Book Review : The subtle art of not giving a fuck by Mark Manson

My favourite lines from the book :

My recommendation: don’t be special; don’t be unique. Redefine your metrics in mundane and broad ways. Choose to measure yourself not as a rising star or an undiscovered genius…..Instead measure yourself by more mundane identities: a student, a partner, a friend, a creator.

Unlike any self help book, this guide puts forward a ‘counterintuitive approach to living a good life’. Now what would you expect from a self help book : assurances like ‘you are special and born to extraordinary things’, ‘ whatever you think is or isn’t, you are right’, ‘keep trying’, ‘don’t doubt yourself’ and the like. But not this book. This book tells you that you are not special. ( And after reading the book, I agree with Mark! )

Mark Manson has very adeptly laid down his counter-intuitive thoughts well- illustrated using anecdotes from his life and those of his acquaintances. Throughout the book, you will get to read lines like : ‘Don’t try’ ( the first chapter) , ‘You are not special’, ‘Doubt your own thoughts’ and the best part : his reasoning and rationale is not flawed. In fact this is what make this book worth reading – because of Mark’s candid and uninhibited way of laying down secrets of living a happy life, secrets which are not in accordance with the generally- accepted philosophy, yet holds water. He has also laced his writing with profane humour & unbridled expressions. ( The title of the book is proof itself ! )

All in all, this groundbreaking book will definitely help you in re-evaluating your mantras of life. And according to Mark,once you do that you will realise that living a contented and happy life isn’t that difficult after all.

Highly recommended.

Why I write….

I am afraid of speaking my heart out in front of people,

Writing gives me a better and non-judgmental platform….

Am I unlucky for you ?

Parents, you are wrong when ………

Parents are the angels we have on Earth who take care of us, when God is too busy maintaining balance and peace in the world. This position of theirs earns respect and gratitude of the child. Believe me when I say that every child feels (and should feel) indebted to his parents, for giving him life and more importantly for making it worth living, at some or all times throughout his existence on Earth. Parents are like the anchor of our boat, keeping us afloat in this gigantic ocean of worldly drifts and waves.be-affectionate

But does that mean they cannot do anything wrong? No, it does not.

Parents are wrong when they lay too much pressure on their child to excel in the ongoing rat race to prove one’s worth in this materialistic world. I am not generalizing here. I know there are many parents who support their child through thick and thin. And if you are one of them, I salute you!

But then, I also know about parents for whom boasting about their child’s success and achievement is so important to maintain their ‘status’ in the society, that in the process of creating a success story, they often lead to tales of broken dreams. They want to produce geniuses. And in this era of cut throat competition, they want their child to go to a reputed college, earn a hefty salary and marry a partner of their choice. Looks extremely well planned, isn’t it ? But I tend to disagree. Between all the meticulous contemplation and planning about a child’s future, where have they taken into account their child’s dreams and aspirations? Parents might put forth an argument that they have seen the world and they are experienced enough to judge what is good for their child and what is bad. I totally agree. 2015-02-12-13-02-59.shattered dreamBut how is crushing of a child’s dreams would do any good to him. I know ‘crushing’ is a harsh word to use in this context but I don’t intend to use euphemism when I want to express my views clearly and without any softening or exaggeration. In certain situations, parents might not even know that they are ‘crushing’ their child’s dream. Ignoring it and asking him to blindly follow the rat in the race cannot absolve them of the fact that they are killing the seed inside him which can give birth to a tree in future. Or even if it is not a tree, even if it is just a sapling – yet a sapling is better than a dead and a wasted seed.428c516b7a78d17d0abc6a7fbd726081

A child is already indebted to his parents. He always wants to give them all the happiness of the world and make them feel proud. But does that mean he has to do everything that his parents’ desire irrespective of what he truly yearns for- ignoring his own dreams? After all, parents want them to be happy, right! What if he is happy doing his own little thing rather than walking the trodden path? Parents want best for their child but what if their perception of best for him isn’t aligned with his happiness? What if he is happy following his risky and uncertain field of interest and not the conventional and certain area of employment?

What if his heart is full when his pockets are not? What if his eyes shine and not his resume?

What if a distant relative or an insensitive neighbor doesn’t approve of your child’s ‘unusual success story’. It will still be a success story for him.

What if your child scores less than what you expected – what if he is not the topper but your neighbor’s kid is ? Should that mean he does not deserve to be your kid or you should pay less attention on him and concentrate more on your younger kid who excels in his education? Should that mean he isn’t a man of good character – worthy of every happiness and love?

You might feel by now that I am too rude or too insensitive and cynical about parent’s emotions and intentions. Or I am a rebellious child myself trying to let off the steam by pouring my frustration out into words. Believe me, I am not. What I am doing here is sharing my experience, not as a victim, but as a witness of the sufferings of an oppressed child who is so low on confidence today because of his/her failure to prove his worth to his/her parents. Let’s call him/her X. X considers himself a loser because he is not able to satisfy his parents’ ever-growing expectations. He has achieved a lot in his life, but not enough to achieve his parent’s satisfaction.

00221917e13e0f4d267d1aDo you approve of this? Should parents burden their child with so many expectations that a child spends his entire life trying to prove his worth?

Why are studies and grades a metric to judge whether a child is a good child or not? Why is a resume a standard to declare a child successful and not his character or nature? Why a child is always marked on his intellectual abilities rather than humane feelings and demeanor?

This culture is so deeply rooted in our society that I fear children losing the courage to confront their parents with their dreams. And therefore, parents need to understand and the younger generation needs to learn.

I am never going to let my child feel what X felt.

I will water the seed inside my little kid’s heart and will watch it grow. Whether it grows into a big, lush tree or a tiny sapling – future will tell – neither do I care because I will be busy looking at the smile on my kid’s face !

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P.S – My idea is not to offend parents in general or doubt their sincere intentions for their kids, neither I am painting parents as dream-killers. I just want to give every parent a chance to reconsider their parenting – to make sure they do not fall into the category of dream-killers.

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Mutual Admiration Sessions

The man who discovered fire meets the man who invented the wheel ('I've always admired your work).

Me: “I am feeling so low today. There is so much competition out there in the world. I feel I am not worth anything.”

Roomie (visibly panicked) : “ What happened ? Are the mid-sems result out? ”

Me : “No! It’s just that I don’t know what I am doing with my life.”

Roomie: “ Why are you in a brown study today ? ” Don’t tell me you have completed the entire Supernatural series and have no more episodes to watch. The ‘Sherlock’ episode has come out. You can watch that.”

Me : “ I am serious. I am 20 now and I am just not satisfied with what I am today. I feel worthless.”

Oh! by the way, I did complete the Supernatural series, and I have put the ‘Sherlock’ episode on download.

That’s not the point. I think I don’t have the qualities to be a successful person in life. How will I fulfill my aspirations when I am not even confident enough about my abilities and strengths? Forget the aspirations, I don’t even feel good as a human being !!”

Roomie (in a saturnine tone) : “Well, I am on the same page with you ! Indeed there are so much expectations and hopes with one’s life that I am scared and afraid of facing the world after college. I want to live a happy and successful life and the fear of failure haunts me everyday.”

Me (histrionically) : “Am I ever going to cheer up ?? Will I ever regain my confidence? Am I good for anything? Oh, how I wish someone could bring me back to life !

Roomie: Don’t lose heart! Ok, Let’s do one thing. Let’s play a game so that we can both cheer up and regain the lost confidence.

Me: What game?

Roomie : You list one strength/ admirable quality that I have , and then I will list yours. We will keep rotating the turns. But no exaggeration and pretense ! You don’t have to flatter me. It should be genuine.

Me: Will that work?

Roomie : I have not tried, but let’s check !

    ~

And man did it work! By the end of a 15 minute-long session, alternatively admiring the other person and hearing words of praise for yourself, the mood was lifted , the missing confidence regained and a lesson was learnt.

