Where do you find happiness? Quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Where do you find happiness? Quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh.

March 20th is the National Happiness Day.

How are you celebrating it? Do you share your happiness with those around you, because, you know, happiness increases only when we share it with others? And, the kind of lives we live today, each one of us is in need of a spark of joy that will help them go through it all.

Man has been in pursuit of happiness since the time he came into being. Although, back then, he may not have dwelled upon happiness as much as we do today, for life back then was comparatively simpler (or, was it?) and less stressful (??).

But, I am sure man was happier, back then, because each time we visit our past–our childhood–we recollect how less cluttered life was; how less stressful and how less complicated, and agree that, yes, life in the past was so much happier!

Progress and development brought along distractions and distress galore. Today, we may have the world at our fingertips, but happiness is something we fail to find on any app.

We scour places that boast of being the treasure trove of this elusive emotion; we seek it in people, in stuff we buy, and each time, return empty-handed and broken-hearted. Eventually, having tried our luck and failed, miserably, we give up on it all–on ourselves and our happiness, too!

However, Life is one tough cookie, who never gives up on us and makes sure we realise the meaning of true happiness and where we ought to look for it!

It introduces us to adversities, gets us caught in a storm, and almost pushes us over the edge into shark-infested waters, only to pull us back in time and make us appreciate what we have.

An appreciation that teaches us the meaning of HAPPINESS, and where it lies.

Over the years…okay, who am I kidding? Over the last year, I have realised that happiness lies right here, in front of me, and not somewhere else, where I was looking for it.

Happiness lies in my work, my art, the tiny everyday moments that I used to take for granted.

Happiness lies in being in this moment, in living this moment without thinking about what happened, and wondering what might happen.

Happiness lies in savouring the present that I have been gifted by Life; in embracing it with all my heart, and being grateful for it, along with its ugliness and its impermanence.

That, for me, is happiness, and HERE is where I find it!

What does happiness mean to you? And, where do you find it?

Sharing today, three quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh, that will help you find answers to these questions.

Happiness lies in the here and the now!

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

Where do you look for it?

Finding joy in the little things.

Finding joy in the little things.

HAPPINESS–the one elusive thing we are in pursuit of, all our lives. Funnily, we look for it in all the wrong places! We look for it in everything we work hard for and expect to work out for us. Little do we realise, that it is not the big things that hold the key to our happiness, but the tiny things in the here and the now that we are so oblivious to–things that are right in front of our eyes, but, which we fail to even acknowledge.

Last year, I wrote a post on 20 things that bring me happiness. Ironically, just after that post, Life took a U-turn and changed my world, completely. It felt like the Universe meant to make sure I practised what I preached:

“Look for happiness in the little things!” it told me.

And, I did!

I am grateful to the Universe for making me aware of the fickleness of Life. I have, since, learned to be truly happy for every thing that happens in Life. And, hence, this post.

Happiness means different things for different people. For me…

HAPPINESS COMES IN TINY PACKETS!

1. My winged babies who fill my world with their shrill whistles and adorable bird-speak, give me happiness.

2. Working from home makes me happy and feel good about myself.

3. Making art, especially Mandala and illustrations makes me happy and relieves my stress and anxiety.

4. Writing–in my diary, or a post/article. Sheer bliss!

5. Connecting with friends and sisters through phone calls is rejuvenating.

6. Soaking in the early morning sunshine in my kitchen window. Those few quiet moments of feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, the gentle caress of the cool, morning breeze, feeling one with the Universe, makes me feel blessed!

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Feeling the warmth of the early morning sun.

7. My workout sessions in the mornings and my walks in the evenings–without any company! How I love those silent moments, when all I hear is my breathing and my heartbeat.

8. Dancing to the tune of songs that lift my spirits and leave me feeling energised.

9. Humming a song, with Cookie on my shoulder, humming along in her own parrot-y way…is something I will cherish all my life!

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Cookie rules my world!

10. Realising how possessive Cookie is about me–I just can’t get over this one!

11. Realising how emotionally independent I have become in the past year, makes me feel empowered and liberated.

12. Counting my blessings and appreciating every little thing that worked out for me, and every little thing that did not. There are reasons why the things you wish for, don’t come your way. Be grateful for all your dreams that did not come true. There are better dreams waiting to become a reality!

13. Noticing the improvement in my overall health since I began working on myself–mentally, physically and emotionally. I realise every day how awesome I am!!!

14. Every little victory that comes my way–makes me understand what it is that I am doing right.

15. Watching my friends happy in their world, makes me truly happy.

16. Being showered with love and warmth by an aged neighbour–the way she hugs me, makes me feel like I am with mom (coincidently, her daughter’s name is Shilpa, too!)

