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March 18, 2014

How to stop feeling depressed – 3 little ways to cure depression naturally

stop feeling depressed

If you could consciously observe your thought when you’re depressed, you’ll realize that no matter how hard you try, there is a flush of negative emotions erupting from somewhere within your brain. You want to stop feeling sad, bad and guilty about relationships, your choices, the decisions you made some time back and how your life is going nowhere. Is this what you keep thinking all the time?

The only way to get out of this situation is to help yourself, and even when you’re completely not in the mood, take that first step anyway. Whether you’re ready or not, you got to do something to cure it, because research suggests that our thoughts are contagious.

Researchers at Notre Dame University recruited over 100 pairs of roommates just starting off their freshman year. Roommates at the large Midwestern university the researchers studied, by the way, are randomly assigned to live together via a computer selection system. People don’t pick who they are going to live with and all freshman are required to live on campus.

The researchers asked both roommates to complete measures of cognitive vulnerability (basically their tendency to focus on their negative mood and to ruminate about it), measures of the occurrence of stressful events in their lives, and questionnaires intended to capture their depressive symptoms 3 times over a six month period. The first time the roommates filled out the measures was within one month of arriving on campus.

So, what did they find? In short, a student’s level of cognitive vulnerability three and six months out was significantly affected by his/her roommate’s cognitive vulnerability at initial testing (and vice versa). And, the more someone increased in cognitive variability across the school year, the more likely they were to develop symptoms of depression in response to stressful life events. – (Source)

The first step is to look around you. Whether you want to cure depression or improve at anything in your life, this is how you should start. Observe your surroundings, the people you live with.

The best way to improve at anything is to find the right people to be with. As you notice and change the people you decide to accompany, you’ll find your life taking the right turn.

Roy Baumeister and Mark Leary have an argument that one of the most basic human natures is to belong. You want to be there for someone. And the feeling has to be mutual. The very reason a lot many teenagers live a depressed life is because they don’t feel the emotion of lovingly being owned by someone. They feel the lack of freedom in not being called for in the first place.

Lack of belonging causes undetermined effects on health and happiness too. In fact, Baumeister and Leary say that it causes mental illness to the extent people suffer from physical and mental illness and they’re even more prone to accidents and even suicide.

If you are depressed, or if one of your loved one is, here is what you can do for them – belong to someone and make people belonged to you. Respect them, support their ideas, their dreams and pursuits, appreciate them, and tell them how much you love them.

Well, on second thought, when you do this, you’ll have an equal surge of energy raging back towards you and pull you out of your lows right away.

Many people are depressed because of their chaotic way of living. An organized life is much less likely to take you in there than an unorganized life. Some people go into depression because they can’t find a way out in life. They want to pursue something, just that they don’t know what to. Prolonged confusion about life matters can be depressing.

Keep a journal. That’s the best way to get around a situation like this. All you got to do is make a list of all the things you did from morning till evening. Make two columns. In the left column list the time and on the right column, list down what you did during that time.

Once you’re done, observe the list and categorize the activities. What are the activities you must stop indulging in right away? What are the activities making you procrastinate? What are the activities you feel excited about? Depressed about? What are the activities you should be doing right now to achieve some positive results in the future?

Now that you know your priorities well, painfully put yourself to work if you have to but get the most important activity done in the first place, each day.

When you achieve a positive result, you will automatically feel the flow of positive energy from all around you. People will appreciate you, you family will support you, there will be people congratulating you for your success and that will eventually pave a natural path for curing your depressed state of mind.

So, here’s what you can do when you’re feeling depressed. Get out and take a little walk. Stop procrastinating and do something that makes you feel good. Interact with people. Pull the lever and appreciate people for what they are. Or simple start appreciating randomly. Make them belong to you and you’ll belong to them. Get away from people who make you feel depressed as much as you can.

March 11, 2014

When it’s impossible to take control

For me, it was sleep. I found it impossible not fall asleep in the afternoon. I would set an alarm for 30 minutes and get up 2 hours later, only to repent having wasted time doing nothing. I had to do something about it and there was not much I could do. I fell asleep late, got up late in the morning and had a luxurious siesta in the afternoon everyday.

Add to it procrastination, indiscipline and confusion and you become a guy no one cares about. So, to take control, all I could think of was stay away from bed. If I’m nearby bed, I’m asleep. So, better stay away from it in the first place.

