Mar 25, 2022

How the two recent reads helped me understand a situation?

 I'm mostly a very calm person. I rarely raise my voice. I'm a human and I do experience anger and frustration at times, when things don't go as expected. But I usually tend to brew the anger within and not blow it out or shout at others (It's a different story during PMS days, I admit! The Chandramukhi in me comes out all of a sudden ;-)).

This morning, I had to engage in a difficult conversation and needed to assert my thoughts. I could literally feel that I was invoking anger within in order to assert my voice.

As I looked back on the conversation, the chapter from the book "The courage to be disliked" came right in front of my eyes. I had a goal - "Convey how I felt about a situation" and I used anger as a tool to achieve that goal. Could I have conveyed the same, without anger? Possibly, but it wouldn't have had the same effect.

What triggered the goal in the first place? That the situation I had been put through was unfair. Even though the opposite party apologised and admitted that they were wrong, I couldn't bear the unfairness that I was subjected to.

As I explored what triggered me in the past, I could see a pattern emerging - in situations where I expect fairness and I don't receive it, it angers me quite a bit.  The chapter on Fairness from the book "Finding awareness" gave me some consolation. "Life is not fair or unfair, it is simply indifferent."

While we go through this thought - "Life is unfair to us", the suffering we face makes us feel isolated. As the author Amit Pagedar says, "We are blinded by our pain to such a degree that we forget to notice how everyone around us is suffering too."

I'll be referring to these two books often, as they have come to my life at the right time and are helping me process my thoughts and emotions.

Going deeper and just observing ourselves without judging, criticizing, analyzing or problem solving is all that is required.  The resulting self-awareness will provide the answers we need.

Mar 22, 2022

Book Review: The Courage to be disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga

 I first came across this book in one of Ankur Warikoo's book recommendation videos on Youtube. The title piqued my curiosity and I ordered this book a few weeks back. Over the last weekend, I was engrossed in this brilliant writing, that dispels many of our commonly held notions and beliefs about life.

"The courage to be disliked" has a narrative style, similar to that of Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie. It is written in a dialogue format, between a young man and a philosopher, who engage in a conversation for five nights. This provides a perfect foundation to anticipate and answer questions that would run in a reader's mind. I could resonate with the young man's questions at multiple points throughout the book.

Statements like "People fabricate anger", "Desire for recognition makes you unfree", "Do not rebuke or praise" etc seem unbelievable at first sight, but as the philosopher slowly explains and answers the young man's follow-up questions, the reader gains a lot of clarity on how these make a lot of sense. Some of the lessons from this book are applicable across multiple aspects of our life - work/career, parenting, goal setting, relationships, community, etc.

I felt mind-blown with some of the examples and the following lessons. For eg,

  • how we give meaning to our experiences and use our past to our advantage
  • the role of horizontal relationships (we are equal, but not same)
  • how praising someone puts us on a pedestal, thereby enforcing a vertical relationship
  • how our desire for recognition robs us of our freedom
  • the importance of separating one's tasks

The principles outlined in this book are based on Adlerian psychology, put forth by Alfred Adler. It opened my eyes to a new line of thinking. Felt like a new room door has been opened in my mind🙂

As always, a few favorite quotes from the book!

We are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.

All problems are interpersonal relationship problems.

If one really has confidence in oneself, then one doesn't feel the need to boast.

Wishing so hard to be recognised will lead to a life of following expectations held by other people who want you to be "this kind of person". 

All interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other people's tasks or having one's own tasks intruded on.

Freedom is being disliked by other people. 

In the act of praise, there is the aspect of it being "the passing of judgment by a person of ability on a person of no ability". 

If one is shining a bright spotlight on here and now, one cannot see the past or the future anymore.

Adding this to my favorite list of books. If you love self-help, philosophy, or psychology, I highly recommend this one.

Mar 15, 2022

Book Review: Finding Awareness by Amit Pagedar

 One of the main reasons why I love Instagram is its ability to enable serendipitous connections -

people who resonate with my posts,

people who are on similar journeys, similar interests, and hobbies,

people who make the effort to recommend books or other people whose posts I would value.

One such conversation resulted in me discovering Amit Pagedar - findingawareness.

As his posts connected with me so deeply, the obvious next step is to pick up his book. I felt so happy to see it on Kindle unlimited. For the past 3 weeks, I read this thought-provoking book, slowly and steadily.

This book opened up a lot more insights about myself. I was so in awe of this book that I ordered a physical copy and planning to re-read it, one chapter at a time.

Why did this book have such an impact on me? Is it the timing? Is it the questions that were running in my mind? No idea, but I'm just embracing it as always. A book arrives when you are ready to receive the message. Will repeat this statement for eternity🙂

The crux of this book is all about our journey towards self-discovery. The author starts with the question everyone must have asked ourselves at some point in our lives - "Who are we?". He then moves onto an in-depth coverage of various sources of our suffering - comparison, unfairness, insecurity, fear, hurt, etc, peeling each layer with such simplicity and clarity. As we embark on the journey of self-discovery, he reiterates the importance of centering, using our breath as a bridge between body and mind, the power of unconditioned listening, feeling, and seeing. Loved the chapter on Insight meditation and how observing our thoughts as is without trying to change or analyze is so important.

My favorite section of the book is on the structure of the ego and the three Selves. Brilliant explanation on how judgments, beliefs, and attachments are formed.

I have highlighted so many phrases/passages throughout the book. It is a tough challenge to pick a few but will give it a try.

We become eager to take on whatever identity the world is ready to give us, as long as it leads to some form of acceptance and security. As long as we are seen, we are willing to follow.

Anxiety arises when we know we are about to face a problem and we have no help.

We will never be secure tomorrow, we can only be secure today and now.

Conditioned listening requires a lot less effort because we have all our judgments, prejudices, biases, insecurities, and fears eager to provide us answers.

Our unresolved emotional past is always trying to find completion. It is looking for an opening into our conscious mind.

Judgments offer an immediate comfort in a world full of uncertainties. Judging helps us pretend that we understand.

When your passion meets your responsibility, it becomes your purpose.

Our unknown is a modified version of the known (the past) which we fear.

What’s important is not the validation we seek, but the deficiency we feel before we seek it.

Thoughts leave when the conflict between them is resolved.

Philosophy/spirituality seems to have become my go-to genre in the past 3 years and Finding awareness is one of the best books I have read in this genre.

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