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For The Most Anticipated Ones And The God-sent.

I live in that part of the world where even today if you are expecting a baby, especially the second one and the first is a girl child, people expressly anticipate it to be a boy.

Everything from the glow of your skin to the lack of it; your constant, incurable nausea; the shape of your growing stomach; the pattern of your sleep and the way you look, everything implies that it is a boy ‘this time’. Your friends, neighbors, family members, all think that they are pleasing you by telling you that ‘this time’ you will be blessed with a boy.

Some of you may not believe it but I know this because this is exactly what happened with me last year, when I conceived for the second time at the age of 38 years, after years of denying any need of a second offspring. We took the plunge because our first born, my then 11 years old daughter, had been begging us to give her a sibling and we couldn’t say no to her anymore. So we decided to try granting her her wish and God listened to her as well.

And the new chapter began. Everyone was thrilled. The grandparents on both sides, uncles and aunts, our friends and neighbors, whosoever came to know was exhilarated to hear the news. More so, because it’s considered important to have two kids and it might be a boy child ‘this time’.

And the anticipation or rather manifestation of the male child began. “This time it will be a boy.” I heard this almost everyday and almost always replied that it could be a girl too.

I almost every time said that because one it was a logical thing to say as we couldn’t be sure of what it would be. Second, it didn’t matter to us and we were as thrilled to have anyone as our second born. Third, I didn’t want my unborn child if it was a girl to feel unwanted or not talked about. She was as much wanted as the he was.

I have never understood people’s, especially Indians’, obsession with a boy child. There are special rituals and celebrations related to the birth of a boy whereas girl’s birth sometimes doesn’t even considered worthy of congratulations. This is how things had been since generations and I had begun to think that things had improved but I was mistaken.

There is definitely some progress now. A girl as a first born is celebrated because the childbirth is celebrated and she is a child and the hope remains that there will be a second time soon and with a different gender and so when the second time comes another girl is not expected, and definitely not verbally.

When it happened with me I was sickened by this biased anticipation. I am a well educated, modern, working, independent, proud woman and I was shocked to realize this brutal reality. Of course there were some exceptions who spoke neutrally but mostly it was the boy anthem I heard everywhere.

Personally I did not anticipate any specific gender because to me wanting one means not wanting the other. And that is so unfair. To the unwanted one.

And I didn’t anticipate anything in particular because I feel if is not what we wished for, then it is God-sent.

I just wanted a healthy child who would become our little companion for years to come and make our life’s journey more beautiful, abundant, adventurous, somewhat challenging and eventful.

And isn’t that the reason why we have children? To make our lives complete and hearts full with the love and care we feel for them and to evolve and become better persons as we are given the opportunity to become while bringing them up. And what does this beautiful life process has to do with a bias towards any gender?

We eclipse the light sent to our lives because of an age old belief that sons carry our names and legacy.

How wrong this obsolete belief is? Have you seen any name known in the history of this world because he or she was someone’s father, mother or grandparent?

People become famous and are remembered for their own deeds and contributions. They are known for their own accomplishments and attributes and not because of their successors’.

Our children are not the bearers of our negligible and insignificant names and legacies.

They are our gifts to humanity who come through us and because they come through us they get to be with us for many years. And for those years they become our companions and teachers.

Yes, I call my children my mentors. They have come to my life to teach me.

To teach me unconditional love and compassion in their initial years when I am required to just adore them and take care of them.

To teach me the value of my life, youth, good health and the way I live my life because that leaves impressions on their quality and perception of life.

To teach me patience and wisdom in their growing up years as without the two I can’t nurture their uniqueness and bring out the best in them.

To teach me all that I never learned as a child but have been given the opportunity again as their guide and companion.

To teach me humility as I have made and owned maximum mistakes as their mother and not in any other role and realized how fallible I am.

And one day they will teach me the value of my freedom and time for self when they will fly away from my nest to try their own wings.

Our children are our companions for many years in our own journey of life and its high time the society learned that the gender of our tiny companions is of no real concern in the world we live in today.

They are not for us to own, they are certainly not born to carry the burden of our unfulfilled desires and insignificant inheritances. There are here for their own journey and purpose and not to carry on with ours.

New life means new journey and new life’s arrival is an event of celebration because it brings with it new hopes, dreams, another carrier of the virtues and legacy of humanity.

Yes. Legacy of humanity is the only legacy we need to pass on.

So whenever I prayed to God, which i did very often in those months I was carrying another life, I prayed Him to bless us with a healthy baby and the wisdom and ability to bring him/her up to be a good and contributing human being.

And then His blessings came as a beautiful tiny bundle of joy who we named Rubayat which means God’s verse and lovingly call Sria which means joy. And it was a girl ‘this time’ too and we couldn’t be happier as our little girl brought into our lives much more happiness than we had dreamed of. Her protective father, her doting elder sister and her thoughtful mother, which is myself, have been on cloud nine since then. She is a dream come true and why not.

She has made our family complete and our hearts and house full to the brim with love, joy, beauty, cuteness, her smiles, her cries, everything that wasn’t there before she came along.

And another reason why she is a dream come true is because subconsciously I think I wanted to have her. I think I had always felt fascinated with the idea of becoming a mother of and bringing up two beautiful, bright, lively girls. Whenever I would come across such a family – mother, father and two daughters, I loved looking at them and would fantasize having a similar one myself.

To me all children are good, boys and girls, but it was a very personal emotion I never consciously thought about or even verbalized because I am not biased. I actually realized the feeling when my subconscious fantasy became a reality and filled me with an unparalleled joy. I would have been very happy to have a son too but having you, my most anticipated one and the God-sent, I became ecstatic.

Thank you God for being so kind and listening to the said as well as the unsaid and thank you my little girl for choosing me as your bearer, companion and guide for the years to come.

I will try to do my best. I promise!!!

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Psychologist or Psychiatrist – Who Is The Right “Go To” Professional?

Mental health has finally gained some much needed attention in India. In a country where till a few years back and in some parts maybe even today, mental only meant a mindless or mad person, mental disorders and their cure is now being talked about.

Almost two decades back not many people had probably even heard of mental disorders like depression, stress or anxiety. In case someone was suffering from any of these disorders, he would visit all kind of doctors thinking he was physically sick, doctors would get all his medical tests done and when nothing would be diagnosed the patient would visit all kinds of astrologers, healers & God-men and keep on suffering till things changed or came to an end.

Times have changed and now quite a lot of people are more aware of the mental concerns and when the symptoms persist or become unbearable, they sometimes seek help.

And when they seek help, they mostly visit the psychiatrists who are medical practitioners who treat mental disorders by prescribing medicines. They diagnose the illness by listening to the symptoms and sometimes by conducting some tests and prescribe medicines as treatment. Antidepressants for depression, mood stabilizers for bipolar and other mood disorders, anti anxiety pills for anxiety and sedatives for almost everything.

But is medicine the real cure for the illnesses or issues that get triggered or aggravated because of a person’s mindset, attitude, thinking pattern, emotions, beliefs and influences? Can a few doses of dopamine and serotonin alone cure the causes behind the depressive state of a person which probably got prompted or provoked because of a financial loss or heartbreak and his own reaction to it?

The answer is no, medicines aren’t the treatment of mental disorders. Medicines are temporary cure of the symptoms and give immediate and temporary relief to the sufferers, who are both the patient and his family.

The permanent or long lasting solution is curing the causes of the disorder and it is the job of a psychotherapist who is an expert in human psychology and uses psychology to find out the causes and cure the disorders.

The psychiatrists are also trained to do psychotherapy, in layman language counseling, which means treatment of mental disorders through psychology and not medicine. But there are many psychiatrists who prefer giving medicines because medicines are easier to prescribe whereas therapies are time consuming and needs expertise and empathy.

Then who provides psychotherapy? Another professional called psychologist is trained and qualified to do that.

A psychologist is an expert in human psychology and psychology is the scientific study of the human mindset, behavior and actions and the factors affecting the same.

There is another big difference in psychiatry and psychology. Psychiatry is the study and treatment of mental illnesses which is one of the many areas of psychology and psychology is the study and treatment of human behavior, mental attitudes and mindset which also give birth to mental illnesses.

Point here is that mental illnesses are mostly caused because of the mindset and attitude prone to that illness and are triggered by the circumstances that negatively affect the illness prone psyche.

Understand this with an example of a 30 years old person, Amit. Amit is a very ambitious person who wants to achieve big in life. He started a business which was doing well and Amit was proud of his work but now due to the lockdown and its effects Amit’s business has suffered huge losses. As a result Amit has started feeling very low and hopeless, he cannot sleep properly at night, feels anxious and agitated.

If Amit decides to visit a psychiatrist, the latter will diagnose his problem as depression and prescribe medicines for the same.

If Amit chooses to see a psychologist, this professional will empathetically listen to him, diagnose his psyche by conducting a personality test and some other psychological tests and by interviewing him and will give him therapy or counseling. The psychologist will be able to understand that Amit is a result oriented, ambitious person with a high Emotional Quotient and hates facing failures. His business losses have caused him stress and anxiety which have led him to his depressed state of mind.

A good psychologist will not label him as depressed but will comfort him with the knowledge that it is normal and natural to feel low in such a scenario. He will alter his mindset by showing him a positive side to the current problem, give him hope and suggest ways to relax his mind and use his mental and emotional strength and intelligence to find opportunities in adversity.

A good psychologist is an empathetic, non-judgmental listener and an expert counsel and advisor who can change the thought process, perceptions and beliefs of a patient by giving the relevant therapy and thus can teach him to deal with the highs and lows of life.

A good psychologist counsels, guides, mentors, motivates and does almost everything but does not give medicine.

And medicines do nothing that a psychologist does. Medicines do not listen to a person’s worries and anxieties, they do not offer new insights and viewpoints, they do not turn a negative thinker into a positive thinker, they do not give hope and faith.

Medicines only alter the chemicals in mind but mental illnesses are not only the result of chemical imbalances. Chemical imbalance does play a role but it too is an effect of change in mental state and thought process of the person.

If dopamine and serotonin are feel good chemicals they also get released when a person is relaxed, eats and sleeps well and feels good.

So why not change the patient’s attitude, lifestyle and life itself for his betterment and make him better equipped to live a peaceful and joyful life.

The psychiatrists who are also trained to do psychotherapy can use the therapy sessions and cure the causes. If they do they are your “go to professionals” for mental health.

The actual debate is not psychologist or psychiatrist, but therapies or medicines.

Mental illness patient doesn’t know what is the right treatment. He follows his doctor and he too prefers getting the prescription as medication is easy to be administered whereas therapies involve changing lifestyle, way of thinking and mental and emotional transformation.

Little do they know that their illness is actually a signal that the ongoing way of life is doing them harm and needs some change and transformation.

Medicines may make you feel good for some time but they in no way transform your life. Rather they make you dependent upon them and their prolonged use have many side effects which are harmful for the body as well as mind.

So in case you ever choose to visit a psychiatrist ask him/her if you will be given therapy sessions and not just medicines. If the psychiatrist downplays the role of therapy or introduces you to a young intern as your counselor, go somewhere else as your therapist needs to have a good experience of own life to help you deal with yours.

In some illnesses medicines are important. They are maniac disorder, acute depression and schizophrenia as in these cases the patient is not in the right mental state to go through the therapies and benefit from them. In these mental illnesses the medication improves the patient’s condition and then therapy becomes more effective.

In all other cases counseling or therapy alone is sufficient. Other than curing illnesses, psychotherapy or counseling has many other benefits too.

Mental illnesses are never immediate, rather they take years to reach the stage when they get noticed. That’s because they get attention when the worst becomes apparent.

No one gets depressed overnight or suffers from an anxiety disorder in a day. People have tendencies to be depressed and anxious and to a good observer and an empath it would show at a much earlier stage.

For your knowledge, people who are more emotional and intellectual are more prone to being depressed and anxious because overthinking is a big cause of these mental conditions. So actually there is nothing wrong with being occasionally low and worried.

Mental issues are actually oversold as illnesses to sell the chemicals. Naming the illnesses and labeling the patient helps in selling the chemicals.

Out of the hundreds of mental disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), the official book of mental disorders, it is possible for every person to have at least one or more disorders.

If you have a mind then you will occasionally have an ailment of mind.

In the long human life span of 60 – 70 years, there will be many tough times which can make even the strongest of minds to become worried and low. What we need in these times is not to be labeled sick for life but an empathetic listener and guide who can teach us to accept the tough times as a part of life and take lessons from them and be strong again.

If you are going through a tough time and need help from another person’s perspective and expertise, go see a good psychologist or psychotherapist and take benefit from his unbiased and open minded counsel.

Psychologist do not just cure, they also do preventive counseling. They diagnose their patient’s personality and psyche and thus can say what kind of response the person’s psyche will give to certain circumstances.

Human mind is our very complex slave and its mastery is the key to a happy, peaceful and contented life.

A good psychologist can suggest many dos and don’ts to a person and can teach to live a conscious life in place of letting the unconscious to control the person’s thoughts, beliefs and actions.

There is reason that I have again and again written good psychologist/psychotherapist because like any other profession there are few not so good psychologists/psychotherapists too. A good psychologist can teach you to know, discover and discipline your mind to help you reach your full potential and live a peaceful existence.

A great psychologist will not make you dependent on him/her for long because his/her real job is to help you awaken the buddha inside you and help you become self sufficient in resolving your inner conflicts and be peaceful with life.

So next time when you are low, anxious, worried, aggressive, stressed or depressed, seek a good psychotherapist’s help and if you benefit from your interactions with him/her, make your therapist your regular ally and ask him/her to teach you mind management for life.

A Guide To Choosing The Right Career Option

Adolescence brings with it one of the biggest concerns of an individual’s life and the easygoing young minds get all stressed out after the carefree school years get over, deciding about the future and in particular the choice of career for a bright future.

Why is it imperative to choose the right career option?

Let’s start by understanding what is career.

Career means profession, occupation, vocation, employment, work that people do to earn their living.

After spending the young, dependent on parents years of life everyone has to choose a vocation or profession and be employed and established in order to earn a living.

Starting a career is important because a person’s career makes him/her self dependent and in many ways independent .

Career gives a person freedom, identity, income, busy hours, a healthy and productive escape, purpose, reason to work hard, sometimes even life’s calling, sense of achievement, happiness, self satisfaction, a space to go to on daily basis and be one’s best self, the list is endless.

Career is important but more than career, choosing the right career is important. The job that you have to do daily for 30 to 40 prime years of your life, you need to love that job and be good at it.

Yes, these two are the most important criteria to keep in mind while choosing your ideal vocation.

One, choose something you would enjoy doing and second, you would be excellent or at least very good at doing.

The career option one chooses decides how successful (by being good at it) and satisfied (by being in love with it) one will be in the future. Of course our happiness depends upon many factors but a successful career or lack of it is a very crucial factor.

Choosing the right career is also super essential because it is this decision that decides what area of work you will be a part of, what kind of income you will earn, what your lifestyle will be, who you will marry, where you will live, what kind of friends you will have.

Almost every aspect of your life will be affected by the career option you choose today.

But it is not at all an easy task to choose the right career option out of the thousands of professions, businesses and jobs in this world. One can choose to become a doctor, an engineer, architect, fashion designer, corporate executive, chartered accountant, banker, teacher, scientist, journalist, writer, actor, cricketer, sportsman, salesman, business analyst, data analyst, policeman, civil servant, lawyer, environmentalist, activist, artist, entrepreneur, anything that he/she is interested to be. This is a very small list.

The options are endless and the barely 15 to 18 years olds have to decide any one of them. I am repeating that because the options are too many it is very difficult to opt one out and imagine the pressure of choosing that one best option perfectly.

Unfortunately, most people fail to choose the right option that fits them perfectly and then spend most of their prime years struggling with the work they are either not very brilliant at or do not enjoy doing or in worst cases both.

The luckiest people choose the ideal jobs for themselves and those people become the Gods of that chosen profession.

A perfect example is Sachin Tendulkar. He chose cricket at a very young age, never got detracted and probably nothing else would have worked that well for him.

How does one choose that one option that is exactly cut out for him?

Before I answer this understand, why do people end up choosing the wrong options.

