Posted in Life Gyan

How to Overcome Grief…

No human in this world is untouched by grief or disappointment. Both grief and disappointment can be the source of a huge emotional turbulence. And surprisingly when people are dealing with change either at the personal level or at the work place they may also feel similar emotional turbulence.

There may be many instances of grief throughout our life – a wife may grieve the death of her husband, a teenager may grieve the ending of a relationship, or one may grieve the loss of a pet.  Similarly one can feel a deep sense of disappointment when their trust is shattered. Even significant events in personal life or at workplace may have a similar impact when people are unable to cope up with the change. For example a mother who is unable to accept the departure of her child when he or she leaves home for the first time for higher studies or employees unable to handle role change due to organisational restructuring or merger/acquisition.

In 1969, a Swiss psychiatrist, Kübler-Ross first introduced her five stage grief model in her book On Death and Dying. These five stages are –

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Kubler-Ross wrote that these are normal reactions all people have to tragic news. In fact she called them defense mechanisms or coping mechanisms. And this is exactly what they are when we apply the model to coping with change.

Also she said that we don’t move through these five stages one at a time, in a neat, linear, step by step manner. That would be far too easy! What happens is that we occupy different stages at different times and can even move back to stages we have been in before. Kubler-Ross said the stages can last for different periods of time and will replace each other or exist at times side by side.

Learning about these five stages can help us understand our own emotions and help us in coping with them in a better manner. It would be ideal, if we can reach the “acceptance” stage. However it is possible that some people get stuck in other stages and find it difficult to move on.

The Five Stages of Grief

Denial : When you first hear about the tragic news, denial or shock is usually the initial reaction.
“I can’t believe it”, “This can’t be happening”, “Tell me this is not true”
This is also a defence mechanism that gives us time to absorb the news before moving on to the other stages. It is the initial stage of numbness and shock. It is like the pigeon closing its eyes when it sees the cat. That way, It assumes that since the pigeon can’t see the cat, the cat does not exist.

Anger : When the initial shock fades away and we realize that it is real then the denial usually changes to anger. We look to blame others, God or even the government for making it happen to you. You find it incomprehensible how something like this could happen to you.
“Why me? ” Life’s not fair!”
Mental health professionals believe that anger is a necessary stage of grief – it is part of the healing process. It’s important to truly feel the anger. The more you truly feel the anger, the more quickly it will dissipate, and the more quickly you will heal. It is not healthy to suppress your feelings of anger.

Bargaining : It is an attempt to postpone the inevitable. Usually, you try to strike a deal with God. You might falsely make yourself believe that you can avoid the grief through this type of negotiation. If you change this, I’ll change that. In this stage people also experience guilt and go into an endless series of “what ifs”: What if I had left the house 5 minutes sooner? The accident would have never happened. What if I encouraged him to go to the doctor six months ago like I first thought? The cancer could have been found sooner “

Depression : When we realize that Bargaining is not going to work then the true impact of the change, the loss hits us. It can lead people to a sad state, feeling low energy, worthless and feeling depressed. Some people may even experience suicidal thoughts. the state of depression can be noticeable in the body language of the person, drooping shoulders, withdrawn from the team – thinking “What is the point of all this?

People dealing with change at work may feel demotivated and uncertain about their future. They may feel why they need to give their best when they see that the Organization is not committed towards them. During this time there may be increase in sick leaves or absentism from work.

Acceptance : In this stage people start coming back to grip with reality. They realize that denying or fighting the change is not going to make the change go away. It is not a happy place but they finally accept that the world has changed and they need to move on too. People realize that thier partner may not return but life must go on. They realize that things are not going to be same at the workplace, It’s not a “good” thing, but it’s something you can move forward from. For the first time people might start considering their options. This can be a creative space as it forces people to explore and look for new possibilities.

In this stage, you may start making new friends or setting new goals. You know that the change is here to stay but you move, grow, and evolve into your new reality.

Posted in Life Gyan

Dreams & Wishful Thinking

Remember the time when you had a number of dreams? Every other day you would come up with a new idea which according to you would change the world. While some people call it “flight of fantasy” or “day dreaming” but for you, probably that was one of the most beautiful part of growing up. It may be not an exaggeration, if I said that these thoughts gave us “wings” and took us on the “flight of imagination”. And even today, when nostalgia knocks softly, you open the door to those memories. The twinkle in your eyes and the smile on your face whisper, “Ah! Those were the days!”

Similar to the growing up years, later too in life, every once in a while a new desire pops up in your creative mind. For a few moments this new idea serves an escape from the mundane, the daily grind. However, almost immediately we tell ourselves, we are now “grown-up” and “mature” and need to be “practical”  – the flight gets stalled just as it is about to take off. You know that with your current constraints, you cannot chase this any further. The idea disappears in a jiffy.

There are a very few who are able to pursue their passion and bring their dreams to reality. Their stories become beacons, illuminating the path for others.

In solitude and quiet moments, most people see flashes of their dream life, but by then they have lost the courage to even acknowledge them as possible. Also after battling the myriad battles of life, most people have lost their capacity to take risk. Instead they prefer the comfort of the mundane. They laugh at their own dreams and call them wishful thinking.

Then as their own kids grow up their unfulfilled dreams get rekindled. They see a ray of hope. They unknowingly start considering their kids as the vehicle thru which they can achieve their own unfulfilled dreams. However it is better to return to sanity before it is too late. One must not impose their own dreams on the kids. It is better to allow the kids to explore their own interest and only ask clarifying questions to help them choose the right path for themselves.

So, did I pursue my dreams? Perhaps not all of them. But I’ve learned that dreams aren’t lost completely — they evolve. They weave themselves into the fabric of our lives, coloring our choices, our passions, and in someway creating our legacy. And sometimes, when the wind is just right, I catch a glimpse of those paper airplanes, soaring still, leaving trails of possibility in their wake.

Did you?

Posted in Life Gyan

Three Beautiful Stories

Storytelling is the most powerful way
to put ideas into the world.

– Robert McKee

From time immemorial stories have always fascinated mankind. And story-tellers have used various means to convey their message viz. narration, theatre, cinema or by writing. Some people tell stories to entertain and make you laugh. Some to impart life lessons. Yet others use this as a medium to touch upon difficult topics of social importance. And some tell stories to hide the truth.

No matter what the medium is, or what the end goal is, the job is said to be well done if you are able to convey your ideas in the most impactful manner to your audience.

Now there are few other type of stories. Those that leave you with a question to ponder or provide you some food for thought. They make you revisit the assumptions that you had always believed in your life. They do not just fade away after you have turned the page – they stay in your psyche for a long time. Some can even alter the way you perceive and live life. Today I am going to share three such stories with you which did just that for me.

The stories are itself simple but the life lessons they hold are really valuable. I urge you to go through each story one by one and reflect on the lesson rather than rushing through this post. Once you have gone thru them, pause and reflect. And if possible do share your thoughts in the comments section below.

So which story did you find the most impactful? Please do let me know in the comments section below.

Posted in Life Gyan

Each Day is Special !

Let me tell you a short story. 

A friend of mine opened his wife’s wardrobe and picked up a silk-paper-wrapped package:

“This, he said, “isn’t any ordinary package.”

He unwrapped the box and stared at both the silk paper and the box.

“She got this the first time we went to New York, 8 or 9 years ago. She has never put it on, she was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is it.”

He placed the gift box on the bed next to the other clothing he was taking to the funeral home; his wife had just died.

He turned to me and said: “Never save something for a special occasion. Treat every day of your life as special”.

This story had a huge impact on me when I read it for the first time.  And since then I might have read it scores of times. What I find interesting about this simple yet impactful story is that it connects us with our mortality. Often, we save the best for the last. But we do not know how far into the future “the last” is. And those little joys that we could have experienced right now never get fulfilled waiting for those “special moments”. This story emphasises – Treat each day as “special”. Let us live our life to the fullest with what we have right now. Surprisingly, it also brings the focus back to the things that matter. It is a reminder to live your life in the present.

Obviously, I am not advocating to throw everything to the wind and just indulge yourself with a blatant disregard for prudence. We must make long term plans for the future and in the process we even consciously defer short-term gratification for those long term goals. However, we must remember that reaching the milestone or long term goal should not become a pre-condition for us to be happy. Life is lived in the present moment. It should be looked upon like a series of experiences to be lived and cherished, not to be survived through.

All I want to tell is that don’t postpone the simple joys of life. The quality of life that you are living today matters. Don’t confuse life with lifestyle. For example If you have the opportunity to spend a few hours with your friends, don’t defer it. Those moments are priceless. Another way to look at it is, if you feel like using your crystal glasses every day, do it. Don’t wait for a special occasion to take them out. Don’t save your special perfume for special occasions – use it whenever you want to. Dress well. Don’t always keep the best dresses in the wardrobe for the special days. If it gives you joy, wear them whenever you feel like it.

Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things. Try not to delay, postpone, or keep anything that could bring laughter and joy into our lives. As someone has aptly said, Life Is Not Measured By The Breaths You Take, But By The Moments That Take Your Breath Away.

Each day, each hour, each minute, is special. Celebrate everyday.
Celebrate Life.