Then, give yourself a pleasurable incentive. I watched a TEDx talk where the speaker had to take some injections every few days and he cheated himself into it, while doing what he loved to do – watch movies. You frame a distraction around your work and stick with it.

That’s what the famous Marshmallow Experiment is all about too! You create distractions to stick with your activity, to do or not do something. As we know that persistence and consistency are the keys to getting efficient at anything, when it feels impossible to take control, use the power of distraction to stay with it.

March 9, 2014

Stop planning to stop procrastinating

Sometimes I’m a pro-procrastinator, and what I’ve come to believe is that planning to stop procrastinating is one of the dumbest ways to do it. Some while ago, I made it a daily habit to observe my habitual activities. I wanted to find out what was keeping me from actually doing the work. I decided to observe and make a list of all the possible things that came in between me and work. A real little thing I discovered was this…

I procrastinated a lot more when I intentionally planned a lot. I never stayed with the plans anyway. The more I planned, the more I wasted time doing something else. So, I stopped planning hectic schedules. I stopped making hour to hour time limits and deadlines. I ignored all the things that overwhelmed me about my work and decided to do just one simple thing – stay with the work for just 25 minutes, no strings attached.

The Promodoro Technique already suggested 25 minutes, so I kind of adapted it from there. But don’t make it more than that, at least not when you’re simply deciding to work. For the next 25 minutes, your job is not to think about how you’ll complete the work or how slow you’re making progress. All you got to do is stay stuck with it.

Of course, you should have long term goals and maybe a huge activity list to achieve those goals. Just that, you can not schedule and plan to stop procrastinating when you’re already procrastinating. It never works.

March 1, 2014

3 things to not worry about when you’re beginning to meditate

Meditation is all about the pursuit of nothingness. It's like the ultimate rest. It's better than the best sleep you've ever had. It's a quieting of the mind. It sharpens everything, especially your appreciation of your surroundings. It keeps life fresh. – Huge Jackman

I’ve seen a lot many people meditating. But, what I completely dislike and regret about them is that once they start, they begin to form beliefs. The beliefs that hinder your progress and often make you procrastinate. When I started meditating years ago, I knew nothing about it. Back then, it wasn’t even this popular and I desperately looked for further improvement.

Everyone I went for help did know how to meditate, but they never told me what not to worry about as a beginner. We all pass through these obstacles, but if we keep putting persistent effort, we eventually overcome them. So, here are the 3 important things you should not worry about when you’re beginning into meditation.

1. Your meditations last less than 5 minutes

Not everyone can meditate like a pro from the very first day. When most people can’t keep their eyes closed for longer periods of time, they feel overwhelmed. They think meditation is not for them and they’re ready to quit. Think about this for a moment. You’ve been living an extroverted life all these years and suddenly, you tell your mind and body to look within.

But you should not worry about this. Try using some meditation music on the side and you should easily last longer. In fact, you don’t even have to think about how long you last. Instead, be grateful of the time you get to spend meditating, because as your vibrations rise, you’ll begin to automatically meditate more.  

2. You can’t stop thinking

When I started, I had this idea that I should be focused on a thought all the time during meditation. I thought meditation was about keeping my thoughts in control. I was so wrong! After learning all these methods I’ve come to a conclusion that meditation is not about thinking at all. In fact, it is about letting go. Let go. And the best way to let go of something is to hold on to something new.

That’s what mantras are for! That’s what self-affirmations are for! Start by repeating a mantra. When your mind starts skipping it for a thought, give it your conscious attention for a moment and decide to let go. Don’t make it verbal. Feel it.

When you get used to not thinking, it should stop. And I believe that’s what we all need to understand when we are starting to meditate for the first time – we’ll have to spend time getting used to.

3. You get headaches after meditating

So, if this is happening with you, the reason might sound a bit too frisky to digest. When we meditate, we turn our consciousness within. What that means is, we turn our focus within. When we say Focus, we mean flow of energy. When you focus on something, you’re actually giving your undivided energy to that subject. A huge part of our focus depends on our eyes. When we look at something, we attract attention, we give in our energy.

No wonder why maintaining eye contact is one of the most important parts of seduction.

Now, when you’re meditating, don’t just have all the focus on your head all the time. That’s one way to get started. Start with step by step focusing on all the parts of your body. This will not only relax and provide much needed cosmic vibrations to that part of your body, it will revitalize it. Make it a step by step process.

