Surprises and Recovery

Earlier on ‘Samaj-Shilpi’, we talked about The Magic Burn-out. For those who are new to this term, ‘Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress’. It can also be caused due to over exertion and tight routine which makes you feel exhausted at the end of the day. Today, we will be studying a little more about how Surprises and Recovery can work wonders for preventing these Burnouts.
When you hit the gym and workout for at least 5 times in a week, the rest two days, usually weekends, are set aside for the ‘recovery phase’. Recovery Phase is the amount of time it takes for your muscles to recover from exercise. The time taken for recovery depends on your fitness levels and the difficulty of your workout. The healthier you are, the faster you’ll recover from a routine workout session. After a relatively light workout, your muscles may be able to recover in 24 hours, whereas a more challenging workout might take two to three days.
Similarly, our brain and mind, both require it’s ‘Recovery phase’. When we tire out our brain on a daily basis with same repetitive thoughts and work load, we end up spiraling into boredom and eventually lose our capacity to think creatively. This Monotonous way of living often leads to decrease in productive in whatever work we do. Recovery phase of the brain, just like the body muscles, also depends on the levels of our mental health. The healthier the mind, the faster it will recover.
This is where the importance of Adventure comes in. Adventure by definition is an unusual and exciting or daring experience, but here, adventure is more like a detox for your brain to ‘Recover’. Your adventure can be as big as travelling to another city or as small as going out for a walk and having that favorite ice-cream of yours. Depends on how big a break you really are in need of.
As the owner of a startup, what I usually do to keep the adventure alive is, I make chits of all the tasks I need to complete in the ongoing month or week. I fold and put all the chits together and pick up one every morning to see what new task is assigned to me for the day. The little trick here is, I also add chits saying “Observe nature and chill”, “Netflix bonus”, “explore new songs”, etc.
What happens here is, I give my brain a new impulse by surprising it to do something completely random than what it normally has to. In the artist community, this “Recovery-surprise combination” is known as ‘Inspiration’. Artists usually lookout for inspirations when they realize that they have exhausted their thinking capacity and can only enhance their art by an external stimulus such as visiting historical places or connecting with nature.
If you are really looking towards increasing your productive, then make sure to fit in these ‘unplanned adventures’ in your schedule. Surprise yourself so that you can go the extra mile next time when you get back to work again. Work is indeed important and so is the recovery.

Let’s chat,

How often have you sat and wondered about that constant voice in your head? How often have you really paid attention to what it’s saying?
We go through multiple experiences in life on a daily basis, but it’s rarely that we actually let those experiences sink in to the deepest of our core. This ignoring and not acknowledging little things in life usually becomes our new normal.
New normal is actually a good thing if you are looking from a perspective of avoiding a mental turmoil during a phase of depression. Our hard-wired brain keeps bringing us back to what our daily life looks like and it gets easier to not being disconnected from the world.
What’s dangerous here is the fact that, when we keep being in such a depressive or discouraging phase on and off for a certain duration, we are unable to see the gradual process of making such kind of thought processing ‘a habit’.
Such kind of thought processing can only be manipulated by actually paying attention to it. By observing what your daily actions or behaviour is trying to tell you about ‘Yourself’.
We often hear people saying that, ‘We say certain things to others which we want to hear ourselves’.
There are two practices which really help in taking the control of your own life, Observation and Introspection.
Observation in philosophical terms is the process of filtering sensory information through the thought process. Input is received via hearing, sight, smell, taste, or touch and then analysed through either rational or irrational thought.
Whereas Introspection is a totally different term; Introspection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies on the observation of one’s mental state, while in a spiritual context it may refer to the examination of one’s soul.
Introspection is closely related to human self-reflection and self-discovery and is contrasted with external observation.
In my experience, observation and introspection can go hand in hand.
Let’s visualise a little walk around the neighbourhood, observe all that you see, trees, birds, the vast sky or even the humongous buildings. We can observe them and still at the back of our head constantly try to relate the visuals to our daily life consciously or unconsciously.
If paid attention to, we can actually see the symmetry that life offers; more like unity in diversity. You’ll be fascinated to find out how everything even though seems different is connected to each other in some or the other way.
“All you have to do is contemplate a simple grain of sand, and you will see in it all the marvels of creation.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The knack here is to stop judging and analysing for a while and just observe along with paying a wee bit attention to what your mind is speaking. Practicing this on a daily basis can actually strengthen your ‘mindfulness muscle’.
There is something really beautiful in just being present in the ‘Present’.
As aptly put by Master Oogway, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift…. that’s why they call it ‘The Present’.
So, next time if you are ever feeling a bit disconnected to yourself, let’s just put our social media aside and listen to the words that your unconscious brain in trying to put together. You might end up finding answers to the questions you’ve been asking yourself for too long.
Have a chat with yourself, it’s really healthy.

Good Morning!

Today I’ll be sharing with you all my morning routine. It is something I’ve just decided to follow for a while now and it really helps me in getting things done. I hope this technique helps you in some or the other way.
To have a good morning routine plan, you need to start getting into the momentum of the plan a night before the next day starts. What I do is, I try to keep my mind as calm as it can be before going to the bed. For achieving this task, I make sure to meditate for at least 10-15 min before going to bed.
Meditation helps me in removing all the toxic or unwanted thoughts of the day. It also helps me in getting mindful about my body and having a peaceful, less chaotic heart-set before going to the bed. Following a little meditation, I try to read a book for another 20 mins or reading till I fall asleep.
For getting into my ‘peace zone’, I avoid using any social media or digital gadgets one hour in advance before my bed time. Keeping the technology aside helps me connect a little more to myself and often leads to getting clarity on different aspects of my life. I read mostly motivational/ spiritual/ self-help books. Introspecting has now become the favorite hobby of mine and it indeed is peaceful to ‘just be yourself’ a little more each day.
In his book ‘The 5AM club’, Robin Sharma beautifully explains how having an energetic morning routine can nourish your soul and keep you empowered for the rest of day. I have started following his 20/20/20 pocket formula but with a little customization of my own.
My morning starts around 6:00 AM with an alarm. I try to avoid my mobile phone as much as possible in the early 20 min after waking up. This provides me with the space needed to get my brain function at its full potential without distributing my core energy to news/ social media.
The next 20 mins of my early morning I spend with my journal along with a peaceful music playing in the background, where I quickly note down my accomplishments from the day before and make a list of tasks to be completed throughout the day. You can try writing your accomplishments at the end of the day too, but this practice helps me more when I execute it early morning. It helps me stay motivated for the rest of the day with a sense of fulfillment and increased levels of confidence.
The final 20-30 mins of my morning are contributed to morning walks and integrating a new habit. Habits are really an important part of our system. If paid proper attention, you’ll be able to incorporate a healthy habit in your daily life instead of unwanted habits which eventually lead to fatigue.
Following this is a 30-45 min workout and then I finally move on to my self-assigned tasks.
Breaking down my morning routine into these smaller parts has resulted in helping me get most of the things done before 10 AM. These smaller parts contribute towards keeping my brain healthy along with my heart-set and soul-set. Also, working out early gives the adequate attention to my body and its wellbeing, which rules out the ‘worrying about health and stagnant lifestyle’ part.
It indeed is miraculous how one small change in the morning routine can lead to a better and more productive day throughout. Afterall, if our day today is better, it will become a better month and eventually a better year!
You can definitely follow the same morning routine plan if it helps, or else you can customize one of your own. You can meditate in the morning or even workout in the evening, whatever works the best for you.
I hope this practice helps you in some or the other way towards having a better ‘living’. Let’s be more positive, hydrated and content, starting today!

