Tag Archives: blogger

Books To Ease an Anxious Soul

I’m prone to anxiety. I overthink, I react too quickly, I get upset. And then, I can get really upset and anxious.

I can’t control it because my thoughts get overwhelming. It’s a like a reactor that only goes in one direction. Once I start, I spiral. And when I do, a panic attack can last anywhere between 30 minutes to 7 hours.

It’s like I described in one of my spoken word poems. Here is just a quick description of what it feels like to me.

“ When your entire being opens into the darkness and loops about unending

when every flicker of light is seen with malice and hatred,

when every piece of your worth is measured against the white wall,

when your intelligence and happiness give up on you

That is the beginning of an anxiety attack.

When your worlds collapse onto each other, repeatedly

When you are burning yourself to find your light,

When your mirror stops seeing you for a long, long time

When every reason is made an excuse

That is the duration of your anxiety attack.”

 

To sum it up as light-heartedly as I can – it’s not fun. It’s obvious then that I need ways to cope with it. One way for me is by reading.

I read as much as I can. It’s still not enough, but it’s a start.

And it was while I was reading to heal myself, I realized maybe someone else can benefit from my reading list. I’ve limited it to 5 books so that it doesn’t get overwhelming.

Here goes –

  1. Presence – Amy Cuddy
  2. The Big Red Book of Rumi – Coleman Barks
  3. Flow – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  4. The Secret – Rhonda Byrne
  5. The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

I’ve included the Goodreads excerpts of the books below, in case you want to know a little about them.

Continue reading

On Tattoos and Hijabs

Whenever I imagine calling all my close friends for a party and putting all my friends under the same roof, in the same room, my mind goes into overdrive. Plagued with an overactive imagination, my life plays out like an elaborate broadway show or a high budget Karan Johar movie, and this one scenario seems like the plausible climax beyond which I’m not really sure how the movie will go.

Some friends would be indifferent, some shy. Some overbearing, some withdrawn. Some would be the life of the party and some would prefer to go home to a book or a drink. Together all my friends would make for a very interesting, albeit emotionally charged party.

I’m not one to hang out in big, gregarious crowds. I prefer small, intimate groups. I’m picky about my friends and pickier still about my close friends. From becoming dancers to scientists, to supporting Trump, my friends have been there, done that. I don’t know how I know so many different kinds of people,  but I know why – because, without them, I would be stuck in my tiny version of reality.

Our reality is limited. We extend our reality only to what we think we know and can understand. It’s a catch 22 really. What we don’t understand we don’t know and what we don’t know, we don’t understand. So where do we begin to break out of our tiny realities?

I hear a lot of discussions regarding “learning moments” and every time I hear the phrase I cringe. The notion that we have to seek out learning moments is as absurd as that of women being a weaker sex.

Learning moments isn’t a physics classroom wherein you only learn physics. Learning moments happen when you open your eyes and mind to two notions –

  1. I don’t know everything
  2. I can always learn something new

Both of these realities have been shunned in our MBA driven society where one has to know everything. While many people may know a lot of things, many of them don’t comprehend or analyze or understand these things.

To truly learn, one simply needs to make more friends, to make different friends, to make yourself uncomfortable and vulnerable, to be wrong, to be correct, to feel safe, and to feel challenged. A learning moment can come from a YouTube video or an Albert Camus book. A learning moment can come in the kitchen or at an IPL game.

Often, a learning moment comes when you least expect it, from someone you least expect. Make friends who are different from you, physically and emotionally. Meet more than one person of a ‘type’ and you’ll see that there is no such thing as a ‘type’. Tattoos, hijabs, miniskirts. They don’t make the difference, you make the difference in your head. Meet at least three people of a ‘type’. Then four, then five. You may like only one, but you may not like the first one.

Don’t let an earring or a tattoo or a hijab stop you. Move beyond them.

Becoming You and The Price The Indian Youth Pays

Life is weird. It has no rules, no regulations, no patterns, no surety. Yes, we have cultural norms and we have country legislations. We have rules in families and see patterns among people. But life by itself has no such thing. It’s bigger than all of us. The present norms today eventually die and the future eventually becomes the present. Outliers change the world and some to be world innovators are lost in the obscurity of life.

