I fu** up all the time!

I am a compulsive reader and thinker. I read a ton of books and articles. Self-help is a genre I have been bumping into fairly frequently over last four years. I noticed that all those articles mention how the authors had a terrible life long time ago and now they are all zen. (What’s up with that shapely girl doing yoga on a mountaintop?! ) Yes, some of those articles and books are written so well that you feel like pumping your fist in the air – “Yes, I can do it too!” But after a while, it gets annoying.

Has everyone figured their life out already? Is everyone out there so normal and happy now? Why doesn’t anyone write about the fuck-ups they are making or the struggles they are facing right now?

Then, I looked at my own writings and I figured that I am guilty of the same. I also talk about past hiccups, what I have learned from those and how I am applying it now. So far so good but there is a lot that I don’t talk about – I don’t talk that it is always not hunky dory. There are a lot of moments when I feel confused. Moments when I feel very very down. Till this date.

Notice that I am not even talking about facebook and the posts by your friends that make you think – ‘Yeah sure, that is all you do in life – visiting Bali and eating organic food!’ Sigh, that is what I posted but anyway, you get the point! Has going to Bali made me the zen queen? Haha, far from it.

I fuck things up all the time. I do question what I am doing fairly often.

So, I talked to friends and asked them if they go through the same and guess what – 100% of them go through the same up and downs. They are not feeling like their facebook profile picture all the time. I knew it! And I have interviewed successful entrepreneurs (for another book) and almost everyone told me about their fuck-ups (which makes me wonder if this is what they are ready to confess, then what is the one they are not even telling me about!). These are people revered for their business execution and intelligence and they fucked up many things. Of course, those fuck-ups don’t get posted on the facebook.

src: siliconvalleydebug.org

And I can bet that all the inspiring people, those self-help authors go through these swings as well. Just like our life is comprised of bigger ups and downs (a sine wave instead of a straight line), if we zoom into a specific period, that is also comprised of smaller ups and downs – such that even within a minute, our emotions are constantly fluctuating. Don’t worry, that is all the math for now.

Fuck-ups are a part of life and, I think, very real ones. Everyone has their share of fuck-ups. Ok, maybe not Dalai Lama. While it would be very good for the world if we all lessened our frequency of fuck-ups (I mean electing Trump is more than fuck-up – it is a crime, so don’t get me started on that), let us not go into depression over those fuck-ups. Did you date with a poor sense of judgment? Alright. Did you take up a horrible job? Haha. Did you eat so many candies you need to go to the ER? Jeez. Did you take a gym’s annual membership and never went there? Lazy ass. But then, so what? Get over it! Be mentally ready for the next fuck-up.

While I am all supportive of fuck-ups, the problem happens when they get all cascading. Like one fuck-up leading to another, making you feel so shitty, you do another fuck-up. Let us not do that, ok? Let us keep it reasonable – how about one career fuck-up a year, a relationship fuck-up in 3 years, a Trump fuck-up in a lifetime? If you are doing more, then I have bad news for you – you might have problems. And if any fuck-up makes you feel depressive or suicidal, then quit listening to me and go visit a therapist! Right now.

Feeling down today? Great! The wait for next feeling-up day is half done. You know nothing can last forever – neither your ice cream nor your heartbreak. Either you will run out of money or one day you will pick your lazy ass to the gym. You will be alright. We will all be alright.

So, yes, I am doing my share of fuck-ups and I sincerely hope you are doing yours. Don’t disappoint me. Love.

Tretar 24, You are the Universe

[This post is the last post in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

A year and 23 posts later, it is time for me to write the 24th. No doubt I shall put a piece of my heart into it.

It is not happy people who are thankful but it is the thankful people who are happy. On that note, I am thankful for every experience, travel, and moment this year. Good or bad, it is what life is about and it is about how we respond to things.

I would like to share this insightful cockroach theory by Sundar Pichai

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.
She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice,she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.
Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.
Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.
The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior? If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story: I understood, I should not react in life. I should always respond. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

To this point of ‘it is my response that matters’, I turn to Rumi-

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.Rumi

Katau Sunset

I recently visited few pristine places in a northeastern state of India – Sikkim. The Himalayas (including Kanchenjunga) line the landlocked state that borders with China, Tibet and Bhutan on 3 sides. The sheer size of Himalayas around there makes you feel that nature and universe are so big and you are a glorifying speck of that same universe. Call it a sweet coincidence but my book ended with a conversation in Himalayas and so did my year. This quote of Rumi and this image of the gorgeous peaks remind me that nothing I do or react shall belittle who I am. Whenever you are tempted to react angrily or shout or be mean, ask yourself if it befits the person God has made you to be? Whenever you are ready to throw in the towel, ask yourself if you are really that fragile. I bet a booming voice will answer you back – ‘You are better than that. Heck, you are created by the same hand that created this beautiful world and life. Justify that creation, act as per your stature.’

Be gracious, just like the universe. Be your magnificent self that you were created to be. In storms of your life, stand tall. Don’t let anything or anyone reduce you for you are born to be grand and may you always remember that.

A very very happy new year to you!