Posted in Life Gyan

Six Ways to Expand Your Horizon

Here are six ways to expand your horizon and to have a broader world view.  Each of the below listed items will help you push the boundaries associated with a different aspect of your life. As a result you will become a more fearless and confident person. Over a period of time, it will enhance your wisdom and give you a broader perspective of the world.

(1) Travel to new places – Travelling is one of the best way to expand your horizons in many aspects simultaneously.  By travelling I mean visiting a new place preferably outside your own state/country – a new region which has different culture, different staple food and different clothing. There is no dearth of options in India as we are known for unity in diversity. You can go to any state and experience the diversity. Once you travel be sure to observe how the people and customs are same or different from your home state. Relish the local food, interact with local people. This will help you get a very different perspective not only of life in general but even of the assumptions and beliefs you have held mentally so far.

(2) Learn a new skill – Learning a new skill like swimming, accounting or coding can be a great experience. It adds a new dimension to your personality. It provides another channel to express your creativity. Learning a new skill will help you come up with new ideas which you were not capable of thinking because you lacked this knowledge. It also opens up new possibilities for you to explore.

(3) Read books – First of all reading itself is a rewarding experience. Even though you may think – who reads books these days and lot of people adopting kindle and other digital means of reading but the data suggests that more books are sold each year. According to the website Books of Brilliance The country that reads the most books is India! They led every country on the map with an average of 10 hours and 42 minutes. That is enough to finish a book and start a new one in the same week! So incase you are not already in to reading, go pick a book if you do not want to be left behind. And if you already love reading try reading books from a different genre that would certainly open your mind to a whole new domain.

(4) Try different cuisines – Don’t be afraid to try a different cuisine once in a while. Next time when planning to go out, choose a cuisine or food item which you have never tried earlier like Sushi or Gelato or anything else that catches your fancy. The idea is to subject your senses to experience something different from what they are used to.

(5) Pick up a new hobby – Trying out a new hobby can be really fun and refreshing at the same time. Pick up something you have never done earlier. There are so many new hobbies that you can explore like starting a Bullet Journal or drawing Zentangles if you are the creative kind. You can try hydroponic farming or Origami. or even blogging. There is no dearth of new and novelty hobbies these days. Also the availability of so much information online and even online/offline classes makes it easy to pick and explore new things.

(6) Live in different geographical region/country – If possible relocate to a different geographical region or country and stay there for at least an year to experience the whole cycle of seasons, customs and festivals of that area. It will change your assumptions and boost your empathy to a different level. It will help you be sensitive to the thoughts and feeling of others especially when you are dealing with a diverse group of people.

This is just the start. You can apply this to any area of your life for example if you usually practice yoga you could try zumba, if you do kick boxing you can try pranayama or meditation. It is all about moving out of your comfort zone and embracing change. Whenever you do any new activity which is outside of the usual or routine, in some way or the other it will expand your current limits.

Be curious. That is the key. Never stop learning. To learn anything new, your cup needs to be half empty. And to be able to learn continuously, you should be able to expand the size of your cup so that there is always space to accommodate more and absorb new knowledge.

Posted in Life Gyan

Don’t Confuse Lifestyle with Life !

I came across this story a few years ago and the lesson has stayed with me over the years. A few days ago something reminded me of this story and I decided to share this with everyone for the sheer simplicity and the powerful message it carries.

A group of alumni, who were very successful in their careers, decided to get together to visit their old university professor. After they all reunited, the conversation of the alumni soon turned into complaints about work, relationships and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all of his old students had a cup of coffee in hand, they sat down together and the professor said: “If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups have been taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is, of course normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that can also be the source of much of your dissatisfaction, problems and stress.

It’s important to know that the cup itself adds no real quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just chosen because its perceived to be more special or expensive. What all of you really wanted was experience of the coffee, not the cup, but you unconsciously went for the best cups. Some of you tried to get the best cup first or began eyeing each other’s cups to see if yours was nice enough.

Now consider this: Life is a bit like the cup of coffee; the jobs, money possessions and position in society are the cups. They are just tools and structures that contain or hold together the current story of your life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee.

Here is my advice to you – Savour the coffee, not the cups! What you really want is to be happy. The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

Posted in Life Gyan

We Live in Our Minds

We don’t live in bungalows, duplexes, or flats. We live in our minds.” says Dr. Sandeep Atre, who is a Counseling Psychologist and an internationally recognized ‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert.

He further states that, “that’s our permanent residence. And there are no constraints of square feet there. It’s a vast space with unlimited area. And you know what! No matter how well organized your rooms, balconies, garages and veranda’s are, life is good only when things are sorted there- in your mind.

