I know that I know nothing

The phrase “I know that I know nothing” may sound familiar to you. That’s because, at some point, you must have either heard it from a friend or in school or read it somewhere. It’s a Socratic paradox.

The term, “Socratic paradox” refer to a self-referential paradox, originating in Socrates’s utterance, “what I do not know I do not think I know”, often paraphrased as “I know that I know nothing.”

The following are few of the so-called Socratic paradoxes:

  • What I do not know I do not think I know
  • No one desires evil
  • No one errs or does wrong willingly or knowingly
  • Virtue—all virtue—is knowledge
  • Virtue is sufficient for happiness

I know that I know nothing

The phrase originally comes from Latin “ipse se nihil scire id unum sciat”, which (if literally translated) means “to know that one thing he knows he himself is nothing”.

This does not make much sense if you just read the English translation.

This is because much is lost in the translation (Greek to Latin to back to Greek to now English).

Also, please note that we have lost most of the historical context and nuances since historical records are limited and often incomplete.

In my opinion there are two things going on here:

1) Socrates is saying, “I know, I do not know things that I don’t know.” (This is factually correct for both Socrates and all of us, but whether you are aware of this fact of life is another topic.)

2) Socrates is saying, “I know, I don’t know anything (besides probably a few things and that too in a shallow sense)”. If you think deeply about it, this also seems to be true for him and as well as anyone of us.

Let us take a deep dive into what I mean by the above (point #2).

The Deeper Truth

We know that Socrates has been the bedrock of Western philosophy. So we can perhaps reverse engineer the foundation of western philosophy to gain some further insight into what actually was said or meant.

Socrates says all wisdom begins with wondering and thus admitting one’s ignorance.

Socrates’ dialectic method of teaching was based on that he as a teacher knew nothing, so he would derive knowledge from his students by dialogue.

There is also a passage by Diogenes Laertius in his work Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers where he lists, among the things that Socrates used to say:

“εἰδέναι μὲν μηδὲν πλὴν αὐτὸ τοῦτο εἰδέναι”

“that he knew nothing except that he knew nothing”
Again, closer to the quote, there is a passage in Plato’s Apology, where Socrates says that after discussing with someone he started thinking that:
τούτου μὲν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐγὼ σοφώτερός εἰμι· κινδυνεύει μὲν γὰρ ἡμῶν οὐδέτερος οὐδὲν καλὸν κἀγαθὸν εἰδέναι, ἀλλ᾽ οὗτος μὲν οἴεταί τι εἰδέναι οὐκ εἰδώς, ἐγὼ δέ, ὥσπερ οὖν οὐκ οἶδα, οὐδὲ οἴομαι· ἔοικα γοῦν τούτου γε σμικρῷ τινι αὐτῷ τούτῳ σοφώτερος εἶναι, ὅτι ἃ μὴ οἶδα οὐδὲ οἴομαι εἰδέναι.
I am wiser than this man, for neither of us appears to know anything great and good; but he fancies he knows something, although he knows nothing; whereas I, as I do not know anything, so I do not fancy I do. In this trifling particular, then, I appear to be wiser than he, because I do not fancy I know what I do not know.

What this tells us is that your knowledge of any subject is always incomplete. As you acquire more facts and truths about a matter, your knowledge increases, oftentimes eliminating previously held wrong assumptions or beliefs.

You are always learning, always seeking, always questioning, always wondering, always doubting, always keeping an open mind that you might be wrong. And as things turn out, you often are…wrong and/or incomplete.

So perhaps, Socrates did mean “I know that I know nothing” but not as an objective fact about himself but as a state of mind. If you view it in this context then the Socratic paradox is not a paradox after all. 

In the grand scheme of things, none of us know anything that’s truly eternal, the Absolute Truth! One needs to be a forever student. You never stop learning.

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Thoughts on Love: What is Love?

What is love? That is a question that has been posed to us thousands of times, and it is one that humans do not seem to be able to answer. I’m not sure if there’s an actual scientific definition for the word ‘love’ since its usage varies from person to person.

We have no idea what love actually is, or how it works. Nor do we have any real way of defining it.

So today I will share some of my thoughts on love.

To me, Love is the only real thing in life. Without love, everything else would be meaningless. This is what I think of ‘what is love’.

And what is this feeling of love? Love is the feeling you have when you truly care for someone, and they truly care for you. 

This is the kind of love I want to have with someone. Love is real, and I’m glad to have found it.

And I think people should love each other.

Thoughts on Love

Love of others tends to be associated with feelings and emotions such as joy, contentment, gratitude, or even excitement. It is also linked to a desire or need to give care and support.

There are many factors that affect the nature of love. Such factors include culture, attachment style, stage of the relationship, and even gender differences.

Psychological theories on the nature and function of love date back to the ancient world.

The conventional view is that romantic relationships are beneficial in that they tend to increase an individual’s level of happiness.

The most commonly expressed love is the love of others. We often say things like, “I love my mom and dad.”

Or, in the case of a romantic relationship, we might say, “I am madly in love with him/her.”

The Many Faces of Love

Love is a very complex phenomenon, and it’s difficult to describe in words. Love can mean several things but in the most common use of the word, Love is the intense feeling of affection that one has for another.

It is not merely the emotion, but also involves a strong desire to act in a certain way towards the person loved.

Love is a concept which describes the desire to see one’s own needs met by another person, and for that other person’s needs to be seen as being important.

This relationship between people can take many forms, from sharing one’s food with a starving man on the street to having complex relationships with many different partners over time.

Therefore, we have to look at the way that people express ‘love’ to understand what it is. In English, we use a lot of different words for this:

  • We love our parents and siblings
  • We love cats and dogs (they aren’t even biologically related to us)
  • We love God/Allah (a completely imaginary being)
  • We love our friends
  • We love money, power, fame (non-physical things)
  • and so on…

We use the same word to say that we love food or a certain type of music. The meaning is so diffuse and generalized that there isn’t really much to be said about it.

So what is love? Is it just a feeling, or does it have some kind of objective meaning behind it?

Love can be defined as the desire to act for another person’s well-being. To clarify, love is wanting what’s best for someone. This means that it’s not the same as liking them; you can like some person without loving them.

Love can be felt for others or towards oneself (i.e., self-love). An experience of love typically gives rise to a desire to enter into, maintain, and enjoy a close relationship with the object of love.

It also provides a basis for the sense of agency and can be considered as being an origin of emotional actions or motivation.

Being in Love

I have read about how people fall in love. And I know my own experience. I don’t really think that love is just a feeling. It is more of a “feeling + state of being”. You feel it because you are in a state of love. 

Just like water can be in the state of liquid at room temperature or ice (when frozen) or gas (when vaporized). Love is more than just a passing feeling. You “feel” love because you are in Love.

Love is a concept invented by humans to describe how they felt when their minds were linked together in a symbiotic relationship. It’s mysterious, and no one really understands it.

Humans used ‘love’ to describe the feeling they got from having a connection with another human, which somehow completed them. They felt “at home”, or as if they were finally at peace and understood everything.

As time passed, humans evolved and their own minds became more complex. They began to express love in new ways; they started writing poems about it, singing songs about it, composing symphonies that described the feeling of love.

But love didn’t really change; it was always the same strange, intangible thing. Humans were just better at describing it now.

And that’s what love is: a feeling of completion and peace, which humans first felt when they started linking their minds together.

In its most basic form, love is a feeling that links hearts and minds together. In humans and other animals, it evolved into something more complex.

In some sense love is like a river, you can’t see the source but you know it exists and let it flow. You need to put effort into keeping that river flowing.

Love is very important. That’s why that word exists in all languages, and it’s not just a label for sex or something like that. It is different from affection.

Imagine you have a child and you love your child. You can do anything for that child because you love him/her. Even if the child is not actually yours biologically or genetically.

You also can love an animal, a pet. You can even love your car or washing machine.

For example, I know people have feelings of being in love with certain things, and it’s probably true that humans feel ‘love’ for many different things.

For example, a man may be in love with his truck and talk about how he loves driving it. Another person may love eating at McDonald’s. A woman could fall in love with an expensive pair of shoes.

I think humans have a lot of love, and that’s one reason why they can get along so well. They share all kinds of things with each other, like belief in money or taste for a certain kind of food.

Love Is…

Love is what makes family relationships so special and important. It’s the same with friendship, although it’s not always as easy to define.

Love is not always easy to understand, which can make it difficult to explain.

Love is a strong feeling of affection or care for someone. It’s not something you can force, which makes it so special.

Love is a personal experience, which means that no one has the right to tell you how to love someone else.

Love is the emotion that binds us all together, through life and death. The love of friends, family, and lovers is what drives humanity to do so much for one another.

Love is what motivates you to live every day, and at the same time, love is what drives us to death with its bittersweet embrace.

Love makes humanity strong as a whole, but also weak individually.

I have often loved and lost, but this does not dissuade me from loving again. Love is more than just an emotion, more than just a feeling, more than just a thought! It is a state of being.

Love is the one thing that will never let you down in life if you find it.

Love can be found in almost all of us, but it takes a little time to let it bloom. It grows in freedom. It grows in openness. It grows when it is ignited ..by another spark of love. Love is both human and divine.

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The Limits of 10X​ Growth for Solopreneurs

At some point, the 10X rule stops working if you are a Solopreneur.

Say you are an artist, writer, blogger, YouTuber, musician, designer, tutor, baker, and so on. (Someone without the long leverage of new technology or capital. Which would be most of us.) 

Say you just published your first blog or released your first song. Or you printed your first t-shirt design. Or wrote the first chapter of your book. Or, recorded the first podcast. Or, sold the first bracelet through Etsy.

Say you get some interests. You get some sales. You see some tractions. A glimmer of hope. A tribe of like-minded humans. A possibility of a business of your own. Someday.

The 10X Growth Rule

The 10X growth rule would mean: 1 x 10 = 10 blogs/songs.

(i.e. 10 times more profit or paying customers or fans)

You do the second round of 10X rule. You work hard, you get professional. You invest your own money into your venture. You take a shot on yourself.

10 x 10 = 100 blogs/songs

(i.e. you are definitely having some sales and some notoriety)

You do a third iteration of the 10X rule.

100 x 10 = 1000 blogs or vlogs or songs or designs or books (chapters/stories)?

As you can see, it’s getting harder now. You are definitely playing in the middle of the bell curve. You have found a product-market fit. You have data. You have insights from the mistakes you have made.

You know what’s working and what will not work. But you are at your full capacity.

Still a Solopreneur

The truth is you are still a Solopreneur. You are still hustling. On your own. You are doing okay but you don’t know if you will make it through the end of this “hustle tunnel”.

You have high hopes but you also have doubts. You need capital. You need miracles. You need grace.

Because the 10X rule will not work for you anymore. Not unless you take on VC money or a bank loan and hire a bunch of people. (Because you need a bigger pool of customers. You need more demand from your existing customers. And, all this takes money. Something you don’t have, yet.)

And though all of that is possible, and you know you can do it, the questions remain, will you make it BIG after the next 10X?

What does it look like after the fourth iteration of 10X growth?

Let’s apply it to your business or blog or fanbase. Let’s calculate:

1000 x 10 = 10,000 blogs/customers/podcasts/products/so on

Though the 10K mark looks impressive, it may not be enough. So you need to make a critical decision now. Should you grow and take outside money and build a team.

Or, should you keep it running your business/project as a hobby? (After all, 1000 true fans is all you need, according to Kevin Kelly.)

A Mediocre Success is Worse

If you stay at the 1000 mark, you are playing in the long tail of everything. You won’t have the financial freedom this way. You will NEVER be able to quit your day job. You will never be financially and emotionally independent. You will never own your own calendar. You will never realize your dreams!

But, if you take a leap of faith and go for the next phase of growth, you will be tested by everything and everyone. The market will test you. Your family will test you. Your customers will test you. Your faith in your idea will test you.

You’ll have to work incredibly hard. You’ll have to cut all distractions. You will have to get dead-serious. You’ll need all the faith and hope that you can muster. You need all the allies and friends and partners that you can make. You’ll need an incredible amount of patience and inner calm or your ship will burn midway.

Say, you are able to cross the chasm. Say you make it through. Now, you have won the trust of your investors, partners, family, your customers, and fans, and above all, your own self.

Now you feel bolder. Maybe even a little aggressive. You are thinking the unthinkable. You are thinking of the 5th phase of 10X growth.

10,000 x 10 = 100,000

At this point, it makes sense to go all in. After all, if you can command a size this significant in any market or niche, you will always have positive cash flow.

You are no longer a Soloprenuer. You have a business. Your team size may be very small, but you definitely have made it. You may quit your day job now. You may decide to do this for the rest of your life.

You have grown as a person. You have grown a business that brings in net profit. You have survived which 9 out of 10 entrepreneurs won’t. And above all, you are just getting started.

Actually, (and paradoxically), it gets easier from here. You can take on more investments. You can grow your team by a factor of 10. And you can actually go shoot for a 6th and maybe even 7th phase of 10X rule.

In phase 6, you are at a million mark. In phase 7, you are at 10 million mark.

However, the question remains, will you or your business/platform/paying customers/etc. get to the 4th growth phase?

Can you transition from 1,000 to 10,000? If you are a Solopreneur? Can you pull in $100,000 in profits (or even in revenues)?

If the market is showing the signs, then you should go all in. Because this is the hardest jump you’ll ever make on your journey to being a successful entrepreneur.

But first, you must find your 1000 true fans. Take as much time it takes to get to this point. It will be worth it in the end.

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PS: If you liked this analysis, follow me for more such in-depth blogs directly shared on my blog. If you are looking for a personal/life/business coach, I am available for hire.

PPS: Please leave your thoughts in the comments below. I would love to hear your perspectives and experiences.

A Decade In Review: 2010-2019

If you are a millennial (like me), you would agree that the last 10 years were interesting and full of ups and downs. We started this decade at the tail end of one of the worst recessions (2008-2010).

The economy then gradually started to recover in 2011 and since then has broken many records.

A Decade In Review

We saw governments around the world pour trillions of dollars into the economy to keep the financial engines humming. The actual impact of this excessive money printing is yet to be realized. I guess we’ll find out in the next 10 years.

We saw Bitcoin have its 15 minutes of fame in late 2017 and the Crypto market almost hit a Trillion dollars market cap.

We saw Brexit happen. We saw a narcissist idiot become the President of the United States. At the same time, we also witnessed Finland elect a group of young women (early to mid-thirties) to the country’s highest position.

We saw some significant growth in the specialized AI revolution. Google’s DeepMind defeated all of the world’s top Go champions. Machine Learning today sounds almost like a casual thing as data mining and analytics were in the previous decades.

We saw Elon Musk save Tesla and SpaceX. Telsa stock did reach $420 USD which is funny. We won’t go into that tangent but if you were following the news, you will get a giggle.

Game of Thrones premiered in 2011 and finished in 2019. Millions of people watched it around the globe. Perhaps, as one of the most successful TV shows of this decade, GOT truly was a cultural phenomenon.

Despite HBO stealing the crown for producing the best TV series, #Netflix was the best performing stock this decade. Well, Netflix and Chill even became a “thing”.

This decade also saw the Arab Spring, a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world. Caused by authoritarianism and corruption, the world witnessed Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen revolt against their own governments.

Similar equally powerful political shifts also happened in South Asian countries of Nepal, Pakistan, and India. In the Americas, Venezuela and Cuba joined the club with the citizen protesters. There are plenty of simmering unhappy forces of common citizens, sitting dormant; waiting for outbursts across the Latin world and Asia.

Overall, Nationalism and nationalistic sentiments were on the rise and the common people (always-connected by the Internet) wanted a better economy, equal rights, and hopes for a better future. This trend is likely to continue.

There were more than 50 wars (small to large) that were fought around the globe. Religion is still as powerful and influential as it was at the beginning of the 21st century. Mankind’s dependence on God to save itself reflects how governments around the world have failed its own citizens.

On the flip side, some folks and organizations around the world decided to look beyond the pale blue dot and mapped out their plans for colonizing Mars, Outer Space, and the Moon.

As many as a dozen countries and private companies around the world are thinking beyond the earth. However, despite the progress made up until 2019, Space Colonization is still a concept. We don’t know what we don’t know!

Speaking of Technological Progress

Technology, in general, saw impressive growth but nothing that was forecasted in the 1960s Sci-fi novels. We still didn’t get flying cars, global prosperity (end of poverty), time travel or space travel for that matter.

Cancer and cardiovascular diseases still kill millions each year. The human race is just one super-bug away from being decimated. The healthcare services on average suck around the world. We are still far too behind any meaningful goal post when it comes to our health and death.

The global ocean level rose more than by an inch in the past 10 years while the politicians are still debating if climate change is real or a hoax.

In the coming decade, we still have a lot to work on and worry about. From the ongoing refugee crisis to economic slowdowns to unpredictable climate changes to massive inequality around the globe, there is a lot of work for each one of us.

I would end this short post with a note that, yes, in 2019, we also saw one democratic candidate in the United States run on the platform for Universal Basic Income (UBI) for all. This is neither too early, nor too late.

In the hindsight, perhaps we will look at this decade and wonder if this was the right timeline to start thinking about bigger and bolder shifts in how humanity evolves in the 21st century.

We may have had a slow start with the promises of the 21st century but remember, we still have 80% of it left.

Top 250 Books of All Time | Books I Have Loved

This is my personal list of the best books to make you wiser and a better thinker (and a writer, if you are into writing). But, most importantly each one of these books is life-changing and full of wisdom.

