recently?’ I could sense my speech imitating his.
His eyes lit up and I knew what I needed to do next.
Smiling through his decayed gums, he went on, ‘solid show hai yaar, jhakaas. I love the man’s acting. I finished the whole thing in one night. You need to download it right now. I love watching these series. It’s my favourite timepass. Bhaari hai ye sab. Ekdum best’
I wanted him to go on even though I had seen it, so I pose my next question, ‘Recommend me some? Tell me about your recent favourites.’
As he continued with his boring description of supposed cinematic masterpieces, I noticed the child. Since the time he entered the home, he hasn’t sat in one place, or had engaged in a particular activity completely. He was running from one room to the next, falling, curiously checking out the trophies which mother had displayed in the living room, running again, outside the home, coming back in, waving to his father whom i suppose he loves, taking a bite out of the chocolate i had offered him, then moving again. He was hyperactive. I paid attention for a few minutes and realised he probably had ADHD.
I cut his father off while he is now absent from the living room, ‘Is he like this at home too?’
Seriousness now being the dominant emotion, he says, ‘All the time, he can never stay in one place man. It’s like there is a spring in him which makes him jump all the time. He tires me out yaar.’ I wanted to say something in that moment, but I knew my words wouldn’t have been received well. I continued to listen to him, I got the sense that’s something he needed, and didn’t have the privilege of, his day only permitting him tiny slivers of pleasure through his phone screen. I wondered whether the child will go through his whole life without being noticed, by the people that brought him here? The question is heavier than what I can take that night. I let go.
Conclusions regarding this memory allowed me to reach my aunt’s with a raging headache. I attribute it to the stress of forced conversations that were to follow. The ignition stops, but my mind’s still running. I stay there for a while and let myself breathe. The day’s just starting.
From Paris, we took a 6 am flight to one of my favourite cities, Nice (pronounced as “Neece”). Unfortunately, our flight was delayed due to an air traffic personnel strike (which I was told was neither a big deal nor very rare in this part of the world). Arriving in Nice at 10, we checked-in our luggage in the hostel and headed out towards the beach.
The Villa Saint Exupery Beach Hostel, Nice. It was a pretty good place, considering its location which was just 5 minutes from the beach. Although most places in Nice are not more than 5-10 mins from the beach. In terms of its interiors and amenities, it had a full fledged bar inside and a cool place to hangout and chill, or gather up before going for a bar crawl. A lot of us just hung out here with our fellow travelers from across the world, with loads of stories to share. That is one of my favourite aspects about living in a hostel, the people generally tend to have travelled a lot, or aspire to. The vibe is pretty good and the interaction is genuine, something which doesn’t always happen if you check into a hotel. The hostel also had a fancy kitchen with all kinds of equipments to make life easy.
I personally prefer a hostel over a hotel for multiple reasons:
It is cheaper, because you pay per-bed and not per-room. Although, you don’t get any value added services either.
The people are usually cut out of a similar cloth, backpackers or travellers with an agenda to just explore the street and cities, explore local cuisines or just wander. People who believe in low-cost travel.
Its just overall more informal and comfortable; and in a way, more interactive!
These people also tend to be reliable sources of information to help you plan your local itinerary.
One point to note is that hostels, just like hotels usually have a late check-in around 2-3pm and check out is always early at 10am, so one must plan accordingly! Although most of these places do allow you to store your luggage without any questions or hassles, and its pretty safe in general.
While walking across to the beach, we came across this wonderful waterpark. It is just a joy to watch little kids play in the fountains, more so adults, who behave like little kids and just live in the moment. Those few beautiful minutes of just joy and peace! From there, we headed towards the street markets. It was like a small organised farmers market with lots of stuff ranging from handmade soaps and candles to fresh fruits and jellies.
The beach in Nice is beautiful and the water is different shades of blue. There is a small hill in Nice, which is right opposite the port and is a couple hundred steps to the top. It is called The Castle Hill. Up there is a big garden and a nice picnic place. One can see the whole beach as well the entire city from up there. It is too good to miss and doesn’t consume a lot of time either. One can walk towards the port from there and look around and enjoy!
One thing to keep in mind is that Nice has a fantastic nightlife! Big casinos and clubs. The whole strip across the beach is full of casinos.
