Saturday, 22 October 2016

First and foremost: Stop being dishonest with ourselves!

“Now comes the harder part, Nick. I need total honesty from you, it wont work any other way. So tell me everything about your marriage, tell me the worst. Because if I know the worst, then I can plan for it. But if I’m surprised, we’re fuck#d. And if we’re fuck#d, you’re fuck#d.” - Lawyer Tanner Bolt says to Nick Dunne

A quote from the book I am currently reading; ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn - very addictive and as clich├ęd as it sounds - its totally unputdownable.

It is indeed the hardest part to have to admit things – problems, weaknesses, threats, failures and defeat. Its uncomfortable having to not only admit to other people (totally unnecessary if it is none of their business) but also having to admit to our ourselves. In the above situation before Nick can give as honest as possible to his Lawyer all the raw truth he needs to be aware of the raw truth in the first place himself and acknowledge it like ‘yes I am conscious of my problems and where I screwed up.’ Else he would've been like “Oh mahnn, caught me by surprise there! I feel it at the back of mind that there is a problem but I really don’t have a clue what it is. But whatever it is I am sure it’s pinching me in the derriere,” and that’s not good isn’t it.

In my past blog posts, a few times I have talked about the problem with choosing the ‘easier and comfortable’ alternative – at times it presents us with a short term or immediate satisfaction but with long term consequences. In the case of this particular blog post, the consequences of being dishonest with ourselves. Dishonest with ourselves in the sense that we deny ourselves of the raw truth, we are conscious that something is wrong but we choose to be oblivious to it.

Do you at times feel like you lie to yourself? Because I sure as hell do. I prefer to be more irresponsibly optimistic. I lie to myself that everything is alright and their is no need for concern. I hate the thought of wrecking my brains delving into my problems, I fear that I might become too stressed out and depressed. It’s also hard having to analyse things about myself and I am not good with another person doing it for me either. I am very laid back which could be attributed to me being a 23 years old Fijian living in the land of sand and sunshine where life  is idyllically laid back. I often find that it is easier to say “Oh I am fine,” or “Its no big deal,” or “Its not that serious at all, nothing that cant be fixed,” – without a care and a clue of how to fix it.

Reading the book ‘Gone Girl’ has taught me one thing and that is the importance of being honest with ourselves. We don’t need someone else to come and coerce the truth out of us or maybe to actually capitalize on our weak areas and use it against us. We need to take ownership of our ugly truths and use it to fix things about ourselves that we know needs fixing.

It’s totally a personal decision if you want to reword the truth, make it colourful and tasteful for other people but when it comes to telling yourself the truth – you say it as it is – in its ugliest, yuckiest true state. But it doesn’t have to be a demeaning activity where we drain out our self esteem, we should see it as a way of giving ourselves constructive criticism. Not only identifying the areas where we lack in but also thinking of solutions and creating a very strategic action plan for ourselves.

Like what Lawyer Tanner Bolt says to Nick Dunne in ‘Gone Girl’ – if we know the truth than we can plan for it. Being very honest with ourselves give us an opportunity to have a proper insight and perspective into our own flawed life. Having a good understanding of just what we are dealing with helps us to manoeuvre ourselves better around problems making sure that we have control on our life. We are also able to prepare ourselves for the worst and in countering risks. By taking full responsibility we can challenge ourselves to make some changes. We will posses a foresight that should help us to create a game plan – a game plan to play the game better.

So friends let’s stop being dishonest with ourselves. Stand up, be brave and accept your truth. No one can attain perfection but we can do little things to improve ourselves. Let’s be responsible and be honest with ourselves first and foremost. Philosopher Lao Tzu says that “Mastering yourself is power.” You got the power!! Claim your power!!

Friday, 14 October 2016

Moved by Khaled Hosseini’s novels

In continuing with the challenge from the last blog post of turning information and inspiration into action I gave a good thought on what I found inspirational while reading the 2 books by Khaled Hosseini  (his 1st book The Kite Runner and his 2nd book A Thousand Splendid Suns) keeping in mind that I have to channel some of those things I was inspired by while reading into action. The thing is, yes I was inspired from here and there during the course of reading them but I was consumed with the pleasure of reading that after completing the books I had to make some extra effort. I really enjoyed them and its weird saying that because they are books about people having to endure life with so much pain, suffering and profound sadness. Probably a more appropriate thing to say is that I was moved by it. To be honest - and this is to some extent selfish - it felt comforting having to feel peoples pain greater then mine, as it made me feel less of my own miseries.

