Good luck!

3 01 2017

First working day of the new year! It’s that time of the year when we, with utmost willpower, are eager to hit the gym, start working on the perpetually procrastinated pet project, spread the yoga mat, indulge in meditation, go on a run, read a book, start learning a new skill, start on a diet, call our moms often, or whatever new year resolutions we have taken for ourselves. I know that technically the new year started two days ago but I think we all can acknowledge that we could use some grace time before embarking on the journey of change. 😛

Well, how long do these best intentions and resolutions thrive? It depends on the person and also the magnitude and intensity of particular resolution. There is abundant self-help literature and other resources out there that give us lot of advice on how to go about it; how to persevere and how to change old habits and make new habits. We certainly need to exhibit much restraint, overcome the comfort of the existing habits, and basically need to undergo unpleasantness and occasionally be ready for frustration and discomfort. Of course, there is also the guilt and disappointment when we fall short. The bottom line is that it’s not easy.

Here are a few things I’ve tried that worked for me. First of all, I cheated. Not in the sense of claiming (to myself and others) that I achieved something when I didn’t, but rather in the way that I chose only those resolutions that I knew I would most definitely and without much difficulty accomplish. I know, this is lame and practically useless. But it actually helped me to restore confidence in myself. I’m sure at least some of you will resonate with the feeling of satisfaction and achievement that comes with striking off a goal from the list. 😉  After many years of going through the cycle of disappointment, this was a desperate measure I had taken. With renewed confidence and energy that comes from success, or rather a sense of success, I was then ready for greater challenges. However, I follow some rules in making and acting upon my resolutions:

  1. Break down big resolutions into manageable smaller chunks. Take it slow. Be easy on yourself.
  2. Translate resolutions into SMART goals
  3. Anticipate lapses. Accept them and be self-compassionate. But remember to persevere. Don’t stop trying.

I believe that more often than not it’s the journey that’s more valuable than the destination. It’s the journey that teaches you more things and shapes you.

Enjoy your journey. Good luck!

339912423_4416699c99_z





Overthrow

24 12 2009

When I first read in some Indian sacred text that one of the duties of a king is to expand the boundaries of his empire, I couldn’t help think about the destruction that results from the wars that are waged to fulfill that duty. I admit that there are advantages for a unified empire as opposed to small independent provinces like efficient management and use of natural resources, for instance. But how much destruction or violence is justified in the process? I fail to impart any greatness to rulers and conquerors like Akbar and Asoka when I read about or visualize their numerous battles and wars.

The powerful oppressing or controlling the weak is a natural phenomenon we see everywhere – be it a playground or a house or markets or world in general. But of course, the fact that something is omnipresent doesn’t make it right. However much is the temptation of the powerful to dominate and control the weak, they must display certain restraint. The powerful should need to recognize and value the individuality – the right of freedom and independence for everyone. When just morals or ideals don’t work, rules and processes are established and there is a need for an overseeing body to enforce them.

Having been from once-a-British-colony, I perpetually get heated up over all those oppressing and ruling nations. Some argue that India has benefited from its rulers in the form of technology, education etc, but in my opinion the loss they caused by looting the resources and amassing wealth at the expense of the country and its people far outweighs any progress they have brought to India.

It’s not with pride that I admit that I don’t usually follow the world events closely and I have no knowledge whatever about the Gulf War of the nineties or any similar happenings elsewhere. But it’s hard to miss the proceedings of the recent Iraq war. So, when I came across the book “Overthrow” by Stephen Kinzer, which is about the saga of regime change brought by America in foreign nations, I was instantly drawn to it owing to the raise in my curiosity level.

From the book, I came to know in a period of little over a century, America has played indirect and often direct role in overthrowing the governments in 14 nations, starting with Hawaii in 1893 to Iraq in 2003. The author honestly exposes the psychology and motivations of American leaders as well as a nation on the whole. In almost all of these operations, economic and business advantage/benefits played the decisive role. Access to natural resources and markets has been the main motive. Fighting against communism or spread of communism was also claimed as a driving force. Of course the sense of being on top, of being powerful is another significant factor. Other less selfish reasons propagated by America are:

  • America has a genuine duty to help the citizens of an nation under dictatorship towards achieving freedom
  • America as an advanced nation has a duty to bring less civilized or uncivilized nations into light aka development/civilization
  • America is fighting for the good – of the world at large, against communism and terrorism

Some of the leaders really believed these Good-Samaritan proclamations and so are most of the citizens of America. But if you inspect closely, all these are just a cover to the underlying real motives.

A striking observation made by the author is that almost all of these regime changes eventually caused more damage, both to USA and also the concerned nations. If America hadn’t acted in certain way, hadn’t taken certain decisions at certain times, things would have been lot better. (You’ve got to read the book to learn about them.) And this is because, Stephen opines, that America doesn’t know what to do after it wins a war. He says that the psychology of America isn’t cut for ruling other nations. Unlike the British or French, it typically refuses to take responsibility for the nation it uprooted and bring peace among chaos, to set the path for development, stabilize the nation, and bestow freedom as per its claimed motives. But America is only concerned with the commercial benefits involved and is just content to put in place a pro-American regime. This inappropriateness on part of America has resulted in greater instability, violence and anti-Americanness around the world.

Overthrow gives an astounding description of the events preceding and succeeding these regime change operations, coupled with observations and analyses of notable historians and of course his own conclusions. At some points, I couldn’t help twitch at the aggressiveness, conceitedness of America. Also there is scheming, dishonesty, arrogance and manipulation. It’s a fast paced book with narrations involving spies, intelligent agents, business people, monarchs, military officers, white-house leaders and lot more. A definite five star book.

Here is the list of those 14 nations whose governments America has overthrown in three eras:

Imperial Era:

  • Hawaii
  • Cuba
  • Puerto Rico
  • Philippines
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras

Cold War Era:

  • Iran
  • Guatemala
  • South Vietnam
  • Chile

Invasion Era:

  • Grenada
  • Panama
  • Afghanistan




Change

9 12 2009

It’s amazing how our perceptions change with time, sometimes even take a 180 degree turn. I’ll come straight to the point. Until a few years ago, I’ve always thought TV and Movies are integral parts of one’s life. I never doubted their indispensability for one’s healthy personality. I used to wonder at some of the elders’, especially my parents’ total indifference and lack of interest to pursue these must-have interests. I was really perplexed by their attitude.

Only in the recent years I’ve come to realize how insignificant these entertainment sources can be in one’s life. They aren’t after all indispensible. As I’ve crossed my student days and entered married life and then motherhood and job career, I’m overwhelmed by the responsibilities of different roles and never noticed when I lost interest in movies and TV. Also the happy-ending love stories of our movies don’t appeal to me anymore. Given that most of the movies are targeted towards the teenagers and youth, I can’t relate to them now.

I’ve also been thinking about one other aspect of change for quite sometime. It is how our thought and opinions change as our roles change. Most of the times just stepping into one’s shoes doesn’t help much. You need to be in one’s position to understand one’s plight. Our long held views and understanding might change when that happens. A typical scenario is – you understand you parent’s compassion, love, sacrifices, and limitations only when you become a parent and undergo all those things yourself. Howevermuch you’ve tried to really understand them before, it’s never complete.

There have been many other instances in my life lately which made me realize my insensitivity or ignorance in the past. Though I don’t remember those other instances now, I do remember the feeling of revelation and humbleness they resulted in. One thing I’ve learned from these experiences is that “Never judge people”. You might not really understand what one has or is going through and by all possibility there might be a good justification for their actions or reactions (in most cases, that is).