Subtle Art of letting go

Our human brain is programmed to go through at least 6,000 thoughts in a single day or more than that. Most of our thoughts are reoccurring. What happens here is, when we keep getting these reoccurring thoughts, we get accustomed to dragging these thoughts together for longer durations. We don’t realize if they are good or bad, we just keep carrying the baggage all along.
In a recent episode of Rick and Morty (A cartoon series on Netflix- season 4- episode 4), the writer introduced a character of a cat who could talk. Anyone who encountered the cat kept asking it how it was able to talk and all it said was, “It doesn’t matter how. Maybe it’s time you stopped asking questions and started having fun”.
The viewers and fans of the show couldn’t understand till the end of the episode, why the cat could talk and what was its importance in the show. Many viewers even started coming up with theories about what the cat’s origin maybe or how it was able to talk. The show creators later revealed that, the cat was just introduced in to the episode ‘for fun’. There was no hidden motive behind it. The creators even stated that, ‘not everything needs analyzation and overthinking’. That was basically what the cat was trying to convey, ‘to just stop asking questions and start having fun’.
“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering” – Piglet, Pooh’s little instruction book, inspired by A.A. Milne.
It’s in the little moments, the silent ones and in the ones where you can just ‘be’.
We are living in a tech dominant century where competition is everything. We keep running around our daily lives like little hamsters on a running wheel while we always have the option to just stop and enjoy. To just live in the moment.
We always have the choice, to step out of the wheel, to pause and breathe.
Just listen to that music you always love listening to, take a walk or just lay down. Whatever that makes you happy. Do it. Your heart always knows what really makes it happy and it will guide you if you are willing to listen to it. Learn that subtle art of letting toxic thoughts and people go.
(Write the below quote in your journal / paper if you want to and put it up on your board / refrigerator. Little things like these are helping me a lot in motivating towards giving less energy to toxic thoughts; hopefully it will help you too.)
“Today I am making the decision to let go of the things that don’t make me happy. I am letting go, happily.”- Winne the Pooh
Yes, it indeed is ‘easy’ to just be happy.

Level up

In 2017 I had decided to buy a Graphic tablet, so that I could create my little Ahiru digitally. It was just a dream back then, a stubborn & naive dream to ‘create’. I would like to mention here that 2017 was the only year when I had finally given my self-created cartoon character the name ‘Ahiru’.
(Note: A Graphic tablet/ pen-tab is an input device, used by graphic designers and illustrators to design or create artworks digitally. Needs to be plugged into the laptop/pc with USB)
I remember asking my dad stubbornly, that I wanted him to buy me a graphic tablet. I used to keep coming up with new reasons everyday stating why I really needed the Tablet and how it would really help me in accomplishing my dreams. At that time the graphic tablet I was demanding was priced around 10k and I was not even a graphic designing student. I was in 2nd year of my B.Sc. Genetics and I was so full of dreams and enthusiasm, enough to make me want to run away on a totally different path than that of my current education field. Finally, after few days of pleading and acting cranky in the house, my family agreed to buy me the tablet.
The day my first graphic tablet arrived I cried, not because I was overwhelmed with joy. I cried because I had zero experience and knowledge for being able to operate a tablet. Forget about the whole Ahiru character, I was not even able to write my own name with it. I cried for the whole day and felt like I had made a big mistake by making my dad buy it for me. I avoided using this Pen-tab for few days but later on I finally decided to channelize my stubbornness towards learning it.
Today, after 3 years of being in this game of my own, I am finally able to create artworks digitally. Not only that, I am a verified artist on two different startup platforms: ‘FranklyWearing’ and ‘FandomRealm’, and the owner of my own startup AADOODLES with my little Ahiru Shop on ‘Instamojo’.
All along this journey I learnt one thing, ‘I challenged myself’!
I challenged myself to learn more, to learn something on my own by visualizing a teacher in everyone I met and every new opportunity I came across.
Today, I have challenged myself with yet another difficulty level in this game of my own. I still have sparkling dreams in my eyes which seem rather impossible at the moment. But, buying a graphic tablet and learning it also used to be one of the ‘impossibilities’ back then.
Remember, no matter how tough the situation seems to be, no matter how many people around you try to hold you back; If you believe in something, it is going to come along your way one way or the other. Don’t give up on yourself and don’t quit this game of your own. A difficulty level is nothing but something that came along your way to make you a better person, to make you a better player.
“It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small, and the fear that once controlled me can’t get to me at all” – Idina Menzel
Remember to take a step back and appreciate your achievements, no matter how small they might be. You are your own motivator and you ‘Can’ be the creator of your own journey. All you have to do is keep Levelling up!

