Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Are you feeling 'stressed'?

Recently I happened to see couple of video clippings showing how stress can take us mad at certain situations.  Watch these videos on

Though the videos were funny and interesting to watch, when I thought about the real situation which leads to such scenes, I decided to explore and understand more on this topic ‘stress’.  There are several types of stress and several factors that can lead to stress.  In today’s fast world due to overload of work or due to multiple tasking or due to the aspirations not met due to competition  or being unable to reach with existing pace of life, all can create stress.  We can see personal stress built from relationships; professional stress occurring from work atmosphere; social stress mounting from political and social surroundings and many more.  There are also negative and positive stress factors.  Positive stress is generally caused by added energy levels or increased anxiety and it can be sometimes good for us.  Think about a planned vacation date nearing and we start preparations for our trip, or receiving an employment offer as per our expectation.  What will happen to us if we happen to win a lottery? How exited one we be if his/her marriage is fixed?  Of course if we are a normal human all such situations will inspire us to become more creative and active.   We generally do not interpret them as ‘stress’ as it is good for us.  Stress is commonly associated with negative feelings occurred from unacceptable or unexpected situations.  In fact we all go through some kind of stress on a daily basis: like when we get stuck in traffic, not being able to reach for work in time, not being able to meet some of the family demands, thinking about raising kids, not getting along with spouses, finding difficulty in managing finance and daily budget, etc. 

‘Stress’ is not something new.  It has been there ever since man evolved and everyone has a different verge of stress or approach to stress.  Like feeling, stress is also a response to events.  When feeling is a response to events occurring through our mental stature, stress is a physical response to an event that can create an imbalance to our body and mind.  We feel vulnerable and sense nervousness, which can be real or mere imagination.  Sometimes stress becomes very common and we get habituated to it and feel normal, which is actually not good sign for us.  When too many thoughts bounce around our head, and when we are unable to prioritize or focus on our thought process, it is likely that stress can clasp us.

‘Stress’ whether it is negative or positive has to be in our control.  Controlled stress can be good for us and it may help us in meeting challenges and/or taking impulse action in traumas.  But when the ‘stress doss’ increases beyond a point, we tend to lose control of our thinking ability and eventually can lead to major damages and even to physical ailments.  Please remember that ‘stress’ can accumulate and blast.  It can bring variations to our body pressure!  It can affect our thought process! It can affect our behavior pattern! It can even lead to heart attacks! So it is very important to try and keep ‘stresses’ under control.  “Stress is the trashes of modern life – we all generate it but if you don’t dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life” (Danzae Pace).

The symptom of stress can be anything like memory problems, bad judgment, constant worry, short temperedness, feeling loneliness, and depression.  Physical symptoms can be like body pain, headache, rapid breath, chest pain and moodiness.   Some other symptoms are sleeping problems, getting addicted to drugs, differences in eating habits, getting nervous etc.  So how can we control our stress?  To control stress first we need to recognize what type of stress we are going through and if is affecting our mind and body in any way?  It is not easy to judge what quantity of stress is good or bad.  We have to find our own limits.  And how do we find our limits?  Through self-realization!  Through ‘Questioning’! Try and stay calm. Ask wise questions when under pressure or when we sense stresses. Stop worrying! We can manage stress if we keep our expectations realistic, if we plan properly, and realize our abilities.  Take appropriate stress relief measures.  It’s not even a bad idea to consult a counselor or a doctor as there are also several scientific ways to control stress.  Remember ‘stress is not something that happens to us.  It is our response TO what happens.  And RESPONSE is something we can chose” (Maureen Killoran). 
That’s it for now.  Hope you enjoy reading this.  Please do send feedback and suggestions.  Will see you soon with another topic!  Have a wonderful day!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Feelings & Emotions