Tretar 21, Revealing your Truth

[This post is the twenty-first in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

At one point, I was struggling to get on with my book. Nothing I wrote seemed good enough. And I remembered a quote by some great writer, he said – ‘write the truest sentence you know’. Somehow, that was when a very dear character in my book was born. This excerpt is from the Conversation of Purpose and the character is Satyapoorna the fulfiller of truth. Truth, like the rising sun, can erase all darkness. Have you ever wondered, what’s your truth? what’s your purpose?

sunrise_hawaii_small

‘Hi Meera, how are you?’
‘I am very well, thanks.’
‘My name is Satyapoorna, the fulfiller of truth,’ the woman added with the trace of a smile.
‘Nice to meet you. Your home is very simple and empty.’ ‘Truth needs no adornments, does it?’
‘No. And you can help me understand the truth?’
‘Well, I am your own truth. I am the truth that lies within you but is still to be revealed. So what I tell to anyone depends on what lies within her and how much is she capable of understanding.’
‘I’m sorry but I don’t understand. What is my truth? Isn’t truth absolute? How can it vary from person to person?’
‘That is what you think but truth comes from knowledge and knowledge is inherent in everyone. When we say we know, we simply mean we have discovered that piece of knowledge that already lay covered within our soul. We have the infinite library of the universe in our own minds. Newton did not discover gravitation from some external flash of knowledge, it was all there in his mind. Some are able to tap it better and others not so much.’
Meera was taken in by the novel concept propounded by the wise lady in front of her. ‘What is my truth? What can I know?’
For the first time, Satyapoorna laughed. ‘You cannot expect me to unleash the infinite knowledge in a flash but the gist is simple. You know the truth once you understand the illusion. What remains after you remove the illusion is the only truth.’

Nistha Tripathi, Seven Conversations

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this full conversation in the book, it was like an act of mental cleansing. Hope you will enjoy it. To read the rest, please check my book (which is now available on Amazon (paper and kindle, India and US), Flipkart and Crossword).

P.S. This picture is of the most magnificent sunrise I have seen in Hawaii.

Happy Diwali 2014

Dear blog readers,

I have been blogging since 8 years now and it seems incredible that this blog has not only continued but grown with your love. I wish you all a very Happy Diwali!

Celebrate it noiselessly or noisefully, crackerless or crackerful, sweetless or full of sweets – the point is: Enjoy to your heart’s content. Drop the work and live in the moment. Spend time with your family, compliment your Mom on the lovely snacks she made for you, compliment your sister and bhabhi on the beautiful rangolis they create, light some fuljhadis with your Dad and sons, call your good friends and most importantly thank God for all the love He showers on you everyday.

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May your world be always full of lights and colors.

Love,
Nistha

Tretar 5, the Song of the Quiet

[This post is the fifth in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

I am a loner, there’s no secret about it. Private. Solitary. But I don’t remember a single moment in my life when I felt I was bored. No, its not a hyperbole. I don’t know boredom because I have always had myself to turn inwards to when there was nothing or no one else. I’m an Introvert and happy at that.

Tretar5-introversion

I was going to write about solitude when I picked this photograph. But, I wanted to look at it more objectively instead of romanticizing it. The fact is I thrive on solitude because I’m an introvert whereas an extrovert might detest it. It doesn’t make an extrovert any less wiser. But, it doesn’t make me, the introvert, any lesser either. The sad part is the importance we are given about blending in and being sociable which somehow has become a synonym of extroversion. This post is for all the introverts out there who might have struggled to blend in at some point of life. Do you remember the time –

    1. When you were forced to participate in a school play, so you found yourself standing on the stage in a tree costume and you just wanted the play to end
    2. When you were ‘encouraged’ to mingle with other children in your parents’ social gatherings or visit those relatives who kept questioning the hell out of you and you just wished you could get back home to your favorite book
    3. When you were were supposed to get good at public speaking in college by standing in front of so many people and you would rather discuss what mattered to you one on one with people you were comfortable with
    4. When you were supposed to prepare for group discussions and the more aggressive you could get mattered. You wished you could clear it somehow so that you can show your real self in the personal interviews
    5. When your popularity was judged by the number of friends and strangers in your birthday party at midnight whereas you would have been much happier with a quiet getaway with your loved one
    6. When you were under the pressure to ask questions in team meetings to impress your superiors and you would rather send your concerns passively over an email
    7. When you were judged by how many bars and networking events you visited at Business School and you just wanted to get some sleep

The real key is to understand that introversion is not awkwardness and while it is great to learn to be more companionable, there is no need to prove ourselves by the standards of extroversion. It is time to accept your strengths and do your best in those rather than living someone else’s life and struggling in it. While the world continues to celebrate outspokenness and people who can initiate handshakes and debates, it still needs people who can tap their internal fire and create the masterpieces of art and science. Do it your own way and do it happily.

There’s zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas.Susan Cain

Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts. We discouraged the inner journey, the quest for a center. So we lost our center and have to find it again. Anaïs Nin

Some people would laugh on this – what center? And may be there’s nothing but how about if there is? Even a tiny nucleus of some indefinable energy that is resting within us. Something that is driving the whole outer Universe, something that we connect to while meditating? That leads me to one of the Mahavakyas (great saying) of the UpanishadsAham Brahmasmi (I am Divine). I wouldn’t elaborate much on it here as I cover it in Seven Conversations and I would rather have you read it there.

I feel like I have been given this time to live and I want to spend it on only the stuff I absolutely love or that is important to me. I don’t mind being in pain for something I love but I will not take the easy way out of faking stuff to blend in. I will not be a manager driving pointless meetings, I will not be forced into parties I don’t want to go, I will not indulge into smalltalk with people I am not interested in and I will not apologize for being quiet.

See this great TED talk on The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain