The Happiness Secret

The Happiness Secret

Well, while I was in my slump – I was busy looking for the secret of happiness and success and these are the two things that showed up consistently:

1. Daily Meditation:

Oprah Winfrey to Deepak Chopra to some of the biggest shot CEOs of today’s times- they all meditate every day.

This I completely agree with. Daily meditation just clears your energy and deletes negative energy from your space.

You can find more inspiration from this article on the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/05/business-meditation-executives-meditate_n_3528731.html

2. Wake up at or before 6 AM

Being a self-proclaimed night owl who can count the number of times I have seen the sunrise on my finger tips – this was not good news for me.

But I decided to give it a shot – and this is what I learned.

1. If you set your biological clock to wake up early – waking up isn’t so bad.

2. Waking up early without an alarm is the coolest thing ever.

3. You need a reason to wake up.

This is the most important of all. I woke up plenty of times in the past two weeks somewhere around 6 AM. I had nothing to do – so I went back to sleep.

4. You get so much more time.

Ya, I hear you – every morning person alive has said this to you already – but I want to share an experience with you.

I normally get out of bed by around 9 AM and one morning work started at 7; so I was up by 5.

After being up for 4 hours, the girl next to me took out a little box – and I automatically said “Lunch?”

She gave me the weirdest look I’ve ever seen – and said … “No – its 9, breakfast.”

WOW. I just had 4 hours of time BEFORE breakfast. Normally 4 hours after I wake up is lunch time. And these early hours in the morning are really productive.

Hope it helps!

Quick Shopping Tip

If you are ever shopping at a place which has no trial room; or you don’t have the time to try a pair of jeans or skirt on; use this simple trick to know if it will fit you:

1. Button the jeans and hold them up facing you.
2. Wrap the jeans around your neck as if it were a tie.
3. If it fits around your neck without and excess fabric; it will fit around your waist too. If it doesn’t – then it won’t fit at the waist!
Try it at home on a pair of jeans you already own to check it out!

Where happiness and inspiration hide

Where happiness and inspiration hide

The past two weeks have been weird weeks for me. I say weird – because they were pretty normal; except this lovely happiness and inspiration I wake up to had suddenly disappeared.

It was like waking up on the wrong side of the bed – everyday.

When I wake up, I normally feel – excited to take on the day. I’m looking forward to meeting my clients, getting some work done, learning something new, hitting the gym… that list goes on.

And just imagine that one morning: BOOM. Everything you love and are excited about – isn’t so interesting anymore.

The idea of getting work done feels like an albatross around your neck, and all those beautiful inspirational quotes and ideas fail to motivate you like they do every morning.

I waited patiently for a day, two days and then I remembered: If inspiration does not come to you, go after it with a club.

So – by the end of the first week, there I was, club in hand; dead in the middle of the pursuit of happiness and inspiration. With no idea where to look for these elusive things that are supposed to “live inside us”, the same question kept coming to my head.

“If happiness and inspiration are supposed to be inside me, and they have DISAPPEARED – is there ANY chance that I can get them back once they’re gone?”

I tried everything I could think of. I read blogs. Went through a million quotes. Looked up inspirational music. Looked up pictures with quotes written on them. And even some of my favorite quotes that I had downloaded to post here [but never got around to] didn’t give me the push I wanted.

Finally the answer came to me – in the two most unlikely places.

1. The Kitchen

[No, not junk food. Health food would be a better bet.]

Now – this place may differ for you. The kitchen for me was unexplored territory. I had never made a full and complete meal by myself – the idea of cooking a meal that I love got me out of bed with a big smile on my face.

So – if you are looking for a little refresher, and some inspiration or happiness; I suggest venturing into unexplored territory. Do something you’ve never done before. It’s really refreshing and helps your body reset and the things you normally love will start looking exciting again.

2. In the classroom

I am not a student, and I haven’t been for a long long time. But I recently signed up for a really interesting study-at-home short term course on http://www.coursera.org.

Learning something new, attempting to solve new problems [though assignments], wanting to learn and explore new concepts has put me back up on my toes.

I think I always knew this – that learning new things and going on an adventure [even if it was just to the kitchen] kept me young. What I didn’t know, was that it kept me happy and inspired.

Looking back at the past two weeks, I feel that lyrics of the song ‘Happiness’ by The Fray make so much sense to me: “Gone for now feels a lot like gone for good.”

If you are in the pursuit of happiness – just remember that there are two places where happiness and inspiration hide – amidst those millions of things in your unexplored territory, and outside your comfort zone.

Keep calm and keep trying new things, things that you never thought you’d do, or things that scare you [in a good way]. I’m sure that something will spark that love for life that you have temporarily forgotten.

Cooking? Aint nobody got time fo dat!

Cooking? Aint nobody got time fo dat!

The idea of getting into the kitchen to chop, stir, heat, roll, steam: ┬áseemed like the adult version of playdoh – except the longer and more irritating process.

Well. Things have changed now.

Ever since I realized how important it is for me to be actively involved into what I eat – the idea of cooking changed from being loathed to something which needed to be done.

Once I made up my mind – the challenges that came my way didn’t seem so bad. Now – I’m 3 days into my journey – and I’d like to share with you the experiences I have had – and things which you can expect to go wrong if you are starting from scratch – just like me.

1. Make a list of healthy foods that you love to eat – my included: salads, sauteed veggies, hummus, sandwiches, ragi malt [I’m vegetarian] and some smoothies.

2. Start small. Do not try over ambitious foods that require the culinary skills of Gordon Ramsay. Pick out one simple recipe [that will take less than 20 minutes to execute] for every day of the week. I think starting with cooking one meal a day is a great start – more than that would be too much for me to sustain.

3. Make a shopping list: Trust me – I have the experience. I went to the store every day of the week to pick up basics.

Chances are – if no one has been cooking these things at your place – then you don’t or won’t have the ingredients you need.

I had forgotten things like lime, chilly flakes, olive oil; and I only realized when I was half way through cooking.

Hence the list!

4. Go grocery shopping: make sure you get everything on your list – but if something healthy and new interests you – go ahead and pick it up!

5. You can now begin cooking!

I’ve been cooking for a few days – just one meal. One simple, healthy meal. And I feel great about it! Not only do I feel healthier [I’m pretty sure its all in my head, but I’m sure it’ll start to show over the next couple months], but its started to excite me.

I can now eat – ANYTHING I WANT, without making any compromises on my health, and I don’t need to spend endless hours at the gym.

THE ROUGH ROAD

The road wasn’t all smooth sailing though – I had my own fair share of hiccups and I’m sure I will have more. But these are two important things I’ve learned that the most experienced cooks never tell you [because its much too basic].

1. When something is on the stove – stand over it and watch like a hawk.

I was making this ragi malt: Prep time: 2 min.

It took me 45 min. The reason: I figured I’d check my email and be back in two min. Well, when things heat up – they act really differently – and tend to overflow and spill everywhere. So if you are trying a new recipe or working with new ingredients – your best bet is to keep an eye on everything.

2. Chop your veggies before you start cooking. [This post is for beginners!] I ended up with some burnt veggies instead of sauteed veggies because I thought I would be able to chop fast enough. Well, until I get better, getting my prep done really helps.

Does anyone else have any tips for me?

Are you making this mistake?

Are you working out – giving it your all – but nothing seems to be happening?

Well, you may be making a few simple mistakes.

1. Eating Unhealthy

What you eat is so much more important than I thought. Turns out 70% of the way your body looks and feels is based on what you eat. 30% includes exercise and other things. 70% is way more than I ever imagined, so this came as a real shocker to me.

Working out all week, and cheating heavily on the weekends could be a big reason why you aren’t seeing any changes.

2. Not drinking enough water

I always knew I didn’t get the amount of water I needed, and honestly – I felt fine. Or so I thought. The first week or two after I started counting my intake – I spent a lot of time filling up my water bottle, drinking water and rushing to the loo – but it was so worth it.

  • Muscles are mostly made of water – so – drinking enough water gives them more definition, and my workouts improved. They say water helps reduce muscle fatigue as well.
  • Skin Benefits: I always believed that I had dry skin. Well, guess what – it wasn’t dry skin – it was dehydration. I rarely use moisturizer any more – because I don’t need it and my skin is glowy-er too.
  • c. Knowing my kidneys and liver will thank me for this in the future.

3. This is the most important one: Not being in control of your meals.

Yes. This is the biggest excuse most of us give – I can’t because – I eat at the canteen, someone else does the cooking, I don’t have time so I eat out.

Not being in control of what is being cooked is the biggest mistake you can make if you really want to be healthy. Even if someone who loves you [a mother, a wife, husband, room mate] is cooking for you – there are a few main reasons why you should get involved in the process:

  • They may not know that what they are putting into your meals is affecting you. Just a little bit of oil over a week will make a substantial part of your calorie intake by the end of the week.
  • Sometimes – the healthy way is the harder way. If you need to have steamed veggies at night – someone’s gotta buy them, wash them, chop them – you get the idea. It can be a lot of effort for someone who isn’t as committed as you are – at the end of the day – its their energy, time and effort!
  • Belief systems: I have this issue with my Mom [who used to do all the cooking for me because I didn’t have time, and also I didn’t know how to cook] – she used to believe that carbs at night [in the form of white rice] was ok – because her ancestors and all the people alive that she knows have been doing it for years. I’ve explained it to her a million times – but some times – belief systems are harder to change than anything else.

So – the solution?

1. Keep a track of the amount of water you drink. I try to get though 1 liter by 12 noon so that I get my daily requirement by default by the time the day is through.

2. Learn to cook. [I’m just about starting this journey, and if you hate the idea of cooking – like me – maybe, just maybe this can change your mind.]

Building Vs. Living

In 3 minutes, Ashton Kutcher gave me something that I will remember for a long time to come.

I love how simple he made it, and also why people all over the world are talking about it.

My favorite part was when he talked about what he learned when filming the movie “jobs” building vs living. What about yours?