In those 2 book you can't help but fall in love with the characters despite their flaws and misgivings which is very human. For instance in ‘The Kite Runner’ I found myself criticizing and ridiculing Hassan as being selfish and just too needy. But then as I read on I discovered that their were bits and pieces that I related to and eventually I forgave him because you see most of the time its complicated, we can’t really go ahead and put a simple label on someone as there are so many facets to an individual to be considered.

Despite his books being based in his homeland Afghanistan the stories he tells is not about the war but it is about the ordinary people who are living through such unimaginable extraordinary circumstances, yet despite having all that darkness and despair surrounding them their is still that glimmer of the universal light of hope within them; "And I dream that someday you will return to Kabul to revisit the land of our childhood. If you do, you will find an old faithful friend waiting for you," Hassan writes in a letter to Amir. That quote really made my heart ache. In his 2nd book ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ he shows how strong the human spirit is, that it is able to go on even in the most extreme and painful of circumstances just like how Mariam endured all throughout her life, from being an unwanted child, to being married to a very violent and abusive man, the miscarriages and eventually the sad end to her life.

Is he my favourite writer? He is definitely in that list of my favourite writer, but I haven’t gotten to the point of labelling someone as my most favourite writer and I don’t know if I ever would because I think every writer has a different way of writing which makes them unique. I love Khaled Hosseini’s very visual and emotional way of writing. He takes us on a journey with the characters through his description of their deepest thoughts and feelings and with a very vivid description of the surroundings. Oh and its also remarkable how Khaled Hosseini understands his female characters to the detail in his 2nd book - he decodes movements, mannerisms and actions and explains the feelings and emotions attached to it. Quite remarkable for a male writer to be able to do that, don’t you think?

I often get inspired by subtle things and I transform them into my own context. In both the books I was inspired by how people treated their religious practices so diligently without failing. They would do their prayers every single day as it is required of them and daily it meant waking up early in the morning. They were fully committed to it so I was intrigued by that unwavering commitment and devotion. So for me it inspired me to do things that are required of me even when it its not within the range of comfort. It supports my bid to be consistent and to be single minded when it comes to attending to tasks of great importance. Also in the process to be selfless and to focus on the bigger purpose.

In The Kite Runner; I was really inspired by Baba and how hard-working he was. How he would go ahead and achieve the impossible and always proving naysayers wrong. “But despite Baba’s successes, people were always doubting him. They told Baba that running a business wasn’t in his blood and he should study law like his father. So Baba proved them all wrong by not only running his own business but becoming one of the richest merchants in Kabul.”  He was a hard working man and even when they moved to America he never wanted to accept those food stamps handout saying “I work always. In Afghanistan I work, in America I work. Thank you very much...but I don’t like free money.” I am inspired by Baba’s great example. When in doubt I shall think to myself what Baba would do and I know what Baba always does, he goes head to head with the challenge and come out victorious pounding his big broad chest.
I was also inspired by Hassan and Mariam’s selfless sacrifices. They were very brave individuals and they showed great bravery, also protecting the people that they loved. Like how Hassan would take on a group of bullies in order to protect his friend Amir. Hassan also had this unwavering loyalty towards Amir and I found it a bit stupid that he would do so much for Amir who I felt to some extent did not deserve it, but then its one thing I realized like I have mentioned earlier - the complexity of people. Mariam, dear Mariam lived such a solemn life from the time she was born a ‘Harami’ or unwanted child to her death. She had regrets, she was betrayed, she was looked down upon, she was unhappy and was violently abused and mistreated and you think that she would escape and find some freedom and happiness in her life - she didn’t. She is one of those people who never found that happiness but it is the little happiness that she managed to grasp from Laila and her kids that she felt proud and content enough to make the ultimate sacrifice that led to her end amongst spectators in a Pavilion during the half time of a soccer match. Nobody saving anybody, no heroes, no 11th hour intervention, it was just the end but she felt at peace because she was “.. a woman who had loved and had been loved back,” and it “..was a legitimate end to a life of illegitimate beginnings.” Always we hear the story of people who escape, who gets saved or who survive an ordeal but we never hear the stories of people who never get to see the light or breathe the fresh air. The truth is that these stories exist in abundance however we choose not to hear them because we all hope for the best ending which is good but nevertheless what this stories should teach us and definitely it has taught me is to be more grateful for the simple things in life because some are not privileged to experience such simple pleasures.

