Important Life Lessons Learned in the Past Month

As mentioned in my last post, I had a whirlwind of a month. It was emotionally stressful, and I was in an overthinking mode. But all’s well that ends well. Thankful to the universe for every little blessing.

With each unchartered experience, you learn something new. Lessons that overshadow the learnings of the past. Here are some things I realized in the past month alone.

Indian managers often act like robots when there is a personal crisis.

The bigwigs did not share any emotion when I gave my reasons for a leave request. No “hope your mother feels better soon” or “hope everything goes well.” What was I expecting? Humanity in the Indian corporate world is a myth. We preach on LinkedIn with the most quotable quotes, but actions prove otherwise.

For the top-level, nothing warrants a response unless it is related to work. In fact, I got dumped with more work and some uncalled-for criticisms on the day of my mother’s hospitalization, even if I had notified my issue well in advance. On that day, I must have thought about quitting at least 10 times. But keeping the robotic virtues aside, the company is quite good. And, of course, you have bills to pay. So you carry on.

After my mom’s heart procedure, a few colleagues asked how my mother was doing. The number of people from top-level management who enquired about her health? Zero. My stress was there for them to see. Yet, none cared.

People often tell you to keep your professional and personal lives apart. I follow and believe this to a large extent. Still, when someone is going through a tough time, I make it a point to provide some motivation, whether a junior or senior. My conscience does not let me rest otherwise.

It was alarming to see the level of indifference from senior managers. Is this what professionalism is all about? Killing your empathy? Another point to add to my An Ode to People Who Are Not CEOs post.

We are giving importance to the wrong things.

For most of our lives, we stress over trivial things – relationships, work disputes, earning more money, materialistic gains, etc. But all it takes is one medical emergency to see the true light – that nothing comes above health.

The last month was a major eye-opener for me. I learned that I should be thankful for each day for all the miracles it offers, no matter how small and no matter how insignificant it may seem to be. It also showed how important it is to keep our physical and mental health happy and stress-free. If I had to choose between peace and more money now, I would undoubtedly choose peace.

Most people will be unavailable.

The people you know will primarily be available only through words, phone calls, and social media messages. But very few will physically show up when you need support, including your siblings. Ultimately, you will have to deal with most of the things yourself. It doesn’t matter if you have a big family or a huge friendship circle; there will be a lot of routes you will have to navigate by yourself. It will be overwhelming and frustrating, but that’s just how life is. You live. You learn.

Regular medical checkups and second opinions are important.

In India, we do not prioritize our health. Many do not have health insurance, especially older people, because it is expensive. We do not get annual health checkups done. This needs to change.

It was during my mother’s regular health checkup that we spotted a variation in her ECG. The doctor did not take it seriously. He declared it as anxiety and aging and told us to let it go. Big mistake. We should have asked for a second opinion.

Always treat minor variations in your tests with great seriousness, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or genetic disorders. Always get a second opinion.

Social media can be deceptive.

In the past month, I did not reveal anywhere online that I was stressed (except for this blog which is unknown to many). I posted memes as usual because it was a form of escapism for me. It might be the same for many others. Things might just be an act. Never take social media too seriously. There might be a lot happening behind the scenes.

Korean drama is like medicine.

When you are having a stressful day, there is nothing like a good Korean drama to melt your worries away. This is important because it made me realize how feel-good entertainment is sorely lacking nowadays. Stuff that people like me can relax to and feel a bit better at the end of the day, even if the emotion is superficial.

Almost all movies and tv shows are dark and serious, with the focus being on realism. Why aren’t there more light-hearted, feel-good, clean, romantic stuff? Looking at you, Indian cinema. Enough of reality. Bring back the escapism.


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What Do I Miss the Most from Childhood?

Missing childhood

Out of all the nostalgia-filled flashbacks showered upon me by this thing called “childhood,” the one I sorely miss is having fewer responsibilities.

When we were kids, someone was always taking care of our needs. You weren’t the one everyone turned to when it was decision-making time. You could let an adult take the burden. But now you are the adult (oh, the dread). And the baton of responsibility has been passed to you.

Adulthood robs you of that freedom to just be. You are now responsible for everyone and everything, including the people who brought you up.

I have had a whirlwind of a month. Running back and forth to hospitals in India and getting things sorted out for my mother. Sometimes, it gets a bit much, not the physical activity itself, but the mental stress of the unknown. You wish you could take a break from it for a while, so you can return to being a child to your parent again, not a parent to your parent.

