Crossing the Inner Chasm: From MindLESS to MindFUL

From MindLess and MindRapt to MindFulAs we begin to be more mindful in our lives and shift away from living mindlessly in an auto-pilot manner, we need to acknowledge the chasm that exists between these two states of being.  We usually tend to categorize things into just two buckets – whether they be good/bad, right/wrong, rich/poor, kind/rude, and so on.  So here again, we tend to create two buckets—Mindless and Mindful.

Unfortunately, the chasm in between the states of operating in a mindless manner and being more present and operating in a mindful manner is a big one.  In my opinion, this is a state where we are consumed in thought and our minds.  I refer to this state as MindRapt.  I struggled many months trying to describe this state of awareness and finally labelled it Semi-Aware in my book Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness. Finally, I came across this word rapt, which seemed so appropriate for what I was trying to communicate.  The word for those who would like to know more, means several things including—engrossed, absorbed, fascinated, blissful, captivated, engaged, immersed, oblivious, consumed, lost, and more.  So, it seemed like a good neutral word that could be used in both positive and negative contexts.

The MindRapt state is the one many of us tend to live most of our lives; incessantly absorbed in thoughts about the future or our past.   We are almost never where we are.  We are constantly worrying about the future, whether it be ours or our children’s. If not the future, we regurgitate the past and ruminate on it over and over.  Doing so, we completely miss out on the present, the only real moment there is.  As our world moves faster and we try to keep up with it, we even trade our rest that we so badly need for thinking.

At a meditation workshop that I attended several years ago, the instructor asked the group to share what they thought meditation was all about.  The answers that came back ranged from, “It’s a technique to control the mind to it’s a method to stop thinking.”  After listening to our descriptions, he posed this question and quickly got our attention.  How does your body get rest?  Everyone said sleep.  He then asked, “How does your mind get rest?” He then explained that sleep does not always help the mind rest.  Only deep sleep does, while REM sleep does not.  How many of us have experienced a long night of sleep only to wake up completely exhausted.  Ever considered how that happened?

Balancing the needs of the Heart and the MindWhile a lot of importance is given to thinking, it can also ruin our present, if we are not vigilant.  While we may never be able to shut down or control our thoughts, we definitely have the power to gentle set them aside.  Identifying ourselves with our thoughts is a source of a lot of misery.

So, how can we shift from the MindRapt state into the state of being MindFul?

One way that has worked well for me is to see thoughts as just thoughts, and that they are not me. This helps me to avoid getting hijacked by my ego.  Another way is to distinguish between the voices of our heart and our mind.  This level of presence can also help us discern when is it appropriate to listen to one over the other.  It is perfectly fine to use the product of our thinking to solve practical problems that are present in front of you, while it may be futile to attempt solving imaginary problems using pure logic and thinking.  Another simple way to create more MindFulness in your life is by following any regular contemplative or reflective practice that works for you.

Peace and be well,

Krishna

P.S.  You can find a lot of great resources at www.mindful.org

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Better Choices = Better Life.

Cultivating Good Choice-making HabitsSome of you may be familiar with the Four Learning Stages of Competence—Unconscious Incompetence, Conscious Incompetence, Conscious Competence, and Unconscious Competence.  Developed at Gordon Training International, it provides a great model for learning.  In order to cultivate new habits or learn new skills, we usually follow this sequence.  Given that our lives are a product of our choices, wouldn’t it be great if we could become unconsciously competent in making wise choices—at least the everyday little ones, which usually take less than a minute.  I do have a strong opinion on the importance and the role of these “little” everyday choices on the quality of our life as shared in my previous article a couple of months ago titled “Making Choices: Big Ones vs. Everyday Little Choices,” which attempts to illuminate certain blind spots that we all have and their impact on the quality of our decisions.

As I was writing this, a friend of mine forwarded a NY Times article by Thomas Friedman titled, “It’s a 401(k) World,” where the punch phrase was ‘more now rests on you.‘  I couldn’t agree more.  This makes the need for making better choices even more vital.

The most important skill for the future will therefore be sound judgment, even more so than some of the hard skills.  The hard skills are constantly being handed off to machines or lower rate labor.  I truly enjoyed the quote “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment,” when I first heard it in a movie about the legendary golfer Bobby Jones—Stroke of Genius.  Upon further research, I have seen it attributed to three people—Will Rogers, Rita Mae Brown and the Sufi sage, Mulla Nasrudin.  The only issue with the above quote I have is that the times have changed and the tolerance level for many people in both professional and personal settings has gone down and they expect good results with few or no mistakes.  If the room for making mistakes and learning from them is reduced, then there needs to be another avenue to learn how to make wise choices.

What can you do to learn the skill of making better choices?   There are several books that cater to guiding people through big choices by walking them through rigorous and systematic models, but most people do not use or can engage in this style of choice-making when it comes to the everyday little choices, most of which require snap judgment.  Many of you have heard the term analysis-paralysis.  This occurs when the individual gets bogged down and gummed up for every decision, either because of their fear of failure, looking bad, or making a mountain of a mole hill.

Making Mindful ChoicesIn my opinion, the level of presence in an individual is becoming an even greater indicator of their ability to exercise good judgment when it comes to everyday choices.  I recently coached an individual who was so consumed with the stressful events in her life that she was completely spent and really had no capacity to do much of anything.  Here was a case of a perfectly bright and hard-working person, who did not seem to have any cycles to devote to making decisions.  We sometimes give too much credit to smarts, attitude and drive; when really what is required is just presence.  As the world moves faster and our lives get more complex, it is critical that we develop simple, memorable and easy to adopt awareness skills that can become second nature fairly quickly.  This can enable and empower us to exercise better judgment in the moment.

Paradoxically, it is our ability to be keenly aware of the hidden drives that influence our everyday choice-making such as our fear, discomfort, greed, pleasure or even our ego that will help us become more unconsciously competent in improving our quality of life in this hyper-connected and fast-paced world.

Peace and be well,

Krishna

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Career Choice: Focus on Achievement & Pleasure or Joy & Fulfillment?

Pleasure & AchievementIs there a real difference between Joy & Fulfillment vs. Achievement & Pleasure or is it purely semantics?  Let’s see if this makes any sense to you.  Most of us have been raised to believe the following myth, whether explicitly or implicitly, “Focus on Achievement and Happiness will follow.”  Unfortunately, in my work as a life coach, I have met more people who are extremely successful using traditional metrics, but who do not have much joy and fulfillment in their lives.  They may be able to afford a lot of pleasure, but when the activity is over, they usually feel empty (many times unaware of it or pinpoint the cause), and indulge back in yet another pleasurable activity.

The more driven you are, the more you get attached to the myth about achievement.  While I am not suggesting that you avoid focusing any attention on goals or achievement, I do want to raise your awareness to our tendency to look more at “either/or” choices rather than “and” choices.  Recently, I had the privilege to participate in a 2 day mastermind with Jack Canfield of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame and the message that I received over both days was to consider the “and” option more than the “or” option.  We often artificially limit our choices severely using the “either/or” option.

Focus on AchievementDriven mainly by fear and/or ego, we tend to push our children to go for the grades, get the top spot, and so on.  Too much emphasis is sometimes placed on the results and not cherishing the journey and the joy of learning.  Once you buy into the pure routine of “winning” and subscribe to the great NFL coach Vince Lombardi’s philosophy — “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” and “If winning isn’t everything, why do they keep score?” — you can become a slave to achievement.

As I was finishing this post inspired by the conversations I had with a few parents and students after my talk at the University of Pittsburgh on the topic, A Student’s Dilemma: Making Choices, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from my brother.

The Journey of SuccessThe email was announcing the Bay Area USC Marshall Career Day which stated that the theme for this year’s event, “Finding Happiness & Fulfillment in your Career” was a change from their past themes and will help answer questions such as:

  • How can I find greater happiness and satisfaction at work?
  • How can I assess my own strengths?
  • How can I know if I am a correct fit for my current job?
  • How can I move forward if I am feeling trapped in my current career/role?
  • How do I assign value to my job/career?
  • How can I reduce stress/conflict/unhappiness at work?
  • How have others made successful career transitions?

I was delighted with the theme as these are not the typical questions that we condition our children or graduates to ponder.   They usually revolve around career path, compensation, upward mobility, etc.  Too many people get on that treadmill and as the speed increases, they find it increasingly difficult to jump off.  As you get encumbered with the demands and needs of your outer lifestyle, your begin to unconsciously trade your inner lifestyle for it.

Unfortunately, we all look for tangible results and the typical measures and metrics included under Standard of Living rarely consider elements such as Quality of Life.  What is it that you are REALLY looking for?  Is it peace of mind?  Don’t you want to rest your head on a pillow and not have it swimming with thoughts, worries and anxieties?  Do you have to drink expensive glasses of wine to con yourself into having a good time, while you are really numbing yourself to sleep?

Success is an inside job and the light of awareness illuminates the wisdom within yourself.  Focusing on Achievement and Pleasure does not necessarily lead to Joy and Fulfillment, especially if the attention is pointed predominantly outward.  The rewarding journey of retrospection, reflection and self-discovery begins with an inward focus.

The Inner Joy of Fulfillment

Peace and best wishes,

Krishna

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Making Choices: Big Ones vs. Everyday Little Choices

Big Choice vs. Everyday Little ChoiceWe have all heard the old adage that our lives are the product of our choices.  Why is it that no one really bothers to take the time to teach us this vital skill — Making Choices?  Not in school, nor at home.  In some cases, one may encounter a course in decision-theory.  Even if you know the theory, how many take the time and run a careful decision-analysis before making every move.  We need something a lot simpler and more in concert with how we operate as emotional humans.

I believe that our daily lives are filled with numerous opportunities on a moment by moment basis to exercise our choice.  Just learning this simple truth can energize us with a great deal of power.  Right now, I could be focused on finishing this article and sharing it with you or worrying about something else or chatting with a friend or watching TV.

Too much weight seems to be placed on the big choices in life, because of the imagined enormity of their impact as conjured up by our minds.  Our clever minds are in the habit of  making mountains of mole hills.  I recently read that the three most important choices in life are to figure out where to live, what career path to choose and who to marry.

According to this popular philosophy, once a person decides on a city, a career and a spouse — they should be set for life.  I don’t believe that life plays out that way at all.  I have personally experienced and known people who love the city they live in, like their jobs and are in love with their spouses, but are not living a life of joy and fulfillment.

So what’s the catch?

The quality of our life is defined by our experience of various life moments, not just the big ones.  Big events come by very few times in one’s life, but small everyday moments occur in droves.  Just becoming aware of the number of occasions we have every day to exercise our ability to choose is empowering.

We are mostly unaware of this gift.  We simply settle for the default option that is made for us.  I always tell my wife, “If you don’t move your chess piece, your opponent will move it for you.  That’s usually not a good situation.”   If you actually took the time to count the number of opportunities you have everyday to exert your option to make a choice, you will realize how powerful you truly are.

We all know big choices make a difference in our life, but how many of us realize that it’s the little everyday choices that impact the quality of our life and our ability to attain lasting joy and fulfillment?

How many of these little choices do we encounter everyday?

My good friend and executive coach, Sharon Eakes, recently wrote about Choosing in Every Moment in her e-zine Fresh Views, “With really big things it’s easy to notice we have a choice. What shall I do with the rest of my life? Shall I marry this person? It’s harder to realize I’m choosing in every moment on little, everyday things. What to do, feel, think, say? How to say it? Whether to be cheerful or grumpy. Every time I remember how many choices I have in a day, I feel both liberated and overwhelmed. Often I’m not even aware of the choices I make. Or it feels like someone else MADE me choose this or that.”

I recently hosted a Meetup group and asked them how many choices they made in a given day and they quickly answered, a hundred.  The group also chuckled at the question, because it was mind-boggling for them to count the number of opportunities they had every single day to make deliberate choices.  It’s also sad to note how often we knowingly or unknowingly “pass” on our choice and succumb to the default option.

Big Choices vs. Everyday Little ChoicesAnd yet, how do we become better at making these “smaller” everyday choices?

While some of us may think that we take the time, gather the facts, analyze the situation and make rational choices, most of the time we only “rationalize” our choice.  So, who made them to begin with?  And, why are we rationalizing?

On the other hand, many of us find ourselves at the mercy of our choices.  How come we did not use our free will to make better choices?  Did we even know we had a choice to make?

Several of our choices are either motivated by our fears and our need to avoid painful experiences (APE) or driven by our greed or our instinct to pursue instant gratification (PIG).   Many other choices are influenced by our Ego or our need to protect or enhance our identity or our image in society.  Once we become aware that our primitive instincts or our egoic self tend to strongly influence our choices, we can pause and ask three simple questions when faced with a choice:

      1. Am I being driven by my fears or my discomfort?
      2. Am I being driven by greed or my need for pleasure?
      3. Am I being driven by my Ego or my pride?

Additionally, once you are aware of these forces working within you, you become vigilant and watch for their moves and influences.  You become more present.  Knowing that you own a PIG, APE and a Monkey, you are now very careful and watch their every move.  I often joke and tell my kids, “Monkeys are very clever, they will do tricks for you and if you are not careful, they will trick you and make a monkey out of you.”