By the way, these books span five continents, dozens of countries, and 2000 years of distilled human experience.

I’ll continue to add to this list for your enjoyment and my pleasure! So as time goes by the number of books will increase and will likely stop at the Top 250.

“Reading makes our soul richer.” – Salil Jha

(The listing is in no particular order).

1. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

2. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran

3. Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari

4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

5. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

6. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

7. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

8. Medea by Euripides

9. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

10. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

11. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

12. A Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert

13. Gypsy Ballads by Federico Garcia Lorca

14. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

15. Gilgamesh by Unknown in Mesopotamia (1800 BC)

16. Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Library – a place like no other / The Naked Soul

 

17. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse 

18. Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu  

19. The Devil to Pay in the Backlands by Joao Guimaraes Rosa

20. Hunger by Knut Hamsun

21. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

22. The Iliad by Homer

23. The Odyssey by Homer

24. Ulysses by James Joyce

25. The Complete Stories by Franz Kafka

26. Alice in Wonderland by Jane Carruth

27. The Recognition of Sakuntala by Kalidasa, India

28. The Sound of the Mountain by Yasunari Kawabata

29. Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis

30. Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence

31. Independent People by Halldor K Laxness

32. Complete Poems by Giacomo Leopardi

33. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Books transform us with transpersonal experiences / The Naked Soul

 

34. The First and Last Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurti  

35. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories by Lu Xun

36. Mahabharata by Vyasa India (500 BC)

37. Children of Gebelawi by Naguib Mahfouz

38. The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

39. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

40. Essays by Michel de Montaigne

41. History by Elsa Morante

42. Beloved by Toni Morrison

43. The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki

44. The Man Without Qualities by Robert Musil

45. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

46. Njaals Saga by Unknown from Iceland (1300 AD)

47. 1984 by George Orwell

48. Metamorphoses by Ovid (43 BC)

49. The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa

50. The Complete Tales by Edgar Allan Poe

51. Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

52. Gargantua and Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais

53. Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo

54. Masnawi (and Collection of Complete Poems) by Rumi

Reading makes us more human / The Naked Soul

 

55. Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

56. The Orchard by Sheikh Musharrif ud-din Sadi

57. Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

58. Blindness by Jose Saramago

59. Hamlet by William Shakespeare

60. Othello by William Shakespeare

61. Oedipus the King by Sophocles

62. The Red and the Black by Stendhal

63. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne

64. Confessions of Zeno by Italo Svevo

65. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

66. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

67. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

68. One Thousand and One Nights by Unknown from India/Persia/Iraq

69. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

70. Ramayana by Valmiki, India (300 BC)

71. Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

72. Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

73. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

74. The New Testament (The Bible) by various authors 

75. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason

76. The Stranger by Albert Camus 

77. The Trial by Franz Kafka

78. Middlemarch by George Eliot

79. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri 

80. The Book of Job (Old Testament) by Unknown 

81. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

82. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Doblin

83. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett

84. Meetings With Remarkable Men by G.I. Gurdjieff  

85. Buddenbrook and The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

86. The Story of My Experiments With Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

87. The Dhammapada by Anonymous

88. Lust for Life by Irving Stone

89. The Analects by Confucius 

90. The Outsider by Colin Wilson

91. The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

92. A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell

93. In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching by P.D. Ouspensky

94. Wandering on the Way: Early Taoist Tales and Parables of Chuang Tzu by Zhuangzi

95. Our Life with Mr. Gurdjieff by Thomas de Hartmann

96. Selected Writings by Meister Eckhart

97. Songs of Milarepa by Milarepa

98. The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by Albert Camus

99. Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev

100. Who Am I? The Teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi by Ramana Maharshi

101. The Light of Asia by Edwin Arnold

102. Confessions by Augustine of Hippo

103. Mother by Maxim Gorky

104. Japji Sahib – The Song of the Soul by Guru Nanak

105. The Three Pillars of Zen by Philip Kapleau

106. The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali
107. The Importance of Living by Lin Yutang
108. Listen, Little Man! by Wilhelm Reich
109. The Will to Power by Friedrich Nietzsche
110. I and Thou by Martin Buber
111. Light on the Path by Mabel Collins
112. Collected Essays by Aldous Huxley
113. The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
114. Tales of the Hasidim by Martin Buber
115. Jacques the Fatalist and His Master by Denis Diderot
If you have a recommendation, please let me know in the comments. Thanks!

Our Romantic Wedding Vows

I wrote my wedding vows and shared with my love and to-be-wife. I spoke it first at our wedding.
While writing, I could feel my heart and a deep sense of love within but I could have never predicted how it will feel at the time of the wedding. To say the least, it was an intense and powerful emotion.
To see her in tears, to have tears in my own eyes. It felt we were one. Our marriage felt the best thing we could have ever done together.
My wife also wrote one which is shared below after mine.
Wedding vows are more than just words. They are more than just future promises or rules. Wedding vows are what makes any successful marriage successful.
If you are planning to tie the knots, I would humbly say, take some time and write your vows and say it to him or her. This will make your wedding day even more special.
Also, please feel free to use the vows below and if you like, please feel free to edit it as you like to make it more personalized for you.
Hope this post will make at least one person feel the love that is inside their own heart. I hope you will share your kindness and love with others, today and the day after.

Wedding Vows

TODAY, I PROMISE YOU THIS, MY LOVE:
I will LAUGH with you in times of joy, and COMFORT you in times of sorrow. I will share your dreams and support you as you seek to PURSUE HAPPINESS in life. I will listen to you with COMPASSION and understanding and speak to you with LOVE and KINDNESS.
FROM TODAY, I am yours and you are mine. I’ll love you unconditionally and without hesitation or judgment. I take you as you are. I want to start A FAMILY with you and I want to grow old with you. Whatever may come, I will always be there, for TRUE LOVE never dies. 
As I have given you my hand to hold, so I give you MY LIFE to keep from this day forward, so long as we both live, and thereafter, till the end of the Universe.

Her Response & Vows

I TAKE YOU AS YOU ARE, loving who you are now and who you are yet to become. I promise to listen to you and learn from you, to support you and accept your support. I will celebrate your triumphs and mourn your losses as though they were my own. I will love you and have faith in your love for me, through all our years and all that life may bring us.
I LOVE YOU UNCONDITIONALLY AND WITHOUT HESITATION. I vow to love you, encourage you, trust you, and respect you. As a family, we will create a home filled with learning, laughter, kindness, and compassion.
I promise to work with you to foster and cherish a relationship of equality knowing that together we will build a life far better than either of us could imagine alone.
I choose you to be my husband. I accept you as you are, and I offer myself in return. I will care for you, stand beside you, and share with you all of life’s adversities and all of its joys from this day forward, and all the days of my life.
TODAY, I PROMISE YOU THIS: I will laugh with you in times of joy, and comfort you in times of sorrow. I will share your dreams and support you as you strive to achieve your goals. I will listen to you with compassion and understanding, and speak to you with encouragement.
Together, let us build a home filled with learning, laughter, and light, shared freely with all who may live there. Let us be partners, friends and lovers, today and all of the days that follow.
SALIL, YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND. I promise to laugh with you, cry with you, and grow with you. I will love you when we are together and when we are apart. I promise to support your dreams and to respect our differences and to love you and be by your side through all the days and nights of our lives.

Outsourcing and Immigration: Human Labor as a Commodity

Anyone who is currently active in the workforce (any type of work) must have individually faced the growing impact of two related yet distinct global phenomena: Outsourcing and Immigration.

In short:

Outsourcing is: Capital —-> Cheap Labor

Immigration is: Capital <—- Cheap Labor

Outsourcing

When capital (money) moves to a country with a surplus and cheap labor, it’s Outsourcing. It’s not new and it is not just related to Information Technology. In older days, merchants will often set up a second base or partnerships in a foreign city or country which produced the raw materials or imported products for their primary business.

 

Immigration

When surplus and cheap labor moves to the money (bigger job market), it’s Immigration. A bigger and better job market could also mean more resources and hope for better living standards.

Immigration is also not new. The history of human evolution has been of constant migration from land to land, and island to island.

The labor force is a type of investment made by the businesses & entrepreneurs. Like commodities and resources, labor (and labor-cost) is part of the “expense” and therefore is a dividing factor to calculate productivity.

Since every business has competitors, it is “critical” that businesses have to keep their productivity higher at the lowest possible cost.

Supply and Demand

Most people will not complain, question, or even overthink when they buy a dozen of bananas for less than a dollar that came from South-Central America. Since bananas are cheaper in the south, it makes sense to move them to the north to balance the global supply-demand equation.

Same is true for honey, solar panels, lithium, gold, and tuna. And everything else, by the way, including human labor.

Human Labor as a Commodity

But if you take this logic to the next level, “generic labor” is no different from bananas or iPhones or cotton t-shirts. In other words, manual labor, for the most part, is yet another commodity.

Most people don’t see it that way because they have lived their whole life in an employee mindset with either large multi-national corporations or government agencies where the employees are often protected by either laws or regulations. 

It could also be that anyone not seeing this paradigm shift is not young enough to face the ever-increasing global competition in the job market.

In most Western countries, we live in government-controlled, mostly stable democracies that support some labor rights and unions that we consider our labor to be a different offering, often overvaluing ourselves.

But if you are the one running the business, to you ‘labor’ is no different from moving bananas or cotton from a low-cost place to a high-cost place. This is how any industry becomes more efficient, better, and cheaper for everyone anywhere in the entire world.

The global movement of money and labor (whether physically or over the internet) is what is constantly flattening the globe and smoothening the political-geographical divide between various nations.

Future of Money & Work

For most people who are just “employees” (read: labor), the best way to ensure your earning potential or even increasing it depends on improving your skills, or starting a business of your own (irrespective of size), or even relocating (read: immigration) to a lower cost (but relatively equally developed) destinations where your skills are far more valued than the local labor pool.

Unless the world goes completely backward where every country closes its borders (which won’t happen due to the rise of powerful technology and the internet), “outsourcing and immigration” will never stop (irrespective of local politics). This is the future of work.

From Immigration to Mars

More outsourcing of work, global bandwidth penetration, satellite internet, everyday use of VR/AR for communication, a workplace full of A.Is, automated machinery, and smart robots, global digital currencies — it’s all coming. And, for anyone reading this, it’s coming within our lifetime.

This is a rising trend which is not going to stop anytime soon. Instead, it’s going to take humans from one planet to the infinite vastness of space. To explore space and expand beyond earth, we humans, must first get flattened here on earth as one united species. We have to eventually learn to act as one.

The current trend of outsourcing of work, automation of repetitive, boring, dangerous, and laborious manual work, and immigration is good for all of us. That said, it is also important to note that like any other system, nothing is perfect and there is a lot of damage that is done by tax sheltering, poor immigration policies, and illogical outsourcing.

With that said, it is equally important to note that, this collective trend is bigger than any one of us. So, it’s going to happen, no matter what we personally feel about it. The best thing to do here is to embrace the good and work toward moving forward.

With quality immigration, applying Artifical Intelligence to complex fields such as medicine and law, and by automating repetitive and dangerous manual tasks, we are creating a free space for all humans where creativity and innovation can be applied. 

Losing a job or the prospect of losing your future employment is also the push for today’s entrepreneurial boom. And this is going to continue in coming decades. 

Conclusion

I’ll be the first to admit that this paradigm shift is easier said than done and there is still a long way in front of us. It is easy to intellectualize this than to feel the heat.

There will be challenges to overcome both at the collective level and at an individual level.

There is going to be a lot of pain before anyone of us can realize any gain from it.

My thesis here is that technology often helps creates accelerating and exponential trends and with the Internet, VR/AR/MR, and in the rise of algorithmic automation and Artificial Intelligence powered workforce, where you live will matter less and less. 

With that same logic, where you stash your cash will also matter less so with the rise of digital cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Monero, and ZCash.

Let me know what do you think about where we will be in next 20 years? In the last 10 years, have you personally been affected by either outsourcing or immigration? If so, how? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Life After 18 | 51 Hard Truths of Real World

In the ancient times, wars, food, a constant struggle for life used to turn children into adults through a series of life-events (most of which were not always pleasant).

But in our modern world, it’s not exactly clear when one truly enters the adulthood. Is it when we get to legally drive a car or drink alcohol or are no longer our parent’s control? Or, is it when we find a paying job or secure a relationship or have a career or all of the above?

It’s somewhat sad when on the one hand science and society tells you that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until age 25 and at the same time your inner adult doesn’t get to express herself (or himself) until much later when you are beaten down with debts, social obligations, and converted into a social norm following, play by the rules kinda zombie.

Life After 18

Going by the philosophy of this blog, I believe, each soul already possesses what it should do and which paths it needs to follow. Almost everything we face from the time we turn 18 (at the dawn of adulthood), is a series of resistance to thwart us from our path.

As we age and slowly learn more about ourselves, about our own strengths, and about the many lies of society, we begin to take control of our life (if we are lucky). Most humans are not fortunate enough to ever claim their freedom. If you are reading this, chances are, you value your life and you seek freedom above all else.

Below is a short list of truths about life that I have realized over the years. Eventually, each one us learns these on our own. But, the sooner you internalize these truths, the better your life will be.

Hard Truths of Real World

  1. Everything is a choice. A choice is a fork in the moment. Each choice has consequences. Consequences have consequences.
  2. You begin adulthood with nothing figured out. But so does everyone else.
  3. Everything that you’ll do now, you will own it for the rest of your life. Therefore think before you commit to do something or do anything.
  4. The most powerful thing that you’ll ever learn is “compound interest.” Take it seriously. Compounding looks boring at first but then quickly makes things grow exponentially. It’s hard to mentally calculate in exponential terms.
  5. Everything compounds in life. Your health. Your relationships. Your money. Your knowledge and skills.
  6. No one can (or will) make you happy. Making you happy is your job.
  7. Happiness is a state of being. To be happy, be happy. That is all to it.
  8. You would always feel you wish you saved more. So start saving from the day you earn your first penny.
  9. There are two kinds of work you’ll ever do. Work that generates income and work that generates meaning. Your real job, therefore, is to marry the two.
  10. Most managers aren’t leaders or managers, but simply slave drivers with no alignment with the company’s vision or inner desire to truly manage.
  1. Freedom doesn’t begin with making a lot of money but by being self-aware and making yourself grounded in your own truths.
  2. Speaking of which, financial freedom is not “true freedom”. It’s a part of freedom pie (and not the whole pie).
  3. Self-awareness is more important than hard work. The more you know about yourself, the more successful you’ll be.
  4. If you make twice the amount of above poverty line and have a family, get a good life insurance.
  5. Life is fragile, cherish it every moment. People are fragile, be kind to everyone.
  6. Animals are consciously evolved creatures. Be kind to all life forms.
  7. If you need help, be the first person to help yourself.
  8. Health is the first wealth (the key) that allows you to enjoy the rest of your wealth.
  1. Time is the most valuable asset. Your lifetime is finite. No matter how hard and smart you work, you can never gain any more of it then what’s given to you each day.
  2. Become worthy to find a worthy mate or a worthy life-partner or a worthy friend.
  3. Be the person you wish your parents or teachers or coaches were.
  4. Don’t take any advice from someone who is not walking the talk. Money advises from broke. Health advises from overweight. Relationship advises from unhappy singles.
  5. Because someone was divorced three times, doesn’t mean they know the most about human relationships. Too many failed relationships show the person doesn’t really value long-term partnership over personal freedom.
  6. Every successful relationship requires both sacrifice and understanding.
  7. Most people fight over trivial matters. Most fights are fought over trivial matters.
  8. If you truly value someone as your true friend, you’ll always find time to cherish their every life-events opportunities (wedding, baby showers, big birthday milestones, national recognition, big anniversary milestones, funeral, etc.).
  9. Everyone is busy. But, everyone has time for things they think are most important to them.
  10. You never really ever graduate from The University of Hard Knocks. Each time you think you are done learning, you are quickly humbled.
  11. When people ask for advice, what they are really asking for is validation.
  12. Debt is not fun. You must absolutely avoid them. (There is very few exceptions to when debt is okay. In general, debt is never okay.)
  13. Long-term thinking, planning, and execution will always outperform short-term thinking, planning, and execution (in a long-term).
  14. When in doubt, say ‘yes’ to life. Serendipity is real and can have a significant positive impact on your life in most unexpected ways.
  15. The more you understand probability (in a mathematically correct way), the better your decision-making process will become.
  16. Hope is just a measure of anticipation of an expected outcome.
  17. Hope makes the many difficulties of human life endurable.
  18. It’s never too early to learn about game theory and developing good heuristics.
  19. The success in the 21st century is measured by not how hard you work or how smart you are but what leverage you have and how long is your lever.
  20. Looks don’t matter for anything meaningful in life and yet looks will matter for everything superficial and material. So, when dealing with the superficial (which is most of the world and worldly events), pay careful attention to your looks (how you dress, hair, smell & hygiene, posture, handshake, and how you talk).
  21. The first impression now beings before someone meeting you for the first time. Social media and internet have ruined that surprise. It’s neither good nor bad news. Just be aware of this fact.
  22. Whichever job you will end up getting will most likely be done by A.I. during your lifetime.
  23. Don’t plan on settling down with a 9-to-5 job. No job is a secure job anymore. 99.99% of workers are replaceable with other human or machine workers.
  24. If your family is spread out, talk to them on the phone (as frequently as possible). This goes back to the rule of “life is uncertain”.
  25. Talk to your friends. Meet in person. Value them. Invest in your relationships that you deem important and valuable. The alternative is you’ll lose all of your friends without putting the effort from your side.
  26. Most people don’t really change with time. Most just pretend. If you discover a fatal character flaw in someone, keep distance. If someone has betrayed you once, they will certainly betray you again.
  27. Life is too short and the earth is too big to not be picky about who you want to be friends with.
  28. When setting goals, aim for the highest, biggest, most unimaginable outcomes. As the saying goes, if you fail, you’ll likely fail much higher. If you achieve, you’ve likely changed the world.
  29. Study Meta learning (learning how to learn). Meta learning is the most important learning.
  30. No one ever has too many good friends. Cherish each of your friendships.
  31. Read and think deeply about the Butterfly effect (ripple effect). Once you grasp the concept, everything you’ll do from that moment onward will be a little more enlightened. (Again, remember everything has consequences and consequences has consequences).
  32. Your level of mastery on any given subject or work will reveal your true level of passion. Mastery gives birth to passion, but passion not always leads to mastery.
  33. Mastery requires dedication and long hours of deep work. Mastery is about understanding something to its atoms.

