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.

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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.

Lives Matter

Whenever a famous celebrity or a well known personality takes the most drastic and tragic step and commits suicide, people wake up to the aotherwise shunned subject and start wondering that why someone so successful and famous had to resort to this extreme action. If you too are wondering, “Why does someone take his own (otherwise much loved) life?”, then read till the end.

When someone loses all hope, gets engulfed in sorrow and feels worthless and miserable for bit longer than his endurance and is not snapped out of the feeling by someone or something, suicide happens.

“I have always believed that suicide is an accident because it is sudden and mostly a momentary decision.”

If someone is lucky, the moment of agony may pass and life may resume and eventually become better. Those who aren’t lucky on that day and time may not be pulled out of the trance at the exact moment and hell happens.

Many of us may have had that fleeting feeling at some point of time but either an internal voice or an external help might have helped the moment pass and here we are, well and alive.

“What is unfortunate, is not falling in the abyss of gloom at occasions, but not being pulled out before sense prevails.”

What should anyone do at such times of hopelessness when life feels like an unbearable pain and the desire to free self from the pain starts overpowering all love for life and logic?

If you are someone or know someone who gets such self-harming thoughts at times, do or tell the person to do the following.

  • If ever that feeling raises its ugly head, immediately get in touch with someone and talk your heart out. If one person isn’t available try contacting another person but reach out immediately.
  • Even if all is well these days still confide in to your closest people that you experience such thoughts on your rough days. It is absolutely okay to confess and ask someone to look out for signs and also to look out for you.
  • Take professional help to learn how to deal with the lows of life. This is the permanent solution. You need to learn to be stronger mentally and emotionally. There are experts who can understand your psyche and transform you into someone who will never think of ending his precious life.

Here I will share my thoughts on what is the biggest cause of such emotional weakness that leads to our emotional breakdown. The foremost reason for our depressed state of mind is dependence.

  • Dependence on people for love, attention, affection, support, companionship, etc.
  • Dependence on materials to feel accomplished and successful.
  • Dependence on success for feeling worthy.
  • Dependence on substance and toxins to feel good or happy.
  • Dependence on social approvals to feel good about self.

People who seek happiness, sense of worth, love, companionship, support from external sources are the weakest emotionally. It’s like others have the switch to your happiness and lack of it and what if these others are unavailable or insensitive to the person’s needs or rather than helping, start tormenting. Then breakdown occurs.

The recent tragedy is most probably an example of someone seeking love and support from a fraternity that is most competitive and very selectively supportive. When the sought out acceptance did not come, depression took hold of the mind and in that one weak moment when the mind felt completely lost and no help was available, life got lost.

Now everyone is blaming the people for being insensitive, unaccepting, nepotistic, closed to outsiders and what all. These are not some special species of self-centered snobs. In reality such people are everywhere. In schools, colleges, workplaces, offices, social circles, family groups, everywhere. Groupings happen everywhere and there are some lowly, lonely souls who do not get included in those groups.

It is definitely an insensitive thing to do but it happens. In the name of common interests, backgrounds; common friends; old relations, familiarities; same social, economic status; eliteness; whatever, but people form groups. This elite gathering then even indulge in mocking, bullying, ridiculing the lesser ones.

Unfortunately those on the sidelines seek approval from the same groups. They seek love and acceptance from their haters. Why? Because sadly they are usually the idols. It’s them that everyone wants to become. The unaccepting, uncaring, self indulging, mocking, jeering, shallow and hollow yet classy, successful, suave, good-looking people are the superstars everyone is chasing and intends to become. So their approval and acceptance matters.

Everyone wants to be a part of some such group and hence is running the race. Either one gets into the league or doesn’t. Those who gain the elite entry lose one’s own good self in the process. Those who don’t lose all hope and sometimes life.

Why do we have to be someone else or a part of those who don’t love us for who we are? Why can’t people see and love their own qualities and be proud and not seek anyone’s validation of them? Rather than following others’ trends and footprints why don’t they create their own mark to be modeled by others like them? Why need the coveted entry to a classy club? Why not form your own less classy but a more mature, intellectual, down to earth group that doesn’t look down on people rather works for some higher purpose? Why not prefer being alone than chasing hollow illusions and dummy appearances?

