Aug 4, 2022

Movie Review - 19(1)(a)

 Recently, watched a beautiful Malayalam movie "19(1)(a)", with the main protagonists played by two of my favorite actors- Nithya Menon and Vijay Sethupathi.

Realistic portrayal, good screenplay, beautiful Kerala locales, and more importantly, impactful writing that leaves a mark after the movie ends.

I could resonate with both the characters and their opposite nature, more so with Nithya's.

In one of the scenes, she says, "I have always done what others expect of me". Story of my life until my early 30s.

The rebellious nature kicked in ONLY after motherhood.

The extended family kept asking, "When is the good news? When are you starting a family? All your younger cousins have given birth. Why are you delaying pregnancy?". And when I did give the good news, the same extended family didn't offer any support and went about their own lives.

That's when the rebel in me came alive. And I started to take charge of my life in ways that suit me and my priorities.

We all have the rebel inside, kept hidden. All we need is a little courage - either from a life situation or from a completely unrelated external person, just like how the nameless female character found her courage from Gauri's words.

Do give the movie a watch on Disney+Hotstar, for the sheer storytelling and brilliant acting by two best actors.

No unnecessary dramas, romance, fights, mass dialogues or punch lines.

Aug 3, 2022

How to influence family members

Imagine this:

You have started to make healthier food choices, but your spouse hasn't come on board.

You have been following a consistent exercise routine, but others in the family continue their sedentary lifestyles.

You have prioritized sleep and follow a strict "no-devices-after-9PM" rule, but others binge-watch Netflix until 1 AM.

It gets frustrating when we go through these experiences. I often go through such emotions and react instantly, but over time, I have realized the following:

  • The reason behind such frustrations is due to the expectation we have of others. Years back, when I went for an AOL program, I learned this valuable insight - "Expectations reduce joy, surprises enhance joy". If we deeply analyze our emotions, there is always an underlying expectation that leads to suffering. In this case, the expectation is that other family members should start taking responsibility for their health.
  • Everyone goes through a wellness journey. The starting points of this journey will be different. It is unlikely that our journeys will be synced with our spouses. We can't coerce them into starting this journey through logic, explanation, or fear. The motivation has to come from within.
  • Until then, all we can do is have complete trust in the Universe and believe that our loved ones will also begin their journey soon.

I heard this phrase in a workshop - to influence others, just focus on your journey. This argument has merit - we cannot change anyone else, but ourselves and our behaviors. But will this eventually lead to influencing family members?

As I pondered deeper, I arrived at this conclusion.

Each of us acts as a transmitter of energy based on our thoughts and actions. When we make healthy choices, such actions emit energy into our external environment. These can ONLY influence others when their RECEIVERS are switched ON and tuned to receive our energy frequency.

That's precisely why I believe it is easier to influence young children, with our lifestyle choices. Their receivers are always ready to receive the energies from others at home.

But for adults (spouse, parents, in-laws, etc), their receivers might either be tuned to other frequencies or might be too distracted to receive our energies.

When will their receivers be ready? When they understand their NEEDs - the need for wellbeing, need for ease, and need for peace.

Aug 1, 2022

Do I remember everything I read?

 "Do you remember everything you read?", someone had posed this question.

Short answer - Not at all 🙂

Long answer - my intention to read books is not to remember every single point or insight. I'm not reading for the sake of any competitive exams🙂 Thank God, those days are behind me. I now read because I love reading.

When I read, I highlight all sentences/phrases/passages that struck a chord with me. Writing book reviews help me summarize my takeaways, which I revisit whenever needed.

If I need to reference a particular topic at a later point in time, I know exactly which book I need to check and I look it up immediately. I have a copy of all books that I have read and found valuable - either as a physical copy or on Kindle. I'm very particular about not lending my books🙂

Books aren't just sources of information or facts.

Imagine your brain/mind as a huge palace with infinite rooms that are locked. Any new insight that we come across is a Key to opening a room. For me, books are those valuable keys.

Keys could also be conversations with people, taking up new courses, watching informative videos, listening to podcasts, etc. No key is superior or inferior. They open new rooms which we didn't know existed in our minds.

As we unlock new rooms, more ideas, insights, and possibilities come into our vision. We also arrive at a certain direction to take as we navigate through the maze of rooms.

