Humans and souls


Right through my professional life, while I have worked with people similar to my age and experience, I have learnt the most from those who are lot younger. Have met some of the sharpest brains. And it has been my privilege to hone their thinking. Be their mentor. But at times (and the occasions have been plenty), the stuff they say and think, is very thought provoking. Yesterday, my young colleague told me how she believes in this rather profound quote – “too many humans and not enough souls”.

Made me think. It is perhaps an indictment of what we have become.

In the past when we said “be human”, it was in the context of being different from animals. Human was about empathy and understanding of other fellow human beings.

So yes, today we are 7 billion strong as a human race. Driven by culture, society, aspiration for all things material, running after every single desire. Killing in the name of race and religion. Doing anything possible to get ahead. It doesn’t matter who we hurt in the process. How many dreams we kill to get to our dream.

We now have a human form but it is just a physical embodiment.

We do not have a soul. We do not have depth in our thinking and understanding. We do not look at a deeper connect with people. We count the number of people who follow us in social media space. We do not even interact with even ten percent of our followers.

Soul is what defines us and yet we have lost it somewhere in our drive to get ahead.

Any person who is not materialistic, does not have ambition (the way world defines it), believes in building deeper relationships that go beyond the shallow, is considered weak, an abnormality in this world.

Of course the digital world is in a way the biggest culprit. It gives a sense of being connected but that is never the case.

Today, we lack emotions, we lack empathy, we lack understanding.

Soul mates is just something nice to say to one person till we find another person to say the same thing.

There just aren’t enough souls anymore. Only humans pretending to be humans.

From :) to :(


First up, inspiration for this post comes from episode 14 of #warikooWednesdays.

So the journey between 🙂 and 😦 could take a moment or it could take a lifetime

These emoticons just represent Happy to unhappy. From totally together to falling apart.

There is a lot that happens between the two emoticons. The initial rush, making you blind to everything but as time passes, the shift begins. It starts tending towards 😐 and then head towards 😦

The strange part is we can see the change, we are feeling the change by focusing on the flaws. We are fuelling the change by pointing out the flaws.

It’s like we want the shift to happen. Self fulfilling prophecy in our head. We are pushing for it.

Now why? Why do we do that? Like Ankur says.. why not live that first 🙂 over and over. Why let things change. There is no law of society or universe that says change must happen.

Ok I get it that nothing stays the same. If nothing stays the same, why should it tend towards 😐 or :(? Why can’t there be different expressions to 🙂 or :)) or whatever the other Happy, cheerful and positive emoticons are.

And no, familiarity doesn’t have to breed contempt. Familiarity must put you in a comfort zone. Contentment. Peace.

There is a reason 🙂 happened. So let that reason be the core to everything. That’s the foundation. Everything else is a reaction to what the environment is going to throw at you. Surely those things cannot be more powerful than the emotion that led to 🙂 if they are, then you have cheated. Cheated on creating the 🙂 moment. You were not honest about it.

This world is now full of emoticons and emojis. We have started bookending conversations with them. Or messages which only have these. Somehow, these emoticons have made emotions shallow and frivolous. If every statement has something hanging at the end, there is never a special moment.

Like I was telling someone the other day, we react to the words now. We just read the words and react. We don’t have the time or patience to read deeper. Read what has not been said. It is not about reading between the lines. It’s about traveling deeper into those words anymore.

We do try that at the beginning. When 🙂 happens. But it’s like that achieved, a box has been ticked. Who then has the time or patience. “If you want to say something, be clear. I don’t have the time to interpret the meaning of what you said.” That’s where the journey to 😦 starts.

Heavy shit for Saturday morning? Or is this :)) LOl ROFL or I don’t know what the emoticon, slang or emoji will be for “this guy is talking absolute rubbish”

But do watch episode 14 of #warikooWednesdays. Ankur has said lot more profound stuff in 5 mins than my long rambling here. Oh and yeah I should end this with a 🙂

Keeping up


It has really been a long long time that I have posted every day of the week. So I figured, let’s make this 5 days in a row.

As the title suggests, it is tough keeping up.

Keeping up with the way the world is changing (yeah yeah am getting old).

It’s tough keeping up with things that matter.

It’s tough keeping up with people who don’t matter.

It’s tough keeping up with expectations – your own and of the others.

It’s tough keeping up with societal mores (increasingly these mores are leading to stress in lives of many people).

What is our aim in life? It’s a serious question.

Strip yourself off the predictable answers about success at work and in relationships and then ponder over the question.

Strip away the usual answers that come to your head about being human or larger good. Strip away answers that come to your head that sound politically correct.

What have you got left? Nothing.

So why are you keeping up with everything that doesn’t really matter in your life? Why are you putting up a facade?

Isn’t it time you really gave it some thought.

