Losing Cake in Pursuit of Cherry? : Attitude of Gratitude

Two boys were on a vacation in a city full of beautiful lakes and mountains. They both decided to try their hand with fishing.

They woke up early and had a lavish breakfast. They hiked for almost two hours, listening to the chirruping of the birds and catching the sunlight sneaking through the dense trees.

In just an hour after they had reached a glistening river, dark grey clouds started to appear in the sky. The sky burst open and little drops of rain started pouring.

Alas, their fishing day went all awry.

When they came back to their hotel, the manager asked them both, “How was your day?”

The replies went like this:

Person A: Oh, I had dreamt of a beautiful sunny day and catching at least three fish. The day was completely ruined.

Person B: What a wonderful day it was! If not fishing, I at least got to eat a lavish breakfast, go for a hike in nature where everything was so beautiful. I also got to watch the rain making beautiful splashes on the river. The day didn’t go as planned but it was so great.

How many times have we been Person A? Ignoring hundreds of good things in our lives and focusing on that one bad thing that happened?

Maybe you slept till late and missed the morning bus. Your schedule went all wrong but you got that extra sleep too. Yay?

Or maybe your day at work was crazy but you got to return to a house filled with so much love and happiness?

Isn’t it crazy how so much good goes on in our life but we always fail to appreciate it?

Let’s learn together how to cultivate an attitude of gratitude by following these five doable tips.

 

  1. Transform the way you look at your past

A man was sitting alone on a bench. His eyes were watery. A woman approached him and asked, “Hey, is everything alright?”

The man wiped his tears, put on a small smile on his face and replied, “It’s just that my wife passed away yesterday. I was always so busy with work that I couldn’t spend enough time with her.”

“Oh, I am so sorry for your loss,” the woman replied.

The man replied, “No, it’s fine. Although I wouldn’t have wanted to learn this life lesson in such a way, this made me realize that life is uncertain and I’ll now make sure I spend enough time with my children.”

The way you look at your past determines the way you’ll live in the present.

Think about it yourself. How do you see your past? Do you see yourself as the child that fumbled on the stage? Or the teenager that couldn’t get anything right? Or the adult that failed to acquire a high-paying job?

If you think of yourself in such a way, you’re living in what Dan Sullivan, the founder of Strategic Coach, calls the “The Gap”. What it means is that you always see what’s missing or what went wrong.

For example, if someone bought you sunflowers and you tell them, “Oh but I like roses”, you’re ignoring the fact that they went out of their way to buy you flowers and instead focusing on the fact that they didn’t buy you your favourite flowers.

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude pushes you to remember your past while focusing on the gain. For example, you might have fumbled on the stage but you were brave enough to walk up there in the first place.

Your past can be a beautiful story you tell yourself. A story filled with inspiration. Not a story that starts with, “I am like this because of [some past experience]”

Your failures and your setbacks could be a source of great learning, joy and success in the present. You just need to shift your perspective and focus on the gains.

 

  1. Invest in the process, not the outcome

Srikumar Rao, founder of the Rao Institute, said in a video, “After training for months and spending weeks in climbing to the top, how much time one actually spend on the Everest?”

Give a thought to this line.

Till how long does that feeling of achieving a seven or eight figure salary last? Till how long does that feeling of happiness last when you bake a cake?

The truth is the journey, the process is where everything lies. A person doesn’t grow or learn when he fulfills that outcome, he grows and learns during the process. The adrenaline rush of climbing the Everest, the jokes cracked with your friends during the climb, the thought of “Just a little more to climb now”; those are the memories you’ll cherish, not just reaching Everest and spending a few minutes clicking photos there.

So give your all during the process and don’t worry about the outcome. Make a journal where you highlight the things that you learnt during the process even if you failed to achieve the outcome.

This will serve as a reminder that while outcomes are important, they are not the end-all of life.

 

  1. Believe that the universe is benevolent

A girl got a little late and missed catching the train to work.

She looked up at the sky and muttered to herself, “Why me, universe?”

The next day, on the 5th page of the newspaper, there was a headline that said, “2 dead. 15 injured. Train derails.”

The girl missed reading that headline. The headline which she could have been a part of if she had not missed that train.

How often have we done that? Categorized a thing as bad just because it didn’t go according to the plan? And how often have we been wrong in doing that?

That job loss you went through may have opened doors to a better paying job or a job that you actually enjoy. The project you weren’t included in may have gotten you extra time to spend with your family or work on something you’re passionate about.

The things you instantly label as wrong can turn out to be the ones that can change your life for the better. The one way to bring that shift in your perspective is to start trusting that the universe is benevolent.

 

  1. Shift your focus

During the pandemic, two co-workers from an organization lost their jobs.

One went home and stayed in bed for several days blaming the pandemic and how everything went wrong only in his life.

The other discussed this situation with his family and decided to upskill himself and made a schedule for the entire month after which he’d try giving interviews for a new job.

In two months’ time, they both met again.

One had got an even better job than the one he had before and the other was still busy blaming the pandemic and everything in the world.