The account dates back to my college days and is one of the most vivid moments that I shared with my room-mate. That day, we learnt two things:

  1. Admiration lifts our mood and helps us regain confidence. So that day we promised to each other that if ever, either of us feels low or disheartened or worthless in life, the other would come to the rescue – not only to shower admiration on the gloomy friend and cheer her up, but also to make her see the beauty in the world by making her to praise the former.
  1. A girl understands a fellow girl’s mindset so well! 🙂

From that day, it was a secret we both had kept to ourselves, until this day when I am letting the cat out of the bag. We even gave a name to the game – ‘Mutual Admiration Sessions’.

Well the game was a stroke of serendipity, but can it not be extrapolated to our life ?

During the course of the journey we call life, we often come across predicaments which tend to shatter our confidence in our own being. Our worth becomes a blurred image and we tend to question the correctness of every decision we take, owing to the failures we encountered in the past or harbingers of discouragement we came across. Ideally, our conscience should remind us of the accomplishments we have achieved in the past and the greater heights we are capable of reaching in future – we know it as self-confidence. But at certain times, our conscience ceases to communicate and gets buried under a thick cover of apprehensions and doubt. We need an external agent to lift that cover and show us a picture of what truly we are capable.

The endeavor should not be equated to chest thumping – the intention is not to get blinded by the admiring words showered upon by the ‘mutual admiring partner’. That’s why, it is mutual. You will hear praise for yourself, but you will also have to point out qualities that you admire in your fellow participant. It will negate the probability of getting lost in narcissism. Eventually, when the cover is lifted, your mood will be lifted along with your confidence.

I also believe that some people will find it silly and childish and immature.

When somebody is depressed and low, and has lost all the trust and faith on oneself and one’s capabilities, how can such a stupid game help?

My answer to all those people:

You have been serious all your life. Try being silly for a change !

It might work for you, it might not ! I give no guarantee. But at least it will be worth a try.

Well, it helped me and my roomie ! 🙂

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Is the demon of suicide gender biased ?

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                                           “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”

Suicide is the aftermath of a long struggle with failure, depression, heart-break or ignominy. It is anti- God – a demon, hell bent to destroy God’s beautiful creation, creeps into a disheartened mind – lures it to kick the bucket, in order to destroy the pain. But does Suicide’s Grim Reaper prefer males to females? Is it gender biased ? Otherwise, what else could explain the greater number of men dying by suicide than women!

In today‘s world of advancements in possibly every facet of life, the responsibility on an individual to prove one’s worth increases tremendously. With the sudden surge of social media over the last decade, the social connections have increased which puts the individual in a constant limelight, as a result of which he/she has a fear of constantly being judged. The individual is not burdened by the thought of failing his own expectations, he dread failing others. Suicide, I believe, is more of a social affair than personal because it involves the society and what it thinks of the individual. But both men and women have their share of responsibilities and failures. On one hand, where man is burdened with the responsibility of earning the bread and butter to feed his family and play the role of a son, a husband and a father to perfection, the woman is under the baggage of being a good home maker- which includes the role of a wife, a mother, and many a times – she is the bread earner of the family. But failures at playing these roles hit both of them alike. Heart break shatters both hearts. But facts and figures quote that number of men committing suicide is greater than that by women. From where comes the difference then?

There have been many reasons cited for the difference in numbers. Some research says women tend to use less fatal weapons like drug overdose, while men shows strong intent by opting for weapons like guns or hanging by rope. Some sources quote a paradox, saying that women attempts more suicide, but more men die because of less number of failed attempts in men.

Whatever the reason may be, I could not help but think of the psychological differences in the two sexes. While women are more social and tend to share their predicaments with trusted ones, men are unable to do so because of their reserved nature. They never encourage the idea of taking professional help, thinking they will be able to handle it. I am not saying, dear men, you cannot handle it. But you need to draw a line between depressing thoughts and suicidal thoughts. If ever you feel you are more into the latter, seek professional help because, no matter you never feel the need of it, your family does. Same goes for you, dear ladies, because the aim here is not to decrease the gender bias – it is to completely destroy the demon.