Though I have a sibling, she is settled outside the country. Honestly, sometimes, I am envious of her. She is blissfully unaware of many things that can only be witnessed in person – a thoughtful pause from the doctor after seeing the report, the concerned look on relatives’ faces, and the resulting panic mode. She gets to hear only words, whereas I have to witness stress-inducing body language. I am not bitter, just exhausted, mentally tired, and wishing I had my sibling around to share the responsibility with.

Sometimes, you feel alone in this journey called life, even if you have a family. However, you pull yourself together and say, “I’ve got this.” You learn to flow with the flow with blinders on and see where it takes you.

Often, after testing times, you look at yourself with awe over how you managed to pull through the muck. Challenging situations warrant bravery. It comes out of you automatically; you know the only way is forward. It is nerve-wracking but also educational. You stop thinking about petty things, and all your mental resources are made to focus on the issue at hand. After some tears, things settle eventually. It becomes your new normal. This is how you enter a new uncomfortable phase in life.

In your 40s, you will go through many moments like these, especially when your parents are aging. It’s tough when you witness them encountering the symptoms of their system slowing down a notch. You wonder why you stressed over less-important things like failed relationships, exams, and flippant comments from coworkers when you could have been grateful for all those days you spent with your loved ones in good health. We take the good things for granted and fret over the wrong stuff.

Right now, I have to realign myself into thinking each day is a blessing because I have my loved ones around. To appreciate things for how they are without dwelling on the past or future is not easy. Still, experience has the knack of drilling that lesson into you in the most unsuspecting manner.


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An Ode to 5 Interesting Quotes from “Your Place or Mine?”

Your Place or Mine?

Before we begin, I want to point out that the quotes posted here are from Portia MacIntosh’s book Your Place or Mine? Not the movie. The book is an entertaining, cute, light-hearted story of two accidental roommates who eventually become much more than they signed up for. It’s a heady mix of fun and frolic, entertaining twists, and relatable scenarios that are part and parcel of life. It might not be the best romantic tale out there, but it keeps you hooked.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Your wedding day is the most special day to ever occur… just like everyone else’s.

Watching a new movie is like rolling the dice, you don’t know if you’re going to love it or hate it, if you’re going to laugh or cry, if a dog is going to die and ruin the whole thing! So we reach for our old favourites for the comfort of the familiar, because you can always count on your favourite movies to make you feel better.

Grief is the cost of love. If you feel a lot of sadness to have lost someone, they must have given you a hell of a lot of love while they were alive. And I do love you, my darling. Never forget that. Until we meet again…

See, this is what happens when you get cocky, and you think everything is going your way. Life goes out of its way to laugh in your face, and show you just how bad things can be.

Sometimes I think that, when you’re going through a difficult time, you don’t realise just how tough things are while you’re going through them. It’s almost like you can’t think about it because, if you were to let yourself dwell on how unbearable things seem, the problems you were facing would seem impossible to overcome. But if you keep moving, you keep your head up and your eyes forward, you’ll be through it before you know it.

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An Ode to 36 Thought-Provoking Quotes from The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari Quotes

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari needs no introduction. The book shares a treasure trove of ideas, concepts, and mental wellness gems we could do well to absorb. As the world progresses towards increased capitalism, we have forgotten to take care of our core emotional needs in the pursuit of fulfilling our materialistic ones. We have become workaholics with no work-life balance. Robin Sharma drills down the fact that work is important, but so is life. If you don’t take care of your health and happiness now, then when? Certainly not after you retire, the age your bank account is filled with money, but your energy becomes bankrupt.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorite thought-provoking quotes from the book. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

My dad said it best when he said, “John, on your deathbed you will never wish you spent more time at the office.”

To live life to the fullest, you must stand guard at the gate of your garden (mind) and let only the very best information enter.

There is no such thing as objective reality or ‘the real world.’ There are no absolutes. The face of your greatest enemy might be the face of my finest friend. An event that appears to be a tragedy to one might reveal the seeds of unlimited opportunity to another. What really separates people who are habitually upbeat and optimistic from those who are consistently miserable is how the circumstances of life are interpreted and processed.

From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher. Or to put it another way, how can you really know the joy of being on the summit of the mountain unless you have first visited the lowest valley.

Stop judging events as either positive or negative. Rather, simply experience them, celebrate them and learn from them.