Our circumstances in life may never be ideal. There will always be challenges and friction in our lives.

If you focus on your circumstances, you’ll always have a lot to complain about. But if you shift your focus on your capabilities, the only option you’ll have is to keep going on.

There is always something you can do to change the direction of your life or to make things around you better. Instead of complaining about everything, try to be grateful for these challenges because they are opportunities in disguise, helping you grow and learn.

 

  1. Let loose the attitude of controlling everything

Let’s suppose you want a promotion. There’s a project that will be the decider factor for it.

You spend days on end working for it and you’re under a lot of stress.

What do you think is the reason behind that stress?

The promotion?

No. The reason you’re stressed is that you want everything in your life to go according to your wishes. You feel the need to control everything in your life and set it in such a way that it aligns with the perfect life you’ve dreamt about.

But life doesn’t work that way, right?

Maybe someone might have worked even harder than you for the promotion or someone could have gained an unfair advantage.

At the end of every such situation, ask yourself, “Is this under my control? Can I do something about it?”

If yes, work on that. If no, what will you gain by worrying about that thing?

Find things that you can be grateful for about the current situation. Not getting a promotion can mean extra time for working on something you’re passionate about or a chance to learn more about the current role.

If you let loose that attitude of wanting to control everything, you will end up seeing a lot of positives even when life doesn’t work your way.

 

Conclusion

If you only say one prayer in a day, make it “Thank you” – Rumi

In today’s fast-paced world, it’s difficult not to feel stressed, anxious or go through periods of despair. As a result, gratitude fails to grab our attention.

We go through our days bickering and complaining while the good moments in life go unappreciated. It’s these moments that we sadly end up missing the most.

So start today. It will not be easy but you can change your life, one day at a time.

Now, if you are an HR or Business Leader, by now you would have felt how the lack of ‘Attitude of Gratitude’ affects Employee Happiness as well as relationships both between employees as well as employee-employer. It is high-time business and HR Leaders focus on building an attitude of Gratitude among themselves as well as their team members.

Digital Distractions : Defeat them before getting Defeated

Have you ever started working on a task and just after a few minutes you started going through the notifications on your phone?

Or you were sitting at the dinner table with your family but you were busy thinking about what notifications would have popped up in your phone or how many people would have seen the Instagram story you posted an hour back?

If you have faced anything like this, you’re part of a secret club known as Endless Distractions. (Don’t worry, you aren’t alone there)

It’s the same case with your everyday routine at work.

According to a survey by Udemy, 3 in 4 people feel that they’re distracted when they’re on the job, with 16% going on to state that they almost always feel distracted.

Is there a solution to this pandemic of distraction?

Yes.

Thankfully, there are four such solutions, straight from the brilliant mind of Robin Sharma, the bestselling author of The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning, Elevate Your Life.

Let’s have a look at them.

Build a tight bubble of total focus – Enable FLOW

The ding of a new email. The constant chatter of your co-workers. The buzz of your Instagram notification. The meeting you don’t even know why you have to attend.

All this takes away those few and precious productivity hours at work.

According to a report titled “Digital distraction and workplace safety”, employees spend about 2.5 hours daily accessing digital content that is not related to their profession.

But that itself is just half of the problem.

The other is that after being distracted, it takes almost 25 minutes to get back on track.

So each time your employees use their phones, they are leaving attention residue on their phones.

A part of them is still thinking about the rollercoaster ride they saw on an Instagram post and how fun it’d be to experience that on their vacation.

This makes it even harder to focus on the actual work and get into the optimal performance zone called ‘FLOW’

What can you do to change this?

  • Encourage them to leave their phones in their drawer. Set an example by doing so yourself. Educate them on why it is so important.
  • Fix an hour or two every day in the morning when employees can work in total focus and get into the flow. No using phones, no meetings, no co-worker chats. Just give them this time to themselves and see for yourself the rise in productivity.
  • Try to minimize work mails. Have a strict policy not to send work emails in the morning so that the few productive hours in the morning are actually spent doing real work.

 

No phone conversations

How would you feel if you are out on lunch with your friend and for the entire time, he is busy on his phone, scrolling and texting and what not?

You’d feel disrespected, right?

The most valuable thing you can give to another person, be it your colleague or manager, is your undivided attention.

So as an entrepreneur show that to your employees. When you’re in a meeting with them, put your phone on silent. If you get a call, pick up that call and tell them that you’d call them back later. Let your employees know that you value their time.

Encourage the ‘no phone conversations’ culture by educating your employees about it.

This not only makes everyone in the workplace a better person but also teaches them how to live in the moment, how to be present where they are.

This automatically leads to increased focus at work.

Construct your own Menlo park

We have all heard of Thomas Edison and how good he was at invention. By the time of his death, he had to his name about 1093 patents.

What was the secret behind all these inventions?

The two-word secret was – Menlo park.

It was a laboratory situated on the top of a hill. Edison and his team would go there and spend weeks and weeks working on things without any kind of distraction. Sometimes, they would even work round the clock because they were so immersed in their work.

While the goal is not to work 24*7, the goal is to create the same kind of environment like the one Edison found in Menlo park and as a result increase focus and productivity.

There are several ways to do this:

  • Allow employees uninterrupted work hours. Let them have do-not-disturb placards available so they can put that up on their desk as a sign that they’re working on something important.
  • Have a clean office and desk. Don’t let papers pile away. If your work desk looks like a storm has struck it, you’ll feel the same way.
  • If possible, allot a work-from-home day for those employees that feel productive working from home. Schedule these days in such a way that there is always someone from the team in the office who can handle everything.

Join the 5 am club

Waking up early has a lot of advantages from procrastinating less, staying healthy, increasing happiness to having greater chances of success.

There are many reasons why.

When you learn to fight your excuses first thing in the morning by not snoozing off the alarm because ‘you slept late yesterday’ or ‘you have a stressful day today’, you start on a high note.

You take control of things rather than letting them control you. This helps cultivate a winner’s mindset.

Not only that, you have more uninterrupted/quiet time in the morning to get work done. Add doing a workout, eating a healthy breakfast and meditating and you’re really setting up your life, not just your day to achieve great things.

You can turn this to your advantage by having a yoga session for your employees early in the morning or coming up with innovative ideas like Zumba workouts. This will not only help them wake up early but it will get them to bond with each other as well and increase employee happiness.

The people who join such sessions can then act as an example for the rest of your workforce. Give them a month and then let them write these experiences and the change they are seeing in themselves on a piece of paper. Stick them on the workplace happiness bulletin board and let inspiration seep into your workplace.

Conclusion 

“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee

The greatest leaders of the world, the most successful companies of the world and the strongest warriors of the world face the same distractions we do.

They weren’t born with an innate ability to ignore these distractions.

They cultivated it and it might have taken them months to do so but when they did, they turned on the superpower of achievement, greatness and a sense of doing something meaningful.

It is time for you to unlock that superpower with these four simple tips.

 

You might be just 4 steps away from Building a ‘Great Place to Work’

Two friends – Mahesh and Raman started their businesses at the same time. After almost a year, they are meeting each other.

After the pleasantries, Mahesh starts bickering about how nobody at his workplace seems engaged in their work and all they do is look at the clock and count the hours till they can leave the office.

Raman, on the other hand, says that he’s having a pretty good time at the office and he has a pretty engaged and happy workforce.

Upon leaving, Mahesh thinks to himself, “Raman must be paying huge salaries and that’s why he has no problem with his employees.”

Though, the reality is quite different.

More or less, the salaries for both the businesses are similar.

Then why is the situation so different?

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, 56% of workers ranked a strong workplace culture more important than salary. This number went even higher to almost 75% and 65% for millennials in the UK and USA.

So, what factors should one focus on to build a great workplace?

Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley, talks about four important factors- happiness, growth, abundance and meaning.

Let’s explore these factors in detail:

1.Happiness

Almost one-third of our life is spent at work. Shouldn’t we try to make this time as happy, enriching and fulfilling as possible?

Now imagine this. What if in your workplace everyone tried to support each other instead of downgrading each other, helped solve problems instead of lashing out, celebrated accomplishments instead of gossiping?

Doesn’t this seem like a dream workplace?

Let me share a secret formula to turn this dream into a reality:

  • Encourage social connections: Research states that people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. Why? Because they are ensured that there is someone at the office who cares for them, who they can share their problems with and count on them to understand, who can make the bad days bearable and maybe even funny. We all need social support, even at the workplace. As an entrepreneur, you can encourage this initiative by fixing a common lunch time, allowing employees to team up on fun/non-work assignments, having a common non-work hour every weekend.
  • Create a Happiness Culture: Encourage employees to appreciate each other. You can start this by having a simple 1-minute appreciation moment every day. In this time, the employee can appreciate their co-workers in any form for the good work they put in yesterday. It could be something simple as “Thanks Sussane. Talking with you made my stress so scared that it ran away” This exercise can really boost up the mood of your employees and encourage them to be helpful and spread Happiness at work. You can then take it forward to build Employee Happiness as a feature of your workplace.
  • Celebrate fun days: Days like family days, culture days, heritage days, poetry day, drawing day, etc. can be celebrated where teammates may connect with each other. A little time may get wasted but in the long term, you’d build greater loyalty, engagement and trust.

2.Growth

What if you walked out of second grade in school with the same knowledge that you had in the first grade?

Wouldn’t a thought pop up in your mind- “What’s the use of going to school then?”

That’s the same with the employees in your workplace. If they don’t feel like they are learning something new, getting a chance to work on challenging projects or growing professionally and personally, the result would be a disengaged and dissatisfied workforce.

