Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

A Healthy Self-Image: Keep it Simple

In the olden times, the human race was hardworking, patient and tolerant. Whenever and wherever, whatever they did, they allowed the activity to run its full natural course, without looking for shortcuts. They did not rush through things hastily. They did not seem to be eager for results. The results came automatically. They were usually positive— an outcome of seemingly lengthy, natural processes. Those processes look cumbersome in today’s times, but they were not perceived to be so by those people. They were satisfied with their working. They enjoyed life as it was. It was fulfilling enough for them.

In the present ‘progressive’ world, that sort of lifestyle is obsolete and redundant. Life is fast these days. Technology has made us automated and daily routines have much more to offer. Outcomes are a focus. ‘Efficiency’ seems to be a key requirement.  We feel that we do not need to take weeks or months to do what can be done in a few days. The quality does not seem to be a big consideration.  Quantity and speed are the things that count the most. We are full of ideas and plans, and try to materialize them through modern means at the fastest speed. Technology has made it seem like everything is possible, rational and logical. Sometimes we do not know whether we have actually gained or lost on our way to ‘fulfilment’, but nevertheless, we do not question the process.

A growing wish these days, especially among youth, is to look attractive. The readymade answer to this wish initially comes in the form of clothing, cosmetics, and accessories, to name a few. People try to look impressive by showing off the things they have, for instance, fancy-looking electronic devices.

After trying these things, they often realize that something is still missing. They feel their goal of impressing others has not been fully achieved. So, they start focussing on their bodies. Boys decide to show off some muscles and the girls concentrate on losing weight to look prettier. Some youth even resort to artificial, chemical means of achieving this. However, those who consider themselves more aware and health-conscious opt for exercising. Lots of gymnasiums and health centres have cropped up as a result of an increasing trend to ‘look fit’.These centres have grown like mushrooms within the last ten years.

The tendency of the individuals going to these gyms is, as described earlier, to get the maximum results in a minimum amount of time. They are left with no other option but to exert themselves more than what is necessary to be healthy. If they come across someone who appears to be more attractive than they are, they push themselves further than what their capacity allows.

Unfortunately, they do this in the name of inspiration, encouragement and motivation. It is good to be influenced by someone or something in a positive way, but at the same time, it is also important to remember one’s own strengths, limitations and uniqueness. Being inspired is not the same thing as ‘comparing’. The deeprooted tendency of comparison in our society leads to the desire to be ‘like others’ or even ‘better than others’.

The gyms continue to promote the mentality of fast results through weighing machines and measuring tapes. Expected result-lists and trainers are available, promoting the spirit of achieving goals fast. Most of us who adopt this practice do not even care that we are experimenting with our bodies and are putting ourselves in vulnerable situations. Each and every one of us has different physical capabilities and limitations. Comparison with others and using the same criteria for everyone is not logical.

The over-exertion during workouts usually does more harm than good. Most people I know— including myself— have been  either to a physiotherapist or to an orthopaedic doctor at least once in their lifetime due to gym-related injuries — sprains, tendonitis, ligament ruptures, tennis elbow, hernia and many more. The desire for fast results leads to problems that can leave a person severely uncomfortable for a long period of time, and sometimes even permanently.

Around eight years back, I went to visit and stay at an aashram for an isolated spiritual retreat. I was slightly overweight those days and one of my goals during my two-month stay at that place was to lose some weight. On reaching there, the first question I asked the inmates was whether there was any type of fitness centre in the aashram. With a smile, they shook their heads and told me that the use of gyms was restricted, just like the use of televisions, newspapers, cellphones and even mirrors. I was disappointed at first, but then I decided to do what the others did— take a long walk in the morning, a run in the evening, some light exercises twice a day, food that had been carefully selected and healthily prepared, a relaxed and a focussed mind. I left my goals and plans aside and stuck to the routine dedicatedly, as naturally as possible.

After two months, when I returned home, my family members could not believe my transformation. Unkowingly, I had achieved my goal. Everyone I met wanted to know the magic behind losing the extra weight and looking well-nourished and refreshed. The mirror revealed my new look to me, and I realized that my overall self-image had taken a healthy bend. I understood then that a normal, healthy lifestyle is the answer to most of our plans and wishes. Using modern-day ‘efficient’ means, we mar the fulfilment of those wishes. We feel that we need to take control of every situation, forgetting that nature’s control is the most supreme. Following the natural course, albeit with dedication, one can live a better life without tiring or hurting oneself. I, for instance, not only just looked good, but I also felt good. My purpose was not to show off to others that I had outdone them and therefore my health-results were stress-free.

