Tag Archives: self improvement

Fighting Boredom

Right now, I feel a feeling that I think of as boredom. I don’t even know if I’m using the right word for the feeling because I can’t really show the feeling to someone and verify that I have the right name. 

So I have this feeling, which I think is called boredom, which I believe must be fought. And the reason I believe it must be fought is because that’s apparently what you do with boredom, fight it until you no longer have it. 

Now fighting boredom involves doing things that don’t bore you so you no longer feel bored. So in a way fighting is just a way of distracting yourself with amusing things. The dilemma I face with boredom however is that no matter how many times I valiantly fight it and win, it eventually comes back. 

This is why I sometimes wonder if someone ever took the time to find a more effective and permanent solution. Maybe, instead of fighting, we could just be friends? But if fighting is distracting yourself, what is making friends with boredom?

If you are friends with it, does boredom suddenly become fun? But why would boredom change because of friendship? Real friendship is about accepting friends as they are instead of expecting them to change. 

So now I’m stuck with a friend who is pure boredom, never leaves my side, and whom I can’t even fight with or do anything to distract myself from. Now what do I do?

Maybe this is why people prefer fighting and distracting themselves to making new friends. 

A world filled with idiots

I’ve expressed this before, the thought that I am in a world filled by monkeys with delusions of intellect, constantly pretending that they are spouting profound wisdom when all they are really doing is making barking noises in a previous article – Why do monkeys pretend to talk?

If you haven’t read it yet, I would recommend that you do so now, otherwise this article might seem somewhat confusing.

So continuing where we left off in that article, we live in a world of monkeys that bark and pretend that these barking noises are actually meaningful words. Now barking monkeys by themselves are mostly harmless, if somewhat noisy. 

The situation however is compounded by the fact that monkeys also like to pretend that they are acting intelligently, when in fact all they were designed to do was eat, procreate, and entertain themselves by swinging from trees and occasionally flinging feces at each other.

Thanks to their fascination with making up and using new words, these monkeys find words like achievement, purpose, duty and goals to justify a vast number of mind numbing and completely idiotic things that they seem to enjoy doing. Very often they just pretend to enjoy themselves so others will believe it, even while they themselves are completely bored with what they are doing. I know it seems like a very confused world when described this way. 

I would understand a monkey that just acted like a monkey. But a monkey that then spends twenty minutes afterwards justifying what it just did as a higher purpose or calling, or saying it was doing the right thing or a good thing, is an idiot. That’s the only word for it. 

I love the word idiot, because it describes and explains the behaviour of every single human monkey I have come across in my lifetime.  

Now don’t get me wrong. In no way am I claiming that the world is full of idiots and that I am somehow the only sane one. Not at all. What I am saying is that I appear to be the only person who is aware that he is an idiot monkey playing pretend in a world full of idiots playing pretend. Everyone else actually seems to believe the lies they have been telling themselves and seem to have forgotten that they are just monkeys, pretending to be more. 

Purpose, religion, goal, career, duty – All these meaningless words that people use to justify their silly actions, all used to help them in pretending that their pointless existence actually has a higher meaning and purpose; When all they were ever meant to do, was be a monkey, eat, amuse themselves, maybe have children, and then die. Nothing more. 

But for a lot of monkeys, this wasn’t enough. They found a better and higher meaning to their existence. 

Somehow one special sub-category of a breed of monkeys with opposable thumbs decided that they were specially selected, not to die, but instead go to a newer and better place called heaven. And since life on heaven is a better life than their current one, half the idiot monkeys just waste away their current life in waiting to go to heaven. As for the other half, I don’t even want to try to guess what they are doing, or how their mind justifies their idiotic actions. 

Do you still wonder why I find the word idiot appropriate to describe everyone in this world? Nothing anyone does ever makes sense, but  somehow they keep finding convoluted justifications to try and convince themselves that everything makes sense. Some even decide to use a special category  of meaningless words such as – “Don’t worry. It will all make sense in the end. If it doesn’t yet make sense, then it isn’t the end”. This category of soothing but totally meaningless words that seem to make a lot of sense, but are actually just complete nonsense are usually called profound sayings.

This is the world we are in. As I think about this, I am left wondering what I am even doing here, in this world filled with idiots. At this point, there is no lie that I can make up that sounds convincing enough. I am doing nothing of significance here. 

The truth is, I am just passing time, eating food, swinging from trees, throwing poop, and doing whatever I can to entertain myself, until I become too old to do so. And I’ve decided to call doing this “becoming path oriented instead of goal oriented so I can fulfill my highest purpose” because it sounds more profound when I say it this way.

Why do monkeys pretend to talk?

This is a thought that I’ve had for a while now. Most creatures have mouths and tongues so they can taste and eat food. Some creatures learn to use these mouths to make noises either to attract attention or warn others. 

As mammals evolved, the complexity of these vocalisations increased with them being able to create a large range of grunts, growls and other unique sounds. 

However of all these creatures, man was the only animal which decided that the random and meaningless sounds it made actually meant something significant. No dog was calling its barking poetry.  No cow was calling its mooing wisdom.

However man decreed that certain growls and grunts in certain specific patterns mean something special and profound. In fact the barking sounds represented by “profound” and “beautiful” are things that all human apes aspired towards. However, no one seemed to realise, that unlike growls like apple and orange, which they could atleast point to and identify in the real world, profound is a noise that no one could really point to or identify, making it even more meaningless of a sound. 

Take the time to look around at this world where everyone is just barking sounds at each other and pretending that they are conversing, and ask yourself, what do you really see now? Not just at each other, people make meaningless sounds at animals that can’t possibly make the same sounds back, and at plants that can’t respond in any way. And then, to top it off, they decide to tell themselves that what they are doing is a beautiful way of expressing love, another meaningless sound that they can’t point at or identify. 

As I stare at this nonsensical world around me, I am left with but one question – “What am I even doing on this silly planet where everyone is just barking at each other?”.  And as I ponder the question, another one comes to me – “Why am I acting as if my last question has any meaning at all, when all these words are just meaningless sounds made by monkeys who think they are talking?”

The Pathless Path

For most of my life, I insisted on having goals for everything I wanted to achieve. Fitness? – “This is how I want to look and these are the things I am going to do to get there”. Wealth? – “These are the things I want to have and these are the things I will do to try and get them”. 

Everything had a goal, and each goal had milestones and the steps needed to accomplish them. 

After years and years or banging my head against walls trying to achieve my goals, I realised something very important about goals – that both striving for and achieving them are equally pointless and unfulfilling. 

The only thing I ever seemed to get out of accomplishing a goal was a momentary sense of achievement, and then it was back to either getting bored with nothing to do or planning the next goal to strive for. 

I was racing a never ending race with myself, while somehow convincing myself that I was actually competing with other people. But the truth was, no one else even cared! Everyone else was too busy running their own races to actually pay attention to me. 

Once I had this realisation, no way I looked at the situation could ever make the whole idea seem anything other than pointless. 

Sometime soon after this realisation, I came upon the concept of being path oriented instead of goal oriented. This idea sounded very profound to me, and by sounded profound I mean I had no idea what it meant. So, obviously, I decided to pretend it was something very special that I needed to understand and achieve. 

For the longest time afterwards, I would still have goals, draw the straightest line possible from where I was to directly achieving the goal, call this straight line my path, and then tell myself I was now path oriented. Obviously, nothing had changed in my life and this silly definition of path oriented serves no purpose other than to temporarily distract me. 

Very recently though, I’ve come upon a new way of looking at life that doesn’t even involve goals. Looking back, I realise now that this might possibly be what people mean by being path oriented.  

