Perfection and Self Doubt

This a repost of the article published on linkedIn by Ash Srivastava
I have thought about writing on LinkedIn for some time. I kept going from one idea to another until I could think of something smart or genius or perfect, but I could not think about anything :)
One of my other challenge was that I wanted to have the "PERFECT first post", like a Disney blockbuster which has all the right ingredients and perfect story telling. I was waiting for an inspiration which will somehow make the perfect first post on LinkedIn, maybe some sort of celebrity endorsement of my unknown stature in the world of LinkedIn which will launch me into stardom and make me into a star (secretly wishing that people will line up to take selfies with the "guy with the PERFECT first post" lol).
I was walking by the CIBC HQ last week and I saw Victor Dodig(CEO of CIBC - for those who do not know, he love's selfies). I walked up to him and asked, "Victor, you mind if we took a selfie with you?". It all went smoothly and you can see the picture above. After I took the selfie, I thanked him and started walking to my office but my mind was racing from one thought to another. It went something like, "I have just got a selfie with one of the top financial leaders in Canada and maybe I can now go and write my perfect first post(hopefully be known as 'The guy with the PERFECT first post' then I just need to wait for 10000 likes and 100s of comments lol). 

Are You Angry?

Last week someone showed me a finger while I was driving. The person was trying to make a right turn and I happen to be coming in that lane. Clearly I was not doing anything wrong but my fellow human was really upset. His reaction made me angry(automatically) and also curious as to why am I getting angry at angry people? I got better things to do but the almost instant brain response to threat was anger. A complicated threat (it is unknown to my primitive brain as no wild animal was attacking me) made by a hand gesture which was learnt as a theory by my modern brain to be perceived as an attack on ego.

Anger is a is nothing more than a defense mechanism created to hurt others but, in the end, it only hurts one person: Myself.

The Neurological Imperative: Conserve EnergyThrough the process of habituation, a perception of ego vulnerability, repeated over time, consolidates into a presumption of vulnerability, which requires the continual protection of anger. Also by virtue of habituation, the repeated experience of anger in defense of the ego reinforces its sense of vulnerability. The more you experience anger, the more anger you need to experience.
InflationIn addition to needing more and more protection from threat, the angry person attempts to reduce the fear and sense of inadequacy (shame) that go with a vulnerable ego, through a process of inflation. An inflated ego is one whose value depends on downward comparison to the value and rights of others - I'm not equal, I'm better! In addition to temporarily making the ego feel less vulnerable, inflation justifies the motivations of anger to prevail and dominate. It also creates a sense of entitlement - I deserve special regard, treatment, or resources - that is certain to cause negative reactions in others and require a response of still more defensive anger. As if that weren't bad enough, inflation guarantees cognitive dissonance whenever reality smacks against the overestimation of intelligence, talents, looks, shoes, or socks - whatever is used to inflate the ego.

Thinking Overload - Let Go !

Do you have space in the mind?

Make space.

Let go - this is the week of letting go. Let go of expectations, desires, obsessions, anger, mindlessness, exhaustion. BE and let go of all these habits which fight back with you - trust in the power of highest potential and let all these go to that power. Trust that whatever will manifest after letting go will be the gift.

OM LAGHU BHAVAM is sanskrit for I am lightness itself. Think about it and focus on your breathing. Let go !

As you breath you will make space inside your mind and body. Pay attention to it and let wrap you in silence and peace in the vast empty space of unconditional love and acceptance.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
–Lao Tzu

Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.
—Oprah Winfrey

Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.

You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it. Admit your ‘weaknesses’ and watch them morph into your greatest strengths. – Neale Donald Walsch

Mindfulness: Simple is beautiful

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. 

I am open to receiving peace in this moment; in the seeking and finding I am open to be receiving. I let go of resistance and surrender to this moment of now. I slow down, give up my past and future. I am ready to be in the moment ready for whatever happens. 

