Am I Good Enough


The problem with insecurities is that it has a characteristic of snowballing into something uncontrollable and big. Once an insecurity germinates in our mind it is best to nip it in the bud. Any time spent in watering the bud, even if accidentally, can be dramatically dangerous for the wellbeing of the individual. In fact, insecurities have been known to have many at its gun point including some very well-known and seemingly successful personalities. In fact, it has a very impressive head count.

To be born as a human means to be born with many vulnerabilities, fragilities and shortcomings.  I consider it to be the beauty of life or nature that it has this inherent characteristic to balance things. Where it gives us strengths it balances by giving us weaknesses, where it gives us opportunities it balances by giving us adversities and so on and so forth and between these pairs of extremes is that beautiful conundrum called life that keeps vacillating between these extremes. Life, thus, is like a series of never-ending struggles. Most of the times our fiercest struggle is against our own internal demons. These internal demons are so powerful that they could make an external situation appear insurmountable.   I think the most menacing of internal demons or human fragilities is ‘Insecurity’. Which means our fiercest and longest struggle for a lifetime is against ‘insecurities’. Although, I must also say that insecurity is a great leveler, as it afflicts just about everyone without discrimination. Insecurities! There is no end to the list of things that we as humans could be insecure about. Thus, how individuals deal with these insecurities is what becomes the sole factor in determining whether we would be happy, sad, successful, failures, contented, depressed or even suicidal. There are many who have fallen prey to their own insecurities and have surrendered their and lives meekly to it.

Where do these insecurities come from? identifying, accepting and dealing with our insecurities are no easy task. Insecurities come from

  • Comparisons
  • Rejections
  • Failures

What are we usually insecure of? Interestingly whatever we identify ourselves with could be the source of our insecurities. For example, I identify myself with my car and if I see someone else with a bigger car I feel insecure. I think insecurities have to do with:

  • Look
  • Body
  • Intellect
  • Education
  • Material Possessions

Yet, if you look at it, without comparison, rejection or failure there is no improvement, no growth and no learning. It could be safely concluded that insecurities are unavoidable. So, the question should not be about ‘how to avoid insecurities’ the question should be about ‘how to deal with our insecurities’. To deal with insecurities we primarily need to deal with the thoughts we tend to have about insecurities. To deal with the thoughts we have about insecurities, we need to understand the characteristics of these thoughts:

They are addictive and tend to snowball

Once thoughts of our insecurities start filling our mind, they are so addictive, we tend to keep dwelling about it again and again and again. We become helpless as more and more thoughts of our insecurities keep rushing in and we feel ok to stay with them for longer periods of time. Also, if we started with thoughts on one insecurity and dwelled on it for some time, soon thoughts about some other insecurity start rushing in and before we realize it snowballs out of control into some massive monster that we find hard to control. However, like any other addiction, you cannot give it up bit by bit. It’s all or nothing game. Also, like any addiction, it’s a lifestyle thing. Once a thought about insecurity strikes us it’s best dropped at once. If it is difficult to drop them then, its essential that we alter out lifestyle to prevent those insecurities from taking control of us. For example, if an individual has had a breakup that has exposed some of the internal insecurities then it is advisable to alter whatever the individual was doing when in the relationship to prevent those thoughts about insecurities from striking back. Like take a different route to office, drink different, meet different set of people, develop new pass times.

They are low energy predators and thus action arresters

Thoughts about our insecurities strike when we are low on energy. The fact that they are themselves energy sappers also makes the matters worse as they ensure we stay in a state of low energy and hence these thoughts continue to feed on it. Thus it’s essential to break this vicious cycle and raise our energy levels by engaging in some rigorous physical activity which could get the adrenaline pumping and also release mood uplifting hormones which tend to increase the level of activity pulling an individual into high energy zone. Thoughts about insecurities are very difficult to strike at this state. Engaging in new activities, especially physical in nature help a lot. Thus, many people after a bout of depression tend to take to gym or long distance running or photography which are mood enhancers as they are high energy activities that make it difficult for insecurities to come back.

