Saturday, 21 April 2012

Being Happy

More often than not you see and meet people not happy with their lives. I am not saying that nobody has problems in their lives.. There are people who are genuinely suffering because of  some reasons. But the number of such people is pretty low compared to those who are suffering with self inflicted sadistic approaches. This post is about the second type of people who unfortunately are found in every nook and corner of our lives.

You will see people groaning and whining about their lives which apparently to an outsider is nothing less than great. People keep complaining about how deep they are into the seas of boredom and misery while others think their life is awesome. Here I am talking about people who are earning more than enough money and living a life that is nothing less than enviable. The problem with most of us today is how much we are bothered by others' lives. We are more concerned about others' success than our own. People keep burning their hearts out by seeing the successes others are enjoying (rather earning) with their hard work. Conversely and even more shockingly, people enjoy when others fail. In some old Bollywood flick( pardon my bad GK in the field) there was a simple tip for such people - "If you want your line to be longer, make it longer rather than trying to erase the other line." Unfortunately, I see more people following the other option. Instead of controlling their own lives, they want to be controlled( unadmittedly) by others. How can you be happy and contented with such a life which is so much dependent on others?

Another amazing story that I hear very often is "I am not being able to do what I want". Just ask why and you  will invariably get the answer "I don't have time". I just can't make peace with that statement. Everybody gets 24 hours in a day. If you can't figure out how to get few hours out of them for what you love then you simply don't love it enough. The problem with almost all of us( including me) is we plan for everything and do nothing. We make huge plans but fall way short in terms of commitment when it comes to execution of those plans. And then we start making new plans.

All in all, most of the people say they are not happy. They simply fail to recognize there are simply too many opportunities around us to make us feel good about ourselves. The best solution that I see is amazingly simple-"help others". How? When? Living in a country like India, you will never find yourself short of such opportunities. Just get out of your air conditioned flats and you will see kids walking barefoot on concrete under the scorching sun. Is getting them a pair of slippers something we can't afford? But we simply prefer to look otherwise. We never think twice before spending a few thousands with our friends but we never even think of getting the poor something to eat. We simply live for ourselves. But then you may ask, "there are just too many people who need our help. Should we help all/ how can we help them all?" I Agree. Who says you need to be millionaire to do philanthropy. But at least try to help a few. For us it wont matter to keep aside few hundred bucks per month but it might improve some lives. A great opportunity is to adopt a child. It will cost you hardly what you might be planning to spend on the next Valentine's day but it will surely change a life. Another thing you can do is help elders whenever you think they need it. You will find them everywhere- in a supermarket, at an airport etc. In a nutshell, simply help the people you don't know because nothing is as satisfying as a selfless service, knowing that you are not getting anything back.

Again a question-what in the name of Jesus it has to do with me being happy? I prefer you find out the answer to this question yourself. As they say, nothing is as convincing as seeing it yourself.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Multitasking? Think again !!!

We live in an age obsessed with multitasking and technology. Who would have thought few years ago that a simple phone-presumably invented to talk-would be packed with a quad-core processor one day. Leaving technology apart, in our real life also we more or less tend to do just too many things at a time. More often than  not we are proud to call ourselves multitasking. Though we think that this enhances our performance and allows us to do more stuff but does it really help? In the end it all boils down to one simple question that we need to ask ourselves- Is it worth?
I have a note written on my desk in office that says "No Multitasking". People keep asking me the reason for the note. I found a very well written and straight forward article that answers this question beautifully. I am just sharing it here hoping that it might convince some of the readers to reconsider their 'modus operandi'.

"Why is it that between 25% and 50% of people report feeling overwhelmed or burned out at work?
It's not just the number of hours we're working, but also the fact that we spend too many continuous hours juggling too many things at the same time.
What we've lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It's like an itch we can't resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.
Tell the truth: Do you answer email during conference calls (and sometimes even during calls with one other person)? Do you bring your laptop to meetings and then pretend you're taking notes while you surf the net? Do you eat lunch at your desk? Do you make calls while you're driving, and even send the occasional text, even though you know you shouldn't?
The biggest cost — assuming you don't crash — is to your productivity. In part, that's a simple consequence of splitting your attention, so that you're partially engaged in multiple activities but rarely fully engaged in any one. In part, it's because when you switch away from a primary task to do something else, you're increasing the time it takes to finish that task by an average of 25 per cent.
But most insidiously, it's because if you're always doing something, you're relentlessly burning down your available reservoir of energy over the course of every day, so you have less available with every passing hour.
I know this from my own experience. I get two to three times as much writing accomplished when I focus without interruption for a designated period of time and then take a real break, away from my desk. The best way for an organization to fuel higher productivity and more innovative thinking is to strongly encourage finite periods of absorbed focus, as well as shorter periods of real renewal.
If you're a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:
1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what's been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.
2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it's urgent, you can call them — but that won't happen very often.
3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.

It's also up to individuals to set their own boundaries. Consider these three behaviors for yourself:
1. Do the most important thing first in the morning, preferably without interruption, for 60 to 90 minutes, with a clear start and stop time. If possible, work in a private space during this period, or with sound-reducing earphones. Finally, resist every impulse to distraction, knowing that you have a designated stopping point. The more absorbed you can get, the more productive you'll be. When you're done, take at least a few minutes to renew.
2. Establish regular, scheduled times to think more long term, creatively, or strategically. If you don't, you'll constantly succumb to the tyranny of the urgent. Also, find a different environment in which to do this activity — preferably one that's relaxed and conducive to open-ended thinking.
3. Take real and regular vacations. Real means that when you're off, you're truly disconnecting from work. Regular means several times a year if possible, even if some are only two or three days added to a weekend. The research strongly suggests that you'll be far healthier if you take all of your vacation time, and more productive overall.
A single principle lies at the heart of all these suggestions. When you're engaged at work, fully engage, for defined periods of time. When you're renewing, truly renew. Make waves. Stop living your life in the gray zone."