The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind. – Albert Einstein
I was reading up and came across several references which say that being quiet helps in boosting creativity. Thinking of my own case, ideas seem to strike up more often when i’m alone and pondering over the problem. Walks help in reclaiming that bit. Albeit i don’t get the time to do it more often. There are several days where we are embroiled in discussions with the family / neighbors / relatives or colleagues. We’d like to believe that we can come up with a solution in a jiffy. But that isn’t always the case. Sometimes all we end up with are short term solutions. More like fixing tape when we really need to glue things together.
At times like these, i feel its better to soak myself in solitude. That involves switching off the tv, silencing the phone and slipping in to a quite corner. Some people may count it as meditation, but for the life of me i haven’t been able to figure out how to meditate. What works for me is diverting my focus to something less complex. Like what i see around me, something as simple as nature or kids playing in a park. Add classical music as a background and i would be sorted for the time being.
Some of the really quiet people who deafened the world with their ideas were Einstein, Mozart and even Tesla. Of course there is the more enlightened lot such as Buddha who chose to roam in the wilderness to find the answers to his questions. Most of us may not be on to such pursuits, but in the meanwhile we need to value the time we have with ourselves to push the self beyond the frontier of the obvious.
Stepping out of the comfort zone is one of the hardest things to do for most. I face the struggles too no matter how much I motivate myself to be. Rigidity is what we partake as stability. Change is the hardest bit to deal with.
Maybe all we need to do is broaden our horizon and be open to newer experiences. At least that’s what one can believe in not knowing if they could be good or bad. But whatever they maybe they would bring a good amount of learning. Another important aspect is of trying out things that challenge / scare you. Personally I have read this tip and I’m yet too scared to try it out. But one bit at a time, I’m trying my best to make the change required.
Just like a warm cup of coffee on a cold morning, we tend to soak in all the comfort of where we think we’re best accustomed. But there’s a whole world out there begging to be explored.
‘Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new’ –
No matter what walk of life, you will come across the square pegs being fitted in to a round hole. Or vice-verse. Reading a recent article i wondered how we try to be a part of a group through school /college and so on. At the same time we’re striving for our own individuality. Somehow, we don’t like the extremes. So loners get castaway and the extremely outgoing person is labelled the party animal. There somewhere in the middle is where everyone wants to be. Socially accepted and noted for who they are. But how can you be know for who you are unless you stand out / apart from the crowd? Contradicting isn’t it?
On that note, here is a favorite of mine from Green Day called “Walking Contradiction” that relates to the exact same feeling:
“He’s not going to make the cut” / “She’s obviously never heard of class” / “This entire thing is doomed for failure”. Quite often we come across people who are resorting to a quick judgement about people or situations. The way we have been brought up, our society has kind of baked this system in to us. From early school days, parents will be cautious about the friends you make. “Company maketh a man”. Or so they say.
As we grow older, we tend to draw out of our experiences and begin to stereotype people. Notions are widespread about the community one belongs to / experience they bring. Then you have qualitative ones. The kind of people you feel uncomfortable around for no good reason. “I have a bad feeling about this”. Many a times situations prompt the same response.
It’s quite natural for us to jump to conclusions. Some highly opinionated individuals take it upon as their birth right to have an insight on just about everything. Makes me think about how much can one know to really have a point of view about nearly everything. But, what i wonder most is that when people are drawing these judgements and passing them off unaware people, why does it mostly have to be negative? You could also come up with a real positive one. I think one needs to think ahead of themselves, in the larger perspective to really think on those lines. Just to think about it, if all of us were to just spend one entire day appreciating each other, wouldn’t the world seem like a much happier place? To me, it would sure would. Even with the judgement bit thrown in.
I’ve always wondered how much of what we think we see is hidden. Ditto for the kind of situations we try to understand. I’m sure many a times, we think we have understood the crux of the problem. Only to discover there were more strings attached. To me, anything that’s hidden works wonders to spark my curiosity on the subject. Maybe that’s why i kept reading up on Astrophysics and quantum mechanics from middle school. While people around me were reading comics or Sidney Sheldon novels, i was deep diving in physics. My interests kept changing all along. But it was the unexplored that had me intrigued.
There are a lot of aspects that are hidden from our daily frame of things. I once read that our subconscious mind keeps eliminating thoughts to help us focus better on what’s important. Typically these thoughts manifest themselves in to dreams. In case these are unpleasant we then embark on a journey to understand the hidden messages. All of this makes me wonder how much of control we really have over stuff in our lives. While you may choose to know as much as you can, take additional degrees or courses, work in different sectors / roles and take on as much as you can within your family, there will still be things that are hidden. I don’t know what could be good given the circumstances. Maybe sometimes, we should just let it go and believe what’s not obvious is for our best interests.
More often than not, i come across people who talk about others having all the luck in the world. Such thoughts baffle me because i think that we create our own luck as we go along in life. That also is what we learn in spiritual lessons, that all of life is your karma. What you sow, so shall you reap. But scientifically, research has proven that successful people tend to drive luck in their stride by doing some things. I love reading up on behavioral psychology so here are a few things i picked up worth noting:
1. Seize the opportunity: It’s common to feel overwhelmed with the number of things going on around you. Successful people try not to look at obstacles and rather approach every problem with solutions. In short they look at problems as opportunities. This does require an attitude shift, but it looks promising to try out. Even if you do fail, that will be a learning.
2. Pay attention to the world around: I was reading a book by Richard Wiseman and he talked of an experiment where they asked people who considered themselves lucky or unlucky to look at an article and count the photographs in it. The lucky ones finished faster with the correct number ’cause they spotted a line early in the article mentioning this information. The unlucky ones kept counting and finished late complaining. The point is they weren’t focused on what they were looking for and feared failure.