While we progress in this journey of unlocking, we also realize that certain rooms get unlocked automatically without the need for an external key. These are our experiences, self-realizations, intuitions, and surprise gifts from the Universe.

Choose your keys according to your preference. And enjoy this beautiful unlocking journey. You never know what you might stumble across!

Jul 31, 2022

Book Review: Hyperfocus by Chris Bailey

 July has been a good month for me from a reading point of view. Wrapping it up with an insightful book on attention and focus. 

Picking a book to read is always about what I want to improve or learn more about right now. As I started to reprioritize my focus and consciously manage the distractions from my life, it was an obvious choice to pick up this book from my home library.

The first section on "Hyperfocus" mode was easy to relate to and I was glad that I've already been applying many of the principles - taming my distractions, picking up tasks that require hyperfocus, and being mindful of my attention space.

When there is a 2*2 matrix, I know I'm gonna love the chapter🙂 The author talks about the different types of tasks we do in our daily lives based on their productive and attractive nature of them. The whole topic of attentional space and how we should manage this limited resource was fabulous. He then talks about the 4-step process to get into the hyperfocus mode. Lots of valuable insights are provided on setting the right intentions, managing our distractions, and strategies to increase our attentional space. Meditation and mindfulness are the top recommended ways that improve our focus and reduce mind wandering.

The most precious takeaway for me was covered in the latter half - "Scatterfocus" mode - the opposite of hyperfocus and its crucial role in creativity. The chapters on Scatterfocus were super insightful and helped me understand the areas I need to work on. I practice a thought dump meditation using pen and paper (which I had written about earlier). Turns out this activity is one of the styles of scatterfocus.

Doing nothing, doing habitual activities that don't require a lot of attention, going for a nature walk, and just being with our thoughts are some of the activities when our brain goes into scatterfocus mode.

After spending intense efforts in hyperfocus mode, we usually switch over to distractions that are stimulating. Instead, if we intentionally get into scatterfocus mode, disparate ideas start to converge, new insights emerge and dots connect more easily.

A few favorite passages:
"Intention is the bouncer of your attentional space - it lets in the productive objects of attention and keeps the distractions out."
"When our brain is even slightly resisting a task, it hunts for more attractive things it could do instead."
"The smaller the object of attention, the more your mind will wander, but the more you'll expand the size of your attentional space as you focus on it."
"Focus becomes effortless when you're working on a task that's intrinsically motivating."

Highly recommend this book if this topic is of interest to you.

Jul 30, 2022

Conscious Use of OTT platforms

 In the past 5 years, our consumption of entertainment through OTT platforms has increased multifold. 

Ever since I succumbed to the "Good Wife" binge-watching episode back in 2017, I've become conscious of my time spent on OTT platforms.

As I started observing my behavior, I noticed a pattern - I might switch on the TV to watch something interesting for 15-20 minutes when I'm taking a break. As I open any of the platforms, I invariably keep scrolling to figure out what to watch most of the time and end up feeling exhausted, before making a choice. These platforms pave way for infinite scroll behavior, similar to social media.

A few steps taken so far:

  • We have subscribed to Prime and Disney-Hotstar annual plans. For Netflix, we usually subscribe for a month, and then take a break for 3 months. This decision was mainly due to the higher monthly subscription charges. It also avoids the trap of pushing ourselves to watch something instantly, as soon as a new movie is released. For eg, I watched Shyam Singha Roy, Hey Sinamika, and Ante Sundaraniki all during the past month, though they were released in different months.
  • I prefer to watch movies over web series. Movies are a 2-3 hour commitment, whereas web series requires a lot more time, once we start watching them. If a web series is highly recommended or something that I might like, the first thing I check is the number of seasons and episodes in each season. Recently, I watched "Suzhal" which had only 8 episodes.
  • I don't watch every single new movie that gets released. I only choose movies in the genre of my liking - comedy, romance, light-hearted, or drama. Many movies are so violent and gory these days. Not worth our time and mental energy.
  • I prefer to access OTT platforms on our living room TV, and not on my laptop. This way, I don't end up spending time on TV when my daughter is around, as the content might not be appropriate for her age.
  • Be it weekdays or weekends, I feel sleepy by 9:30-10 PM. So I don't prefer to watch movies that stimulate my mind in the late evenings.

We are what we consume, through our senses. Being mindful about the content we take in has a tremendous impact on our wellbeing.

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