Do We Stop To Appreciate And Smell The Roses?

I bet that most of us would say, “who has got the time?”

I had gone out to the nearby jogger’s park earlier this evening and as I was nearing it, two stunningly charming children were coming towards me. They were accompanied by their mother who was obviously very proud her children. I stopped and had a little chat with the youngsters and with some prodding from the mother, they told me all about their school, what they were doing now, now that is the summer vacation and many other things that were obviously of importance to them.

I decided that I had taken enough of their time and was about to bid them goodbye when the mother asked me why I had stopped and chatted with the children and whether I had grandchildren of my own. I replied in the negative and added that I just felt the need to connect to such delightful children. The younger child, must have been about five, presented me with a rose and said that she too had stopped to spend some time in their garden and she had got her mother to get her a rose to carry with her. I accepted the rose, thanked her for being so generous and parted company.

Since then, I have been thinking about this simple matter and went back to couple of years ago when a Washington Post article had caught my attention. Please spare some time and read this totally believable yet interesting article.

Are you like those commuters not bothered to stop and listen, or to stop to watch and smell a rose in bloom? Where are you going?

Friendship And Growing Old.

The following beautiful note was sent to me as a ‘forward’ by a classmate of mine, who I have not met for over forty two years. We are however in touch by group mail.

I surmise that this piece of writing is a letter in reply to some question about friendship and growing old that someone has asked the author. I get asked such questions quite often by young people who are amazed at the length of some of my friendships and how I can keep in touch with so many of them even now. They also wonder how oldies like us can still be playfully friendly. I have saved this writing to use to reply to such queries that are sure to continue to be addressed to me. I hope that you enjoy this as much as I did and do.

I am truly grateful to Sudesh for sending me this and to whoever is the author for this magnificent piece of writing that I wish I had the talent to write.

“I would never trade my amazing friends, my wonderful life, and my loving family for less gray hair or a flatter belly.

As I’ve aged, I’ve become kinder to myself, and less critical of myself. I’ve become my own friend.

I don’t chide myself for eating that extra cookie, or for not making my bed, or for buying that silly cement gecko that I didn’t need, but looks so avant- garde on my patio.

I am entitled to a treat, to be messy, to be extravagant.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon; before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging.

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4 AM and sleep until noon?

I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 60 &70’s, and if I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love … I will.

I will walk the beach in a swim suit that is stretched over a bulging body, and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They, too, will get old.
I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And I eventually remember the important things.

Sure, over the years my heart has been broken!
How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one, or when a child suffers, or even when somebody’s beloved pet gets hit by a car?

But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect.

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to have my hair turning gray, and to have my youthful laughs
be forever etched into deep grooves on my face.
So many have never laughed, and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive.

You care less about what other people think.

I don’t question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong.

So, to answer your question, I like being old.

It has set me free. I like the person I have become.

I am not going to live forever, but while I am still here, I will not waste time lamenting what could have been, or worrying about what will be.

And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it).



Health Check.

I was introduced to this site by my blog friend Mitch.

He spoke so highly of the site and also challenged his readers to take the test. I did and am glad that I did. While there is nothing seriously wrong with me, the advise that I have received after I answered the test, is very reassuring and based on common sense.

I strongly recommend my readers to visit the site and check out for themselves.

Maintaining A Library.

Post retirement, my one indulgence is reading. I am a prodigious reader and buy books all the time. Every time I come across a reference to some book in something that I read, even some comment or a post in a blog, I immediately send for it. Mostly, I buy online as, the book is delivered at my doorstep and I find that the cost including the shipping costs comes to be lower than if I were to go into town to buy the book.

My collection, sizable as it was when I retired has been building up at a nice clip. Since I stay in an apartment however, space to store is a problem. I therefore have a periodic clean up and get rid of books that I do not intend reading or referring to again. These are mostly novels and short stories.

I have a mini library near my bed, where all the new unread books are kept till I move them one at a time to the drawing room where I read during the daytime. From there, the books move to the actual library, which is located at the landing of the first floor. A space had originally been created for a wardrobe, where I have made a library.

