Practicing Gratitude : Why You Should Practice Gratitude In These Times

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Virus. Pandemic. Lockdown. Quarantine. Unlock. Virus 2.0

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It’s hard to stay positive when these are the words we’re being exposed to day in and day out. Of course, the fact that we’re cooped up at home  only makes the situation worse.

Over the last few months, I have read a lot of books in order to find the secret behind being happier and trying to maintain a healthy balance in life; physically, mentally and spiritually. Although different books and authors have different perspectives and methods, one of the most common amongst them is ‘Gratitude’.

It may seem like the new normal will never end, but don’t lose hope just yet. Why? Because this is a good time to remind ourselves of everything we have to be grateful for. And when you think about all the things you once took for granted.

So while you stay safe, wash your hands, and maintain social distance, also remember to add ‘practising gratitude’ to your list.

What is gratitude, though?

It is an emotion or feeling, a recognition and appreciation for what one has, that comes from acknowledging the goodness in one’s life. It opens your eyes to the fact that what you have is truly enough. Research demonstrates that the practice of gratitude can enhance overall wellbeing, and other studies have shown that people who practise gratitude are more resilient in the face of trauma. What’s more, spending a few minutes every night writing down what you’re grateful for can even help you sleep better. In short, gratitude makes us happier — and that’s definitely something we need now more than ever!

Researchers in Positive Psychology have found that gratitude and happiness are always strongly correlated. A possible theory is that gratitude moves people to experience more positive emotions, to thoroughly enjoy the good experiences, better their health, face adversity, and develop and maintain relationships of strength, which in turn makes you happier.

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The three common ways people can express their gratitude are:

  • By being gracious of their past (i.e., think of positive childhood memories)
  • By being gracious for the present (i.e., taking time to be present and enjoy)
  • By being grateful for what’s to come (i.e., hopeful and optimistic of the future) (Giving thanks makes you happier).

There is a direct link between happiness and gratitude. Expressing gratitude brings about happiness for the one giving thanks. The more someone is thankful or feels gratitude, the less there is time or room for negative thoughts.

Oscar Wilde once said, “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.”

Ps. Here’s a poem I wrote a long time ago about being grateful about some of the people in my lives.

Here are a few ways in which you can get started:

Maintain a journal

Close-up Of Gratitude Word With Pen On Notebook Over Wooden Desk

Count your blessings and write them down every day — be it the great cup of coffee you enjoyed in the morning or that recent video call you had with your friend. Soon, you’ll realize that you have more than you need to be happy.

Express appreciation mentally

If you can’t find the time to write every day, think about something you’re grateful for — e.g. the healthcare workers, police officers, and other essential services that are ensuring we remain safe — and be thankful for their hard work.

Meditate

While meditation usually involves a complete focus on the present moment, the practice can also be used to focus on what you’re thankful for — such as pleasant weather, a nutritious meal, or a good night’s sleep. Try the guided gratitude meditation on the cure.fit app or website to get started.

Why should you practise gratitude?

Now that you know how to inculcate the practice — and the feeling — of gratitude in your daily lives, here’s a deeper look into the myriad benefits that come with it:

Improved heart health

Being grateful helps you stay healthy. Research has shown that a positive attitude brings down the risk of depression, stress, and anxiety, all of which are factors behind heart disease. Further, according to various studies with participants that suffered from asymptomatic heart failure, individuals who were willing to see the brighter side of life and exhibit ‘trait gratitude’, slept better and took better care of themselves! Happiness, better health, and a good night’s sleep? It’s a win-win.

Stronger relationships

Of course, showing someone appreciation makes them feel good — but the effects of gratitude go even deeper than that. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude is associated with positive future relationship outcomes, while other researchers compare gratitude to auxiliary emotions that bring people closer, such as trust. So show your loved ones how much they mean to you — and go the extra mile to reach out to friends or family you may have lost touch with. Now’s the time to let people know you’re thinking of them, and how much you value them.

Better self-esteem

Yes, noticing what other people don’t have will make you feel better about yourself — but the most important part of practising gratitude is going beyond comparison to appreciate what you have. And that’s when you stop comparing yourself to others completely. This is what helps you get rid of toxic emotions such as greed and envy, and cultivate better self-esteem!

While these are compelling enough in themselves, there’s another reason you should start practising gratitude — sooner rather than later. Research shows that regular expressions of appreciation alter the molecular structure of the brain and keep grey matter functioning the way it should. Further, the feeling of gratitude activates multiple regions in the brain, boosting the production of ‘happy hormones’ like dopamine and serotonin.

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To sum up

People who practise gratitude have a positive attitude and feel better about their lives as well as their connections with others. So there’s really no reason to wait — there’s no better time than the present to remember all that we have to be grateful for.

As Melody Beattie once said,

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”

So what are you feeling grateful for, today?

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Book Review : The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

Those are the first words I want everyone to read. This book is simply amazing. I loved it. I absolutely loved it!!

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Summary :

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Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. They are executive assistants to co-CEO’s of a publishing company resulting from a merger, for survival. It is an unlikely merger between two companies with vastly opposite approaches to book publishing.

Lucy and Joshua are no different and have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive manoeuvres as they sit across from each other. Lucy loves the art of book publishing and understands the emotions behind each book while Joshua is uptight, meticulous and focuses on analytics and profits.

Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s approach to his job and simultaneously, Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and happy-go-lucky chirpy attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

My Thoughts :

I have been on a spree of reading romance novels off late and they’re all different in their own way, but one thing always tends to stand out. This book has a backdrop similar to the movie ‘The Proposal’ starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds. Two stark opposite personalities, coming together through unlikely circumstances and tolerating each other.

The back and forth between Lucy and Joshua, their constant taunts and smart quips aimed at each other, constant banter and passive-aggressive behaviour will have you hooked immediately. These tiny details add a lot of richness to the plot and the characters. 

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Sally Thorne does such a wonderful and brilliant job of penning down raw these tiny details, that you can feel the tension building between the characters. She does a brilliant job at capturing passionate hatred and raw carnal human behaviour (Imagine the heat between Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the movie ‘Mr. & Mrs. Smith). You know there’s going to be an explosion from that buildup and you’re just waiting for it to happen. And then it does. 

First, a tiny explosion followed by what ends up being a nuclear reaction. 

Honestly, the story is not unpredictable, the characters are lovely but not extraordinary (they resemble very other Rom-Com Movies out there), BUT THE WRITING…..  the writing is simply amazing. I know for a fact that I am going to read this book again in the future, which is a HUGE deal for me (also a first because I have severe FOMO and usually find it a waste of time to re-read a book).

So yes, please PLEASE read this book if you’re into this genre. You’ll love it.

“The trick is to find that one person who can give it back as good as they can take it.”

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

Summary :

Note : If you read about my last post on The Joshua Bell Experiment, you’ll find the theme to be very similar or almost the same.

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Roomies by Christina Lauren introduces us to Holland, a young woman living in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City and working with her Uncle Robert (who is her uncle by marriage to her Uncle Jeff) at a Broadway theatre where he’s the musical director for the hottest show in town. Holland has had a thing for this subway busker for close to 6 months now. Not only is he hot and Irish, but also a great musician. 

Over the last 6 months, she’s memorised his schedule and his movements and she tries to justify it by telling her uncles and he bestfriend (Lulu) that it’s all about his music. They are finally formally introduced when he saves her from an attack on the subway, but disappears when she files an official report.

She laters learns more about him and his problems and tries to help him out by introducing him to her Uncle Robert. However, she must do something practically illegal and reckless in order to help them out. 

Read the book to find out how it unfolds, because I don’t want to give out any more spoilers.

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My Thoughts :

So after a couple of months of reading some serious books and work journals, I felt the need to mix it up and do some light/happy reading and what’s better than a nice romance novel eh?

To me, most of these are fairy tales with their co-incidental love and happy endings. It may or may not be real (depending on whether you’re a believer or sceptic) but they certainly make you feel good. I think I have figured out what makes a romance novel work. 

It’s the way the characters fall in love. How they come close. How they connect. How they have their own inside jokes and little couple things. I think it is the process of love and how well it is portrayed that really makes the readers swoon. If you ask me, any story that makes the readers root for it’s protagonists is a story worth reading.

If so, this books ticks all boxes, because it does make you swoon.

It has 2 adorable central leads (which you probably will get slightly envious of), a dreamy supporting cast of a bestfriend and the most loving uncles; all stitched into reality with a scenic New York City, the broadway and some interesting drama. The book scratches the surface of the reality of immigration and illegal immigrants just enough to make it believable but not too technical. 

What is also unique is that this is not one but a writing duo, Christina Lauren. Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings are long-time writing partners and best friends according to their bio on christinalaurenbooks.com. I simply love that idea!

Writing a book with your bestfriend. It is something intangible that you’ll share for life, along with bouncing ideas off each other and having the best of both worlds. 

Is this book a must read? Probably not (especially if Romance isn’t your genre).

