My PERSONAL GROWTH QUOTIENT: 18 Life Changing Lessons I Learned in My 30s

‘The heart of a man is very much like the sea.   It has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too.’ – Vincent Van Gogh

After a long gap of several months I have again started writing long articles (the reason behind the length is mentioned at the very end of this article; that is, if you can make it till the end). Credit where credit is due: I got inspired by an intelligent video on seven life changing habits you must have by RJ Gunjan Saini, on which I left a comment as well. I figured: while I am no good at doing videos or preaching (I recently rejected an offer of being a coach), I can certainly use my skill of the written word to share my feelings. With that said, here are the EIGHTEEN valuable life lessons I have learned and am sharing with you now. You will notice that throughout the article I emphasize more on what *I* do than what you *should* do; after all, I am no one to tell a stranger how to live their life, right?

1) Being Honest with Myself: Part of being true to myself is being honest. During my school and college years I realized that most people find my real persona boring. It is like I don’t even exist. I wanted attention from strangers that I never got from my parents. Therefore, I spent a considerable part of my life being someone I was not and communities which found my ‘fake’ persona endearing spent no time in rejecting me when they found my true self. Much later on I realized that had I been my true self from the start my life would have been different. Being totally new to socializing and networking, I had the choice of either blindly following a protocol and adhering to it even if it meant not being true to myself, or goofing up and getting rejected. I, in fact managed to do a bit of both, for I had no guide or mentor at that time.  

Today I know that there is one thing that REAL people don’t like (including yours truly) fakery. You will likely have more followers if you are a fake but you will have REAL following if you are real. Today I can be my true self and not care a damn about whether someone likes me or dislikes me; I don’t care a damn about others’ judgments. As the saying goes, I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not. I know that at the end of the day, being honest will serve me well, because people who like my true self will be the very people who will help me grow. On a lighter note, I am also a very bad liar; even if I lie to you, sooner or later you will catch me red-handed.

2) Accepting My Flaws: Part of being myself is to accept the fact that I am a flawed human being who goofs up and makes mistakes just as everyone else on this planet and that it is okay to goof up and make mistakes. I know it does not sound good, but if you are afraid of making mistakes because you don’t want to face rejections or bad consequences, then you won’t grow and if you don’t grow, you live a stagnant life. Is it worth it? Life is supposed to be uneven, not smooth. As much many people won’t like to hear it, life is full of uncertainties and that is the way it is. Life is a bumpy ride. I have good days and bad days, highs and lows, and I need to accept that I WILL have both good days and bad days in the future. I can plan out my life as meticulously as possible but things won’t always go as per my plan. I may read all the books in the world and preach; still, there will always be people who would judge me or dislike me.  Too many people get bogged down by opinions and judgments of others about them and that is precisely when they stop growing. The choice is yours: do you want to grow in life or live a stagnant life on autopilot? Accepting my flaws and shortcomings does not mean playing the victim card; those who play victim card remain in the victim zone, always blame others for their problems and never grow in life.

3) NO MORE Selling Myself Short and Compromising on My Ideals: Part of being true to myself is the refusal to compromise when I find out that I am actually going against who I am. People believe that those who don’t compromise in life are very rigid or stubborn people; these people confuse compromising with lack of flexibility. I can be flexible and yet remain true to my core beliefs. Compromising would occur when I go against my true self and my core beliefs. An example of compromising would be when I know a person in a relationship is using me and yet I let her use me, against my better judgment; on the other hand, if I really like someone and still let my beliefs (be it religious or political) come in the way of my relationship with her, then I am being rigid.

My tryst with Bollywood has just begun (for those who don’t know, I am into script writing) and I have met quite a few ‘characters’ along the way. One was a real patronizing jerk who not only ‘corrected’ me as being ‘aspiring script writer’ instead of ‘script writer’ but also tried to get free content writing work out of me in the guise of offering me ‘work’ with a parting shot: “I am giving you WORK, that is enough; lots of people struggle in Mumbai to find work.” In other words, in his world I am a ‘struggler’. I actually requested him to offer me screenwriting work (an offer that he rejected) which, if he had accepted, I would have gladly done for free because being new to the industry, I got to build my portfolio right? However, after being a content writer with a considerable portfolio under my belt I don’t see why I should work for someone for free, especially someone who does not even respect me. I also don’t like the word ‘aspiring’; a coach told me once that people who write the word ‘aspiring’ in their job title seldom become what they ‘aspire’ to be. Law of attraction coaches always told me this (I used to think they were nuts): you have to believe that you are already what you want to be, even if you are not, in order to become what you want to be. In other words, even if you are in a journey, believe that you have already reached your destination. Sounds paradoxical, does not it? But that is the way the universe works: you get what you believe.     

Another character I met was someone who wanted to make a movie that would appeal to villagers. My concepts are quite urbane for him, he told me. So, we were definitely not made for each other. His issue was with one particular concept that I had: about an old woman falling for a younger man and in the process cheating on her husband. While he acknowledges that it is normal for such things to happen, he also said that the Indian audience is not mature enough to accept such themes and motifs; he said that he would have accepted the concept if the old lady was single and lonely and married the guy in the end. Marriage is indeed a sacrosanct affair in India which absolves you of all of your previous ‘sins’ (people in India don’t pay decent rates to content writers but readily splurge billions on marriage), including even rape and adultery. I don’t know about you, but I find the current audience quite mature and I don’t think I am “God enough” to judge the collective mindset of 1.3 billion population.   

A third character, a director I met, was indeed an intelligent, chilled and funny guy. I had great time working with him (I liked his movie, except a few parts) and the only thing that came in our way was a clash of beliefs or rather I should say, creative misunderstanding. The protagonist of his new story is a lady character who is high on sexual energy but according to him that is a ‘problem’ or ‘disease’ she is unaware of. I could never configure her ‘disease’ as a ‘problem’; quite frankly, I know for a fact that Indian men would kill for a partner who is hyper-sexual (that is why substandard web series like ‘Four Shots’ or ‘Gandi Baat’ get to run in our country). Anyways, he asked me to write the story from my point of view. Instead of portraying her as an apologetic woman, I made her someone who is sexually free and bold (yes, I made her a little ‘sluttish’; in his words, a ‘bad girl’). And therein began the problem. In the mind of this guy I had made his character, the chief protagonist at that, a ‘bad girl’; he said that she is no longer someone who people, in particular the female audience, would sympathize with, while emphasizing at the same time repeatedly that the girl is not a ‘bad girl’; rather, she is just  a ‘nice’ girl with a ‘problem’ of being high on sexual energy.  I could never figure out how being high on sex is a ‘problem’ and being sluttish is ‘bad’? Nowhere in the story I even so much as mentioned that she is a ‘bad’ girl. What do you think? Also, according to statistics women watch more porn than men so again his argument about the inability of female audience in sympathizing with the character did not make any sense to me. And no, he never called me again.

I would say this: people who compromise or sell themselves short generally suffer from a low self-esteem, lack of self-belief and self-worth.

4) My Struggle with Time Management: Part of being true to myself and grow in life is knowing what and who to spend time on. Time, my friend, is very previous; once gone, it does not come back. I can buy everything else with money (almost) except for time; time can neither be bought nor stopped. Everyone has got only TWENTY-FOUR hours in a day. The best I can do is to judge which activity is worth spending time on and which is not, which people are worth meeting and which are not. These days I am following a rule that if a certain activity does not inspire me, make me money or give me pleasure (physical or emotional) it is not worth pursuing. That is why I have cut down on social media and partying.

Don’t get me wrong, it is fine to go to parties once in a while to unwind myself and chill, but I don’t really need to spend every night drinking and dancing to feel good (but if I have to, I can in fact do that even at home with friends and save myself some time and money). People who make partying and drinking a daily habit are in fact trying to hide their core problems, which, if left unresolved, cannot be solved even by years of hardcore nightlife addiction. Similarly, I have learned that checking my social media accounts or WhatsApp every minute is not healthy either. I allot a couple of hours every day to check my Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts; also, I don’t open accounts on websites that don’t matter. There are more than 100 social media websites but only few of them are important and useful.