What are feelings and emotions? Feeling is an experience we go through and emotion is the way we express our feeling.  On many occasions we experience difficulties in identifying our feelings and expressing our emotions.  Sometimes our feelings go out of control and remain enigmatic, confusing, unclear and hard to express.  There are also times when we are incapable to understand or name our feeling.  Sometime even more difficult circumstances arise when we are not able to express our emotions in line with our feelings. Our emotions are mostly the responses to our feelings.  Try thinking on some of the common feelings we experience and the emotions we use to express them: like anger, fear, disappointment, guilt, happiness, sadness etc.  What are our emotions when we express these feelings?  Is our emotion always expressed as a response to our feelings?
Our feelings and emotions play an integral part in our behavior.  Emotions help us in decision making.  It helps in predicting behaviors: not only our own, but of others as well.  Our feelings will also help us in communicating a wide range of emotions.  Emotions can be conveyed through words, sound, body language, and/or facial expressions and each emotion will communicate some message.  For instance our emotions conveyed through facial expressions will carry our feelings to others without essentially citing anything.  While doing so we also give signals on our expectations.   Let’s see some scenarios:  What is the signal we send while expressing pain when we are hurt?  Obviously seeking some help! When we cry on the loss of a dear one we send a message of expecting some mental relief.  What facial expression and emotion will be sent out when we achieve something or when our expectation is met?  A smile, laugh and happiness!  Even here our facial expressions will send signals of expectations.  Do we expect some recognition for the achievement?  Probably a wish or a congratulation note! Imagine about other occasions where emotions communicates through facial expressions. 
On some occasions our feelings alert us to set boundaries with others with whom, we are not comfortable interacting.  What is the solution to this?  For me it is simply to express my emotion to protect my interest.  Some people might not agree with this and I have seen many friends expressing wrong emotions in response to their actual feelings to strangers.  While writing this I called a friend (Salim Palakkuniyil) to find out his views.  According to him people might think negative about us if we express our emotions to set boundaries.  I do not totally agree or disagree with him on this topic as it needs more study and understanding.  It’s a matter of how we want to set our expectation and how we want to interpret to the situation.  What I want to say is that emotions are the mediums to communicate our feelings and we have to express our emotions to do that.
How can we set our emotions to respond to our feelings?   First step is to identify our feeling through wise questions.  Ask wise questions to control feelings and understand our expectation and need. Let’s take an anger emotion situation.  We can ask questions like:  Why am I feeling angry? Am I expressing anger for the right cause?  Is anger the right emotion for my current feeling?  Am I angry because something did not meet my expectation?  Who is responsible for the expectation not being met? Did I think of an alternative?  Is there a way to overcome the situation or how can I control my feeling?  If we are able to find answers to our questions, our emotions will be positive.  If we have a negative or positive feeling, please try asking as many logical questions as possible that can be associated with the feeling so that we will have the right emotion expressed. 
Love is one subject which would best explain the impact of feelings and emotions.  What happens if we do not express our feeling of love to someone?  The feeling goes unnoticed and has no value and probably adds stress to us.  Neither we nor the person whom we love will benefit.  Love request expressed might be rejected for various reasons, but it will still give us the satisfaction of being expressed, help us live in reality, and comfort us to understand situations better and set our expectations accordingly.  Untold or unexpressed emotions can always lead to complex situations and uncomfortable feelings.  Expression of emotions also has an important role in our family and relationships.  A good understanding of our feeling and expression of right emotions will help our associations flow smoothly.  And to reiterate, the only key to find correct feeling and emotion is to learn the art of asking wise questions.
We might have experienced or we might have come across people behaving indifferently on certain situations.  Our common tendency is to immediately categories such people into a ‘bad’ listing or judges him as rude, arrogant or some similar feeling adjectives.   We need to learn to combine our feelings into our life in a healthy way and express emotions encouraging healthy associations.  We are all humans and feelings are an important aspect of us being human.  Feelings and emotions can be set based on our expectations, needs, interpretations, concerns (both personal and social), and other factors.
Mostly our feelings are directly linked to the events in our life.  Our interpretation of the event and expectation set is also very important in classifying our feelings.  An incorrectly acknowledged feeling might be expressed with a wrong emotion, which can be perceived negatively by recipients.  Sometimes we also interpret an event according to our suitability or with false knowledge, and shape our feelings and emotions to justify it.  In such cases we are actually going out of the actual event path, ending in a confused state of mind and wrong expectation.  Let’s take an example: Suppose two students go for a test and achieve the same grade, say B.  One student might interpret it as a good achievement if his expectation was set to pass the test.  The feeling generated will be expressed through positive emotions.  The other student might interpret the same grade as below his expectation.  In this case what would be his feeling and what would the type of emotion expressed.  Why is this difference in feelings?  Why two different emotions are expressed for the same scenario?   It’s just because the expectation set from the same event were interpreted in a different manner.  So it is important to understand and set our expectation in a realistic manner and to interpret our feelings positively.    
Extreme thinking on a subject or event can lead to extreme interpretation which is not a good sign and can lead to false emotions.  Too much of personalization or too much of generalization can also have influences in controlling our emotions.  One best way to control our feeling and emotion is to ask questions like: What am I feeling now? Is my feeling telling something? Why am I feeling this now?  Is this the right time doing it?  Can this be done in a different and better way?  Am I expecting the right thing? Will this harm or hurt others?  The type of question we ask will have to be logical depending on the type of situation, event or expectation. We need to focus on ourselves and our feelings to ensure control of emotions. 
Expression of feeling is very significant in developing our character and portraying our confidence.  As mentioned earlier, ‘Expressing an emotion is actually responding to our own feelings’.  If we do not respond to our own feelings we cannot respond to others feelings.  So start thinking, start asking, start talking, start sharing, and ultimately start expressing.  ‘Emotions are to be expressed.  Suppressed emotions will always bring undesirable results’.  Let your head and heart work together: to create positive feelings with logic and emotions! Remember the well said quote by Carl Buchner, “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel”.

