The other day a colleague asked me, “So what does freedom mean to you?” And as a habit I was about to rattle off the answer but practicing my new habit of mindfulness I decided to ponder on the question asked. I realized it was a very profound question that was loaded with so many permutations and combinations.
So what does freedom look like? As we celebrate the 70th year of Indian Independence it should be about breaking the chains of poverty and striding forward with the millions of Indians in a new direction filled with hope.
The spirit of Independence is not just about waving the Indian flag it is about looking at the values this country is based upon. It is to continue imbibing those values in our day-to-day life. It is about recalling the sacrifices made by our ancestors so that we can breathe in free air. It is about gratitude for all those who continue to safeguard our borders.
But more than anything else I was thinking celebrating the political freedom of the country is rooted in me being able to understand and engage in what I call as individual freedom which I believe is the most sacred of all. But we at an unconscious level imprison ourselves and let go of our own freedom. We do that in innumerable ways that include being negative, not standing tall on our hallowed ground, not taking responsibility of our life, by not being disciplined, by letting someone else dictate their terms on us. And despite knowing that it is detrimental to our lives we continue to do that because we lack awareness of how it impacts our life.
Freedom is being unaffected by exterior factors. As long as we depend on others for our needs and wants we will never be free. The above statement can be very well misunderstood. Freedom is when we do not wait for others to tell us to do work properly. Freedom is when we do not crave the accolades, but do our work to the fullest of one’s potential. The lesser the extent to which we depend on the external world, more will be our freedom.
Freedom is all about choice making. It is about knowing and acknowledging the choices I make. For choosing the right one we just need to answer the following questions: (The questions must be asked to oneself in the same order)
- Will it harm anyone else? If yes, stop right here.
- Will it harm me? If yes, stop right here.
- Is it wastage of any resource? If yes, stop right here.
If answers to the above questions are no, then we must carry on the activity; as I am sure it will surely be a beneficial action.
So for me, freedom is getting rid of ignorance. It is about accepting my shortcomings; not succumbing to them is freedom. Getting up every time I fall is freedom. Not honking my car horn is freedom. Giving way to a pedestrian is freedom. Not littering the road is freedom for a freedom is nothing but making choices. And choosing the right ones is FREEDOM.
HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY.
THE ME TOO CAMPAIGN
Hello everyone, how are you doing? This is Dr. Nalini Taneja from Aham I Am Enough Training Group. Today I thought to have a very important conversation with you all. I am sure you all have heard about the METOO CAMPAIGN. A campaign started by actress Alyssa Milano.
These two words have gone viral social media and are resonating with billions of people around the world who have faced any form of assault in their lives. Within the first twenty-four hours the hastag metoo had been used or 12 million times on Facebook alone. Tons and thousands of people are using this hashtag to express their solidarity towards an issue that has become a cancer in the society we live in. From celebrities and members of parliament, teachers to software engineers, students to mothers and fathers people are reminding us all, of the prevalence of sexual harassment and assault. Seeing the numbers, it is clear as how common this kind of behavior can be. Most accounts are personal and painful, some going back to childhood memories and some accounts of sexual harrassment at workplaces.
It can and does happen anywhere, to anyone.
Picture courtesy: CNN
Among us who have taken public transport in India we have horrifying stories to share and we would end of remaining silent because of fear. We are culturally taught to be silent. I am reminded of a friend who is highly educated and professionally qualified when she walked up to her mother and expressed to her what her maternal uncle was doing to her, the mother just said, “why are you creating such a hue and cry this happens a lot. You are not the only one going through it.” I myself did not talk about the time when it happened to me when the son of my father’s best friend assaulted me and I did not speak about it to anyone as he had threatened me and I was only eight years old. As my friend colleague said we all have stories to share about it happening to us with people we trust – our family members, friends, uncles and relatives. And in the professional scenario our bosses and colleagues are doing it day in and day out. I recall one day at a dinner organized for all friends this topic came up and I mustered up enough courage to acknowledge that it happened to me multiple times what followed with that admission shocked and unnerved me completely. All eighteen of us admitted to having gone through similar experiences in their lives.