Cheap


Hell yeah! We all want everything cheap! Everything discounted. We want the best but CHEAP. We don’t see the price, we see the discount %. We delay our purchase till we get it cheap. We hunt through the websites, we wait for the announcements, we have things put in the wish list or shopping cart… waiting for the SALE. This cuts across all demographics, psychographics and income groups.

We carry this CHEAP into everything we do, not just in shopping for products. We want to hire the best talent at lowest price. We make compromises, cut corners to reduce or investment for more profitability.

Strangely enough, we carry this mentality even into our everyday relationships. Here it is not really about money but the give and take of emotions. We want more but we want to give less.

We are reaching a point where we are going to question even paying anything at all.

The concept of VALUE has changed. Value no more is associated with what it means but at what price it is available. Will I get more for less… that’s my value.

But then it happens, what we get for less or for free, it never holds the same place for us as something that we invested a lot in.

The whole idea of cheap is to use and throw away. What we retain in our cupboards, whether physical space mind space are those things and relationships that have come at a cost.

We crib about our clients not paying enough money for services rendered or goods sold. All the while beating down prices downstream. We moan about our partner not investing enough in the relationship yet at the same time, we are not investing enough.

And when we believe that we are not getting enough, we look at means that will give us that enough. And we all know, those means are rarely if ever, the right means.

It is a vicious circle. And the fact that it is a circle, it will continue.

Irrelevant


One moment you are relevant and the next moment you are not. Moment over here is just to symbolise time. The period between relevant and irrelevant can be longer.

What happens in the intervening period? Why do things and people become irrelevant? It’s not just about relationships, whether it is between two individuals, organisation and employees or two business entities, it happens with our possessions, it happens with technology.

The best example of technology that comes to my mind is how pagers became irrelevant so quickly in our country! We were just about getting used to the pagers and then they were gone. Cellular technology wiped them out. But then with technology, that is always the danger. Someone somewhere is always working on making the technology better.

But what goes wrong in relationships? Why does one individual become irrelevant? Why does an employee become irrelevant? Why does an organisation become irrelevant?

In marketing of course, a brand has to constantly stay relevant for the consumer. More so in this day and age where the consumers are evolving way faster than they used to. They are constantly in a state of flux when it comes to not just brands but even product categories. We, as part of the profession, are always finding ways to keep the brand relevant.

So what goes wrong in relationships? Why are we not able to keep ourselves relevant for our partner, for our organisation, for our employees and for our business partners? After all, these relationships are also being constantly battered by the changing environment. Why don’t we invest time (it’s all about time always) in relationships the way we do in our work?

What goes wrong? Why don’t we work on staying relevant? We are not a product or a technology that gets bettered by another product or technology. We don’t have to go through hours of consumer research to understand what’s going wrong, what is changing. It is happening to us. We can feel it. We can sense it. But we just let it happen.

There are enough books about how to keep things going but hell! We don’t read any of them. Books about personal relationships. Books about employee engagements. Books about perfect relationships. But do they work even if we read them. We tend to give up all too easily on another individual, employee or an organisation. Either we become irrelevant for them or they become irrelevant for us.

I don’t know if there is an answer to this conundrum but according to my very cynical view, it is all about money. Money is perhaps a loose term for all things materialistic.

We have become extremely materialistic and money minded. In our head, everything is about ROI. And time of course. Maybe it is also about the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility. Or maybe it is about flatlining. We believe that the time required is not going to justify the returns. The relationship has either flatlined or is on a downward curve now. Our time and effort is better invested in something that we feel is more relevant. So One becomes relevant and the other irrelevant.

We have become selfish. Everything is about us. Our view of who is relevant and who is not. But look around, observe, pay close attention to what is happening around you. Try to invest time in understanding people. People you have started thinking as irrelevant. They make look so right now but will the situation change? When suddenly they will matter. Will there come a time when you will become irrelevant.

Why have we stopped being empathetic?

There is a fabulous serial called Person of Interest. Watch it. In fact binge watch it. In a machine world where the machine and people running those machines decide who is relevant and who is not, there is a group of people who believe in human values. They make it their task to help those identified as irrelevant by the machine. Put faith in human values and emotions. Look beyond the spoken or typed words.

(Image courtesy wikia and fandom)

Best companion


DISCLAIMER – This post does not promote smoking. Also for the non smokers, you can stop at the disclaimer and not read beyond. And yes, smoking is injurious to physical health.

The title of the post and the disclaimer will be enough to let people know what this post will be about.

A while back, I had written about caffeine and nicotine. This one is all about nicotine. Well not nicotine really but cigarette. Only the smokers will understand the sentiments.

We all think that we light up a smoke because, having become used to it, body needs regular dose of nicotine at frequent intervals.

