Friday, 8 September 2017

Appreciation and Insults

Suddenly a notification appeared on my phone, not so long ago. It informed me some friends were wishing me well on completing one more year of work association with the organization.
And I looked at the calendar. I realised it is a half century of work life. And that led to my talking to self about experiences as decades passed.

It was a very modest, unimpressive professional beginning. Firstly, electrical engineering happened by default and not by design. It is education system, which can be considered at fault.

First decade was that of great uncertainty. It was direction less wandering. I was born timid. I had no ambitions. I was unsure of my competence.

Industry was new experience, and textile, which was as it is dying without maturing, was not the place where a fresh engineer should be, to start with. That led to experiment with Cost and Works Accounting, which was shelved for time being when first change came.

Suddenly, by chance and because of Papa's contacts, i found myself in a technological sea. Lack of confidence as engineer and being amongst more proficient engineers generated inferiority complex. Thanks to very supportive superiors and colleagues, if I was not an apple of their eye, i never felt insulted.

It was in the middle of second decade, opportunity knocked the door and I was ready to move away from engineering and into an area, engineers normally are not comfortable being in. This was the turning point, i believe, in my development.

Suddenly, i found i was in competition free work area. Communication became more assertive. Analytical abilities which perhaps were not good for engineering, were now too good. Exposure to senior management and therefore recognition made me foe of erstwhile friends.

Learner in me helped me getting better with knowledge and skills required for non-engineering area. Fatherly seniors put me on a different padestal. Attention and appreciation were never in shortage. And this phase lasted for good two decades.

I never felt insulted even when customers of services i was responsible for providing, misbehaved. I could respond, and not react, with logic. There were hardly any instances when people on other side of table insulted me. Or atleast, i did not feel insulted, more because, beneficiaries behaved in the manner they did, since services failed at times.

And even during a short period of transition from serving state and therefore people, to serving private share owners, appreciation was never amiss.

From being executive to being an advisor, in the later half of fourth decade, the equations changed. I had age and associated ego of being "know all" to be managed. Children being supported were fresh college pass outs. Clients, mostly, were less knowledgeable in my field.

Suboptimal performance inspite of genuine and selfless support, has always irritated me. Such irritation takes different forms, depending on who the beneficiaries are. I believe I suffer from OCD being in perpetual state of evaluating causes for suboptimal performance, purely to help improve the same.

And when improvement evades in the name of business compulsions, feeling of being insulted takes over. Reconciling with sub-optimal performance of the wards when they ignore advise to meet business compulsions, is a tough call.

I am reminded of advise i received from one of my mentors, who had observed my habit of getting attached to outcomes which I considered must. He told me, when ever I would go to him agitated on our failure to achieve results we had thrived for in the interest of organization, that I need to develop 'shakshi bhav'. Such an attitude does not mean I stop working in the manner i do, that is in the interest of the beneficiaries and organization, but having done what i should, get detached from outcome. Since there are multiple factors affecting outcome.

Today, i saw one mail, which one of those bright young wards had sent to client, recording discussions we had. And the crucial points made by me, which I thought drove the nail to close the issue, were missed. What irritated me is that the ward had ignored me and avoided me before writing the mail. Feelings of being insulted were very acidic in nature.

I was reminded of my mentor's advice. The acid is neutralized. I am all sweetness. I am a 'shakshi' now.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Happiness

I normally sleep well. Which means i sleep till almost 6:00 AM.
Today it was not so. I woke up a bit too early and as usual looked at messages and mails which had arrived during the night. Going through the messages i noticed that generally members of my family group were 'happy". That triggered a series of thoughts.
I tried to discuss with myself and then decided i must look for answers to questions like; 
  • What is happiness? 
  • Why is it important to be happy? 
  • What should we do to be happy? 
  • Can we measure happiness or can we undertake some reality check for self correction?
And i thought i should not only look for answers but also must write down. Then came the question why do people write? For some, it is a career; for others, a hobby. Some write because it helps them to sort out their feelings. Some have a story to tell. And some write because nothing in the world makes them happier. 
For me it is mainly to communicate with people close to me generally, and specifically for giving a message to children in my family. I searched for answers to questions i had about happiness and got the same. The purpose for this piece also for children to understand the concept and prepare themselves to remain happy. Happiness/ unhappiness is contagious. If i find a child in my vicinity unhappy, it makes me unhappy. I am only being selfish when i copy - paste what i came across on the subject.
Here it goes:
What is happiness:
In her 2007 book The How of Happiness, positive psychology researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky elaborates, describing happiness as “the experience of joy, contentment, or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile.”
Why practice happiness?
In addition to making us feel good, studies have found that happiness actually improves other aspects of our lives. Here is an overview of some of the good stuff that research has linked to happiness.
  • Happiness is good for our health: Happy people are less likely to get sick, and they live longer.
  • Happiness is good for our relationships: Happy people are more likely to get married and have fulfilling marriages, and they have more friends.
  • Happy people make more money and are more productive at work.
  • Happy people are more generous.
  • Happy people cope better with stress and trauma.
  • Happy people are more creative and are better able to see the big picture.
It is obvious we must do whatever it needs to remain happy.
How to cultivate happiness?
Here are some of the keys to happiness Lyubomirsky and other researchers have identified.
·         Build relationships: Perhaps the dominant finding from happiness research is that social connections are key to happiness. Studies show that close relationships, including romantic relationships, are especially important, suggesting we should make time for those closest to us—people in whom we can confide and who’ll support us when we’re down.
·         Give thanks: Research by Michael McCullough, Robert Emmons, Lyubomirsky, and others has revealed the power of simply counting our blessings on a regular basis. People who keep “gratitude journals” feel more optimism and greater satisfaction with their lives. And research shows that writing a “gratitude letter” to someone you’ve never properly thanked brings a major boost of happiness.
·         Practice kindness: Research by Elizabeth Dunn and her colleagues finds that people report greater happiness when they spend money on others than when they spend it on themselves, even though they initially think the opposite would be true. Similarly, neuroscience research shows that when we do nice things for others, our brains light up in areas associated with pleasure and reward.
·         Give up grudges: Groundbreaking studies by Everett WorthingtonMichael McCullough, and their colleagues show that when we forgive those who have wronged us, we feel better about ourselves, experience more positive emotions, and feel closer to others.
·         Get physical: Exercise isn’t just good for our bodies, it’s good for our minds. Studies show that regular physical activity increases happiness and self-esteem, reduces anxiety and stress, and can even lift symptoms of depression. “Exercise may very well be the most effective instant happiness booster of all activities,” writes Lyubomirsky in The How of Happiness.
·         Get rest: Research has consistently linked lower sleep to lower happiness. What’s more, a study of more than 900 women, led by Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, found that getting just one more hour of sleep each night might have a greater effect on happiness than a $60,000 raise.
·         Pay attention: Studies show that people who practice mindfulness—the moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, and external circumstances—not only have stronger immune systems but are more likely to be happy and enjoy greater life satisfaction, and they are less likely to be hostile or anxious. Pioneering research by Richard Davidson, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and others has found that a basic eight-week mindfulness training program can significantly improve our physical and psychological well-being.
·         Don’t focus on material wealth: After our basic needs our met, research suggestsmore money doesn’t bring us more happiness—in fact, a study by Kahneman found that Americans’ happiness rose with their income only until they’d made roughly $75,000; after that, their happiness plateaued. And research by Richard Easterlin has found that in the long run, countries don’t become happier as they become wealthier. Perhaps that’s why, in general, people who prioritize material things over other values are much less happy, and comparing ourselves with people who have more is a particular source of unhappiness. It also suggests why more egalitarian countries consistently rank among the happiest in the world.
(Source: http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/happiness/definition)
To these "hows", i have mine own. Every one of us may not get everything in life. Let us make sure we are not unhappy because some one else has got something we have not got.  The last suggestion about material wealth is very difficult to practice, but if we can do that our lives and those of people around us will be more enjoyable and this world will be a better place to live.
There are tools to measure the state as the website provides. Even without such support we all know if we are happy or not. We need to be able to find out if we are unhappy, why are we unhappy? That can not be a perpetual state. We must develop ability to come out of such a state and win over the same. Remember unhappiness is a state of mind and no body other than ourselves can have control over our minds.