Life in a Comfort zone: Happy or just Comfortable?

If you are anyway like me, you are guilty of becoming comfortable in not so comfortable situations. The reason being: we resist change. We become used to a routine, living in a certain way and then when change knocks at our door, we freak out. We refuse to open the door and embrace the new. We cling to our comfort zones for as long as we can until our inside voice or the outside circumstances push us enough to dive into the change.

The latest turn of  events in my life is the proof of my response to change- Our landlord declared that she wants to sell the house we are living in, and my reaction was- “AAAAGH! This can’t be happening! I’ve got comfortable in this house, and I do not want the pain of house search, the move, and then the re-settling.

I moped on the situation for over a week until I talked myself out of it and realized that this is a great opportunity to find a house with a bigger closet, and no scorpions. For long I had kept section of my wardrobe packed in a suitcase, and finding a new place with a bigger closet is the chance for those suffocated clothes to taste fresh air .

The metamorphosis of my inner dialogue turned me into being enthusiastic about finding a new abode.

Inner dialogues are an intrinsic part of our everyday life. These conversations either push us to adapt to change or convince us that we are comfortable in our existing situations, be it about hitting the gym, trying a new craft, changing food habits, wake up/sleep routine, starting a business and so on. More often than not, the voice of comfort wins the argument.

Moreover, if you reflect on our status quo, you would realize that you are NOT all that happy being in the so called comfort zone. Take for example any of these everyday life situations-

Inside voice: Hey, you! 
You've been sitting comfortably on that chair for an extensive time, 
following the same daily routine of waking up in the morning and sipping on your coffee. Why don't you get your act together and join your 
buddies for the 5:00 am run?

Nah! I am good. I am not out of shape, so why take extra pain to get up 
early and change my routine. I am comfortable!

But won't you miss the morning fresh air, the cardio, and the 
socializing? You might not need the coffee after all.

Shush! Mind you I am not indolent, I have a long day ahead!

 

Inside voice: Hey listen! You have been in this dysfunctional 
relationship for so long.Isn't it time to get out of the rut and give 
yourself another chance?

I am used to it now! Known evil is better than the unknown!

But, you would never find out what is in store for you, until you leave 
this familiar territory.

I am good. I have spent years with this person. I am used to this 
person now.

 

Inside voice: You've been slogging for years doing this 
office job. You have to stay late, miss on the family times, and it's   been long since you've taken a vacation. Isn't it time to say quits to  your workplace and find something that is a better fit?

Not really! This job is working for me. I have loans to pay off, and thisjob gives me a good salary. I know how the system works here and people 
respect me. It is not always that I have to do late nights or miss on thefamily occasions. 

But don't you want to learn something new? You might like that better. 

I will have to spend time in creating my reputation in the new workplace.I have a secure job and I am not comfortable leaving it.
Inside Voice:Hey listen you! Are you excited about your move to a new 
city? You will  see new landscapes, and make new friends.

Not really, I like it here! I have my friend circle, so what if that 
circle is empty most of the times. I know the people and places around 
here. I am settled.

But you are not a tree! You can move. You might end up liking the new 
place better. You might make stronger bonds, find great 
neighbors and get to try new adventures.

Leave me alone. I feel like being depressed about leaving this place. I 
just do.

Another great recent example is that of my friend who continued in his unfulfilled and dry job for decades, on the pretext of  security and comfort. Then one day he was let go which suddenly freed him from his illusionary comfort. Little he could do to shield himself from the change he’d been resisting for years! After the initial phase of discomfort of finding a job, he is now happy in his newly created comfort zone.

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Give CHANGE a CHANCE!

It is the fear of unknown that holds us back in taking risks and trying new horizons. On the contrary it is also true that ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush. So what should you do? Stick to the familiar or take risk and try new avenues.

The answer lies in asking the question- Are you happy or just comfortable? If you are not happy, you know that it is time to test new waters. After all,  ‘a bird in the hand is good, but a bird in the bush might sing.’