“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” ~Eckhart Tolle

“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are.” ~Allan Lokos

”Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“Everything is created twice, first in the mind and then in reality.” ~Robin S. Sharma

“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” ~Victoria Moran

“Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most.” ~Buddha

“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” ~Rabbi Harold Kushner

 “There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have…. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss.” ~Anthony de Mello
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

“By breaking down our sense of self-importance, all we lose is a parasite that has long infected our minds. What we gain in return is freedom, openness of mind, spontaneity, simplicity, altruism: all qualities inherent in happiness.” ~Matthieu Ricard

The Hall of One Thousand Mirrors

Source: Om Swami

A certain Shaolin temple in China has a unique hall. It’s known as the hall of a thousand mirrors, for its walls and roof are studded with one thousand mirrors. Many monks train there perfecting their moves with extraordinary precision as they see themselves from a thousand angles. One day it so happened that a dog managed to sneak in.

Seeing that one thousand dogs had surrounded him, he felt insecure and threatened. He bared his teeth, growled and barked to scare the other dogs away. Naturally, one thousand dogs growled back at him and barked. Not to be outdone, he charged at them furiously. One thousand charged back at him. Breaking some mirrors and getting hurt in the process, the dog soon ran out of energy to fight other dogs and died a bloody death.

The monks were appalled to see a dead dog and the shattered mirrors when they came a few hours later. They cleaned and repaired the hall. A few days passed and another dog, a small puppy, found its way in the hall. Exactly like the dog before him, he saw one thousand puppies around him. Overcome with joy, he wagged his tail. One thousand wagged theirs. Having found a thousand friends, the puppy somersaulted. One thousand cute puppies reciprocated in kind.

Every time he moved one step towards any of them, the pup in the mirror moved two steps towards him. The little puppy looked at them lovingly out of his soft eyes and every single one looked back at him with just as much love.

Our world is not too dissimilar from the hall of a thousand mirrors. You growl and a thousand will growl back at you. You smile and a thousand will smile back at you. You know why? Because reciprocating is easier than initiating.

Let me say it again: reciprocating is easier than initiating.
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Initiating a new friendship, making a new move, requires courage. Many people are so weary of life, and battered by it, that they no longer have the courage (or the will) to repair, rejuvenate or restore their relationships. They couldn’t be bothered, they feel. Often though, beneath the I-couldn’t-care-less-either feeling are the fears of rejection and getting hurt again. As a result, people live through broken relationships and fractured friendships for years, sometimes till their last breath.

Those who are truly strong are not afraid of seeking and granting forgiveness. Truth be told, granting forgiveness is not as hard as seeking it. As much awaited rain quenches the thirst of a parched land helping countless seeds sprout, forgiveness is the gentle drizzle that renews a relationship. No real feelings of love can sprout and blossom in the absence of forgiveness.

Each one of us is standing in our own hall of a thousand mirrors and it’s up to us whether we wish to smile or frown. Either way, the return is a whopping 1000 percent. Our hall is our world. It is our own reflection.

Other than making a New Year’s resolution, how about starting your year by both seeking and granting forgiveness? Maybe someone wronged you and even tried to apologize but you were too hurt to forgive at the time. How about sending them a note now, conveying that you forgive him/her? Think again before you reject the idea. And what about seeking forgiveness? You might have hurt someone too at some point in time. How about writing a heartfelt apology (and absolutely meaning every word of it) and sending it to them with the expectation that he or she may never even respond? And it’s okay if they don’t respond. Because seeking forgiveness is owning up to your act and redeeming yourself by accepting your mistake with grace, independently of the other’s response.

True forgiveness can only be granted by the one we have hurt. The victim can’t be substituted. A rabbi, pastor, saint or a prophet can’t forgive you for the grief you have given to someone else. If the victim is no longer in your life nor contactable however, you could opt for a confession in that case. Or, still better is if you could perhaps find it in your heart to grant forgiveness to someone else who let you down.

Forgive if you couldn’t be forgiven.

Taking his friend and his family along, Mulla Nasrudin went to the local amusement park. Foregoing all the other rides, Mulla hopped on the merry-go-round and kept riding it over and over again. Whenever the ride stopped, Mulla would get off dizzily, drink a glass of water and get back on. This went on for a good one hour.
“Wow, Mulla! I never knew you loved the merry-go-round so much,” said his friend.
“Love? I absolutely hate it!” Mulla replied. “I’m feeling sick and could throw up any moment.”
“Then why are you riding it?” his friend asked.
“The owner of this swing owes me 50 dollars, and the only way I will ever collect it from him is to take it out in trade.”