17. The canine babies in my neighbourhood, when they leap at me in joy and go crazy demanding my attention, makes me feel special.

18. Hearing my babies learning to speak the words I teach them is a wonderful feeling (although, each time I try to record their chatter, they clam up!).

19. Solving puzzles at bedtime gives me happiness (much to hubby’s amusement!).

20. And, finally, connecting with you, dear readers, gives me unlimited joy! So, thank you for visiting me, here.

I keep counting all the little things that fill my world with happiness–some, I note down in my diary, and others, I store away in the ‘Happiness’ file, in my memory. And, each time I do so, I send a ‘Thank you’ to the Universe, which is doing its job brilliantly!

What are the little things that bring you joy? Do share with me, or in your blogs. I would love to know.

Love,

SHILPA…

Where do you look for happiness?

 

New Year Resolutions: Why our plans fizzle out.

New Year Resolutions: Why our plans fizzle out.

 

So, finally 2019 is here–sparkling and glittering with its newness, infusing us with hope and vigour to make it a success story. I am sure most of us have decided on some new resolutions and promised to stick to those and fulfil them by the end of the year. Right?

But, as we all are so aware, all those grand resolutions are going to fizzle out by the end of the second week of January, itself! Or, may be by the end of January. And, we will find ourselves back where we started…wondering why we failed to stick to our plans and questioning our tenacity. By February, we will vow to stick to our resolutions the next year, come what may!

But, do you think we will succeed in 2020, either? I bet not.

Why do you think this happens? Why do our grand plans fizzle out?

I think, it’s because we make resolutions that are too ambitious and grand to handle. Seldom do we assess ourselves, our capabilities and our limits before making those resolutions.

Someone, who might wish to reduce weight, might decide to stay off sweets, altogether; enrol at a gym and workout like crazy; follow a diet to get the figure they so wish.

Someone might decide to work towards that promotion they so seek and slog night and day.

And, someone else might decide to live a more fulfilling life where they spend more time with their families and discover themselves, follow their passions, because, well… YOLO! I mean, You Only Live Once! ( I was so unaware of the meaning of YOLO till sometime back!).

But, is it that easy?

Being strict with your diet, hitting the gym regularly….can all get frustrating after a while because you never know when Life might test your commitment. All of our best laid plans could fly right out the window!

Or, in our quest to reach ahead in the “race”, we would neglect our health, our sleep and our family and if things don’t go as we expect–which is what usually happens– we could very well end up depressed.

And, people who wish to live a more fulfilling life with their families and all, can definitely achieve it, provided they place their smartphones and other gadgets under lock and key once they are home. But, do you think you can resist the temptation of checking the notifications on the many social media platforms?

You might do it for a day or two, but then will just give in to the urge to grab that phone and forget all about discovering yourself.

So, all the enthusiasm with which we begin the new year starts to wane and our singleminded devotion towards fulfilling our resolutions begins to peter out. We do make a few feeble attempts at getting our mojo back, but in vain. And, soon, we fall into the rut we all were so used to earlier. Life takes over along with the uncertainties She brings our way and we realise we will never be able to win over Life and Her big plans!

WHAT WE NEED TO DO INSTEAD

This year, I decided to make a few goals to follow; goals that I haven’t labelled as “resolutions”; goals which would be doable and easy on me and my mind. After all that happened in my Life since 2017, all I need today is peace of mind. That’s all. I am not at all trying to be overly ambitious, or enthusiastic, or anything. All I am looking for is the elusive peace, and how to make it a part of my life, and thus these goals.

So, I jotted down a few things that I needed to make a part of my everyday life. Little things, really, like…

Simple, doable things that are sure to make me a stronger person, calm me during the tiresome, stressful moments and yes, build a solid support system that I so need.

Of course, it is not easy, for instance, to accept Life as it is, or believe in myself when things aren’t going my way. I am human, after all. But, being grateful for whatever I have is bound to change that and give me a fresh new perspective about my Life.

So, instead of coming up with resolutions we will never stick to, why not make smaller goals to work on on an everyday basis; goals that are easier to manage and do not burden us with expectations.

Here’s what you could do if you wish to fulfil your new year resolutions…

8 WAYS TO STICK TO YOUR RESOLUTIONS:

1. Take baby steps…make smaller goals that don’t tax your mind if you miss out once in a while. Remember, it’s okay to slip off the track once in a while.

2. Don’t be too strict with yourself as far as meeting your goals is concerned. I mean, suppose you decide to stay off sweets, then take it a day at a time and keep aside a day when you can cheat on your plan. Have a chocolate, or your favourite dessert–for the sake of your taste buds–and, then workout a bit extra the following day. But, then again, don’t overdo it. Bottom line is, care for your body, be considerate towards its limits.

3. If you wish to cut down on your smartphone use, set an alarm for 9 pm when you will switch off the WIFI and put the phone away. Do not switch it on as soon as you wake up. And, once you do switch on, time yourself. No more than 10 minutes to check whatever you wish to and as soon as your 10 minutes are up, switch it off again. Stay away from it for at least a couple of hours between every 10 minutes phone break you take.

4. If you have decided to exercise/workout everyday, do it in the morning beginning with just 15 minutes. After a week, increase it by 10 minutes. 25 – 30 minutes of exercise is more than enough. And, take a break on Sundays. Your body requires the rest.

5. Prepare a journal in which you note down your goals and how you manage to achieve them everyday. Be true to yourself. No cheating!

6. At the end of a week/ fortnight, if you find that you have been pretty consistent with working on your goals, reward yourself.

7. Remember to take life ONE DAY AT A TIME–this includes working on your goals, too!

8. And, finally, remember that you are NOT competing with anyone except yourself–your old self. So, don’t be a tyrant and drive yourself crazy over your goals. It will affect your mental health. And, if your mental health suffers, believe me, there’s no point working on any other aspect of your life.

So, what goals have you made for the new year? If you haven’t yet, I would suggest you give it a good thought, take everything into consideration and then decide what it is that you need to change. I am sure you will have a higher chance at succeeding at it!

Wish you the very best!

May you all have a happy, healthy and a peaceful New Year!

God bless!

Take care, coz I care…

Love,

SHILPA…

Like it, Pin it!

 

Setting tiny goals instead of resolutions helps us stay on course.

 

 

 

 

 

Hug more often.

Hug more often.

In the city of Vienna, Austria, lives a young man by the name, Thyago Ohana.  Let’s call him an angel in disguise. You will soon learn why.

Every two or three months, he goes out on the busy streets with a big smile and a sign that says, “Free hugs”.  He opens his arms for an embrace to whoever may be in need of a squeeze. Reader’s Digest did an article on the power of touch, where it narrated Thyago’s heartwarming tale.

A few years ago, when he was stressed out during a visit to a new city, Thyago was hugged by a stranger that  left him feeling calm and joyous. It was this feeling that encouraged him to give back what he had received!

Thyago recalled an incident about an elderly woman who watched him as he offered hugs to passersby and asked him for a hug, herself. After a few moments, when they broke their embrace, she held on to his shoulders,  looked into his eyes and thanked him saying she couldn’t remember the last time someone had hugged her that way!

Wow! Isn’t that so very touching!?  Now do you agree that angel would be the perfect epithet for this young man?

I love hugs. I am quite a tactile person, who can be quite touchy, feel-y when with people I love dearly. Be they my close friends, my parents – I need to hug them to feel their presence; hold them by their arms, pinch their cheeks if they say something really cute, or even silly, in short, I need to feel them.

It suffuses me with warmth and an assurance that I have some really fantastic people in my life who not only love me, but look out for me, tolerate my craziness and will never let go of me.

When Chikoo was around, I would cuddle up to him every now and then. I loved hugging him, burying my face in his satiny fur and run my hands all over his warm body. I would pinch his cheeks, play with his soft, floppy ears, in general, drive him nuts by my tactility!

He enjoyed it when he was younger and reciprocated with much enthusiasm,  but in the past couple of years, he had become very possessive about his space. So, whenever I would snuggle up to him, he would indulge me for a minute or two, after which he would shift uncomfortably in his place and give me a give-me-my-space-woman look.

I would leave him alone after threatening to overdo it all the next time. Tee-hee!

Sigh. Those were wonderful times, when I had Chikoo’s instant hugs whenever I needed them. Now, I have to wait for the time when I can go, meet my parents, or my friends to get my quota of the comforting hugs.

Half of my friends, whom I communicate with online, send me virtual hugs. They are comforting, too, but I am waiting for the day I meet them in the real world and give them real hugs. Those will be beautiful moments!

A hug is the therapy we all need to indulge in much more frequently than we do.

We like our space, and unconsciously build invisible walls around ourselves– a boundary others aren’t allowed to cross. It does leave us bereft of the kind of comfort we, ironically,  seek everyday!

A hug expresses a million emotions. It conveys empathy, love, reassurance, appreciation, care and extends a kind of calm and happiness that no other therapy can.