Keeping that in mind, we napped in the afternoon and hit the casinos in the evening, to try our luck. Turned out to be like my lucky day, since I was able to earn enough to sustain my expenses for the next 2 days 😇
FYI : Hostels provide nothing other a bed to sleep and a kitchen to cook. So it is important to carry your own bath products and personal toiletries, towels and food (if you plan to cook).
I woke up the next morning and headed for a run on the promenade along the beach. It was a joyous experience, with the blue sea on the right and a fresh cold breeze hitting my face. A good run and then on to the beach I went, into the cool turquoise blue water for a swim. You’d want to carry a pair of slippers or swim shoes since it is a pebble beach, so that’s going to hurt if you plan to walk bare feet.
Coming back to the hostel after the swim, we freshened up and left for Eze Village. Nice is a small city and can be explored on feet within a day or one could rent a bicycle and ride around. It’s beautiful!
The thing to remember in Nice, is that the bus frequency is very low so when you want to go outside the city, keep a track of the bus timings! The trams can get you to other places inside the city. Ubers aren’t so easy to get or the best option is to rent a car and go around!
We took the bus and headed to Eze village. It is located on the top of a mountain and one has to explore it on foot. It would take barely a couple of hours to see the whole village, which is very quaint and cute. It is similar to the narrow streets with small gelato shops in Rome or Greece, a visual treat for anyone who’s into art.
It has narrow roads and is an uphill task. Some good cafes to eat at and a few ice cream stores with authentic gelatos that literally melt in your mouth. There’s also a garden at the very top which is quite unique.
Taking yet another bus from Eze Village, we touched down into Monaco. The biggest attraction here is the Monaco Casino (the one you see in the Bond movie Casino Royale), the World renowned F1 race track (as seen in the beginning of Iron Man 2) and AS Monaco FC (the football club).
The Monaco casino is huge with fancy exotic cars parked outside. A city so rich, one can spot between 15-17 Rolls Royce’s and twice the number of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and the likes within a span of 30-40 minutes. It is safe to say, a trip to Monaco and you won’t feel so special about exotic supercars anymore.
The race tunnel and a part of the track.
After the casino we strolled around the racetrack that goes around the port. Lots of luxury yachts and small boats here. A sight very rare to the naked eye.
Coming back to Nice from Monaco via train, we finished supper and headed to the clubs. Of the 4 clubs I came across and after asking around, we headed to the one, which is now a personal favourite, Wayne’s. That’s the best bar and club in the city for me. With an awesome space to dance and drink. Live music followed by a dance floor made of tables and chairs. Nobody dances on the ground.
I was just trying to connect the dots between Joy And Sorrow the other day, after I realised that the person who brought me the most happiness was also the source of some of my misery. To summarise, their presence brought me a world of joy and their immediate absence led to me missing them immensely and their absence over an extended period troubled me and sparked my insecurity.
Upon researching while trying to find a link between the two, I came across a beautiful poem by Kahlil Gibran that talked about how Joy and Sorrow are inseparable and connected at it’s source. If you haven’t read his words yet, check them out here! They’re just beautiful words that everyone should read once.
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
Here’s all that I’ve understood, of why joy and sorrow go hand in hand.
Just the way a dark night is followed by a bright sunny morning, in life happiness is followed by sorrow. Once you feel happiness at any point in your life, you wish to be in that situation forever but that is not how things work. Every positive is followed by a negative and every negative is followed by a positive and that is how you know the worth of happiness and the reason to grab it more often. When you know the feeling of happiness and suddenly get into a situation of a slight sorrow, you question fate about why it is happening to you inspite of the situation being as normal as any other situation.
Nothing in this world is constant. What might seem like happiness to you today might seem to be the source of your sorrow at some other point in your life. Nothing is constant and everything is relative. Hence, it is all in your perspective. That is precisely why it is important to practice gratitude, so as to make these moments count. Here’s a few metaphors to explain my point :
Life is a Blend of Thorns and Roses
Our life is a mix of opposites and contrasts. It is a combination of such opposing entities as happiness and sorrow, pleasure and pain and enjoyment and stress. No human being can always be happy and nobody can be sad all the time. We as human beings feel dejected whenever something wrong happens with us and we do feel happy when something good happens to us.
Rose is an embodiment of love, passion and beauty. Its fragrance touches our heart and its soft petals soothe our emotions. But whenever we try to hold it, it hurts us with its prickling thorns. It signifies that whenever we want to achieve something big in life, something which gives us happiness and comfort, we have to go through lots of hardships or we have to face bad experiences of life.