Have fun with this and I would love to hear your thoughts and how your choice-making may have improved as a result of this awareness.

Krishna

Better Choices = Better Life.™

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More Veterans may Opt for Suicide: Unintended Consequences of Good Intentions?

Unintended Consequences of our ActionsWhile many are struggling during these tough economic times, perhaps one of the most overlooked groups is that of our Veterans.

These heroes, whose lives are called to go above and beyond, often return home to find a supportive community—but even with all the support that they can find, they end up struggling with their greatest combat, the “war within.”  The toll of this “war within” leaves some of them even losing the support of their families, their community and eventually, their lives.

Our soldiers are coming back home to fight a battle they didn’t even know they signed up for; one of internal demons, PTSD, and more.  Last week, I heard the term moral injury added to the list.

While I don’t want to sit here and belabor the issue, the alarming rate at which veterans are committing suicide is a tragedy.  At a rate of 22 suicides among veterans a day, the amount of veterans that are engulfed in this kind of suffering is staggering and exceeding the number we lose in combat.

While the intentions of the media is to raise public awareness to the tragic social issue of Veteran Suicides, the increased attention and publicity may actually do more harm than good, if we do not swiftly switch from dwelling on the problem to solving the problem.

From Raising Awareness to Mobilizing Action

While awareness about the issue must take place in order to mobilize the people to take corrective action, there’s been studies that suggest that giving too much attention to those who have taken their own lives may result in the unintended consequence of increasing the very issue we want to avoid—more veterans committing suicide.

Why would this happen?

In 1984, Robert Cialdini wrote the now classic book Influence, which cites social proof as one of the major factors of influence.  In direct terms, social proof is “where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behavior for a given situation.”

Let’s examine this in the context of suicide among veterans.  For those that are coming back and dealing with the uncertainty of how to deal with such traumatic experiences will tend to look to their fellow soldiers to understand how to cope with the aftermath.  Seeing reports of other veterans committing suicide in large numbers across the media, the unintended consequence could be that it provides social proof of suicide being an acceptable solution.

In other words, when people dealing with uncertainty are presented with choices, they look to similar people like them to make their choice. 

The effects of how social proof can skew choices is not isolated to veterans. In fact, just recently, the entrepreneurial world lost one its youngest and brightest talents, which made this Forbes reporter appropriately ask, “Does Making Aaron Swartz A Martyr Endanger Other Suicidal People?”  Tragically, one month after Aaron Swartz committed suicide, notable entrepreneur Jody Sherman did so as well.  While we cannot say the media attention Aaron Swartz received pushed Jody Sherman to commit suicide, it has been documented that this level of media attention does increase the likelihood of suicide (Preventing Suicide and Media Contagion And Suicide).  We may have come across the terms “copycat suicides” or “suicide clusters” as well.

Social proof, as well as the other invisible cues, often drive our choices, but what is tragic is that these choices are made unconsciously or in an auto-pilot mode.  We face many choices every day and fail to make a mindful effort to consciously choose which way our life will be swayed.  Even though these elements carry so much power, we seem to deploy them without fully understanding their consequences.

Let pull them up and join usWhatever you’re going through, whether small or large, our choices, and the forces that drive them, are to be taken with great attention.

The point of the article was not to point fingers at the media, but rather to demonstrate how such invisible forces, such as social proof can harm those who have done so much for our country.

It is time for those of us who can bring solutions to help address the issue of Veterans Wellness to come forth and help our heroes live a life of honor and dignity that they have earned and richly deserve.

Please share your ideas freely in the comments section below.  I promise to look into each of them as part of my work at the Mindful Nation Foundation, a brainchild of Congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation.

To all the veterans who have courageously served our nation, may you find solace in your struggle and unveil peace in your life.

Peace and be well,
Krishna

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Sparking a Mindful Nation: My Journey through Wisdom 2.0

Being Aware and One with NatureI am very grateful to Kendra, my friend from the Omega Institute, who urged me last year to attend Wisdom 2.0.  There were 1600 others at the gathering — business leaders, health practitioners, entrepreneurs, wisdom teachers, and social change workers seeking to create lives, workplaces, and a society of deeper purpose and meaning.  Not only did the conference far exceed my expectations for great content, but it also generated some amazing new conversations, connections and experiences for me to explore.  Additionally, it has provided me with more clarity of purpose and an avenue to further channel my efforts.

What caught my fancy was the level of synchronicity that I experienced from the very first moment I entered the space.  I walked right up to Monique, a wisdom coach who sent me a message on Facebook, “Maybe the mystery will have us run into each other at the conference,” on the very first day.  Similar events happened many more times during the next 3 days, including my bumping into Meng Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, as I was leaving the conference.  Meng and I had planned to meet but our schedules didn’t sync up and then  it just happened, at the last moment.

The interviews and talks were very engaging and authentic.  Speakers shared more from their heart, not their thinking mind alone.  They didn’t mind what others would think of them for sharing their inner beliefs, which encouraged everyone to be more open and courageous.

There were so many things that I learned and insights that emerged at Wisdom 2.0 that listing all of them here would make you feel like drinking water out of a fire hydrant, if you have ever tried it.  So, I am going to highlight just a few that truly gave me hope and energized me to do more towards creating an enlightened society.  I was encouraged by what I experienced, as it will take a large number of people working all over the globe to make it happen.

My personal highlights from Wisdom 2.0:

    • When I saw the Executive Chairman of Ford, Bill Ford, reach deep within and share his authenticity about the potential demise of his family’s name as a company and his feelings about laying off personal friends, I realized how compassion and wisdom can be used even in big business to benefit all stakeholders.  When such insights are accepted and practiced in a true mid-western company, I see hope. Click to watch his interview.
    • How Arianna Huffington’s was able to channel the learning from her own wake up call, when she fainted from exhaustion and hit her head on her desk, broke a cheek bone and got stitches on her eye.  Click here to watch her talk about taking better care of yourself.
    • CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner spoke about compassion being the cornerstone of their corporate culture.  LinkedIn has had phenomenal growth, quarter over quarter.  Click here to watch his interview.
    • The stories of 3 young veterans, their challenges, their transformations and the current state of affairs for those who serve and protect our nation.  We are losing a veteran to suicide every 65 minutes. Click to hear their interview.
    • Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who eloquently spoke about the challenges young people face on a daily basis and how she personally handled the war and the uncertainty of life in Iraq and how the Bhagawat Gita helped her. Click here to watch her interview.
    • How top technologists/intellectuals from Google, Cisco and Facebook use meditation as a practice to be more present and improve their confidence and bring authenticity in their relationships and purpose to their lives.

