Blogging update

April 3, 2007

I’ve decided to keep my two sites seperate, but will link to each other, in case this blog’s readers want some info on health and fitness-related things.


My new blog

April 3, 2007

I have a new blog up, called Healthy Stuff, about exercise, diet and health.

I think that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is incredibly important for being happy and successful. Infact, if you want to be either of those, I would advise you to first take care of your health, as much as you can, and be as fit as possible.

I’m haven’t yet achieved a perfect level of fitness, but I do a lot of research on being healthy, and I implement most of the advice (instead of just nodding my head and then forgetting about it).

For now, I’m keeping it as a seperate blog, since it might not be of interest to the readers of this blog, and vice versa.


Clarity

April 2, 2007

I think the number one thing you need when first starting out (in anything) is clarity. I’m raising this issue because I seem to be seeing more and more people who aren’t really clear about what they want.

I mean, they think they know what they want. They want a bite-sized snickers bar. But is that really what they want? No: they want something sugary, but not so big or high in sugar content. Once they realize this, they might be happy with fruit that’s sweet tasting, whether fresh, dried or canned. Or they might actually be craving chocolate, in which case they could opt for dark chocolate, which is higher in anti-oxidants and flavinoids, and more healthy than other chocolates. They might even just be hungry, in which case any healthy, filling snack would be good enough.

Too often we get wrapped up in the details. Is this happening to you lately? Are you frustrated because something seems out of reach? Do you find yourself becoming satisfied even when you receive a substitute of what you initially wanted?

Sometimes, we achieve the greatest clarity when we manage to step back and look at the big picture.


Advantages of waking up early

March 29, 2007

dawn.jpgWaking up early has innumerable benefits. Before I launch into a list of those benefits, you might want to consider the fact that almost all successful people are out of bed by 630am. So, what exactly are the benefits of waking up early?

  1. The first advantage is the extra time gained in the day. If you wake up two hours early, rather than sleeping for 8 or even 10 hours (quite a normal feat for me sometimes) you’ll gain two precious hours that you can put to use. Two extra hours might mean time to work out, meditate, cook something by yourself (which means you’ll be eating food which is more healthy and cheap — and sometimes even more tasty!), write a short story, or pursue a hobby. Wake up at 6, and even if you have a one-hour commute to work, you can fit in time for a quick workout, meditation, cooking and email– all before you’ve even reached work.
  2. Waking up early usually mean that your day gets a great start. First, you’ll be proud of yourself for waking up so early, and achieving one of your goals. You might be able to reward yourself by catching a glimpse of the sunrise, or appreciating the breaking morning sky. And usually, if your day has a great start, the rest of day follows in a similarly happy pattern. Or at least you’re in a good mood and better able to deal well with setbacks or frustrations.
  3. You get time to work on an important goal that you might not usually have time for. Many great writers used to write in the morning, before they went off to their day jobs. Nell Fredeunberger, a writer I’m very impressed by, mentions that while she was working full-time at the New Yorker Magazine, she would write out a short story in the mornings before she arrived at work. Her short stories have been published, and won prestigious awards; her second book, a novel, has also been recently published. By waking up early, you make time for yourself, and for things which are important to you, but might otherwise be crammed out of your life. Even if you choose to work at your usual job, you can get more work by the end of the day. Your personal productivity goes up, if you wake earlier.
  4. Mornings are a great time for work, since they tend to be quiet and uninterrupted. During the day, you might not be able to devote all of yourself to a pet project: you might need to keep an ear open for your phone even while you meditate, your kids might walk in clamoring for attention when you’re trying to type out witty dialogue for your screenplay. Waking up early is a great way to find a chunk of peaceful, productive time. Once again, even if you choose to do some “regular” work in this time, you’ll be much more productive than  you would normally be during the day, when coworkers and bosses would demand your time every few minutes, as well as your spouse on the phone and friends on IM. In the morning, you won’t be exhausted from work or burdened with worries, so it’s easier to get work done faster, too.
  5. Waking early allows you to actually have breakfast. Many people are used to skipping breakfast, and may think that breakfast isn’t such a big deal. But once you start waking early and having the time to have a nutritious and healthy breakfast, you’ll notice what an energy boost it is, and how much more alert you seem throughout the day.
  6. Finally, waking early means that early appointments are easier to meet and will be more productive. Whether it’s a class, or a client, if you wake early you won’t need to be groggy and half-alert. Class attendance has been proven to have a strong positive correlation with grades, and if you can meet a client before your competitors, or even before he gets to his other work, you will have a strong competitive advantage. 

Many people mistakenly believe that they’re night owls and that waking early has no real benefit for them. This is a rather widely-held misconception. Anyone can wake up early, once they’ve gotten used to it. It’s true that the first few days of suddenly waking up early are likely to be difficult, but once the routine is set, it’s not that difficult. And being a night owl is not really that productive, it just mistakenly seems that way– a fact that becomes evident once you’re used to the habit of starting your day early.

If you’re already an early riser, congratulations! Waking up early is a difficult habit to establish, and as difficult to re-establish once you lapse. In the next post I’ll mention my tips for how to actually get out of bed, at an hour that might initially seem quite ungodly. Of course, those’ll only help you if you’re convinced by the advantages.

If you disagree, or if you have any additional ideas that you’d like to mention, I would love to hear from you.

Picture credits: “Hogback dawn” by mike_ormsby


Tips for managing your anger

March 28, 2007

yoga-for-sale.jpgI used to have a terrible temper, something that I suppose is part and parcel of being an only child. Since I could get away with just about anything, I got away very easily with my temper tantrums. And the funny thing was, I was an incredibly shy kid, and hardly ever got angry with anyone outside of my family.

To some extent, things got a lot worse when I started dating someone who was always angry at me. That made me believe that it was justifiable to be rude and hurtful to other people, instead of immediately cutting the jerk out of my life.

But now, when I look at someone whom I’m angry with, I understand completely how much I hurt them by expressing my anger. And how often, my anger is misplaced or unjustified.

Anger management is not really something I struggle with anymore, but it’s something that I seemed to have thought a lot about. Here are a few of my thoughts.

  1. Meditate or do yoga. The first step to controlling anger is not feel angry. If you’re relaxed within, and feel more broadminded and open about the universe, you are less likely to be angry. Angry people are not always the ones yelling and screaming. Often, they are quiet, frustrated, or constantly grumpy and irritable. If you’re one of those people, it’s likely that your anger might be from a built-up source, and not from a single event. Try to work out any long-standing frustrations that you might have, and you’ll have a happier and less angry time.
  2. Forgive. I find it difficult to get angry with most people. That’s because I tend to forgive people very easily. Sometimes the forgiveness comes easily to me, because of my philosophy that we usually don’t have the right to judge others. At other times, it’s because I can put myself in the other person’s shoes too easily. I have a whole lot of faults, so it’s only natural that other people will, too. I can’t (and you shouldn’t) forgive someone too easily for something major, but for small things, try to remember that other people are only human. They might’ve forgotten, not understood, or been in a hurry. Most people don’t mean to harm you. There must’ve been some other force that made them act that way.
  3. Understand that expressing anger is bad. During a trial, Norman Mailer claimed that he was justified in beating his wife because if he had kept his anger pent up, he would have gotten cancer. Hmm. No really, expressing your anger in a hurtful manner does not help. “Letting go” really does hurt other people. A lot.
  4. Expressing anger usually just makes you angrier. This one comes from experience: mine and other people’s. Think about it. The last time that you yelled at someone, did you really feel better afterwards? Or did you just feel guilty and angry with your own self, or just angrier in general?