To add to my own collection, my son too is an avid reader and since he too buys books, mostly fiction, the library is quite a substantial one.

The problem with the library however is the need to keep the books dusted and clean and the shelves too cleaned and aired. Once in every few months I remove all the books from the shelves, rearrange them by subject and after dusting and wiping them, arrange them in a systematic manner all over again. With frequent removal, replacement and additions, it gets disorganized all over again in a few months and so the exercise has to be repeated.

In carrying out this exercise, I inevitably take the help of our handyman Yakob, about who I have already written in one of my earlier posts. He removes all the books in stacks, to the floor of one of the bedrooms upstairs, and cleans each book without disturbing the stack. This helps in rearranging the books back on the shelves as mostly the stacks are in a logical order.

The forenoon of yesterday was our day for carrying out this exercise. All went well, with a couple of breaks for tea and after about three hours, we completed the task.

This was when, for the first time in twenty years, Yakob decided to ask me about the library. He asked me, if I had read all the books. I answered in the affirmative. He asked, if I read them more than once. I answered, yes, some and mostly, only to refer to some passage or the other. Very few books were read fully the second time. He then asked me whether, it would be possible that most of the books now rearranged in the library would never be touched by me again. In all honesty, I had to answer yes. He then asked me, why in that case, I don’t give them away to someone who will read them, as I had given away many of the books on Management and Economics, and like some of the books that I had discarded during the current exercise too to be given away.

I am yet to come up with an answer. I have promised him that I shall give him an answer after careful reflection.

I am sure that many of you, my dear readers are also avid readers who collect books. How would you answer Yakob, if you had been asked this question?

Losers can get lucky! A tested guide to change your luck!

I was complaining to a friend that I am not very lucky with raffles, lotteries, lucky-dips etc to get away from a persistent attempt by him to get me to buy a raffle ticket. His persistence paid off but, although I did not win, I got reflecting, and did some research on being unlucky. Here is what I found, an old email from another friend. I quote it in its entirety.

The loser’s guide to getting lucky
By Professor Richard Wiseman
University of Hertfordshire

Why do some people get all the luck while others never get the breaks they
deserve? A psychologist says he has discovered the answer. Ten years ago, I
set out to examine luck.
I wanted to know why some people are always in the right place at the right
time, while others consistently experience ill fortune.
I placed advertisements in national newspapers asking for people who felt
consistently lucky or unlucky to contact me.
Hundreds of extraordinary men and women volunteered for my research and,
over the years, I have interviewed them, monitored their lives and had them
take part in experiments.

Professor Wiseman’s top tips

The results reveal that although these people have almost no insight into
the causes of their luck, their thoughts and behaviour are responsible for
much of their good and bad fortune.
Those who have succeeded at anything and don’t mention luck are kidding

Larry King
Take the case of seemingly chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently
encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not.
I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to
differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.
I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look
through it and tell me how many photographs were inside.

Professor Wiseman’s formula came too late for some…
I had secretly placed a large message halfway through the newspaper saying:
“Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250.”
This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more
than two inches high.
It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended
to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.
Everything in life is luck

Donald Trump
Unlucky people are generally more tense than lucky people, and this anxiety
disrupts their ability to notice the unexpected.
As a result, they miss opportunities because they are too focused on looking
for something else.
They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss
opportunities to make good friends.
They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job
advertisements and miss other types of jobs.
Self-fulfilling prophecies
Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there
rather than just what they are looking for.
Luck is believing you’re lucky

Tennessee Williams
My research eventually revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via
four principles.
They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky
decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies
via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms
bad luck into good.
Towards the end of the work, I wondered whether these principles could be
used to create good luck.
I asked a group of volunteers to spend a month carrying out exercises
designed to help them think and behave like a lucky person.
Dramatic results
These exercises helped them spot chance opportunities, listen to their
intuition, expect to be lucky, and be more resilient to bad luck.
I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have
of it

Thomas Jefferson
One month later, the volunteers returned and described what had happened.
The results were dramatic: 80% of people were now happier, more satisfied
with their lives and, perhaps most important of all, luckier.
The lucky people had become even luckier and the unlucky had become lucky.
Finally, I had found the elusive “luck factor” .