Additionally, a brand new opportunity sprung up for me at the conference.  Last year, I had come across a wonderful book, A Mindful Nation written by Congressman Tim Ryan, in which he beautifully describes a “quiet revolution” that’s happening to build a mindful society.  We had met a couple of times and had planned to do something at Wisdom 2.0 together, but his day job had him consumed and we did not get a chance to collaborate until the Friday at the conference.  He shared his vision of creating a foundation that would support mindfulness initiatives across the country and asked me to help him ramp it up.

I was delighted by his request as it’s completely aligned with my dream of creating an enlightened society where inner awareness empowers people to thrive in harmony.  So we put on our thinking hats and came up with a breakout session on Sunday afternoon to gather those folks who are currently involved in mindfulness-based projects or interested in starting new programs.  We wanted to see if we could coordinate the efforts of the various “spark plugs” in the country (a term shared by Gopi Kallayil from Google as he challenged the audience) and titled our session, “Sparking a Mindful Nation.”

Photo Courtesy: Artie Moffa

Photo Courtesy: Artie Moffa

Almost 100 people attended and we collected their ideas and projects under six different topics — Self & Family, Children & Schools, Community & Global, Corporate & Industry, Healthcare, and Military, Veterans & First Responders.  The participants suggested another category called Politics, Government & Democracy and I quickly added it.

We hope this marks the launch of a coordinated movement to create a Mindful Nation for us and generations to come.  Stay tuned for more…

Peace and be well,
Krishna

P.S.  As I was wrapping up after the session, a young man came up to me and introduced himself as Shane and I noticed that he had exactly the same wristband that I had on my wrist and thanks to Michelle, who noticed it and took this picture.  Surprisingly, he had received his band the same day in Northern California that I received mine in Northern India — another interesting incidence of synchronicity.

Two continents - two people, same thread

Two continents, two people – same thread

P.P.S.  A special thank you Laurel, Louise and Colleen for your help with the session.

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Choosing Technology Unconsciously Can Accelerate Dysfunction

I am excited to be attending my first Wisdom 2.0 Conference this week from February 21-24th.  A friend of mine at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY recommended that it would be a great event.  Founded by Soren Gordhamer, Wisdom 2.0 addresses the great challenge of our age: to not only live connected to one another through technology, but to do so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.

According to their website, the people at Wisdom 2.0 come from all over the world and from numerous vocations, including coaches; technology staff from Apple, Microsoft, and Twitter; as well as venture capitalists and entrepreneurs.  Everyone shares a common interest: to live with greater wisdom, purpose, and meaning, while using technology in ways that create a more open and healthy culture.

Addicted to TechnologyUnfortunately though, most of us have adopted technologies in the past without foreseeing its unintended consequences.  By the time we realize the consequences, it’s usually too late.  I am looking forward to spending time this week with over 1500 people from many walks of life and all over the world who want to use technology in healthier ways.

Over the years, my wife and I have had many arguments as to what is the appropriate amount of technology use for the children.  Most of their friends have several gadgets and games and she felt that they should not feel left out.  Having worked many years as a technologist, video producer and a learning game developer, I have been exposed to many of the recommended techniques to hook the user and hold their attention.  Without appropriate boundaries to curb their usage, one could easily get addicted to them.  You can read more about this in a Newsweek article published in July 2012 titled, “Is the Web Driving Us Mad?

While it may sound preposterous to blame an external element for our problems, we need to be aware of the potential impact of a temptation.  There are two kinds of products that need to be examined carefully.  One is a product designed by developers, whether a game or television show, whose intent is to provide the immediate gratification necessary to hook the user and hold their attention for the purpose of making money off of them.  The second kind is those technologies that were originally designed to help, like Texting, but whose unintended consequences result in increased accidents and poor English skills.  Embracing the discipline of Systems Thinking is a great way to explore the unintended consequences of any new innovation and consider its ramifications at a societal level.

Eckhart Tolle articulates this problem very nicely in his book The New Earth,  “Science and technology have magnified the destructive impact that the dysfunction of the human mind has upon the planet, other lifeforms, and upon humans themselves. That is why the history of the twentieth century is where that dysfunction, that collective insanity, can be
most clearly recognized. A further factor is that this dysfunction is actually intensifying and accelerating.”

The Technology Balance Juggling ActBroad based exploration and education of the potential long-term consequences of any technological innovation needs to be a key factor in introducing new technologies, especially to children.  Much like how new drugs have to be tested for a while to study their side-effects, we may have to consider similar methods for social technologies.

Making a good choice or even a deliberated choice is difficult for most people, who yield to their emotions and then rationalize their choice using logic.

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Choosing a Life Partner: How does one do it right?

Choosing the Right PartnerHappy Valentines Day!

Enjoy your day no matter what.  You may be someone who has chosen a partner to share the day with or you may be someone who wants to spend the day differently. Either way, have a blast.

It’s an ideal day to pose the above question.  So many of us, both young and old,  wonder about choosing our life partner.  We have all seen marriages made in heaven and others that end up you know where.

I have been intrigued about choosing the right partner in two ways — the initial choice of the partner and the many subsequent life choices made once you are together.  Therefore, I would like to re-frame the question as, “How much weight do you place in the choice of the partner vs. the life choices along the way?”

It seems to me, both from personal experience and after speaking to many folks, that we end up spending an enormous amount of time, effort and money trying to identify the perfect partner.  Some engineering types, like me,  even write down what they are looking for and the visualization types may even create a vision board with images of people they may want their partner to look like.   Then they make up a list of expectations of what they would like their partner to do or how they may behave.  And, now the search begins.

On the other side of the globe, especially in countries like India, where I was born and moved to the US in 1984, you hear of arranged marriages.  True arranged marriages are where neither party has any say and it just happens.  I have since been reminded that these happen less often nowadays and it’s more like a blind date.  Click here to read more about “A surprising new look at arranged marriages.”  While I did not start this post to elaborate on arranged marriages, I did a Google search just to make sure that I was sharing the right information and came across this New York Times article written just last month, “Modern Lessons From Arranged Marriages.”  What I have personally noticed in arranged marriages in addition to what these articles share is that the tolerance levels for accepting each others idiosyncrasies are higher in a couple who have agreed to this arrangement.

My purpose to present these two approaches to choosing a life partner is not to compare them or to discuss the merits of one over the other, but to direct your attention to the emphasis placed on the initial selection of the partner.  If I were to go on a limb, I would say that the choices you make when you are together matter a whole lot more than the initial choice of your partner.

We are not only misguided by our assumptions but also as we are mostly under the influence of our invisible drives — our greed (PIG), our fear (APE) and the ego, we tend to make our choices based on the wrong motivations.