When I was writing this piece, I could have gone for a 100 or 200, but then I realized, truths can be shared but they can’t be taught. Each one of us must learn our own truths.

So, with this parting final thought, I would purposefully leave this list incomplete. May your life’s journies bring you many more wisdom.

Distillation of Zero to One by Peter Thiel (On How to Build the Future)

Photo Credit: Sarah Doody
Many of you may have already read “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel. Some of you may not have got the chance to read it yet. I recommend adding it to your reading list.
 
(It’s a great read and also a prism to look inside Thiel’s mind, one of the smartest Silicon Valley entrepreneur).
 
This is not a book review or a summary. These quotes are my own thoughts which is the direct result of pondering over the core message of the book. In this post, I am going to basically share what I learned from this book and what thoughts best summarizes the essence of ‘Zero to One’.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

  1. Because of the forward moving, linear nature of time, every moment happens only once.
  2. Create something new. When you create something new, you have a monopoly on it until you are defeated by your copy-cats.
  3. One superpower of technology is “ability to scale exponentially”.
  4. What is ‘your’ truth?
  5. Understating the difference between exponential (0 to 1, x^n) and linear (x to n) is key to business success. Ability to execute/build/invent a process that scales exponentially is the ‘key’ job of the founding team.
  6. Linear progress is horizontal. Exponential progress is orthogonal or vertical.
  7. It gets harder and harder to innovate as your organization gets bigger and bigger.
  8. The best advertisement spend is paying directly to your clients. Giving away a free product or service or even hard cash for joining/subscribing.
  9. A bad plan that is in execution is better than a good plan with no execution. Having a (bad) plan is better than having no plan at all.
  10. Selling the product/service is just as important as creating the product/service.
  11. If your market is competitive, your focus should be on market share acquisition and not on profit. Profit margin and competitive market don’t go together. Competition by definition destroys every competitors’ profits.
  12. Standing for yourself and thinking for yourself doesn’t mean ‘opposing’ the crowd. Opposing is an act. All acts cost attention, time, and energy.
  13. Your market is your core offering. The key functionality of your core product or service. Your competition is likely the whole market (and not necessarily the niche you serve.) For example, an Indian restaurant in New York is not only in competition to other Indian restaurants in New York but all restaurants in New York. The primary offering of a restaurant is feeding people who don’t want to cook at home.
  14. In business, sales are the most important thing. If you have a novel product, you also need an effective sales strategy. Product and Sales are both equally important. A successful business “must” have both.
  15. Sales, in essence, is all about finding a distribution channel that works. For a business to survive, all it needs is one successful product distribution channel. By this definition, the most profitable company in any market has the biggest distribution channels. (Note: It’s not the product but sales we are talking about.)
  16. It is better to be in the business in a very large market than to be a monopoly in a very small niche. By growing your market share in a very large market you can make more money but in a very small market where you are already a monopoly, you can’t grow without increasing the prices and therefore inviting new competition and destroying your monopoly.
  17. In a capitalist system, every business (no matter how large or small) fights for survival each day. Any day could be the beginning of their end.
  18. A creative business keeps their clients by keep creating and offering new categories of products.
  19. A business fails when it fails to escape competition. It’s capitalistic evolution. The survival of the fittest.
  20. All successful private companies in the world are successful because they each solve a unique problem and own a large chunk (monopoly) of their market.
  21. If you can’t beat your rival, merge with your rival or merge with other smaller rivals to become the biggest.
  22. Growth can be measured in a short timeline. Endurance (durability) can only be measured in the long term.
  23. Before starting a business or investing in one, always ask, “Will this business be still around in a decade from now? In 30 years from now? In 100 years from now?”
  24. If you have existing competition, a good rule of thumb is, it will take you to be 10X better than the current market leader (in the core offering) to be able to lead to a successful and enduring monopoly of your own.
  25. There are four ways to get 10X lead over your prime competitor: inventing something new, or creating a new market, or creating a 10X better product, or offering a 10X better UX. Ideally, you should have at least 2 of the four.
  26. To gain 10X lead over your most fierce competitor, you have to focus on one key product (one opportunity) and get 10X better there first. Dominate a small (key) market first then expand from there. (50% of $10M market > 1% of 1B market)
  27. A successful founding team is one where a core group of people is able to provide value to millions of other people. One to very many.
  28. To find the ideal business opportunity, look for ‘adjacent possible’ in the technology landscape. Adjacent possible is usually the intersection between two brand new technological developments.
  29. Nothing great is achieved without a great team. It’s a myth that you can go far alone.
  30. The challenge of creating network effect is making your product useful to its very first users (when the network is still so tiny that it doesn’t derive any value from its size or connectivity).
  31. Part-time employees are essentially consultants. Consultants are essentially part-time employees.
  32. Think how every employee can have the skin in the game? Perhaps, to start, offer to pay part salary, part equity or part bonus based on annual revenue. Those who prefer equity over cash, demonstrate long-term commitment. Those who prefer bonus or percentage of revenue from direct sales over cash show they have trust in their skill and are committed to hard work.
  33. The most productive companies define specific roles for each team member. Defining roles reduces future conflict and miscommunication.
  34. When you have identified a problem or market need that no one is working on, have a head start and innovate faster than anyone else that may come after you by essentially copying you.
  35. The 21st century has made it super easier to start a new business and incredibly difficult to succeed in one.
  36. It’s better to be the employee #17 at a unicorn startup than to be the CEO of “Hey, I Am Open For The Business Too”.
  37. Nothing lasts. Monopolies don’t last forever. Empires don’t last. Countries don’t last.
Now, let’s go and build something meaningful.
 
PS: If you liked this article and my take on Zero to One by Peter Thiel, then please let me know if you would like me to cover other books. If so, any recommendations? Thank you.
 
PPS: Spot any error/typo? Please let me know in the comments and thanks for catching.
 
Read Next: You may also like my take on Meta Learning.

The Battle For Your Future, Freedom, and Life

Someone I know (through someone) got fired today. Over a *BS* reason for misspelling a name. We all know that’s just a veneer for the true underlying reason: workplace politics.
“Workplace politics” is just a fancy phrase for “battle of egos.” No one wins in the battle of egos.
This person was technically strong, friendly, a long-term full-time employee. Loyal to the company and its culture.
 
Imagine how much it must suck to be fired on Valentines Day. 
This means “anyone and everyone” is replaceable in the modern corporate structure. 
Recently, the CEO of the world’s largest and most valuable startup was fired by the board.
 
We have to always keep this truth in mind. At any given day, anyone can be fired or replaced (due to whatever reason).
 
That’s why to “be free”, eventually you need to be an entrepreneur. A business owner.
 
To be a successful business owner you have to start something, somewhere, someday (as I did with Precog Tech, Fitness & Food, The Naked Soul, The Art of Travel).
 
When you start something new, 9 out of 10 times, you will fail. Failure is part of the success story. It’s a baked-in step in the journey. 
 
If you have already started your entrepreneurial journey, congratulations! 
This Valentines Day, this new year, I hope, you will give yourself the respect for the risks you have taken and endured. 
 
Respect for thinking ahead of the curve. Respect for taking the first steps. Respect for taking the risk.
 
It takes a lot of gut to eat risk for a living. For suffering the risks.
 
Risks and failures cost energy, money, and time. Cost of money causes debt.
 
I hope, this year you will have new eyes to look at things from a 30,000 ft view. The big picture of why do you have the debts and stress that you have.
 
Why these debts and the insane amount of workload is “necessary” if you want true freedom in your life.
 
Hard work, sacrifices, and risk-taking is necessary to birth anything of value. And the reason why you have to succeed in your venture. Quitting is not an option anymore. 
 
If you haven’t yet started the start-up-of-you, then perhaps this is the year, the month, the moment that you begin to seriously think about it. Every good thing begins with a “why”?
 
Think about it. Ask yourself are you truly free? Are you in control of your life? Are you truly happy? Do you see yourself leaving the world in peace (if today is your last day here)?
Your startup doesn’t have to be Uber be it certainly can be. Your startup doesn’t have to be a billion-dollar idea but it certainly can be. The point is, it doesn’t matter.
 
What matters is your start taking control and ownership of your life, your time, your happiness, and your health. 
 
Happy Valentines Day!
 
 

What 18 Years Can Do In Your Life

Jeff Bezos In 1999. Doing the work himself. Buying and selling one book at a time. A long journey from “only books” to “everything” in such a short time.

What a journey! In just 18 years, Amazon turned from being an unknown tiny online store to world’s largest online retailer.

What 18 Years Can Do

This is what 18 years can do in your life. Be it a spiritual path, entrepreneurship, or a life of wanderlust. To some, this may seem like a long time, to others, it may seem like a short time. But the key lesson here is how much growth can be realized in just two short decades.
Eighteen years is nothing when compared to even the average human lifespan.
 
This is what consistency can do in your life. This is what 18 years of working on your dream can do in your life. (Even when no one else believes in your dreams).
 
Below is the Amazon’s stock volatility (from 1997 to 2017) from early difficult years to a half-Trillion dollar market cap.
Jeff Bezos is now the richest person alive. Amazon today is 680 Billon dollar company. It has been one of the largest job creators in the past 10 years. 
 
But do you know how Jeff Bezos started and what was his life like 18 years ago? Below are a couple of photos that showcase his long journey.
 
From this guy…
To this guy…
To becoming this guy…
Do you think you can work on your dreams for 18 years? Do you believe it’s worth it to work hard for 18 years so you can enjoy the rest of your life and be in a position to help others achieve their dreams, just as you did!
 
Bezos’ story doesn’t end with Amazon. It begins with the Amazon and goes into the eternal vastness of the Outer Space. You can take a space ride in Blue Origin, a space tourism company that Jeff founded in the 2000s.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Ideal Education System: The Future of Education

Everyone feels that the current education system is broken and outdated. Throughout the history, we have had several forms of educations. Before we talk about the future of education or an ideal education system, let’s first look at our history.
 
In the ancient Greece city-states, for example, the purpose of education was to produce good and loyal citizens.
In ancient Egypt, education was not for the common citizens. Formal education was reserved mainly for the priestly caste and boys from the wealthier families. Girls rarely were taught in public. These ancient Egyptian kids started school at the age of 7 and were taught to read, write, and as well as mathematics.
 
In ancient India, kids at a very young age were sent to an ashram (similar to a private boarding school) where a child lived in close proximity to his guru (teacher) and was taught in person or group setting for up to 7 to 10 years. In some schools, the curriculum covered learning about medicine to martial arts.
In ancient China, formal schooling systems were established as early as 2000 BC. The curriculum covered reading, writing, basic mathematics, poetry, Confucianism, and interpreting I Ching. 
 
During the industrial revolution in England, the purpose of education was to the train future factory workers. However, times have changed. We are currently living in the age of superintelligent computers, rockets flying to the Mars, and self-driving cars.

The Future of Education

What should be the future of education? Can we design an education system that will be both well-rounded and meaningful for our future generations? A system that is compatible with both the spiritual and scientific aspects of our life. 
 
I believe every human child should be taught and trained in the following 11 disciplines. It is best to design and structure an education system in the following fields from grade 1 through 10. (That’s first 10 years of formal learning.)
 
Afterwards, each student (or seeker) can pick some of the fields to master for another 10 years. (This will be a combination of 10,000 hours and practical and experiential internships in any given field.)

Ideal Education System

An ideal education system and the future of education will be structured into the following 11 domains. It will cover all aspects of human life.
 
  • Language and Literature
  • Music (Instruments, Dance, Singing)
  • Martial Arts & Survival Skills
  • Mindfulness & Philosophy
  • Foundational Maths
  • Foundational Science
  • Computer & Machine Programming
  • Metalearning (Learning how to learn)
  • Entrepreneurship
  • World History
  • Human Rights & Social Governance

Let me know what you think of this structure? Would like me to expand on these 11 domains? Leave your questions or thoughts in the comments below. 

There Will Be No Privacy In Future By 2050

Privacy is dead. Privacy has already lost the battle. There will be no privacy in the future.

The future of instant media powered by Artificial Intelligence will make it impossible to hide your successes or failures.

What do I mean? In this era of intelligent platforms, which knows a lot about us, any noise you make, will be sent far and wide.

Everyone you have ever known (including people who may have blocked you) will hear the cheering noise of your success. (Or, the pitiful cries of your embarrassing failures.)

This should act as a reminder for all of us to do our best, to be our best, and to aim for the best. Because in the near future, whatever you do, whatever you become, will be most likely known by everyone.

No Privacy In Future

Imagine the world in 2050. This is a world where your actions, your thoughts, your impulses are continuously calculated, analyzed, and studied. And the grand irony of this situation is not that this invasion of personal privacy is through hacking or force but by either ignorance or voluntary action.

Humans by nature seek the path of least resistance. If we have learned anything from our history, it is humans will voluntarily give up their rights and privacy in exchange for having less labor. (For example, letting Facebook maintain your user credentials and passwords than creating a new account with new and secure passwords.)

There will be not much difference between a Robo-Citizen and a Human (or a pet). At first, we won’t notice the difference but slowly, slowly as the grave reality of our predicament will be realized, we will try to fight back for our lost privacy! But alas, it will be too late then.

Corporations will rule most of us and few world-class Artificial Intelligence software will, in turn, run these corporate decisions. At some point, the globalized multi-national corporate world will switch from direct human management to algorithm-driven, data-driven analytics and decision.

Again, even the big and powerful corporations won’t notice this change at first but by the time they will do, they will have no choice but to live and die by these algorithms because not following the command of these AI algorithms will mean getting financially destroyed by your global competitors.

I understand you may think this future prediction is incorrect and unnecessarily dark and negative. But, the sad truth is this “dark and negative future” is already here, just not fully distributed and fully executed.

On the positive side, we all can decide to do something about it. The most important of all, we should not give up our personal privacy in exchange for reducing some manual human work. We should not give up our privacy in the name of latest apps.

Privacy is a human right and like any rights, you have to defend it (or else it will be taken away).

Let me know what your thoughts are on the internet and digital privacy issue? Are you concerned or you don’t care about personal privacy at all? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Travel Is The Best Thing You Can Bring To The Table

Recently, I was having an interesting conversation with one of my team member at The Art of Travel. I think it is worth sharing here as well.

One of the “best skill” that you can bring to any team or project is your “travel experiences.” The more you travel, the better you can serve any project and in any team setting. Why is that?

Because travel will show you the many aspects of human existence and a deeper glimpse into the human persona. You can see the hidden human desires and wants. What is it that we all really want? As a species, do we truly value family, peace, and happiness? Maybe not.

Knowing how little it costs to travel and how much more you get as a reward, it amazes me how we put off our travels and vacations until after our retirement. How beautiful and beneficial it is to travel outside of our comfort zone. Then, why don;t we travel as much?Traveling (near or far) makes you a bigger person, a more experienced and independent person, a more confident person, a more alive and accepting person.

The truth is, we want to but we don’t. Why? Because of the fear of losing what little hands we have been played in our life. We don’t want to take a risk because as a species, we are motivated by fear and not faith. Let this thought sink in for a moment.

Traveling (near or far) makes you a bigger person, a more experienced and independent person, a more confident person, a more alive and accepting person. Traveling gives you the faith.

So, what’s the most important skill that you can put on your resume? It is how often do you travel and how many places you have been to. Travel is the cure to our inner fear. And, by travel, I don’t mean a fancy Switzerland or Hawaii vacation. A roadtrip over the weekend can be equally powerful.

So, for you own sake and your work’s sake, please take as many days off to travel as many you can afford. The more we all travel, the more humble and accepting we all will become of other cultures and people.

In fact, The Art of Travel mission is to enable and inspire millions of people to travel. When achieved, I would count that as a huge success of my life! Travel is the best education and it is freely available to anyone who seeks it.

I Hate Unfinished Business

Last year, this was the week when my brother told me that doctors are suspecting that Dad might have Cancer. He was not getting better and all other options were crossed. Doing a Biopsy was the last remaining test. This was hard for him and everyone.

I suspected this through intuition since January. I told Neha (my fiancee) I am having a bad feeling about Cancer (not sure why). I was reading, researching and watching everything that I could find on Cancer. It’s weird, I know, but I was having precognition about my dad’s real condition.

In all, my father passed away battling cancer on March 5th. So, it was just 48 days from doctor’s suggestion to death. So much can happen in 48 days. I am sad about this but also insightful on how to use my time here. Today, all can be well and the next thing you know is you have just 48 days to live.

I have many videos, voice recordings, and notes that I took during those 48 days but still haven’t found the courage to go back and write my dad’s story and a video of his final days with us.

Unfinished Business

I could not give him anything back and that is the sharpest pain. What keeps me sane though is at least he went away in peace knowing he had a successful life, he has two sons who turned out to be decent, an awesome family who came forward with support, and a loving wife who stood by his side until the end.

Writing this short blog is my humble attempt to break free from the fear of feeling immense pain as my wounds are not healed yet. It may never get healed. But I need to tell my father’s story.

This way I can feel at peace and tell my father, “Dad, I miss you. I love you. I remember you. You are with me. You did great. I will continue to keep you alive in my heart.”

To Feel Pain Is To Be Alive

Do what you need to do, do what you want to do. Anticipate pain. Without pain, you won’t last long under pressure. Pain is the jet fuel for inner motivation. People say pain is temporary, don’t give up. Don’t quit. BS. Pain is not temporary. Pain is intermittent. It should never be completely absent. When you reach the state of zero pain, you are dead. Pain is resistance. And, there is no growth without resistance.

Be glad that you have today. Align your intention and your thoughts. Seize your chance while you have your breath.

Think about it.

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” – Joseph Campbell

Everyone Says It Can’t Be Done

How do you know if you will be successful? How can you tell if you will make it to the end of the tunnel? The answer is “you can’t!” The only thing you can do is to keep the faith and keep walking. You can only give your best. You can plan and strategize. You can mitigate risks. But, you can’t guarantee any particular outcome. That’s the fun of life, business or almost anything under the sun.

There will be negative thoughts, doubts, fear, and obstacles on the way and you’ll have to cross them. You will not fear the ghosts if you have already anticipated them and made plans.

I still have to pay $5800 to the bank for my previous business loan (of $20K). There is no business loan for my new venture “The Art of Travel” until I am even. But, I have managed to put together a team. A team of over 10 people if I count myself. When you do not have cash, you are left with “creativity”. There is no other option. It’s “do or die.”

It Can’t Be Done

When David had to fight Goliath, he did not have time to go to the gym or a spartan academy. David did not have the money for buying the best sword in the market. He had no cash. He had no time but the present moment and the challenge at hand.

In life, each one of us are put into David’s situation. Either you plan and wait for the best time or you use your brain and find a way out. You want to look good, get fit, make money, start a church, travel, be financially free — then do it.

Start now, because there is no ideal circumstances, ever. This is planet earth. Welcome to the world of dust. The stars are not part of the earth but they can shine and be part of your eyes if you fix your eyes on them. But first, you must make friends with the dust of the ground.

Transformative Change Through Organic Inquiry

There are times in our lives when we all feel we’re on the top. But, there are also times when we slip down unknowingly. They are the high and low points of our life. Sometimes, I wonder why we need to experience these low points, when in fact; we know that such states make us unhappy, doubtful, and unsatisfied? Why is there a need for us to step down from the highest point of our lives? I used the Organic Inquiry method to discover some answers for myself.

Organic inquiry is looking within and narrating our own story. The ego and rational mind are put aside while we seek to understand the greater connection of the various life events.

Life may be so harsh that without a warning, the wheels turn and you suddenly go down. This is traumatic. What is the purpose of being in that stage of life? The answer is simple yet deep.

We need to experience the low points of our life for us to notice that we were once on the top. Sounds confusing, right? Because it is.

When we experience the high points in our life, we feel happy, fulfilled, and satisfied. You really cannot ask for more. But, why is that, when we experience the low points in our life, we feel sad, betrayed and unsatisfied? When we experience the low points in our life, we always ask God or some Supreme being or force to bring back everything to the normal. Often times we blame others, and God for all the misfortunes that came into our lives.

Problems, challenges, and tough circumstances, are given into our lives for us to grow and see what we are capable of. It is important for us to grow not only physically, but also, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in all aspects of our life. We need to be better than the person we are yesterday. We need to learn, grow and evolve. We need to know the fact that this world is the biggest classroom (a transformative trip) that we’ve got. Learning never stops.

The low points in our lives come with a purpose. It is not given to us just to feel how it feels like to be at the bottom, but it is given to us because it has something to show and something to let us know and learn. The low points in our lives serve as our teacher. It teaches us how to be strong to beat all challenges, how to build our confidence despite the unwanted situation, how to surpass those challenges successfully, and how to become a better person. The low points make us realize that we are capable of something more, that we are far more than what we expect from ourselves.

When life begins to get hard, we need to be strong. But above all, we need to appreciate its coming and see the truth that it is temporary and for a reason. There is no problem in truth if there is a solution. If you think of countless of reasons to give up, just think of one reason why you should hold on, and you’ll see yourself moving forward. You are not alone. Some people envy your position right now.

There is no problem if there is a solution. There is no solution if there is no problem. The highs and lows, the good and bad, the happy or sad are states of our human existence. No life is immune to this law. If you think of countless of reasons to give up, just think of one reason why you should hold on, and you’ll see yourself moving forward. You are not alone. Remember, many people envy your position right now (no matter where you are).

If life is perfect, then that is not the earthly life. There is no evolution without the oscillation between the highs and lows. Life consists of both good times and time of sorrow and miseries. If it remains stagnant, most probably, you are not alive. To live means constantly transforming.

A Day Without My Phone: A Transformative Experience

Today, I forgot to take my cell phone in the morning. And what happened is nothing short of a transformative experience.

I woke up, got fresh, boiled water, made coffee with organic coconut oil, ate a banana and left for the work. Usually, my fiance and I drive to work together as we have only one car. I dropped her to her office.

Five minutes into the drive I was searching for my mobile. I wanted to connect my phone to my car so we could discuss one of the intriguing podcasts that I heard a couple of days ago. Well, no podcast to listen to and discuss about, we talked about life in general, the algorithm for traffic calculation and prediction, and the lifestyle choices that we have made (including the decision to travel together in the morning and use the commute time as time spent together).

On most days, we usually just talk while driving but with our cell phones and hundred of pressing issues, we end up talking about our businesses and many projects that we run together: The Art of Travel, The Naked Soul, Fit Couple Goals, and so on…

But, today was different. I was without my phone and her phone was in her bag. There was no pressure for making an Instagram post or to send a snap on Snapchat. Today was about just the two of us. Her and me. It was wonderful.

I dropped her and with no cellphone in the car, I had nothing to choose from: music, audio books, podcasts. No shuffling, no selection decision gridlock, no time waste. Just, me and the car. Accelerator, looking into the mirrors and driving forward.

I knew there were no phone calls coming this morning. It was the road in front of me and countless billboards and interesting advertisements. 

I was looking at the road, the cars around me, the people on phone driving, people texting and driving, people so absorbed in their world that they looked more drones and zombie-like than humans. I realized, I used to be one of these creatures. Unfortunately.

Focus is great and hustle is important but we should seek a balance where we don’t skip on living life.

 

Lesson #1. Wow. Powerful. And it was not even 9 am. (I knew by now that this is going to be an interesting day.)

I reached my office earlier than my usual time. I got to my desk and boom! again, a feeling of relief. I have no phone and therefore no pressure of checking emails or my social media notifications. This meant, no distractions.

I directly got onto the work at hand while proudly sipping bullet coffee just to celebrate this moment — my existence in this pure now — in its completeness.

 

Just Glorious!

 

 

Did I know, just having the cell phone with me (whether I look at it or not) was eating up my brain resources and mental focus? Just having the phone with me was making me scattered, all over, making me less human and incomplete. What a shame!

I got done with all my work in half the time and it was already noon. I drove to Qdoba to grab lunch and there I was in this queue as the only human being without a cellphone in his hand. I was standing there with myself. I was enjoying this inner acknowledgment of my existence, that I was present.

I mattered to me and I was living. I was a living creature with a capacity to think and imagine. I was content. I was happier without my phone. The sensation I was feeling was new to me and I liked it.

I got my order and sat in a corner. I ate my lunch without my phone and the food tasted better. Anyways, it was just my food in front of me. No friends or colleagues to talk to, no newspaper to look at, no cell phone to distract me with the endless gossips from the world.

I finished lunch in 6 minutes which felt like 10 minutes long. Earlier, it used to take me a good 15 minutes (sometimes even longer) to finish a small chicken rice bowl.

Wow, I just saved 9 minutes of my lunch time. Now, I can go out and enjoy the warm sunlight a little longer.

I sat in my car in the sun. It felt so good that I wanted to take a nap. But it was time to drive back to work.

I arrived at my client’s site and watched a wild goose family crossing the parking lot in their slo-mo fashion. It was fascinating. My hands went for my phone in my pocket. Oops, no phone. This meant I could not make a video of these geese. I had to savor the moment with just my eyes. This was a heartfelt connection.

It was good to watch these birds and to observe them deeply without the distraction of making a video.

I got back to my room. I did some more work and took a short break at 3 pm.

I said to myself, “wow, look at the sky.” A fleet of private jets coming to Boston. Where is my phone? Sure, this would have been a cool video for Facebook. 

Wait, what!? A cool video for social media. Since when did I dedicate my life to serving people’s insatiable thirst for meaningless entertainment? Am I here on this earth for others or to live deeply? How much time do I have? How much time am I wasting?

Instead, why not call Mom or my family or a friend whom I have not spoken to in ages. Wait, shoot, I don’t have my phone. I can’t call. But, that’s fine, let me shoot them an email. 🙂

I wrote a few emails to folks I have not connected in 6 months or longer. It felt good just remembering them and thinking about them. As I wrote the emails, I could hear myself talking to them and I could visualize their faces in my mind’s eye. It was good, way better than an awkward sudden phone call which most likely would have ended up in a voicemail.

Now, next time I can pick up the phone and call one of them. The best gift we can give others is the gift of our presence. I was giving myself to other people and there is no other high than the feeling you get from “giving”.

It was 4:30 pm. Time to wrap up the work day and go home.

I left office at 4:30 pm and again free from any expectation of an incoming call, I was sitting comfortably in my car. I was driving smoothly, observing people going about their daily lives.

I could see the river of cars on the highway. Everyone in this river of cars were sacrificing their little precious time that they have on this earth in some way or form. Whether through cellphones or social media or other worries or by not resolving the disharmony at their work or home.

Sure, life is out of balance for most of these folks, but is there anything that they can do to improve their life? 

Yes. There is. I discovered it for myself today. Leave your cellphone at home. You don’t have to go extreme, but hey, why not give it a shot. For one day. See for yourself.

If you want to try this experiment then leave your cell phone at home at least a day each week. Make those days about “YOU!”

You matter. Your time matters and your life and experiences matter.

 

 

Live those days deeply with yourself.  Take advantage of such moments to look inside, to search within. You may get surprised by the powers and wisdom you’ll find within your own heart.

The other thing I experience while driving back home was the time with myself thinking about life was actually fulfilling and quite deep. I enjoyed my commute just thinking, pondering, entertaining one thought after another. And occasionally dwelling on a good thought and thinking deeply about it. It was a good ride to home.

(Fast forward, one month)

It’s been a month since I accidentally did this experiment. Today, I want to tell you that I have been continuing this practice (no cell phone for a day) each week. In return, my creativity, my focus, my insights, my patience — everything has improved significantly. My anxiety level has reduced and I am enjoying life at a much deeper level.

Now, I want to take this experiment to a whole new level.

Living Without Your Cellphone for 7 Days straight!

Do you want to join me? Let me know in the comments below!

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Life As A Research Project | Transpersonal Experiences In Ordinary Settings

Life As A Research Project

What is the experience of being human – the one we wish to inquiry into, investigate, experiment with, or examine? We like to believe that we are living an ordinary life in an ordinary world, but are we really living an ordinary life?

Examining our life under a “transpersonal lens” may be thought of as living a self-examined life. And, a life which is understood is a life lived.

“At birth, when we first opened our eyes, the surprises and explorations began.” – Rosemarie Anderson

The verb “research” has its roots in the French verb rechercher, which means to go about seeking.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines this “seeking” in three ways:

1) careful or diligent search;

2) studious inquiry or examination, especially: investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts, or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws;

3) the collection of information about a particular subject.

Transpersonal Experiences

My Life Story – A Little Background

Today, I want to share a few of my transpersonal life experiences. I am happy to do so and hope to offer myself as much as I can. This is my answer to my seeking.

As many of you longtime readers probably know that I am a polymath. But among many things that I do, I am particularly passionate about writing, exploring the natural truths, practical philosophy, listening under the noise, being a healer of hearts (nothing supernatural), and traveling the world and soaking in the essence and greater exposure to this thing we call – “humanity”.

I am a sensitive type with a capacity to handle a lot of emotions and bodily sensations. I find this to be both as my gift and as a source of emotional-pain.

Throughout my life, I have been a deeply spiritual person. I have witnessed in my own life unfold in mysterious and often unpredictable, twisted ways. To me, I am an example of “the path has chosen you and you are just a soul responding to your calling.”

In my short life, I have been on several contrasting poles: I was in utter destitution during 2009-10, literally living on $1 a day in Fargo, North Dakota and Nevada City, California. I have enjoyed earning a lot of money through my IT consulting business.

I have been fired from jobs and I have hired people (I still do). I have experienced failed relationships on levels of being traumatic and currently I am in a happy and loving relationship. Life has been a constant teacher for me.

Transpersonal Experiences In Ordinary Settings

There are several life events and synchronistic moments that I could list as a transformative experience for me but nothing comes to my mind as particularly strong at this time other than my last days with my father.

I’ll start here.

Unexpected Death of My Father from Cancer
My first transformative experience may appear distressing and downing but there is no greater teacher of life than death.

On Jan 24, 2016, my father (otherwise a healthy, working, functioning man) was diagnosed with stage IV stomach cancer with bone mets. He passed away on March 5th, 2016. I was with my father during this whole time. And there is nothing more powerful and transformative than caring for a terminally-ill person.

I would actually skip getting into the details here because this is so recent that it is hard for me to concisely write down without getting into the details. But, just to give you enough information to hang on, I am planning a 60 minutes documentary and a book “Cancer In Your Family: Caring For A Family Member & What Does It Mean For You.”

Becoming a Born Again Christian
Accepting a faith, changing your religion or starting a new practice are common day experiences. What makes religion so strong is the transformative power that it has over individuals through mystical and sometimes supernatural experiences.

I was born in a Hindu family but never took Hinduism seriously. I was an agnostic in a comfortable way. I was a curious mind but I was not actively looking for God. At age 18, things changed. I became a born-again Christian in New Delhi, India.

The Word of God, Jesus, my Spirit, everything became real. As real as the world surrounding me. I was transformed overnight. Cursing, porn, envy, anxiety – anything worldly – everything was gone.

There was no struggle on giving up the world. It was as if the burden of sin was lifted off of me. God was real to me. My heart was overjoyed and my life seemed immensely purposeful.

Becoming a Human & Leaving the Christian Jesus
In early 2010, I was struggling to afford McDonald’s $1 burger for my dinner. I was still digesting a certain hurtful events such as my fake-friends cheating me of my car, possessions, and respectfully kicking me out of my house (because I could not afford the rent), my girlfriend going cold turkey, and my mobile account going into collection because of other folks who did not pay their bills and I was left alone with the collection because the line was on my name.

Life was crazy and I was forced to live day by day. I became comfortable with just me being there – at any moment. Me and nothing else.

During those days, I was translating certain classical hymns into Hindi language for some local churches in India and I was still regular in the church. But something was happening inside me, inside my heart. My spirit was no longer feeling free in the church and its restrictive dogma. The people were nice and they meant good to me and towards the outside world, but they were living within a walled enclave of tremendous self-deceive.

The church going faithful saints were more dependent on each other (in the name of One Body of Christ) than on God or their inner guidance. Bible was interpreted from a standpoint of “all or nothing.”

Islam has this same issue. And orthodox Jews too. This is where Jihadist or any religious extremist get it wrong. Believe it all, literally or believe in nothing. This is plain wrong. This is infact opposite of what actually happened with the Bible itself. From Adam to Abraham to Moses to Jesus. Things changed constantly, even the god(s) changed.

Anyways, that’s a topic for another post. (Leave me your thoughts in the comments below)

One day, I picked up a book of poems from Rumi translated by Coleman Barks. The pages, the words, the flow of heart, the transcendental appeal of Rumi’s words broke my decade long Christian shield.

Jesus was still there but now as a human. A human who attained Godhood. As a godly human who was good, who was god! The Bible was still there but as a guide, a description of the journey of few faithful souls in human history.

In coming months, I stumbled upon Gurdjieff (and his Fourth Way), on Carl Jung’s work on inner landscaper of mind, Ra Uru Hu and his work on Astro-psychology, Astrology, Edgar Cayce, Sufi mystics and ancient Christian, Jew and Hindu saints. My life was not the same after this.

Today, I am living this third life. I call my natural birth as my first life, my Christina life as my second life, and now as a spiritual being my third incarnation.

I am sure there are things yet to explore, taste and learn. But, now being an open heart, I welcome change with joy and not with fear or dismay. I love studying our human journey, the evolution of life in this cosmos, exploring and sharing with others our purpose on this planet – our home – the earth.

I am currently working on publishing two poetry collection and one poetry handbook. My first poetry book Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems did fairly well upon launch and reached #1 on Amazon. It has been doing well ever since.

I am excited to make my slow transition into a full-time writing and traveling career. I am here to explore the outer world and the inner world and to share with others what I find.

I’ll continue this discussion in an another post. For now, I feel, it is a good introduction and now I turn the mic to you. I want to listen what you have to share.

 

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Who Are You? Just A Label or An Epic Book

“Adventure means exposing yourself to the world out there.” — Naked Soul

Who Are You

Are you just a label or an epic story or a fun saga? Is your life “out-of-box” and is it evolving?

We make a life by what we give, experience, build and learn. Each year of our life is either a sentence or a paragraph. Or it can be a full chapter or even a book in itself.
We decide how our life is recorded in the eyes of the ancient stars of the faraway galaxies.

We decide which adventures we embark upon and which ones we finish.
Adventures do not mean walking on a high wire or sleeping on a bed of nails or eating fire.

Adventure means exposing yourself to the world out there – in its wildness, rawness – experiencing its unadulterated originality.

Adventure means getting in touch with your inner-self, knowing thyself.

Now, over to you.

Who are you? And, what are you going to do with your life? Please leave your thoughts and life missions in the comment below.

May the Circle Complete: How To Deal with Negative Experiences


my only wish

I am feeling sad today. Actually terrible. I just learned that someone I trusted and admired actually turned out to be not so nice after all. A cunning businesswoman who pretends to be something different.

I feel hurt by her actions but I am also thankful to her. She is in a place of higher power and could have done more harm to me (if she wished). Maybe she is not a bad person. Anyways, she doesn’t owe me, anything. Nothing. She has been nice to me in the past and has also helped me. Perhaps, this was it. Perhaps, this is as much and as far as we go. For now.

It’s true that I am feeling hurt, betrayed and angry. But do I have the position to feel so? Am I justified? Maybe not. What about her help and kindness in the past.

So instead of sending her a nasty email that I typed, I sent her this in an email. It turned everything 180 degrees around. No, my loss was not reversed or compensated. But the feelings between us changed. The air around us became breathable and lighter. I don’t hate her, why should I? She is on her own path and her mistakes are her seeds of her own destiny. I wish her well for her future.

What about me? My heart? I feel better. I wish she benefits from me from the things that I am doing with my life. I do not have to like her to wish her well. I can simply wish her well. In all sincerity.

What should I do with my losses? Actually, nothing. That’s right. Nothing. First of all, what loss? I am posting this quote on Instagram, I am mentally sane, physically capable and hopeful for my future. Why should I worry or feel that I am at loss? I have people who love me, I have a great happy family and a good circle of funny and capable friends. What more do I need in life anyway!

I am happy that I saw the light. I am lucky. I am proud of myself for not sending that nasty email. Instead, I chose to send something positive, light-hearted and loving.

Thank Universe! This is an awesome day and I love my life.

12 Tips On How To Develop Self Confidence & Self Esteem

This is a common question and a good one. I am assuming the right question is “How do I develop myself in general?” Or, “How do I improve myself to be more successful in all areas of my life.?” Let me offer some perspectives on these questions as I answer them in this blog.

To grow in life, you need these 10 things and everything else will follow.

1. Good Habits: Build good habits. Build as many as you can. Good habits are going to benefit you in every aspect of your life for the rest of your life. You can learn a new skill or add an activity you like to your daily schedule. Habits are powerful and helps eliminate procrastination (which is critical for success in life). What are some good examples:

Making the Bed in Morning: This is small thing yet it creates peace, order and harmony in the otherwise chaotic life.
A Simple To-Do List (No Bigger Than a Postcard): This one simple habit is that one productivity hack that you have been looking for.
(If you are a early riser) Waking up a little early and watching the sunrise, or taking a 10 minute walk in the nature or outside in the fresh air. The morning hour has a powerful affect on the human brain.
A short (5 min) session of meditation and yoga or stretching.
2. Become a Master: Try to figure out what you are interested in and decide to become an expert in that. A world class expert, master of your field. How do you do this?

3. Start Small: Whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish, break it into smaller milestones and goals. If it is a business, break the ultimate goal into sub-goals and milestones such as number of clients, revenue, monthly volume, etc. If it is a degree program, break each semester into interesting milestones such as networking with one Influence in your field per semester, one foreign travel (or road trip) each year, etc.
4. Share Your Vision (But Selectively): A few trusted people in your circle should know about your mission. Once you have told others about your venture or goals, they will you ask you about how is it going? This will become a constant reminder for them and you would be bound to share frequent updates, your challenges and your small victories. Most importantly, you will feel accountable to succeed. This technique also comes in aid should you need external motivation and a little pressure to up your game.
5. Affirmations: Practice affirmation and talk positive to yourself. Do not tolerate negativity and negative people in your life. Share love but remember you do not owe anything to anyone but to yourself and no one owes you anything. Yet, practice compassion, empathy and altruism. Find a problem and make a purposeful intention to solve it.

Examples:

  • This is a new day. I can start a fresh, new journey today.
  • Today could be the last day of this earth. I promise to myself to appreciate everything that happens during the day.

 

6. Travel: When you are traveling, you are learning more than you can ever from a book or a school program. Traveling is the ultimate reading. You learn about adaptation, living in discomfort, empathy, new cultures and how other humans just like you live in a different place and culture. Travel is fun, a lot of fun. Learn a new language and you will enjoy traveling even more.

 

7. Read Great Books: Read a lot of books. Read whatever you can afford and get your hands on. Good or bad, all books are helpful. A good book will feed your soul. A good book will uplift your soul and will inspire you, teach you and tell you how you can become skilled and great yourself.

 

8. Promise Yourself that You’ll be Great: This is the Law of Self-fulfilling prophecy. It is true that what are you think is what you will attract in your life. This is not magic but science. By dwelling on a thought you are constantly focusing on it and searching for it. If it is negative and about despair, your brain will automatically give more importance to matters related to despair and hopelessness. Likewise, if you think of learning and education, your brain will automatically start spending brainpower (energy and focus) on things that you want to learn.

 

9. Look for the Big Picture: Life is short. Before you were born the Universe existed for 13 billion years and after you will be home the Universe will keep on going for equally long time. The fact that we are here for a short period of time makes us think of time in a unique way. Life is short. Try to make the best out of it.

Some practical advice:

There is no gain in fighting and arguing. In any adversity, look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself: will this thing still matter 5 years from now? 20 years from now? If the answer is “No”, don’t stress yourself.
10. Attitude of Gratitude: Whatever you have and whoever you are as a person, father, leader, daughter, employee, anyone who you think you are is the product of countless people and their miniature help and support to you. Sure you have done the hard work and the bulk of it but remember the phone you are using is built by someone in China, designed by Apple in California and uses chips and hardware made in Germany and Japan. We all are living well because hundreds of thousands of people are contributing to each other. There is plenty to be thankful for.

 

11. Uplifting Association: A lot of what we eat, do, watch and talk are highly dependent on who we hang out with. If you are into fitness but five of your closest friends (with whom you spend most of your time) are into pizza and unhealthy lifestyle, there is no way you can be lead a healthy and fit life. What should you do instead?

Associating yourself with positive people, you will pick up their (good) habits and start thinking positive, talking positive and living a more positive life.


12. Practice the Power of Spoken Words: The spoken words have tremendous power. Whatever comes out of your mouth shapes your thinking in a major way. What you speak (in front of others) creates an image of you. And by your image you shall be treated and judged. If you have set up an image of a no-nonsense, cool and happy guy or gal, your peers will start treating you in a cool, fun, positive way. Choose your words carefully. They literally carry the power of life and death.

Read more on some other aspects of self-development in my other blog posts:

When you work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., how do you grow as a person?

What is the easiest way to live a healthy lifestyle?

How can meta-learning be taught? (Learn how to learn)

 

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Simplify Life: Warren Buffett’s Wisdom In 5/25 List

How to simplify your priorities and focus on the right things. Well, today I have a solution for you. It’s not my original idea but it is Warren Buffett’s wisdom on goal setting.

“If it’s not the most important thing, avoid it…”

Warren Buffet uses a list of 25 things to prioritize what’s most important to you in life. First write down 25 long or short term goals (thigs that you would like to do or achieve). Then circle the 5 most important things. The other 20 thins you must never think about again or they will distract you from what’s most important to you. Focus on your top 5 and give it your all. That way, you will surely succeed in life.

The 5/25 exercise is really a great way to learn more about what you are truly passionate about. It doesn’t even have to be 5/25. It can be 5/20 or 5/50 or 5/5. You know what you like to do.

The point of the exercise is to list everything that you would like to do and/or interested in. Then circle the top 5 most interesting thing from your big list of “to-dos” or “things I want achieve and do”. Following is the list of everything that I would like to do and become.

**My big 24**

  1. Be a full time writer (write a NYT bestseller)
  2. Travel the world (atleast 100 countries, travel with friends, travel with family)
  3. Visit the North Pole and South Pole
  4. Do space travel (someday)
  5. Open a cancer hospital and research center (in my father’s name)
  6. Be a lifestyle and motivational coach
  7. Do speaking engagements
  8. Make money (Invest and grow my wealth)
  9. Live a happy family
  10. Spend time with my family and parents
  11. Become a serial entrepreneur and start successful businesses
  12. Seek and practice spirituality and become a teacher of life
  13. Make positive impact on this world (through my philosophies and ideas)
  14. Help the poor and those needing a helping hand
  15. Climb the seven summits
  16. Climb US’s 50 State Highpoints
  17. Raise good kids
  18. Speak on TED
  19. Make movies and documentaries
  20. Be able to do front and backflips
  21. Be world class in Martial Arts
  22. Have a ripped body
  23. Create fitness workout programs
  24. Live long and age slowly (be extremely fit and healthy)

Now, the top 5 for me from these 24 are:

  1. Live long and age slowly (be extremely fit and healthy)
  2. Travel the world (atleast 100 countries)
  3. Be a full time writer (write a NYT bestseller)
  4. Make positive impact on this world (through my philosophies and ideas)
  5. Make money (Invest and grow my wealth)

If you notice, this exercise is not only great to narrow down what you are truly passionate about but also a good way to find out the lead domino for your overall success.

For example, in the above example, making a positive impact on this world through my ideas really ties into becoming a full time writer and making writing my main craft.

Likewise, to live healthy and be fit, I have to make some workout programs. And if I share those programs, I am actually covering #23 and even #22 to some degree. (Now, for me, being world class in marital arts and be able to do flips and gymnastics is super cool but I can live without it if I have to make a choice. Also, not having 6 packs and a ripped body is also okay with me as long as I am free to my top 3 goals.)

Do you see? How this exercise forces you to narrow your focus and get clarity on your long-term vision.

What else? How can I make money if all I am doing is getting healthier and fit, traveling the world and writing all the time? The solution therefore is to monetize my writing, traveling adventures, and fitness routines. That’s the answer and the connecting link.

This is also the best way to maximize my personal happiness. If I can make money by being fit, writing and traveling, I would be the happiest person doing what I love and loving what I do.

Isn’t this exercise awesome! I love it. Not only is it a practical way to prioritize but also to find your focus. You may even see links. For examples, for me, focusing and achieving my top 5 goals also means crossing several other goals from the list.

#11 and #17 is tied to Writing, Travel, and Fitness

#3, #4, #15 and #16 is tied to Travel

#6, #7, and #12 is tied to Philosophy and Writing

#5, #9, and #14 is tied to Making Money

and so on.

It’s your turn now. I would love to see everyone’s lists. Do this exercise and find out the truths for yourself.

Comment your Top 5 life goals below.

On Meditation: Why Meditate? Mindfulness Through Meditation

on meditation, what it does and what it means to me

“Mediation works. My meditation practice helps me to live more deeply.”

Meditation is a great way to improve many areas of your life and open channels to your subconscious brain so you can more quickly and easily imprint new habits and beliefs.

If you understand technology, you can view mediation as “disk-defragmentation”. Every time when you meditate, you are optimizing your brain and restoring and re-purposing mind. You are cleaning up space, you are cooling down your system and you are optimizing your hardware’s speed and performance.

“Logic works with the conscious mind, but often not with the subconscious.”

If you are not a technical person, think of meditation as a river. The water flows continuously carrying everything with it but not holding on. A river is always fresh. There is no stagnation in a river. If your heart and mind is like a true river there is no room for “fermentation of disease.”

Mindfulness Through Meditation

A leaf or a broken stick may fall in the water and it may flow with the river for a distance but often times they get washed away to the sides. A river is pure, silent and yet you can hear its purpose of direction. It knows where it is going. There is no stopping it and yet the river is ever peaceful and calm going with the path of least resistance and minding its own business.

Besides the physical and emotional benefits of meditation (such as lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, etc.), regularly quieting your mind is also a way of slowing down brain activity, which opens up the door to more easily influencing your subconscious mind.

“Meditation is the most powerful (and totally harmless) gateway drug to creativity.”

When you slow down your brain activity, what you’re really doing is quieting your conscious mind. Meditation is a great way to begin your subconscious mind reprogramming routine. Meditation is helpful if you want to build a new habit (or break an old one). Learn how to meditate powerfully explained in 9 simple steps (in under 15 minutes).

By clearing your conscious mind of all distraction and mundane thoughts through the meditation process you can intentionally focus on your positive affirmations and visualizations. Meditation is a great way to maximize the benefit of affirmations, prayers, and visualization.

“Meditation is a deep commune with the Divine. Meditation in itself is a Prayer.”

In meditation, you are opening your whole being to the Universe. Your ego starts to fade away losing its powerful grip on you. There is no more filtering, twisting, coloring of daily events. Through meditation, you can free yourself from thousand mundane worries that is nothing but the construct of your own imagination.

According to Srimad Bhagavad Gita, our mind is a like a strong horse, and our spirit is in command. But our spirit needs the cooperation of our ego. To lead a life of mindfulness we have to take control of this powerful horse (so we can have our mind serve us rather than drive us anywhere it wants.) With a clear mind, one can achieve many great things with our time here on this earth.

This is what meditation is to me.

Top Quora Writer Meetup & Being Purposeful in Life

For whatever reasons (unknown to me or anyone), in January, the Quora community decided to vote me as a Top Quora Writer 2016. They have invited me to come to a Top Writers meetup in Mountain View, California at Quora HQ in June.

Earlier, I was excited about this meetup and my California visit but now I am passing on the free food and socializing opportunity.

Being Purposeful in Life

I have realized one secret about “purpose in life” from this experience. When we are young and we want to achieve something, we often get sidetracked by our early trophies. Often, the journey is long and hard, and we give in to temptations of feel-good, to feel important.

I am not saying one should not enjoy small victories. What I am saying is one should not “focus” on the celebration of the achievement of small goals. “Focus” should be always on your primary vision.

For example, traveling from Boston to California just to feel good to get inside the Quora HQ is self-puffing and not really in line with my end goal. If it was local, I would love to attend. But me thinking about making this long journey indicates that earlier I was taking myself way too seriously.

To me, I was important. But to the world at large, I am just a small piece. I have my place and I have my mission. Without contributing much I cannot (and should not) expect life to give back to me.

If life is generous to you, celebrate it. It’s good, have fun, go with the natural flow of life. (But, spending valuable resource such as time and money to feel good about yourself and to receive what life is giving you is not always a wise step. In fact, it would be self-centered rather than altruistic or honest.)

Top Quora Writer

The title of Top Writer 2016 is cool but it is practically useless to me and my fellow citizens of this world. What I need to focus on is solving problems that only I can solve. Each of us has unique talents and life-experiences that is best suited for tackling some unique problem (personal or larger). We should celebrate our small achievements but should not lose track of our original vision.

I am not coming to California. I would rather answer few more questions on Quora in the meanwhile. And maybe write a new blog here on The Naked Soul Blog.

If you are on Quora, you can follow me here. If you have not heard of Quora, it’s basically an online question and answer website with a beautiful, user-friendly interface. Quora aggregates questions and answers on various topics. It’s a fun place to learn something new and interesting and to ask your questions.

Let me know what you think when it comes to finding and following one’s purpose and mission in life? What is yours? Comment below.

Cancer In Family: Caring For A Family Member & What Does It Mean For You

Introduction

During these coming months, I’ll be publishing short chapters on Cancer and my experience of caring for a family member and what does it mean for you here on The Naked Soul blog. I am documenting my day to day experiences as my dad has recently been diagnosed with stomach cancer (“squamous cell carcinoma”). I hope this is my first and last experience with anyone with cancer in my family.

Cancer, you really suck. Please leave my family alone.”

 

Chapter 1

The letter C immediately paints the picture of the letter D. Cancer. Death. It is not cancer or pain of chemotherapy that the patient and family member fears, it’s the inevitable, the ticking clock of time and life that frighten us the most. Cancer is a tough battle where you need a whole army. Currently, we are four people caring for my dad full-time. There are emergencies, there are good moments and there are really down times including depression, tears, anger, denial, misery, fear, pain and hope.

If there was a conclusive proof for the afterlife, death would not frighten us anymore. But, even with firm belief in having a good afterlife, cancer is feared more than death itself.

What would you do if you are suddenly told you have just one year? (And you are not even strong and healthy enough to leave the bed.) What would you do?

 

The Believe in the Science
All diseases are treatable and curable. All stages of diseases are treatable and curable. The first step towards having a universal healthcare is to believe that optimal health is achievable for everyone.

If a cancer has grown into a big tumor and has spread into nearby or far organs, it is still treatable.

Think about for a moment: what kills a person with cancer? How can we prevent it from happening. What do we need to do here? What is preventing us from taking and executing the necessary steps.