Coming to the end, there is a dire need to decrease the rates of suicides everywhere irrespective of geographical location or gender. Nothing in this world is worth taking your own life for. Seek medical help if you think you need it. Talk through matters with your near and dear ones.

Success and failures, heartbreaks and ignominy are parts of your life – remember; only a PART – they are not your whole life.

Nothing in this world is worth taking your own life for- it might be worth fighting for.

So let’s fight and not die.

– Amateur

A Letter from a Woman to the World

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Dear all and sundry,

I am a single working woman in my 20s, comfortably living in a metro city, earning my livelihood – in a nutshell -‘fortunate’ in many ways. But being a woman, I have faced my share of struggles and humiliation. I have been reminded of my femininity every single day since childhood – when boys in my class passed lewd remarks at my body, when I was being ogled by street hooligans the day I wore my new skirt, the wrinkles of worry on my mother’s forehead when I was late while returning from school, when men don’t look at my face but at the area below my neck – as if it is their new way of paying respect to a lady. They think we don’t pay attention to their eyes – the reality is we know how each and every eye is set on us. We can differentiate the decent from the lecherous.

But I have been fortunate in many ways – my family has given me every encouragement that a child of their family deserves. In fact, I did not know what words like feminism, chauvinism, women empowerment meant until I moved out of the realm of my protective and supportive family – because both my brother and I were equally ‘empowered’ at home – we both received rebukes from mom when we made mistakes; we both got rewarded when we achieved an accomplishment. Both of us got good food, good clothes, good education, independence of thought and a good environment to grow. Neither of us received undeserving favors from either of our parents.

My point in telling all this :

I am neither interested in being a victim nor in preaching feminism here. What I am interested in is telling exactly this to the whole world. I am not a victim. I do not need sympathy. I want equality (Gender Equality is often a misunderstood term these days). Yes, I am reminded of my femininity everyday – but I am not backed down by it. It is not a handicap. I am an independent , strong girl capable of teaching misbehaving men (or even women) a lesson. I don’t want undeserving recognition or retribution from anybody just because I am a female. I want to be treated equal to anybody and everybody –like my brother and I are treated at home. Yes, I want protection from criminal minds of the society , but don’t men also need that ? I don’t want empowerment but equal opportunities – I will empower myself. Putting myself at a pedestal above men is not my intention. All men are not bad. In fact I have met many who are gems of a person. Just because of a few rotten ones, I cannot blot the entire race – like the way not all women are respectable and virtuous- some are nastier than men.

For all the criminal-minds / so – called- feminists / misogynists / chauvinists , here is what I have to say to you :

I will not tolerate any kind of violence inflicted on me – not by men OR women. I will not tolerate assassination of my character by a man OR a woman. I will give as much freedom and respect to my husband as he gives me. Infidelity is not an option – same rules for both of us. I do not want to receive undue advantage from anybody – be it in school , college or office. I want to earn my respect . I will pay half the bill when I go out with my boyfriend. I do not want any man to get up from his seat in a bus or train until and unless I am old, unwell or pregnant (In that case, I will need it !). I will teach my son to respect girls as much as I will teach my daughter to treat boys with same respect. I will teach them to protect themselves from criminal minds in the society – both men and women alike. I will teach them equality in its purest form.

I want to be free from feminism, prejudice or chauvinism.I don’ t want to be objectified or worshiped.  I simply want to be a face of equality .

Yours Sincerely

21st Century Woman

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Humor Me

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‘Little Birdie flying in the sky,

I look up and it shits in my eye

I don’t mind, I don’t cry

But I thank god that cows don’t fly !! ‘

                                                                                                     – Anonymous

Did you have this thought when you wiped bird’s shit off your eyes or clothes? If yes, then you are probably the person I am going to eulogize in this piece. Your commendable positive attitude deserves a special mention. But it is not your optimism I am going to talk about. It is your sense of humor – which is lacking in people nowadays – the ability to laugh off your worries, the skill of facing vagaries of life with a smile, or probably a joke! Believe me, you rock!