3. Use your gut instincts: Very often you do get a gut feeling about a person / situation and its always got something more to it. I firmly believe gut instincts must be trusted. Somehow we subconsciously know of the outcome just when we are going to start something. So we must trust from the larger experience our minds are offering indirectly.
Apart from the regular keep a positive attitude and appreciate change kind of tips, i felt the ones above are more effective. At the least these are backed by years of research so i do hope these help you!
Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd – Voltaire
I remember seeing this quote and wondering if its safe to doubt everything around me. We do feel a false sense of certainty at times and when routine kicks in we fear stagnation. That is a worrisome thought and hence i constantly seek out new tasks or routines to put myself through more experiences. The doubt is that little nudge that pushes me to explore more.
Certainty being absurd according to the witty french philosopher is something i completely agree with. With just six degrees of separation online how frequent it is to come across people you don’t know and connect to work on something bigger. In a city like mumbai where one could face strikes / delays / torrential rains or even more pleasant things like someone returning a lost wallet / helping you find your way back / offering directions its more often to see doubt at the base of things. Maybe we doubt more because we know and understand more. After-all, more perspectives could add to doubt, but the collective view will be of more value than a singular distorted opinion. In a democratic society like ours i must say the elections are a classic example. Individuals more certain of a win are looked at with suspicion. There is no dearth of internet memes surrounding the upcoming voting season.
In my case, i choose doubt more over certainty. Its good to know some things for certain but when you begin to think everything is for certain, then ‘Houston, we have a problem’.
“Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.” – Alduos Huxley
The quote sparked a bunch of thoughts to my head. Firstly, most of us are looking for familiarity in situations we find ourselves in. We like to think back if we have done this before and wonder how can i do this task better. In short, we are looking for some kind of consistency. In life or in experiences. When faced with a situation we know little off, we begin to feel that this is not the comfort zone and wonder how soon will it be over. Seeking consistency is the mistake we make. Many would like to think of it as stability too. Or as some of us like to think of it as “settling down”.
The second line of Huxley’s quote is a very valid one. Its definitely better to be at ease with change. Rather than stagnating, getting bored and loosing focus i would surely prefer situations that intrigue me. That’s the point that the quote is also trying to make. Why seek consistency? Rather most of the world around us is chaotic and ever-changing. Maybe all we need to do is pause and revel in the present, as it passes us by.
Behavior change is typically bought about by forming and cultivating habits that drive it. No matter how good we think we may be, we can always do better by pruning a few bad habits here and there. Staying up late / smoking too often / having a drinking problem / unable to exercise / or even simple ones such as procrastinating and other bad habits do find their way in our daily routines. I have been reading up extensively on the subject too. It’s intriguing to know that behavior change can be brought about rather simply.
So here’s a round up of 5 simple tips i found really useful:
1. Plan: Most of us start by thinking we need to change one aspect of our life but unsure of what needs to be done. Hence its important plan it out in advance and set goals for yourself.
2. Identify the cause: Make sure you notice what drives you towards the bad habit. If stressful meetings are the reason you’re out smoking, then maybe catching a healthy snack with a colleague would be a better option. If watching TV till late is leading to you staying up longer, then reading could be something you could take to.
3. Control the urges: It’s really easy to slip away and think just this one time. However, you need to fight the urge. I think having a simple line and talking yourself out of slacking off works well. Telling yourself “I’m better than this” does work in stalling the urge.
4. Talk about it: Telling your family and friends would be a good idea to ensure that you’re on track. This will also help as they will be your support network to encourage you through the change.
5. Positivity: No change come easy and its important to keep yourself going no matter what. Surround yourself with positive quotes or images to make it easy for yourself. The simplest one could be to keep your smartphone’s wallpaper as a positive message / quote.
Those were some of the tips i found simple to implement and actually bring about positive changes. Hope these are helpful for you too 🙂
Individuality. The one notion that drives us all. I’m sure most of us don’t want to be versions of others and strive to be unique. However there are times, when one begins to wonder if they would be the thorn in the situation or blend in like the petals around a flower. Be the rock in the river or ride along the waves.
Reading a recent WSJ article on Success outside the dress code made me wonder the same. Dressing up is what we think defines us. Afterall, we normally begin sizing up people, opportunities or situations more often than not. Getting in to a client meeting? They will be building their first impressions. In today’s always online world, they have to put in minimal effort by just checking out your linkedin profile. If they are lucky, you’re on twitter too to feed their inquisitive needs.
The point really is then should you be guided by the notions that others seem to have of you or drive your own instead. The article refers to accomplished people walking in to luxury stores in their gym clothes. If people there recognize you as a part of the elite who have accomplished something, then you would be looked up to. Heaven’s forbid, if you aren’t from that set then you would be most likely tagged as a wannabe. I think the context also depends which part of the world you are from. For example, in India at a luxury store let’s just take any of the premium stores at Palladium in Phoenix, Lower Parel in Mumbai. Most of the people are pretty dressed up but if anyone with ordinary clothing walks up asking for details in a regional language, chances are they will be taken as novices. Or as many people say, “Maybe they got rich too quick”. The same idea doesn’t hold true. In the corporate culture too, you would rather be well dressed for that meeting than be dismissed on the first look. Of course, that can be taken lightly if one works in the creative side of things.
But my question really is whether one must blend in or stand out? Standing out, playing the devil’s advocate as the article suggests would be something that would go noticed. I think people would remember the person who made the most daring points, but that also depends on how dismissive they can be. Blending in works well for most of us. However, being original and driving the point across – that’s what we need to see more of. The change is already happening across B-Schools, where more recent graduates are opting to take their own route with start-ups. We will see more of this in coming years and it would be interesting to see where this heads out too. For now, standing out is the one thing that seems to be “In”.