Scientists have studied the effects of hugs and I am sure you must have read/heard all about the magic of hugs. So, I won’t go into it in detail, lest my post come across as a scientific piece on touch therapy!

All I would like to urge you to do, is go hug! Just do it, or get into a huddle, if you have a large group of friends, and feel your pain, your sadness physically leave your body!

I am aware of some people being allergic to physical contact. Ahem…this is actually a sarcastic remark for my best friend of 30 years who is so allergic to hugs, she has never allowed me to hug her in all these years! Can you believe it?

So, for people like my dear, idiot  friend, do give it a try!

Hug someone and feel for yourself the warmth that will wash over you, leaving you feeling relaxed and happy.

Go on…just do it, and let me know how you felt!

Until later,

Love,

SHILPA…

A hug is the best therapy we can get from our loved ones!





*Linking this post to #writingwednesdays at Write Tribe

The silent cry for help.

The silent cry for help.

Lately, an alarming trend seems to have taken over the social media.  Calling it a trend in itself is disturbing, but these incidents that  I came across make me wonder if we can call it by any other name!

You may have heard/read about the young lawyer who tried capturing her suicide on camera before being persuaded to safety. You may also have read about the 24 year old man who live-streamed his suicide on social media before jumping off the 19th floor of a Mumbai hotel, and, most recently, the news of a marathi film producer posting a suicide note on Facebook before ending his life. He mentioned his inability to endure the mental and physical torture by his wife and in-laws after his film failed to rake in any moolah (read flopped).

Horrendous is the word I will use to describe these incidents, and pitiful the stories of the victims. For in a world where everybody is in a rat race, vying to outdo the other by showing off what a perfect life one leads on the social media, people are now using the very same platform to share their wretched real life stories before pulling the plug! It gives us a fair idea about the life we actually lead irrespective of what we brag about on camera! It also gives us a clear picture of how lonely life is fast becoming, despite the thousands of friends we may boast about.

It’s a scary metamorphosis our life is going through.   There was a time, not long ago, when we guarded our private lives like a treasure. The story of our life  – good, bad, ugly – was shared  only with our closest friends/family members. These were the people who knew the wonderful as well as the unpleasant stories of our lives. But, today, all we do, is put on display the seemingly picture-perfect lives we live, hide the scars that life gives us, and give the world a peep into our sorrowful lives only before we jump off the ledge.

There are some questions that bother me as I look at these woeful scenarios. Firstly, why are we becoming this pretentious bunch of show-offs and what are we gaining from this exhibitionism? What do we achieve by sharing these picture-perfect moments of our private lives with a world which actually doesn’t even care after clicking the ‘Like’ button? And, if we are so obsessed with showing off the perfect lives we lead, then why are we, on the other hand, sharing the equally wretched moments of our lives that push us to the brink,  instead of asking for help?

What is it that we fear? Are we afraid to expose our miseries to our people?  Or, are we too scared to be turned down because each one is fighting a battle of his own to even extend  their hands in support? The ones, who live-streamed their suicides on social media, were they so tired of fighting  a lonely battle that they yearned for attention,  but were too scared to ask for it?  What did their feeble cry for help really mean? That we have become too busy to care what our people go through, or that we, for all our ostentatiousness, are beyond caring for those who are going through some pathetic times in their lives?

Is life only about the goody-goody stuff that earns us a million likes? Isn’t life also about unhappiness, heartbreak and hardships – times when we need to stand by each other’s side, supporting one another, no judgements passed?  Isn’t it also about being able to voice our deepest fears to people who care?

These are so contradictory  – these two facets of human nature that are evolving by the day. Despite having a hundred friends, we are gradually becoming a ‘lonely’ species.  Or, are we too reluctant to call out for help? The other day, as I sat in my darkened room, clutching my dead pet’s picture in my hands,  feeling desperate and lonely, I found myself hesitant to call up my friend for a heart-to-heart talk. I feared I might be burdening her with my sorrows, which may be minuscule as compared to hers. I also wondered if she even cared/was too concerned about her life to even call up and find out why I hadn’t gotten in touch with her in a long time, except sharing inane jokes on Whatsapp! It was only later, after I spoke with her, that I realised that she does care about me a lot, and that I had been only feeding my worst fears – something that we all do during the loneliest moments in our life.

The dreadful thoughts that crossed my mind that day make me wonder – what are we turning into? Couple days ago, I shared a happy picture of myself and my spouse on Instagram, and now, here I was, reluctant to share the dark, scary moments that actually needed to be talked about!

We really need help. But, are we going to ask for it?

I hope we do.