When we choose to settle a score, more often than not, all we are doing is punishing ourselves like Mulla on the merry-go-round. If the other person refuses to admit their offense, there’s very little you can do to make them realize. Only with time, they may or may not understand it. Nevertheless, we should try our utmost to not stoop to their level. Even if you don’t convey it to them (to make a point or for whatever reason), at least try and forgive it in your heart.

When you forgive others, Nature forgives you for your misdeeds. Especially for those acts where forgiveness by a human being is not possible. With a lighter heart, you forge meaningful relationships.

Your life is only as beautiful as the depth of your relationships. That is, your relationship with yourself and others.

Even when we frown at others, we automatically first frown at ourselves. See yourself in the mirror, if you don’t believe me. And, when we love someone, we naturally love ourselves first. It holds true for all emotions including forgiveness.

Wear a gentle smile, keep a warm heart so that when you step inside the hall of one thousand mirrors, you baffle yourself with your own glory.


Emotions: How to Find Deeper Fulfillment

By: Deepak Chopra M.D. and Rudolph E. Tanzi Ph.D.

I recently received a copy of this book and really enjoyed reading it. 

Emotions are a vast subject, but there's one statement that
holds true for everyone. The most desirable emotional state is happiness. Even though happiness is a mental state, the body is deeply affected by our moods. Chemical messages tell every cell how you feel. In its own way a cell can be happy or sad, agitated or content, joyous or despairing. The super genome amply confirms this fact. If your stomach has ever tightened from fear, the "gut
brain" is eavesdropping on your emotion, and when depression afflicts several generations in a family, epigenetic marks may be playing a key role. Most polls find that around 80 percent of people describe themselves as happy, and yet other research indicated that at best around 30 percent of people are actually thriving, while rates of depression, anxiety, and stress continue to

It is highly unlikely that a "happiness gene" will ever be discovered. As discussed in the new
book, SuperGenes. The new genetics tells us that in complex diseases like cancer hundreds of separate genetic mutations are likely involved. Emotions are much more complex than any disease. But we don't need to discover the happiness gene. Instead, we should give as much positive input to the super genome as possible, trusting it to produce positive output. Science may take decades to
correlate the complex gene activity that produces happiness; in the meantime, the super genome connects all the input that life brings us. 

Let's contrast the kind of input that promotes beneficial gene activity with the kind that creates damage. Both lists contain items you are quite familiar with by now, but it's good to see everything gathered together. 

Positive Input to the Super Genome

12 things that reinforce happiness

  • Meditation
  • Love and affection
  • Satisfying work
  • Creative outlets
  • Hobbies
  • Success
  • Being appreciated
  • Being of service
  • Healthy food,
  • water, and air
  • Setting long-range goals
  • Physical fitness
  • Regular routine
  • free of stress

Why “To-Do” Lists Don’t Work, and How to Change That

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides "I love you" is "I don't have time". Everyone suggests working from a to do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let's say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a "to-do" list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

"To-do" lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. The same with "to-do" lists—you can put one together, but if you don't do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Most people find that general to do lists don't work because:
- They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do
- They don't know how to prioritize the items on list
- They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it
- There's a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks, etc

A Step-by-Step Process to Teach Yourself Anything (in a Fraction of the Time)

The following article is from Scott H Young. I have been following his website for a few years now and this is my favorite article.

Have you ever wanted to learn something, but weren't sure where to start? Maybe you want to learn a language, programming or business. Maybe you want the confidence to tackle supposedly "hard" subjects like math, finance or physics. Today I'm going to show you how.

Scott used this in MIT
I'm going to describe the process I've used to condense a lot of learning into a short period of time. This is the same process I used to learn MIT's 4-year computer science curriculum in twelve months, teach myself languages, business and intellectual subjects like physics and psychology.
This article is going to be a bit longer (~3500 words), so you may want to bookmark it for later.
I'm going to focus on the strategy for learning, meaning how you choose to break down a nebulous goal like "learn to speak French" or "understand personal finance" into something concrete and actionable. As much as possible, I'll try to provide links to specific low-level tactics I use, such as the Feynman technique, visual mnemonics or active recall as well.
This strategy is just one possibility. If you've found success with another, by all means, go ahead! I only want to share the method I've been honing for years across a variety of different subjects.