Two ways you can aid in their growth:

  • Have a meeting every month: Let the employee’s direct supervisor take a performance review/goal discussion meeting. Let the employee talk about their goals and then the manager can come up with their own feedback and ways to facilitate meeting those goals.
  • Foster personal growth: Apart from professional growth, employees might also have their own personal growth goals. For example, someone might want to learn French, someone might want to write poems. Let them write these goals on a page and stick them all on a bulletin board. People with the same goals can then team up together to achieve them.

3.Meaning

There are two choices in front of you:

A: Work for companies like Tesla, SpaceX or any other company that is on the quest of making the world better and environmental friendly.

B: Work for a company that is shelling out a huge salary but making no difference.

How many of us would pick the first option?

Quite a few of us.

Why?

Because it is fulfilling to give our life a meaning and our life has meaning when we try to do something good for the world. We feel significant when we realize that the work we do is making a difference.

To bring meaning to your organization, ask yourself, “What am I doing and why am I doing it?”

Maybe you’re selling mobiles to help connect people together. Maybe you’re selling cakes to bring a smile on people’s faces.

This becomes the mission of your company. Put this mission on your website and you’ll attract the right kind of talent.

Another way to add meaning to your existing employees’ lives is to give them meaningful goals and to explain to them how their work is important in the bigger picture of things.

4.Abundance

Does abundance mean giving out a good salary to your employees so that they can fulfill all their needs?

Absolutely.

But abundance is a wide term that means creating a company that helps its employees feel abundant in every area of their life.

This could mean various things like giving them abundant time to work on their passion project or to devote time to their families, making sure they have abundant energy left even after a day of work or simply ensuring that their abundant knowledge is respected when they share their ideas or feedback.

What abundance then means is that your company should add exponential value to your employee’s life even after their time with you.

Conclusion

Day by day, we are hearing stories about work becoming more and more stressful and workplaces becoming more and more restrictive.

If we can invent revolutionary products, why can’t we together build revolutionary workplaces as well?

How long will we wait for things to improve on their own?

It’s time to take a step forward and start building workplaces that are great places to be a part of, for both employees and employers.

Great things in business are never done by one person” – Steve Jobs

 

 

3 Path Breaking Steps to Create an Invincible Workforce

Just like any other HR professional or Business leader, I conduct Google search on the following questions frequently.

How do we achieve optimal Organisational performance through employees? What can we do to retain our best employees and help them get even better? How do we help employees cope up stress and prevent burn-out?

Measure performance periodically. Give regular feedback. Engage Employees. Provide State of the Art facilities. Reward high performance. Conduct events. Conduct Team Building Activities.

These are the most frequently given answers to these questions. These measures have been in fashion for the last few generations and applied by almost all Organisations. Well, have we reached peak performance levels from Employees? Is the potential of human body and brain being realised fully?

The answer is NO.

While these answers are not completely wrong, they have helped Organisations go only so far. These measures have been applied by a majority of Organisations and have been effective in shaping employee behaviours at a surface level. What then do we do to go beyond just scratching the surface?

Following are a few measures that Organisations can put in place to tap the Potential of their employees to the maximum extent.

Create FLOW: Several studies have established that FLOW is a state in which Human Beings deliver peak performance. The greatest achievements in Sports, Literature, Science, Art and every other field that we can think of have been results of this experience that specific individuals or teams have created or experienced.

Why not bring this to work? Experts and Experiments proved that FLOW can be created by creating conducive conditions in the Person, the Work and the Workplace. It is up to Business Leaders and HR Leaders to familiarise themselves with FLOW, educate their employees and then go for it all out. The results are not incremental but exponential improvement.

FLOW is an immersive and exciting experience during which individuals forget time and space. They have their creative juices flowing and the results that are achieved while one experiences FLOW are astonishing.  The icing on the cake is, working in the state of FLOW enhances instead of diminishing energy. There are experts and Organisations that can help in creating FLOW. Seek help.

Create Authentic Happiness: Business Leaders and their Management Gurus so far have been scratching on the surface and employing borderline manipulative techniques to involve Employees in business and ‘Engage’ them through various management programs. While these are moderately helpful, they have been making more money and creating business opportunities to the so-called Gurus rather than their clients.

Look beyond these run-of-the-mill programs for real transformational concepts. Help employees look at work and Life from holistic perspective. Put your heart into helping them build authentic happiness by training them on the latest life hacks. Teach them to build authentic relationships at work rather than teaching them just interpersonal skills. Teach them to look at work from a life mission perspective rather than as a survival tool. Conduct programs to help them look at life from a prism of happiness rather than mere day-to-day material gains.

Guess what, you do not need to work in helping employees cope up with stress and burn-out. It gets taken care of automatically.

Create a culture of Total Well-being: Nothing effects human behaviour like culture. Use the power of culture to create an Organisation of absolutely super-healthy employees. While keeping healthy is predominantly an individual’s responsibility, Organisations that help their employees keep themselves healthy are reaping better benefits. Conservative estimates peg the ROI on employee health investments at USD 1.5 per every dollar spent. If Organisations can go beyond half-hearted measures and create a compelling program and show enough persistence, it can make a lot of difference.