Read it, reread it and think about it. We are here to love and live our precious lives. We are perfect the way we are and with what we have. Strive to do and be better if that pleases you but don’t lose yourself in the process. Find the love, hope and strength inside the depths of your own being. When you do that you will see that divinity has become your ally and is guiding you to your rightful place.

Let’s be more mindful of our lives and the lives around us because, black or white, classy or non-classy, lives matter.

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What Makes A Child Confident?

“I don’t think I can do this.”

“It is too difficult for me to try.”

Almost everyday I meet teenagers who are clueless about what they want to do with their lives. As a career counselor, when I suggest them various career options based on of their potential and inherent capabilities, rather than seeing their excitement on the prospects what I hear are their doubts and reservations. These apprehensions primarily stem out of their lack of self-confidence and self-worth.

Ever wondered why are our children and teenagers so full of self-doubt? Why does this generation of English speaking youngsters who are well groomed, sent to best schools and provided with extravagant lifestyles, lack in self-assurance when it comes to decision-making and acting upon the choices they make?

The key reason that our youth is engulfed in self-doubt and self-deprecation is their poor self-concept. Self-concept means one’s idea of self which gets constructed by the beliefs formed about self. Since the beginning of our life, whatever happens in our life, contributes to the building of our self-concept or self-image.

Some of the most critical yet overlooked contributors are:

1. Love and affection of parents.

When a small child is unconditionally loved and showered affection at by parents and other elders the innocent mind of the child doesn’t think, “My mother is so loving.” It rather thinks, “I must be very special. That’s why my mother/father loves me so much.” Think of it. ‘I am good or special’, is a self-concept that gets constructed by something as natural as a mother’s love.

On the opposite hand, when a child is often reprimanded or scolded by a parent, the immature mind doesn’t form a bad image of the parent but of self. “My mother doesn’t like me. I must not be good.” Thus, the self-loathing self-concept is formed.

2. Appreciation from parents and teachers.

Few positive words of acknowledgment on any small and big feats of a child can form the positive self-belief and the exact opposite happens when criticism is spewed on the young mind. In our society, negative appraisal is granted easily to the young ones as it is considered as a motivator. Parents think that if they tell a child that he can’t do something, he will be prompted to do it and prove himself.

Little do these parents know that their critical words are actually dispiriting the child by forming the child’s image in his mind as someone incapable of doing the job. And Why not? Those words are coming from the ‘know it all’ parents who are idolized by the unknowing children.

The opposite happens when an encouraging parent or teacher tells another child that he can do something. The simple words paint a picture of a competent self in the child’s impressionable mind. The child just acts his image and sometimes even an average child outdoes others.

Many a times parents are wary of bestowing praises on their progeny as they worry that accolades may make them arrogant. It is a myth. Appreciation doesn’t lead to arrogance. It rather forms a self image that the child wants to live up to.

3. Acceptance of the individual.

When a child is accepted for who he is, he gains confidence in self. On the other hand, comparison and discrimination are confidence killers. When a child is discriminated and given differential treatment because of her gender, color of skin, shape of body, height, intelligence, talents, performance, etc. the feeling of being less creeps in.

Every child is unique in his unique self and shall be treated equally and fairly. Give your child respect for who he is and see the leap his self-confidence will make. And also protect your child from any discrimination he might be getting from other sources. The world is still full of its prejudices and our children need to be proofed from it with our confidence in them.

3. Accomplishments of the child.

The biggest motivator in one’s life is one’s own achievements. Our previous accomplishments are the reference points for our self-confidence for our next endeavors. When a child does well in her tests, exams or other competitions, the self-concept of being competent gets formed automatically. The child faces the next competition with her positive self-image and performs well again and the positive image gets further reinforced and then the cycle continues.

The opposite happens when a child doesn’t perform well consecutively a few times and then another pattern of failure persists. It is thus vital that a child does well in something or anything. It can be academically, in sports or in any curricular or extracurricular activity.

They say, “nothing succeeds like success.” That means every success leads to the next success because every success creates a successful self-concept in the person’s mind.