But is it a good and fun read and nicely written? For sure!!

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The Joshua Bell Experiment (Video)

Over ten years ago, a short, unassuming article was published in one of America’s leading newspapers, the Washington Post. It was about a social experiment that highlighted some harsh truths about the society we live in. Most of the mid-level bureaucrats disembark at L’Enfant Plaza station, located in the heart of federal Washington. On Friday, 12 January 2007, as people slurped coffee and scarfed down doughnuts, as they scurried off to work, an inconspicuous man, in jeans and a T-shirt, stood next to a dustbin inside the station playing a violin.

In a city like Mumbai, it would not be considered highly dignified for someone to play music on the street. The perception in the States is different. They are not part of the aristocracy, but not considered impoverished either. They are just seen as street performers, who can at times attract quite a crowd and media attention.

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If you see someone playing music in a public area, do you stop and listen? Do you ever give any change to show your kindness? Or do you hurry past in guilt fearful of your lack of time? That winter morning, the Washington Post conducted an experiment to see if people would stop for one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing the most elegant music ever written, on one of the most expensive violins ever crafted. Would they accept their free front-row ticket to witness the musical genius or squander their opportunity, as they rushed to Capitol Hill?

The artist was the internationally renowned violinist, Joshua Bell. Thirty-nine at the time of the experiment, Bell had swapped the concert hall for the Metro hall, and an adoring audience to one who may just ignore him. Days before the experiment, Bell had filled Boston’s stately Symphony Hall, where run-of-the-mill seats sell for $100.

This was a test of context, perception and priorities: Would people pause to appreciate beauty when it’s right in front of them?

Bell was a child prodigy. His parents, both psychologists, decided to get him formal training when they noticed that their four-year-old was making music with rubber bands—he would stretch them, opening and closing them across side-cabinets, to vary the pitch. His fame was amplified as a teenager. ‘Does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live,’ one magazine interview commented. But would the humans at the train station tell him that? Would the masses recognize this disguised genius playing perfect masterpieces on a violin worth $3.5 million? So what do you think? A free concert by one of the world’s most famous musicians! You would expect a swarm of commuters around him. The opposite happened.

It was at three minutes that a middle-aged man glanced at Joshua for a split second, but kept walking. Thirty seconds later, a woman threw in a dollar and dashed away. It was six minutes later that someone leaned against the wall, and listened. The stats were dismal. In the forty-five minutes that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped and hung around for at least a minute, twenty-seven gave money amassing a grand total of $32. This left 1070 people who were oblivious to the miracle happening only a few feet away from them.

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The Washington Post recorded Bell’s whole performance secretly, creating a time-lapse video of any incidents, or in this case, lack of them. ‘Even at this accelerated pace, though, the fiddler’s movements remain fluid and graceful; he seems so apart from his audience—unseen, unheard, otherworldly—that you find yourself thinking that he’s not really there. A ghost. Only then do you see it: he is the one who is real. They are the ghosts,’ the article said. Can we label the thousand people who ignored Bell as unsophisticated? Not necessarily.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant said that the context of a situation matters.

‘One’s ability to appreciate beauty is related to one’s ability to make moral judgements,’ he said. But to do this, the ‘viewing conditions must be optimal’. Art in a gallery and art in a coffee shop are going to be treated differently. In the coffee shop, the art may be more expensive and of a higher value, but there is no reason to pay attention as people sip a variety of mochaccinos. In most galleries, the ‘optimal’ conditions have been created to appreciate beauty. Light in the right place, enough room between the art and the viewer, a description of the piece, etc. Funnily enough, many have lost ordinary objects in art galleries later to find that people are gathered around them taking pictures thinking that they are exhibits! Context manipulates our perspective.

Therefore, we cannot make judgements about people’s ability to appreciate appreciate beauty because Bell did just look like a humdrum violinist.

However, what does this say about our ability to appreciate life?

I have found that we as a people have got busier over time. We tend to exclude parts of our lives which are not directly related to hard work and accumulating wealth. The construct of the modern world is such that we have less time to press pause, and appreciate beauty. Minding their own business, stressed, with their eyes forward, people on the escalator ignoring Joshua Bell have the capacity to understand beauty, but it seems irrelevant to their lives so they choose not to. If we cannot take a moment to listen to the beautiful music, played by one of the best musicians on the planet; if the drive of modern life suppresses us, so that we are deaf and blind to that spectacle, what else are we missing?

Ps. If you really like the concept of this experiment, you should check out ‘Roomies by Christina Lauren’. It is a romance novel based on a similar idea and a nice read.