They appear real and thus they instill fear

We strongly believe in our insecurities and thus any thoughts about our insecurities always appear real. However, they are just as real or false as our abilities and the thoughts about our abilities. The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. As we continue to fuel thoughts about our insecurities they tend to become solid believable images and appear real. We become serious about them and they become insurmountable mental blocks. We need to realize that at the end of the day this is just an image and it can be changed. What matters is whether we believe in these images. Therefore, we need to learn to take life a bit easy, be able to laugh at our insecurities and build an image about ourselves which is favorable to us. Knowing the fact that everybody has their own insecurities, is one way to calm ourselves down. We must accept that we can’t be good at everything and bad at nothing. We need to be able to laugh and joke about our drawbacks and shortcomings which basically beak the image we tend create about our insecurities.

Appreciate the capabilities you have and also appreciate the shortcomings. Learn to embrace yourself along with all the shortcomings. Feel happy that everyone suffers from insecurities. Do not dwell on it much, keep moving, keep the energy high, break the worry habit and replace mental images of insecurity with favorable images of strength, parity and Happiness. That’s the only way of leading a happy and fulfilled life.

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TroughFic

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I’ll start with a blunt statement. Governments/State Departments around the world have no incentive in reducing traffic. An explosive statement like that needs to be backed with strong logic. Do I have one? Let me explain. First let’s examine the reasons for Traffic Congestion

  • Lack of infrastructure which means lack sufficiently motorable, well maintained and wide roads
  • Too many vehicles on the road at the same time, including public, private and pooled transport
  • Poor Civic Sense, frequent lane changing, scant respect for rules, road rage
  • Sufficient Parking space
  • Less reliance on Public Transport

Now let’s look at what benefits the Authorities:

  • Car/vehicle sales are a measure of robustness of the economy and all effort is made for increasing the volume
  • More sale of vehicles means greater tax revenue both in terms of sales tax or road tax
  • More the traffic, lower the mileage given by a vehicle
  • Lower the mileage of a vehicle more the consumption of fuel which are all sold by State owned companies and tax revenue as per the tax collected on each liter of fuel sold
  • More the traffic more the chances of traffic rule violation and hence greater revenue for Traffic Police

Yet for ordinary citizens like us, traffic is a huge problem. Why do I say so? It’s because traffic increases travel time this increases stress levels and lowers productivity. There is a higher chance of road rage and accidents. More traffic leads to low mileage obtained from the vehicle thus increasing expenditure on fuel and car maintenance. Of course, traffic leads to loss of productive hours, impacts mental health and certainly impacts personal relationships.

Yet there is a subjectivity to the entire situation. This I say because, it’s foolish to imagine roads without any traffic at all! Then the question is ‘how much traffic’ is acceptable? What average vehicular speed would be considered as optimal, comfortable, plausible and acceptable? Is there a standard vehicle vs motor-able road ratio?

What are the possible solutions? All the large-scale solutions involve an expenditure by the authorities/state which include Improving infrastructure, improving Public Transport and stricter enforcement of rules. Albeit the growth of vehicles on the road could far outpace improvements in any of these factors. While authorities wake-up and start attaching value to loss of productive hours due to traffic or human life and ‘quality of life’. We are left to ourselves to figure out what works for us as an individual or as a community and follow those practices for peace of mind and happiness.

Trump’s Victory Explained

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Contrary to all expectations, contrary to all opinion polls and exit polls Donald Trump is the President of US. To the horror and chagrin of many and yet to the elation and hope of some it’s Trump administration that’s in-charge for the next 4 years. How did this happen? What propelled a character like Trump to the most powerful position of the world? No matter how disappointed and let down many feel I think there is a silver lining to this dark cloud.

Hope for Anti-Establishment:

trumpIt is interesting to note that people across the world, whether in rich or developing countries, are extremely cynical of their politics and politicians. Often people resign to a corrupt and impossible system. Except for criticizing from outside, an invisible entry barrier stops many from coming into active politics. It is in this regards that the elected government and the leadup to his election must be seen with great interest.

That an apolitical and anti-establishment guy is at the helm of US politics should be a sign of great hope rather than despair. It gives hope of wriggling countries out of the tight grip of a corrupt ‘political establishment‘. Even Democrat Bernie Sanders, though a career politician, can’t be considered as an ‘establishment’ guy. This shows that there is scope for professionals or non-establishment guys from various fields to enter politics. This could be revolutionary change as it would keep all politicians as honest as possible and also attract fresh talent. Especially those who want to genuinely improve the condition of their fellow citizens and not just interested in making a career in politics. Thus a Trump victory has to be hailed in this aspect.

Capitalism, Globalization and Equality:

Post cold-war, many countries in the world adopted to open market economy. The hope was that this would create more jobs, improve productivity and alleviate poverty. The initial days saw a very heady rate of growth and creation of many millionaires. The open market economy seemed to work on principles of merit and appeared to overcome the problems of accident of birth. Capitalism is basically a game driven by Demand and Supply. What’s in abundant supply but is lower in demand would be cheap, what is scarce in supply but is high in demand would be dearer. So on and so forth. Tagging along with capitalist economy was Globalization. The concept was to visualize a border-less world, at least economically, and utilize manpower, or skills or expertise wherever it might be available from. The revolution in Information Technology was breaking down barriers and brought countries virtually together. The introduction of this new globalization variable in the game of Demand and Supply literally broke the geographical barriers. This meant that if the manufacturing of a component by a company was expensive in one country, that company assisted by bilateral agreements between Governments could shift their factory to another country where it would be more affordable and profitable.

The world saw a possibility of redistribution of wealth from Developed economies to developing economies and a greater scope of poverty alleviation. Large corporations were excited with the sight of newer unseen and untapped markets. Again the initial days saw rapid proliferation of jobs. It also saw many jobs being offshored from high cost locations to low cost locations. Large corporations soon became Multi-Nationals. The hope behind these endeavors was that as more and more people get added to the work force and get employed, more and more people will find a way out of poverty. Once the production improves, once the consumption increases and prosperity spreads the impact would trickle down to the lowest common denominator in all societies.Did this happen? Were the targets met?

Alas, this wasn’t to happen. As market driven economy strengthened and private organizations became stronger the wealth instead of spreading started getting concentrated in few hands. Of course, few people have escaped poverty of course a vibrant middle class has been created yet there are millions who have got tired waiting for a drop of that trickle. Each passing day their frustration has only increased. This has driven people to depend on Governments to take care of their needs and requirements. Proliferation of Globalization meant jobs were getting off shored to locations which would save cost. The hope was that the people who would lose jobs would somehow up-skill themselves find greener pastures and continue to take benefit from the evolving economic situations. Moreover, evolving technology meant there were more automation of jobs, more mechanization of work and more reliance on robots. This led to reduction in the demand for manual workforce. Over dependence on Private sector to generate jobs and fuel growth was not creating the number of jobs required. Thus people around the world have shown a renewed belief in Governments to help improve their condition.

Also the point to be noted here is that as Market driven economics took center stage and large corporations became the engines for growth, Governments were increasingly seen as facilitators. Facilitators who could devise policies to benefit private companies, devise policies that could increase their profit. This reached to such a stage where both seemed to be feeding off each other completely self absorbed and oblivious of the growing section of frustrated and deprived sections of society. The ‘system’ became self serving forgetting the epithet of “Of the People, By the People and For the People”. Thus the question now was more about dignity and equality. There are sections of society that has felt itself to have been deprived a fair share of the pie in this evolving economic scenario. It’s a section that has felt humiliated and neglected at the hands of their own governments or by the very companies that were meant to improve their condition. They feel even the media looked the other way and didn’t highlight their plight. This inequality in available opportunities and continual deprivation led to seething and simmering anger among many. An anger that was waiting to find it’s voice.

The Message Over Personality

Look at the set of events that have unfolded across the world in the last year. US elected a person of dubious character and UK voted for the contentious Brexit. Both these events were counter intuitive and shocking. In both these events some very cleverly designed propaganda was used to sway people. Most of the material used for such propaganda campaign were found to be fake. Also in this age of information revolution to verify claims isn’t that difficult at all. Yet Trump is the President of USA and UK did vote for Brexit. How could one explain this? Has the world dumbed down or against the run of events have people chosen to be deliberately ignorant? I think there is more stronger reason behind this. This reason lies hidden in the sequence of events I describe in the earlier section. The deprived and angered section of society has finally exerted themselves. They finally found someone who was willing to listen to their problems and raise their issues. They finally found a platform where those issues that were close to their heart were heard without being ridiculed. Thus despite being led by dubious leaders who used questionable means, people have rallied behind them. I believe people have chosen the “Message” over the person who was espousing it.

The reason why I feel that people have chosen the message and not the personality is because, if we look at election campaign leading up to the Inauguration day, the Republican party saw Donald Trump emerge as their leader. Similarly, among the Democrats, Bernie Sanders received an overwhelming response and gave Hillary Clinton very tough fight till the very end. If we look at the “Message” of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, on could find a lot of similarities. In fact some say that if Bernie Sanders was the chosen as the Democrat candidate then he might have defeated Trump hands down.

Conclusion

I think it’s important to understand that Trump comes to power as an apolitical and anti-establishment. He is 70 and is already rich. This all indicate it’s not going to be business as usual. No matter how odd his policies appear they are consistent to the “Message”. In fact he has nothing to lose by resorting to contentious policies and shaking up the entire system. In that bargain if some of the deprived section of the society managed to get a portion of the expected pie it would be a success. Even if they don’t it’s not a failure. How that could be achieved and whether it is achievable or not is beyond the point. Also if people like Trump must be countered people will have to forget the ‘Personality’ that is driving the policies and focus only and only on the “Message”. If anyone has a “Message” that is better than the “Message” of Trump and has a ‘people connect’ people will hook onto whoever provides that message. The mantra should be Address the “Message” not the person behind it.

Camirroraderi

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“Magic mirror, on the wall – who is the fairest one of all?” Even if the mirror were to answer in your favor, beware! The camera might be in stark disagreement. When I tend to agree with the mirror image the image captured by camera comes us a rude shock. Of course there are some occasions when even the vice versa situation has been found to be true by me.  I did a Google about this issue and realized that many have had similar experiences. It is particularly devastating for the weight conscious individual and completely discouraging for the one who is attempting to lose weight.

enhanced-9327-1458322842-13There was this one occasion when my friend seeing me after a good 6 months suggested that I had become thin since the last time he saw me. I agreed with him as my mirror image agreed with his observation! However, on the same day another friend of mine came equipped with his SLR. He painstakingly shot many shots of me and my wife. I eagerly awaited the pics to be shared back with me. The SLR captured images shared were in such stark contrast with what the other friend observed or I saw in the mirror that it left me wondering what to believe. Of course lesser said about the Mobile Cameras especially the selfie camera the better. If I believe the selfie camera of my mobile, then I am this person with a double chin only marginally better than the person in the below pic minus the gold of course!

Bappi

I think that the in case of a mirror image as the eye is directly sending the information to the brain, we see what we want to see. Hence the waist seems tucked in, the jaw well defined. However, in case of an image captured by the camera, the camera does some processing of its own before presenting the information to the brain via the eye. Possibly the mirror image is how I see myself and the camera is how others see me.

Even more tricky to note is that no two mirrors agree with each other nor do two cameras agree with each other. I have finally resigned to the deduction that neither the mirror or camera is right, after all they just produce an image. However close or far it is from the truth, it is still an ‘image’. The truth probably in neither or either or somewhere in between.

Dogged Run

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Early morning joggers in Bangalore I think face one major challenge apart from their stamina. Dogs! I personally think that in Bangalore, after IT professionals the next biggest population is that of street dogs.

Two things have to be attributed to dogs, first is that they are not pretentious and second that they are moody. They are not pretentious means you know whether they like you or don’t. However, being moody means you don’t know which day they would like you and which day they won’t!  Which means even on a well-trodden path one can’t be oblivious of them. Every morning I see people carrying a stick or food to ward off dogs or distract them.

I do neither and have to have a battery of tactics to deal with situations that show up with every twist and turn or every nook and corner. Sample a few. If I have to run on a new route, I walk the day before that on the same route so that the dogs in that area get used to my scent. If it is an old route, I ensure a healthy gap between me and the dog to ensure I have time to react in an eventuality. In situations where I see a herd of dogs I take a detour. If no detours exist, depending upon how familiar the dogs look I decide whether to stop running and walk till I am in the clear or to continue running. Of course if I decide to continue running then I think of how I would kick the dog if it were to attack, I keep looking back and don’t relax till I am sure that none of the dogs are interested in me anymore. It is strange that the day when dogs are doing their own thing and don’t pay any attention to me running past them I feel ignored and humiliated. Whereas on days when they do pay attention I feel threatened.

There are also days when there is a faux pas. Like this one time when I was running past a heap of garbage and I could see a dog running in my direction from corner of my eye. I was alarmed, however I tried to settle my nerves thinking that it was certainly headed towards the garbage. I was proved right but not before a few anxious moments both for me and the dog. That day I realized two facts, that dogs prefer garbage over me and if the choice is between me and food, food takes the precedence always! Not that this realization made me to introduce any new strategy but it was just good to know!

I am a dog lover at the same time I love running too. I hope municipal corporation can work out an amicable solution for me and them to co-exist. Or I find a way to lose my paranoia!

Dog