Start from your feet, feel the diving energy entering your body from within, let it flow upward into every part of your body and fill your body.

Conclusion

Meditation is meant to free you from yourself. Don’t make it mechanical. Make it as simple as possible and don’t worry about worrying. Just get there and breathe.

February 26, 2014

7 habits you can cultivate for a damn good life!


“Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” Benjamin Franklin 
I’m not the most perfect person on the planet. I make mistakes, learn from them, make the same ones less often, and find time to make new ones. But, from the very beginning I had this idea that no matter how chaotic your day was supposed to be, you should have healthy activities that form a routine, like brushing and breakfast for example.

I’ve learned that you don’t have to control all of your day. Instead, you should take control of just a few activities that can turn your life around dramatically!  There was  time in my life where I need a complete transformation. I was depressed, I had not clue of what I wanted to do with my life and my days were complete chaos.

I had to start somewhere, and here’s how I did. I went back in time and listed all the habits and then I made a list of all the habits that were quite controllable, but I was putting them off simply out of laziness. So, here’s a quick list of 5 such habits.

1. Become a log. And do it enough!

Even if you don’t get into the details of what researchers and psychologists have found, you’ll realize that when you don’t get enough sleep, your body simply doesn’t feel right. It feels like lazy piece of pie. Get enough sleep. If you can’t sleep early, or easily, make it a habit to meditate before you sleep, but by all means, get to be regularly.

2. Close your eyes and say… Ommmmmmmmmm!

My day’s best time is meditation. I never tried to get into details of what is good and stuff about meditation. Once I started meditating, I feel like meditating everyday. It’s a state of mind you want to achieve every now and then, and once you start, you can’t stop. Even if you’re procrastinating, you’ll realize that you want to go back, eventually and somehow do it.

Make time to meditate. Everyday, before you go to bed, make it a habit to sit silently, as you observe your breathes. Observe how you inhale, exhale, how your lungs push outward and the tension you release as you exhale. Witness. 10 minute should be a good start.

3. Eat. Burn. Eat. Burn. Eat. Burn.

Eating is not a problem, except when you’re out of control. But, casually, all you’ve to do to naturally stay fit and healthy is this - if you’re eating a lot, make sure you work out equally enough. Don’t keep stuffing your body with all the junk. Exercise. Walk. Cycle. Skip a rope. Practice some simple yoga techniques, if you want. Eat, but make sure you make space for new stuff you're putting in each day.

4. Nothing else to do? Why not?

You can spend your time in two ways. Either you relax and wait for people to feed you information or you spend time making a deliberate effort at something. Of course, every now and then you need a break from exhaustion, but make it a habit to alway stay involved into something and pushing your limits. Always have something to be active and involved around.

If you have nothing else to do, good enough, play some game on your cellphone, but make sure the game is something you need to rush your mind into; Sudoku for example. Keep churning your brain all the time. It’s a healthy habit, because you mind will then automatically become habitual to giving faster responses and your reflexes will improve.

5. Differentiate saying and feeling

When you’re grateful about things in your life, you naturally make way for better things. There was a time when I experienced huge mood swings. With years of self-observation and practice, I discovered that one of the best ways to calm the storms of mind is gratitude. I made it a daily habit to practice gratitude, and the results were astounding.

But for me, gratitude isn’t a one time practice. I practiced it whole day. I thanked everything from the very beginning of my day and as the day progressed, I kept repeating “thank this and thank that” which was even better.

The idea is to not let it go mechanical. When you practice gratitude and your words are not reaching your emotions, you’re not doing it right. Which is why I left it. Instead, thank less often, but thank because you feel the joy of it.

To sum up, there’s not much you have to do to start with. Make a decision to get enough sleep everyday and get to be punctually every night. Be grateful for your life and take enough action each day to burn extra calories you intake each day. Don’t fret much about the numbers. Feel your way into it. Meditate. Stay involved into something all the time.

February 19, 2014

Life Lessons from a Legend - Peter Drucker

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There are times when you come across a name and you’re like “But, who is this guy?!”, and then you go on reading, researching and understanding the stuff he had lived and breathed, only to wish you had met him years ago.