Becoming keenly aware of the hidden forces stemming from our ego, greed or fear is vitally important for making wise long-term choices and even more so when it comes to the moment-to-moment choices that truly influence the quality of your life experience and as a couple.

In conclusion, the answer to the question is not about focusing too much on the choice of the right partner, but more so on the life you create with the partner you choose.

Be mindful and present each moment as you make your choices,

Krishna

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Our Choice between Vitamins and Painkillers

When I started MediaSite, my second video software company in the late nineties, I had to learn the painful lesson that good sales and marketing were as or more important to building a good company than the product or service itself.  Until then, I had prided myself with the belief that great products made great companies.

Vitamins and PainkillersSo I hired a sales trainer who educated us on how people buy and so on and so forth.  I had used this trainer, Larry Lewis, in my first company and wanted him to coach the rest of my team.  While coaching the team, I assisted Larry and in the process came up with this notion of Vitamins vs. Painkillers™, which made me better understand why certain solutions are more difficult for folks to accept than others.  People tend to buy vitamins and painkillers very differently.

You need to be convinced of the potential gains of taking the vitamin pill and ask for proof and usually are skeptical of the results.  On the other hand, when you have a splitting headache, you reach out for a painkiller.  If you are at a friend’s place, you ask your friend, “Do you have ‘anything’ for my headache?”  You may name a brand, but you are willing to accept anything.  “Give me something, I don’t care.”

While it takes an effort for a vitamin company to sell you the story of a future gain, it doesn’t take much for a painkiller company to get you to use their product as you are in a dire need to put an end to your current pain.

This behavior is completely in sync with how we are wired as humans.  We pay attention to taking care of immediate concerns “now” and put off future concerns for later.  Our propensity for immediate gratification usually trumps the long-term consequences.  Gaining instant pleasure or stopping present discomfort becomes the center of our attention.

We have all heard why it is important to cultivate good habits, but now it is clear why it is difficult to cultivate these habits.  Good habits, typically produce fruit in the future, and we can’t wait that long.  In a culture of “instant” coffee, noodles, dinners, etc., where is the time to wait for the results?

Unless we become aware of this inherent mechanism within each of us and truly comprehend its potential negative impact on our lives, we will keep reaching for painkillers and finding various ways to put away the proverbial vitamins — cultivating good habits and the discipline to follow a practice that may only bear fruit years from now.

In the early nineties, I had heard the late Dr. Stephen Covey eloquently put it, there is the “Law of the School and the Law of the Farm.”  In school, you can cram the previous night and get away with a good grade.  We have all done this and see it even work.   In contrast, a farmer cannot sow the seeds the day before the harvest and expect to get a great crop.  In my opinion, more things in life follow the “Law of the Farm” than the “Law of the School.”

Remember, Vitamins are for future growth and Painkillers are getting rid of current pain.  Eliminating current pain without addressing the root cause only make the companies who make painkillers rich.

Choose wisely…Choose both and develop a plan to eliminate the painkiller.

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My Big Choice: Following my Calling or Making a Living?

Either this or that?Today is the first day following my biggest choice in life, or so my mind thinks.  I made the choice to give up a lucrative job as a Chief Operating Officer & Life Coach at a top Wealth Management firm in the country to pursue my calling to empower people make better choices in life.

Was it easy? Not at all.  Was it simple? Absolutely, once I gained clarity.

Let me share my story in the hope that my journey of deliberation can shed some light on the hidden forces that influence our choices.  For over ten years now, my heart has been drawn towards helping people deal with their challenges in life and work.  So, I helped as many as I could, given the demands of my work during the evenings and weekends.

The traditional metrics for success, in my opinion, seem to measure purely how well you take care of yourself and your family.  This is something that I have struggled with for years.  I kept asking myself this question, “If the successful people only took care of themselves and their own families, how will that ever make the world a better place? ”  The traditional definition of success needed be reframed in my mind.  It happened last year, soon after I turned 50.   It became clear to me that if I kept waiting for some external signal to help me transform, I may be dead by then.  I couldn’t wait any longer, it had to happen soon.

I had been too chicken for years to take the plunge and commit fully to my calling as I could not see myself making a good living doing it.  What I realized later was that my indecision was only hurting my family as they were the ones missing out the most in this situation.  So, I had to really get clear about what really matters in life.

Many of us believe that confidence is what we need to make a choice.  I have now learned that it is clarity that precedes confidence.  With clarity comes confidence.  If you feel confident without clarity, beware, most likely it is blind confidence.  Blind confidence is dangerous, since it usually stems from our ego, greed or fear.

Clarity is especially important in addressing dilemmas.   The dictionary defines a dilemma as a usually undesirable or unpleasant choice, a problem involving a difficult choice, any difficult or perplexing situation or problem.

Clarity came to me in two ways.  First, from the number of emails and phone calls that I keep receiving from readers of my book,  Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness, who claim that it has changed their lives.  I had never expected to receive such emails, especially at the rate of about one a month.  These emails and phone calls started to make me feel as though I had given birth to a child and abandoned it by not nurturing it and sharing it widely with others.  I could not do the nationwide book tours that typical authors do with a full-time executive position.  While these positive reviews and testimonials only seemed to confuse the situation further, it ultimately helped me take the plunge when supported by a second request from my wife.

In May last year, she asked me gently, “The children are getting older and they need your guidance.  I am doing everything I can, but they need more of your time and attention.”  Since my wife never asks for much, I try to take her requests seriously.  This request hit me like a two-by-four.  Here I am dedicated to helping others, while I am ignoring my own family.  We sometimes get too caught up in our passion that we lose our perspective of the bigger picture.  Now, the choice became ultra clear — I needed to make time, but the question remained, “How?”

The complexity grew when I tried to satisfy all the parties I cared deeply about.  My employer John Waldron and the team at Waldron Wealth Management who I feel more like my extended family, my own family, and the people who I committed to helping.

How could I buy time to follow my calling without hurting any of the above while making a living?  Too many times, we reduce our choices to a ‘either/or’ type of choice.  I believe in the “Third Choice.”  If you are not familiar with it, you can read my post from October 2011 by clicking here.  By collaborating with all the parties involved and understanding their perspective, we came up with a way that I can help the company through a period of time that will also help me gain a better footing, buy time to spend with my family and my community of fellow explorers.  If you take the time to reflect and look sincerely for the proverbial “Third Choice,” one that satisfies the “needs” not “wants” of all parties concerned, I am confident that you can find a solution that shifts the ‘or’ in the choice to an ‘and.’

Plunging into my calling blindly would not only have left my company in a bind, but also potentially jeopardized my family and eventually the very people who I wanted to help.  I always use and love the “Oxygen Mask” analogy.  If you are not familiar with that, please pay attention the next time you fly.  Click here to read a post on the topic by Gail Lynne Goodwin, founder of InspireMeToday.com.

