From the desk of a psychologist!

Archive for July, 2012

The simple choice of happiness- Part 2

While reading the spiritual section of my newspaper today, I came across this incredible concept of happiness/unhappiness genes. This was an article by Mr. Rajiv Vij. It made so much sense, forced me to revisit my approach in dealing with happiness.

Presenting my adaptation of happiness/unhappiness genes, which actually is a sequel of my earlier post; The simple choice of happiness!

According to this article, some people are born with the happiness gene. They do get affected by sad or unhappy incidents but that doesn’t mean they get stuck there. You must have met or know a person like that. It also makes you wonder, how does Mr. X remain so cheerful at all times? The reason is out now…Mr. X is one of the lucky few, who are born with the happiness gene.

But, what about the rest of us?

Mr. Vij has put our influences for happiness under five main categories, coined under the acronym of ‘ MOODS’.  Understanding these will definitely facilitate the concept of choosing happiness.

1. ME : ‘ ME’ is our self centered instincts to take things personally.

Remember the famous poster in almost every other room which used to state our basic attitude of ‘ WHY ME?’   

How many of us could actually say with full guarantee that we take criticism very positively? Leave alone criticism, even a casual remark brings millions of doubts in our mind. We question ourselves at every step of our life. It is also very difficult for us to take compliments genuinely. We are always doubtful. We are scared of our successes and failures.

In our strides we understate the successful or happy moments ( Trust me, we get ample of it)  but as soon as there are tough situations we exaggerate it, making our life look like a journey full of thorns. This leads to the next section of O.

Mr. Vij says that we are not unique in any situation, whatever happens to us is universal. I would also like to add that we need to accept the world of duality. Pleasant lies side by side with unpleasant moments.

2. OVERWHELMED: The tendency to get totally consumed by unpleasant events.

It’s interesting to observe how we separate our positives in life from the rest of the events while as soon as it is negative, it wraps our whole daily life. We become sad and insist to be counted as born unlucky. Even if something pleasant happens we stop ourselves from feeling the happiness.

I would say always remember that positive thoughts decreases in half, while negative thoughts increases in double fold. Try to isolate life events, don’t let them overlap. It is a conscious choice which requires everyday effort.

3. OBSESSIVE:  This is our strong need to be perfect.

As in one of my posts, what if…if only? I talked about having an imaginary perfect world. We keep on comparing our present  life with this imaginary world. Whatever we have got , we are not happy, as it is not perfect.

It’s simple, if you want to be happy and contented, stop looking for it. When you look for something, you always have set parameters, let go of your criteria.

4. DIY:  ‘Do It Yourself’ yourself. No one should know that we are dealing with a problem. This thought again emerges from thinking that we are unique in our experience. We take it as a personal defect if someone comes to know about our struggle. We like to indulge in our problem, maximizing it by not sharing it with anyone.

The best way to empower yourself is by accepting our problem and seeking help. This needs a lot of strength and courage.

5. Set in Stone: The innate belief that the effect of any negative event will last forever. It feels that the journey of our life will be stuck with the unpleasantness.

Our life is divided into phases. Change is the only constant, it is always the darkest before the dawn.

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world – not even our troubles.
Charlie Chaplin

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Why RESPECT?

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
~ Jackie Robinson

What is it that differentiates us from animals?

According to Kazimierz Dąbrowski, the ability of humans to inhibit and transform our lower animal instincts into “higher” forces is what separates us from animals.

Going by this definition, I understood one thing, that we are born with too many basic impulses. These need to be trimmed and tamed to form a beautiful personality. We are also born with a disregard for oneself, others and our environment. As we grow and start building our identity, we start realizing the importance of RESPECT.  It is a major building block of our character.

We are nobody without our self respect. We demand respect from others to make our self esteem grow. If we actually observe our actions on an everyday basis, we will realize that they are governed by the need to be respected. We do our best to earn it whether through our intellect, behavior, heritage, strength or sometimes even try to buy it.

But, this reasoning is at an advanced level, sometimes people aren’t able to understand it. They try to gain respect without bothering to actually pass it on. They aren’t able to appreciate the cycle of respect. It is not a material gain but like all other human values, it is spread through sharing. If you like to be respected, you need to start respecting others without considering their background.