Welcome, Peter Drucker. Drucker's 39 books have been translated into more than thirty-six languages. Two are novels, one autobiography. He is the co-author of a book on Japanese painting, and made eight series of educational films on management topics. He also penned a regular column in the Wall Street Journal for 10 years and contributed frequently to the Harvard Business Review, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Economist. (adapted from Wikipedia)

All you want to say to him is “wow!” He lived for 95 years, and before he died in 2005, the legacy he left behind was a huge pile of books you can use to move ahead in life and work. He helped create the corporate management culture that thrives in America today.

But then again, the veteran wasn’t all about corporates and management. Well, his ideas on personal development might just give you head start in life and work! And maybe, that’s all you might need right now.

Choose on your strength

We live in an age of choices. There are a hundred options to select from, and there is a flush of information overload from all around us. What we can do is rather learn to choose wisely. And you can only do that when you know what your strengths and weaknesses are.

While most people think they know what they’re good at, they’re wrong. They think their strength is what people appreciate them for. While the reality is that your strengths are rarely exposed. They’re those innate hidden qualities you live by, in pursuit of goals that seem achievable. Only until you set up a vigorous goal to pursue, your real strengths will not show up.

Make improvement a perpetual process

In one of his brilliant articles, Drucker suggests that whenever you’ve to take a key decision or judgement, note down the consequences one year on the path. Basically, predict the outcome and remember it. After a year, lean back and see how your judgements have been. This will guide you to understand how there are things that you could easily judge (your strengths) and things that you went completely upside-down (your weaknesses).

But this isn’t rocket-science. If you want to build a character, and you’re serious about where you want your life to be, you’ve got to learn to be patient and persistent.

There are people out there who search for plans, who want to retire a month after they start working (and I’m being liberal here!). Such people don’t exist. Make self-improvement a perpetual goal, not one time achievement.

Begin by asking questions

The journey of being a nobody to a star performer starts from asking questions. What are my strengths? How do I work? What are my values? Where do I belong? What can I contribute? You know, the first step is to make yourself absolutely clear about your strengths. Make no mistake and then define your values.

Find out how you work best. Are you an introvert who loves and is best productive when alone, or are you someone who loves to be with people he can constantly interact with? If you are in an environment which fits you in with minimal effort you’ll know.

Again, ask yourself if where you are right now resonates with your values. Your values are what your beliefs are about work, life and relationships. Is your current life a resonance of those values or opposite of it? And if it is, take persistent steps to find a place where your ethics match your abilities.

Strive for excellence & never give up

He starts by telling a story about his teens, when he joined Hamburg University. While his work as a trainee was boring, he enjoyed the spare time it bought him.  That’s when he found time to enjoy free tickets to Opera, and soon he discovered that the guy writing those operas was Giuseppe Verdi, a man in his late eighties. Peter couldn't imagine a guy working so hard upon something all his life, and not giving up or retiring even.

His quest led him to a question: Why would a guy, so popular that he was considered the foremost opera composers of 19th Century, made himself work so hard? He found the answer in his own words, and never forgot the lessons he learned from him.

“All my life as a musician,” says Verdi, “I have striven for perfection. It has always eluded me. I surely had an obligation to make one more try.” You get it?

Learn continuously, because you love learning

How many of us have had this thought? To be novice at something every three years? Not me at least. I thought the idea was simple - you found yourself a passion, you put your heart into it, you made some good work, got appreciated, and then you happily live ever after. Not for Peter. As a journalist, he did something different. He decided to take up a new subject and dedicated his time and effort at learning it for the next three years.

Of course, the three years will not make you an expert at anything, but sure enough you’ll be able to graduate in that subject. You’ll have a purpose to live by for the next three years. And maybe that’s the secret of joyous aging, you keep making efforts to make yourself a little wiser everyday.

But that’s not it. There’s much more to Peter Drucker, his life and all he can motivate you about. This article isn’t to tell how to improve your life but give you a push into the right direction, and if Peter would have been with us right now, he would tell you this - “Start from where you are right now. Don’t skip a day.”

May 10, 2013

Acknowledge your meaningful life

How do you bring meaning into your life? How do you understand what you are, what you have become and what you want to be? One great way to do it is create a journal of change. Make it a habit to write down your journal of life every single day.

Don’t write your life’s story or how you passed your day, but instead, write the lessons you learned, write what you think about life, experiences, etc. Time and again reach back and read what you’d written and marvel at yourself for the meanings you’ve been collecting on the way…

Your life is already meaningful. All you need to do is acknowledge the meaning. If our good ol’ Leo could do it, why not you?