Those were some general, long-term tips. But for immediate action in controlling your rage, here are some pointers:

  1. Count to 10. I don’t really know if this will work for you, but try it.
  2. Don’t talk. Don’t immediately respond. If you do, you’ll tend to say something that you’ll regret later.
  3. Excuse yourself. Try to leave a conversation if it really makes you angry. If needed, go to the restroom and wash your face, or reapply your makeup. Fake a call on your cell phone.
  4. Don’t brood about it. Distance yourself from whatever event made you angry. If you think about it, you’ll slip into a horrible downwards cycle of anger. Distract yourself by thinking about something funny or something that you’re looking forward to. Think about something that you’re grateful for. And then try to get back to your work or daily chores. If you must think about it, do so a lot later, when your initial rush of blood to the head has died down.
  5. Postpone it. If you want to talk to someone about something that made you angry, postpone it. Let yourself calm down a bit, so that you can express yourself clearly without blaming the other person unnecessarily.
  6. Exercise. Have a strenuous workout, which will have you exhausted and thinking only of water and cold showers. Exercise releases endorphins, which makes you feel happy, not angry. It also does a very good job of distracting you, and minimizing the importance of whatever was making you angry.

And finally, when talking about something that made you angry:

  1. Don’t use absolutes. “You never do…”, “you always…” are out. Focus on this one time that it happened (and if you can, remind youself of the other times that he/she did it right).
  2. Don’t call the other person names.
  3. Start off positively. Try complimenting the person on what you like about them, and what they did right, and how pleased you are with them. Then mention what’s wrong.

If you’re struggling with controlling your temper, I hope the tips help. Personally, I found yoga/meditation, combined with not brooding, to be the most helpful strategies of keeping anger at bay.

Finally, I’d like to add that a lot of people think that supressing anger is unhealthy, or that trying to not feel anger is not right. For people with serious problems, these things might be an issue.

But most people can just feel better by being calm and at peace with themselves and the world, and not allowing their anger to hurt the people they love.

Picture: “Yoga for sale” by mandydale.


Must post regularly…

March 28, 2007

I hate that blog. You know that blog. The one that started out fine, and which you decided to check back after a few days. By that time, it had more content. But when you came around two weeks later, it was dead.

That’s my blog. Ugh, I am so horrified about it.

Somehow, I have to motivate myself to start posting regularly again.

I’ll do it. And hopefully, after another hour, there will be another post worth reading on this blog.


The Glamour of Business

March 21, 2007

business meetingAs a kid, I was suddenly fascinated by business and the world of superstar executives, not moviestars. I don’t remember when this happened, but I remember one particular image that seems to summarise my sudden fascination. It was a very simple shot of some CEO walking from one meeting to another, greeting someone from his office by name midway. This was for a segment in some business show on CNN. Suddenly, I started watching more business shows, and I decided that I wanted to be an executive, and even be a CEO one day.

The actual glamour of business is added on by people who are competent, confident, wealthy and charming. Executives are so rushed that their time is money, and actualy money can be frittered away to buy only the best and most expensive things in life. The people in this world are not only intelligent: they are respected, rich, and meet similar people all the time.

Of course, the actual corporate world is not nearly as glamorous.

For various reasons, I no longer want to be an executive, or even a CEO. I might need to “sell my soul for bread” a few days down the line and re-enter the corporate world, but it’s suddenly a world that no longer fascinates me in the way it used to.

I am still quite happy to look upon the world of business, and I do dream of having my own business, but the life of executives is far from glamarous: there’s too much undue stress and dirty politics involved.

But why am I still attracted to business ? I remember an interview for a State Dept exchange programme thing, where I was asked about why I thought business was important. I think the sincerity of my answer showed through: I answered that business was as important as politics these days. A large business can affect millions of people. A business can provide many with services that they really need, and with jobs and income.

The importance of business is very different from its glamour. The glamour is still there: the expense accounts, the charming, beautiful people, gorgeous computers and expensive cell-phones. But it’s also cubicles, ass-kissing, and dealing with insecure backbiters.


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