Decide to do something meaningful and start today

Decide to do something meaningful and start today

There are people who’ve had jobs and yet gotten fired and hit rock bottom. Then there are people who never get fired, hate what they do and waste their life away.

At 29 YOU have the chance to do something meaningful, something valuable that’ll make you happier. Getting a job is not the only way, but if it helps you and that’s what you’re looking for – go for it.

As for “transferable skills”, you can learn them! Read books on psychology or people. How to win friends and influence people by Dale Carnegie is a good starting point. There’s no end to content out there – books and articles – that will teach you how to be better, smarter, more influential, and more valuable.

Only YOU can decide what you want to do and go out there and do it. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but it’s harder on you if you don’t do anything.

A new book, and some introductions. 

A new book, and some introductions. 

I’m really excited to share with you all work that’s soon going to be released.

It combines by interests for history, philosophy and cosmology and brings together some of the ideas that we fought through the ages and still continue to fight for: the truth and freedom of expression.

new book: the things we don't know

“That which is lost may be found again at a different time by a different individual. That’s the great thing about humanity: we are one in our search. For truth, for answers, for meaning.”

An excerpt from my upcoming book, available for pre order on Amazon and iBooks!

 

Communicate Better: Three Steps To Be A Top Communicator

Communicate Better: Three Steps To Be A Top Communicator

Practice. There is no other way to communicate better.

The question then becomes, practice what? The three things one ought to do to be a better communicator are:

  1. Ask open ended questions: A yes/no question will lead to a yes/no answer. Ask questions that gets people to tell you what they think and feel about something.
  2. Understand: This means, actively listen to what the other person is saying. Don’t worry about responding. Just listen, and make the speaker aware that you are listening: Head nods, eye contact, mental notes all work, use them sparingly but use them!
  3. Replay: Re-iterate what someone just told you. With emphasis on what was new information to you in that conversation. “Oh , by re-iterating, I can make people feel like I’ve understood and listened to what they’ve said!”

There is no rocket science.

If you want to improve this about your skills, call or walk up to a person – your family, friends, a colleague, some stranger – and apply these techniques every single day.

Incidentally, if you’re talking about communicating by speaking better rather than being understood – then stand in front of a mirror and say something. anything that comes to your mind. Look at your expressions, your tone, your enunciation. It’ll feel awkard at first, but you may get a better sense of what people see when they look at you.

How To Not Quit, Not Be Bored, And Find Success In Everything

I originally answered this as to a quora question. I absolutely love quora because of the breadth of information can be found there, especially subjective answers to things not otherwise found on Wikipedia. I do love Wikipedia as well – though I think of them as complementary rather than competition. 

The original question was:

I tend to quit things when I start getting really good at them. How do I stop doing this?

It might have to do with boredom – as you get a surface level understanding of things, the marginal utility you get out of learning new things gets smaller.

You know, say, a few techniques of drawing and therefore can draw something from scratch. You’ve done it already, so there seems to be no motivation for you to continue to dig deeper. You may also be looking for intellectual stimulation that pays off right away.

I would prefer to not think about “failure” at all, because no matter what you do, failure is just bringing you one step closer to where you want to be, with different results.

When you’ve failed, you’ve still accomplished something, just not what you wanted to. Another way to think about “failure” is perhaps that you don’t know everything and the more you learn – different techniques, different moves, different mental model – the better off you’ll be.

If it helps, the way evolution works is also through *failure*. In the sense that it makes small errors in replicating DNA and manages to create new life.

Your failures may help you create new and interesting discoveries which you wouldn’t otherwise. It’s just part of the process!

This answer, of course, is based on a surface level understanding of what you’re trying to ask.

If it is the case that you get bored easily and/or are looking for instantaneous intellectual stimulation. Perhaps setting short term and long term goals and deadlines might help.

For Chess, I use the Chess.com app and try to solve 1 puzzle daily. It’s not much, but it gets me 1 game closer.

I used the same technique to run a marathon 5 years ago and continue to run to this day. A little at a time, (3–5k a day, then 1k more every 2 weeks) and I had a sense (at least partially) what my end goal was.

Hope this helps.

An Ode To Death, Inspired By Bertrand Russell

That we are not perfect is widely accepted. Why else do we need to work towards the betterment of ourselves? Not that we all do it as much as we ought to, and in this busy world where there are a million things to do, it just gets harder.

I came about this quote from Bertrand Russell, a part of his essay “On History”. A very worthwhile, if arduous, read.

The past alone is truly real: the present is but a painful, struggling birth into the immutable being of what is no longer. Only the dead exist fully. The lives of the living are fragmentary, doubtful, and subject to change; but the lives of the dead are complete, free from the sway of Time, the all-but omnipotent lord of the world. Their failures and successes, their hopes and fears, their joys and pains, have become eternal – our efforts cannot now abate one jot of them. Sorrows long buried in the grave, tragedies of which only a fading memory remains, loves immortalized by Death’s hallowing touch – these have a power, a magic, an untroubled calm, to which no present can attain.