Picture courtesy: CNN
Another important issue I wanted to talk about is related to this. It is the issue of domestic violence. How many women face this on a day-to-day basis? Irrespective of your education, social status and qualifications women across the globe face it and the worst case is they do not speak about it. It is an everyday phenomenon happening in homes like yours and mine. There seems to be nothing unusual about it. Everyday experiences for thousands of women so common that they have accepted it and have learnt to live with it. They rarely talk about, share their experiences and never ever tell their stories. We post on social media we had breakfast, and went shopping but not my partner beat me today.
Is there no way out? Ofcourse there is. But the first step as shown in the movie Secret superstar is to let go of the fear. Stand up to the power that makes you, you. Have the confidence and the courage to stand tall on your feet.
Recently saw the movie Secret Superstar- first of congratulations to the entire team for making such a powerful movie. The way in the end the woman stands up to her husband and looks him in the eye clearly stating enough is enough is the kind of courage we all need and require. We need to have faith and confidence in our power and let no one trample over that under any circumstances. We need to teach our sons and daughters about sexual and domestic violence and what to do in case they face it.
WHAT TO DO?
1. If you are a teacher, a parent an older sibling teach the young ones about good touch and bad touch. It is not just with girls but also boys we all know what happened to young IIIrd standard boy recently. Children do not know it is our prime responsibility as adults and guardians to protect the young ones.
2. Do not take it lying down. Shout back at that person, hit him, report to the adults in the family or go to the nearest police station. It is unacceptable and have the confidence to stand up to it.
3. If you notice someone in the bus or the train being harassed create noise around it. A friend told me that other day a man was constantly staring at a young girl in on the train till the girl became visibly uncomfortable. She confronted him and blocked his view and blasted him for his ridiculous behaviour.
4. Let go of the fear. You are not doing anything wrong. You are being assaulted. We tolerate it as nobody speaks about it. Major change happens only when we heighten the level of awareness around it. Confront it and deal with it.
5. We by that I mean You and Me should make sure this does not go out of our minds and become yesterdays news. It should be a part of our everyday dialogue. We should talk about this to our colleagues, our house help, our friends and also strangers. We should write to media houses and seasoned journalists like Barkha Dutt, Arnab Goswami and many others among them should talk about it and create awareness about it.
The silence around it needs to be broken. It is violence against the very thing that makes human and it needs to be addressed. No one and nobody should have the right to invade upon what is yours. Violence of any kind whether it is sexual or domestic should not be tolerated. And this can only happen when we as individuals learn to respect ourselves and live the values of honouring our bodies.
For all those who have decided to speak about it I have nothing but utmost respect and appreciation. A round of huge applause who are sharing their stories and breaking the silence around these monstrous acts that violate everything that makes us human. All these pioneers need to give themselves a pat on their backs as their actions are going to create safer environments that will help others to flourish and thrive in a world devoid of domestic violence and sexual violence. You all are the role models who are paving the path you are the teachers who are teaching that it is important to say no and speak up. Thank you and heartfelt gratitude to all for sharing the stories and standing tall in your space.
What do some of the most successful people have in common? Well it is there love for reading. From Oprah Winfrey to Amitabh Bachan, from Bill Gates to Warren Buffet all these people love to read. Andrew Collins documented what a lot of billionaires think about reading. According to him Oprah and Bill Gates have said that they started reading early and read many books and that gave them the necessary knowledge and skills. Warren Buffet has been quoted saying that he spends 80% of his time reading and reflecting. As Dr. Seuss once wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” (more…)
One of the biggest stumbling blocks to your happiness is you comparing yourself with others. When you do that you basically close all doors that lead to your happiness. As Jack Canfield says, “I generally find that comparison is the fast track to unhappiness.” It is such a waste of time.
Do not compare yourself to others for there is no same starting point for you and the other person. Even before you begin you set yourself up for failure. You cannot compare apples with oranges. They are different fruits with different tastes and textures. For us at Aham, we believe we cannot compare ourselves with others because we are not at the same place as them. In our business, people will say look at the following this person has, or the number of YouTube videos they have done or the likes they have. It is a very ridiculous exercise to compare as two people will have different ideas about everything, different set of circumstances, and different styles of working and challenges.
When you compare yourself to others you cut yourself a very raw deal. You basically tell yourself that the other person is better than you and that you will not be able to achieve that level of success. You need to start where you are and with what you have. What we need to do is to work on ourselves and learn from others. What is that we need to work on and create and focus on? Instead of focusing on other people’s agenda think of ways you can create awesome content.