So nowadays if people ask me what my goals are, I can respond with “I don’t have goals anymore. I am more path oriented than goal oriented”. If they then asks me what this path of mine is, I just stare at them as if this is the silliest question in the world until they look away sheepishly. 

Luckily for me, no one ever asks me to explain what path oriented means, which is a good thing because I still have no idea. 

I just don’t set goals anymore. I still have dreams and wishes, which I do nothing to achieve. I then wander about doing whatever I feel like doing, just like a little child. That’s it. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Trust me, it isn’t. 

Then why am I even doing it? I don’t know, for some reason my life feels like a lot more fun nowadays. I can’t even imagine going back to setting goals anymore. 

Would I recommend this for anyone else? Most definitely not. 

I assume you are a motivated, goal oriented person who always works towards and accomplishes their dreams. 

If however you have the misfortune of getting mixed up in this path oriented business, do let me know. It would be nice to know that there are now two of us weirdos around in this world. 

Prisoners of Time

Why is it that time seems to slow down so much when waiting for something? Each second seems to stretch for eternity. What is it that causes it to fly when we would prefer to savour each second and stand still when we would prefer to rush to get to the other side?

It almost feels like time knows our deepest desires and does what it does to prevent us from ever having what we want, i.e. more of what we are already enjoying and less of what we consider suffering. 

If this is what time is, a mechanism for us to suffer, by either stretching or contracting as needed, how do we stop this self inflicted suffering? 

How do we master time so it no longer controls us in this way? Does meditation make us free of time? Will time then stop bothering us and just go away?

Is time even a real concept or just a made up four lettered word used to measure how much we are suffering in a situation? Is the passing of time just an illusion?

What if, rather than try to control time, we eliminated time as a concept completely so that the word no longer held any meaning for us? Nothing to slow down or speed up. Nothing to experience. Why would we need time to experience anything anyway?

What would remain? There would be no idea of wanting things now or later. All of those ideas would be illusory as well. What would be left is a way of living where everything was accepted as is without complaint or worry about past and future. 

If this happened, would we become more peaceful and zen? More willingly accepting of the present moment with no desire to rush to be somewhere else? 

What would life be like in this state? Would this be a better way to live than the way we live right now? And if so, how can we surrender to this better way of living?

How would we act in a world where there was no concept of time? Where everything just happened the way it did and all of us were just witnesses to the unfolding of life? Nothing would seem to happen faster or slower. There would be no more past or present or future, only the moment itself, currently unfolding in front of  the witnesses experiencing the moment. 

The powerful and debilitating feeling of impatience and restlessness that we mistake to be boredom could no longer exist. Boredom is only a word with no meaning of its own. With no more time or waiting, there would be no boredom or road-rage or impatience or suffering associated with time. 

Is that what true freedom is? Freedom from the illusion of time? 

Would you be willing to let go of this one word, time, if it meant you could live in a world without suffering? And if you would, could you share how you did so others could follow in your footsteps? So everyone could live in a world free of time? Is this a world you want to live in? And more importantly, is this a world you choose to live in?

What we can learn from children about achieving our goals

Ever think about what goes through a baby’s mind when it is learning to crawl?

Do you think the baby goes “I want to place my weight on my knees, then I want to place my hands slightly ahead of where I am and shift my center of gravity to my left. I also need to remember to make sure my spine is pointed slightly right of the target so that when I move forward, I don’t go too much to the left. That way I can average it out with the shift during my right movement so I am always roughly facing my target.”

Doesn’t really sound like something a baby would think does it?

How about “If I can only start crawling I will get stronger and healthier. People will start praising me and respect me for my crawling skills?” Does that sound like something a baby would think?

If babies tried to learn the way human adults do, they would grow up never learning to walk instinctively, and for the rest of their lives need to keep a post-it on their arm with acronyms and rules reminding them how to crawl or walk. The rules would probably be painful and cryptic (PCLSF – point, center, lean, step, fall) and only a few “talented genius adults” would be able to walk without struggling. They would never be able to walk using instinct, and everyone would go around justifying this by saying two legged walking requires so much of muscular coordination, it is an extremely rare talent that one needs to be born with. There would be e-books and courses and self study guides on the internet about faster and better ways of learning to walk, and how to be almost “natural” at walking. Luckily for us, almost every child learns to crawl and walk without needing any of this nonsense.