For example, if the problem is we cannot perform surgery for a tumor that is near to a major blood vessel. Is it due to the fact that we do not have surgical precision or if we rupture a major blood vessel, we do not know how to fix them? May be both and then some more.

Irrespective of the number and severity of the challenges my point is every difficult steps can be identified, listed, and discussed. What we need is finding new solutions and testing them.

Day 1
My father was feeling stomach pain. He had recently visited Gaya and was suspecting something is wrong. He was feeling feverish. He fell sick and the local doctor suspected my dad has Typhoid. After doing some examinations they prescribed him two weeks of typhoid medication.

 

Day 14

Dad was still having high fevers, low platelets counts and was extremely weak. He has lost a lot of weight (mostly muscles), his ribs were showing up, his thighs became slimmer, his back was hurting real bad.

Upon noticing that my dad’s condition is not getting better, my family decided to take him to another doctor.

On second opinion, we took dad to The Mission Specialty Hospital in Durgapur. They found severe Dengu infection and admitted my dad. 

The infection has spread to his liver, small and large intestine. Dad stayed in the Mission Hospital for next eight days and was also treated for stomach ulcers. His WBC counts were 21,000 and went up as high as 29,000. Things were not looking good.

But, he got better and was discharged. During this time, all kinds of tests were run and X-rays was done, CT scan was done and MRI was done. Nothing suspicious, nothing more than a bad infection that can be treated completely in no time.

Cancer In Family

The Long Diagnosis
Dad came home with his follow up appointments scheduled at Mission. He was still weak but able to eat and talk. His back pain was still persistent. His appetite was poor, having severe constipation, and his overall health was not improving even after the treatment and medicine given at Mission.

One night he got the high fever and his health and energy level plummeted to the extreme bottom. He was not doing well and we did not know “why?” No one knew.

This was tome to take home to an even bigger hospital. My brother, one of my uncle (dad’s younger brother) and one of my cousin immediately took dad to Kolkata. From Kolkata, my brother, uncle, and dad flew to Chennai. They were rushing to CMC Vellore. 

This is when I got serious and started to intuitively feel something is wrong with my dad’s diagnosis. I told Neha (my finance), I have bad feelings about Cancer and I don’t know why but from past 2-3 weeks I have been reading, researching and watching documentaries on Cancer.

It’s weird, I know, but I was having precognition about my dad’s real condition.

Chapter 2
Day 41 (January 29, 2016)
I arrived Banglore at 3:55 am on Friday morning. I took Vayu Vjra express bus to Majestic interstate bus terminal at 4 am and reached there at 5 am.. Once There i I took a second bus to the satellite station.

I took another bus to Vellore bus stand for Rs. 152. From there I took an Auto for Rs. 70. I was received by my cousin and he took me to the lodge where they were staying. The lodge provides the bare minimum. The hygiene was acceptable but with open questions.

I came to hospital to see Dad at 1 pm. We were expecting to meet the cancer specialist doctor at 2 pm. He was supposed to go over the stomach biopsy diagnostic results.

Day 42 (January 30, 2016)
I woke up at 5 in the morning and got fresh. I believe due to jet lag my sleep was ended early. I briefly talked with my brother and then left for the hospital.

It was still dark and I went on a walk on the main road looking for other lodging options, particularly looking for lodges with kitchen.

I was also looking for shops or medical stores where I could buy paper rolls, plates, and cups. After a brief walk, I entered CMC campus and took a brief inside tour to familiarize myself with various buildings and units such as the blood bank, OPD, Radiology, and Scan building, etc.

During this morning our I noticed women praying in the chapel and at an outdoor candlelit stone vigil.

I turned back and came to the W ward where my dad was. I gave Rs. 200 to the overnight caregiving lady (Aaya) and she asked for some morning tea allowance. So I gave her another 10 rupees.

Here the hospital only allowed the female companions or caregiver to stay overnight the patients. For male visitors and family members, the maximum allowance is 2 person at each time and from 6 am – 9 pm. The male family members can stay outside the ward, near elevators for the night if they chose so.

It’s clear to me by now that it would make sense to bring mom here. Or someone who can be dedicated to the task of healthy cooking.

But there was another problem with this arrangement. My mom has the bad knee problem so if we bring her here, we will have to first fix the basics.

The basics of caregiving are so backward and risky here. Everyone who is looking over a patient relative are themselves having a poor diet, poor lodging condition, poor personal hygiene and poor behavioral habits when caring for the patients. For example, not using the antibacterial hand soap before feeding a patient.

So I made this list of items that I thought we need to increase our safeguard against infections, other diseases and to protect ourselves and our dad.

Paper cups, plates, spoons, knives, Plastic Food Wrapper, Aluminum Foil, Straw, RO Water filter, Juicer, Napkins, Kitchen roll, Toilet roll, Shampoo, Skin moisturizer, Anti-bacterial hand sanitizer, Writing pad, Vomit bag (lunch bags), plastic bags, face tissue, Wipe (wet) tissue.

Then we need to cook our own meals. Currently, we are buying food outside and feeding our dad and also eating ourselves. The food outside is street dhabas. It’s just hard to digest to see what I am seeing. I want to save my dad and I want to my family to be healthy. This was hard.

I knew I need to buy fresh fruits, make juices at home, start meal prepping, buy basic Cooking utensils and buy one smart Phone here with SIM card and iPad for entertainment.

Next, I need to find each of these items.

Chapter 3
Jan 30 continues

At 8 am the hospital did a routine blood test. Only one tube of blood (? ml) was taken. But it clicked my mind that with one tube of blood taken each day and with difficulty eating, he will no doubt have fatigue and low energy. He needs a good, nutritious diet every hour to make up for the lack of food and ongoing blood tests.

The chief oncologist came to visit my dad at 10:30 am. Afterwards, he met with me and my brother. The doctor started by saying, “it’s a stage IV cancer because it has spread to all over bones and into the lymph nodes.”

He continued, “there is no cure for this and gastrointestinal cancers are not the good kind of cancers because they do not respond well to chemo unlike some other forms of cancers such as breast or lungs.”

The doctor explained his plan which was to begin chemo on Monday every week. They wanted to do small chemo doses which have fewer side effects and the benefits are the same of large chemo dose.

We went over some of the questions we had and got some answers none of which was very good (what we were hoping for in terms of treatment and prognosis options).

1. What is the primary cancer? The primary cancer is stomach cancer. (Squamous cell carcinoma?)

2. How far has it spread? It has spread into bones (all over) and into lymph nodes. (How far into the lymph node?)

3. Which stage? Stage IV

4. What is the current prognosis? As the data shows.

5. Can you do stomach surgery? No, not now, not later. The cancer has spread to distant parts. The stomach cancer doesn’t respond very well to chemo. Surgery is not an option.

6. Can chemo be done along with radiation? Radiation is done to alleviate pain (it’s neither part of the treatment nor cure)

7. Can surgery be performed after chemo/radiation? No, due to the reasons mentioned above.

8. Is the cause bacteria or genetic mutation or environmental or food? We can’t say. This cancer could be caused by any number of reasons or a combination of reasons. The growth must be going on for years without any warning symptoms. That’s the nature of this disease. But it may not be genetic (caused by a particular hereditary genetic mutation) as in those cases cancer show up earlier in age.

For example in the 40s and 50s. But since your dad’s age is almost 60, it seems more like old age cancer.

9. If all treatments go well, what would be the new prognosis? As long as the chemo controls the cancer tumor growth. But eventually, the cancer growth will overtake chemo.

10. Has cancer spread into bone marrow? Yes.

11. How far into Bones? All over. Every bone has bone marrow and the cancer is showing everywhere in the bones.

Our time with the oncologist in the Infectious Diseases (Ward W – West) hallway left me with more questions than what I had before.

1. How much of stomach has the cancerous tumor? Do we know the source location? Or are there multiple source points in the stomach?

2. How far has cancer spread into lymph nodes?

3. Can a DNA testing be performed on his cancer cell and on his normal cells? (To compare and find out the exact mutations)

4. You mentioned earlier, the bone marrow looks sickle cell. Is it anemia alongside cancer? Is he having two separate issues? Why are the cells sickle shape? Could that be the reason he is feeling fatigued? What can we do?

5. Immunotherapy? Is that an option here?

6. Have you tested for H. Pylori bacteria?

(and many more to come)

I definitely need to do more research now. I also felt we need to take a second opinion. I had my gut telling me that CMC is not offering my father anything more than palliative care. And yes, we need that. I am all for my dad’s care and I want him to feel better. But that’s not all. And that’s not all, he doesn’t want that. He wants to live. He is fighting. He wants to care for my mom and he wants to be out of the hospital, healthy and functioning.

 

Chapter 4 (January 31, 2016)

My mom and younger uncle will reach here on Tuesday. She is also looking for a full-time cook to bring with her. It’s great news.

For next two days, we will be still buying food from outside. We will be taking precautions with what we are eating ourself or buying for dad.

Earlier today, two of my brothers went to look for a better, cleaner, bigger lodge with kitchen and phone network. We have been here without the internet at both the hospital and at the lodge.

We have found it to be very hard to not have internet because while you are in the hospital, you want to research something. There are always questions in your mind. And no one can give you the answers. The patients are too many and the doctors are far and few. Internet access is your only hope of catching up with the information overload and learning more about various treatment options and its success rate and/or side effects.

Meanwhile, Neha found out that blood group A is shown related with stomach cancer. My dad, my brother and I, all three of us have A+ blood group.

My friend Alam asked me to get a second opinion. His father was diagnosed with early-stage Colon cancer and was completely treated at Tata Memorial Hospital.

He said, “I talked to my father. He told to get the report (Particularly of the biopsy). Also, in addition to the reports of biopsy, ask them to give the slides too. Press for it or they won’t. Without the slides, the report of biopsy will not be accepted at other hospitals. So, be very adamant that you need the slides too.”

It is common that cancer is a team-based treatment. Based on the biopsy report and what kind of Cancer is present, there are experts and its decided by the panel of the doctors at any particular hospital.

The ward nurse confirmed that the new bed is ready. The attending doctors came to see Dad. I brought up the question of if there will be a mini refrigerator in the new room. They mentioned that there are few room options and rates vary so check with the ward nurse.

Dad heard the conversation and asked me how much is the room cost? I said, Rs. 3050/day for double occupancy, Rs. 5500/day for single and Rs. 10,000/day for corner single room with refrigerator, phone, and other amnesties.

Dad looked in unease. His face was clearly showing he was feeling worried.

“It’s very expensive. How will we afford?”

“It’s not much. We can afford.”

“But if you add up for a month, it’s a big amount.”

And immediately he started sobbing. My Phupha and I began to convince him that it’s not a lot of money and it is well within our financial hold. We can take care of it. You have to just focus on your treatment. Focus on eating, focus on getting well faster, focus on getting discharged soon.

By this time both of my brothers arrived and they saw dad crying. They asked what happened? I said papa is taking stress about money.

They chipped in and repeated the same words. The treatment is well within our capacity and we are all in it. Don’t worry. But my dad was still feeling the pain. I could understand his emotions.

His main concern which remained unvoiced and only came out as tears were all my life I worked hard to provide for my family and I am going to spend all of that money on my own treatment which I had patiently saved for my family. This is painful.

What can a man do? What must a man do? Will you leave your wife and partner for life behind, alone? Or, will you give up the will to live? It’s a bitter and painfully frustrating situation to be. I could feel dad’s heart. I felt his tears. And there was nothing I could do at the time but I knew exactly what to do when the opportunity arrives.

The head nurse came in and said the bed is ready. Pisa fed one banana to dad. The wheelchair was ready and an attendant was present to help transfer my dad.

We helped dad to get on the wheelchair and began to walk towards 713A. The 7th floor in the A Ward hosts all cancer patients. Dad got bed A in room 713.

The room had TV and AC. The bathroom was cleaner and bigger than the previous ward. In fact much cleaner.

The new room had another leukemia patient, a ten-year-old boy. The boy’s grandmother was with him.

He was admitted after he suddenly fell sick and doctors found out that his body is not making blood. The doctors in Patna city where he was admitted referred him to immediately go to Delhi or Mumbai. His family decided to bring him to CMC.

The boy despite his tender age explained his experience with chemotherapy. My brother showed my dad to look at the little kid who is full with energy and is talking with excitement.

My dad found his strength from looking at this kid.

The following hours passed slowly. In late afternoon all three brothers, we went out to look for apartments to rent for a couple of months.

We finally found a place with decent size room with attached kitchen and bathroom.

While waiting for the elevator my brother peeped a few times inside an open room. The group of people seemed to be from our hometown. They were curious too and they invited us inside.

We gladly accepted their invitation and asked if we can take a look. They said, sure take a walk around and answered of our questions. They offered us thekwa to eat and when we inquired told us that his dad has lower body paralysis and that’s why they are here.

In past few days that I have been here in Vellore I have seen and talked to so many sick people that my heart lives in my mouth now and my heart weeps its bitter tears inside my hurting mind.

At 9:30 pm we reached our lodge and 2016 star movies award was playing on TV. I was lying down on bed along with Pisa and my cousin. My brother was arranging his bed on the ground.

My cousin said, I want to ask one thing. Is that okay?

I said, “yeah, sure!”

He said, “I want to ask you why you did love marriage?”

I replied, “not marriage. We are engaged.”

He said, “yes, engagement and (and I mean) marrying later. So why did you do that? Our family did not expect this from you.”

He continued, “how much hurt it has caused to all family members. I am not saying love marriage is right or wrong but I think people who do love marriage are selfish!”

I said, hell no. You are married with two small daughters and you still talk and think about other younger girls and even about the doctors and nurses in the hospital.

I was thinking to myself, his mindset is sick. For him family matters big time yet his wife deserves very little of his respect. He doesn’t even love her. He is confusing his husband and fatherly duty with love. This is fucked up.

I continued, “that is because you have never known, felt or understood love. I thought inside my mind. Stop fucking judging. You are causing extremely emotional distress.”

I was feeling extremely hurt insure and thinking dad is dying. He is feeling depressed. He cries. He is in bad bad situation. And what is he taking about right now! I could not sleep for hours and kept thinking. How much I hate these kind of people. If my dad was not here and if he was not here to help, I would block this kind of people out of my life.

I am going through extremely turbulent roller coarser every hour. Every hour is some sort of emergency. And feeling you are not able to do anything, feeling you are dependent of people who talks bullshit about you, those who doesn’t  understand what care means. I am not able to do it. It’s hard to handle.

 

Chapter 5 (Feb 1, 2016)
I woke up at 6, an hour later than my usual wake up time. During early morning hours, I was still feeling hurt and dreaming about the words that my cousin had said last night. This combined with the feeling of what is going to happen to my dad was taking its toll. But I had to let it go and get up and get to work.

I got fresh and went to buy coconut water. I asked the price and then said give two coconut water to me. The guy did not understand me and gave me four. I gave him Rs. 150 for four of them at Rs. 30/coconut. He was supposed to return me Rs. 30. The other guy standing there asked the vendor to give me 30 but he refused. He was cutting 5th one to take my 150. I refused. He resisted and was persistent on giving me the 5 coconut for Rs. 150.

I was already frustrated with my experience with them. I ordered two and take gave me four. And now they were trying to forcefully sell me five. After some brief argument and with the help of another vendor I got Rs.30 back. I headed towards dad’s ward.

I reached his room at 6:30 am and he was sleeping. I asked the Aaya if he had any food or gone to bathroom. She said she gave water and took him to bathroom once last night. She said the other lady has been washing cloths in bathroom since last 45 min. She seemed frustrated and annoyed. I could understand, she was not able go do her job and she wanted to provide care.

I released her and gave her payments. After she left I asked my dad if would like to eat. I gave him one organic banana and ate one with him. Then I gave him the fresh coconut water that I had brought. He said, this coconut water tastes fresh. I said, yes, I just got them. Next time, we will try to but immediately before drinking. Storing coconut water takes away its taste of freshness.

After my dad settled down, I texted Neha and vented about my situation and feeling of inadequacy. She tried to comfort me with her best but there was just too much happening. The events were developing fast.

A physician attended came to our room and started asking questions on medicines and current situations. She was extremely unprofessional, impatient and a bitch. She was telling if we want to stay here or take my dad home. She was talking loudly in front dad and said, his stage is incurable and therefore after few rounds of chemo we should continue at a place near us.

The attending physician visited my father around 2 pm and a nurse brought all the new medicines as well as the chemo drug Taxol.

They had my dad sign a waiver and explained you are going to go under chemotherapy.

My brother gave bath to our dad and chased him in new cloths. All of us encouraged my dad that he has to eat now. The doctor also said him to eat until you vomit. If you feel like vomiting, still eat. If you vomit, no problem, we will take care of it. But your only job under chemo is to eat well. So just focus on eating. Eat, eat, eat whether you feel like eating or not.

Starting at 3:30 pm the nurses started to give him anti-allergy and other preparatory meds to him. Everything was now given intravenously through a site in his right hand.

At 4:10 his first chemo was administered. Since his pain medication was over the nurse had to give him shot of tramadol painkiller. My dad took his entire first chemo under sleep. We were closely monitoring him and the first session went by without any adverse effects. Perhaps, besides a little bit of itchy feeling that we observed when we woke him up briefly to check on him.

He was hit hard by two drugs causing his state and we let him sleep until almost 8 pm.

At 8 the hospital dinner arrived. We have requested for it for next few days until we found a place to take him and be able to cook.