This is also the reason why being in a hurry does not help. I cannot manipulate the amount of time an activity is going to take. If time was indeed within my control then I would become a famous Bollywood script writer and playback singer as well as settle down with a fun wife for good, all within this year, 2019. It might turn out that way, but then again it might not. Every process is unique and takes its own time, no more and no less. I will offer you an analogy that a friend gave me: you cannot really consume chicken and paneer within the same time frame. Consuming chicken would take a certain amount of time, no matter how much you try to hurry; similarly, consuming paneer will take a different amount of time. Let us say that for you, consuming chicken (with bones) takes 15 minutes while paneer takes 7 minutes. Imagine this scenario: you are given 10 minutes to consume chicken; in which case, you will either hurt your gums (best case scenario) or have digestion problems next morning (worst case scenario). On the other hand, if someone tells you that you have fifteen minutes and you have to use all of that time to consume paneer, you will have to consume paneer at a very slow pace and take a look at your watch every time you take a bite, which would pretty much ruin the pleasure of having paneer.

5) The Power of Saying ‘NO’: Time was when I had a hard time saying ‘NO’ to people. I did not want to hurt or displease anyone. I wanted to be friends with everybody. No wonder I got used and dumped by manipulators when I was no longer ‘useful’ to them. Today I know that it is okay to say “NO” to something if it does not serve my interest; it is also okay to say “NO” to someone who never comes to my aid. Today I believe it is okay to be selfish. Today I am aware of the fact that no matter how good an offer sounds and even if my best friend offers it to me, I have to ask yourself one question: does it serve my interest? If not, then I would say “NO.” I would repeat this again: if a certain activity does not inspire me, make me money or give me pleasure (physical or emotional) it is not worth pursuing.

6) Becoming Aware of What to Give a Fuck About and Quitting Comparing Myself with Others: I recently came across a wonderful book: The Subtle Art of No Giving A Fuck and it taught me about things I should and should not care about. The book is indeed very addictive. I remember reading it at Khar Gymkhana while waiting for an event to happen (I reached a bit too early by mistake) and the curious, judgmental, suspicious eyes of the receptionist crossed with mine. However, as I was reading the book, I already knew how not to give a fuck about him.  I have learned that if I have to live a stress-free life, I clearly need to demarcate which things I should ‘stress’ about and the ones I should ignore. In other words, I know which areas I can influence (areas of influence) and which I cannot (areas of concern); those who have read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People know what I am talking about. I know I need to be aware of and be in control about the following:  

My Areas of Influence (I CAN control these):
My actions
My reactions
My judgments
My choices
My words
My thoughts
My goals
My ambitions
My passions

My Areas of Concern (I CANNOT control these):
Others’ actions
Others’ reactions
Others’ judgments
Others’ choices
Others’ words
Others’ thoughts
Others’ goals
Others’ ambitions
Others’ passions

For instance, my martial arts teacher once told me that I should not be comparing myself with how much ahead or behind my fellow mates are compared to me; all I should care about is how far I have come since the day I join the classes. Every person is facing their own battles, becoming aware of their own limitations and fighting their own demons; therefore, such a comparison is stupid and misleading. To me, the only thing that should matter is MY OWN journey.

The bottom line is: I can control my actions, reactions and words; I cannot control the actions, reactions and thoughts of others. What is the point of worrying over something that I cannot control?

7) Future is An Illusion: “Future” is something most people obsess with. Some would ask me: “What do you want to become in future?” Others would say, “Think about your future.” The more ‘enlightened’ ones believe that the “future is uncertain.”  Through the book called “Power of Now” I discovered that this “future” we human beings are so crazy about is actually an illusion, in the same way as an oasis in a desert is. It is not very pretty to think that we are actually running after a mirage and our ego would be quick to deny it. Therefore, to make it clearer I will offer you another truth: in order to create the future, you have to be actually present in the future to make it happen.

Let us say that you want to become a doctor after five years. Five years from now, you would have to be living and breathing on earth in order to become a doctor; not only that, life has to go according to your plans in order for “your future” to actually manifest for you. Is not it? What if something comes in your way in the interim that sabotages your plans? What if you are dead? Future is not set in stone; even astrological and tarot predictions are seldom 100% accurate! And as a recent tragedy taught me, death can happen to anybody at any time. Which brings me to my next point.

8) The Only Certainty of Life is Death: People make elaborate plans about how they want their life to turn out; job, relationship, marriage, relocation, etc., are all part of that plan. The harsh truth about life is: none of your plans may manifest in the way you want, or worse, may not manifest at all. You may or may not get a job, you may or may not find love, you may or may not find your ideal home to shift to, you may or may not be able to get married, but you will DIE for sure. You may be rich or poor, ugly or pretty, social or shy, arrogant or stupid, but all of you will die. One day, ANY day. Now you may ask me: “What is there worth living for if the only certainty of my life is death? Should I stop planning, then?” I plan what is needed to be planned, but nothing beyond that. I plan my business, I plan my goals, I plan my meetings, I plan the structure of my articles and stories. I DO NOT plan my life, not at all. I CANNOT plan that five years from now I would have five children…because future is an illusion. Besides, if you plan your life you basically squeeze the fun out of it; there is no surprise element left anymore. Life is best lived, unplanned. As wise people say, live as if there is no tomorrow; live in the moment.

Living in the moment and accepting that the future is just a self-created illusion of the mind has been very difficult for me personally. Our mind is such that it is never happy in the present moment; for the mind, the present moment is terrible; salvation lies only in the future. And once that mind-created future actually occurs, it finds that “future” terrible; another, “more glamorous” future must be created in order to satiate the mind (or ego). Living in the moment has been like an exercise for me: very difficult and frustrating at the beginning and even now I cannot say I have become perfect at it.

9) Quitting Obsessing Over Small Things: I have a friend who obsesses over small things in life; my mother is quite similar: she was always worried about small expenses all the time. When I realized that life is short, I also came to the realization that being tight-fisted is no good. Yes, us Bengalis are well-known for being tight-fisted with money, but as far as I am concerned, when I leave the world, with all my belongings still remaining on earth, I would rather be known for kindness than meanness. That does not however mean that I would be splurging money mindlessly; but at the same time, I would not be so worried about my bank charging Rs.100 for my ATM debit card or buying a Starbucks coffee for someone.

10) Gathering the Strength to Recover from Personal Crisis:  How fast can you recover from a tragedy that you were not ready for? The quicker you can, the stronger a person you are. Recently, my coach died. She was just 31. A fun loving and straight person who carried her heart in her sleeves all the time, we had our share of disagreements, no doubt, but she was only person I could open up to without the fear of judgment or criticism. I believe she was a bit too mature and intelligent for her age. She had a never-say-die attitude about life and the coolest thing about her was, she never approached anybody to sell her coaching business. When I met her, I had published a book called Phantasy which I believed to be a flop because 50% of the reviews on Amazon were bad and its royalties were so low that they didn’t even fetch me toilet tissue. She told me, “Why not focus on the rest of the 50%, the positive ones? What makes you think that the next book you write would also be a flop? Just because one book did not work, you stopped writing? And you call yourself a writer? A writer should write and carry a pen and notebook with him all the time.”

She had no addiction: no smoking or drinking; she had recently started dieting and doing yoga as well. A sudden heart attack ended everything. I felt lost; very lost and numb. For a while, I stopped talking to people; I lost my appetite; I did not know what to do. I could not even attend her last rites; her family had cremated her too quickly. I felt like I was all alone in this world; given that my parents are neither mature nor intelligent, I was left with handling my life all by myself, with no guide whatsoever. More importantly, I had difficulty accepting her death. Someone who was so full of life with no “bad” habits, how could she have a heart attack at such a young age, and more importantly, how could the very first heart attack be so fatal!  I am a couple of years older than her and I drink; I also eat junk foods. Had I died; I believe it would have looked more natural.

For some time, I was very depressed. Why did not I too die with her? What is the point of living? This was my first encounter with someone’s death (I had tried suicide a few years ago and she was the only person who knew about it) and I did not know how to cope with it.  My better judgment told me that I cannot die with the departed and that since I am alive life has to go on. I realized that since I have no one to help me, I have to help myself recover from this shattering tragedy. And I believe it made me a stronger, wiser person. Her death made me realize how short and unpredictable life is, and how, the best way to live life is by thinking that you might be dead tomorrow. She once said: life should be lived big, not long – straight dialog from a Rajesh Khanna movie, but I believe that for her it was not just a piece of dialog; she lived up to her words.

10) Defying Rules, Creating My Life MY Way: We are imprisoned within our self-created chains, so says Vishen Lakhiani, author of the book called The Code of the Extraordinary Mind. Nothing divides us more than our religious, cultural, economic and political beliefs. But out of all these belief systems, the belief of “how one should live correctly” is the one most people are obsessed with. Eat this not that, drink this not that, consume food in this way not that way, this food is bad, this piece of clothing is good, saving for the future is good, this brand will make you look smart, this religion is good, that God is bad, girls should act like this and boys should be like that, etc.  Some of these are indeed useful beliefs that help us function properly in society but most of them are stupid, baseless and outdated beliefs which no longer serves us in the 21st century yet we cling to them as badly as we cling to our life; or rather, our ego clings on to them. It is as if these beliefs are our most precious possessions! It is amazing how we lose no time in updating our laptops and smartphones with the latest software yet we don’t even think of updating our old belief systems which were formed hundreds of years ago. We blindly follow what our parents or elders taught us. We never pause to think, hey maybe these beliefs are no longer as relevant as they were in our parents’ time?

I have learned to question every belief which people take for granted, believe to be normal and assume that things cannot work in a different way. Being a Hindu I eat ham, bacon and what not. I visit churches, monasteries and mosques too, not for any religious reasons but purely from a visitor’s point of view. I have stopped going to temples only because there are a lot of beggars inside begging all the time. I don’t believe in blindly following anything or anybody. I don’t believe in working under somebody and making them rich with my own hard work. Till date, I have never clicked selfies with celebs (this is a topic for another day). I believe in working and earning for myself in MY own way. I believe in living my life according to MY rules. The downside is: I get judged, taunted and ‘advised’ by friends all the time about how I am ‘doing it all wrong’ but I have learned to take their shit through one ear and discard it through the other. More importantly, I have regained the power to bore people with my writing as I am sure you can feel here. 😛

11) If I Cannot Make Myself Happy, No One Else Can: Everyone has their own criteria or formula for finding happiness on earth. They would look everywhere else except within themselves for happiness. Many find happiness by buying branded items and artefacts, making themselves beautiful with makeup and posting pictures on Instagram to get likes and comments, going on retreats in the Himalayas, building six packs, etc. I for one, being friendless all my life, thought that I would be happy by connecting with random people on social media. Then I thought that meeting lots of random women on socials and bars would make me happy. For a long time, I thought that getting married and having kids would make me happy. When I started reading various self-help books, I realized that in the end, it is not possible to get lasting happiness by investing into an object or being in a relationship with someone. Objects are lifeless and people lie and ditch people. I have had been ditched many times by this or that friend and I am yet to meet anyone who actually makes good on their promises.

It took me a really long time to realize that I can either make myself happy, or I can’t; I can live the rest of my life with the feeling that I am unhappy or kill myself with the feeling that I cannot live an unhappy life forever; I can either go for therapy or I don’t: the point is, I ALWAYS have a choice. But still the fact remains: if I cannot make myself happy, nothing or no one else can.  Ultimately, I realized that my true happiness lies in going back to my roots: writing stories and learning music. Story writing which I had long left after being disappointed with the bad reviews of one book has now taken the shape of writing stories for movies; learning music in the form of classical vocal training, which I have found, if taken away from me, I become depressed. 

Such realization has taught me to learn to make peace with my lot and be contented with what I have; if I am unhappy because I don’t have something or somebody in my life, even having that person or object in my life might not magically make me happy either. I may or may not ever find my life partner and I have learned to make peace with it for my own good. This is not living a compromised life as you may wrongly assume; it is about being content with my lot and being okay with what I have and what I don’t, rather than focussing on what I ‘lack’ all the time. Again, you have a choice, you can ignore what I just said and continue with your old habit of searching for that elusive happiness. Everyone is on their own journey on earth and depending on where you are in your journey, you may not realize this truth until perhaps you are 70. Some people realize this only on their deathbed. 

12) Cutting off Fake, Toxic People:  I don’t share my personal life with each and everyone until they have my trust and building trust, my friend, takes time. There is a reason I have become what I have become: restrained. I was not always like this. At one point of time, I was quite open about my personal life, but just as life has a habit of treating you to tough lessons, I have had my share of tough lessons as well. There are some people who genuinely want to help but they are in the minority; most people who pretend to be concerned about your life’s problems are either looking for someone vulnerable who they can attack with judgment and criticism because their own lives suck so much, looking to manipulate you into giving your money to them by pretending to be coaches and what not, or looking to find some twists in your stories (twists as weird as Ekta Kapoor serials) so as to add some spice in their otherwise monotonous life. 

Yes, such fake people are everywhere, more so on social media because it is easier to lie and pretend to someone when you are behind a keyboard. Happily married people would offer you advice on how to be happily single, yoga teachers who themselves are on the unhealthy side, neighbourhood aunties and uncles who are not professional therapists would invite people suffering from anxiety and depression to talk to them for a fee, people who themselves are crappy actors would teach you how to act in movies, people who have never been in a relationship would tell you how to find love, cold-hearted people would teach you the importance of love and forgiveness, people who hardly socialize themselves would teach you social skills and people who are wealthy would tell you about the meaninglessness of all wealth and the importance of renunciation. I have encountered all of them. I have also encountered folks who have become ‘life coaches’ even before living life fully; yes, I have met life coaches who are in their early twenties! Later on, I created a rule to follow: “Dear stranger, until I trust that you have my best interests in your heart (rather than your selfish interest) my personal life is none of your business.” This is also why I don’t go out of my way and run after people to befriend them. I learned this from my late coach: if someone approaches to me on their own, fine, if not, that is also fine. Vibes attract vibes; when people approach you on their own (rather than you running after them in a desperate bid to befriend them in order to find happiness), there is a greater chance that they ARE actually the kind of people you want to be friends with. Cutting off fake people also includes cutting off dishonest liars. I remain beware of people who try to act overfriendly with me for no apparent reason; as per my experience, usually scamsters do that.

13) Avoiding vs. Accepting My Feelings and Emotions, Even Negative Ones: Bad things happen to everyone. Despite all the religious preaching you hear, self-help strategies you learn and mind control tricks you apply, you WILL feel bad. Believe it or not, feeling bad is okay and you have a right to feel bad. Many of the so-called ‘life coaches’ would either tell you to avoid negative feelings or learn to control your mind so that negative feelings cannot enter your mind. It is as if feeling bad is an act of transgression! What they don’t tell you and perhaps (with all due respect) are not even aware of themselves, is that the more you try to control your mind the more your mind will outwit and overwhelm you; in other words, the more you avoid a feeling, the more it will come back to you in double, triple or even quadruple amount. I have found a much better and easier technique of dealing with negative feelings: accept the feeling, acknowledge it, let it be where it is and watch it as a distant observer like you would watch a game or show. Believe me, in time it will vanish. The more you do this the more you will actually start purging your mind of the negative feelings you have. If you know you have a problem, why deny it? Rather accept that you indeed have that problem, acknowledge the problem and let the problem be where it is. This will nullify the negative feeling associated with the problem.     

14) Having Little or No Expectations from Others: From being someone who expected a lot from others to getting transformed into someone who expects next to nothing from others, the journey of my life has been no less crazy than a black comedy movie. I have found from experience that if I approach strangers with high expectations, they either get scared and literally run away (because I am giving off the ‘desperate vibes’) or make empty promises they don’t intend to keep and disappoint me. Is not it better to live a life where you expect nothing from strangers? Yes, such would be indeed an ideal life; if you can live such a life then you would indeed be free of stress and frustration when people don’t live up to your expectations. However, having expectations is part of human nature; I know I cannot fully avoid having expectations and hopes at all, no mater how much I try. So, the next possible alternative for me is to minimize my hopes and expectations; that way, I would be worried less, disappointed less and retain my peace of mind. This is something my late coach did not agree with, however.

15) Exercises and Meditation: Of late I have become a bit obsessed about raising my vibrations so I attract the right kind of people. For far too long I have met only wrong and negative people in life. Doing Pranayama daily, as a friend told me, is a great way of raising one’s vibrations. What has your vibrations got to do with how you live life? I would say, everything. If you meet people whose vibes don’t match yours, they will lie to you, cheat on you, ditch you, fail you, disappoint you and even you might do the same with them. When you meet people with matching vibes there is little room for misunderstandings or negative outcomes. It is no secret that physical exercises and meditation can work wonders for your mental health. Lazy chap as I am by nature, I would avoid anything that is arduous; therefore, as you would expect, I limited myself only to meditation because it was ‘easy’. Unfortunately, not even for one single day could I sit to meditate with a clean mind; as soon as I would start meditating, all kinds of thoughts would enter my mind: thoughts regarding my career, money, relationships (or lack of it), time management, guilt feeling, regrets, etc. A friend of mine Ronak gave me a valuable idea of first tiring your body with physical exercises and then doing the meditation; this way, for the very first time, I managed to do meditation without any distraction because my mind was simply too tired to think of anything.  

He also taught me the correct method of doing Pranayama: close your right nostril with one finger (say, the pinkie) and breathe in deeply through the left nostril: do it very slowly, so slow that your left nostril does not emanate any breathing sound at all; then close your left nostril with your thumb and breath out slowly through your right nostril in the same way; then breath in with your right nostril and breath out with the left one. Repeat this for seven minutes every morning and evening (sunrise and sunset) and each time, start and end with the left nostril. If you have never done it before you can start by doing it for one minute then increase the length of time. If your scalp has a burning sensation then you are doing it right. I cannot always do it twice a day or at the right time but at least now I am doing it right (previously I used to make a lot of breathing noises while doing it; I am as my martial arts teacher rightly calls me, the ‘master of sound effects’) – technically.

16) Ignoring People Who Think I’m No Good: No matter how much success you achieve in life you will always encounter people who don’t believe in your abilities (if you have achieved landing on the moon, these cynics would say: “Okay, but I don’t think he would be able to make it to Mars”), think that you are worthless and won’t respect you. Like I said, I cannot control others’ feelings and their reactions to me; I cannot stop people from judging me. What I can do is to silently work on my personal growth. Success, as they say, is the best revenge. The very people who think of me today as worthless will clap for me tomorrow, I know that much. What matters to me is that I know my own worth and have enough self-respect to ignore the naysayers with a smile or turning deaf to their comments.  If someone consistently ignores me, I get the message and start ignoring them as well.

17) Not Worrying About What People Will Think: While I cannot say that I have reached a position where the comments of others don’t affect me at all, I am definitely at a place where I have stopped worrying all the time about what people will think. Yes, I am not completely unaffected by others’ judgment but most of the time, I ignore those who judge me. I have realized that whether I do something or I don’t, people will judge me anyways because judging is part of human nature. Let them judge me; I can show my middle finger to them and move on with my life. As for those who pretend to be my well-wishers while in reality, they are only protecting their selfish, egoistic interests, I only say: ‘Okay, thank you for your advice’ and hang up.  

18) Books Are Reliable Friends: This might sound bad to some however, life has taught me that by and large, most human beings are unreliable and high maintenance by nature (though not necessarily with evil or malicious intent). I have not had one friendship in my life that has lasted beyond a year or two. Friend today, forgotten/ghosted/blocked tomorrow, is what I have faced. If you ask me whether I have any friend today from my school or college, well, I will say: NOBODY. Some I cut off, others cut me off, the ratio of the latter being much higher than the former. I have come across many who made lots of empty promises but when it comes to fulfilling them, they make one or the other excuse to escape the trap of personal integrity; I cut them off from my circle. Nowadays, whenever I interact with people, I do so without any hopes or expectations. Although I have never been good at being a social butterfly, I have noticed that people, especially in cities, who have been able to keep friends around beyond a year or two are those who constantly have parties at their homes to entertain those ‘friends.’ In today’s age of consumerism, I find nothing wrong in it either; you spend cash on them, you get to keep them, else they move on to someone else. I mean, has not marriages worked (and still work) in this country under the same principle for decades? If I were a botanist, I would have my own garden and talk to trees. If I were an animal lover I would have kept and talked to pets. Since I am neither of these, I have found another option. Rather than having a bunch of fake friends who are selfish and no good, I have realized that it is much better to buy and read books. Even when you have no one to talk to, books can be your lifelong, reliable companions. Whenever I have a problem, people may or may not be available to help me but I can always turn to books for help. Unlike people, books have never failed me.

Yes, now you have finally reached the end of the article. Well, not quite. I am yet to answer something I promised to at the start of the article: there are two reasons why my articles are usually so long.  One, brevity is not one of my strong points. Two, even if I could trim down the length of the article a bit, I won’t, because I also have an evil side to me which tells me to bore my readers to sleep. So, in case you have already fallen asleep, remember that I look forward to reading your comments when you wake up. However, if you are still awake, you are in fact someone I would love to connect with. If you want to make me your habit then you can subscribe to my free newsletter.

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