As far as fitness goes, I believe it is important to remember that the purpose is to be disease-free, strong and positive— both physically and mentally. Having a calm disposition is as important as having a healthy body. Both these things reside in a healthy lifestyle. A life that is lived for speed and outcomes does not lead to fulfilment. We feel that this ‘haste’ is working for others, and so we decide to join their bandwagon, not realizing that a life lived with a simple approach brings the best results. Our self-image is just one of the things that thrives well on this simplicity.

— Prashant Shori


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Let’s Walk Together

Come my dear, let’s take a walk

Don’t ask ‘where’, don’t ask ‘why’

For all we need is a walk—

By ourselves, hand-in-hand

Saying adieu to the cares of the world.

Come my dear, lest it is too late

To enjoy ‘togetherness’

To consider and celebrate our blessings,

For the fountain of youth will drain one day

Leaving behind scarred memories.

Come my dear, and tell me not

That you have no time

For soon enough, there really will be none.

Time is a tough master

It flies fast and no one can keep up.

Come my dear, let’s walk together

By the riverside, on the street,

Questions of ‘where’ and ‘why’ don’t matter

As long as we are ‘together’.

The rest can all wait for some time.

Let’s sip some joy from the cup of life

Come my dear, let’s walk together,

And on this journey, grow together!

— Nivedita Shori

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Learn to ‘Earn’

The early years of life are for studying and learning. It is a student life. After that it is usually time to apply all that learning for earning— for a livelihood to live a reasonable life. This way, the sole aim of learning becomes confined to earning and earning alone.

Seeing this attitude, I sometimes wonder: Isn’t learning in itself a form of ‘earning’? The knowledge, experience and wisdom that one gathers through learning is something that has been acquired forever and that will in fact, be one’s permanent asset.

‘Earning’ in the literal sense means cash flow. It helps us lead our lives comfortably. But sometimes we take it too far. We forget there are other things to earn too. We need to ‘earn’ respect, reputation, trust and knowledge. These are some of the things that learning teaches us. All the earned cash might be reduced to nothing without a moment’s notice. And that is the time when all the ‘other’ earning that was collected through learning will help one rise over and above the trying times.

 Never cease to learn even if it doesn’t give you an opportunity to enhance your earning in the material sense of the word. After all, we don’t live to earn, we earn to live!

~ Nivedita Shori

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Make Every Day Count

There are many books on cooking these days which give us different kinds of recipes. A variety of dishes we make have many ingredients each with its own specific importance and value. The proportion and quality of each ingredient or component has full potential to make or mar the taste of the dish.

Similar is the case of life. Life is constituted of years, months, weeks and days. We live a small life each and every day and all these small lives – the ingredients – make up our whole life, which is the final product, the dish. To make the dish perfect one should focus on each and every day’s activities. Similar to the ingredients of a dish, each and every day has the potential to make our life a success or a failure.

There are many books, theories and literature available these days on how to make our life a success. The material available is so abundant that even if one skimmed through it hastily, a lifetime would be insufficient.  All such material makes it rather hard for us to select what we need.  In fact, it often leaves us confused.

A long time ago, in a conversation with my father, I found agreat strategy to improve the quality of each and every day. I would like to share it with you. My father and I were once talking on the phone. When we were about to end the call, my father put forth a question. 

He asked, “What do people worship?” The question sounded quite simple and when I was about to answer, he said, “Don’t rush. I want you to think for a day. We will talk tomorrow and I would like to hear what you have to say about this.”
He added, “And by the way, here’s a hint – the answer has nothing to do with beliefs and religion.”

As I pondered over the question, I realized that his hint had made it harder, instead of making it easier.

The next day, I still had no idea of what he was looking for. I called him and requested him to shed light on the question. He told me that almost all of us worship ‘tomorrow’. “My son, we are worshippers of ‘tomorrow’”, he said.

We all have strategies to make our days and our life better, but unfortunately our plan is to apply those strategies starting ‘tomorrow’!

“I will stop eating unhealthy food from tomorrow”;

“I will start regulating my sleep hours from tomorrow”;

“I will start spending more time with my children from tomorrow” and so on.