A few days back, I was watching a famous actress’s interview, in which she revealed that she was a victim of depression during those times when she was at the pinnacle of her career. It was an eye opener. If a person like her having all the materialistic comforts–established career, financial security, fame, accolades and recognition – can lack emotional stability, it speaks volumes of the fact that depression does not take into account a person’s career or money or success before attacking someone, not even age – She is in her 20s. So everyone is vulnerable. However, she won this battle with flying colors. And now she has launched an initiative to help people fighting depression – an inspirational effort indeed.

We need to look at the bigger picture here. I just recounted one incident – there are several poignant stories of broken hearts, failures, abuse – easily falling prey to depression. Suicide is the aftermath when a heart is not able to bear more pain and wants to stop beating. The elixir which can release people from the clutches of depression is a good sense of humor – which is so rare today. By a sense of humor, I don’t hint at people becoming comedians and cracking jokes at every chance they get. In fact, humor has little to do with jokes. Humor enables you to laugh at yourself, releasing the anxiety and stress you have been carrying all around. It allows you to make fun of the troubles you are in, the predicaments you face and the tribulations you have to undergo- find the humor in life. It is the ability to let go and not take life too seriously. I am not a great fan of this author’s writing, but I truly believe what he said “Don’t be serious in life. Be Sincere.” Remember Heath Ledger , the joker in the Batman – saying in his menacing voice – ‘Why So Serious’? Well, in the movie , his intention was different from the point I am trying to make here, but his words are the key – Why so serious?

Life is too short to be taken seriously but too important to be not taken sincerely.

A short disclaimer here – a good sense of humor does not provide solutions to your problem. If you are living your life in this world and not in mountains, you have got to face troubles and YOU have to sought them out. But a good sense of humor will definitely make that journey a pleasurable one, rescuing you from the darkness of depression and giving you the courage to go on and reach the destination- no matter how many obstacles you have to overcome.

Live life sincerely.

Dance, rejoice, laugh, love, play, work – do everything you want to do , but do it sincerely and not seriously.

Find the humor in life and let it take away all your anxiety and stress while your brains find a solution.

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A world of Opposites

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way. .

– Excerpt from  ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens.

Right from childhood, these lines by notable writer Charles Dickens always intrigued me. I was never able to comprehend what he actually meant.Initially,owing to my immaturity and innocence, I thought he might be confused about his feelings and was not able to judge the situation – after all how can the time be both best and worst simultaneously. There has to be a single perspective.His words are contradictory.The anaphora is puzzling.It is a paradox. What does he really mean?

I must admit that I have not read the novel. I tried but I could not. I don’t deny the fact that it is not one of the great pieces by a notable writer, but my taste in reading was different. I do accept that had I read the novel , I could have got the real idea beneath the words. But as I said, I was quite stubborn with my taste.

Now, when I look at these words, I get a sense of familiarity.As we grow, we learn that good and bad,darkness and lightness, hope and despair, heaven and hell – both co-exist.You will not find one without the other. It creates a kind of balance in this universe. If you have faced good times, you are bound to encounter worst predicaments. If you are filled with hope today, you will feel low tomorrow.If you are happy today, tomorrow you never know what might sadden you. If you are wise today, with time that knowledge will not be enough.These opposites definitely attract each other.

But there is a sanguine side to this whole theory. If you have been a tough time in your life, are you going to suffer your whole life?No. If you are sad today, will there not be a good news waiting for you tomorrow? No. If you are ignorant today, can the world make you stay ignorant if you work and learn hard. An emphatic No. The pearl to be picked up here is both good and bad exist in this world. It is a world of opposites. A roller coaster ride where at one time you are at the zenith, while at the other, you are deep down. But does it stop? No. It keeps going changing highs to lows, lows to highs.

Remember, Change is the only constant. Good and bad both co-exist. Fight the bad, embrace the good.

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