And that’s where we keep things messy- regrets piling up in one corner, expectations stuffed in a closet, secrets under carpet, worries littered everywhere, comparisons split on the table, complexes leaking from an old bottle and grudges stinking in a box.

Be aware. For this “real home” of yours, you can’t outsource housekeeping. You got to do it yourself.

Learn to forgive, forget and move on. Even if you were right, do you want to carry the rotten stench of a fight? Meditate to further clear and declutter your head.

And do remember to keep on renovating and improving your house (“the mind”) by reading, learning new things and keeping yourself updated.

A sound mind means a sound life.
With a clean and healthy mind – anything is possible.

Posted in Life Gyan

And We Grew Up…

We all enjoy looking back at the fond memories of our childhood when the simple things would give us so much joy. There was no pressure or timelines to meet. Life was so much simple and we say to ourselves – “those were the golden days”. Here are a few lines I read somewhere which capture many such moments to look back in our own lives and immerse ourselves in a feeling of nostalgia.

Somewhere between “Crying loudly to seek attention” and “Crying silently to avoid attention”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “ 7 pani puris for 1 rupee” and “1 pani puri for 7 rupees”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Ground mai aaja” and “Online aaja”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Craving for pizza” and “Craving for home food”, we grew up!

Somewhere between “Believing in happy endings” and “Accepting the reality”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “stealing eclairs of your sis” and “Bringing Silk for her”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Just five more mins Mom” and “Pressing the snooze button”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Broken Pencils” and “Broken Hearts”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Crying out loud just to get what we want” and “Holding our tears when we are broken inside”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “We are Best Friends Forever” and “Knowing that nothing truly lasts”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “I want to grow up” and “I want to be a child again”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Lets meet and plan” and “Lets plan and meet”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Eagerly waiting” and “Forever waiting”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Parents fulfilling our wish” and “We Fulfilling our parent’s dream”, we grew up!!

Somewhere between “Waking up at 6 am” and “Sleeping at 6 am”, we grew up!!

And as we grew up, we realized how, silently but surely ,our lives have changed…!!

Posted in Life Gyan

Do You Unwind Daily?

In today’s connected world a variety of gadgets, apps, connected devices and virtual assistants are constantly feeding us information and push notifications to catch our attention. Few of the most popular apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and other news apps are capable of generating an endless feed. One can keep browsing from one post to another till the eyes start hurting but the feed does not end. 

In a quest to assimilate this endless flow of information we forget to acknowledge that we are in effect abusing our mind and body. Not only this strains our system as we are not allowing our mind and body any rest but also the information itself creates a lot of stress. Slowly this starts showing up as fatigue, irritation and lack of focus.

Hence it is very important that we acknowledge the role of digital information and social media in our lives. It is important to stay updated and there is also a fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) but not at the cost of everything else because you-only-live-once (YOLO). You need to lift up your head and take notice – There is a physical world around you – outside of the digital world.

We must understand that we need to take time to unwind on a daily basis and add some activities in our daily routine like talking to a loved one, reading a physical book, taking care of a pet, gardening or spending time with friends before the digital starts to take a toll on our lives.

A number of people do not know how to unwind as they keep jumping from one task to another from their “To Do List”. For them I can share an analogy that I read somewhere. Think of tasks as individual carriages of a train pulling into a station. As the train slows down, become mindful of the gaps between the carriages – the calm spaces in your mind. Slow down and calm down between the tasks – this will in turn enable you to get more work accomplished and you will not feel overwhelmed by too many things on your plate.

Equally important is to understand the significance of enjoying guilt-free leisure time and take regular vacations. Make it a point to take at least one, if not more, week-long family vacation every year. 

Posted in Life Gyan

The “Special” Ordinary People

Yes, that is a weird sounding title but let me explain in a jiffy…
Try answering the below questions…
1. Name the 5 Wealthiest People in the world
2. Name the Last 5 winners of Ms. Universe
3. Name the Last 10 People Who the Nobel prize

How Did You Do?

The point is, none of us remembers the headlines of yesterday.
Even though these people must be the best in their fields. Applause dies, awards are tarnished and achievements are forgotten!!

Here’s another quiz…Let’s see how this one goes:

1. Name 5 Teachers Who Added to Your Journey Through School
2. Name 5 Friends Who Helped You Thru Difficult Times
3. Name 5 People Who Taught You Something Worthwhile
4. Name 5 People Who Make You Feel Special
5. Name 5 People who You Enjoy Spending Time with


The people who make a difference in your life are NOT the ones with most awards…Life is full of ordinary people who have made the world a better place for you!

Cherish them!
Hold them tight! And Thank them for making a difference in your life.
Perhaps sometimes its “special” to be ordinary!