What is RESPECT?

Respect is a need which comes from within, influenced by the way you are treated. It comes from  achievements, contributions & merit. It is not a feeling of fear or obedience. It is a regard of honor which no one could force to happen, but oozes by itself where it is due and then no one could stop it.

Respect is when we show a significant amplification of attention and care through words or actions towards people or our own self.

Respect is when we modify our behavior or choice of words in such a way that it exhibits  a significant increase in attention and care and is supplemented by a feeling of admiration for their suggestions, abilities and achievements.

While researching for respect, I realized one vital point. The meaning of respect varies with age and so does its treatment.

For a child, we generally think that it is as simple as being polite and courteous but actually it is much more complex. A child is very well conscious of whether he is respected or not?

Children deserve to be heard & be dealt in a thoughtful, civil manner. Disrespect a child and he will wait for an opportunity to do the same or worse with you. A child also learns the way he is treated and the way he sees others being treated. The seed of respect starts from childhood. It can’t be taught but it certainly could be shown.

For a teenager, Respect is basically when you consider their decision. When you show them your regard, value their point of view, give them the place of a young adult. Disciplining is not being disrespectful. Don’t ever think that if you will point out their wrongs, they will stop liking you. May be they will but they will definitely start respecting you!

For an adult, the definition of respect goes to a different level altogether. It is not merely a value or attribute but a self fulfilling process. An adult learns to start respecting oneself and takes it forward to other individuals, society and nature. It is a journey of self actualization, finding oneself!

Why RESPECT?

Because we all have worth and value as human beings.

Respect is talked about a lot, people use the word all the time to generate authority, fear, love, obedience but actually it is a culture. When it is present you take it for granted but the moment it is lost, every minute is a slap in your face!

Respect is a healthy choice. Now, we know that it is a cycle, you get respect when you give it. So, for inner peace you need to be respected and your worth as a human being need to be appreciated. The mere thought of being disrespected is intolerable by all of us. I would say start respecting each human entity. Resist your basic nature of payback.

Let’s start the culture of respect by being an example… BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE!

Addiction in India: The War Goes On!

I am so thankful to Aamir Khan for giving voice to an  important & relevant major cause, which exists in our country but no one is willing to listen. I am an addiction counselor, who came back to my country with huge dreams of  changing the world of addiction treatment here. But am not ashamed today to accept  that I left my struggle because it was full of hurdles.  I am so grateful that today after watching Mr. Khan’s episode of Satyamev Jayate, my candle of hope has started burning again.

I have worked in various addiction treatment setups in India and it is sad but a fact, that most of them are only there to mint money. No one has a clue of what works. Because people are needy they trust them which is then misused. I was a part of this system. It made me question my integrity and disturbed me. I wanted to help but didn’t know how. I realized how much it means to me to find the answers. I traveled to the hub of addiction study, United States of America, and completed my chemical dependency certification and worked there for some time. It helped me understand this dubious disease in a better way.

I came back with huge dreams and hit the reality pretty soon. It was a WAR against the age-old mindset. I gave up but with time I had learnt one important lesson that I am not here to change the nation but to give something back to the society. Even if one person learns something from this blog, I would think that my goal is achieved. I have this powerful tool of my blog today and this post goes for the passion of my life… Addiction. Though in the show the talk was only about alcohol but here we are going to talk about addiction, whether alcohol or any other chemical ( marijuana, cigarette, cocaine etc.). The disease remains the same.

We have a very sorry state of addiction in our country. There are so many prevalent misconceptions & myths that there is no help for it.  I would like to put some light on this topic through an Indian perspective:   

  • Addiction is a disease not a bad habit or moral issue: Why in a party some people can be decent drinkers while a few make a fool of themselves. People actually wait for them to bring entertainment in a lifeless party.

I will give an example to make you understand it in a better way. Two friends decide to go for a drink. Let’s say Mr. X & Mr. Y.

Mr. X suffers from addiction while Mr. Y has no such disease. When they have the drink, Mr. Y may enjoy it but for Mr. X it is a new never  felt  before state. Mr. X is never going to forget about it.