The only thing remaining thus is – now. And in that now is you. You. Your story, your life, your pattern, your rules, your regulations. But how often do you follow them? How often do you believe in your brilliance and follow your heart? Often, we don’t.

We get caught up in the definitions set by others. We get caught up in someone else’s definitions of intelligence, and life. We see things as others want us to, which isn’t bad because it’s all we’ve been taught. It only becomes ‘bad’ when we fail to see things differently and blindly follow what we’ve been taught.

And then, if all that wasn’t enough, our bubbles are bursting. To some extent at least. While our virtual bubbles are getting larger and larger, so is the need to belong. As much as we want to stand out, we also try to fit in. If we stand out too much, we get ostracized for it. Norms keep society in check. And fitting in keeps people in check.

But push that too much and you’ve chained people. If not physically, definitely mentally. Studying in the United States I realized that the chains are very different in India and America.

In India, the chains are everywhere, on everything. How you dress, what you say, when you say it, how much you respect someone. Good or bad, is not being questioned (though it will be in another post) the freedom one has, is being analyzed. The Indian Youth have very little freedom. Right from the beginning, we are taught to second-guess our opinion. We are told that our opinions are inferior to those older than us.

45sjajsjarq-jose-martin.jpg

We are taught, that in order to be loved, and welcomed, we need to fit in. We need to be liked by others. Not just our families, but even outsiders. With such an upbringing, it’s no surprise that when we young Indians go abroad, we find ourselves lost. We come from a home where everything is measured, and every move monitored and go to a place where everything is fluid. This change in how we live our lives puts enormous pressure on young minds.

Now we have to figure everything out. We have to figure out who we are, where we belong and often have to do it in a mold that our parents approve off. If not, then we become “too big for our boots” or are accused of being disrespectful and rude.

Then how do we balance it?

Becoming who we are, and between who they want us to be? Do we follow the century-old law of hypocrisy? Where we sneak out in a long skirt over the mini skirt? Or do we begin the painful process of changing those who taught us how the world works?

These questions of who we are and where we belong, don’t live in isolation. Your thought processes are not singular. We all face them. As a motivational speaker, I did too. Balancing who I am and who I am expected to be was a carefully calculated act and then became a habit and today it’s become who I am.

But the process is brutal. Between being monitored 18/7 to being free 24/7. It’s not your body that gets hit, it’s your mind. Your mind suddenly finds itself in the pits of painful loneliness and your center, or core gets lost. 

The funny part is, it happens to most of us, if not all of us at some point in our lives. If you’re lucky, it happens when you’re in college, if not, it hits you in the gut on the night of your 31st birthday.

qzwzlokhvxe-goashape.jpg

What I did? Well, that’s a long conversation, and I will cover it piece by piece. But know that, for now, for this post – keep doing what you have to do. Keep being uncomfortable. Keep challenging who you are. Grow from who you were yesterday.
Get comfortable being lonely, learn to enjoy yourself, your company. Read more. Even if it’s fantasy. Find a way to calm your anxious heart. Learn to escape every once in a while. Cut down on alcohol, unless you actually enjoy it. Look for solutions, not reasons. Find one friend who makes you think. If you’re lucky, you’ll find two.

And most of all – remind yourself that you’re okay. You are okay. You are okay. You may not be great yet. But you’re okay. And that is a great place to start.

—-

Let’s figure out life together. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or subscribe to my blog to get email notifications of new posts.

 

 

How Can You Be Persistent?

Some things are easy. Doing them every day is easy. They become a routine and we don’t even question them. Writing, however, is not one of those things. Writing is easy when it isn’t careful. When writing is a form of telling instead of showing, it becomes easy, or easier. However, when you write in order to show the world how you think, writing ceases to be about conveying a better opinion or about expressing petty differences, writing becomes a way to introduce people to your mind, your thought processes, and of course, your being.

This new year I decided to write every working day. And I have been. But it’s hard. It takes time, effort, and considerable cognitive resources. Writing is fun when the ideas just flow onto the paper (or screen) and convey every thought that you wanted. It becomes a chore when your ideas take longer to express and harder to condense. Writing becomes a menace when the sentence doesn’t fit quite right or the word doesn’t seem exact. Now, no one is asking me to be perfect or write a Booker Prize piece nor do I expect myself to write the next ‘viral’ post, what I do expect, though, is excellence.

Excellence as a concept is fickle, but as an idea it’s magnificent.

The idea that I can be the best I’ve ever been at it, is exhilarating. It’s like the rush of sky diving, just without the cameras and the height. I may be better tomorrow, but today I’m better than yesterday and the day before and the month before that. Today, I’m the best I can be, as far as writing this piece is concerned. This piece, this idea, is excellent. And for now, that’s enough.

A lot of people have asked me what it means to persist.

This is what it means to persist. Writing for me, was easy, but then it wasn’t as good as it could be and probably will be in the future. When writing got hard, I learned more, I struggled more but I didn’t give up. To persist is to keep doing something even when it’s hard. To persist is to not stop. When you persist, you make time for whatever it is that you want to do.

To persist isn’t an abstraction, it’s a difficult reality.

When you persist, you’ll learn things you never knew before. When you continue to learn them, it’ll get difficult. What was once easy becomes convoluted. And that’s the beauty of persisting. You’ll change what you knew and alter everything you already know. In that way, you’ll grow.

Persisting is doing a little bit extra today than what you did yesterday.

Let’s Connect

If you resonated with anything I said or were inspired by the post, please share it and make sure to sign up to receive my posts by email!

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter

Image by Scott Webb

How to Believe In Yourself

Belief has had a bad reputation recently. Like Happiness, it’s the new kid on the block who is constantly bullied. Those who have it, are attacked for having it, those who don’t have it, attack it for being so difficult to attain. Belief, unlike confidence, is an abstract term. Belief is a spiritual term while confidence is a scientific term. We have a host of articles and websites devoted and dedicated to increasing one’s confidence. One of the most famous TED Talks was, in fact, on the role of confidence in a person’s life.

As confidence has slowly made its way to the best student in class, belief is still in detention. But it shouldn’t be. There are a lot of myths, if you may, surrounding belief. While confidence is known to be a learned skill, people believe that belief is an inherent trait. While confidence is a work in progress, belief is thought to be an instant process. While confidence is mouldable, people think belief is rigid.

That’s far from the truth. Believing in yourself is a process in which you begin to trust yourself more. Belief helps you fight off your doubts and stick to whatever you’ve chosen. It enables you to worry lesser and work harder without getting distracted by the world. Belief is a skill that shapes your thinking in a better direction, where better can be anything more positive than what you are feeling at a given moment in time.

Belief is a process of learning to accept your boundaries and then slowly pushing them further and further. While belief may have its roots in spirituality, it’s implications are seen in every sphere of life. Even research shows that out beliefs mold our thinking.

If you noticed (as I hope you did) that belief is essentially a thing that changes our thinking. It’s a process. It has its inception in spirituality, but it effects everyday life. And if you still haven’t made the connection (as I hadn’t till a while back) let me tell you – belief is nothing but confidence. 

Belief is a learned skill that needs to be honed and evaluated at every stage in life. Belief, like confidence, is a process that takes days, months, or even years to acquire. Belief isn’t just about thinking positively. It’s a lifestyle that includes learning to trust yourself more, of being open to change and failure. It’s a process in which you learn to pick up yourself after you fail, in which you keep going till you reach where you have to. Belief is internalizing confidence.  While confidence is a state of being, belief is when your thoughts are confident.  Confidence is a temporary phase. It’s your body language, your way of presenting who you are. Belief is a permanent part of you, it’s the way you think of yourself.

In order to believe in yourself more, you need to realize that it’s an ongoing process. While every day changes, so do your challenges and your thoughts. Belief also wavers. You need to remind yourself to believe and to validate your belief with previous successes. To believe more, you have to learn more about yourself at this very moment. To believe in an idea, for example, would mean-

  1. Doing your homework about the idea
  2. Asking and answering all the pertinent questions
  3. Making out an action plan for the idea
  4. And then, finally, running with it.