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The Secret To Improving Stamina & Endurance – Cult Fit

Disclaimer : I do not own this article. This article was originally published here. It was insightful and I felt like sharing it with the readers on this page. I should also tell you that I have been a member of Cult.Fit for almost a year now and use their gyms regularly.

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What’s the secret, you ask?

The short answer:

Cardiorespiratory Fitness

But what does cardiorespiratory fitness really mean?

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Technically speaking, cardiorespiratory fitness refers to your respiratory and circulatory systems’ ability to supply oxygen to skeletal muscles during an extended period of physical activity. But basically, it denotes your body’s ability to keep performing work or exercise for a longer duration.

It is considered good to improve endurance, stamina, or lung capacity. And, more often than not, most of us know that we can do better when it comes to these elements. But, what we might not know is how to make these improvements happen, or how to ensure that our cardio fitness keeps improving with training.

Cardiorespiratory fitness involves a series of processes that determine how well your body takes and utilizes oxygen. These include:

  • Your heart’s and lungs’ ability to deliver blood, oxygen, and nutrients to the working muscle
  • The ability of lungs to take in oxygen and put it in blood, in turn, pumping the blood to the working muscle
  • The muscles’ efficiency in utilising the oxygen from the blood to form energy currencies that help you keep going

Through the right training protocol and consistent workouts, you can enhance your body’s efficiency to do the above-mentioned tasks. This in turn, results in improved endurance and stamina that makes you fit for your demanding everyday life or any sports activity.

Now that you have a basic idea of what happens inside your body during cardiorespiratory workouts, it’s time to look at the right training protocol for better cardio fitness.

How To Improve Your Cardiorespiratory Fitness

Cardiorespiratory fitness can be significantly improved by performing almost any type of prolonged physical activity that works your aerobic energy system—gets your heart rate up and keeps it that way for an extended period of time. So, you even choose to do activities that you enjoy, like swimming, walking, or jogging with your friends.

Nevertheless, depending on the type of workouts, intensity, duration, and frequency, your results can vary. Thus, you have to carefully choose an activity that will help you achieve optimal results from your training.

Here are three categories of activities that are broadly classified based on the skills you require to perform them.

  • Easy – walking, jogging, running, riding a stationary bike, elliptical training, and climbing stairs
  • Moderate – cycling, skating, swimming, aerobic dancing, and jump rope
  • Hard (but fun) – sports and games like basketball, football, squash, tennis, and volleyball

How Hard Should You Workout?

Ask people how hard you should work out, and most people will tell you to keep your heart rate between 60%-90% of your maximum heart rate. While this is one good way to measure the intensity of your workout, it can become quite hard for people without fitness trackers or smartphones to figure out their heart rate during a workout session.

The good news is that you don’t need any sort of equipment to measure the intensity at which you work out. All you should do is become a bit more observant about how you feel while you exercise. Here’s how.

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When you do high-intensity workouts, your respiratory rate significantly increases—you might have likely experienced shortness of breath after running a sprint, or after a sustained dance session. As this happens, a large volume of air starts moving in and out of your lungs, and as you gradually progress the intensity (imagine switching from walking to jogging on the treadmill) the amount of air moving in and out of your lungs also increases linearly. But you are still able to talk to someone comfortable while you exercise.

Increase the intensity one step further (from jogging to running), and there comes a point when you aren’t able to talk comfortably due to the amount of air disproportionately increasing. This is called the ‘threshold intensity’—the point at which your sentence starts breaking when you try to speak while working out. You have to work at your threshold intensity, for better cardio fitness.

To better understand this, Rishabh suggests looking at a three-zone intensity model that can be applied to any type of cardio exercise.

Zone 1: The intensity at which you can talk comfortably

Zone 2: The intensity at which talking comfortably becomes a bit harder

Zone 3: The intensity at which you cannot talk comfortably

Using these zones, you will easily be able to tailor your training to suit your goals, whether it is sports performance or weight loss related.

Now, it’s the time to address the primary question—how hard should you workout?

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Realistically, the exercise programming or the intensity at which you should work out depends on your individual goals and training status. Here’s how it works at a basic level.

When you are New to Fitness:

  • All your cardio workouts should fall within Zone 1 (where you can comfortably talk)
  • You should ideally workout at such intensity for 10-15 minutes straight for 2-3 days/week
  • Your goal should be to hit 20-25 minutes of uninterrupted cardio activity at this intensity without getting too fatigued
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Once you achieve the above, you know that you are ready to move to a higher intensity in training. Typically, an average individual takes anywhere from three to six weeks to undergo this transition.