The Steps in 2-Minutes
If you're short on reading time, I'll summarize the steps for you:
  1. Take your learning goal, and craft it into a compelling, obsession-worthy mission.
  2. Find material to learn from, structure it into a flexible curriculum.
  3. Define feedback mechanisms to constantly direct your future learning efforts and ensure high-intensity, active recall.
  4. Test and enforce a schedule that is sustainable over the entire lifetime of the project.
  5. Develop a long-term retention strategy (formal or informal).

How to Overcome Disappointment

Feeling Disappointed

Disappointment is an experience of feeling let down and somewhat defeated. You held high expectations that something would work out your way, but unfortunately things didn't turn out as expected. You are now holding onto an unsatisfactory outcome and finding it difficult to deal with your unfulfilled promises and expectations.
Feeling disappointed in the short-term can actually be quite advantageous. However, wallowing in disappointment can keep you feeling stuck, can lead to doubt, despair, depression, despondency and discouragement in the long-term. This is especially true when you've experienced a series of disappointments over a short period of time. These disappointments are weighing heavily on your shoulders. As a result you get overrun by negative thoughts and other emotions. In fact, you might even catch yourself saying:
  • I'm just not good enough…
  • Nothing ever works out…
  • This always happens to me…
It's very easy to get caught up in this cycle and continuously get down on yourself. However, this is never helpful, and will keep you from seeing disappointment for what it really is: A powerful emotion that will help you clarify your personal expectations and pave the way forward towards the attainment of your goals.

Overcoming Disappointment

Feeling disappointed is beneficial in many different ways. In fact, it's just like any other painful emotion you experience. All emotions are simply guiding posts that alert you to what is happening in your external environment, while helping you make appropriate adjustments and decisions to improve your situation.
It's not difficult to turn a little disappointment in your favor to help improve your circumstances. Here is a five step process you can use to do exactly that:

Step One

Your first step is to acknowledge your personal feelings about the situation and circumstances. If you're disappointed, then admit it openly and honestly. Hiding your disappointment will just prevent you from moving forward. Ask yourself:

33 Ways To Be Happier

Humans have remarkable control over their own happiness. In her book, "The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want," psychology professor Sonja Lyubomirsky says a person's happiness is 50% due to genetics, 10% due to circumstances, and the remaining 40% is "within our power to change." Happiness is different for each person, which is why we've compiled dozens of different methods to help you find your inner sunshine.

Draw pictures of unhealthy food.

Studies have shown that eating high-calorie comfort foods can make your happier. The downside is this will also make you fat. As an alternative, a study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science in May 2013 found that simply drawing pictures of foods high in fat, like cupcakes or pizza, and foods that taste sweet, like strawberries, can also boost your mood. The positive reactions were independent of subjects' weight and hunger level.
"These results extend a growing body of biobehavioral research on the positive impact of food images on mood by showing that this impact can be applied to enhance mood when expressing food images through art," the researchers concluded.

Be both an optimist and a realist.

People who have the positive attitude of optimists paired with the rational outlook of realists tend to be more successful and happy, according to psychology researcher Sophia Chou.
That's because so-called "realistic optimists" have the perfect blend of personality types to succeed. Unlike idealists, they are willing to face challenging situations with a clear view of reality, but will use creativity and a positive outlook to try to work their way out of the problem.

Get your hands dirty.

Breathing in the smell of dirt may lift your spirits, according to a study which found that a bacteria commonly found in soil produces effects similar to antidepressant drugs.
The harmless bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, stimulated the release of serotonin in the brain after it was injected into mice. Having low levels of serotonin is what causes depression in people.
In a human test, cancer patients reported increases in their quality of life when they were treated with the bacteria.
"The findings "leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt," lead author Chris Lowry of the University of Bristol in England said in a statement.

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