Vanity

Today I would like to share ‘the legend of Narcissus’ with you all.
Narcissus was a youth who knelt daily beside a lake to contemplate his own beauty. He was so fascinated by himself that, one morning he fell into the lake and drowned. At the spot where he fell, a flower was born, which was called the narcissus.
But this was not how the author of the book ended the story.
He said that when Narcissus died, the goddesses of the forest appeared and found the lake, which had been fresh water, transformed into a lake of salty tears.
“Why do you weep?” the goddesses asked.
“I weep for Narcissus,” the lake replied.
“Ah it is no surprise that you weep for Narcissus,” they said, “for though we always pursued him in the forest, you alone could contemplate his beauty close at hand.”
“But… was Narcissus beautiful?” the lake asked.
“Who better than you to know that?” the goddesses said in wonder.” After all, it was by your banks that he knelt each day to contemplate himself!”
The lake was silent for some time. Finally, it said: “I weep for Narcissus, but I never noticed that Narcissus was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eye, my own beauty reflected.”
(Story excerpt from ‘The Alchemist’)
The story of Narcissus is a symbol of how self-praises and self-flattering can consume a being from the inside.
Both, the lake and Narcissus were so indulged in loving themselves that they never took a moment of contemplation to reflect on the beauty of each other. Vanity is when someone is so consumed with his/her beauty and self-importance that he/her cannot appreciate the beauty in others.
It also depicts how a person can stay with another person just because they feel empowered and valuable to themselves; just for their own selfish fulfillment of pride. Unfortunately, many relationships today are established on this fragile basis.
“The deepest principle of human nature is the craving to be appreciated” – William James
Every human being deserves appreciation and so is what they crave. Be it in our office work/ Individual life/ appearance. It is not wrong in seeking appreciation from the outside world. Neither is it wrong if we are our own extoller. The soul starts getting corroded once we can’t visualize the beauty that surrounds us anymore. Thus, leading to Vanity.
Goethe once said, “Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and help them become what they’re capable of being”.
We are all beings connected to each other in some or the other way, and we do unknowingly play a part in each other’s life. What better way to purify the soul and getting rewarded with appreciation; than appreciating the good in each other? What would you choose? Vanity on sanity?

How to do what you want to do

We have all seen those motivational videos, telling us that “We can achieve it, if we believe it”. We have even stayed motivated after watching these videos for a while or a day or maybe even a month. But the reality is, with passage of time the motivation also fades away and all that we are left with is another white flag waiting to be dropped down on the floor.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
• Planning a day, before going to bed.
• Scribbling in your journal what you want to achieve.
• Using post-its/ pins/ white boards to make a blue print of your future.
These are just few tactics which are usually used by many of us for overcoming the ‘sinking of our motivation ship’. What most of us fail to realize is, that even if we write things down and plan a lot ahead, we still will be faced with the uncertain challenges around us happening every single day. And most of these challenges are created by our ‘self-doubt and laziness’.
There is an insightful concept shared by Mr. Robin Sharma in his “The 5AM Club book”. He says that, if we want to get things actually done, then we need to strengthen our ‘Will power muscle’. Each time that you are faced with a lack of motivation to do something that you wanted to do; you just need to get past this feeling of postponing the task needed to be done. (Paraphrased)
A will power muscle, like all the other muscles in our body, needs to be trained. Only practicing it can make it stronger than it was the day before.
Say, you want to start waking up early in the morning. You set your alarm and slept cozy in your bed. The next morning, you turned off the alarm and went back to sleep because your hard-wired brain was habited to act like that. The whole day after that feels unsettling because you failed to achieve a task early in the morning, which you had promised yourself to be done. This results into lack of motivation for executing this same task again the next day. This lack of motivation and interest damages your willpower slowly. You start things but then don’t get them done completely all the way through. It keeps getting complicated, and we definitely don’t need a piled-up stack of ‘not done things’ at the end of the day.
So, the question is, how do you simplify this?
By ‘Rewarding yourself’ for each task done or set a motivation trap!
A motivation trap is something I arrange for myself to get my things done in time. We have all arranged motivation traps for us in our childhood. Most of us used to ‘Keep a chocolate aside for each chapter learned’, during examinations. Same concept applies on ‘putting your favorite food/object in front of your treadmill’, to complete that workout session.
These little rewards are highly helpful in keeping us motivated all along. Planning out your day along with planning to achieve what you have planned is important. What matters here is that you start your day with a little win, ‘waking up early, getting that first workout done as planned, completing your walk or even completing your meditation’.
This practice can actually help strengthen your will-power muscle and you get rewarded with extended motivation plus positivity. Also, the rise in self-confidence occurs naturally once you become committed to your tasks. It is said that ‘One healthy choice leads to another’. So, make a healthy choice today by strengthening your Will- Power muscle and getting things done.