Believing in yourself is a similar process. To believe in yourself,

  1. See where you stand in life.
  2. Instead of doubting yourself, ask yourself how many doubts are valid and what you can do about those.
  3. Once you have an idea of what you need to do, make a plan and follow that action plan.
  4. Repeat.

Every day is a different day. Every day is a different challenge. And if you’re lucky, every day is a learning day. Believing in yourself isn’t easy. But as someone wise said – nothing worth having comes easy.

Let’s Connect

If you resonated with anything I said or were inspired by the post, please share it and make sure to sign up to receive my posts by email!

You can also connect with me on Facebook and Twitter

How to Make Friends as an Adult

So, you’ve made it to that point in your life. Half the people you know are married, the other half are in their jammies. You’re stuck in the middle. And it’s clearly time to make new friends, but unlike childhood, where everyone was extremely receptive and excited about making new friends, adulthood, or ‘Adulting’ can be quiet different. People have their voices now and their vices. They have certain preferences and certain needs.

While making friends was easy as children, it becomes considerably harder as we grow older. Children, on one hand, are nonjudgmental, they are straightforward. They seek out new experiences, they are tolerant of other people and are more open to making mistakes. They ask questions all the time and move into new groups constantly.

Adults, on the other hand, are less tolerant of others, and more insecure of their being. We are more guarded of ourselves. We have had enough experience to be wary of some people and to instantly love others. The fear of judgment is a constant thought and novelty in situations is rare. We’ve been there, done that, seen it all. By adulthood, we’ve covered almost all emotional situations, have felt all kinds of feelings and the situations begin to repeat. We know who we get along with, who we don’t. We can rationalize our preferences and often we stick to them.

And now, in our time and age, mid-20s are a time of confusion. Before 21–22 usually, one is still following a set pattern. Twelve years of school and three or four years of college. After 30 usually, most people are either married or have steady partners, or their lives have settled down in known patterns again. Work and home, work and home. But that eight years in-between college and set patterns of life, are years of uncertainty, of mistakes, of making new patterns, growing, and learning.

So, for most of us, we are in that middle phase — often single, not ready to marry, in our first or second jobs, working hard every day, constantly tired, yet not willing to while away our life in bed – category, where every day is a new challenge. We face unprecedented social and virtual pressures. Between doing what we have to and being who we want to, we also have to help ourselves grow and prepare for tomorrow.

We know that we have plenty Facebook friends, so we can always plan something out. But realistically, that doesn’t happen. We get busy, they get busy. We get lazy, they get lazy. While it’s always good to catch up with old friends, it becomes extremely important to meet new people outside of your circle so you can grow a person. Even Facebook now-a-days puts people in a sort of “bubble’ where you only interact with people and events and information that you agree with and will respond to.

Hence, in order to be aware and well informed of everything that is out there, it is important to find the information yourself. That means you have to challenge yourself, be uncomfortable, and get out of your comfort zone. Mark Twain, anyone?

And the best way to do that, is to make new friends. While there are many ways to make friends, and here are 5 simple ways to make friends as an adult-

Join a Meetup — Meetup, if you don’t know of it, is a social networking site for people who like to do stuff. Every kind of event is organized and planned by various people and all you have to do is sign up and sign in. Ever been interested in Archery? Join a meetup. From book clubs to bar hopping, Meetup has everything with no strings attached!

Go to Floor 3 — Unless you work on floor 3, then you go to floor 4. The idea is, if you’re working in a corporate building, you get stuck to our floors. You get so caught up being on our floor and the floor politics that unless you absolutely have to, you don’t budge. You get lost in how little your floor is and sometimes mistake that for the world. Your floor is not the world, it’s a tiny -tiny section of a tiny part of a big world. Go to the third floor. Meet new people, broaden your reach and your space in the world.