Comparing yourself with others will not take you forward. Massive action will. In comparing ourselves with others, we lose the opportunity to respect and appreciate ourselves. At an unconscious level we tell our brains this person is better than me and I am good for nothing. We start a downward spiral that pulls us down. Our job is to find happiness and not derail ourselves by getting disappointed and disheartened comparing ourselves with others.
Do not compare yourself to how successful other people are, or how much money they have or their big cars or fancy clothes. First of all you do not know the real story. These are kind of thoughts stop us from becoming successful ourselves. A lot of people that are there where they are have worked really hard to be there. They struggled and kept going despite the hardships and challenges. Instead of comparing yourself to them think of the ways they worked hard, their methods, and their vision and try to learn from them and build your own success story.
Another important aspect where people compare themselves to others is in terms of how people look and appearances. How others look has a lot to do with their genes and very less to do with their hard work. If I started looking at the YouTube videos of people in my industry I would have never started as a lot of them look better than me and are younger than me. Magazines are filled with people who will be better looking than you do not compare yourself to them as they have a team of stylists, designers who are paid to make them look perfect. In one of her shows Oprah Winfrey the talk host show said, “I do not look like this in real life, there is a team of more than 100 people who work very hard to make me look like this.” So focus on yourself and ways you can work on your looks maybe you need to work on you hair and your wardrobe. Spend more time experimenting with your looks and enhancing your skills.
If at all you want to compare then look at what special things other people are doing in your space. What are the ways I am different than them and are there ways I can enhance my work or skills to become better at what I do? Look at the ways people are using latest technology to enhance the user experience. We live in a world of extremely talented people, find ways to learn from them. Find ways to engage with them so that you can get knowledge from them and I can assure you a lot of them will be willing to share their secrets.
Your job is to get inspired by the greatness around you and in doing that appreciate yourself too. You are as amazing as everybody else. You need to honor that space. The only person you need to compare yourself with is the you that you were yesterday. As Maya Angelou says beautifully, “You alone are enough, you have nothing to prove to anyone.” Do not get lost in comparing yourself with others instead let your magnificence come to the forefront and you shine. Theodore Roosevelt famously said that, “comparison is the thief of joy.” So stop doing that and celebrate your life and your talents.
Do you know that every year comes with 104 weekend days that is nearly 30 percent of all the days of the year? Most of the time we hear people complaining that we do not have enough time to do what we want or the other most often complain is lack of time for oneself. There are many reasons for the above mentioned complaints but like everything else we need to focus on the solutions and then we can find a way out.
Weekends can provide us with that much needed time if we start to treat our weekends with more respect, love and care. If we use our weekends just to take care of the leftover work of the week than we will not really move forward. We are wasting a lot of precious time that we could invest in better uses. Through research done at AHAM almost a third of the participants said they worked on their weekends and hated every minute of it.
We know for sure when we unplug we become more productive. But it is easier said than done because we all tend to slip into routines until unless we make an intentional choice and decision to take charge of our weekends.
When you know better you do better, so to begin with you need to ask yourself some questions:
- Where do you spend most of your time on weekend?
- Do you take out exclusive time for your happiness?
- What activities will give you happiness?
- What habits or rituals I need to put in place to rejuvenate my mind, body and spirit during a weekend?
Now once you have answered those questions for yourself here are a few ways you can make your weekend a wonderful, rejuvenating experience.
- Rejuvenate – Make the effort to take better care of your body. What can you do to do that? Maybe take an extra nap, or give yourself a nice hair massage or watch your favorite TV show. Anything that you define as rest for your mind, body or spirit indulge in that and you will be amazed to see how much better you feel.
- Reconnect – Spend quality time with people who matter to you. We live in a world where everybody is too occupied with their work. Make your weekend a time to reconnect. One way could a no mobile activity for a few hours. Or having a meal together where everyone in the family pitches in from cutting vegetables to cooking and cleaning. Maybe pack a nice lunch and go to the park nearby.
- Reflect – Weekend is a perfect time to spend with yourself and your thoughts. The more time we spend understanding ourselves and what makes us happy the more capability we become of handling life’s challenges. “Reflection and prayer are man’s internal GPS system,” says William J. Bennett.Identifying what makes us special and unique will calm us and nourish our souls as than we can be in our enough space and enjoy every moment.
So make the effort to utilize your weekends to bring joy and happiness into your life. For your deserve it.