Disappointments Lead to Accomplishment
Those who get all the pleasures and luxuries of life without struggling remain weak emotionally and naturally, weakness leads to failure. What happens when you get everything in life just by putting a finger on it? You won’t realise the importance of struggle and hard work as if life is all cakes and ale. The crux of the matter is that it is the fusion of pleasure and pain which makes one’s life successful.
A kid who is born with a silver spoon in his mouth gets all the amenities and delicacies in life. He gets expensive toys and breaks them within a couple of days. He doesn’t even feel guilty because he knows that he will get a replacement soon. Gradually he becomes impatient and throws tantrums when things don’t go his way.
On the other hand, a poor boy whose family can’t even make ends meet tends to show a totally different behaviour. Because life is nothing but an endless strugglefor him, he enjoys the little bit of food that can fill his belly. Moreover, if by chance he gets some broken toy lying on the street or in a pile of garbage, he picks it and keeps it with a great care.
This just shows us how we value things and think about things differently.
When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going
It is an apt saying that fortune favours the brave. Brave people are not affected by the misfortune striking them adversely. They regard disappointments and frustrations of life as stepping stones to success. Nobody is born great. Those who defeat their adversities are bound to be successful. If you have everything going wrong in your life, take your time and strike back with even more enthusiasm and vigour. Stay calm! Be focused! Ups and downs of life make life worth-living and meaningful.
Life and Death
Life and death work together. There is no second that belongs entirely to life or entirely to death. The first second of life is also the first second of death. Death can take place even in the first second. Creation and destruction go hand in hand. One cannot find even one man who has been only praised, never condemned, or always condemned and never praised. Both go together.
Thus, the balance of the universe is always maintained.
We all know about fat. Fat is bad, right? We need to lose it to be fit and healthy. Well, not quite. In fact, fat (in the right amount) is essential for leading a healthy life. The problem lies in having too much or too little. That’s where body fat percentage comes in. So what is the truth about body fat, how can we calculate it, and what does it have to do with living healthy? Read on to find out.
What is body fat percentage and why is it important?
To understand why body fat percentage is important, we first need to understand what it is. Our bodies are composed of many different components — muscles, bones, body water, organs, and of course, fat.
Fat percentage is the ratio of fat in relation to those other components.
Now, although fat gets a bad reputation, it is essential for many of our body functions. It helps maintain life and reproductive functions, and the accumulation of adipose tissue from stored fat helps cushion and protect the organs in your chest and abdomen. So having accumulated fat is important, but like everything in life, you need to maintain a balance. That’s why calculating body fat percentage is so important in identifying your health — having a body fat percentage that is too high or too low can indicate certain health risks.
How do we calculate body fat percentage?
There are several methods to calculate this. Here are some of the most common:
Calipers — It’s based on the idea that about 50% of total body fat lies under that skin, and involves measuring the thickness of skinfolds at standardized sizes. It is also known as the Skinfold Method
Body Mass Index (BMI) — This is a value derived from the weight and height of a person; a simple numeric measure of a person’s thinness and thickness. Having a numeric value allows health professionals to discuss weight problems more objectively with their patients.Read here, why BMI is not an adequate measure to record fitness.
Dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) — Uses X-rays to scan and measure whole-body bone mass and soft tissue composition, and is the preferred method for identifying bone and body composition
Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) — Uses an imperceptible electrical current to measure body composition. Body fat (adipose tissue) causes greater resistance and slows the rate at which the current travels through the body
Hydrostatic Weighing — an underwater weighing method based on on the Archimedes Principle. A person weighs themselves on land and underwater. The difference between the two values can help determine body density and fat percentage. Though this is considered one of the most accurate measurement methods, it requires a lot of resources and space and is therefore not the most feasible
US Department of Defence Method — Calculates body fat by using a person’s height as a constant and girth of neck and abdominal for male and neck, hip and waist for females
What does your body fat percentage tell you about your health?
Using any of the above methods can give you an idea of your body fat percentage, but the number alone doesn’t tell you much unless you know how to interpret it. Here’s what body fat percentage means according to the American Council on Exercise
As you can see, the values differ for men and women, and there are further differences if you break these groups down by age. You may have noticed the term ‘essential fat’. This refers to the fat present in bone marrow, nerve tissues, and organs, and can’t be lost without compromising physiological functions. The chart above shows that women need to have higher essential fat percentages, as these fats are very important in maintaining hormonal balance and aiding and protecting the reproductive organs.