We woke him up and he ate better than previous nights. We were very happy. He had some rice, beans, curd, and some vegetables. He took his meds after his meal and also has one cup of milk. All very good.

 

The Glitch in the System
At 8:30 pm my brother and I began to feel concerned when we found out that our Aaya has not arrived yet. The aayas are assigned between 7-8 pm only. It was getting late and there was no sign of her. I went to front desk where all nursing staffs sit and inquired about the situation. She first suspected that we have not requested an aaya for tonight. I said, yes, we did request. And my dad had his first chemo today and he cannot walk on his own so there is no way that there can’t be an attendant or someone to look over my dad during night time. Hell no.

I returned to our ward and asked my brother if he had truly filled the aaya request form. He confirmed that he did and so we both went to front desk. By this time the staff nurse has done some inquiry and digging and it was true that we have made a request and somehow the nurse who was supposed to deposit the form and make a request forgot or missed to do it. It was clearly on CMC.

The staff nurse called her supervisor if one of the make relatives can stay overnight in our case and the supervisor gave her a firm “no”. There was no way her supervisor would allow a male attendant to stay overnight and there was no way we were leaving dad alone for the night.

After some thinking, walking, and brainstorming, the staff nurse came to our ward and said, okay one of you can stay but please don’t tell anyone or I will be in trouble. We said, OK no problem, and we don’t want you or the nurse who missed to request for an aaya to get in any trouble. We just want to be here with our father.

 

The Dirty Village
I returned home around 9:30 pm and went out to eat with my cousin and pisa. I was feeling cold like symptoms. I was feeling little feverish, body pain and beck of my right knee was hurting. My temperature seemed a little higher, breath was coming out a little hotter, all flu like symptoms. I guess just eating outside for past 4 days put me down with cold.

Nevertheless I reluctantly ordered two chapatis and egg curry for dinner. Every time I had to eat outside I absolutely hated it. I was literally surrounded by thousands of of ill people and their relative all the time when I was out in the street or while eating at a dhaba. Eating outside meant inviting sickness home with open eyes. I began to mentally count when we will get a place where we we will be able to cook our own food.

 

The Evil of Having No Understanding
It was time to go home. Three of us got back and I quickly washed my hands, feet, and face and began to arrange my thin mattress on the floor while my cousin and Pisa took the bed where they were lying down and watching TV. I tried to sleep to my best and with all the lights and noise it was hard. Every night for the past four nights I hated the TV watching habits of my relatives.

But it was not all. This time both my cousin and Phupha asked me when is your wedding? I said there is no wedding. (Papa is fighting with gastric cancer). We have canceled and postponed everything for the indefinite time. So I don’t know. I will see.

Phupha asked I will find a girl for you. I must be invited in your wedding and I am not going to the U.S to attend your wedding.

My cousin intervened and asked our Phupha, “what if Salil will do wedding and reception in India.”

Phupha replied, “no, no, from my heart, I don’t want to attend your wedding if you are marrying this girl.”

He asked me is it okay if I find someone for you. An engineer girl,  a doctor girl, beautiful girl, whatever is your criteria.

I said, “NO, I can’t say yes to you.”

I was feeling extremely annoyed and angry by this time. I wanted to cut off the topic right there, so I turned to my side and parented to sleep.

But my cousin and phupha were still full of gas and there was still a lot of fuel to burn. Phupha continued that Dad has cryingly told him one day about his disappointment about my relationship and the choice of girl who I love and want to be with.

I knew perfectly well that he is taking bullshit and there was nothing I could say. I was brimming with anger. This is not the time to talk silly and this is not a good occasion to speak anything unkind or false about my dad.

I would have almost shouted and left the room and stayed somewhere else for the night and would have talked to my dad, brother and mom to let go of all these negative people. I wanted no negativity anywhere near us when we all are trying to fight cancer.

I was convinced at this point that none of these people have any clue about the gravity of the situation. Because no one has fucking taken the time to truly listen to the doctors or read the reports. They are happily watching TV where every second is critical in finding out about how we could seek a second opinion, where to take our dad, what kind of pain cancer patients feel and how long can this treatment last. What are the side effects? How can we minimize the side effects?

These and hundreds of other questions are screaming for an answer and we are all running with time. We have to run faster or we will be left behind in pain. 

But unfortunately, this was not the end of this night. My cousin and phupha continued to push, poke and spit bitter words for next 30 min while I kept lying sideways listening and staring on the empty wall.

They said:

“My dad has been hit by my actions.”

“He is broken because of his son’s action and pressure from society.”

“Break your engagement and allow us to find someone for you.”

“This kind of marriages will last 4-5 years maximum and when she will suck you, she will leave.”

“If you break up and marry according to our will, our family will walk with their chest up and chin high. You have hurt us all.”

“Your dad will jump up and sit up immediately if you would tell him that you will marry according to family choice and wishes.”

“You have brought down the family and we are not in support of your action. (Your marriage will not work.) we are trying to help you because we care for you and love you.”

“I have just said what is in my heart but now it is up to you to decide afar ever you want to do.”

“We are not happy about your decision and engagement. No one is. People are not saying but no one is happy.”

The fan was running in high speed and I continued to look sideways towards an empty wall, keeping quiet. All this time they both failed to notice that I have caught a cold.

They continued to watch TV and I remember staying annoyed for some time due to the TV volume but I managed to fall to sleep while the tube light was still on.

 

The Next Morning
I woke up suddenly in the morning. I checked my phone and it was 4 am. I went to the toilet and sat down and began writing this chapter.

As I am finished with yesterday’s event and it’s already 5 am now. I am going to get fresh and would head directly to the hospital where my brother is. I am thinking of sharing some of it with him but since he is under the tremendous amount of pressure himself, I am debating if I should or should not. Maybe I will not. Not right now. I am going to talk to Neha. I need her here.

(to be continued…)

9 Quotes On Love, Travel, Life, and More

In this blog, I am simply sharing some of the quotes from The Naked Soul. Read, think, ponder, enjoy and share with your friends.

Somethings can’t be bought, bribed or stolen. Either you find it or it finds you.

 

I was once small, now my soul is grand. I was once blind, now my eyes have seen it all. I was once lost, now I know many paths that lead to light. I was once unhappy, now I am busy saying “no” to many interesting things. All because one day I started to travel.

 

I love New York City. Walking down the Park Avenue I could not help but think about economy, globalization, wealth inequality, immigration, religious extremism, opportunities for middle class, healthcare for every human being, education for every human and all the issues that are shaping our global politics… This morning as I was wondering while looking down from my 17th floor from ROW…. yes, the issue is “everything is here but love is mussing”. Therefore peace is mussing, personal satisfaction is missing, selfless charity is missing. Will you help in changing it? Will you take the trouble of thinking hard?

 

Writing a little every day or atleast once a week journal what you did, how you felt, what you learned, what you want to change, etc. Anything. Writing is not just for writers. You would not say music is just for musician. No. Music is for everyone. So is writing. So is a journal. So is a small, little private diary. Write, because your life literally depends on it.

 

In this age when being an observer is associated with cool, it is good to remind ourselves that being a partaker is cooler.

 

Making all those around me turn into a voice of passion for life. A harmony, an orchestra, a symphony of love, hopes, and dreams. I am burning my candles hard and on both ends to make the path brighter for all those who seek healing and love. You belong here. Without any label, you don’t need one. Your existence is enough. You belong. We all belong. Be naked with your own truths. Hide nothing, speak for yourself and speak the truth. There is nothing on the other side of fear. You belong here. I love you and accept you just as you are.

 

The fish in the water that is thirsty is either not breathing or drinking. Think about it.

 

Today tell a stranger “hello” and smile. Help someone unknown to you. When you give, you feel most happy! Try it as an experiment and test it for yourself.

 

 

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club. Subscribe your email now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Sign up now and stay in the touch! What do you think about my poetry marketing approach? 

Which one is your favorite quote from December? If you want to add your interpretation or explanation to these quotes, please feel free to add in the comments below.

Metamorphosis, Transformation, and The Power of Positive Change

Why do we hate change but buy transformation? Why we hate building new habits but love new year resolutions?

The problem is in the hook (the promise, the proposed solution, the value add). Our mind translates these words differently. What do I mean by “our mind thinks of these words differently?”

Let’s take a look. This is going to be a philosophical post. And, I am going to offer some practical advise on positive habit building in the end. There is power in building and cultivating good habits. Using high-performance habits we can achieve significant goals which otherwise may seem elusive.

Good habits lie behind making positive changes. We are more likely to achieve worthwhile goals if we have taken the time to build good habits part of our everyday routine. And, all of this means: Change.

“A nail is driven out by another nail. Habit is overcome by habit.”

 

~ Erasmus 

 

Metamorphosis & Transformation 

What do you imagine or think when you hear the word “transformation”? “Transformation” or “breakthrough” is seen as something magical. We unconsciously believe some divine power or some external agent of change will take us from point A to point B.

We want to quit a bad habit and we secretly wish for a magical moment where we are suddenly transformed without pain. Transformation is metamorphosis to us. We unconsciously believe or secretly wish that a major change just happens in due time.

But that’s not correct. It is a faulty conditioning. And, we need to break free from this erroneous belief.

Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Dali. (According to Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool. The gods immortalized him as a flower (as seen in the second image). This is one example of philosophical take on “instant transformation” through divine intervention.)
At an unconscious level — we humans (all of us) hate change (including positive change which leads to positive self-growth). What does the sound of word “change” makes you feel?
Truth be told, “change” means discomfort, resistance, sacrifice, giving up your present way of life. Since self-growth, breakthrough and transformation — they all means positive change, our brain thinks of these words as welcoming because they convey a sense of salvation from our difficult or stagnant situations.
But no transformation occurs without first building new habits and breaking the old ones. It is the “positive changes” that lead to massive self-growth and transformation. Change is good. We don’t have to fear it. Change is what makes metamorphosis work its wonder. 
The word “metamorphosis” derives from Greek which means “transformation. The word is made up of two parts: from “meta”, meaning “change” and “morphe”, meaning “form”. Change in form. Or, change in constitution.

In biology (and nature), metamorphosis is a process by which an animal physically develops after birth or hatching, involving a conspicuous and relatively abrupt change in the animal’s body structure through cell growth and differentiation.

There is no metamorphosis without a change of habitat or habit. Notice the two key components required for the transformation: Habitat and Habit.

Habitat (The Environmental Change)

Positive association (family, friends, colleagues)

Positive books (inspirational and deep)

Positive movies and films (relevant and impactful)

Healthy eating (to empower the body and mind)

Fitness conscious lifestyle (to take charge of your body)

Habits (The Behavioral Change)

The attitude of gratitude

The attitude of perseverance

The attitude of daily-growth

The attitude of faith

The attitude of humility

Create something good

 “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” — Aristotle

Power of Positive Change

Top 3 Tips on How to Build Good, Positive Habits

1. Macro and Micro Goals

Create “goals” that fit the vision and values of your true self. Where do you want to eventually go? That’s your vision. What steps you may have to take to reach there, that’s your macro-goal.

To achieve each macro-goal, what smaller goals you first much achieve, that’s your micro-goal. What do you need to do “every day” to achieve your micro-goal, that’s your daily “to-do-tasks”.

This should be your first step. Create a daily, to-do-list.

Read: My morning ritual and daily checklists for success and super-human productivity.

“The second half of a man’s life is made up of nothing but the habits he has acquired during the first half.”

 

~ Feodor Dostoevsky

2. Plan for Behavioral Change

Start with positive visualization, affirmations and incorporating small mindfulness practice in your daily life. Spend some time each day to talk to yourself. Self-talk is essential for “reflection.”

You have to think what did you achieve today? Did you make any impact on the world today? Were your activities significant enough to turn your life towards a higher purpose or goal?

Ask and answer these questions when you ponder about what new habits you want to build.

“Where evil habits are once settled, they are more easily broken than mended.”

 

~ Marcus Fabius Quintilian

3. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

You want a new habit to form with minimal willpower on your part. But, a new habit creation takes a lot of willpower. Have you wondered why?

Let me tell you a secret today which will save you heartache and tons of wasted hours. When building a new habit, focus on one positive habit at a time. Do not focus on elimination yet.

You have 24 hours in a day and you already have a fixed lifestyle. Now, you are trying to add something new to your daily routine. How do you do that? Where will you find the time?  The key is, do the new habit the first thing in the morning or the first thing whenever you have “that free time (whenever that is)”. 

When it comes to habit formation early repetition is the key. You have to be consistent for a month or 3 months. Consistency is the key. And, as you gently settle into the new habit, you’ll find yourself automatically drop an old, unhelpful habit.

For example, you want to add “book reading” as a new positive habit in your lifestyle. Say currently, you are watching Game of Thrones or House of Card or some other popular TV show. So, my advice to you is: keep watching. Yes, keep watching the TV.

Listen. Read a book for 10 minutes before or after your TV show. The TV series will end in some time but your new book reading habit will stick and grow over time.

There are millions of great books out there and you’ll never run out of them. Once, you start including a new habit in your daily routine the key is to not force anything out of your life but to push good things into your daily living.

As the good thing grows in your life, the unproductive habits will automatically be pushed out of your day.

Stages of change

“An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.”

 

~ W. Somerset Maugham 

Top 7 Tips on How to Make New Habits Stick

1. Focus on Adding Not Subtracting

Behavior change is hard because we’re creatures of habit. To make a change in our behavior means we’re adding something and subtracting something. Habit formation is a two-way lane.

The mistake most people make is they focus on both lanes at the same time. For example, to lose weight, most people will start going to the gym and stop eating fries and ice-cream.

The problem is every task requires some degree of willpower (mental energy and decision making). If you try to resist ice-cream and at the same time, workout for 60 minutes sweating and feeling fatigued, you are bound to fail within a week.

My suggestion (which may sound counter-intuitive) is to focus on one. If you have time and you like the idea of going to the gym, go eat some ice-cream first and hit the gym.

Begin the journey. There is no hurry. Next, keep going to the gym. Focus on going to the gym routine. As you work harder on your body and realize how much effort it is to burn 1 pound of fat, your intrinsic desire to ice-cream and fries will automatically die or fade away.

This is a well-known fact to those who have been there but you won’t find the so-called experts talk about this. Why? Because most of these experts are not going to the gym. They are good at writing papers from their university lab.

Most of these “experts” have no clue how hard it is to control the desire to eat ice-cream (for dessert lovers) and how hard it is to run non-stop for 30 minutes.

“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.”

 

~ Benjamin Franklin

2. SMART

The resolution needs to be SMART.

Specific

Measurable

Actionable

Reward yourself for sticking to your habit

Track your progress

“Bad habits are like a comfortable bed, easy to get into, but hard to get out of.” — Anon

3. Ask Why?

Your “why” is the most important factor in making a new habit stick. You have to make sure that whatever it is that you are trying to do (eat more veggies, exercise daily for 30 minutes, write daily for 1 hour, etc) is something that YOU really want.

Thinking is not going to cut it. You have to “feel” your why. If there is a strong and genuine “why factor”, you won’t stop. You will try to get help from your community. And you should. You will do whatever it takes. And you should.

Don’t try to form a new habit just for the name or thrill of it. If there is a peer group available, join one. If there is no support group, create one. Even if you have just one more partner, you can keep each other accountable.

Having an accountability partner means, you are going to stick with it even if the going gets tough.

“Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.” — Confucius

4. Write it Down and Know the Benefits

Write down your new habit and your plan on a piece of paper with a timeline on it. Writing makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result. Next, write down all the benefits that you will reap after making the change.

Get books and research on how your new habit will benefit you and your lifestyle or your bank balance or your social status.

“Cultivate only the habits that you are willing should master you.”

 

~ Elbert Hubbard 

5. Allocate Time

Block out a regular time for your new habit in your schedule so that you can give your positive habit your undivided attention. I use a daily to-do list and keep it on my phone. I make sure I have check out every single item on my list before I go to bed.

“The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

 

~ Samuel Johnson

6. Reflect on Your Progress

Take time to reflect on how your new habit is serving you. Are you following through or failing? If you are not doing as good as you would like, ask yourself “why?” Adjust your goals and plan accordingly. If you are fairing well, don’t overestimate your capacity and increase your goals or expectation until the new habit has become part of your being.  You can do the reflection exercise when you do your creative visualization or daily affirmations.

 

7. Find Powerful Motivation Factor

To make new habit stick you have to exercise self-discipline, atleast in the beginning and until a new habit has fully formed. One way to strengthen your self-discipline and commitment to persevere is to create a Treasure Map or a Vision Board.

A vision board can be a simple collage or visual representation of what you want to achieve. It can be created as a secret treasure hunt map. Your map is your journey to significance and success. It outlines what you are going to have at the end of your adventurous journey.

The impact you are going to make on this world. The influence you are going to exercise while serving others. It is your mission written in pictures.

This last step is the most crucial because a vision board or treasure map will constantly remind you why your new positive habit is so important to you.

Looking at your board can be just what you need to feel motivated on days when your enthusiasm is fading and your mood low.

A pleasant life

 

Where To Start?

Perhaps, start here. In 1726, at age 20, Benjamin Franklin created a system to develop his character. In his autobiography, Franklin listed his 13 virtues as:

The Thirteen Virtues

1. Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order: Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality: Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Effective and Efficiency: Lose no time; be always employed in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity: Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice: Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation: Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness: Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.

11. Tranquility: Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity: Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.

13. Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

 

You can pick any one of these virtues and identify positive habits that you can build around them. Or, better yet, create your own list of virtues and positive habits and then start on the top of the list and move downwards one by one.

After all, there is no limit to self-growth and personal development. Only you decide where and when you stop growing.

My last words: Don’t stop growing.

After the transformation: a fully grown butterfly in all its glory.

 

###

Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Sign up now and stay in the touch! What do you think about my poetry marketing approach? 

What do you think about habit formation? Do you differentiate between transformation and change? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

My Morning Ritual For Success & Super Human Productivity

We all want to be successful, live a good life, travel and experience this world our way. But, only a small percentage of people are able to achieve a level of success that truly matches our expectation and dreams. Why?

The answer lies not in work ethic or luck, education, internet access or hard work. Surprisingly, the answer lies in we do not know how to focus our energy. We do not know what we truly want from life and how to get it.

Morning Ritual For Success

Today, I am going to share my super-human productivity secrets with you all which has made me achieve both financial and platform and brand building success.

Do you believe that you can make it to the other end? You must, because, you can.

The first thing I recommend to everyone (and to all my students) is to write down what is their vision of their ideal self. What characters do they want to portray to the world?

This is the first step and is critical. You want to create a personality which is coherent.

For me, these are the 11 characters I strive to achieve in my ideal self. And these are the same character traits that I also want to project to the world. Therefore, I always seek to improve myself or check myself against these ideals.

Compassionate

Romantic

Fair

Honest

Accountable

Responsible

Highly energetic

Creative

Charismatic

Fearless

Fighter/Hustler

Next, the second thing to do is to create a morning ritual. The purpose of the morning ritual is two-fold. First, to prime and set yourself for success in the morning so that you can win the day easily. And, second, to allocate time for the most important task of the day.

Usually the most important task is the one that gets pushed to the next day and then to the next day. We procrastinate most when it comes to anything which is slightly uncomfortable and important. Sounds, counter intuitive, it is. Well, this is human nature. We always seek the easiest route to anything. My Morning Ritual

6 AM

1. Get fresh (5 min)

– wash face

– brush teeth

– drink water

 

6:05 AM

2. Daily growth (60 min)

– Meditation (12 min)

– Affirmation (8 min)

– Visualization (10 min)

– Writing (30 min)

 

7:05 AM

3. Eat breakfast (15 min)

– Drink protein shake

 

7:20 AM

4. The most important task (20 min)

 

7:40 AM

5. Get ready for work (20 min)

 

8 AM

6. Commute (+listen to audio books or a podcast) (60 min)

 

9 AM

7. Office (9-5)

You can create your own version. Again, as you can see above, the goal is to do what makes you most positive and energetic. And set some time aside for that one important task that is most critical and also slightly difficult. With all the fresh energy and focus that you have in the morning, it is easier to tackle a difficult task in the morning than at any other time during the day or evening.

Goal vs. tasks. Set the correct goals so that you can create and execute the right tasks.

How do I wake up early with excitement for the new day?

Great question. Here is a little known secret. Follow these 7 steps (these are time tested and it works for me and most people who try them.)

  1. I sleep with purpose and affirming for good dreams and sound sleep.
  2. I read my affirmations and definite purpose before sleeping (this can be done quiet, with eyes closed).
  3. I wake up and immediately turn on the lights.
  4. I think and capture the excitement from the previous night.
  5. I brush my teeth.
  6. I drink 1 glass of water.
  7. I partake in my morning ritual (as shown above).

Now comes the beast. How do I get done so much every single day. I manage various social platforms, I write, I run my business, work as a consultant full-time and exercise daily to stay fit and ripped. How?

The secret: daily checklists. (And, today, I am sharing those with you.)

I do my morning ritual and then go about my day (according to the needs of each day and make sure I am working on my checklist and checking each item off before 9 PM).

The Checklist for Success and Super-Productivity

Monday

1. Morning ritual

2. Make a new blog post

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

6. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Tuesday

1. Morning ritual

2. Record a podcast (over Skype using Call recorder)

3. Manage Twitter (using Unfollowers)

4. Write a Quora answer or Quora blog

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on NS Instagram

7. Post on FF Instagram

8. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

11. Dishwasher run

 

Wednesday

1. Morning ritual

2. Make a new blog post

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

6. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Thursday

1. Morning ritual

2. Manage Twitter (using Unfollowers)

3. Write a Quora answer or Quora blog

4. Call/email a friend

5. Post on NS Instagram

6. Post on FF Instagram

7. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Exercise/Run (30 min minimum)

10. Dishwasher run

 

Friday

1. Morning ritual

2. Edit and post a video on YouTube and Facebook

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Manage Tailwind (for Pinterest)

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

7. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

8. Read before bed (10 min minimum)

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Charge all cameras/batteries (for the weekend) and pack the backpack

11. Dishwasher run

 

Saturday

1. Morning ritual

2. Edit and post a video on YouTube and Facebook

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Manage AgoraPulse (for Facebook)

5. Call/email a friend

6. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

7. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

8. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

9. Dishwasher run

10. Check all bank accounts

 

Sunday

1. Morning ritual

2. Manage Buffer for all social Platforms

3. Twitter management (using Unfollowers)

4. Record a podcast (over Skype using Call recorder)

5. Call home

6. Call/email a friend

7. Post on Naked Soul Instagram

8. Post on Fitness & Food Instagram

9. Mindfulness (do atleast two from below)

– Silence

– Prayer

– Meditation

– Affirmation

– Visualization

– Reflection

– Deep and Focused Breathing

10. Meal planning

11. Backup your blog

12. Check analytics and health for:

– Goodreads (tracking social activity)

– CreateSpace (tracking book sales numbers)

– KDP (Kindle digital)

– eLance/UpWork/Freelancers (managing contractors) 

– SiteGround (my WordPress hosting admin panel)

– Google AdSense

– Google AdWords

– Google Analytics

 

True hustle is when you are constantly striving to become great. Greater than who you were yesterday. A hustle to become more, better, complete, and whole. Are you hustling?

Hustle is life. You are breathing air into your lungs and your heart is pumping blood without any rest, ever. Take a moment, pause, think about it. Your body is literally hustling to just keep you alive. Hustling is not just about making money to meet your ends.

I keep all my checklists in my phone and as well as printed over my desk. To be completely honest, I do not hit 100% check mark on all days but I aim to cross each item on my checklist every day. However, if I have covered 80% or greater for a given day, I count it as a success.

Give it try and test it for yourself. Write to me about what works for you and what doesn’t. If you have questions or if your situation is different which doesn’t allow you enough free time, please feel free to leave a comment below. You may need to leave some of the less important items and focus on high output, higher priority tasks.

 

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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you already have a morning or evening ritual, tell us more about your practice. I am always on the lookout for awesome life-and-productivity hacks.

The Top 12 Books Of All Time | To Make You Wiser & More Complete

Read as many books as you can for self-growth.Friends, starting this month, I am going to make book recommendations every couple of months. In each issue, I will have 12 new books for you to choose from. Read all of them or read as many as you can but remember these top books are treaties on the collected wisdom of ages.

I promise to you, even if you read just one of the twelve, you’ll be a transformed person after you finish the book.

Your vocabulary, your language, your perception of the world will change and you will grow in every positive direction in your life.

Start today and let’s all commit to reading all of these great books every month.

Top 12 Books Of All Time

Why the number 12?

If you are wondering why 12 books each month and not 3 or 10 or 5? Well, here is my reasoning behind the number 12.

1. There are 12 months in a year and for those of us who are into self-development, it’s easy to commit to reading a book a month. But, what if you want to beat the 99% and be in the top 1% of people.

How about, read as much in a month what others read in full year. I know, reading 12 books is not possible for 99.999% of us but the assumption is all of you must have read some of these books so I have to recommend 12 so that there is something new for everyone each month.

2. I cannot justify dedicating a complete blog post on book recommendation each month with just 3 or 5 books in my post. Plus, there are so many great books out there. We may have read a lot but there is a lot that we still need to learn. Books are our best friends. Why not, keep a lot of them.

3. Not every month will have exactly 12 books. The point here is to read great works and not add volumes of books to our library. Some months may have only 10, some may have only 8 or 9. The number of books is not important, what is truly important is that you must find the time and MUST READ all of them, this month or the next.

 

My 2015 Book List

These are the 12 books I have selected for November 2015 reading list which every literate person on this earth MUST READ. Whether you think these books apply to your life’s situation or not, pick them up and read. You’ll find more than what you are looking for.

These books are beyond time, culture and language. I have added the links so that you can find them if you want to read them.

Some of them might be free while others can be purchased for cheap. They all are worth many times more than their costs.

 

1. The Book of Job, (from The Old Testament, Bible), Israel. (600-400 BC)

You can get a free copy of Bible from many places such as thrift stores, churches, library, etc. Go to the index and look for The Book of Job (in the Old Testament section). 

The book of Job is not only a story about human condition and survival but faith, self-belief, divine interventions, time and complexities of human life.

It is a great read. Once you finish it, you will feel your life is just perfect and things happen for a reason.

 

2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, Nigeria

Things Fall Apart is a post-colonial novel written by Nigerian author Chinua Achebe in 1958. It is a staple book in schools throughout Africa. The novel follows the life of Okonkwo, an Igbo leader and local wrestling champion in the fictional Nigerian village of Umuofia.

Okonkwo (the main protagonist) starts off as a great leader and wrestling champion but things start to go wrong for reasons beyond his controls. By the end, the Christianized and Westernized village has changed and things fall apart further for our protagonist.

 

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, England

A classic romance read, set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of M.r and Mrs. Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr. Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr. Darcy, have moved into their neighbourhood.

While handsome Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, rich and young Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.

 

4. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, United States

The book tells the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, a seagull who is bored with daily squabbles over food. Seized by a passion for flight, he pushes himself, learning everything he can about flying, until finally his unwillingness to conform results in his expulsion. An outcast, he continues to learn, becoming increasingly pleased with his abilities as he leads a peaceful and happy life.

 

5. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, Ireland

Waiting for Godot is an absurdist play, in which two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait endlessly and in vain for the arrival of someone named Godot. The satire can be linked to religious theme (for example, waiting for God who never shows up) or any other themes such as political, psychological, etc.

It is a fascinating read and enlightening as it delves deep into the four archetypal personalities of the soul are grouped in two pairs: the ego and the shadow, the persona and the soul’s image (animus or anima).

 

6. Collected Fictions by Jorge Luis Borges, Argentina

Fiction steeped in deep symbolism and social-economic-political commentaries.

 

7. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Samuel Clason, U.S.

If you want to make more money, be rich, save money, understand money and wealth and more in a narrative format — this is the BEST book on everything money. I read this book when I was broke and clinically depressed and had no hopes for life. This book gave me the insights that literally changed my life and condition 360 degrees. This book has been a life saver for me.

 

8. The Stranger by Albert Camus, France

This is an awesome read. The book is divided into two sections.

Part I
Meursault learns of his mother’s death. At her funeral, he expresses none of the expected emotions of grief. When asked if he wishes to view the body, he says no, and, instead, smokes and drinks coffee in front of the coffin. Rather than expressing his feelings, he only comments to the reader about the others at the funeral. He later encounters Marie, a former employee of his firm. The two become re-acquainted, go swimming, watch a comedy film and begin to have a sexual relationship, despite the fact that his mother’s funeral took place the day before. In the next few days, he helps his friend and neighbor, Raymond Sintès, take revenge on a Moorish girlfriend suspected of infidelity. For Raymond, Meursault agrees to write a letter to his girlfriend, with the sole purpose of inviting her over so that Raymond can have sex with her but spit in her face at the last minute as emotional revenge. Meursault sees no reason not to help him, and it pleases Raymond. He does not express concern that Raymond’s girlfriend is going to be emotionally hurt, as he believes Raymond’s story that she has been unfaithful, and he himself is both somewhat drunk and characteristically unfazed by any feelings of empathy. In general, he considers other people either interesting or annoying or feels nothing of them at all.

The letter works: the girlfriend returns, but the situation escalates when she slaps Raymond after he tries to kick her out, and Raymond beats her. Raymond is taken to court where Meursault testifies that she had been unfaithful, and Raymond is let off with a warning. After this, the girlfriend’s brother and several Arab friends begin trailing Raymond. Raymond invites Meursault and Marie to a friend’s beach house for the weekend, and when there, they encounter the spurned girlfriend’s brother and an Arab friend; these two confront Raymond and wound him with a knife during a fist fight. Later, walking back along the beach alone and now armed with a revolver he took from Raymond so that Raymond would not do anything rash, Meursault encounters the Arab. Meursault is now disoriented on the edge of heatstroke, and when the Arab flashes his knife at him, Meursault shoots. Despite killing the Arab man with the first gunshot, he shoots the corpse four more times after a brief pause. He does not divulge to the reader any specific reason for his crime or emotions he experiences at the time, if any, aside from the fact that he was bothered by the heat and bright sunlight.

Part II
Meursault is incarcerated and explains his arrest, time in prison, and upcoming trial. His general detachment makes living in prison very tolerable, especially after he gets used to the idea of not being able to go places whenever he wants to and no longer being able to satisfy his sexual desires with Marie. He passes the time sleeping, or mentally listing the objects he owned back in his apartment building. At the trial, Meursault’s quietness and passivity are seen as demonstrative of his seeming lack of remorse or guilt by the prosecuting attorney, and so the attorney concentrates more upon Meursault’s inability or unwillingness to cry at his mother’s funeral than on the actual murder. The attorney pushes Meursault to tell the truth but never comes through and later, on his own, Meursault explains to the reader that he simply was never really able to feel any remorse or personal emotions for any of his actions in life. The dramatic prosecutor theatrically denounces Meursault to the point that he claims Meursault must be a soulless monster, incapable of remorse and that he thus deserves to die for his crime. Although Meursault’s attorney defends him and later tells Meursault that he expects the sentence to be light, Meursault is alarmed when the judge informs him of the final decision: that he will be decapitated publicly.

In prison, while awaiting the execution of his death sentence by the guillotine, Meursault meets with a chaplain, but rejects his proffered opportunity of turning to God, explaining that God is a waste of his time. Although the chaplain persists in attempting to lead Meursault from his atheism (or, perhaps more precisely, his apatheism), Meursault finally accosts him in a rage, with a climactic outburst on his frustrations and the absurdity of the human condition and his personal anguish at the meaninglessness of his existence without respite. At the beginning of his outrage he mentions other people in anger, that they have no right to judge him for his actions or for who he is, and no one has the right to judge someone else. Meursault ultimately grasps the universe’s indifference towards humankind which allows him to come to terms with his execution.

 

9. Selected Stories by Anton Chekhov, Russia

Any story from Anton Checkov is a delightful must read. Well, this is a collection of his short stories. Enough said, you can’t miss any of the stories in this short book.

 

10. Nostromo by Joseph Conrad, England

F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “I’d rather have written Nostromo than any other novel.” Nostromo is often regarded as Conrad’s best novel. 

Nostromo is set in the South American country of Costaguana, and more specifically in that country’s Occidental Province and its port city of Sulaco. Costaguana has a long history of tyranny, revolution and warfare, but has recently experienced a period of stability under the dictator Ribiera. Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to his position through his bravery and daring exploits.

His exploits during the revolution do not bring Nostromo the fame he had hoped for, and he feels slighted and used. Feeling that he has risked his life for nothing, he is consumed by resentment, which leads to his corruption and ultimate destruction.

 

11. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, Italy

The Divine Comedy is an epic poem by Dante Alighieri, finished in 1320 (after 12 years of writing). It is widely considered the preeminent work of Italian literature and is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature.

On the surface, the poem describes Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise or Heaven; but at a deeper level, it represents, allegorically, the soul’s journey towards God.

 

12. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Russia

Considered and acclaimed as one of the supreme achievements in world literature, The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality.

It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia, with a plot which revolves around the subject of patricide.

Admirers of the novel include Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Martin Heidegger, Cormac McCarthy and Kurt Vonnegut.

Sigmund Freud called it “the most magnificent novel ever written” and was fascinated with the book for its Oedipal themes.

 

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If you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you have already read some of these books, please tell us about what you think? Want to make book recommendations, please shoot me a message. I am always on the lookout for great books.

James Patrick Kinney’s Poem “The Cold Within” | All Men Are Created Equal

The Cold Within

Six humans trapped by happenstance
In bleak and bitter cold.
Each one possessed a stick of wood
Or so the story’s told.

Their dying fire in need of logs
The first man held his back
For of the faces round the fire
He noticed one was black.

The next man looking cross the way
Saw one not of his church
And couldn’t bring himself to give
The fire his stick of birch.

The third one sat in tattered clothes.
He gave his coat a hitch.
Why should his log be put to use
To warm the idle rich?

The rich man just sat back and thought
Of the wealth he had in store
And how to keep what he had earned
From the lazy shiftless poor.

The black man’s face bespoke revenge
As the fire passed from his sight.
For all he saw in his stick of wood
Was a chance to spite the white.

The last man of this forlorn group
Did nought except for gain.
Giving only to those who gave
Was how he played the game.

Their logs held tight in death’s still hands
Was proof of human sin.
They didn’t die from the cold without
They died from the cold within.

 

Notes from me:

The idea of the American dream is rooted in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence which states that “all men are created equal” and that they have “certain inalienable rights” including “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

All men are created equal.

The poem, however, at its time was the criticism on racism in American culture. If your heart is cold, nothing from the world can make you warm.

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

How do you interpret this poem? Have you read this before? If you would like to share some thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. If you would like me to expand this post, please let me know what would you like me to describe in greater details?