Here are Professor Wiseman’s four top tips for becoming lucky:

Listen to your gut instincts – they are normally right.

Be open to new experiences and breaking your normal routine.

Spend a few moments each day remembering things that went well.

Visualize yourself being lucky before an important meeting or telephone
call. Luck is very often a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Success – Dos and Donts II

I listed the elements that go into “Success” in yesterday’s post with the proviso that I shall elaborate today and I do so now.

PLAN while others are playing

It is simply amazing that this simple rule is hardly on the agenda of people who want to succeed. ‘Plan your work and work your plan’ needs to be drummed into our psyche if we need to be successful. It is obvious that this requires the top most priority, yet it does not. The message is loud and clear, you can play or plan while your competition is playing.

STUDY while others are sleeping

I remember my school and college days when this used to make the difference between the students who consistently scored high grades and those who did not. The former studied as number one priority and played or relaxed or slept as low priority activities. The same observation can be made about real life situations when we are grown up.

DECIDE while others are delaying.

Being indecisive is a perennial problem with most of us. We worry about losing or failing and hope that by deferring a decision, the problem itself will disappear. If you see around us, the most successful people are inevitably decisive. They will also make mistakes, but will shrug it off and keep moving.

PREPARE while others are daydreaming.

This is a corollary of what we have seen about studying when others are sleeping. This advice talks about exactly the same thing except that it expands the scope of activities to include all that one needs to do in any undertaking.

BEGIN while others are procrastinating

This advice is a corollary to being decisive. Being decisive is not enough. One has to act on whatever decisions one takes. If action is not taken, the decisions will remain just that. Here again, due to fear of failure one tends to postpone action hoping that the situation will resolve by itself. Such procrastinating will not achieve anything leave alone lead to success.

WORK while others are wishing.

Sitting with a fishing line on the bank of a river, will not be enough to catch fish. You need to bait the hook, look for likely places where fish may be feeding etc. So, with all the wishing for success one may have, unless one is willing to work towards a sought goal, nothing is likely to be achieved.

SAVE while others are wasting.

It is the first thing that anyone does in turning around any loss making enterprise. Cut all fat and become lean and mean. This is what saving instead of wasting means. All resources are scarce. Wasting resources of any kind is a crime. In all walks of life, we need to look at economizing, in effort, resources, action, and speech. Such economizing results in maximizing the effectiveness of all inputs that goes into any endeavor and will provide the platform for successful outcomes.

LISTEN while others are talking.

Information is also a vital resource. By talking you are wasting your energy, dissipating knowledge and missing opportunities to learn and gather more resources. You will do exactly the opposite while listening.

SMILE while others are frowning.

We need other people to be part of lives to achieve anything. We cannot individually do everything and achieve desired results. If this is accepted, we need to project an aura of joy and hope rather than dismay, stress and dread. Frowning achieves the latter while smiling achieves the former. People will cooperate effectively with each other when there is a cheerful and conducive atmosphere. It is therefore vital that we project such an atmosphere by smiling.

COMMEND while others are criticizing.

Following what we have seen about smiling, it is natural that when we are dependent on others to achieve whatever that we need to. We need them to be motivated to participate willingly with us and this is more likely to happen when we commend others rather than criticize them. If we criticize, they are likely to switch off and stop taking initiatives and play safe. This will be counter productive. When we commend them on the other hand, they get enthused and motivated to do more and better.

PERSIST while others are quitting

We come to the last of the advices, which is the most powerful of the whole lot. Most failures on record are due to just the failure to persist with one’s efforts when most needed. How often have we heard of failures just because some one gave up at a critical time? It is persistent effort and not any other factor that will result in enduring success. The use of other elements like strength, intelligence etc may achieve short-term results. It is persistence however that will produce long term and productive results.