How and when do these values help?
These numbers are useful in determining whether a person is underweight, at a normal weight, overweight, or obese, which can have a direct link to their health. Higher body fat percentage, for example, is linked to a myriad of health issues, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, insulin insensitivity, diabetes mellitus, and even certain types of cancer. If your body fat percentage is too low on the other hand, you’re at risk for anaemia, malnutrition, osteoporosis, low immunity, and, if you’re a woman, fertility issues. Knowing your body fat percentage can also give you an idea of how fit you are and what you need to do to work towards your fitness goals.
How to reduce body fat percentage:
You can reduce your body fat percentage by reducing your overall weight. There are many ways to do this in a healthy way — without going on a hunger strike! Try the following tactics:
Caloric deficit — consume fewer calories than you burn. Everything you eat is converted into fuel for your daily activities. When you consume more calories than you can burn, it’s stored as excess fat. You can prevent this with a caloric deficit of about 10-20%. Of course, this doesn’t mean you cut out all high-calorie foods from your diet. Remember that your body needs calories for day-to-day functions like muscle repair and sustained energy. You want to make sure you have the right kind of nutrients — proteins, carbs, and even fats — in your diet to stay functioning throughout the day!
Exercise — focus on cardiovascular and resistance training. A low-calorie diet alone isn’t enough to reduce weight, it needs to be complemented by the right workout. Cardiovascular and resistance exercises are great for this because they help build and maintain lean muscle mass — which in turn reduces body fat. Weight training is particularly important in your fat loss journey because, when done properly, it creates a greater caloric expenditure than steady-state cardio. And don’t forget consistency is key in maintaining both muscle gain and weight loss.
Lose fat, not muscle — weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean loss of fat. Losing weight signifies a loss in total body mass, but this doesn’t mean you’re reducing your stored fat. Loss of lean muscle mass or less water retention can also result in weight loss. Keep in mind that you can only lose body fat by following a caloric deficit and a good training program. In fact, research shows that fat loss without sacrificing muscle is more effective when caloric deficit is achieved through training. Keep track of the calories you consume and the activities you do and find the right balance between the two. If you find your caloric intake is high and your activity level is low, look into increasing the level and frequency of the workouts. If you feel like you’re doing the right amount of exercise but are still taking in too many calories, it may be time to make some dietary changes. Choose wisely to make sure you’re not losing valuable muscle mass instead!
Some myths about fat loss
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about fats and fat loss which can cloud your understanding of how to maintain a healthy body fat percentage. So let’s take a second to clear the air.
Fat can convert to muscle and vice versa
Fat and muscle are different kinds of body tissues — one cannot turn into the other. When you exercise with a caloric deficit, the extra fat that is stored in the body is used for energy. You burn fat and build muscle. When you stop exercising, muscle doesn’t turn into fat, instead, it starts to atrophy and also slows down your metabolism.
You can reduce fat from a specific part of the body
The idea of spot reduction is one of the biggest weight loss myths out there. Whether you’re looking at excess fat around the belly or the arms, it is not possible to reduce the fat in one specific area. You need to work on overall fitness levels and fat loss to achieve that.
Doing only cardio will help you lose fat
Cardio definitely helps burn calories, but only while you’re exercising. Resistance and weight training on the other hand cause wear and tear in your muscles which your body will need to expend calories to repair. That means it burns calories even after your workout. An ideal combination of both will aid in fat loss and avoid loss of lean muscle mass. Resistance training is also better at burning through stored fat. Although a 20-30 minute cardio session will make you sweat, doing a more intensive or longer resistance training will use fat as the energy source rather than the glycogen storage.
Crash Diets will help
To lose weight or fat sustainably, you have to create habits, Sustainable weight loss or fat loss requires creating habits — nutrition, workout, or lifestyle. While crash diets where you consume very low caloric meals may show quick results in the short term, they can in fact result in weight gain and muscle loss in the long term. Furthermore, fasting and diets are only safe when done under professional guidance.
Very low body fat % is good
A body fat percentage significantly below the recommended range can be fatal. Once the range reaches the essential fat level or lower, it could hamper the body’s physiological functions. It also depends on gender, age, exercise levels, and genetics. Some athletes, such as professional bodybuilders, may be recommended to have a low body fat percentage, but this is only for a very short time, usually for competitions.
You need to avoid foods containing fats for effective fat loss
Foods rich in fat are not necessarily evil. In fact, fats(good fats) are essential nutrients and should be part of a healthy nutrition plan. But because fats contain more calories per gram as compared to protein or carbohydrates, you need to keep an eye on how much you are consuming.
To sum it up
Body fat alone is not an indicator of health, although it is a main component. A person’s lifestyle, metabolism, and workout regime are other indicators that can provide a more holistic view of their health. That being said, body fat percentage is an easily quantifiable metric that can give you a good idea of what it will take to achieve your fitness goals. If nothing else, it’s a friendly benchmark for your weight loss journey!
The other day I spoke about why it is important to practice gratitude for your happiness and peace. If you haven’t read it yet, click here. I did not want to end this year on a bad note, because I have been grateful for a lot of things. So here’s an elaborate list of all the things that have come out of 2020 that have added value to my life and have a positive impact.
For Bombay Ficus and for me personally as a writer, the lockdown was a big win. Not only did I get more time to write and publish more content, it also allowed me to brainstorm and put forward more projects and expand the blog.
For all our readers that aren’t aware, Bombay Ficus was birthed amidst the lockdown on 19th June, 2020. (To read about our history, click here). The lockdowns across the globe also led to increased internet activity that gave this page a boost in terms of it’s viewership and visitors, which is only encouraging for me as a blogger to write and publish more often.
12. Nurturing Relationships, Recalibrating Priorities and Recognising Important People
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I was communicating with a handful of people that I really called my own, during the lockdown. People, who made men happy and who really cared about my wellbeing. But I have to thank social media (Instagram mainly), because it also told me about what other people were upto, reminded me of people I hand’t been in contact with and it is no secret, that Instagram stories act as great conversation starter countless times.
So I did reconnect with some old friends from school and some people I’d only met recently. Over time, I started nurturing those relationships back to good health and now my inner circle consisted of more than 8-9 people. It is no secret, that conversing with the same people everyday in an uneventful period becomes tardy, so expanding the circle did help.
Here’s a half of the best part : I ended up reconnecting with my ‘on again – off again’ bestfriend from school and I think this time, we’re going to stick around for a long long time.
Here’s another half of the best part : My relationship with a not-so-old friend grew to an extent where they’ve become my favourite person and one of the best things to happen to me in 2020.
13. Getting Over Excuses
“I’m going to learn the guitar this year”
“Work has been crazy and I don’t get the time”
“I’m going to take up dance classes over the weekend”, etc etc
“Work is so hectic, I need the weekends to relax”, etc etc
Starting April, I did have a lot of time on my hands to jumpstart on my New Year Resolutions or do something I’d always wanted to do. Which I did, initially. But as the lockdowns became the new normal, I eased into my old lifestyle and spent time lazying around watching TV or doing something unproductive. It took me a while to realise that I ended up using ‘Work’ as a convenient excuse for all the things I was too lazy to do. It was pretty convenient since no-one could question it or hold me accountable because I prioritised over what helped me earn my living.
So yeah, I stopped making excuses and started holding myself more accountable for my boring monotonous life and took necessary actions against it.
14. Digital Evolution – Webinars/Zoom Calls and Digital Development at The Workplace
As a continuation to the previous point, I started taking up classes online. I took up a 3 month dance course, trained with my trainer over online sessions and brushed up on my guitar lessons with Youtube. These were things that I would’ve always preferred doing in person, until I couldn’t.
Work-from-home was also a concept that was not too common in my line of work. Mostly because we functioned in a more traditional sense. While we had been wanting to update ourselves and be at pace with the technological developments, we always ended up procrastinating for one reason or the other, until we were forced to do it.
But COVID19 and lockdowns forced our hand and now we have a fully functioning system where working remotely is smoother than ever.
15. My Parents and My Privilege
A roof over your head, running water and working electricity. As much as you use them, you might be taking these amenities for granted. Imagine your life without these conveniences, and you’ll find every reason to be thankful for them. I never had to worry about surviving in these circumstances and was mostly protected under my folk’s roof and had a convenient time.
16. My Health
A lockdown meant I was not allowed to hit the gym nor go out and party or eat at restaurants. It also meant staying at home, choosing my own working hours and investing the time saved in commute to catch up on my sleep.
I researched and changed my way of working out, doing only body weight exercises (which were really nice for my joints), I focused on my mobility and saved myself from tiny niggles and injuries. Resorting to only eating home cooked food meant I was using healthier ingredients, watching what I was eating and improving my gut health. The added sleep also helped me deal with my everlasting fatigue and helped me be more calm and made me less cranky.
17. To Realise You’re Going To Be Able To Handle Adversity
@vaishnaviarote writes : This one is kind of a personal experience. Most of my family members tested positive to COVID, I even lost my beloved family member to covid.
Just when things could not get any worse, my younger sibling got diagnosed with something unusual that needed urgent surgery and left him to be dependent on people for daily activities. It felt like my whole world had collapsed. I felt like I couldn’t deal with it, but just like that I did and things have started to get better. Even when you feel like nothing is working in your favour, there will be this one thing that’ll make you have faith again and uplift you and make you believe. Remember,this too shall pass.
18. Taking care of your mental health
As the lockdown kept extending and a lot of things kept delaying along with it, my anxiety took a toll on me. I was not able to cope well with it but I was pretending like I’m okay which made it worse. A few of my friends encouraged me to seek help and that’s when I contacted a foundation that provided me with a counsellor. It’s still going on and I’m not completely alright but I’m doing a lot better. This year taught me that it’s okay to PAUSE and look out for yourself and your mental health.
19. Mental health awareness
A lot of taboo goes around mental health and how it’s merely an excuse or just in the head. This year has been very difficult for a lot of us and our mental health has gone for a toss in the bargain. I read a lot of articles about how people have been clinically diagnosed with depression and suicidal tendencies due to the anxiety, fear and loneliness that came along with this pandemic. But then along with this I also saw people making an effort to cope up. There were 24*7 helpline numbers for those who minds were going through a turmoil. People have been talking a lot more about mental health and taking it positively while supporting their loved ones.
20. Getting rid of toxicity
I’m going to try to explain this with a small metaphor.
Imagine you have an allergic reaction to something but you’re not sure what it is. So you stop engaging in certain activities (like petting a dog/cat) or eating some specific foods and then slowly resume each activity one at a time. Then, you just use the elimination process to rule out an activity after another.
Similarly, things were going well for me initially during the lockdown days when I was cut off from the world. Then slowly as the lockdowns were lifted and I started interacting with people again, I was able to realise what kind of people were toxic to me or not good for my mental health and I subsequently maintained a distance from them.
Ps. We have a lot of exciting projects coming for you in 2021. So do hit the subscribe button if you’d like to keep hearing from us and thank you for being supportive and leaving encouraging comments for us. It only motivates to keep going.
Here’s wishing you a very happy and safe New Year!
Yesterday I spoke about why it is important to practice gratitude for your happiness and peace. If you haven’t read it yet, click here. I did not want to end this year on a bad note, because I have been grateful for a lot of things. So here’s an elaborate list of all the things that have come out of 2020 that have added value to my life and have a positive impact.
1. I Learnt New Skills
This is the easiest positive to begin with. Once things settled down and it was clear that lockdown and work-from-home culture was here to stay, a lot of changes took place. The primary change was that I’d end up saving time on commute and the relatively slow economy ensured lesser work assignments and ample free time at home (atleast initially, until people came to terms with it being the new normal). In order to use this free time efficiently, I ended up polishing on some of my old skills and learnt some new ones.
I took my baking skills to another level to now be able to bake my own fresh bread, brownies and pie. I learnt to cook newer dishes from different cuisines too. I also ended up refreshing on my guitar skills, which I hadn’t played in almost 6 months. Webinars to brush up on some work related knowledge, more reading and educating myself on better ways to maintain hygiene and safety also took place.
2. I Learnt To Be More Patient
I also learnt to be more patient this year. Every person has been affected by 2020 and is dealing with it differently and it is important to respect that as well as give the other person their space and time. Things may not be available on demand as they once used to be. It was also necessary, since I was spending so much time at home with my family, which I hadn’t done in months.
Similarly, personal communication at work was replaced by zoom calls, making it more time consuming and slowing down the overall work cycle. Reports took longer and help did not come immediately. Thus, it became very important to exercise patience in these circumstances.