But how do you think they really do it in a seemingly effortless manner?

As far as I can tell, they just look at a place and say to themselves “There. I want to go there” and then they try to do it. And when they fail, there isn’t a “I’ll never be able to do this. I am such a disappointment. I have failed at every attempt. I should just give up.”. Nope. Just two seconds of confusion later, they try again. And again.

Each time they make subtle variations to what they are doing compared to what they tried before. I don’t think they even consciously realize what they tried before. They don’t even realize what they just changed. All they know is “Again. I want to go there.”, and then with that feeling or thought inside them, they try.

Little by little something inside them figures out how their center of gravity needs to shift, which muscles need to be fired in tandem and how visual and touch information needs to be used to adjust which muscles groups to fire. At the same time, another magical part of them tracks which muscles need growing because they aren’t strong enough, and marks them so that when they sleep that night, the muscles grow and get bigger and stronger.

Do you honestly think babies plan any of this?

Oddly enough, despite all that is required, they achieve their goal.

Is it effortless? When we look at it, we admire their persistence despite all the effort required. When they look at it, they don’t look at it as effort or persistence. All they see is “Goal. Try. Goal. Try. Tired. Goal, Try. Yay!! Again.”. That’s all it was to them. No effort. Just try something they wanted to do until they got it.

All the adult motivation and learning coaches talk about the HOW – the steps and the plan, and the WHY – the motivation and the desire. How you can never achieve your goals without clearly answering the HOW and the WHY questions.

Ask a child who is thinking “I want”, “But why?” and the reply would just be “I want?” . What else is there? Why would it need another reason? Why would it need to justify why it wants something? Isn’t the fact that it wants something enough? Ask it “How?” and the reply again would be something like “I want. I try.”. Ask it “But the steps?” “I don’t know. I want. I try.”. And just with that brilliant set of plans and blueprint a child sets out and achieves its goals.

Imagine that. No plan. No motivation. Goal achieved. All the while, adults who love to spend hours, days, weeks and months in plotting and planning and self-motivating and visualizing never get anywhere with their goals. I wonder why.

Now a common thought might be “But we can’t use this children’s approach. Our goals are much more complex. Children use it for easy stuff, like crawling, walking, controlling their body, learning multiple languages or any of the rare skills that we like to say they are gifted at. Oh wait.”

Realize that this simpler method of learning apparently allows us to master anything, effortlessly. No need for how. No need for why. No need for detailed plans. Act or try first, and modify based on feedback and information later. As adults capable of reading and learning as well as searching for coaches or videos of people doing it so we can model their behavior, we can accelerate the process even further once we get started.

This is the middle ground between learning as a child and learning as an adult. A way of achieving goals that combines the best of a child’s simple way, and an adult’s research based way. A way that cuts through all the procrastination, confusion, fear, and excuses and lets us achieve our goals with the focus and intensity and speed that we were designed to achieve them.

So how do you get to the point where you learn everything in your life effortlessly and instinctively like this again?

I can’t give you any magic steps or an algorithm to follow, because that would defeat the purpose. But here is a hint – If you just make instinctive learning your goal, something you want, something you keep trying to achieve without even necessarily knowing how, guess what will happen?

A Perfect World

Imagine a world where every living being was connected to each other, and thanks to this connection each being would always try to work towards the greater good.

Every time you needed something, those closest to you would sense your need and selflessly come to your aid, knowing that whenever they had the need for anything, someone else would always be there for them.

Imagine that this world had a simple way of communicating with feelings, and these feelings were enough to keep all the beings in harmony, always taking care of each other and trusting that they would be taken care of.

In this world, there would never be a reason to worry.

But then something happened…

Fear crept in.

Suddenly the beings were too distracted to listen to their feelings and were focused on their own needs. They didn’t realize that if they just focused on their feelings, the little signals that told them what to do, everything would continue to work out. They started focusing on their own needs, driven by the fear that if they didn’t, they would be left without anything.

And as the fear started spreading, more and more of the beings stopped listening, and tried to do things alone in a world where they were meant to do everything together.

And with each day, the fear and the loneliness got worse. The beings forgot about the connection that they once had. They still felt something missing somewhere deep inside and constantly kept searching for this missing thing, and this pain made them feel worse.

But the connection wasn’t gone. It was still right there waiting for them to start listening again.

And in this world, a miracle happened.

A few people started rediscovering the connection in little bits and pieces.

Some just reconnected to their own feelings and started trusting their heart more. Some started listening for the needs of others and trying to selflessly help them. Some started caring more about others than themselves and trusting that the universe would take care of them.

Each of them, without realizing it, was recognizing a tiny piece of a larger truth hidden deep inside. The same truth that connected them all.

All of them realized that they were discovering something amazing, but still didn’t understand what it is that they were experiencing. So they started trying to find out more and more.

And with each action, they inspired more and more people to also start connecting with each other and that hidden truth deep inside them. To slowly go back to the amazing world they had left behind.

And this is where our story begins.

What if there was no right or wrong?

How would you live your life differently if you could do no wrong?

If you somehow knew that whatever you did was the exact right thing to be doing, so you didn’t have to worry that you might be doing something wrong?

For example, say, a time traveler came to you and showed you how events are supposed to play out and you already knew what you were going to say or do was best for you in the long run, so you didn’t have to worry about it?

Or, say, you trusted that the Universe or a higher power was guiding you so everything you did was the exact perfect thing towards a bigger plan,  and you didn’t have to worry about anything?

Suddenly you wouldn’t have the fear of doing the wrong thing. There would be less hesitation and more anticipation in your steps. You would look forward with wonder and anticipation at what would come next instead of holding back trying to control what happened, trying to do the “right” thing while feeling extremely stifled, nervous and confused.

And what is the right thing anyway? Have you forgotten all the countless times in your life that you didn’t know what to do, didn’t know if things would work out and then they magically did? At what point in time did you manage to suddenly do the right thing, when you had no idea what you were doing?

And then there were all the times you tried to control your life and guide it in a specific way with all the plans that you tried your level best to stick to by doing the “right” things. But for some reason, life decided you were meant for other things and none of your plans ever led you where you wanted them to.

It’s just something to think about. Somewhere inside, you’ve always had uncertainty about the right thing to do because you never knew what the right thing was, and you have a lifetime of experiences to remind you of this fact.

So maybe it’s time to do things differently now and see if something changes.

I have no idea where you are in your life right now. You may be happy that everything in your life is going perfectly. You might be wishing for more in your life. Or you might be devastated because everything in your life seems upside down at the moment.

All I ask is that just as a thought experiment, for the next week or so, let go of right and wrong. Assume that everything that you say is right, assume that everything you do is right, and assume everything that is happening is right.

See what happens.

Thank you – Expressing your feelings so others can feel them too

I was still in school. I think it was 7th grade.

I was just another shy school kid who brought his teacher a card for teacher’s day. I didn’t really put much effort into the card. She wasn’t even my favorite teacher. But she was a good teacher who loved her job and taught like it meant a lot to her. I just gave her the card because lots of other students were giving cards in class and I thought even I should.

When I gave her the card, she looked me in the eyes and said “Thank you”. Nothing more.

But that moment changed my life in a way that I can never really explain. Because what really shocked me, was the fact that I didn’t just hear that Thank you. I felt it !!!

Maybe it was the way she looked at me like I was the only person in the room. Maybe it was the way her eyes were glistening, almost with tears, when she said it. The way that she seemed to really, really mean it.