The secret of happiness is simple: find out what you truly love to do and then direct all of your energy towards doing it. If you study the happiest, healthiest, most satisfied people of our world, you will see that each and every one of them has found their passion in life, and then spent their days pursuing it. This calling is almost always one that, in some way, serves others.

Saying that you don’t have time to improve your thoughts and your life is like saying you don’t have time to stop for gas because you are too busy driving. Eventually it will catch up with you.

Your self-image affects the way you feel, act and achieve. If your self-image tells you that you are too young to be a successful lawyer or too old to change your habits for the better, you never will achieve these goals. If your self-image tells you that lives rich with purpose, excellent health and happiness are only for people from backgrounds other than your own, this prophecy will ultimately become your reality.

There is nothing noble about being superior to some other person. True nobility lies in being superior to your former self.

Never get into the petty habit of measuring your self-worth against other people’s net worth.

Every second you spend thinking about someone else’s dreams you take time away from your own.

People who study others are wise but those who study themselves are enlightened.

The Chinese define image in these terms: there are three mirrors that form a person’s reflection; the first is how you see yourself, the second is how others see you and the third mirror reflects the truth. Know yourself. Know the truth.

My point is this: never do anything because you have to. The only reason to do something is because you want to and because you know it is the right thing for you to do.

Never be reluctant to ask even the most basic of questions. Questions are the most effective method of eliciting knowledge.

Happiness comes through good judgment, good judgment comes through experience, and experience comes through bad judgment.

The ten-minute period before you sleep and the ten-minute period after you wake up are profoundly influential on your subconscious mind. Only the most inspiring and serene thoughts should be programmed into your mind at those times.

Focus only on your priorities, those activities that are truly meaningful. Your life will be uncluttered, rewarding and exceptionally peaceful.

When spider webs unite, they tie up a lion.

This is the mantra I suggest you repeat at least thirty times a day: ‘I am more than I appear to be, all the world’s strength and power rests inside me.’ It will manifest profound changes in your life.

Few things are as meaningful as being a part of your children’s childhood. What is the point of climbing the steps of success if you have missed the first steps of your own kids? What good is owning the biggest house on your block if you have not taken the time to create a home? What is the use of being known across the country as a red-hot trial lawyer if your kids don’t even know their father?

Life doesn’t always give you what you ask for, but it always gives you what you need.

An addiction to distraction is the death of your creative production.

When you go after what you want, with love and wild abandon, you tap into the energy that created the stars and the seas. A kind of magic begins to enter your life and things happen that defy your comprehension. Signs start to appear, suggesting that you are on the right track.

Yes, make plans and set goals. Work hard and go for what you desire. That’s part of being a responsible person — it is true that setting intentions does make many of them come to life. But hold on to your plans and goals with a very loose grip. Often, the universe will send you a treasure in an unexpected package.

One of the most enduring of all the ancient laws of humanity is that we see the world not as it is, but as we are.

Too many potentially soaring lives are degraded and defeated by an attraction to busyness rather than a monomaniacal focus around what matters most.

No idea works for someone unwilling to do the work.

To have the results only 5 percent of the population have, do what 95 percent of society is unwilling to do.

If you do not know who you are and what it is you truly want to be, then how can you recognize and seize your destiny when it presents itself to you? Know yourself and your destiny will find you. Clarity precedes mastery.

Your wounds can be turned into your wisdom. Your stumbling blocks can become your stepping stones if you choose. Do not miss the remarkable opportunity that adversity and even tragedy presents. Your life can be made even better by the things that break your heart.

The more deeply we know ourselves, the more we can make authentic choices to make the leadership journey back home to the place that we have always known, at our core, we have wanted to be. In the Greco-Roman temples of the past, above the entrance one would often find the following words: “Know thyself and you will know the secrets of the universe and the gods.”

Once and for all stop being so hard on yourself. You are a human being and human beings have been designed to make mistakes. Coming to the realization that we all make mistakes and that they are essential to our growth and progress is liberating.

Life’s simplest pleasures are life’s best ones.

Saying things we don’t really mean becomes a habit when we practice it long enough. The real problem is that when you don’t keep your word, you lose credibility. When you lose credibility, you break the bonds of trust. And breaking the bonds of trust ultimately leads to a string of broken relationships. Say what you mean and mean what you say. This simple practice will have powerful results.

A problem only becomes a problem when seen as a problem.


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