3. Importance of relationships
During the lockdown, the only people I got to see personally were my folks and siblings. Work carried on via zoom calls and a lot of time was spent doing house chores. At the end of the day, I ended up talking to barely a couple of close people outside my family that I actually missed or my work colleagues who I was in constant communication with.
This lockdown though, also somewhat forced me into spending more time and bonding with my family. It personified the phrase ‘blood is thicker than water’ for me. We took care of each other. We lifted each other up during our lows and I realised their importance especially when I heard about how lonely my friends got (the one’s who were living alone).
I had so little to worry and so many people to share my day and pass my time with.
4. Relationship priorities
When it was announced that the entire country was going into a lockdown, survival seemed improbable for a social butterfly like me who went drinking or partying every weekend and had a big social circle. But, I mostly spent the entire lockdown only talking to members of my family and 4 of my friends. It was only these people that I spoke about my day-to-day with.
I realised, the people outside my inner circle were irrelevant to my happiness and in some ways, not worth the effort I was putting in to stay relevant in those social circles. I was better off saving that energy and investing in myself and people within my inner circle.
5. Work-life balance and the ability to say ‘NO’
One of the biggest cons of a work-from-home office culture is the lack of fixed office hours. While in a normal world, I’d barely work once I was out of the office or after office hours, those rules didn’t apply anymore. Thus, it became all the more important for me to set up boundaries and be able to say ‘no’ when an unnecessarily high amount of work was being sent my way or being dumped on me.
With a more relaxed and balanced lifestyle, I was able to work more efficiently and not hate my job or my bosses while feeling fatigued or close to a burnout. A proper work-life balance helped me bring my personal life back on track, brought about a good change in my lifestyle and health and also made me more efficient and happy.
6. I learnt to plan things
It was not all fun and games during the lockdown. I was supposed to do my part in the house chores, help my mother in the kitchen and work was a pain, thanks to the endless zoom calls. Simultaneously, I had also taken up a couple of online classes, had to spare an hour a day for my workouts and was pursuing my passion of writing. This required for me to plan my day properly, in order to be able to make the best use of my time.
Another example of planning was preparing a weekly list of things. Keeping safety in mind, we would try to buy all our groceries for the entire week in one trip. That meant, preparing elaborate list of meals and buying perishables accordingly. It was way more difficult than it seemed, because supermarkets were running short of supplies and we had to make do with what we could get.
7. Finding happiness in small joys
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned, that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. While I was stripped away from all of my indulgences and it seemed like hell had broken loose, I started to find joy and get excited about the smaller things in life.
Like when I could see my Soufflé rise in the oven, or on completion of a book or finishing a post in time to publish on the blog, playing cards with my folks after dinner, etc.
It just made me realize how important it is to celebrate the more regular occurring smaller joys of life and not wait for decades until I bought my own house or a luxury car or wait for a promotion, etc.
There was a point where I was living by myself for a few months and I had never entered the kitchen before. I didn’t know anything about cooking, instant noodles being an exception of course. I somehow got interested and started cooking these delicious meals all by myself while taking care of my rent, bills, laundry and work.
It was hectic but it also made me realise the pain our parents go through to provide us with all of these essential basic things and also how privileged some of us are.
It made me a lot more confident about living by myself. I knew I could survive.
With the shutdown, my expenditures were reduced to almost a third of my usual monthly expenditures. I was not spending money on new clothes or going to malls or the movies, wasn’t eating or drinking in restaurants or pubs nor ordering-in came. I also ended up saving a ton of money which I usually spent on commute.
All I really ended up spending money on was groceries, my Netflix subscription and some utility bills. Since I lived under my parent’s roof, these expenses were also seldom often taken care of. All I needed was 20% of my actual salary to meet my needs and an additional 10% to spoil myself. It opened my eye on a lot of wasteful expenditures I did, simply because I could.
10. The forbidden fruit is sweeter
Although I have never been someone who lives on alcohol or parties or just has to go out to the mall or movies, it was pretty easy to not engage in those activities initially.
But as time went by, I was craving to go to the movies or go to a restaurant or pub for the food and dancing. For the first time, I was actually starting to miss my workplace and my small (but well decorated) cubicle. I was just missing getting into my car and driving around the city. Atleast in the first few weeks when there was a strict lockdown.
It is only when something is taken away from you, that you realise how much it meant to you.