So with great clarity, calmness and faith supported by my family, my friend John Waldron,Follow your Calling my readers, my fellow explorers and the world at large, I step into the next phase of my life committed to helping the busy and the restless make better choices in life.  I cannot be more thankful to all those who have supported me in the past and continue to support me in this endeavor.

Thank you again for helping me transform from my fear of making a living to living my calling.

With much gratitude,

Krishna Pendyala

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Human Beings vs. Human Doings: How do we consciously choose one over the other?

Human DoingMost of us seem to live our lives as human doings.  While this is not an original term that I coined, I can’t seem to recall where I first heard it.   We tend to get caught up in the rat race — trying to make it happen, doing a good job, sending kids to college, saving for retirement, and on and on.  We are consumed by our first phase of our life, so that we can enjoy our second phase, usually after we retire.

In 2004, I had spoken about this at a conference for South Asian youth in Chicago, but could not easily extricate myself out of the race until now.  I had urged the youth to consider a balanced life, easier said than done.

Then I turned fifty last year, and it hit me hard in the face.  The popular path is to work hard, save enough money, and then retire and have a good time.  I realized that the prime years of my life were being consumed in incessant doing and very little in terms of being fully alive and present in all the intricacies of our life and nature.  My concern switched to the possibility of me dying before getting to do some of the things that I always wanted to do, like spending quality time and having fun with my children and making a difference in our world.

So the challenge is, “Can we live our life in such a way that we can fully engage and experience its fullness and richness without any significant sacrifices?”  My answer to this question, after years of deliberation, is a resounding “Yes.”  The key is to work with our egoic mind and its minions, the PIG and the APE, who will do their very best to steer us towards pleasure and away from real and mostly imagined pain.

Is it easy to accomplish a balanced life?  Not really, but it can be simple.  If we can accept and become aware of the fact that the only Happy Human Beingtime we ever have or will ever have is “now” and if we let it get away while obsessing over the future or the past, we will definitely lose the most precious part of our life.  Being present in the current moment, dealing and accepting what is, both the good and the not so good, is the path to living life as a human being.

Focusing too much on goals and getting caught up in the mechanics and viewing the work merely as a stepping stone to a future state will rob you of the joy that is in the vocation or the journey.  So it is critical that we not only choose our goals with care, but also pick the path we choose to follow with a high degree of awareness.

Two weeks ago, I was speaking at a church group and asked the folks in the room, “How many of you have set goals and achieved them?”  About 80% of the room raised their hands.  I then asked them, “How did it feel when you accomplished your goals?”  There were three quick answers.  The first was “What’s next?”  The second was, “A short-term rush,” and the third was a sound that my limited creativity can’t seem to recreate with text, but it usually accompanies the shaking of the palm in a back and forth fashion to communicate “whatever.”

So I asked them the last question to which I did not hear an answer.  I will leave you with the same question.  “If you knew that this (the above reactions) is how you would feel when you achieved your goals, would you have made it so important and set aside so many things and focused most of your energy on them?”

To be clear, I am by no means diminishing the value of setting goals, but I am saying that by being unaware in the present moment will diminish the anticipated result at the moment of achievement.

Love to hear your reactions.

Peace and be well,

Krishna Pendyala

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Who are You in a world with no Cameras or Mirrors?

What you see in the mirror isn't you!While we were traveling across the northern states of India last month in a van with my middle school son and daughter squabbling in the back, I suddenly heard my son say, “Did you know that fashion models have the highest suicide rate.”  The statement definitely caught my attention for two reasons.  First, the word “suicide” and second “fashion models.”

I stopped whatever I was reading and asked him, “Where did you get that from?”  He claimed that he had read it in Time magazine.   Given that my area of interest is to gain more awareness of the Ego, and fashion is somewhat related to it, I wanted to explore this further and learn more.

So, upon our  return home, I started researching the area.  While I could not find the Time magazine article that he was referring to, nor find any evidence to support his statement, I did come across this amazing interview on CNN with supermodel Cameron Russell which beautifully captures some of the tricks that our mind can play and responsible for confusing generations of young women.

Click here to view the interview titled “Model’s frank talk: How I REALLY look”

I was so thrilled to see Cameron Russell expose some of the hidden aspects of their glamorous job and life that I searched and watched her entire TEDx talk.   I would urge all of you to see it below and share it, especially with your daughters.


For a while I have been pondering the idea, “Who would you be in a world without any mirrors or cameras to show you what you look like?”  Having watched these videos, I would need to further expand my question to include airbrushing and Photoshop.

Could you even imagine how that might affect the interactions between people?  Just for a moment, consider that you have no idea what you look like, no one to compare with, and just get to see the other person.  How would they even present themselves, wear make-up or would they rely on the cooperation and partnership with others?  Wow! I can’t imagine it for long at all.

Going back to a post titled “Does every day seem like Halloween to you? Trick-or-Treat?” that I wrote during 2012 Halloween, I wanted to excerpt a passage here.  Yes, our family takes many long road trips and we are already the brunt of many workplace jokes.

Recently, my eleven year old daughter and I were traveling on a long road trip.  Since I needed something to keep us occupied, I asked her, “Imagine a world without mirrors and cameras so that no one could see how they looked like?” Promptly she responded, “They would go to the river and see their reflection.”  While it was a response that I hadn’t expected, I noticed that we were driving along a creek.

When I told her that they would not be allowed to see their reflection in the water or use any other method, I was dumb-founded to hear incredible words of wisdom from my eleven year old.  Since I was driving, I asked her to write them down for me to save and share.  She said, “You will see more of your true inner beauty.  People will judge you based on your actions, not your looks.”

I would really like to hear your opinions about my question?  I am also amazed with what I continually learn from my kids.

Peace and be well,

Krishna

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What’s Driving You? Get to know the source of your motivations!

Whats Driving YouIt took me a while to get to the bottom of this question.  I have always been a driven individual, but I was not aware of what was driving me.

For a long while, I felt like a marathon runner who did not know where I was heading other than the fact that I kept on running.

I was raised with a strong work ethic and brain-washed into believing that I needed to work hard, sacrifice in the present in order to have a better life in the future.  Once this got into my psyche, its side-effects also start showing up in my life.  As most things go, one has to consider the scope of generalizations and its impact on young minds.

Long story short, fear became a key driver of my choice-making.  I didn’t even realize it until much later, 20 years later.  I was consumed by the fear of poverty and was completely oblivious to it.  It had its grip on most of my choices for the longest time.  Then came a situation, when I wanted to volunteer to help some local organizations, and the signals that I received, both direct and indirect, suggested that I needed to be someone significant to be taken seriously.  In fact, one of my donation checks was refused as the person said, “Krishna, you cannot afford to do this.”  This stung my ego.