Because their reasons for making choices are wrong. Some very common reasons or grounds on which this lifetime decision is taken are:

  1. Peer pressure. “My friends are doing this, so I too will do this.” This is the most common mistake, making your choices under peer influences. The young minds do not realize that everyone is different in their abilities and interests.
  2. Family pressure. In India, career selection is a family decision. Parents exert their strong opinions and beliefs and in many cases tell and make the child to do what they feel is right. In some cases they may not force their own wishes but might also not let them follow their heart.
  3. Poor self awareness. In many cases the students don’t have any idea about their interests and abilities. At such a young age it is actually very difficult to expect them to know themselves well.
  4. Lack of awareness of all the options. There are very few career options that adolescents and their parents are aware of. Everyone knows about doctors, engineers, C.A., lawyer, management and that is it. There are too many specialized, niche professions that may fit an individual perfectly but he/she might not have heard of them.
  5. Limited school assessment. The school curriculum till tenth does not evaluate and assess many critical abilities like imagination, visualization, critical thinking, management skills, leadership, communication skills, creativity, out of the box thinking, etc. Rather school system assesses students on very limited parameters which are logically and linguistically. Hence students do not realize their potential for many new age professions and worst is if they lack on the school parameters they feel incapable of doing anything at all.
  6. Selection based on marks. Worst is the students form their self esteem on the basis of their school performance and choose their career path on the basis of their poorly perceived and undermined self worth. It is possible that a very able student may get distracted and score less. After all adolescence is all about distractions.
  7. Misconception that degrees make career. Degree courses are important as they give knowledge about the chosen field but career primarily requires skills and abilities. People think that by getting admission in a course a career in that profession will be ensured. But degrees can be a minimum required qualification and get someone an entry job but cannot ensure success in that job.

Then what should be the selection criteria?

It should be the inherent and/or acquired skills of the individual. Skills are primarily inherent and can also be acquired or enhanced.

A person has excellent, average or poor logical, linguistic, creative, musical, artistic, visual spatial, physical, musical, leadership, management, entrepreneurial and all types of skills by birth. Our education system merely helps in showcasing some of those skills.

By this I mean, a child born with excellent temporal cortex will excel in languages taught in school and the one with an average temporal cortex will be average in languages and communication.

Though a good education system can enhance and improve the skill but till it hardly does. That’s the reason some students are good in languages, some in mathematics and science and others in arts, sports, music or something else. After years of schooling no one excels at everything but only in a few areas because of inherent skills.

Irrespective of the source, it is the skill that is crucial for a job. And skills have very little to do with degrees.

This example will help you understand. In the old times when there weren’t any colleges and universities giving diploma and degree courses, there still existed all forms of occupations and professions.

The architects of Taj Mahal did not have a degree in architecture but possessed the skill to make the masterpiece with perfect arches and symmetry.

Similarly there were artists, philosophers, economists, inventors, physicians and all type of intellectuals and professionals and all without degrees but with skills that they knew how to put in use.

Every job requires certain skill set and all individuals have certain skill set. There is a right person for every job and there is a right job for every person. Right career selection is about finding the perfect fit.

Once you know what is your core skill or skills find the most suited professions that require those same skills. If there are many options, now see what are the options you are most interested in. Out of those options find the ones with maximum scope and monetary value and that is your right career option.

Education is important and comes to picture here. Now find out what all you have to study to get a start in that profession. Education gets you the entry and also teaches you the basics, terminology and all the theory and practical knowledge that is already there to learn about the profession. So take the education because it is available now.

The professionals of past did not have the chance to learn before starting a job and maybe learned by trial and errors while being on the job. Today you can acquire all the knowledge before starting a particular work. So education with the right skill can be your sure shot success formula.

There is one more self understanding that is required to make that perfect choice. Your psychology.

Each job is very good for people with certain psyche and can be equally miserable for the opposite type.

So a psychological assessment with skill assessment makes the selection criteria almost airtight.

So find out if you are an extrovert or an introvert, with a high or low emotional quotient, dominant or compliant in personality, a caring empathetic or a ruthless taskmaster, a rigid thinker or a flexible learner, an influential leader or a follower, stability seeker or a risk taker, emotionally charged or vulnerable, resilient or prone to anxiousness and self doubt.

A good psychological assessment can help you see yourself in a different light. A combination of your skills and your psychology or nature needs to find its perfect mould.

If you are not able to do it yourself, a very good career counselor can help you discover everything about yourself and make a fair choice.

A good career counselor does not just help you discover yourself and find the right fit but also mentors you to develop the right mindset to follow through.

Now remember one more crucial thing.

However diligently you choose your perfect fit today it may become imperfect in a few years time, because jobs and professions become obsolete and out of trend.

The jobs that are everyone’s dream today may not exist in 10 to 15 years from now and those you haven’t heard of today may become the most desired ones then.

Professions like event planners and managers, bloggers, you tubers, gamers, app developers, stylists, food and travel journalists, inspirational speakers, therapists, life coaches, yoga trainers, environmentalists, nutritionists and many more that are in vogue now weren’t even heard of 15 years back.

The same will happen in 10 years and new professions and industries will be born.

You too will become wiser in all those years and may consider switching from the now so diligently chosen career to the new job on the block. It will happen to many of you as professions are evolving everyday and there will be jobs which will suit your future evolved self even more perfectly.

Don’t hesitate to make the leap and be a pioneer in that industry because now the growth stories are not vertical anymore. They are about adapting and evolving and starting from scratch as a pioneer and wearing many hats.

Thanks to the fast paced world we live in businesses start and become multi billion ventures in months and get acquired by a bigger player in another few months.

So today plan your beginning of the career on the basis of the skills you have and keep investing in your skills that will help you again to adapt, learn, evolve and reassess and reselect when the time comes again.

Today you are choosing a career and one day a new career will choose you. Grow your perspective, be well read, become a master of your skill and keep discovering new applications of your skills.

The world will become your play field.

Amen!!!

A Word For My Angry Young Girls and Boys

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These days almost everyday I meet one or two adolescents or young adults with an aggressive and even violent behavior problem. The aggression is mostly directed towards parents and other family members and sometimes towards self too, posing a risk of self harm.

Excessive energy, anger, assertiveness, aggression are very common traits of today’s young generation. Are there any causes specific to these young minds and the way they are living that make them easily volatile and explosive?

Yes, there are. There are many reasons that contribute to the restlessness of the young minds. They are too sensitive and demanding, have too many expectations, are too self-centered, require immediate gratification, are over-ambitious with no realistic plans, fear failure and are intolerant to criticism. The list is long.

But there is a key reason that is mostly responsible for bringing out the worst out of the best ever provided for human generation till date. That reason is that their pleasure pain principle has gone haywire.

Many of you might not know what this pleasure pain principle is. Let me explain.

We humans are driven by two forces in our life – the desire for pleasure and the need to avoid or remove pain.

We do all that we do to gain pleasure. It is a basic, primal need to seek pleasure. The most basic sources of pleasure are food, sex, materials and power. Since our very origin we humans have been driven by these urges which make us very similar to our earthly co-inhabitants, animals.

Since time immemorial humans have been toiling , fighting, manipulating, begging and even killing their fellow beings to satiate these desires. All good as well as bad karma is performed to seek pleasure and avoid pain.

Sigmund Freud, the pioneer psychotherapist, explained it perfectly as ‘id’, that part of our psyche that contains our basic needs and drives. Id works on pleasure pain principle and constantly strives to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Hunger, thirst, carnal and material needs when satiated provide pleasure and if are not available and are unsatisfied cause craving and pain.

Please note that both pleasure and pain are equally important as efforts, their quality, their urgency, their results and the satisfaction that is derived from the results, be it pleasure gain or pain avoidance, is what makes a life purposeful and worth.

As per Sigmund Freud’s famous Psychoanalysis Theory, there are two more domains of human psyche other than id and they are called Super Ego and Ego.

Id which we all are born with is very animal like but we are not animals because human mind created a super ego which every human acquires after his birth. Super ego contains the social and moral codes and value systems created by man himself. Our super ego is a check on our id and reins our animal like drives and desires by restraining us by binding us to our moral and social values.

Understand it with an example. If a person is hungry and is without food for long, he feels pain of hunger and wishes to derive pleasure by eating food. His id may tell him to snatch food from the person eating his tiffin sitting next to him. But he won’t because his super ego tells him that snatching is immoral and will not look good.

In everyday life, there is a constant tiff between pleasure pain principle i.e id and values ‘super ego’. In case of such conflict what happens to the pleasure pain principle which is the trigger to all efforts and actions?