I knew she meant it, and I knew she was trying to convey what she was feeling. At that moment she was sharing everything that she felt – the joy, the gratitude, everything. And as I looked at her, I felt every bit of it, almost radiating from her.

And all she had said were the two words – “Thank you”.

Until that day, in my mind, “Thank You” was just something you automatically said when people gave you something, whether you cared about it or not. It was something you said because your parents taught you that you were supposed to say it.

It was never said like this!!! Words weren’t supposed to have so much feeling and emotion in them. Words were just words. How was she doing this?

But that day she changed my life. Because from that day, I kept wondering how someone could say something with so much emotion. Wondering what I had been missing because I didn’t even know it was possible.

It was the day I realized that I too wanted to be able to say and express what I felt. To be able to communicate not just with words, but with emotions and feelings. And I wanted to be around more people who could talk to me the same way. People who could connect with more than just words.

That day, as much as any other, has made me who I am today. And for that I am truly grateful.

Projection as a Mirror – How to eliminate anger, jealousy and resentment from your life

Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud talked about the concept of projection and the shadow self – All of us tend to project or see in others, qualities that we ourselves possess.

The things we admire and respect most in others are usually our own strengths. Sometimes these are strengths that we don’t even realize we have, or qualities that we have that aren’t developed fully. When we see these qualities we sometimes say things like “He is so amazing. I wish I could be like him”. What we don’t realize is that we have within ourselves the same ability or potential for it, otherwise we wouldn’t even notice it in the other person. Excitement, happiness, or admiration are usually signs that our subconscious mind realizes that we can learn a lot from this person and develop our abilities.

Similarly what we dislike the most about others are usually our own weaknesses. Often these are weaknesses that we are afraid to admit to ourselves or don’t even realize we have. We tend to get angry and resentful at others when we see these qualities. Sometimes the person we project them on may not even have the qualities we attribute to them. For example, a selfish person believes that any person he talks to is selfish too. Often the anger we express at this person is usually resentment at ourselves (sometimes without our being aware of it).

Whenever we are exposed to qualities that remind our subconscious mind of our own, it usually pushes buttons and triggers strong emotions. Any time we feel strong emotions like anger, it is usually a sign that projection is at work.

When I first learned about projection, it was through a simple exercise. Take some time to try it out.

Think about any person (it can be more than one) that you really admire and write down five qualities that you like the most about them.
Now think about someone you really dislike, and write down five qualities that you hate the most about them.
Done? Now take a look at these qualities carefully.
I’d like you to open your mind and consider the possibility, that these good qualities are your own strengths that you have not yet developed fully, and the bad ones are your own weaknesses that you deny or still haven’t admitted to yourself. Even if it seems a little hard to accept, take some time to think about what it would mean if it were true.
I found the results of the exercise incredibly enlightening. I decided to modify it slightly and apply the concept to my own personal growth.

Since then, anytime I find strong emotions being triggered, I try to figure out what strength or weakness of my own I am projecting. For example, if I get angry at someone for being pushy, I consider the possibility that I can be pushy and subconsciously resent it about myself. If I admire someone for being extremely talented at something, I realize that I too have the potential to be that good if I give myself time and learn from that person.

The best thing about the exercise is once you become aware of the quality and acknowledge it, you no longer have to do anything else. Just becoming aware of it helps it auto correct.

Over the last few years, I spent time for introspection after any argument to try and discover why it happened and what it taught me about myself. I learned to be grateful for people who pushed my buttons because they helped me to learn more about myself and help me grow. I realized that as I discovered these buttons and became aware of them, they stopped becoming buttons and no longer affected me. I found myself getting angry less often and stayed calm and happy more of the time.

This one idea has helped me in my personal and emotional development more than anything else I know. If you find that you have a lot of anger and resentment and would like to bring more peace and happiness into your life, I believe you should give this a shot. It may change your life.