After all, an enthusiastic employee enjoying good health when put in FLOW state, can do wonders for himself/herself and the Organisation as well. And why would such an employee ever want to quit your Organisation.

These steps enrich their lives and your Organisation equally through building lasting employee happiness. The mantra is Think New. Think Break-Through. Think Authentic Employee Happiness.

 

Unleashing Myself @ Happy Workplace

Why the hell did you give birth to me, if this is how you treat? I raged, lying in my hospital bed.

How dare you say that!? Retarded Ammi in higher decibels. The next moment, she walked out of the hospital ward, weeping.

Abbu looked confused, whom to console at this point – his ailing daughter, or his broken wife.

He slowly got up from his chair, picked up the glass of water and sat beside me. Have some water, he said, wiping my tears. You should not hurt your mother, with such sharp words. He spoke in a soft voice.

Slowly, I got up and had some water. My throat was aching due to suppressed anger and sorrow.  Tears kept flowing like a breached dam. I lied on my bed, breathing heavily. He sat there still, sometimes caressing my head and at times wiping my tears.

Little later, Ammi walked in. Abbu made way for her and settled on his chair. She quickly sat beside me, holding my hands.

Who knew, life would turn like this? She said wiping my tears. I can’t even imagine; you would ever speak like this. She spoke, lifting my head gently. I turned my head away. I was still so upset.

Say something, urged Ammi.

That was a trigger enough for me to break open.

How long do I go like this?

Where are your other children? Three sons, and two daughters!! All elder to me.

And every one busy enjoying with their family

And I being the youngest girl, have paying off the debts taken to get these bloody jerks married

Don’t you think I have a life too?

A life to enjoy my freedom, be with my friends, and have fun.

Am I the only one to own up your debts?

Ammi and Abbu sat there speechless, as if struck by a thunderbolt.

Why so many loans?

Can’t you manage your finances properly.

Aren’t your kids equally responsible to share the family debts and burdens?

Why did you allow them to go away?

Just shut up! Ammi, could not take it anymore

Dare you not speak like this anymore. Do you think, it was easy for us to raise the six children, with Abbu’s meagre earnings as an auto driver? Are you so grown up, that you challenge your parents today?

Hmmmmm!! Abbu intervened in a deep voice.

Calm down. We are in the hospital, he asserted.

He sat close to me, caressing my head. In a moment, I was back to my senses, as if out of a broken spell.

Sorry Gudiya, I know its my fault. I could not handle my life and family well enough. It’s my inability, which has broken you down. Isn’t it? He asked Ammi. She simply nodded in acknowledgement.

I know, last two years have been really tough for you. You have been working 10-12 hours a day. And as luck would have it, your employer is not able to pay you regular salary. Every day I see you walking to your office, only to save the bus fare of 5 rupees. All through, you have neglected your health, leading to your bed rest for two months and stressed with the mounting hospital bills. It really hurts me, to see you like this. My weak eyesight, does not allow me to work. Else, I would have certainly contributed to our income. I can’t even seek further help from our friends or relatives. Your siblings have also turned my requests down.

I started feeling guilty. How could I be so harsh with my parents. Sorry, Ammi and Abbu. I should not have said that, I got carried away. I never meant to hurt you both. Sorry, please forgive me. And I promise you, never again will I speak to you like this.

Its, okay beta. I understand. Said Ammi. Everything happens for good. I am sure, the Almighty has some better plans. Let us wait and see, what good things are in store for us.

The doorbell rang. Abbu quickly got up to check.

Rizwan is here to see you. He said, welcoming him inside.

How are you feeling? Enquired Rizwan, my fiancé.

Much better now. Am getting discharged tomorrow.

Wow, that’s good, he said in a chirpy voice.

`By the way, I have some good news for you. He added.

Yesterday, Sheela received a job offer from an insurance company. As you know, she is getting married next month, and will not be able to take it up. So, she recommended your name. They will call you next week for an interview.

There was a spurt of joy in the room. Thank you, God! I prayed quietly. Next day, I reached home and started preparing for my interview. I could sense some magical energy around, may be with this ray of hope

On Monday, I received the call as expected.  I quickly got ready and started for the interview. May Allah be always with you, blessed my parents. I was feeling both excited and anxious about the interview. Rizwan came home to pick me up.

The interview started bang on time. Wow! How professional! I said to myself.

I came out after about an hour completing three rounds of interview.

Congratulations!! Cheered Rizwan as I stepped out into the lobby

I smiled at him, as if asking, for what

Your happy face says it all. I know you are selected. He said with a beam

Yes, with a salary four times the previous one. Am joining tomorrow as a customer support officer.

Let’s go for a coffee, my treat, he said.

Sure, and next month onwards, I will treat you, every salary day, I chirped, walking out of the office holding him by his arm.

It has been over two years now. Happy days fly fast, really fast…

Cheers to our Silver Jubilee Coffee Treat, said Rizwan raising his coffee.

Oh yes, today I received my 25th salary. I said, making a quick calculation.

And that calls for a special treat.  Said Sheela, raising her cup.