I think it is not about the physical need but smoking operates at an emotional level. Sit back and analyse the number of times or more like occasions when you have reached out for a cigarette or craved for one. It is never just like that. There is always a trigger. An emotional trigger.

Stress, depression, loneliness, good times, happy times, excitement, when you want to spend time with yourself, when the brain is working very hard on solving a problem… the first instinct is to reach for a smoke rather than somebody to talk to.

Why does that happen? A cigarette does not judge you. It doesn’t give you profound insights if you are stressed or depressed or lonely. It doesn’t give a word of caution if you are feeling very happy or having a good time. It is also not the voice of conscience. It just lets you be.

In a world where everything is a function of relationships and having to conform to those relationships, a cigarette is your silent partner. It probably knows what’s on your mind but doesn’t say a word.

The act of lighting up a cigarette, the first long drag, it is kind of cathartic. Meditation at its best. Letting the thoughts flow rather than telling you to let them flow right out of your head.

Yes, we all know the ill effects of smoking and yes we all need to cut down or stop completely. There are enough voices around you telling you to stop. But a question for them. Can you be what a cigarette is? Will you listen without judging or giving your opinion or advise? Will you be there in good times and bad times? No you won’t.

Those 7-10 mins spent with the cigarette are satisfying. You are with yourself, running all the things through in your head. Even when you are in a social setting (well not anymore because you will be away from everyone. Not allowed). Which I think is a good thing. For the non smokers and also for the smokers.

Smoking does not give you solutions to all your problems every time you light up, but the time that you spend, it helps you perhaps organise things in your head and eventually something might set you off in the right direction.

It’s the solitude that is provided. When the world around is cluttered and clambering with advise, orders, deadlines, responsibilities, duties, commitments… those few minutes away from it all, silencing all the external voices is an emotional oasis. At peace.

I am not promoting smoking in any way but it’s just about how I view smoking.

Fear


An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain or harm.

Let’s face it. We all have fear. It perhaps rules everything that we do. We may choose to deny it but the fact of the matter is that all our decisions in life are governed by fear. We always say that we are governed by rational thinking and need to be practical but the truth is that our rationality is rooted in the most irrational emotion – Fear.

We work hard to become successful… whether it is at school, college or work. Why do we do that? Why do we work so hard? Because whats the alternative? Not succeeding? And who doesn’t want to.. and it is the fear of failure that we work hard… we cut corners… we bend… we hold our silence and more often than not… we kill the honest inside us…

We can choose to live in denial and thump our chest to say that “I have not done anything like this ever. No one can question me and my commitment to what I do” but let’s face it… when you are alone with yourself… don’t you think about it? That one big presentation which was going to decide many things for you… you were petrified! your exterior was all about confidence but inside you were a jelly.

Exams, Interviews,  first day at school, first day at college, first day at work…that first date… first love… they all invoke fear. And it is dealt with in two ways… either we give up even before trying (at least in our heads) or we use fear as a leverage to build strength in ourselves and we succeed.

In relationships, it works differently. More often than not, it is the root cause of relationships going sour. It is also the cause for us to be in a relationship even if it is shot to hell. It is also the cause for the relationship to fall apart. Do you know what the fear is here? Fear of being alone. It is a petrifying thought. And this thought leads to the choices we make. Fear leads to selfishness. At the risk of destroying other person’s life, we choose us over them. We demand… we want the other person to prove their commitment and failure to do so is used as a reason for our future action. Most give in… most choose to live in a relationship even it makes them compromise on a lot of things… When faced with the fear of not having a relationship that meant so much, we bow down. We also bow down when we choose to be in a relationship due to what the society will think or because the commitments that arise out of that relationship are far greater than the commitment to that relationship itself. We want to be known as a good father… a good mother and tell ourselves that we have made a sacrifice (please read my post on sacrifice if that word comes to your head)

What if we chose to delete this emotion from our head. What if we decided that I am not going to live in fear of anything. What if we decided that fear of what may happen if a certain thing does not happen not govern our decision? Will we lose or will we gain? Will we live or will we die? The answer to this is not easy. I have made many choices in my life governed  by fear. Have they all turned out right? I don’t think so. Not because am not successful. But because when I think about myself, when I look in the mirror that reflects my soul, it is a reflection of my face split into two images. One is unhappy and the other one is happy. Why? because the decisions which were not led by the fear of ‘what if’ created moments and memories that are worth a life time… I did not think what would happen… i just went ahead… But the decisions which were governed by fear, sure they led to the desired result but…

What is your view on fear? Oh hang on, none of the readers would comment on this. In my post yesterday, I asked people to comment… to reveal if they would want to change things in their past… not one comment. I could see people had read the post and liked but none commented. We would rather bare our lives on banal social apps like Facebook but we are afraid to let people know what we think deep inside….