With all that I have learned from the 2 books I am going to be making a list of actionable goals. I want to be as silly as possible with those list and I am not sure if I feel comfortable to put it out here in the blog. Well don’t you make notes on your private notebook and dont want others to see them for fear of being laughed at. Well that’s exactly how I feel about my list. So I’ll just keep them to myself. But I have immensely enjoyed reading these books, it was a new sort of material that I wouldn’t have read before but now that I have read them I feel a sense of maturity. I believe that it’s when we try new things out of our comfort zones that we really get to mature. On that note let’s always keep in mind the children of war torn nations, where there is “.. a lot of children ... but little childhood.” For them lets pray for a better world.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Information and Inspiration into Action

There is an abundance of information available out there through a wide variety of sources such as magazines, books, movies, TV shows, internet, that keep us informed and inspired. I should make a special mention of the the information powerhouse – social media - which to some extent act as a source of information and also as the greatest vendor which circulates interesting information.

Like food we can choose information that we feed to ourselves. Choosing of information I feel is somehow similar to how we choose foods that we consume, its often based on our areas of interests, goals, beliefs and values like being vegan or non-vegan or whether we prefer to eat only organic food or if we are okay with eating non-organic food. Information ultimately has an impact on the choices and the decisions we make so its very important to align information with our goals, values, beliefs and also I just thought about it now and I should add because it is very important to consider and that is our visions. Once we have carefully done that; what is next? That is actually something I would like to delve into in this particular blog post.

I like reading autobiographies of successful people, books about survival and perseverance, true to life kind of books that is both empowering and informative. When it comes to movies I also have a similar choice, I like movies that show real people, living a real life, facing real struggles and real problems. I also love documentaries and autobiographies. It is similar on social media too, I go inspiration hunting on social media - one of my favourite things to do on Twitter is to read articles shared by websites like The Entrepreneur and Forbes magazine. They share some really educational, empowering and inspirational information, some very helpful materials. On You Tube I like watching Biographies, Documentaries and also Vlogs by Influencers. Like what Nigella Lawson says about food I find these things very comforting.

I come across some very powerful information but what am I doing with it? Well for most of the times I am just getting informed, get inspired but with no action, just plenty of absorbing which I have figured is really a futile way to be spending time. The other thing is reading or watching is also listed under things we consider as a hobby, it makes us feel good and naturally we are drawn into doing things that make us feel good, it’s the easier and a more comfortable alternative. However the putting into action of it is not often on the feel good and comfortable side of things as it involves getting up and out of the comfortable couch we are sitting on and doing something that is not necessarily within our comfort zone.

So with this blog post I am launching a personal initiative which is a very conscious effort to turn ‘Information and Inspiration into action’ and I would really love it if you could join in with me. So how do we go about doing this? I’ll try to unpack it and make the process as simple as possible below.

Firstly to ensure that the informative and inspirational book that we have just read or the empowering movie/documentary we have just watched really sinks in, we should make ourselves a very honest and candid summary of all that we have gleaned from it. Remember we are writing this for ourselves so lets be honest and uninhibited and squeeze out all the information into paper. Forget about whether you remember or don’t remember few details, just put in all that you know. Summarise them as deliciously as you possibly could. Be creative with how you put them into paper or otherwise be messy and wild with it, do your own thing. Try to make it a feel good activity.
After we have done that the next thing to do before we progress further into the next step is to read all that information that you have just put on paper. Yes, read it first and derive some sense of satisfaction on all that we just wrote. After reading it and smelling the great aroma of our work we shall progress into the next step which is identifying at least 5 actionable goals that we can work towards. You can do more than 5 actionable goals but the thing is we come across a lot of information so I feel that for 1 set of information coming up with a large set of actionable goals would be inundating and confusing. Let’s try to be realistic, honest and also allowing ourselves some room to breathe (very important).

With those 5 actionable goals we shall create action plans. An action plan is where we break it down and be more specific by identifying the what, how and when of our actionable goals. The action plan is exactly what should help us ensure that we are putting information and inspiration into action. What is important in this case is that we put that action plan into some serious action which like many other things in life is not always easy as it sounds.

Occasionally we should revisit those action plans and see if we are achieving it, probably we can go read or watch that same material again and remind ourselves or have our excitement renewed again. These actionable goals doesn’t necessarily have to be huge things, it all starts with small actions and the accumulation of all these small actions contribute to a bigger and more significant impact. I like what Rhonda Rousey says “I am not a Do Nothing Bit##”, and that’s something that we should never do with great information and inspiration – doing nothing with it. We are not just absorbing information but also letting out, turning information into ideas, ideas into action plans and action plans into something of value. We should make sure that all Information’s and Inspirations adds values to our lives and others lives as well.

I am interested to hear how you ensure that all the information and inspiration you come across doesn’t go to waste?