Until then, my need to work was geared to making a living and staying out of poverty.  Now, it turned into something else.  I needed to prove something, be somebody in order to be considered as a valued volunteer and philanthropist.  I distinctly remember saying to myself during the mid-90s, “If that’s what they are looking for, I can show them and become somebody.”

As I had mentioned in my last post, most of my goals of the past brought with them a sense of urgency, anxiety and angst.  Only later did I discover that the source of my motivations stemmed from either Fear, Ego or Greed.

Goals driven by this energy typically do not bring lasting joy and fulfillment, while they might bring pleasure and a sense of achievement for a brief period.  Instead, they usually bring anxiety and worry. My takeaway for you is to simply pause for a brief second and ask three short questions.

Am I being driven by my Fears?
Am I being driven by my Greed?
Am I being driven by my Ego?

Once you are clear about the source of your motivations, go ahead and do whatever you choose.  While you may not want to change your position, making a deliberated choice knowing what’s driving you will make you more aware of the possible consequences and offer few surprises.  There exists a space beyond Fear, Greed and Ego, a space with clarity and purpose, that you can discover by simple pausing and asking yourself the three questions above.  I promise that it will improve the quality of your life.

Peace and be well,

Krishna

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Happy New Year and best wishes to follow your Dharma in 2013

“It is better to do your own Dharma than to do someone else’s well.”
                                                                 — Krishna from The Bhagavad Gita

Even though I had the opportunity of hearing the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian text, from my grandmother when I was young and later read it a couple of times, I had not registered this wisdom until last year.  We had a gentleman give a talk at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills who lucidly explained the rationale behind the quote and inspired me to follow my own dharma in 2013.

Dharma, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a philosophical concept of Indian origin in the Sanskrit language.  Many eastern traditions have adopted variations of this concept in their theology as well.  I view it more as a philosophy for living.  The closest western concept that I can associate dharma with, is what we refer to as “a calling.”

A life of dharma is the way of collaborating with nature and the universe to offer loving service and respect for all life. 

Finding my dharma or calling was not easy.  While I devoted some time over the last 22 years to teaching, which I thought was my passion, it was only over the last 4 years of intentional practice that helped me to realize my calling.  You know when you discover it, as it emerges clearly and comes with no anxiety or urgency to achieve.

Driven and motivated people tend to take on goals and set plans to achieve them.  Being one of them myself, I noticed that many of my past goals brought me a sense of urgency, anxiety and worry.  This time around, even though I am unclear as to what I will do exactly, I am at peace about what’s in store for me.  I truly believe that by serving the world unconditionally, the universe will support me and my family.  I am expecting this year to be one of challenges and pleasant surprises.

True to its word, it started off right away on January 1, 2013 with my entire family being stranded in Miami on our way back from India.  What would have normally ended as a nightmare ended up with a pleasant surprise.  Our neighbors, who are very close to us, happened to be in Miami for the winter and we got a chance to visit with them.

In my book, Beyond the PIG and the APE: Realizing Success and true Happiness, I present the various aspects of one’s life using a term called Life Spaces.  These are the different spaces we inhabit.

Life Spaces and YOU

Following our dharma is not about forcing your way in the world but simply to discover an authentic way to live your life in all our Life Spaces from with-in and not from with-out.  Looking outside for acknowledgment and approval is a sure sign of getting on the path to follow someone else’s dharma.

Too many times, we fall prey to following a path set for us either by society or by our parents or our extended family or friends.  Living your dharma is just being keenly aware of what’s driving you — is it coming from deep within or are you being driven by your fears, desires and your pride or others?  Once you become aware and stay aware of the source of your motivations, it becomes fairly easy to discover and follow your dharma.  Too many of us seem to set our goals with either an achievement or pleasure orientation rather than to generate lasting happiness and true contentment in our lives.

So, it is very important to use this approach not only to select your life’s goals or destinations, but also to choose the path, the vehicle and the type of fuel.  If you run on the wrong fuel, you will pollute your insides.

In my years of experience, both personally and as a life coach, I have discovered that ignoring the source of our motivations tends to convert us from a driven and confident individual to a driven and restless™ individual.

Wishing you a year of learning and discovering your dharma and following it to bring you real joy and fulfillment in your life.

For harmony in your life and our world,

Krishna

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2012: My Year for Gratitude

stick_figure_drawing_thank_you_6923

If I had to choose one word to highlight this year, it would be Gratitude.  I had chosen to write about gratitude as the centerpiece of my year-end note to all my friends before we left for India to visit my mom who is dealing with Alzheimer’s.

Experiencing India only catapulted my choice to celebrate the word “gratitude” to a whole another level.  I was on my way back to my mother-in-law’s house a couple of days ago after going out to print an email, when I began to feel an immense sense of gratitude for unusual things such as sanitation, trash collection and drinking water.  While such amenities are taken for granted in the US, many people in countries like India lack them.

Spending time with my mother and watching her deal with Alzheimer’s made me realize once again as to how lucky most of us are in terms of merely having our mental faculties intact.  I am sure, it is as frustrating for them to continually forget as it is for those around them.  The amount of time she spends searching for stuff combined with fears of all the items that were stolen from her, was just agonizing even to watch.  We had moved her to an active adult community earlier this year and she is still struggling to make new friends and feels very lonely.

We are grateful to my aunt Premila, my mom’s sister who has lovingly provided the necessary familial support to my mom.  Her strength and drive are commendable.  She was also instrumental in finding a great companion for my mom in Kripa, a lovely young lady who patiently takes care of the day-to-day functions for my mom.  We are grateful to my uncle, General Radhakrishna, who graciously supports his wife in caring for my mom.  His jokes and antics seem to provide the much-needed entertainment during times of stress.

We also had the privilege of visiting the Devnar School for the Blind on Saturday.  I was touched by the energy level, optimism and zest displayed by the kids at this school.  Given our family’s support and interest in helping the blind, we were given a tour of the school.  We were truly blessed when we were introduced to Sashirekha, a young instructor at the school who taught in the computer lab.  She gave us an energetic demonstration of the software and other applications.

Not until I pointed to our daughter did she share with us that she could not see.  I was in shock and tears filled my eyes.  I was in awe of this person, who was operating the computer and showing us how to use Word better than most people with sight. She was totally blind.  She had lost her vision about 10 years ago due to some retinal disease.