Though training at this intensity doesn’t result in an increase in the Vo2 max (maximum rate of oxygen consumption measured during incremental exercise), you will still be able to tap into the overall health benefits associated with cardiorespiratory training. Also, as you are a beginner, the aim here is to build regularity in fitness. This is where you START!

When you are someone who has been exercising for a while and is looking forward to completing a 10K run:

  • Start including Zone 2 intervals in your training session (intensity at which talking comfortably becomes harder)
  • Your workout sessions should be a combination of 20% moderate to high-intensity training and 80% low-intensity training
  • Exercise 3-5 days/ week

In case you are someone who does not have goals of completing a 10k run, you might want to solely look at the fitness part of the zone. Zone 2 is great for fitness enthusiasts who have been working out for a while as it leads to all fitness adaptations, i.e. increased Vo2 max and lactate threshold, and improved health benefits. The aim here is to improve your cardiorespiratory exercise efficiency, aka improved stamina.

When you are someone who aims to increase your speed in a 10K run:

  • Zone 3 is where you train with the aim to hit the personal best in your races
  • Though training in this zone provokes significant improvements in fitness, only small amounts of it are tolerable
  • Spend about 10% of the entire training session doing very high intensity (Zone 3) workouts, and the rest of the time doing low to moderate intensity (Zone 1 or Zone 2) workouts.
  • Train for at least 3-4 days a week if you are a trained individual

A lab testing to get the reading on various thresholds—lactate and Vo2 max—is the most accurate way to train more efficiently towards achieving your goals. However, as it is a tedious process, you can use the three-zone intensity model to get a reasonable understanding of the right intensity levels for you.

In case you use a fitness tracker such as FitBit, Apple, etc. you will be able to relate more to the training zones that flash on its screen after reading this post. What’s more, you will be able to tailor your training sessions in perfect alignment with your goals.

Why Is Cardiorespiratory Endurance Important?

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The reasons are obvious—cardiorespiratory endurance helps you train more efficiently, run longer distances, do higher-intensity aerobic activities, and ultimately burn more calories. According to Rishabh Telang, cardiorespiratory fitness is the ultimate key for heart health and a great option to strengthen your aerobic energy system. 

Studies also show that people with higher cardiorespiratory endurance have a lower risk of developing hypertension as well as coronary heart diseases.

Additionally, cardio workout comes in different variations. Hence, you can try out a different variation every day, which will help you work on different muscle groups while allowing your body to rest.

Lastly, if your cardiorespiratory endurance is good, it means you are healthy and fit to actively participate in many activities. This will, in turn, help you run better, breathe easier, live healthier, and also burn more calories and lose weight, if that’s a part of your goals.

Disclaimer : I do not own this article. This article was originally published here. It was insightful and I felt like sharing it with the readers on this page. I should also tell you that I have been a member of Cult.Fit for almost a year now and use their gyms regularly.

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Life’s Amazing Secrets by Gaur Gopal Das

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Summary

While navigating their way through Mumbai’s horrendous traffic, Gaur Gopal Das and his wealthy young friend Harry get talking, delving into concepts ranging from the human condition to finding one’s purpose in life and the key to lasting happiness.

Whether you are looking at strengthening your relationships, discovering your true potential, understanding how to do well at work or even how you can give back to the world, Gaur Gopal Das takes us on an unforgettable journey with his precious insights on these areas of life.

Dasji is one of the most popular and sought-after monks and life coaches in the world, having shared his wisdom with millions. His debut book, Life’s Amazing Secrets, distills his experiences and lessons about life into a light-hearted, thought-provoking book that will help you align yourself with the life you want to live.

Review

One of the first things I have concluded since reading this book is that Gaur Gopal Das is a very learned man with decades of wisdom, to be able to share his knowledge in such an easy and relatable way. It is quite clear that he chooses his words wisely and is not impatient or judgemental. In some ways, he seems like a therapist or a very wise confidant every person needs, except he is a life coach who has chosen the monk way of living.

It begins with Gaur Gopal Das having a conversation with his troubled friend and explaining to him further how every life is like a car that needs to be balanced on four wheels. These 4 wheels are as follows:

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  • Wheel 1 : Personal Life
  • Wheel 2 : Relationships
  • Wheel 3 : Work Life
  • Wheel 4 : Social Contributions

He then goes on to explain each of these wheels with very simple and extremely relatable examples. GGD seems like nothing but a very simple close friend who’s mastered the art of living life happily. He imparts knowledge and messages through the simplest of experiences in life and at no point do you feel the messages get preachy or unrealistic.