The renowned psychologist Erik Erickson in his psychosocial development theory has called the age between six to twelve years as the stage when every child has a crisis or conflict of industry and inferiority in her mind. A hardworking or industrious child succeeds and forms a positive self attitude and the not so hardworking kind forms an inferior self image.

Thus, victory or failure becomes a natural self expectation and we in easy language call it self-confidence or lack of confidence.

So, how do we enhance the confidence in a child? It is clear by now.

  • Love your child. Shower your affections on him.
  • Say encouraging words to your child. Give genuine appreciation whenever you get a chance.
  • Help your child achieve. Tell him it is important to do well and make it happen together.
  • Celebrate the successes and the failures. Celebrate the efforts.
  • Never let your confidence in the child go low. Never give up hope in him.
  • Teach him perseverance.
  • Be a good role model yourself and share your stories.

A confident child is a dream of every parent and it is also your own creation. Your own small acts of love, kindness and empathy paint his best picture in your child’s mind. Be mindful of this and help his mind see him as a self-assured doer and capable of fulfilling his dreams.

Bond Over A Shared Passion.

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These days, we often hear parents complaining that their growing up children are mostly engrossed in their routines and they don’t spend much time together. Couples are struggling in relationships and the mother of the problem is not investing enough time in each other.

Reason is simple.

In this fast paced life, where everyone has a lot going on in their work spheres, lifestyle routines and busy social lives, spending quality time together for any two people is a dream.

People these days have so much to do for themselves apart from the usual day’s work. The fitness program to stay in good shape is important and so is staying updated with news from all over the world. Social networking is unavoidable and staying abreast on all Netflix series and shows is a new compulsion.

Novel interests of baking, painting, photography, YouTubing, Instagramming as well as old ones like reading and writing are contagious, so easily find place in our busy lives.

So in our busy lives, there is an office time, zen time, fun time, social time, and even the quintessential ‘me’ time but there is no ‘you and me’ time. That being so, relationships are withering and people especially life partners and parents who seek affection are feeling unloved and abandoned.

Today everyone has a lot of personal space with all the personal means like a personal income, phone, TV, room, car and circle of friends and hence there is no dependence or even need of bumping into each other.

But is it a lot of personal space or actually a huge, invisible boundary between the relationships, which could only exist and flourish, if there was some sort of dependence on one another?

The lack of time and over self-indulgence is causing deterioration of bonds between the closest ones. Hence, there is a need like never before to invent a new work-life balance equation, that has a place for the ignored dear ones in it.

There is an easy way to do it and that is to bond over one or more shared interests. Yes. There are too many interests and hobbies in everyone’s life so why not do some of the daily ‘to do list’ together. Don’t forsake the newfound passions or your life partner, just find out the common interests. If you are a parent, find some shared passions with your young ones.

So here goes the list. Read it and discover your common calling.

If you are a fitness freak, have joint work out sessions. If you both are cyclists, go out together on your favorite route, watch the stunning sunrise, challenge each other for a race and come home exhausted yet full of exuberance.

The creative ones can bond over the masterpieces or projects you can do together or help each other do better.

The culinary enthusiasts can bond over their favorite cuisines and occasionally cook a multi course menu and feed the gang or own clan and be applauded.

The nature lovers can grow and nourish plants and themselves, watch birds, go for nature walks and find solace in the greens in unison.

The readers can read together, exchange book reviews, tell tales, discuss plots and characters and engage in intellectual insights that this breed does have in abundance.

The dance lovers can boogie to the beats, perform a Zumba, salsa, Bhangra or whatever their heart desire.

The music lovers can have recitals, go to concerts, form own band, have karaoke evenings and if nothing listen to their favorite melodies and distress on the rug together.

The list is endless. Binge watch, have movie marathons, play domino or cards if that’s your calling, do anything but do it almost daily and do it together.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this list and could easily envision myself bonding with those who I call my family over our common obsessions. I am someone for whom my ‘me time’ has always been sacrosanct but so is the need to share my time and life with those who I call mine.

Life inside home in these times have proved that family is the new friends, our babies are our new buddies and spouse is the second self. So invest in them and insure your precious partnerships for life!!!

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