My state of being in awe got extended when the teacher taking us on the tour came to her and said, “I can’t open the lock to the printer room, which key should I use?” Sashi promptly replied, “Use the longer key.” The teacher responded, “I tried that.”  So Sashi walked over calmly and took the keys from the teacher and in two attempts opened the lock.  I was only hoping that it would work out this way—to watch a blind person walk with confidence, take the keys from someone who had full range of vision but could not open a lock and open it even without being able to see.

I was so impressed with her ability and enthusiasm that I shared my dear departed hero Hal’s miraculous recovery from blindness using his belief in Neuroplasticity.  She thanked me for providing her with inspiration and I truly believe that Sashi will give it her all.  I wished her well and told her, “I hope you will regain your sight by the time I visit you next.” She was all smiles.

On our drive home, we spent some time being grateful for all the things that we take for granted every day.  Being in India, our list grew so long that this note should be re-titled as “My Gratitude for the Week.”

I would like to end by saying that I am grateful for being alive, living a life of relative ease in the United States, being healthy—both physically and emotionally, for having the gift of sight and communication, having friends and relatives who care and a world of people who show me that my life is worth living.

Have a great 2013!

For harmony in your life and our world,

Krishna

 

 

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MAYA: The illusion of Life

clever_goldfish_shark_400_wht_9243Our Internet access has been poor and intermittent, so I could not post this when I actually wrote it.  We are sitting in India at a friend’s place with me struggling to catch up on emails and my son trying to catch up with his school homework.

Suddenly, my 14-year-old son looks at me and says, “Papa, the world should have ended last night according to the Mayan calendar.”

Now that we have survived the end of the world, I wanted to take this opportunity to share my feelings about the root word Maya.

For some odd reason, I have been fascinated by the word Maya, which in Sanskrit means “illusion” for decades.  I liked it so much that I wanted to name our daughter Maya, but my wife would not allow it as she thought the meaning was unclear.

Certain traditions believe that all of life is a Maya.  My personal opinion tends to associate with that perspective, especially in terms of the power of our mind to create any realities that we believe.  Have you noticed how we can always find evidence to support our stance, no matter what it is.  Only after spending years writing my book and living it, I have realized the significance of the word and the reason for my infatuation with it.

Another school of thought supposes that all of reality exists only in language, which in my opinion further helps with the conjuring of an image or a scenario by our mind.  Our mind’s ability to fabricate any internal reality is simply amazing.

I have been dealing with my mother who is suffering with Alzheimer’s and find myself fairly exhausted at the end of each day.  When I put my head on the pillow to go to bed, my mind is racing with all kinds of thoughts that have been created through the various exchanges during the day.  At the end of the day, the only way that I can calm myself is by realizing that all of them are just thoughts.

Please don’t let thoughts define you; they are merely thoughts. They come and they go.  We are thought generating machines, creating Maya for one and all.

Season’s Greetings, Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Krishna

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The Fiscal Cliff: To Synergize or Compromise?

The media is inundating us everyday with news about the Fiscal Cliff.  In my humble opinion, what we have here is a classic standoff between two sides.  Please take a look at what I refer to as the third choice and let me know what you think?

Peace and be well.

Krishna

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Life blossoms in the Valley; Not usually at the Summit

Dear Friends,

I had written a post titled ‘Scaling Peaks (New Heights) and the Valley of Learning’ back in June and had my daughter create an illustration for it.  Since I liked it a lot, I made it the wall paper on my iPad.

Recently, I discovered an App on the iPad called ‘The Now’ which can be set to show nice little reminders at random intervals on your screen throughout the day.  Last week, when I turned on my iPad, I noticed a great little saying from the App.

The message was so incredible and since it was perfectly juxtaposed on top of the illustration that my daughter had made, I took a screen shot to share it with you.

Life is in the Valley

It said, “To live only for some future goal is shallow.  It’s the sides of the mountains that sustain life, not the top.”

While the original artwork was created to illustrate the journey down the valley in terms of its richness of elements and secondly, the “learning” along the way.  Life typically consists of nothing more than a collection of experiences in the world – with people and nature along with its flora and fauna.  Life predominantly expresses itself in the valley.

When our little “you” is fixated only on the goal or the destination, it forgets to partake of the very elements of life.  For example, if I were solely focused on turning on my iPad to do exactly what I reached out to do on the iPad, I would have missed this beautiful message that the universe was conveying to me. For those, who want a refresher or get to know more of the distinction between the little “you” and the big “YOU”, I have embedded the video below.

Getting caught up with the summits of success and ignoring the moments of awe and simple life experiences at the ground level is a sure way of missing out on life.  Please take the time, pause and enjoy or experience the simple moments in life and you will begin to appreciate their significance.

Peace and blessings,

Krishna

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Life’s Ultimate Skill: The Art of Making Wise Choices

While we tend to think that we use our rational sense and logic to make our choices, most often we are mistaken.  Check out my short 3 minute video for the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say.

Would love to hear your comments and how you are beginning to notice who or what is making your choices.

Peace and be well,

Krishna

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Black Friday: Who/What’s Driving You?

How do you to make the choices you make? 

While we may think it’s logic and reason, many times it’s something else — strong, hidden and invisible forces created to feed and protect us for centuries.

Have you been to a Black Friday sale? Just as the approach of autumn sends the birds migrating south, the day after Thanksgiving awakens the PIG in millions of Americans and sends them stampeding to the malls.

On Black Friday of 2008, at a Wal-Mart on Sunrise Highway in Long Island, the stampede turned lethal. Customers bursting through the doors at the 5 AM opening time trampled a store employee to death.

And though the outcome is not always so tragic, it can be bad, because the PIG is intent on coming home with some goods. Even if the hyped specials are gone — “What, no more HDTVs for $159?” — unruly herds of shoppers who’ve succumbed to their PIGs will root through the aisles, scrambling for anything that looks like a bargain. So begins an annual orgy of spending that leaves many people with debts they’ll be paying for years to come.

Everyone’s PIG is different in the details of its behavior. Not all of us have PIGs that get so excited about buying things in stores, for instance. Some people’s PIGs are more attracted to rooting through the aisles of life for sex and physical thrills … or for money, especially easy money! … or just for glory and recognition. Perhaps there’s a PIG in your neighborhood that can’t pass up any chance to look important or sound like an expert.

Nearly all PIGs, including mine, will go for a wide variety of things depending on what’s available. The common denominator is that each of us has a PIG, and unlike its four-legged namesake, it does not only go after food. It will chase any kind of pleasure, any satisfaction, as long as the reward is close at hand — lying right there in our paths —and can be gotten quickly.

PIG is in capital letters because it’s an acronym:

PIG = the ever-present drive to Pursue Instant Gratification

Each one of us is equipped with a PIG to help us in certain situations.  Watch it very carefully, so that it doesn’t take over and call your shots when the situation does not demand it.

Be present and be well.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Krishna

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