Magic burn-out

I came across the term ‘Magic Burn-out’ in a Netflix originated series called “The Worst witch”.
I couldn’t help but relate this Magical burn-out concept with the art blocks that I occasionally get.
An art block (also known as a creative block) is a period of time when an artist cannot access their creativity and/or they cannot bring themselves to create a new piece of work.
Being in a creative journey as an artist, I often encountered days when I didn’t feel like doing anything at all. The things which used to get me up and running with high levels of dopamine started to seem like a source for draining out all of the energy left. Comes with this the feeling of not being good enough to create something new and thus leading to a mental breakdown at times.
In an era where creating more is valued over the ‘Creating best’, we start becoming the rabbits in a race which no one told us to get enrolled into. Such habits often lead us into the black hole of a toxic burn-out. An art-block can get worse if we are creating more art forcefully just to be in the race and keep seeking approval from people about ‘if the art is good or not’.
I follow these five steps for overcoming this magic burn-out:

  • Take a stroll around the neighborhood/ garden or any place you like where you can resonate a little more with yourself.
  • Avoid social media for a particular duration.
  • Explore new songs and genres.
  • Write a daily journal/ make notes.
  • Read a new book/ old books which you loved.
    Resonating with yourself is a must when going through a magic burn-out. We often lose our magic/ our creative processing because of the overclouded judgements and opinions of others. A place where you can be a little more yourself, can help a lot.
    Remember, “location has Energy and Time has Memory”- Jay Shetty
    Reverberate with the energy from such locations where you can feel peaceful. Don’t let your magic burn-out. But if it does, do believe that you can ignite it back again by following the above simple steps or even by creating your own.
    (PS: The above steps are just to help you get an idea of how easily we can overcome an art-block by just being ourselves.)

The Soap Bubble Concept

Soap bubbles are extremely thin film of soapy water enclosing air that forms a hollow sphere with an iridescent surface. Soap bubbles usually last for only a few seconds before bursting, either on their own or on contact with another object.
Our fleeting thoughts are exactly like these soap bubbles.
In a single day we come across multiple thoughts, and our adapted Human brain generates impulses and response to each one of them. What is truly fascinating here is that, out of those multiple thoughts that you encounter, most of them are the same ones from the day before!
That means, whatever you are thinking about right now, was on your mind a day before too and the same thought a day before that!
Unlike soap bubbles, our stubborn thoughts are not as transient as we assume them to be. Our thoughts don’t usually go away on their own, they are either replaced by another reoccurring thought or they gradually evolve into becoming a larger expanded thought bubble with added complexities.
To avoid such kind of a soap bubbly situation, the most preferred and scientifically proven method is ‘Meditation’.
Meditating acts as an external force on each soap bubble, where in the bubble stops getting responses from our adapted brain. Instead, during meditation, the brain decides to quietly just watch this soap bubble until it fades away.
Meditation is a slow and gradual process of strengthening your brain muscles. It takes time and patience.
The beautiful impact of meditation is seen when you encounter the same bubble again the next day, and your ‘learner brain’ now refuses to feed this particular bubble anymore energy. Eventually, this particular bubble now left powerless fades away on its own.
The brain can be strengthened, sculpted and optimized if we chose to make it so.
The choice is ours, either surrendering to the massive chaos of expanding thought bubbles everywhere or strengthening our brain and teaching it how to control these bubbles or make them go away.

Nirvana

We have all heard about reclaiming the inherent power that we have. Each individual is always more than just a body with a soul. What we do have to understand is that, we are souls carrying this body.
It is said that when received in abundance, beautiful things become invisible to the eye even if they are right in front of you. ‘When each day is the same as the next, it’s because People fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives, every day that the sun rises.’ (Excerpt- The Alchemist)
We all want ultimately to be happy, to live life to the fullest. But what we do forget amidst all this chaotic humdrum is that our days make our months, and months our years. If you are not living your day fully up to your expectations, you will in return be left with a month which was unsatisfactory and unpleasant. To create the pleasant years, you need to stack up your days into a pleasant month.
After all, ‘Nirvana’ is not a place, it’s a state of mind. There is Nirvana all around you if you are willing to see it.

You are in Nirvana if you are appreciating the little squirrels climbing up and down the trees. You are in Nirvana if you are observing the tiniest beautiful things around you. You are in Nirvana, when you pause and breathe. With each breathe, we breathe in new life, a new hope and with each breathe out we let go of the thoughts that are toxic to us.
So just go outside, have a walk, appreciate what was already there before but never noticed by the eye.
Talk to yourself and keep a gratitude diary, for each time when you’ll get back to this diary, you’ll be back in Nirvana again.