Three coffee pastries please. I promptly placed the order.

While we were enjoying our coffee and pastries, I am so happy to see you like this, shared Sheela.

Thank you, Sheela for helping me with this job at Ethika. I always owe this to you. You have been really kind enough to recommend my name. I could not stop acknowledging her. I was feeling so happy, she joined us today, all the way from Delhi.

At your service Miss Happiness Manager, you are always welcome, she quipped with a bow.

You look really satisfied with your work. Am so happy for you. She swiftly added.

Of course, it such a wonderful company to work with. In a span of two years, I have grown from a customer service officer to Happiness Manager. It’s like, a promotion each year. Like everyone, I am the CEO of my function, working in the best interests of the customers. Work freedom allows me to have the right work -life balance. The learning space allows me to acquire the necessary skills, resulting in my faster career growth. Every team member is solution-seeker. No problem, small or big can stop anyone from achieving results here. There is always a way out. And yes, so many incentives. This is one company, unlike my previous employers, where I have been growing in every aspect of my profession. I feel so proud to be here.

And you, Sheela, are at the source of all this. Thank you again so much. I said, firmly holding her hands.

Ah, come on! You deserve all this, and God has blessed you for all that you went through your life, said Sheela, gently patting my cheek.

I am so happy for you that you got the right career option, with a great company, earning a handsome salary, with so many learning opportunities to grow up the ladder. See you on the top, very soon. God bless you. She added.

Come let us go, time for me to leave she added getting up from her seat. While, Rizwan proceeded to clear the bills, she gave me a quick hug.

Very glad to see you happy and cheerful. She whispered in my ears.

I quickly held her tight into a squeezing hug responding, blessed to have you as a friend.

Blessed to be with Ethika. Thank you Ethika, for coming into my life.

 

Entrenched Thinking: Are you a Prisoner of Your Own Mind

I was in Kerala recently and saw a mighty elephant living life of a slave to a lean timid man. I started to wonder how mighty elephants are tamed by relatively tiny and powerless creatures, Human Beings. Why do elephants lead lives in slavery when they have all the strength to overpower their masters and break-free?

Similarly, ever wonder why as children we had bigger and wilder dreams while as adults we are more ‘practical’ and live in set patterns?  Have you ever given up on an ambition or idea because you thought you couldn’t do it?

For a moment, give it a thought, what drove you to that decision… your friends, your family or your own belief system.

If you answered yes, to any of the questions above, you are in for a story about how elephants are tamed.

An Elephant that is captured as a baby is tied to a tree with the help of a rope. The baby elephant instinctively tries with all his might to break the rope but unable to do so because it is not yet strong enough. Realizing his efforts are futile, it finally gives up trying. Upon trying and failing many times, it would stop trying. Later, when the elephant is fully grown, it can be tied to a small tree with a thin rope. It can then easily free itself by uprooting the tree or breaking the rope. But because its mind has been conditioned by its prior experiences, it doesn’t make any attempt to break free. The powerfully gigantic elephant has limited its present abilities by the limitations of the past and by seeing the other elephants living similar lives.

Well, this is called entrenched thinking.

Sounds fancy, right?

In simple terms, entrenched thinking is when we are hard-wired into a particular limiting thought process due to our past experiences. Based on what has been taught to us by our parents, the insecurities that we have developed within ourselves and some past failures, we have trained our minds to think within a safe passage and aim for things that are within our reach. We have accepted our ‘limitations’ even at a sub-conscious level. We become prisoners of our minds and thus keep getting entangled in our patterns. This ‘entrenchment’ happens at a level that is so deep-rooted that it begins to play its role in all areas of our lives and curtails our ability to lead lives of abundant happiness.

Just like the elephant in the story above, we fail to realise our abilities. But, is there a way to reprogram these thoughts and challenge our already existing assumptions, not just to put in the pieces of one problem but also future experiments?

The good news is that there are some techniques to break those old patterns. Here they are:

Do you Audit yourself? – Take a moment to check your vision for your life. Verify your aspirations. If your vision and aspirations are not above ordinary, then it’s time to tell yourself that you are a prisoner of your own mind. It means you are busy ‘just surviving’. As organisms blessed with cognition and intelligence, ‘just surviving ‘is not fun. Go ahead, question your belief system and go for abundance, go for excitement.

Do you talk to yourself? – Most of us are good at finding fault in what others are saying. Now, we constantly talk to ourselves. Do we know well enough whether we are pushing us up or pulling ourselves down with our self-talk? It is important to be mindful of our internal dialogue and have an internal motivator and a critic whenever we are telling ourselves to settle for less in life.

When did you fail last? – When was the last time you failed while trying to do something big or new? If it was not very recent, realise that you are drenched in entrenched thinking. All of us are bound to fail sometimes when we try to punch above our weights or try something new. It is the excitement of trying, the emotional experiences those successes or failures generate that make our lives emotionally rich. Otherwise, life can be so bland.

We would agree to the fact that the mind is a complex network and the human brain never runs out of finding problems. There are numerous instances when our mind is unable to recognize our hidden potential and the opportunities around us if we do not train our minds with the above mentioned questions.

This lack of efforts to constantly break-free from self-imprisonment does not allow us to experience our life to the fullest, thus compelling us to live a life of mediocrity, by becoming blind to all the opportunities around us to create deep and lasting happiness. Hence, we need to reprogram the auto-response in our brain by building new pathways, and strengthening the ones we use most often. Scientists usually like to put it this way – “Neurons that fire together, wire together.”

Mentioned above are some wonderful strategies that you can adopt to shed the old restrictive patterns and construct new liberating ones. From reducing your stress and anxiety levels to helping you rebuild your confidence, self-esteem and boost your happiness quotient; these techniques are worth giving a try.

 

Richest Man on the Planet wants to move to another Planet!

The world is ending!

Okay, not really, but it IS in a critical stage. And it is not because of global warming or dangerous pandemics, even though those seem to be quite potential too.

Elon Musk, the richest man on Earth (he is quickly swapping places with Jeff Bezos, who is also on a similar mission), is worried more about an all-ending war – a World War III. And with the kind of nuclear weapons and the cold (and some not so cold) tensions we see, this sounds plausible. So, Elon Musk wants to send a crew of a million people to Mars, just in case we end up all killing each other. The red planet will harbor a community with better ambitions and would be conducive to lead a happy life – at least, that’s the plan, or should I say hope?

Why is life-on-earth so complicated?

With the increasing population, pollution, and aspiration of this fast-forwarding world, it is only natural that so many nations are at the throat of each other. It is no less stressful at the individual level as well. Unlike the olden days of farming and gathering, now we have a ton of more things to worry about – job, tax, insurance, social validation, security for your survivors, retirement plans, and let’s not forget the ever-mutating viruses. There’s barely any time to relax or introspect.

But how did we get here? We make new gadgets, amend the bills, chop down forests to make cities – all so that we can make our lives better, easier. But all our privileges have somehow been intertwined, and now it’s a huge mess that we can’t escape. From that standpoint, the vision of a new life on Mars does sound tempting – the chance to do it again, to do it better, in simpler but more effective ways.

Would life-on-mars be better?

Practically speaking, life on Mars would be anything but a cakewalk. The community on Mars will have to learn a lot, endure a lot, and may even have to give their life in the process. This community will not be the ‘privileged rich’. It will be an army of survival soldiers carrying the seed of humanity to promise it’s existence. This life is not for the weak-hearted. As per Musk’s plan, only 0.014% of today’s population would make it into the team. It would be a challenge like nothing humankind has ever faced before.

But yes, if we do succeed in this mission, generations later, there’s hope – hope for a better tomorrow. The sci-fi TV series Pandora shows us one version of ‘tomorrow’. But Elon Musk envisions the new community to have direct democracy and amazing bars.

What are your visions about the new community? What are your thoughts for happy life on the new planet? If you get a chance, would you board that ship to Mars? Let us know in the comments below!

Do You Own or Are You Owned?

Kangana Ranaut just moved into her new apartment and tweeted, “what you own, owns you as well… I feel like a slave of my own possession.” Brad Pitt said the same thing in  Fight Club. And that got me thinking…

My wife is an admirer and collector of dining sets. She has such good taste, and she puts so much thought into each purchase. In fact, she is pretty much the same with furniture and home decor as well. I can always rely on my wife to present our life in the best light at all times. But during this pandemic, I got a real look at what really goes behind it – what we are actually paying to fill our lives with glitter. 

Polishing our cherished possession is pretty much all we do. We don’t use our good dishes so they won’t break. Our daughter can’t play hop on our expensive sofa because it will get flat. I take an hour to park the car right, making sure not to scratch it. In fact, even the house that we have lived in for 10 years is a constant reminder of our 20-year mortgage. There are also gadgets, machinery, furniture and so much more ‘luxury’. ‘Luxury items’ – the things that are supposed to make our lives more fulfilling. But have they? If they had, why are we buying more and more and more? We are so consumed to possess ‘good things’ that the thought of owning owns our minds. We are trading our happiness and peace in return for materialistic gain.

This is not just the story of my house. In the capitalist world, this has been the norm. We have lived a life filled with expectations – the expectation to succeed, but success was never an achievement, only a call to set a new milestone. A college degree is a way to get a good job. A good job gets you a good spouse. A good spouse helps you raise a healthy family – and on and on it goes, generation after generation, in the same straight line. We gather so many things, and in the pursuit of gathering more, we forget to enjoy the things we have; we forget to live the moments before they become memories captured in cameras. The materialistic race ends in a black hole, but when you get a taste of real happiness, it will be easy for you to draw the reins on it. 

We are possessed by constant comparison with our acquaintances, our lifestyles are hijacked by the advertisements that are poured into us and the launch of the next  big gadget or next ‘better’ version of an automobile. We have become  just ‘ consumers’ in the supply chain of ‘products’. 

They say the best things in life are all free of cost. Initially, it could be difficult to change how we have hitherto seen our lives – more money is equal to more commodities is equal to more comfort. But if we opened our minds, we could find pleasure in the simple things around us like sharing a beautiful morning and two cups of warm tea with your spouse, helping your child with a school project, playing antakshari by a bonfire, etc. But where to start?

Start by stopping.

Enough. You have enough things to go by. You survived a lockdown, right? If that were to continue for a year (not that anyone wishes for that), you would still live smoothly. That means you have all the things you need. Now, if you want to get a barbeque grill, ask yourself how you have been doing without it and how much value it would actually bring to your life. Is it a need or a desire? Will it ease your life, or is it just a momentary thrill? Will it gather dust when I get something newer and shinier? 

Stains are stories.

The oven in your kitchen has been good enough till now and will be so for years ahead. You do not need a shiny new one. Let your dog take a nap on the carpet – carpets are supposed to bring warmth and not be used as decor. Wear and tear is not to be feared – those are the tales of life being well-lived. 

Minimalism – less is more.

Let’s take a look at your wardrobe. If you were to pick out all the clothes that you haven’t worn in a year, how high would the pile go? How about items from old hobbies, cases and cases of keepsakes – these things have value because you attached emotions with them. These things that you have no actual need for are taking up space that you are paying for. Is that fair? No. So, sell, donate – get some money, some good wishes. And yes, throw some stuff out. Clear the clutter, clear your mind; make space for imagination and creativity, and new memories.

Budget your time, not your money.

That phone with that new camera and the design – you have to have it. Like, your life’s happiness depends on it. So, say, it costs 50K, and you earn 200 bucks an hour. That’s 250 hours of work. One phone in exchange for 250 hours of your life. Worth it? You have two hours to spend – you can either spend it on a fancy pen that would go nicely with your blazer or spend it by helping your daughter practice for the debate team? When you think of purchasing things with time instead of money, oftentimes, the choice becomes easy. “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

 

How Employee Counselling on personal issues can help the organisation

“Don’t mix personal and professional life” “Don’t let your personal issues affect your professional life, focus on career everything else will settle” “Leave work stress at the office, don’t let it affects the quality of your family time”- We all keep listening to this advice.

To all those who give these statements, I have a question are we robots with two modes – personal and professional to switch on and off. Well, it’s not me but its research which shows that approximately 20% of employees at any given time are experiencing personal difficulties. One troubled employee will affect five to seven others.

Personal issues can be anything like family issues, financial debt, legal concerns, emotional concerns addiction abuse, etc. In fact, it can also be peer to peer or peer to senior conflicts or employer-employee understanding gaps or maybe a medical case.

These issues are not only diminishing the interpersonal relationships of the employee but also disturbs the work environment; hampers and sporadic job performance and diminishes the quality and quantity of performance.

High levels of absenteeism, absurd reasoning for lateness, and simple and repeated mistakes are few warning signs.

If everyone with these warning signs will be considered not fit for a job then hiring and firing will become the most happening task of a company, more than sales and marketing.

So, what should be a solution – whether an employer should start focusing on counseling? No, a big no. Counseling is a holy science and profession which only a trained professional should do like medicine. An untrained person may cause more damage than good, maybe by hitting the sensitive area in the wrong way that a person may sink in more stress and depression.

Here, Employee Assistance Program – precisely known as EAP -comes to the rescue of the employer. EAP is a confidential one to one counseling program where a trained professional will counsel the employee. It is an employer-sponsored service. It is designed for personal problems, including mental health, substance abuse, various addictions, marital problems, parenting problems, emotional problems, or financial or legal concerns.

Not only this EAP includes creating a platform for self-learning tools and materials for identifying and solving employee’s current emotional needs and if needed voluntarily opt for counseling by professionals. Interestingly some EAP programs are also designed for employee’s family members thereby reaching the roots to heal.

With EAP employee’s Happiness Index increases as it provides emotional wellness, workplace wellness, work-life balance, work-life emotional conflict resolution and marriage, family and relationship solutions. Even it gets into the dimension of arranging experts to advise on financial and legal issues.

All good for employees but then why should employer sponsor it – what’s the benefit of the employer?

Here goes hamper of benefits for an employer –

Improved productivity and employee engagement by reduction or removal of challenges that affect work and life balance.
Physically and mentally healthy employees deliver high-quality products and services, with more sense of belonging.
Developing employee and manager competencies in Reduction in workplace absenteeism, unplanned absences, and accidents. Therefore, giving more turnover from the same hours of work.
Reduction in healthcare costs by helping employers improve and maintain the mental and physical health of their workforce, avoiding costly medical plan and reimbursements.
Reduction in employee turnover ratio and thereby reducing the replacement cost.
With employee benefit approach through EAP will not only give an employer an edge over its competitors in terms of reduced operational cost and exceptional benefit attributes but also creates a workforce brand of organization in the market.
Employee counseling on personal issues gives an organization a better tool to design employee benefits with a seven take away along with it.