It simultaneously accepts death, and gives us – the living – a reason to rejoice in our imperfections. We can be perfect when we are dead. Now, is the time to become better, for we are not perfect now.

It is an ode to the transience of life. That life can be miserable for some people is well known, and for some others, life is a party, a festival to enjoy the fruits of the billions of years of evolution.

In either case, there will come a time, in each of our lives, when these won’t matter. Perhaps this sounds emo, on the surface. But, it is one additional reason for us to accept what we have, what we can do about the time we are given, because in the end, our time will end – and when it does, we will take to our grave what we’ve left behind as the living.

The Fascinating Fibonacci Series, Math and Our Universe

The Fascinating Fibonacci Series, Math and Our Universe

Fibonacci & Our place in the universe

I recently came across this video while looking for some fascinating nerd stuff – mathematics and quantum physics. Lately I’ve been curious about how the world works and understanding the building blocks of our universe.

Incidentally, I’m also reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan, which does a pretty amazing job of explaining our place in the universe, and explaining the universe itself. If you haven’t read it, I would highly suggest it.

What is the Fibonacci Series?

Coming back to the video, It talks about the Fibonacci series and how mathematics is ingrained into the universe. The Fibonacci series is found in petal counts.

Fibonacci Series is a series of numbers, which you can get by doing the following:

You start with 1 and 1, and from there on, you keep adding the last two numbers. So what you get is, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on until infinity. Incidentally, the petals of daisies follow the Fibonacci series (even in spirals of the pine cones!).

How amazing is that. It seems random enough but it fascinates me that there is some underlying mathematical explanation to the universe.

Take a look at the video here (The conversation and explanation around Fibonacci Series starts @ 4.30 mark):

Why does Math fit in so well with our universe, and why bother?

The video is generally interesting too, because it talks about why Math fits in so perfectly with our universe and explains it so well.

Initially, this conversation seemed absurd to me, because it seemed like we are simply extrapolating information from how the world seems to us, and creating mathematical theories around it, but there is a bit more to it than that.

It seems odd that a system that was originally devised to help us keep track of how many sheep we had, can be used to help us understand how the universe was created, how sub-atomic particles interact, and be used to calculate the existence and properties of particles not yet discovered.

Why? It has prompted John Barrow in his book ‘Pi in the sky’ to say. “There is an ocean of mathematical truth lying undiscovered around us: we explore it, discovering new parts of its limitless territory. This expanse of mathematical truth exists independently of mathematicians. It would exist even if there were no mathematicians at all… “

I discovered this website while researching for this post, and it’s got me even more hooked! I mean, how amazing is it that we have no idea why math works – why does it exist – is it man made or does it have an existence somewhere out there?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, it does exist. Either in our minds or out there, and it helps us answer so many questions about the world.

I don’t suppose I know anything about mathematics, in relative terms, but that’s no reason to not be fascinated by it.

Are there any interesting things you’ve found recently?

What Should We Do To Improve Human Life?

I was very close to making the title of this post “the three steps to achieving world peace” or “improve human life in three easy steps”. Those would get me the clicks, but would they bring back my soul?

Jokes aside – this was originally a question on quora. I liked the question so much, I decided to put it up on the blog as well. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I think I have the perfect solution to this question – and my gut says that it will work if we are willing to adopt it. My gut, and my past knowledge of humanity, also says that this will probably not be adopted.

1. Empathize 

Try to understand the other person. Do something for him or her. Try to get where they’re coming from, their motives, intentions, the why of their existence.

This goes a long way because you and I can quickly forgive those whom we know have a good intention.

2. Forget about ownership

This is not just about material ownership. This goes for the time when you say my wife, my child, and my thoughts. Yours is not yours. Mine is not mine. Your child has his own motives and intentions and the same mantra goes for your other half. Let everyone do whatever the hell they want – with a few rules. Don’t hurt others, Don’t be destructive and if you need to destroy 1 resource, make sure you plant 2. There is no I.

3. Focus on the positive

Lots of amazing things happen in the world every day. Lot of these amazing things we don’t even know about. I wrote in a previous post about how the chances of us existing at all are close to none – can you imagine what the chances of you existing are?

It’s crazy stuff!

The big stuff aside – focusing on positive is important because it makes us happier. And a happier human being is a happier society. “Im so tired” has become the mantra of our generation and is it really all that necessary to be all that tired all the time?

On the same lines, it is possible that we might not have come as far as we have today (space travel, energy innovation) if we didn’t have the innate need to own and compete for limited resources.

But if #2 is not possible, I am pretty damn sure that we can all still empathize and focus on the positive things in our life and world. That alone brings us 66% (2/3rds) closer to where you want us all to be. And if you’re talking about improving human life – perhaps one ought to start with oneself.

I’m keenly aware that this answer focuses solely on the non-material aspects of improving human life, and in my opinion, it seems to be the most important at the moment.

Comparing yourself to others is crazy – but you already know that!

I’m sure that you have heard of this quote widely attributed to Einstein:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing it’s stupid.”

It’s quite apt in a situation where we tend to compare ourselves to others. Perhaps we don’t think you are stupid, but comparing our lives to others’ is a sign of looking externally for validation of our abilities.

I’ve been in the workforce, as have many others, for longer than I have been in college. Anyone of us can tell you that grades do not matter as far as ability to lead a successful life goes.

To live a successful life, some of the things you need are:

  1. empathy
  2. emotional intelligence, and
  3. an ability and willingness to prioritise the needs of you and those around you
  4. and a host of other things

Ask yourself this question: why are you comparing yourself to others? Is it because it gives you a sense of satisfaction that you have done well? Is it because it’s very important to you that you have a better life than others?

If you answered yes to one or both the questions above – then consider this:

It’s great that you know that grades are important to you and want what they have. You would do well to focus on getting the best life you possibly canComparing can lead to temporary depression and it is just unnecessary stress you don’t really need.

Comparing your life and wanting it to be better than others is like saying: I don’t want to just win, I want others to fail.

Alternatively, compare your life and be happy when you get better grades than others. And when you don’t, make a mental note that you have another chance next time and you’ll do better.

These are the different alternatives you have. No one way of thinking is the best possible thought – life is subjective.

In most of life you will do well if you are able and willing to invest time into what you do. But you will do even better if you are able and willing to take others along with you on your journey.

In my opinion, comparing isn’t necessary. Life is a team game and we, the human kind, are one team.

Thoughts?

PS. I had originally written this as an answer to a quora question on grades. I liked the question so much, and it was so apt to life, that I decided to answer it as a question on life.

Reading and the Three Golden Rules of Wisdom

Reading and the Three Golden Rules of Wisdom

Every person that I meet wants to read more. Two problems face us when it comes to reading. First, we don’t have enough time to read at all and second, when we do – there is so much to read and so little time.

Conversely, We don’t spend as much time reading as we used to. This story is conducted in the US, but the decline in reading is probably global.

Rule #1: Context Matters. It’s not just about what you’re reading, but also about how and why it relates to the real world.

There are people who don’t read books at all – and this was surprising to me. Until I heard someone on TV say that we read just as much as we used to. Blogs and tweets have replaced books.

While you can gleam peripheral and superficial knowledge about something in 140 characters or from a quote – what you don’t get is context. 

So here’s the first golden rule: You choose what to read. And that either you can give yourself context as to why and how that book (or phrase, or chapter, or tweet) relates to the real world, or the author can give you context.

Context is important because it’s not about the what but also about why this book matters to your existence as a human being 

Rule #2: No book is bad. That’s like someone saying I’m a bad person. why? Is it because of my ethics or morals? My lack of people skills? My dressing sense? Be specific as to why a book is bad.

Saying a book is bad is an unnecessarily vague statement. Why is it bad? What’s so bad about it?

Is it:

  • written incoherently?
  • Has no point?
  • Grammar and/or language is unsuitable?
  • Author is otherwise a bore?

Whether or not you like a book is subjective to your own tastes of course. A history buff would love to read something about East Germany while someone into fantasy would think that same topic is oh-em-gee-so-boringggg!

So, no book is bad in it’s entirety. Coherently structure what is so “bad” about a book and try to look past it to get the ideas out. Concepts and ideas improve our understanding of the world.

Which leads me to the third point:

Rule #3: Your time is your own. If you can’t get past page 42 of a certain book – chuck it out.

Invest time where your returns are more guaranteed. It’s your time. It is possible that one is not enlightened enough to understand the book – either unenlightened because the language is too elegant or unenlightened because the concepts don’t make sense.

Conversely, it is possible that a book is “bad”. Give the book a benefit of the doubt and see, if, perhaps it’s not the book but one’s understanding of the world due to which the book is unable to teach us.

Passion: Did you give it your very best?

Passion: Did you give it your very best?

How many conversations have you had about Passion?

Most of life is about reflection and to ask oneself whether one is living the best possible life.

So many people continue to reevaluate, turning away from job opportunities that are prestigious but not courageous, making families out of friends and neighbors, buying less, giving away more, sharing and renting rather than owning, reinventing rituals and ritualizing reinvention. So many people are looking compassionately and critically at their own parents’ lives and choosing to do things differently, sometimes even reclaiming edifying, abandoned elements of their grandparents’ lives. ~ The New Better Off by Courtney Martin

It is easy to leave your job or the things that bind us by thinking that they are limiting. But these same things, in some way or another keep us grounded.

It is great to read that our parents and those who came before us did so much to make our lives simpler. They worked hard doing things they didn’t want to, so we could work hard doing things that we want.

These days, everyone talks about passion. What is it that makes us tick? In this world of constant buzz of passion, there is something to be said about having the courage to stick to something even when you don’t enjoy it.

It is possible that we are too impatient, too thoughtless, too narrrow-minded. We don’t give something enough time and understanding to make it worthwhile because it’s not instantaneous. How can one know if something is worthwhile or not if one doesn’t give it enough time and attention?

When times get tough, many quit. “Passion” is not about the moments when you’re energized because the work is invigorating. It is about the moments when you don’t feel like doing it, and yet, you just do.

Stick to something, stick though the thick and the thin, ride the waves – make something happen – whatever that something is.