  • Chasing the dragon: Then the chase starts. An addict, every time when goes under influence, it is with the wish of reaching the same state it felt the first time. This never happens only the substance keeps on increasing.
  • Tolerance is not good: How many times have you heard someone boasting that I can hold my drink . The biggest indicator of chemical dependency is increased tolerance of the substance.
  • The different stages of the disease: It’s an ongoing treadmill which ranges from experimentation, use, abuse to dependency on the substance. If you have the disease and you introduce your drug of choice to your body, this is how the disease will progress.
  • Hit the rock bottom:

Tony Robbins once said there are two things that motivate people to make dramatic changes in their lives: inspiration and desperation. In the journey of addiction recovery, there needs to be a kick which can stop us from the journey of  self-destruction.

Practical Spirituality

One useful thing which I have discovered from my sessions is the concept of ‘ Practical Spirituality’. Now, what on earth does this complicated word mean?

There are two basic kinds of human beings; the saints & the commoner.

The saints are those, who are free from the  boundaries of  greed, materialistic comfort, emotional needs or any temptation. They are the ones we seek to guide us. For them spirituality is a way of life and by looking at them we do get inspired but at the same time anything which they do seem very unapproachable to us. We take it as something which could only be appreciated but not replicated and in a way it is true that leading a saint like life is quite a challenge.

Let’s come to our level, i.e., a common man’s life. This life is full of challenges and comes with its own share of goods and bads. Everyday is a struggle between our angel and devil side. Some days the angel wins over the devil while some days the opposite happens. There is an ongoing war of choices going on inside us, which is mainly between right and wrong. It is always easier to pick up the wrongs because they come in attractive packages and also tempts us with the shortest route to our materialistic gains. But these choices somewhere also start damaging our inside harmony and disconnects us from ourselves.

The saints, we know, leave everything because the worldly glitter is too tempting. They don’t want distractions. Their main and only goal is to find the answers of their existence. They renounce to rediscover.

Our goal is mixed; we want to acquire in this world but also there is a need to understand our entity. There are various needs in us, ranging from materialistic , emotional to self actualization. When this need is not met, we become disturbed and restless. We start seeking answers from places which are incapable to do so. If the awareness of our real need doesn’t dawn on us, we start walking on a destructive path. We start filling our voids with unhealthy habits.

One major question here is:

Is it possible to find a midway which is spiritual but also connects us with this world?

I get this from a lot of people that Spirituality & Worldly are two opposite worlds. There is a strong belief that to find goodness you’ve to leave everything in this world and start living a monk life. I disagree strongly, Divine is inside us…Why are we convinced to find it in the outside world?  Sometimes a sacred bliss could be found in a simple worldly hug you give or receive from a person.

From this thought emerges the concept of ‘Practical Spirituality’. Find your connection to yourself, as worldly possible as it could be. For a common man, it is impossible to leave his responsibilities and obligations and go in search of himself. Even when he tries to lead a life as a good person, he has to consider a lot of pros and cons on an every day basis. Then why does he need to leave everything to be spiritual? Why can’t he find his road of spirituality embedded in his everyday life only?

Spirituality is a very simple concept ( No, it is not a typo).

It is trying to find an answer to your very existence, who are you & what is the purpose of your being in this world? We are all born with innate goodness and there is a lifelong magnetic attraction towards this divine part of us.   

For some, it takes ages to figure it out while for others it is there without even asking. It becomes more complicated when you start looking for it as a thing found rarely . This world is full of spiritual experiences, it is just that we tend to ignore it because we can’t believe that something so talked about could be found or experienced so easily.

Let’s talk about how can we be a part of this world and at the same time be as spiritual as possible:

  • The first step is to try to be a good human being, whether religious or not is another thing. Religion could be an excellent way of finding spirituality but not the only way.
  • Try not to hurt anyone’s feelings. It is very difficult to be at peace when you know you’ve disturbed someone else.
  • Sometimes just shut your mind & listen to your heart! This will connect you more to yourself than any other spiritual talk.
  • Have faith in a higher power.
  • Choose happiness & positives.
  • Stay away from being judgmental. Always try to be open-minded.
  • Live in the moment.

“There is a bridge to the sky within your soul and a doorway to healing and peace within your heart.

If we look inside and embrace our true essence we bless the source of life.”

– Micheal Teal

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