Quite honestly, a lot of what is being said is something you’ve heard at some point in your life but just not put together so sophisticatedly and in this context. Every chapter starts with a beautiful quote by legendary people and ends with a summary of the chapter.

The book imparts knowledge through a network of tiny stories or experiences and connects them through a simple central story, which is nothing more than an earnest conversation between two people. It is like a movie which has many tiny independent subplots which are slowly stitched together into the main plot.

It is so simple in the way it conveys it’s message and yet so refreshing. It is neither a heavy read, nor a lengthy one. It’ll take 5-6 hours to finish this book and yet, come out of it fresh and enlightened. 

A part of me simply wants to summarise this book, like how we make notes, so that it’s easier for people to read. But apart from copyright infringement and it being ethically wrong, I think I would never be able to capture it’s essence and just make it as significant (not really) as some educatory notes. I’d definitely recommend this book to every person I know!

Some quotes that resonated with me :

“When we treat inanimate objects, like buckets or our possessions, with disrespect or insensitivity, we will end up treating people the same. At one point in my life, I seemed to be losing a lot of my friends and I heard this advice from one of my guides. Insensitivity becomes part of our general attitude, and our instinct does not discriminate between things and people.”

“‘Watch your thoughts, they turn into words. Watch your words, they turn into actions. Watch your actions, they turn into habits. Watch your habits, they turn into character. Watch your character, it turns into your destiny.’ It all begins with a thought.”

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My First Day as an ‘AUTHOR’

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I am not an author. 

I don’t know if what I do qualifies as writing either. All my work you’ve seen on this blog is quite often nothing but me rambling or just adding my thoughts on paper (or a screen) or writing poetry after having my heart broken. I don’t even know the first thing about writing. I am a commerce student from a business and finance background who has not even participated in an elocution competition in school.

For me, writing began with maintaining a personal diary over the internet (that page doesn’t exist anymore) to penning down my travel stories and slowly moving on to more organised and thoughtful content. In my mind, I always see myself as a retired entrepreneur who’s replacing his day job with teaching and using the additional free time to write (It doesn’t hurt to dream!).

But you can’t really control all these ideas and thoughts in your head that you’d like to have penned down, can you?

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So, without further procrastination, I started writing the first chapter to my ‘new book’. Quite the irony, given how I have nothing but ideas and a very inadequate and shabby first chapter. 

Before I began, I did google some basics. An Indie writer doing about a hundred thousand words (100,000; I like how a hundred thousand sounds, as opposed to ‘A Lakh’) is a good start, with each chapter being 4000-5500 words (Or upto 10k-12k words if it is a classic). 

Sounds reasonable right? I thought so too!! So here’s my math :

1 book = 100,000 words = 20 chapter of 5000 words. 

If I plan to finish it within a year, that’s less than 300 words a day or more than 2 weeks for a chapter. 

So I did start. I knew exactly where I was going to begin and exactly what I was going to write, and I did. 60 minutes later, having written my entire first chapter, I ended at 1064 words. As far as my math was concerned, I did way better than my daily target. BUT, I was out of ideas with nothing to add. My imagination although, still flowing, knew nowhere to take a pause or how to go ahead. 

I HIT MY WRITER’S BLOCK WITHIN 60 MINUTES OF WRITING!!!

So shitty, I know. Well, I let it go. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to talk to more people, research on some new characters and backgrounds and then slowly and steadily bring it all together. Not as easy as it sounds though, since this would take up atleast a few weeks/months and totally screw up my timeline. 

But, a good night’s sleep and after rereading my first chapter a few times (it hardly took any time), some ideas popped. Then some more. It’s not even been 12 hours since my day began, but I am flowing with ideas and this time, I am writing it all down as a maniac. It is distracting though. 

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Taking a pause every few minutes to ponder on a new idea, critiquing it in my head and writing the outcome in that tiny notes app on my phone. Although as cumbersome as it sounds, I AM ABSOLUTELY LOVING IT!!

There’s just something really satisfying and joyful about being inspired and motivated and have your creative juices flowing. Boy oh boy, do I love this feeling!

So yeah, it was a very deflating and uninspiring first day, but it was a start; AND…. I am loving the second day of it so far!

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Walking : An UNDERRATED Activity!!

Just like drinking water, walking is one of those activities that we never appreciate, mostly because it doesn’t seem too strenuous or doesn’t get your heart rate up. Just to grab your attention, let me start by saying,

“Walking is one of the best exercise for burning fat and one your body will appreciate the most”.

To understand this, it is good to understand your ideal Fat Burning Zone.

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The body does rely on different substrates during exercise according to the exercise intensity. At a lower intensity level, the body relies more on fat as a fuel source as it takes more time to breakdown fat and convert it to energy (a longer process). During high intensity efforts, the body begins to metabolize carbohydrates instead, preferring their speed of breakdown to fuel higher levels of exertion.

The preference for fat at lower levels of intensity has created the fat-burning zone – an intensity at which the highest percentage of calories burned come from fat. However, it is better to focus the majority of your efforts on generating a calorie deficit.

“You may burn a little more fat during exercise, but if a calorie deficit isn’t present, it will all even out in the end you won’t lose much fat at all.”

In lower intensity programs, the overall calorie burn during a workout will be lower than a high intensity workout – regardless of whether those calories come from fat or carbohydrates.

Although steady-state cardio at lower intensities may not necessarily lead to higher levels of fat loss, it can provide a much-needed break from HIIT workouts. Steady state cardio is useful when aiming to create a caloric deficit because it offers an opportunity to burn more calories without increasing intensity, and delaying recovery from heavy weight training workouts. Incorporate lower intensity cardio following hard days to improve circulation while encouraging recovery or during deload weeks when exercise intensity should naturally decrease.

How to find your ideal Fat Burning Zone:

Figure out your max heart rate (Max Heart Rate = 220 – your age). And then determine your fat-burning range, which is 60% to 70% of your max heart rate. Use a fitness app or a smart watch/fitness band to calculate your 5 heart rate zones. (This is an average estimate based on a larger consensus of people, but may not be applicable to everybody. If you have any heart conditions, please talk to your physician before any kind of exercise).

The benefits can be listed as under:

1. It Doesn’t Add Training Stress.

Unlike metabolic conditioning or HIIT, walking adds very little training stress to the body. Combine intense cardio with several days of weight lifting each week and the body may simply overtrain and burnout. Rest is important!!

I like to call walking as an active rest activity and the best part is that it is hard to overtrain with walking. It doesn’t accumulate much stress and you could walk a ton. Shin splints might be your biggest worry, but as long as you watch the incline, don’t go crazy with the volume and wear decent shoes, you should be fine.

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2. Walking is restorative and assists with training recovery.

You feel better after you finish a walk, not worse, and the effects are immediate. It increases blood flow, which will help you recover from injuries and even training.

Some say walking also has a small spinal-flossing effect that helps the nerves align optimally and thus conduct their electrical impulses in an ideal way. Ever hear someone say that a walk helps their stiff and sore muscles feel better? Now you know why.

3. It burns a lot of fat and almost no muscle.

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Walking is a low intensity exercise, which means it burns a higher percentage of fat. True, walking for 10 minutes doesn’t burn a lot of fat or calories in general, but walk briskly at an incline for 4-8 hours a week and you’ll burn a significant amount of fat.

The fact that it doesn’t harm your muscles is probably the biggest aesthetic benefit. High intensity exercise, particularly cardio, uses glucose for fuel. Normally that isn’t a concern as the body will break down its glycogen storage (stored carbs) for glucose.

If on a diet and lifting weights, glycogen stores are more easily depleted. If you add intense cardio on top of this, the body will release cortisol to help convert amino acids into glucose to be used as fuel. Those amino acids can come from your hard-earned muscle tissue.

Clearly, this is a problem for a lifter because whatever form of energy storage you have, you’ll burn more of that particular energy store. Most people have considerable body fat, and the body is quick to burn that off once they get moving.

But a muscular and moderately lean individual will have more muscle than fat. The body will see the muscle as “excess” and will preferentially burn that muscle to meet the caloric demand of the exercise.

4. It can build aerobic fitness and work capacity.

Brisk walking won’t turn you into a marathoner, but it does build up the VO2 Max.

Going fast on a high incline –without holding onto the handles (in case of a treadmill) –isn’t as easy as it seems. Regularly doing so can often take a more muscular male’s VO2 Max to the 50+ range, which is usually ideal for them to complete challenging weight training workouts.

As for work capacity, a fit person should be able to exercise at a moderate pace for a long time. Walking helps build this ability. A criticism of “meatheads” is that they train their phosphagen (short duration, high intensity) energy system well but nothing else. In other words, if they have to work continuously for any length of time, they can’t handle it. Walking takes care of that.

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5 – Stress Relief, Functional and Productive

If you’re on a treadmill, there’s a great chance that it already has cable tv and is connected to news. If you’re walking outdoors, you can simply put some headphones on and listen to your daily podcast. Suddenly, you’ve made your workout a lot more productive and effective!

Walking can also be a great way to have some quiet time, collect your thoughts, ponder your troubles (or escape them), or talk with your loved ones. Truth is, once you complete the walk, you usually feel better and life looks better because of it.

“Functional” might have taken on different meanings, but one meaning is that it’s something which mimics or improves activities of daily living. It may be the single most functional activity a person can do since the need to get around is crucial for human survival.

6. It is low impact and hard to screw up.

Walking is easy and low impact, so even if you have sensitive knees or a bad back, walking shouldn’t affect it. It might even help improve those conditions. The biggest mistake for those who use treadmills is holding onto the handles, particularly if the treadmill is at an incline.

If you hold onto the handles and lean back you effectively eliminate the incline, as now your body is essentially perpendicular to the treadmill –which is what happens when you walk on flat ground.

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7. It is better for strength athletes than running.

Running or jogging has benefits, but strength athletes are better off avoiding it. Many lifters notice their lifts and explosiveness go down when they jog regularly. And the heavier you are, the harder running is on your body.

Weight (and not fat %) will always play an important factor if you’re running longer distances. It doesn’t matter if you’re at 4% body fat. If you’re heavy, it will have an impact on your knees.

Note that I’m not talking about sprints.

8. It works fasted.

The theory behind fasted cardio is that if the body is low on carbs, it will turn to fat for energy. I agree with this premise and walking is the perfect form of exercise for it.

Where everybody seems to screw up is by trying to perform HIIT cardio while fasted, which isn’t smart because you’ll burn a lot of muscle –assuming you have a decent amount of muscle to begin with.

9. It is for all age groups

It doesn’t matter if you’re 10 or 70. Every person in every age group can benefit from this activity and it requires no training whatsoever. It is literally one of the first things we lee earn to do in life!

The Only Disadvantage

Walking is time consuming. To burn fat I’d suggest three hours of walking a week at a minimum, but 4-5 hours is ideal.

You won’t be able to read at the pace I suggest. Don’t try. But watching TV, chatting, listening to music, books, lectures, or podcasts is a great way to pass the time.

The vast majority of people spend more than 3-6 hours a week watching TV. On a treadmill you could still watch that amount of TV and get lean at the same time. Although, I prefer a walk in the open, thanks to fresher air, and the fact that treadmill might not be good for your knees in the long run, especially for heavy people.

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What Song Would You Want To Be Remembered By?

Story Time!

I met this girl a couple of years ago at a friends party and we hit it off instantly. We had similar interests and were both big Potterheads. We exchanged numbers and texted for a while and when things went well, we decided to go out for dinner and get to know each other in person. 

It was a nice dinner. We talked about a world of things and one of the topics amongst it was Music. Our choices, likes and dislikes, artists/bands we completely geeked out on, etc. 

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Turns out, she was a huge (and I mean HUGE) fan of Queen (The Band) and almost walked away halfway through dinner when I told her I did not know about them (THE BLASPHEMY!! – I know). In my defence, I’d heard of Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddie Mercury (because they’re icons and I don’t live under a rock), but I never knew about the band or some of it’s other music. 

Luckily, Bohemian Rhapsody (The Movie) had released a couple of weeks back and she decided that we had to go see it. I was enjoying the company too much and had faith in her choices by now to oblige. We left our dinner halfway and ran to grab the last show of the day.

Let me tell you this, that was one of the most amazing movies I saw that year and somewhat changed my life forever. I mean, Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury was so brilliant and THE MUSIC!!!!!

On my way back home, I downloaded the entire album from the movie and heard Bohemian Rhapsody atleast 10 times before going to bed. I have been a big big fan of Queen since. 

Here’s the interesting part. Although things with that person did not go too far, she brought something so awesomely intangible, that it is going to stay with me forever. 

She is always going to be the person who introduced me to Queen and every time I listen to Bohemian Rhapsody or any other Queen song (but who am I kidding, nothing beats Bohemian Rhapsody), I am reminded of her. 

Honestly, this is one of the nicest ways to remember someone if you ask me. I’d be pretty happy if someone were to remember me when they heard such a legendary song. Which is why I ask you?

“What song would you want to be remembered by?”

Ps. Here’s a link to Bohemian Rhapsody, for all those who want to listen to it since I’ve mentioned it numerous times now!

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