Take care until we meet again with a new topic.  Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Welcome back friends!  So did you find some time to ask few questions to yourself? Did you get your answers?  Did it make any difference?  Fine let’s continue.
We discussed about asking wise questions and its implication in decision making process.   But how do we know whether we are asking a wise question?  For me there is only one answer for this.  It’s your ‘confidence’.   You have to be self-reliant to be wise. 
I have come across several situations where people say that they are not getting enough attention or they are not getting what they deserve or they have been left behind and so on.  This might be true.  Our performance might be better than others.  We might have accomplished the given task within the timeline.  And still we are left behind.   Why?  Did we ever try to find out the reasons for this?  Was something lacking in us?  Did we miss asking something?  Did we not meet all required standards?  There must be a reason!
I think we might have missed asking a confident question or possibly exposing our confidence level, which is the key to our success; and an elucidation to our achievement!  Our success and failure is directly attributed to the way we ask questions to different situations and how confident we are.  We can’t always say “I’m like a cat.  Throw me up in the air and I’ll always land on my feet.”  Don’t blame others for the situation and make statements like ‘it is due to discrimination’ or ‘he is lobbying against me’ and so on.  I am not saying that there is no discrimination or lobbying in organizations.  However, we will be able to overcome these and come up with better answers or solutions, if we ask a wise question at the right time with ‘confidence’.
Like any other art, I believe questioning skill is also an art, and everyone can develop this by practice.  Likewise self-confidence can also can be learned and built on. One way of developing our personal skill and confidence is through meditation, which means identifying one’s self through concentration.  I do not want to go into the details of meditation and its effects now.  We might probably at a later stage consider discussing this topic.  For now let’s revert to confidence. 
What is self-confidence?  We can come up with different definitions for self-confidence.  Is it about speaking in public, or being confident in social situations, or being assertive on getting what you want?  I think it is more than all these?  I think it’s about us being in control of ourselves.  When we lose our control we lose our confidence.  And this happens when our sub-conscious mind stops asking right questions to prompt our conscious mind to ask wise questions.  Self-confidence will help us to be positive and realistic and to trust in our abilities.  People who are not self-confident will always wait for approvals or be dependent on others for making decisions.
Please note that being confident does not mean that we will be successful in all subjects and in all situations.  If we are able to analyze our own aptitude and altitude, we will realize the areas where we can perform.  And the best way to do this is to ask ourselves, whether we want take up a task or not.  If we are confused we should not hesitate to contact a good counselor.  There are different studies which gives ways to improve self-confidence.  Some of the main areas I found interesting and useful are: Keep smiling and speak slowly as it will make ourselves feel better and definitely increase self-confidence. Make eye contact while maintaining a smile and it will reinforce our feelings and confidence.  Hold to our own standards and forget other people’s standards.  Remember that however hard we try, we cannot always satisfy others.  Try and present ourselves as well as possible: our physical appearance will have great impact in our confidence levels while interacting with others.  Be honest and try and keep calm in unexpected situations.  Think positive!
Remember the quote by Virginia Woolf an English author and writer: “Without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle”.
In the coming days we will try to discuss how the power of questions or art of questioning works in different situations in our daily life.  Until then enjoy and have a wonderful day!

Wise Questions

The idea is not to find out what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  The idea is to find out the path to decision making.  How can we make a decision or judgment or reach a conclusion on a person or a subject?  Is there a way to do this?  I think there is one.  It’s simple! It’s just how you ask a question.  It is the art of questioning!
In the previous article we discussed about categorizing ‘Good’ and ‘Bad’ and we had so many questions to think about to find out an answer.  Now the big question is – Did I ask the right questions to find the answer?  Did we find an answer at all?  I think it still need be discussed, perhaps at a later stage.  For now let’s talk about the power of questions
Our decision on a person or a subject is mostly influenced by personal perceptions, which are derived from the answers to our own questions.  So what matters is the way we frame these question. In most situations the biggest mistake (or lets also call it as the Err….The Human Error), is that we tend to ask wrong questions.  As the popular saying ‘Garbage in, Garbage out’, this Human Error may lead to a wrong perception leading to a wrong judgment which is the result of a wrong answer received for a wrong question.  So our judgment or conclusion can be wrong if we do not take proper care in asking the right question before making a decision. 
So how do we ask the right question?  Different views on the power of questions have been discussed and debated.  We need to be clever.  We need to be wise. We need to be logical.  We need to feel emotions!
Remember the saying by famous Egyptian writer and the Nobel Prize winner, Naguib Mahfouz: “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers.  You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions”.  Yes! This is the key factor.   We need to be wise to frame the right question.    We need to train ourselves to be wise!  All human brains have the power to engage and shift mindsets.  So the best way to learn the art of questioning is to train ourselves to ask good and strong questions.  We need to start within ourselves.  We all go through different phases of questions every day.  In fact we start the questioning sessions from the moment we wake up and carry it through the day until we rest our body and mind.  We realize some of them and others go un-identified. 
How does this happen.  We will get an answer if we spend some time thinking backward into our growing phases from being a baby to the point we have reached now.  We have been learning on a daily basis by gathering information which is in reality answers to so many questions we have come across.  And where do we get the answers from?  We all go through conscious and sub-conscious questions.  Let’s think about the routine things we do from the point we wake up in the morning: brushing our teeth, taking a shower, and getting dressed up, having breakfast, going out, evening shopping, returning home and all.  Each activity is being performed as a result of the answers to the sub-conscious questions.  The answer for each question is being performed as our action.  But if we go and ask ourselves standing in front of a mirror, we will perhaps realize it better.  
Just try asking: ‘why did I take a shower today?  Why did I wear the black shoes today? Why did I choose to wear a white shirt today? Why did I buy chocolates today?  We will realize that every conscious action we had performed were answers to the many sub-conscious questions which came into our mind.  Answers to the sub-conscious questions are transformed into action.  There is always a question in our sub-conscious mind, at every point in our steps, prompting for the next step.  When our sub-conscious mind stops asking the right question, we either end-up doing wrong things or take wrong steps or become totally blank doing nothing.  So it is very important to keep our minds strong and focused to ensure right question is prompted at every stage of sub-conscious questioning.  This will also help us to develop the skill of asking wise questions in our conscious stage.    After reading this part I believe we all should and I hope we all will spend few minutes to ask ourselves few questions and let me know if you feel any difference.  We haven’t reached to the power of questions yet!! We will continue…….

'Good' and 'Bad'

I have heard and keep hearing many people saying:  ‘He is a good friend of mine’ or ‘He is a bad person’ and sometimes ‘You be a good boy’ and so on, which triggers the thought of how we can classify individuals into a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category.  This does not limit to individuals.  It is also applicable to places, things, and/or any subject that a human can think about.  There are always at least two views on every topic, which by interpretations fall into the two general categories: ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  I do not disagree on some of the neutral approaches, which I believe mostly happens when ones mind is in a stage of false doubt or uncertainty to classify into these categories, which ultimately tends to make a decision based on convenience. 
What is actually ‘good’?  Is it an acceptable statement; an acceptable philosophy; an acceptable facility; an acceptable tradition; an acceptable ideology; an acceptable system; or an acceptable place and so on?  If so, what would be acceptable to you?  Is it just a matter of comfort; meeting your expectation; agreeing to your views; accepting your statements; providing you satisfaction and so on?  Will the opposites be bad?  Can you justify your conclusions for ‘good’? 
Whom do we classify in the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories?  Is it a friend; or an associate; or a person whom you know personally; or a person who is popular in some fields; or a leader; or an inventor; or a social worker; or anybody who comes into your memory or is it everyone?
What are the factors that persuade you to classify an individual into a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category? Is it your personal view on the person; a disagreement with the person; your emotions to that person; your expectations from the person; or a combination of several factors?
Recently I happened to read an article on ‘The Erring Human’ by Captain Samir Kohli, which highlights some of the major damages caused by Human Errors.  It says: “To Err is Human.  To blame it on somebody else is even more Human”.  The same principle comes into mind when thinking about human classifications.  It is just the most common human tendency – to find mistakes in others , blame others and classify others and finally interpreting  individuals/situations into ‘good’ or ‘bad’ categories.
This has been the case since human evolution and has been adopted by all philosophies, beliefs, religions, and teachings.  This is when ones religion becomes bad for others.  One’s philosophy or ideology is not acceptable to others etc.  There is no real natural and universal good or bad.  It’s just an interpretation and expression of one’s view.
Human by nature is neither ‘good’ nor ‘bad’.  It is their tendency to respond to the environment and analyzing situations by prioritizing personal needs and expectations; emphasizing personal thoughts and beliefs and finally interpreting to situations in a most convenient manner, which finally tends him to make decisions on others as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  Let’s agree that this is just a simple human nature, a simple human error and not the reality.  Will continue……..