Take Numbers — Once you’ve met people, take people’s numbers and message them. Don’t add them on Facebook, don’t tweet at them. Message them, get used to the awkwardness of ‘Hey, wassup?’, ‘Hey, nothing much’ because in between those two messages a lot of good can be unveiled. Instead of ‘nothing much’ ask them their hobbies or if they’d like to go for lunch. Fix a time to meet up with them and then actually meet them.

Meet Your Neighbors- Say hi. Literally, that’s all it takes! You don’t even have to do more than that for the first few times. Then one day, when they return from your favorite store, that’s when you talk with them and strike a conversation with them! Okay, maybe they don’t go to your favorite store, but given enough time you are bound to find a conversation starter.

BePatient — Adult relationships take time, patience and effort. Unlike being children where politics and sex don’t matter, as we grow older, they do. Everything begins to matter, from political inclinations to a sense of humor. We become choosy (which is a good thing) and become more aware of who we want to be with and who we don’t want to be with. So, while no one is going to be a tailor made fit, there are going to be people who are close enough.

Making friends is a considerable investment. As Jim Rohn, a motivational speaker and self-help guru, says, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” It is obvious then, that finding the right kind of people becomes even more important.

If you resonated with my thoughts, please go over to my personal blog, sanahrizvi.com, to subscribe to my blog via email. No spam and nothing boring. Seriously.

Overcoming The Need to be Perfect In Order to be Great

There’s always one piece of art, book, or music composition that we think of when we think of the greats. From Mozart to Godin, we know and think of exceptional people to have been perfect in their art. However, the notion that exceptional people have to be perfect right from the get-go is misleading at best, and harmful at worst.

People’s idea that, to be great, their work needs to be perfect before it can be published or put into action, turns out to be the exact opposite of what they need to be doing in order to be great! Greatness, like perfection, is in retrospect, or, in the future. The only certainty for today is the work you put in now. So while you might work and produce a lot of pieces of your specific art, not each and every one would be exceptional.

One of the greatest American novelists, Henry James wrote over 20 novels, several hundred short stories, many biographies, travel writing, and literary criticism. The painter, Pablo Picasso is believed to have made over 50,000 pieces of work during his lifetime, averaging at least one a day and composer, Sebastian Bach composed over 1000 pieces of music.  However, all these artists are known only for a few of their works.

Seth Godin, one of the most well-known bloggers of our times and bestselling author of 18 books, writes one blog post every day. During an interview with Marie Forleo, he emphasized on the idea of doing something well enough every day, so that we can only get better at it!

Quantity leads to Quality

When you do something every day or do it many times, you can only get better at it because you are essentially practicing it. Be it writing or executing ideas or brainstorming creative ideas, the more you do it, the more you train yourself to get better at it. Hence, in order to create exceptional, revolutionary pieces of work, we need to first get into the habit of creating a lot of pieces!

Each Piece Markets Itself

When you create a lot of pieces, one step that ought to be common is maintaining a certain level of professionalism. While you are bound to improve in style, the basics must be solid. Each piece must be created as though it is the piece that all your other pieces will be judged on. If you’re a blogger, every blog post ought to be well written, spell checked, and free from errors before posting it.

As a writer and speaker, I make it a point to write on my blog every day and to speak at an event every month. The reason is not to get ‘famous’ or ‘rich’ but because I love doing it and because everytime I do it, I get a little better.

Whatever your calling, be prolific.

Don’t forget to sign up for my email list, for exclusive content and tips that I don’t share on my website!

5 Ways to Be More Confident in Public Speaking

Public speaking is slowly becoming one of the most desirable soft skills on the market. Every profession requires it in some form. Be it the conference room for a presentation or the TEDx stage to spread an idea, public speaking is an important facet of life. Having been a national level debater, given more than a dozen motivational talks and two TEDx talks, I’ve realized that while different settings require different approaches, some aspects are common to all forms of public speaking.

dsc_5844

My TEDx Talk At University of Manipal

The first rule of public speaking is confidence. That confidence can be built up with a little bit of help. And here’s 5 tips on how to be more confident in public speaking –

  1. Wait before you speak  – Starting to speak as soon as you stand on the stage can seem as though you are fumbling or nervous. As soon as you get onto the stage, take a moment of silence before you begin your talk. While it may seem awkward to you, the audience will often perceive it as confidence.
  2. Close your mouth fully – Every time you take a pause, even if it is to breathe, close your mouth fully. If you leave it open, it seems as though you have forgotten something, or are trying to remember something.
  3. Speak Slowly – Whatever your usual speed, try to speak slower than that (unless you’re really slow already!). It’s hard to resist the temptation to speak fast, but on stage, when one is nervous, one often tends to speak faster than when one is not nervous. Hence, on stage speak slower than you usually would.
  4. Pause – People take time to understand and digest what you’re saying, so take pauses in between new ideas.
  5. Ignore the frowns – Many times people look serious or frown or shake their heads. Ignore them completely. You don’t know what’s going on in their minds. So, instead of thinking negatively, ignore them.

Public speaking isn’t a talent, it’s a skill that can be worked on. Practice your speech and rehearse the above steps for your next talk!

sanah-mody-1

My Guest Talk at Mody University

Don’t forget to sign up for my email list, because I talk about extra tips and insights that I don’t share on my website!

The Kind of Music I Like

This is one question to which I’ve never had a satisfactory answer. I like music, no doubt. But when I’m asked to specify a ‘type’ it feels like someone asked me to pick between Nutella and Facebook memes. I just cannot!

I like music that makes me want to move to it. I like music where the lyrics and the music compliment the moods. Like sad songs should sound sad. If the music is happy but the lyrics are sad, I have issues with the music. I generally like anything I’ve heard often enough.

I dislike Metal, Hard Rock, Rap and anything with ‘hoe’ or ‘bitch’ in the lyrics.  I don’t particularly love Country, but I always find exceptions.

Unlike people who seek out new music, this is one aspect of my life where I really couldn’t care less. Even my walks are without music and my car rides are often with the same CD I’ve been hearing for the past 7 months.

I have no doubts that music can heavily influence people’s personalities and shape their outlook on life. I can’t cite any research right now, but if I find any, I’ll link it. So, I wonder what my taste in music says.

What kind of music do you like?

 

This is Why Women Hate Women

Walk into any teenage girl’s slumber party and you’re bound to overhear a conversation about some other girl that the entire group hates. The reasons for that hate are many. She’s mean. She’s rude. She’s a slut. She’s too arrogant. And while all these reasons seem perfectly acceptable to those girls, they are not.

When these young girls learn at an early age to turn on one another, to compete with one another on looks and boyfriends and to label one another, we as a society, have failed them. We have culturally and traditionally failed our daughters and continue to do so.

We have at every level taught our daughters, sisters, mothers, wives, that they are just that. They are someone only when they are in relation to someone else.

We have taught our daughters that they belong to someone. It starts with belonging to their fathers who then give them to their husbands. All our rhetorics, from Disney to Vogue, have taught us to wait for our prince charming, to be in need of a prince charming who will then forever take care of us. We are told right from the start that for one prince charming, there is only one princess and if you don’t get that prince, your life is doomed. And that is why women hate each other.

We have been systematically taught to value a man more than we value ourselves. We have been taught to listen to men more than we listen to our women. We value a firm fatherly figure than a nagging mother. And yes, this is about society. It’s about how we function, it’s about the messages we send our women. It’s not an excuse, it a rationale, or as some call it ‘a feminist propaganda’. Women hate women because that’s all we’ve seen and heard.

That’s it. But the good news? That rhetoric is slowly changing, too slowly for my liking, but I guess change takes time. In my lifetime, I have seen women hate women, but more than that, I’ve seen women stand up for women.

I’ve seen girls who value their friendships more than petty differences. I’ve seen and been a part of friendships where we treat each other with love and respect. Where we slowly learn to be our own people.

I’ve seen my best friends be a pillar of strength. I’ve seen my mother be an endless source of courage. I’ve seen my aunts tell their daughters to be strong and independent. I’ve seen my brother, push me towards being a better woman.

Change is happening. But we need to choose to be a part of it.

I’ll meet you tomorrow.

Love,

SfR