That’s where our third domain of psyche comes to work. That is our ego which is our intelligence that gives us ways and means to gain pleasure and avoid pain without compromising our values. Ego resolves the conflict between id and super ego by inventing ways to get what a person wants while abiding by the values and morals. Ego is inherent as intelligence as well as acquired and enhanced with education.

In the example above, ego tells the hungry man to request the neighbor to share food with him. It is the ego that actually made people discover agriculture, trading, barter, persuasion, communication, seduction, religion, marriage and all other means so that pleasure could be earned, owned and enjoyed and pain could be avoided with dignity and rightfulness.

This principle of pleasure and pain is an all important principle as all the human progress is a result of this principle. Id made man hungry for more, super ego gave him restraints and differentiated him from animals and ego gave us new and more means and ways.

All individuals have all three but differ in their actions, results and states of mind because all have different combination of the three domains. An ideal human life is the one who can find the perfect balance between the three.

Unfortunately for our current young generation the balance has gone topsy turvy. The pleasure pain principle or the id that manifests all desires is not in order anymore.

The over indulged and over protected young ones especially those belonging to middle and upper class are now mostly accustomed to only the pleasures of life. Since their birth they have eaten well, lived well, traveled well, been well entertained and provided all that is best. The list of pleasure giving comforts is long and mostly at their disposal. As a result to them life is all about pleasures.

From their over protected lives, pains are missing and a little pain caused by absence of something causes their fury. They don’t wish to experience any pains of inadequacy and lacking. If they are denied anything they perceive it to be unfair and unjust and the things that they receive abundantly are not valued much and rather are seen as their entitlement.

Result is a life of excesses which means too much undervalued pleasure and no real pain. Sometimes they have some perceived or self inflicted pains and the worst is that those unrewarding, meaningless pains become too much for them to tolerate and the consequence is more anger.

Another consequence is that because they mostly have everything and if they want more they can ask for it, there is no need to make individual efforts because there isn’t much to strive for.

In simple words, such youth has become passive, idle, goalless, purposeless, enslaved to useless pleasures the absence of which cause pain thus addicted, unaware of the real pains of real worthy wants, yet still in pain, anguish and depressed.

The principle of pain and pleasure that applied to entire humanity for a hundred thousand years, that turned the hunter gatherers into agriculturists, innovators and then industrialists, has gone upside down in the current generation.

With due respect to Sigmund Freud and Aristotle before him who scripted the principle, the principle isn’t working anymore.

In fact all the three domains of our psyche aren’t in order. Id is not hungry anymore or is hungry but wants not self but others to provide the pleasures and when in pain rather than working to remove pain blames others for the pain.

Super ego is not able to restrain the youth as the old values are diluted and obsolete. Rather now there is a new social value that is to appear good and seek social approval. More than morals and ethics superficial vanity is given importance. So either there isn’t much conflict inside them which had to push the ego (intelligence) to find ways and work or all intelligence and efforts go into maintaining shallow appearances.

Result is that the smartest and best equipped generation is busy indulging in pleasures earned by their predecessors, suffering pains created by idle, superficial minds which they are not able to cure and sulking over anything which does not come easily their way.

So, for them “When the going gets tough, the tough doesn’t get going”. Instead they get angry and aggressive.

They need to be reminded that, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” And there will always be a way because the will is our desire and the way is the means learned and discovered by the ego or our intelligence.

Remember, the laws and principles of nature can never go wrong. Likewise, the principle of pain and pleasure is neither wrong nor it needs a revision. It is still applicable and there is a part of the youth that still is reaping the benefits of their desire to find pleasure in achievement and avoid pain of failure.

But there is a major part of the young generation that is not in compliance with the simple principles of life and hence are facing consequences.

This article doesn’t intend their bashing because they are not the culprits but victims of the times they are born in. This article intends to educate the reader who either is a part of this young aggressive group or is their provider or caregiver.

If you are someone who gets all worked up without much reason or fault of someone or you know someone who does, do perform a self check up and see if you have some real goals whose achievement you hold yourself responsible for. See if you have some deprivations and inadequacies in life that cause you pain and you are directing all your energies to acquire them to reduce or remove the pain.

If the answer is yes then you are living a life abiding by the laws of nature and in return nature is nurturing your psyche and life. But if the answer is no then it is time for a correction.

Nature has already made an effort and slowed down the machinery of the world. The economic meltdown is in a way a correction to shake us all up and out of the complacent life of excesses and revise our goals for self and the world.

The angry youth has a lot to achieve and unlike their predecessors maybe not just for self and materially but for bigger reasons and causes. I wish our youngsters feel the pain of the world they are witnessing and seek pleasure from repairing all that their greedy predecessors have ruined.

May the angry energies find direction and get engaged in creating a new and better world order.

May there be a new breed of environmentalists, economists, wildlife and nature preservers, social activists, philanthropists, writers, influencers, liberators, peacemakers, crusaders, reformers, leaders and saviors of this world.

May they stop being angry over trivia and start feeling anguish for some real reasons.

What Is Your Story?

Do you ever wonder, “Why are people the way they are?”

Why some people you know are mostly oozing confidence whereas some of those around you are skeptical self-doubters? Why there are some extreme optimists and few exactly opposites – the pathetic pessimists? What makes some perpetually happy people happy and the eternally sad people so?

If you never deliberated that before, are you wondering now?

And I am sure sometimes you also reflect, “Why am I the way I am?”

Let me help you know the answers to your pondering.

There were a lot of things responsible in the beginning of your life that shaped your persona. Your inherent personality, your circumstances, environment, life’s results, your disappointments, victories and a lot more. But after a while there is something else that started influencing your state of mind the most.

And that one thing is your story.

Now you are thinking which is that story I am talking about. Am I talking about the story of your life?

Let’s see.

What is this story of life?

Every life on this planet is a story worth telling. Some are romantic, some tragic, few stories are inspiring, few loathsome and some are action packed adventures. Some are a good mix of all genres and may be material for a blockbuster hit if turned into a biopic celluloid.

Likewise, since the day you were born, you have been living an original story which is your story with you as the protagonist. Till now, the story has had many plots and subplots, twists and thrills, characters coming, staying or leaving, happy scenes and heartbreaking moments and the story keeps unfolding and will keep growing until the day of its climax.

Think of it, you may have already lived a story worth being a bestseller or a blockbuster. But I am not talking about that long story written by the Almighty and spanned over long years.

I am here talking about the short story you have scripted in your mind by picking up selected snippets from the long one as per your prejudices and predisposition.

Human brain has the tendency to concoct a short summary of the big tale and take it as the sum-total of the whole life’s story and then accept it as the complete life experience and thereafter live, feel, decide, act, not act, as the reaction to or outcome of that experience.

From a life full of good days, bad days, happy moments, sad moments, successes, failures, great relationships, bitter relationships, sweet memories, bitter experiences, love found, love lost, life altering lessons and miracles, people select a few moments and believe that short, edited trailer to be the whole movie.

This short summary is mostly not a mixed one as the life story is. It is predominantly one genre; it is either story of suffering and misery, success and achievement, love and happiness or betrayals and heartbreaks. So it is either a happy story or a sad story.

Think of it, you too have a short story that describes your whole spent life in mere 15-20 sentences. A whole long life on a page or two and there is a predominant emotion that you feel every time you narrate a part of it to yourself or someone else and that is how you mostly are.

If your story is mostly happy and successful, then you are a happy, confident person. If it is full of disappointments and unfulfilled wishes, then you are not a very happy and hopeful person.

They say, “You become the story that you tell yourself.” Think about it, your story makes your state of mind. You are joyful, self-assured, gloomy, depressed, hopeful or hopeless, whatever you are you are because you associate the whole meaning of your life to a few selected life’s events in your memory.

Whatever number of years you have already lived couldn’t all be just good or completely bad, there would have been all kinds of days, but your mind has focused on memories of one kind and that’s how your whole experience is shaped and you have become whatever you are.

This is how everyone became what they are.

Narcissists have a story all bright and beautiful. Everything good happened to them or they turned whatever they touched into gold. Everyone loved them. Everyone followed them. They beat all obstacles to reach the top.

Victims have a story too sad to make them cry every time they talk about it. They were hurt, betrayed or abandoned. They suffered losses. They cared for everyone but were never reciprocated. Life was never fair to them and they never got what they wanted. Poor fellows.

Confident and cheerful ones had great parents, good friendships, humble beginnings and great results. They were blessed and had good plans, excellent habits and were persistent to follow through. Such stories start with “A small town girl/boy who………….”

Negative people had all the bad experiences. Nothing ever worked in their favor. Their hard work never paid off. The whole universe conspired against them.

Every kind of people have their own kind of story. Sometimes people have more than one story. Even contradictory ones. The good one to tell when they have to boast about themselves or maybe just inspire a subordinate.

The sad one to gain attention from a dear one or to simply sulk and feel victimized as it is the easiest to blame and feel free from the onus of doing the right things. Happy stories for happy days and sad stories for the sad days.

Stories are also person specific. A happy story with someone we love and value and that story will be minus any ill doings of that person. And an unhappy one with the one we hate and despise and there you may forget all goodnesses. So stories are biased too.

Some people distort the realities and make a story that suits them. Distortion for positivity and if not entirely misleading for the taker of the story is somewhat fine but distortions to feed the narcissist or psychopath inside you is very dangerous. Many mental disorders like obsession, narcissism, maniac, depression, etc. are the outcome of distorted stories.

And then there are those people who do not have any story of their own. They are the story others tell them about them and life. They are at the mercy of other’s intelligence, interpretations, opinions and judgements. They are the biggest sufferers because their state of mind changes as and when their storyteller changes.

I hope you are not one of those without their own story. If you are, then stop listening to others and recall your whole life and start writing one. And a positive one. Immediately.

If not, then now you know what kind of story I was talking about that has made you what you are. Now you know that you too have a story or even multiple stories, maybe even a distorted one and they have been serving different purposes.

Take out a little time and listen to the stories you have been narrating about yourself to self and others and see how much they have changed over time. If what you hear has been the same, old, stale, sorry story since many many years then something is not very right in your life. It means you haven’t really grown much in the last few years.

Your story needs to grow as you grow.

Don’t you think it’s time now that you edited or rewrote those stories. Your life has been much more than these little pieces you picked up because of your circumstantial state of mind that was at the time you picked up those pieces and joined together to form the narrative of your beautiful and maybe forgotten tale.

Another reason you made that story was because of the way you interpreted the happenings of your life. They say everything happens for good but maybe you never saw the good at that time. It’s time now when you have understood how your story has affected your emotional state and all else and you have matured enough that you can reinterpret it, in a different light.

It’s time you sit down, go down the memory lane, do a refresh, reflect, reinterpret and then rewrite your story. A good, happy, humble story with a happy ending which is your life till now. Rewrite it and you will witness a change in yourself, your relationships, your work, your health and wherever you wish to see a change.

Rewrite it because you are the protagonist of a blockbuster which may catch the fancy of a biopic maker. Rewrite it because you are not a pity victim of someone else’s saga. Rewrite it because you have this chance to revisit and recollect those happy memories and life’s lessons that have the power to alter your being.

I have seen it happening. I change my story every few years as with age and experience I could find more meaning to the events of my life. From a victim I thought I was I have witnessed myself transform into the most blessed person I know now. I am grateful to God for letting me see His hand in all that I call my life’s happenings and rewrite a story of faith, hope, resilience, strength, love and abundance and that’s all I feel now.

You too try doing it and in case you need help call for help from a professional ‘Life Story Editor’ like myself who can be your guide and show you all the beautiful visuals from your past you had omitted while writing the story you have been telling yourself till now.

Happy rewriting your story!!!

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How Is Your Child’s Affective Learning?

One of the biggest concerns of every parent is their child’s academic performance. Most of their daily efforts and engagement with their young ones is in some way or other related to the child’s study regime and results.

Parents, especially mothers can be all the time seen either telling or yelling at the children to study, read their books, finish the homework or projects and prepare for the tests.

For everyone from parents at home to teachers at school, a child’s academic results are so important that his awards, rewards, appreciation, even the parental affection and love that he receives has become conditional to the marks scored in exams.

If a child fares well in school or higher studies, he becomes worthy of all praises and perks and if he doesn’t perform as per expectations he loses all credit and credibility.

Is the immense importance that is given to the numerics or alphanumerics on the scoresheets really right and rational or not is not the topic of discussion here. It’s an important one so will discuss that in another write up.

Rational or not, there are reasons why so much stigma is attached to the child’s good academic evaluations and why everyone goes bonkers pushing their progeny to prepare, perform and excel in their academic assessments.

Let’s assume for some time that it is imperative for children to learn and do well in their educational pursuits and hence the parents and academicians who provide them the resources, instruct them and then remind them regularly to do well are doing a great job in doing so.

But is all that is being done sufficient for the child? Is a child’s academic performance really just a function of learning the languages, texts and arithmetic and then recalling what is learned and producing it on a sheet of paper? Is the cognitive learning provided in school system enough to educate a child?

Cognitive learning entails studying from books, comprehending the meaning, memorizing the texts or formulae, applying logic to the problems, reasoning, analyzing the problem, recalling the information and then producing it during the assessment which is conducted again to check the performance of the cognitive skills used to learn the inputs and provide the output.

Cognitive skills are skills of perception, memory, attention, logical reasoning, comprehension and all other skills required to learn and acquire knowledge and cognitive learning involves using cognitive skills.

Undoubtedly, cognitive abilities are important to learn, reason, use and apply learned information and hence are crucial for academic performance. And that’s the reason a child is taught to use these capabilities and is constantly subjected to a curriculum that requires the application of these skills.

The school curriculum is designed to enable, employ and evaluate the cognitive learning domain, hence, it may imply that students with good cognitive learning ought to perform well in academics and vice versa.

But that may not necessarily be the case. It was earlier believed by psychology scholars and academicians that cognitive learning is the sole key to educational excellence and its effective application.

But not anymore.

It is now a well known fact to the academic researchers that cognitive learning alone may not necessarily make someone proficient in gaining knowledge.

Rather it is quite possible that someone who is absolutely capable of perceiving and applying the information given to him may fail to learn and apply it effectively.

I, as a parent-child counselor meet youngsters everyday who have excellent cognitive abilities, who are proficient at learning languages and applying logic to mathematical problems, but are not at all performing well in their academics. The parent accompanying the child would say that she knows that the child is very intelligent but for reasons unknown do not yield desired results.

The reason is not unknown anymore. The fact is that there is another domain of learning that supplements the mental abilities to learn and acquire knowledge.

It is called affective learning.

Affective means related to moods, emotions and attitude and hence affective learning deals with the learner’s moods, emotions, interests, attitude and motivation to learn.

A child, irrespective of his capabilities, learns when he is willing and motivated to learn. If cognitive learning is the how to learn then affective learning is the why to learn.

Affective learning is a much ignored domain of learning and is not given much space and importance in the annual school curriculum.

The school system works primarily to provide the inputs to a child’s cognitive learning but ignores the fact that it is the child’s affective learning or affects (emotions and moods) that have to be willing to receive and respond to the inputs being given.

Similar mistake is made by parents at home who again emphasize on reading, writing, memorizing functions but miss out building up the right emotional environment for the effective affective and cognitive learning.

Affective learning entails the willingness and motivation to learn and use the cognitive abilities. It precedes the cognitive learning.

In simple words, it means being in the right mood to study, being emotionally charged to pay attention and learn, to value the learning process, to be motivated to spend attentive hours to gain knowledge and feel happy and accomplished with the knowledge gained.

Affective learning is the precursor of all learning. If you have a child who is not doing very well in his/her academics ask yourself a few questions.

“Does she seem interested in her daily study program?”

“Does she look forward to her classes where she will acquire knowledge about the various subjects?”

“What is her attitude about studying and all that it involves?”

“Is she really motivated to learn and to apply all that she learns?”

You may think that every child feels unhappy and uninterested when asked to sit and study but that is not always the case. There are children who read and learn with joy and enthusiasm. They enjoy using their cognitive abilities and their results always show that.

Even they occasionally lose their enthusiasm or may find one or two subjects less interesting but fall back in line with time or little intervention. You definitely know someone like this.

And it is okay and normal to be uninterested and unhappy sometimes but the real concern is mostly or permanently having a negative feeling and attitude towards the learning activities.

In your case, your answers to the above questions have told you what your real concerns are if you have any and if you belong to the category of parents who wish to see good academic results of their young ones, now you know what requires your attention.

If you have understood by now that your child does not have the right emotion, attitude towards learning and is not too willing to receive, respond and value the process of acquiring knowledge, then know your real and immediate job is to work on improving his/her affective learning.

Affective learning is all about providing an affective environment where a child is happy, not criticized or judged, neither too anxious nor too carefree, is not over indulged, has right role models and is motivated to learn and apply knowledge.

In today’s time, the affective learning is mostly inadequate and ineffective because of the following reasons.

  • The young generation of today is over provided and over indulged. They already have everything and that does not provide them enough motivation to strive and work hard to perform and excel.
  • They have too many distractions in their lives. There is so much that attracts their attention and thus does not leave much willingness to divert that attention to the tedious task of studying.
  • They are either too pampered and protected or are too much judged and criticized. This results in either making them too carefree or too anxious and both conditions are negative affects for learning.
  • In some home environments, especially where parents are engaged in running traditional business, there is sometimes less importance given to their academic activities or that is what the children perceive. They are unable to relate knowledge and success and thus may not realize the value of learning and seeking knowledge.
  • Another major reason is less engaging ways of imparting education in schools. An effective and engaging teaching system can make the process of learning interesting and stimulating and once a child starts to enjoy the process and its outcome and the appreciation that follows, it becomes a continuous cycle of enjoying learning, performing, enjoying getting appreciated and repeat.
  • A child is less interested in learning when cognitive abilities are poor and despite efforts the results are not good. If affective learning precedes cognitive learning, the later also effects the former. If a child finds it easy to comprehend and learn, he will enjoy learning but if despite putting in hours he is not able to solve the problems he will lose all enthusiasm. Both the domains are interrelated.

Considering the reasons for poor affective learning of the students, what are the ways to improve the ignored but essential domain of learning.

First of all, out of the reasons mentioned find out the reasons responsible for your child’s indifference, lack of interest and motivation. Acknowledge all the things missing in his/her emotional environment. Is he over indulged or over criticized, lacks some cognitive skills, is not aware of the advantages of being well educated or is the way of teaching less engaging and encouraging?

Whatever is lacking find ways to improve it. If the lack of good feelings and motivation is in initial stages you can talk it out yourself but if it has become a deep rooted belief then you may seek professional help from a good counselor.

Change the environment at home and in school. Make sure your child is happy, not bullied, is less anxious, not judged and is constantly encouraged and appreciated. Give him/her realistic goals and support him/her to achieve them.

Tell your child to enjoy the process of learning new information and knowledge and not to chase the high scores. If he/she will do his/her best to just learn, excellence will automatically follow.

Ask the school and teachers to follow a more engaging teaching program and to include affective learning in the school curriculum. it is a prevalent practice in most of the developed countries where a lot of emphasis is given to the emotional and psychological well-being of the students.

Affective learning is all about a happy, confident, alert, aware, empathetic, keen to learn child who knows how to enjoy studying as much as she enjoys playing.

Affective learning does not just apply to academics but to every sphere of learning and life. If your child enjoys playing a game he will put in the efforts required to learn it, the same will be the case for learning arts, music, dance and every other skill. In case of academics it is more important as the academic curriculum is lengthy, needs long hours and more attention and efforts. The key to gain knowledge is to feel happy while doing it.

Affective learning is not about results but the feelings and the efforts and parents, you too learn to appreciate their feelings and efforts.

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Mental Health In Current Times

First time in our lifetime we are witnessing a global pandemic which has forced most of the people world over to quit their day to day pursuits and sit idle at home. Stay at home to stay safe became the new mantra for our wellbeing.

Now it has been almost four months since people had their usual life; when students went to schools and colleges to study, adults went to their workplaces and everyone had their usual routines of visiting shopping malls, hanging out with friends, dining out, traveling to beat the blues and all the normal things we had got so accustomed to and called life.

How has this temporary but seemingly indefinite pause in our living life affected our mental well-being? There are definitely many repercussions of the first ever global lockdown on our minds.

First of all, idleness itself breeds many mental woes. The biggest advantage of a busy life is that it keeps the mind off useless thinking and worrying. In the normal course of life people are usually too busy to indulge in unwanted and unsettling thinking. Their daily jobs and tasks keep their overworking minds occupied and even those who are habitual over thinkers do not make time to reflect everyday. But in this case of forced sit down with nothing much to keep the mind engaged, overthinking and especially negative overthinking is natural. Most vulnerable are the emotionally sensitive and chronically anxious people who in current times have the habit as well as all the time to over analyze things and then worry about them.

Excessive thinking and worrying causes anxiety in people. Thousands of people are getting sick and are losing lives everyday and there are 24 X 7 news channels reporting the numbers and the horrors of what’s happening in every corner of the world. People are bound to worry and get anxious about their and their dear ones lives. Anxiety leads to poor sleeping and eating and many somatic symptoms that give us a feeling of being sick and the health scare aggravates.

The financial losses and worries that have resulted due to the pandemic and the lockdown are the other reason of anxiety. Businesses are closed or down, jobs are being lost, all spendings except for necessities are postponed and hence people are not earning as usual and nobody knows when things will improve. People of all classes and status are bearing the financial losses of varying magnitude. In a country like India where Government packages do not compensate our earning losses and people have to be self reliant for their monetary needs, this stress is inevitable.

Another casualty of this situation is the relationships. In normal days, everyone gets a break from each other, but now people have been forced to live together with their immediate kin all the time inside the four walls of their houses. For some it came as a blessing to have gotten an unusual chance and time to spend with their families which generally got ignored while making living for them. But for many it came as a disaster as living constantly together and finding no usual ways to escape from each other has led to frustrations, increased quarreling and fighting among the family members.

Overthinking, anxiety about wellbeing and life, financial stress and lack of leisure and distractions are causing a feeling of hopelessness and depression in many. There are many people struggling with the evils of depression right now and as mental health is still an ignored sphere of life, they are suffering in silence and without help. If you are one of them or know someone who you feel is being agonized by his/her mind, seek the necessary help. For my readers I am offering some solutions for their mental concerns.

1. The first and the easiest solution to your woes is to find ways to stay occupied. Clean your whereabouts, cook the good food you are missing, water your plants, de clutter your overfilled spaces, do a physical workout at home, watch the series you weren’t getting time to watch, read the books lining decoratively on the shelves or start a new hobby, just do something and keep busy. Do enough to get tired and doze off peacefully at night.

Staying occupied is essential for everyone. Children need to keep busy with useful activities, else they will get more hooked to mobile phones, internet and television. They may start losing interest in studies and even lose some basic cognitive skills while idling away from the usual school routines. Thus, it is imperative that they should be encouraged to read books, solve mathematical problems, play board games and engage in some sort of physical activity like cycling or running.

Stay at home and stay busy to stay absolutely safe should become the new slogan. This pandemic is not going to last forever and when it does people need to come out physically as well as mentally stable and healthy.

2. The best way to deal with your anxieties is to develop a positive outlook about what is happening in the world. God knows how the disaster broke out but what had to happen has happened. The best we can do is is to think of the positives of our situation.

There are some optimistic viewpoints we can adopt. The nature needed a pause from our excessive, abusive activities and has healed somewhat since the closing down. Many of us needed to stop and think of better ways of living life. For some the rat race may become over and a more contended life may begin.

Some of us may wake up to realize that there are many more endangering challenges lying ahead and a new much needed revolution to save the planet may be in offing.

For the less philosophical and more realistic people who need more reason to feel optimistic, look at the data because the data is not pessimistic. Wherever you live, analyze and see that only a very small percentage of people is getting infected and an even smaller number becomes severely sick and very few die. The numbers are not very scary and if you are taking necessary precautions you may never become infected. Most of us personally do not know anyone who got infected or has died due to corona breakout.

You need not give too much attention to the news which is mostly aired to scare you. I strongly suggest, neither be unreasonably optimistic nor absolutely pessimistic. Be realistic and go about your normal life with some caution that your mind has already become accustomed to and you may never catch the virus and even if you did, you will survive as it is curable in most of the cases.

Another way to feel less anxious is that you are not alone in it. The entire world is struggling and all the world powers and medical experts are working to find the solution (the vaccine and the cure) which is going to be delivered sooner than you can imagine. Stay hopeful and use the time to do what best you can do. Like all other good and bad times even this time is going to pass.

3. In case of your financial worries you have to again deal with your situation with a more positive outlook. It is again something everyone is dealing with. Look for opportunities as they are aplenty now, reduce your overheads if you can, revise your goals and plans and if nothing else works, be grateful to be alive and start afresh.

The economy will bounce back once things improve, the money isn’t just rotating right now but it is there and will start churning again and with more momentum maybe. Save your good business sense and energies till then. Rather use this time to brush up or learn new skills.

4. If you can remain busy, feel optimistic about your future and stay calm in these times, then you can definitely enjoy this time as one of your best times with your family and vice versa. Our family life affects our mental well-being and our mental peace reflect in our family bonds.

Work hard and consciously to improve at least some aspects of your life and the rest will follow automatically. This pause is actually the time you have been granted to reflect upon your life and to review and reassess your life situation. Take stock of your life, relationships and all that you hold valuable and make an extra effort to improve the inventory. Reach out to your friends and whoever needs help and share your hopes and enthusiasm with those who need it. As they say, maintain social distance, not emotional distance.

5. Lastly, some people may have become paranoid in the current times when you have to mind your social distance while simply going out to run errands or working if your work has resumed and constantly maintain the hand and body hygiene. Never in our entire lives we had ever been so conscious as we are now.

I personally call it meditation as meditation is nothing but being conscious of now and here. By being alert we are actually living in a permanent mindful, conscious and meditative state. We are not lost in thoughts of past or future but are aware and alert to the present. So, don’t be paranoid, just enjoy being fully conscious and don’t forgo these healthy and hygienic habits that we have been forced to adopt.

The historical event that we are witnessing in this historical year is going to become history soon but how we come out from it physically and especially mentally will become our personal story to be shared in the times to come. So make sure that you don’t make yourself mentally sick with bigger but less talked about illnesses while trying to protect your bodies from the lesser but more popular ailment.

Stay at home and stay busy and hopeful for a better tomorrow.

A Message For My Contemporaries, Continued

Hello xennials!

Many of you felt intrigued by my last blog (by the same name) and asked for solutions to effectively live with the two ideologies of two overlapping generations that make us, the xennials. The question that remained was how to combine the traditional values of Generation X and the new technology driven, self centered mindset of Generation Y to emerge as the best cohort in the history of humankind.

Many of you found the knowledge that you, because you were are born in a year between 1976 and 1984, have the best attributes of the two individually exceptional groups, very novel, useful and esteem boosting. Just imagine, you have had those qualities for years but never felt so good about them and suddenly you came to know a new fact about your existence and you became overjoyed with the newfound knowledge about self. This establishes the importance of language and words and a fact about human psychology that well worded information about self and its implications help us appreciate what we are and have.

Anyways it is indeed a matter of pride for me and my peers that we are a good combination of old school and new age. We are living a technology aided, modern life yet holding on to many conventions and traditions. We are probably the last generation to have experienced a simple life without fancy frills before the technological transformation of the whole world happened and everything changed. For good, I mean, forever.

It wasn’t the first time that the world changed. Since its origin our sole inhabited planet has been witnessing new discoveries and developments and thus has been constantly transforming, but the information technology advancement changed everything at an unexpected accelerated pace and this became our generation and all subsequent generations’ prime-most challenge.

Due to all the advancements our social, economic, technological needs and aspirations underwent a sea change but we as humans didn’t change at the same pace. Our physiology and psychology takes decades and centuries to undergo any significant change and hence we humans haven’t fully adapted to the fast paced, techno-dependent world.

Will explain this with a few examples.

Our eyes and necks aren’t yet evolved to adapt to the permanent strain on them that the excessive use of our favorite devices exert. Similarly our psychology hasn’t really upgraded to survive a life with only virtual friends and the illusion of attention they give us and without many real, intimate contacts in our social media dominated lives. Likewise our livers and kidneys cannot bear the excesses of our eating and the other such indulgences. Even our minds aren’t fully tuned to the high ambitions and aspirations we have from our humble selves.

Because our evolution hasn’t coincided with the changes in the way we live now, living under a lot of physical and mental stress has become a new norm. We may not have realized it but we and most of our fellow humans aren’t living a very healthy life anymore.

We, xennials, are overly affected by this choice of lifestyle that fell upon us, as we are a generation which isn’t completely oblivious to the damage being done to us and our progeny. Though we enjoy the kind of life we have now, many of us at a conscious or a subconscious level still worry thinking about the adverse outcome of such a life and maybe that’s the reason we end up being hypocrites and restricting our children when we see them overindulging in the life we have provided them with.

We are aware that excess of anything is detrimental. Too much use of technology, excessive eating and drinking, unrestricted spending, over-ambitious goals and unrestrained lifestyle have overburdened us and are doing the worst to our successors because this is the only life they have seen.

I personally feel that we, xennials, have an important job to perform. We have to be the bridge between the two ways of life. It doesn’t seem like a challenge to me that we have the attributes of two generations. Rather, it is our privilege that we are the preservers of all things great from the past. We have been assigned to save simplicity, stability of thought, compassion and love for others, intimacy and a need to have and respect real relationships from becoming extinct like all things we didn’t care about did before us.

We have to remain attached to the life of basics we lived before we overindulged in the non-basics because this super fast transformation is not going to last for long. The day nature starts revolting, we may have to retract the advances we have made and then we xennials will be the ones expected to lead the retreat.

Thus the solution to your quandary is to hold on to the two varied ideologies because neither of them is insignificant. Your history is your story of a simple life when you played real games with real friends and all the valuable virtues of hard-work and resilience that helped you create the future that is your present now. Don’t underestimate that past and do not completely cease to live that. Occasionally go back to those times and take pride in the lack-lustrous yet glorious life we had and bring some of it to your present and keep it alive.

To keep your life from being overcrowded with the trophies of past and present, do away with the inessentials like the stereotypes and the prejudices from the past, the overrated excesses of the present and the unnecessary worries of the future. For a near perfect life, learn not to become a slave of anything. Be a consumer of technology, do not let it consume you and your relationships. If you can do it, you can very well teach it.

Remember, we have to have the best of the two lives. So be someone who still loves to read the old classics but enjoys writing blogs too, who cares about the nature and takes lot of pictures and occasionally shares them on instagram, enjoys the old songs of 80s and 90s and can binge watch Netflix on free days, someone who has travel goals to explore the whole world and feels equally at ease living in a small hamlet, who still calls people to wish them on birthdays after being reminded by checking Facebook and when life seems too fast to sustain who can take a pause and slow down and feel contented to have come this long way from the good old days.

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A Message For My Contemporaries

Those who were born around 1980 and are now almost forty or a year or two plus or minus, I call them my contemporaries. Me and my peers, we are a very special genre and are going to have a very special place in the future history of mankind. I take our place and position in the world very seriously and I will explain it why and thus want your absolute attention on every word I write here.

Earlier we either fell under the Generation X (born between 1965 to 80) or the millennials (born between 1981 and 1995) cohorts, but now we are called “xennials” a combination of gen-X and millennials as we were born at the cusp of the two. So if you were born between the year 1976 and 1984 you are a xennial, someone who has seen the best and worst of two worlds.

As the ones born in the transition we have some very significant distinctions from our predecessors and successors. We have the dual traits of two very different generations.

1. We have both the hardworking, workaholic genes of gen-X and the easygoing attitude of the millennials. That probably makes us seek a good work-life balance in our life.

2. We have the gen-X conservative values as well as the liberal ways of millennials. And that’s why we are mostly conflicted in the inside.

3. We are neither completely devoted and loyal generation X nor we are absolutely indifferent and impatient generation Y. Hence, we are less rigid and more flexible and agile to change.

4. We lived our initial twenty years of life without mobile phones and internet but have been using the technology and social media for almost twenty years now. So we are tech savvy and also know both the advantages and disadvantages of the necessary evil.

5. Like our predecessors we did not get to reap the economic boom for good 15 to 20 years and like our successors we did not start career in global recession. We had had five to ten years of career amid plentiful prosperity under our belts before the meltdown began. Thus, we may enjoy extravagance but we aren’t pound foolish.

6. We love our families and care about the society as we inherited it from gen-X and those before them and we are somewhat self-infatuated narcissists too as that’s what our next in line evolved to be.

7. We are neither pessimists and over-cautious like the ones born before us nor we are audacious optimists and outgoing like those who came after us. We are realists and are trying to deal with the realities of life in the best possible way.

In the nutshell, we “xennials” are neither old school nor we are new wave and this distinction makes us a very good mix of the two worlds. We are the last generation to have lived our old traditions and the first one to go ultramodern. We have read books and we have played video games. We have owned audio tapes and we have used iPods and Bluetooth earplugs. We can wear chic westerns and can carry traditional wear with equal elan. We relish our local foods as well as the global cuisines with identical fervor.

All this duality at times makes us confused and conflicted especially while dealing with our children who unlike us belong to a pure cohort, generation Z. Generation Z are those who are born between year 1996 to 2015. Most of xennials are parents of almost or already teenagers which is the generation Z. This generation was born with phones and tabs in their hands, have ambitious and indulging providers, are compulsive consumers of all kinds of trends and desire absolute freedom without questions asked.

Now the question is how our conflicted cohort is dealing with this overindulged, narcissistic gen-Z? This is our life’s current scenario:

1. We are liberals so we give them liberty but get worried because we are conservatives too.

2. We mostly earn well and are indulging. Hence, we have provided them with almost everything but we flinch when we see them not valuing what they have and feeling entitled to have more.

3. We use technology in every form, we are all over the social media but we want to limit their access when we see them overdoing.

4. We eat, drink, party hard as a modern way of life and when we are being replicated by the gen-Z we aren’t sure if it is right or wrong.

Everyday, we are facing one or other dilemmas in our life especially as parents of teenagers because we are a mixed generation. We can’t completely let them loose and we don’t know how to stop the inevitable without being the despised hypocrites.

My fellow xennials, what to do in the fix that we all find ourselves in, just because of the year we were born in?

In my opinion it is not a predicament but a blessing that we are where we are. Our generation has been given a perfect chance to evolve and become better than all our preceding generations. Our prerogative is not to choose to be either X or Y but to take the best of the two and let go of the worst of both. This generation has a unique chance to amalgamate the finest of two wonderful worlds and be the best breed ever.

The job may sound tedious but is doable. Our generation actually has a lot of de cluttering to do. We are almost everything that our parents were and all that they were not. We have all the inheritances as well as the new learned ways of life influenced by the two generations overlapping our lives. For a life less complicated and conflicted we need to emerge as a new entity. If you agree to what you have read so far, there are simple steps to follow.

1. Be mindful of all that you are. Separate your own inherent attributes and values and the ones you have merely adopted to fit in among others especially the newer generations. Ask yourself, “Am I really a very social person or I just hang out because everyone does?” “What purpose the use of technology is serving for me?” “What is my true calling?”

2. List down the characteristics and values that have served you best and are important for your well being especially as a parent. Retain those.

3. List down all those features, values and habits in your life that are detrimental to your peaceful existence but you are holding onto them for sentimental reasons or merely because you never realized that they were undesirable. Unlearn them or give them up.

4. After the unlearning and de littering if you feel the need to learn a new skill or value, learn it. Remember, we have to have the best of the two worlds.

This process will take time, conscious effort and especially a lot of self consciousness, but will make you free from lot of unnecessary baggage. If you aren’t able to manage it on your own, you can take a Life Coach’s help. Do it yourself or with someone’s help, just do it because you are overloaded, over-burnt and overwhelmed by the old and the new and the contradicted, unsorted and inconsistent you cannot guide the gen-Z.

My fellow xennials, it’s high time we do our self appraisal because it’s around 40 that midlife crisis strikes and we are almost there and some self discovery and decluttering will certainly help us find our balance and become the better people we were certainly born to be.

Will share my thoughts on how to deal with the gen-Z in my next blog. Till then help yourself.

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Fatherhood, A Casualty of Conventions

This blog is for those of us who miss and/or have missed their father’s active participation and/or attention in their lives. It is also for the fathers who think their children, who they work so hard for, are more closer to their mothers and do not share an as good rapport with them. This blog is also for the mothers who want their spouse and offsprings to share a bond better than it is right now. All those who don’t fit in any of these categories may stop reading here.

What are your best childhood memories? I am sure many of those memories would be those rare parent-child things you got to do with your father.

Why did I write rare? They were rare because our fathers were mostly either too busy working outside home and earning a living for the family or they were too tired after a day’s work to play with us or help us do our homework. We probably never even expected them to do those tasks because fathers, the men of the houses weren’t supposed to do those.

If they did have time and there was a moment when they were needed by the children, they were hardwired to not show us their feelings and emotions and if we did sit down to talk, it was mostly critical appraisal of our behavior or misdoings and moral preaching, that we got.

So those times were very few when we hugged, laughed, played, had simple funny times or experienced mushy moments with our personal superheroes.

When I think of my early years’ fondest recollections, I think of my father cooking an occasional delicacy for us, our once a year one day trip to visit the temples in our state (this was the only annual trip when he accompanied us), when he went with me for my admission in the University, when he once told me that it tormented him whenever he saw me crying, when he couldn’t eat the good homemade food thinking that I must be eating awful hostel food, when he occasionally spoiled me bad by indulging my reasonable and sometimes unreasonable wishes.

These memorable instances were very scarce and sparse, when I got to feel my father’s love and affection for his favorite offspring and how I wish that there very many many more such times to hold onto especially when heavens didn’t grant me many years with my favorite parent.

These countable on fingertips occasions are few not because your or my father wasn’t emotional, loved us less or didn’t want to be around us more than he did but because of the stereotypes that are attached with being a man and a father.

Here are some of those cliched conventions:

  • Men have to be strong and unemotional.
  • It’s a man’s job to earn for his family.
  • Men can’t cry or have a sentimental meltdown.
  • It isn’t a man’s job to do household chores.
  • Fathers have to be strict and discipline their children.
  • Fathers only have to provide comforts and materials to their children.
  • Either they have to be critical of their progeny, else they become spoiled or spoil them with stuff at the end of a work day.
  • All else is a mother’s job.

Because of these stereotypes, fatherhood and its role in a child’s life hasn’t changed much with the changes in generations. In today’s times when women are better equipped to earn and are earning and hence sharing or are capable of sharing the bread earning responsibility, when there are just one or two children and enough opportunities to play, travel, bond together, fathers are still shy of expressing love, spending quality time with the young ones and being more supportive and less critical.

It is an established fact that children benefit from quality presence and active involvement of their fathers in their day to day lives. Children who have involved fathers do well academically, have lesser behavior issues, are not delinquents, are physically fitter, are emotionally more stable, are less prone to anxiety and depression in their adulthood.

But more than the children, the fathers will gain from the increased camaraderie.

Fathers are as human and sentimental and sometimes even more than their female counterparts. The more involved father gets a much needed emotional outlet which can be the best medicine and de stressor for him.

Ever wondered why men are more prone to heart attacks, hypertension and depression. There are high chances that an involved father who doesn’t keep himself bottled up will be spared from these deadly ailments.

Fathers too need love and being involved gets them their share of love from their young ones, the love which they can never earn with the money they make but only with the time they spend with the kids.

The counsel, advice and guidance is more naturally accepted by the growing up adolescents when fathers have been involved from the very early years. In the opposite cases the teenagers mostly find their father’s new interest in their youthful lives intrusive and annoying. In such cases the youngsters don’t listen to their best guides and the poor fathers feel unwanted and isolated.

So what should the superheroes sans capes do? It’s very simple.

  • Break some stereotypes. Do a fresh appraisal of your own childhood and see what your own father could do more or differently.
  • Feel entitled to the love and companionship of the tiny or now not so tiny bundles of joys and earn it with more quality time spending.
  • Make time to attend all their meets, activities, drive them to their classes as often as you can, cook for and with them, find your common passions and pursue them together. Have some pure father child rituals and times.
  • Give some break to your alpha male and let out your beta father and spouse.
  • Be more expressive of your love and emotions. Let your child know how much he/she means to you.
  • Be an authoritative parent who empathizes, communicates and disciplines only when required and not an authoritarian parent who only demands obedience and discipline
  • Treat your wife as an ally in the upbringing of your child. Seek her help, ask for inputs and feedback and make amends. Stop showing each other down. You are not competition, you are collaborators when it comes to rearing the lives you created.
  • Relish the newfound role.

Parenting is God’s way of giving us another chance to relive and relive well. Fatherhood can be as rewarding and rejoicing as is motherhood. It’s high time when some role reversals happened, for everyone’s sake. Fathers need to shed some command and control to gain more space and stature in the young lives and hearts. Remember, the hands-on fathers are the happiest fathers and happier fathers are better than wealthier fathers.