My father further explained that each and every day we postpone some of our important tasks to the next day and when the next day comes, we again take the pledge to do it ‘tomorrow’. That is how we keep on worshipping ‘tomorrow’ and by doing that we lose several opportunities to grow and excel in life. All the people who made a mark on this earth were the ones who worshipped the present – the worshippers of ‘today’.

He said, “I suggest you make a poster that says in huge letters, “I do not worship tomorrow” and put it in front of your bed. That way, it will be the first thing which you will see when you get up every morning.”

 We cannot do justice with the day if we do not complete the work allotted for the day.  Everything that needs to be accomplished in one day should be carried out without procrastination, avoiding self-deception by making excuses and false promises to ourselves.

We cannot enhance the quality of the day without putting our genuine effort. Each single day is an important ingredient of our life. The quality of the ingredient directly affects the quality of the product – life, in this case! A day wasted or lived in a hollow, meaningless way is like one of the ingredients of the dish being missing or becoming spoilt and unusable. To make the dish full of taste, we need to ensure the presence of good-quality ingredients – our days, weeks, months or years. If we do not spend each day the way it should be spent – whole-heartedly, sincerely and purposefully – then our life will also be one big void, full of emptiness. We will not be able to get what we aspire from our life, just because we failed to make every day count.                                                      

~ Prashant Shori

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A major issue affecting household harmony these days is ego-clash. The word ‘Ego’ has started becoming more and more common. The dictionary defines it as “the ‘I’ or self of any person”. A family is not about ‘I’ however. It is about ‘us’. With people’s lifestyles becoming more self-centred, this concept of togetherness gets shaken. This leads to a lot of power struggles – evident or hidden.

We often hear about disagreements between parents and children, between couples or between siblings due to ego. The clash begins with any one member not accepting the thoughts, opinions or sometimes even the dignity of another member.

People say that we don’t get along because our egos come in the way. It has to be remembered that ego is a developed practice. It is not something that just happens! It is not inherited; nor is it a birth defect. Ego gets cultivated unconsciously over a period of time. It is a gradual process but once developed it becomes a habit hard to shake off.

Like all habits, an unhealthy dominant ego also starts with attitude. If one is conscious of the problem when it occurs and controls one’s thoughts through rational, spiritual and mindful thinking, the battle is won even before being declared. But more often than not, we let our unhealthy thoughts govern our behaviour. We unmindfully nurture and cultivate them to the extent that they start creating havoc for us.

A lot of times, ego surfaces when we wish that the other person should not ‘win’. Even casual conversations become arguments and life a battlefield. For an egoistic person everything is an attack on his self esteem. For him it becomes hard to nod in agreement and he starts leading a pretentious life. A lot of relationships are spoiled, friendships are lost, family ties are severed. Once egoism becomes a habit, it is hard to go back. Damage continues. Emotions or sensitivities hold no place in life. Selfishness ensues!

The following could be some symptoms of egoism and some pointers on what you can do about it :

  • A family member proposes something and you find yourself thinking, “If we do this, people will consider him or her to be wiser than me.” Time to reflect! A family is where every one appreciates each other’s wisdom and qualities.
  • A friend points out a flaw in you, and you get angry and think, “So he considers himself superior?” Time to reflect! Just focus on what you have been told and see if it is worth considering. Don’t jump into an argument right away.
  • A child expresses his thoughts about something and you start to correct him instantly. Time to reflect! Think about the little person’s perspective. You might be more experienced but that does not give you the right to snub someone. Instead you should lovingly discuss the issue.
  • Someone disagrees with you and your temper flares up and your voice becomes louder. Time to reflect! You do not have the right to control others’ decisions and thoughts. Each and every individual has the right and independence to express how and what he feels.
  • You get the impression that every one is targeting and questioning you and your beliefs. Time to reflect! You might be under the impression that you are being attacked even when the speaker is talking very generally. This is a characteristic of a developing ego.

Families perform the role of support networks for all members. Egos become a big problem in the fulfilment of this role. With egoism everyone starts to think only about himself. It becomes a barrier to a happy life. It is a habit that should not be nurtured in oneself and not be encouraged in the family. We need to be aware of our egoistic attitude and have the willingness to negate it with positive vibrations. Healthy family interactions begin with healthy attitudes.

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