 

Photo credit: Wiertz Sébastien via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

The day I found a genie in the bottle…

As a teen I enjoyed watching the comedy TV series, ‘I Dream of Jeannie.’ in which an astronaut finds a genie in the bottle. The genie granted him wishes. Golly! I was amazed at all the things the genie could do in a blink of an eye.


And with most of my days filled with the busy parenting routine, I’ve often wished to have my very own genie,  and then one bright, chirpy Phoenix morning it happened—

Amongst the lather and the dirty dishes,

In my sink, I found a genie in the bottle.

Kazoom! I opened the stopper to release

the tiny bewitched thing.

The genie bowed and said, “My master, I reckon,

you need to rest. Please allow me to do my best.”

In disbelief, I rubbed my eyes,

but there she was, right in front of me!

I sat before the fireplace, curled up with a cup of tea.

And, took out a dusty thin book that begged me to read,

and don’t know when, but I fell asleep.

When I woke up the house was sparkling clean,

the dishes were done, so was the laun-dary

nicely folded and kept in the dresser,

all within my arms reach.

The dinner was on the stove, just the way I like it

curry and basmati rice, and the naan on the side,

salad beautifully arranged, and a big glass of red wine.

Genie said she would do my pedicure too

as my toes possess a yellow hue.

I asked, “Dear, can I keep you, forever?”

I believe I might have begged,

for I had added

“Please and pretty please,” too.

Genie said,“Master, allow me to leave.

I have to serve others who

await a sigh of relief."

I thought of the mothers, sisters, wives and daughters

fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and

grandparents too,

all who desire a little respite

from their daily grind of might.

“Genie," I said, "You have a big job to do,"

"So, I let you free."

With those words, the bewitched thing

that awesome, helpful thing

faded into the air.

Friends, be on a lookout for the enchanted beings in the form of neighbors, friends, relatives who come into your lives at the most difficult times to give you respite and help to refill your everyday life cups.

 

Why to play ‘The Game of Life’ with your children? And the dialogue with my inner voice

Last weekend, I played ‘The game of Life’, one of the oldest American board games, with my children and their friends. It was my first time playing this game, so my eight years old taught me the rules of Life. It was a sweet moment wherein my child was teaching me the ropes of life.:-)

He said-

The winner of the Life is the person who has the maximum money in the end.

What! Hell no! How can riches alone be the yardstick to decide the winner or the loser of life! My kids need to learn better.

Overpowered by thoughts and the parent instinct to share my 2 cents on life, I stated—

“This is all wrong!”

My inside voice warned me, “Spoiler Alert! This is just a game”, but at that moment I chose to ignore it. After all, kids develop their perspectives through games and observation. So I had to do the right thing by sharing my wisdom.

Continuing with my lecture, I said, “In reality, money is necessary to live a comfortable life, but it cannot be a measure of a successful life. The true measure is happiness, and the relationships built along the way. It is easier to keep a score of money than to count your blessings, so the reason this game uses money as the winning goal.”

Giving advise took some weight off my chest, and we started the game.

I was impressed the way this game mapped the entire life on a linear coarse.The players take turns spinning the wheel, and they move ahead the number of spaces indicated on the wheel. In the start of the game, the players have to select between the college path or the career path. I was satisfied to know that my kid had already discovered that choosing the college path meant delaying the payday rewards for later in life. Pretty cool and mature, I thought! But, my satisfaction was short lived! Despite his understanding, he chose the ‘Career path.’ The voice inside me said, “Studies comes first! Do not bypass college. Choose college <pretty please!>, and career will follow, kiddo!” This time, I pinched myself on time to not let these words out of my mouth, and we continued the game…in peace.

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The  ‘stop’ sign where the life changing events happen. This one says ‘Get married’, and the player adds one more peg to their car.

 

Throughout the game I was charmed to see the little kids make choices based on their personalities, and their rationale.

My six-year-old stopped in the space to buy a house. He had a choice between a luxury apartment or the beach hut. My son chose the luxury apartment. He said, “Beach hut would be messy.”

Later my kiddo had to choose between two career cards, Doctor or a Teacher. He chose the profession of Teacher. His reason, “It pays more to be a Doctor.”

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Career Cards

My inside voice started talking again, Son, Ask yourself twice before deciding. Is this the profession you want to embrace? Will it inspire you enough to wake up every morning and start your day?

“Shut up, will you!” I calmed my inner voice. “Keep your thoughts to yourself as this is just a game.”

Coming back to the game, the play also introduced kids to the business of lawsuit. My son got a card—Sue someone for squashing your tomatoes, and receive 50K!

img_3808He asked, “What does lawsuit mean?”. Once I explained, he was hesitant to sue any player. Then he said, “Mommy, can I please sue you?”’

“This is an outrage,” I thought. I teach my children to be kind and forgiving, while this game lets them sue. I signaled my thoughts to take a back seat.

The game ended when all the players reached the goal of retirement. Two of the children decided to retire in a  millionaire mansion, and the other two selected the countryside acres. And the reasons for the selections-

“I chose countryside because I like trees and mountains.”

“I need rooms for my whole family, so I will retire in millionaire mansion.”

“I want to be with my friend because I like him. I will go wherever he goes.”

This  board game took couple hours to finish, and introduced the children to real life events such as paying taxes, college debt, getting laid off from work, paying bank loans and collecting salaries on paydays. You may argue that all these events relate to some form of monetary exchanges, and also the real life does not follow the linear path this game follows, but what cannot be contested is the engrossment of the young minds, and the willingness to play by the rules even when life seems unfair.

Where I am concerned, the game lent me plenty of opportunities to have constructive dialogues with children, and also a sneak peek into their young minds. As a bonus, it taught me to keep my wisdom to myself, and patiently wait for the opportune time to share life lessons with my children. And most importantly, the board game gave me priceless moments with friends and family.

Readers, do you have a favorite board game that you like to play with your children?


Here are some links that share more information about this game-

http://boardgames.lovetoknow.com/The_Game_of_Life_Instructions

http://theweek.com/articles/446078/what-game-life-teach-about-success

The World of Holiday Shopping: Carts and your Shopper Personality

Crunk! Crunk! I have a knack for always getting the defective, noisy shopping carts with a wobbly wheel. These are the carts that require more than an effortless push (Grunt!!!!). Likewise, when I maneuver the giant carts of Costco and Home Depot, I wish that the retailers would come up with self-driving carts. My whim seems to be coming true as retailers experiment with these prototypes—http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2016/09/13/walmart-patents-self-driving-shopping-cart/#.WDR3L3eZN-U

Because of the regular rendezvous with the carts, which is more frequent than meeting my friends, it is only natural that I have an implicit connection with these four wheelers. Additionally, with the kicking off the 2016 holiday shopping season, there is no avoiding them as we, the consumers, move the carts through the aisles and load these wheelers with the materialistic presents for the loved ones.

Between the shoving and pushing the shopping cart through the crowds, I have encountered various types of personalities, some hybrid of the others.

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Can you identify yourself with one of these shopper traits?

Go Getters

These are the passionate shoppers who come with a predetermined objective— ‘the 62 inches TV or the laptop with a rock bottom price’. These people are oblivious to the surroundings as they hustle their carts through the crowd to get to the desired aisle.

Ad Libitum

These shoppers leisurely walk while pushing their carts, pausing and stopping at different aisles as they prowl through the racks to find something to their heart’s desire.

Planners

These shoppers are the ones you see walking with a list on their phones and/or with the stack of paper coupons in their hands. They have multiple stores to visit to get the best deals.

Unpredictables

These are the ones that tread in front of you with a steady speed, and then surprise you with a sudden stop and sharp turn. The unpredictables make me wonder about the plausibility of having turning signal indicator lights on the carts.

Recreational Shoppers

These are the people who stroll taking their own sweet time to walk the aisles, appreciating the goods and decor. They are often without a shopping bag or cart. They enjoy window shopping and/or people watching.

Freebie Hunters

These peeps are in the store with the purpose to devour the freebies/sample offered by the retailers, often food and drinks.

Preachers

These people desire to make the world a better place to live. They do not deter to approach the strangers and let them know about improving their behavior.

Inconsiderate

Have you encountered any orphaned carts blocking the shopping aisles? These people are the perfect example of discourteous shopper insensitive to the world around them.

Invisibles

These peeps are the ones that you do not see in the retail shops. They escape the complete chaos by doing their shopping online.

I confess that I have shown each one of these traits at some point in my shopping life. I have sometimes carelessly parked my shopping cart in the middle of the aisle while distracted by the charm of some product, and then being apologetic on realizing my faux pas. More often I have treated myself with an impulse buy placing me in the category of Ad Libitum. On some rare occasions my organized persona comes alive and I make a real list (not just in my mind) before I tread to the mall, and that positions me as a planner.

Whatever your shopper personalities are, remember to be gracious on this Thanksgiving and beyond (This is my Preacher trait!;-).

Wishing my readers an enjoyable and safe holiday shopping experience!

Photo credit: Timothy Valentine via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Traveloscopy via Foter.com / CC BY

An attitude of gratitude

“If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”— Mister Eckhart

Past few weeks have been not easy on my peace loving soul, with the news of Syrians refugees fleeing for a safe haven, terrorist attacks on airplanes, suicide bombings in Paris, and the very recent earthquake tremors in Phoenix that shook me in my sleep.

Therefore, this morning when I woke up, I was grateful for the peace that surrounds me and my loved ones. I have a new found appreciation and awareness for being ‘me’, placed in ‘this’ environment, for I could have been the Syrian mother trying to escape the war with my kids or watching soccer in the Stade de France stadium or flying in the Russian airliner that got shot down.

For that reason, I owe a ‘thank you’ to the divine energy that is looking over us. Its not that I do not pray for the world, but as an energy nucleus I seek the wellbeing of the people in my immediate orbit first, and then I extend my prayers to the world and beyond.

While I am always grateful for being blessed with the comfort of basic needs such as food,water, shelter, family and friends; my ability to find the good in daily life is majorly influenced by the external stimuli and my wisdom with age and experience. So the things that I take for granted today, might seem as a blessing tomorrow. I learnt this sweet bitter truth through my life experiences in my early years.

In those years, I do not remember giving a lot of thought to being thankful. I was blessed with a very comfortable family life, with parents who practiced kindness and benevolence in their every day living, so I learnt to share and give in my early years. But there were things that I felt entitled to such as having parents who cared for me, siblings to share my life with, going to a good school,being raised in a nice neighborhood, friends to play hopscotch with, pet dog to cuddle and so on. I had inherited these blessings just by virtue of being born in this family, and I took it for granted, until one dark day my Dad passed away. It was as if my life was written in sequels; Part-1 was with him in my life- happy and carefree, while Part-2 after his demise-sad and depressing. I felt powerless to the doings of destiny, and the only comfort I could find was in being thankful for what I had, which was my mom and my siblings to still call my own. Being grateful is what helped me stay strong, positive and work hard to get through the hard times!

lemon gratitude

With the lesson learnt, I try to fill my soul with constant appreciation of the goodness in and around me. So, today I am thankful for the peace; while yesterday for being surrounded by my family and friends; and the day before for the last piece of chocolate cake in the refrigerator that no one noticed:-).

For the same reason, I try to inculcate positivity in my kids, as together we count all the good things that happened for the day, right before going to bed.

With this positive thought, I wish you all a happy and peaceful Thanksgiving, and invite you to share the blessings in your life.

If you haven’t all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don’t have that you would’t want.— Unknown

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Photo credit: symphony of love / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA