Zentangle your way to happiness

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Mona: Did you hear about meditation?
Sona: Who doesn’t know it? It is something I have tried and failed
Mona: Did you hear about doodling? That is the only thing I do in classes.
Sona: How can I not know about it?
Mona: How about combining those both?
Sona: What?!
Mona: Yeah, you heard it right. It becomes meditative drawing.
Sona: But how does that increase my happiness?

What are zentangles?

Zentangle is the process of creating beautiful art from a repeated structured pattern. It is different from doodling because you have to concentrate only on the drawing and not be doing it while doing some other work. When I initially came across this art, I didn’t know it was named as zentangle. I thought it was just a normal art with patterns. But zentangle has a few standards. Any size of drawing or using any pen or structure is not called a zentangle.

A standard zentangle is done using micron black pen on a standard zentangle tile which measures 8.9cm*8.9cm. The tile paper is royal enough to make you feel the smoothness of the paper that you want to take the drawing seriously.

How is it done?

With a pencil, divide the plane into multiple parts as shown in the figure below. There are no rules on how many parts the paper has to be divided into. Or how big or small the blocks can be created. Just let the hand move and create its own art.

Now you can start filling each part with a different design repeating the design inside the part.

How is it useful?

De-stresses your mind:

When I feel stressed because of a decision I am unable to take or when I am sad, I start doing this. It not only diverts my mind, but also gives an immediate relief.

Improves your sleep: 

A relaxed mind sleeps better. Doing this art calms your mind and puts you to slee

Increases your creativity: 

Since it is about making patterns, after drawing a few standard patterns you will start creating your own patterns. When you see some object, you will start imagining which zentangle design will look good on it.

Improves your hand movement: 

When I was a kid, my drawing teacher told me to do free hand drawing to make my hand movement free. I never did that then. Now I understand the use of it.

Teaches you that mistakes done can’t be erased: 

Zentangles are drawn with a pen. While filling a pattern, if you make some mistake in the shape you are drawing, it becomes a new shape. Even in life, we make mistakes all the time. And those mistakes can’t be erased. We need to learn to make new opportunities from those mistakes.

Tells you that everything big starts with small steps:

Zentangle is done one stroke at a time. Each block filled with the same pattern. The each sub-element of the pattern might look ordinary. But when put together they look enchanting. Same is life. All we need to do is take one step at a time. All the steps put together makes us achieve our goal which looks beautiful like our piece of zentangle.

    How to do it?

    Usually, people don’t pursue art because it is expensive. Zentangle is also a little expensive when I checked the prices online. I was not sure if I was ready to spend so much on it. But you can always break the rules to make it feasible for yourself. So I just bought a sketchbook and a few gel pens to have variety instead of the traditional black.

    Step1: Get comfortable with holding the pen on the paper. You can create some abstract art on the first page to try the feel of it.
    Step 2: Start trying a few zentangle patterns.
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    Step 3: Fill letters with zentangles.
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    Step 4: Once you feel confident with the drawing, go for colouring the patterns.
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    Step 5: Move from flat to 3 D
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    Step 6: Start filling normal sketches with zentangle patterns
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    Step 7: Try fabric zentangling. You can try this art on a plain handkerchief or T-shirt.
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    Step 8: You can experiment this on a glass or clay.
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    “Artists are born and not made”. Prove these people wrong with your art. Just experiment. Discover what suits you and experience the meditative drawing.

    Happy zentangling !

    Revisiting Photos can make you happy

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    Do you go back and look at your old photographs?
    Do you show your old photographs when someone close to you visits your house?
    If you ever did either of them, you already know the happiness photographs give. If you didn’t, you will know it now.

    Last weekend, I wanted to organize the files on my laptop. While transferring the files to hard disk, I stumbled upon my old photographs. I was so happy then that I want to set a time on my calendar to keep reviewing photos on a timely basis to boost my happiness.

    Why do photographs boost happiness?

    They remind you of your happy times:

    Life is a cycle of happiness and sadness. But when you are sad, you only think that is full of sadness. That is when you go back and see how beautiful your life was. And the tough time does not linger for long.

    They remind us of the bond we shared with people:

    You might have a few school and college friends whom you were very close to and not able to maintain the same now due to various reasons. Photos remind you of the way they smile, they laugh, their style, everything on the outer is captured there. Try sending the photo to your friend asking “Do you remember this?”. They will just love it.

    They make us relive the experience:

    If you have the photo of you skydiving for the first time, the photograph itself is sufficient to make the adrenaline rush in you again. Whatever must have been the experience, you live them for the second time through photos.

    They give us the confidence that we can go back to our old self: 

    Looking at your old photographs on the days you feel low, it shows you that you were not a loser all the time. There were times when you won prizes, you won competitions. Life is not that bad after all. This is just a phase of struggle before winning again.

    How to use photographs to maximize happiness?

    Take a selfie every day: 

    Every morning as soon as I get ready, I click a selfie irrespective of the mood I am in. If you are in a negative mood, the smile on your lips tells your mind to be happy. And it is an immediate mood elevator.

    Click pictures for every occasion:

     While I was seeing my old photos, I had pictures for every festival. In our busy lives, we might not find time on normal days. Even though the house we stay is the same, the people who pose for the picture are the same, picture speaks a lot about the people. It tells how we grew over time, how close the bonding was, and the how person evolved over time.

    Make occasions to take photographs: 

    If there are no occasions coming up for clicking photos, just have a photo session day. Dress up in your best
    attire and click photos. Dressing up well boosts happiness. And photos in that when revisited remind you of the best you can look.

    Hang a family picture in the drawing-room:

    Image result for family photo frames 

    A picture of the entire family in the living room is a representation of the love shared among the people in the house. It reminds us to stay together forever.
    Hang a collage of the happy times with your spouse in the bedroom: Next time you are angry with your spouse, the picture of you two happy together, should change your mood instantly. Anger is just a momentary expression. You share a lot more with your spouse.

    Create an evolutionary chart for your children: 

    Children love to see their pictures. My cousin poses really happy for the photos. I see a beaming smile when I send her younger pictures of herself. Keeping a laminated photo of their pictures from the time they were born till now makes them feel proud of themselves. They feel proud showing that to their friends.

    Create an interesting album: 

    When I was a kid, my mother gave all my photos to my uncle asking him to make an interesting album from it. He started writing a story, cut the photographs into interesting shapes. Added a few funny pictures. And made a fantastic album. I feel so elated even to this day to see the album. Every time I visit home, looking at the album is a ritual.

    Take a video on occasions: 

    There might be times when your kids talk in an adorable way. Capture them through a video so that they will be happy to hear their voice once they grow up. Once when I was in college, I laughed hysterically for 5 minutes. My laughter is contagious. My friends also started laughing looking at me. There was one friend who had great presence of mind to click a video of that. I don’t laugh that way anymore. But that video definitely makes me feel good about myself.

    Use them as a screen saver: 

    You can have a collection of happy photos which you can make them as a laptop screen saver. Or you can purchase a digital photo frame.

    Have a monthly tradition of seeing the photos: 

    In your busy schedule, you will forget that photos exist. Mark your calendar a time when all the family sits together and recollects the good old memories. My sister and I used to have a great time going over the old photos and asking my parents the stories behind the photos.

    Moments matter than quality:


    Many times you might skip clicking photos saying that you don’t have the camera ready or the lighting is dull. The quality of the picture does not matter as long as the moment is being captured.

    Don’t click them for social approval: 

    A lot of people keep clicking till they get the perfect shot. Unless you want to send it for something professional, don’t do that. Let the moment be captured naturally. Facebook or Instagram likes does not define
    the goodness of photo. If you are clicking them for approval from others, it is only going to sadden you. You are giving your control of happiness to others by waiting for their likes. So click them for yourself.

    Happy clicking and revisiting photos!

    Bucket list – Why and How to have one?

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    A genie asks you to wish for what you want in life. It is not just three like the traditional genies but unlimited. What will you ask for?

    I want to be an astronaut.

    I want to travel around the world.

    I want to eat that Italian dish.

    I want to publish a best seller


    The list must be really long. That’s okay. Just make the list. 
    Are you done with making your list? Save it in a secure place. Don’t worry if you are not done. You can add wishes to the list any time in the future also. Now name it as ‘bucket list’ or ‘list of things to do before I die’ or ‘My wonderful wishes’. Give it a name which is closer to you.

    “Now that the genie is gone, what do I do with the list?” you must be wondering.

    Bucket list has a lot more advantages than a genie fulfilling them all in a go. If you have not noticed previously, you cherish those things more which you worked harder for than for those which came easily.

    Here are a few reasons why you should have a bucket list:

    1.      Create long lasting cherishable memories: When I was in my final year of my college, I felt the time was ticking away. And I hardly had any remarkable memories of college. That was when I sat with my friends and made a crazy list of things we wanted to do. There were a few which we could never do, but still did them.

    2.    Makes your purpose on earth more clearer: Sometimes you might feel lost. You might feel that you are aimless. That is when you back to the list and reread it. You might want to make something from that list as your goal.

    3.    Makes you dream higher in life: Elon musk achieved whatever others thought was impossible. His future goals are also at the same level. Even you can have the impossible bucket list and overcome your limiting beliefs. If you don’t dream big, how can you achieve something big?

    4.    Makes you feel good about yourself: On the days when you feel low if you look at your bucket list, it definitely brings a smile on your face.

    5.     Makes you change your career stream: When you are bored of the current job, you can pick up one of the interesting things mentioned on your list and start off with it.

    6.    Makes you an interesting person: You can develop new hobbies from your list. People will start looking at you in a different way because of your unique experiences.

    7.     Tells you how short life is: When you look at that you will realize how little time you have to accomplish so many things. This makes you plan each of the tasks on your bucket list.

    Now go back to your list, add two additional columns to it. Name one column as a category and the other as time. Create your own categories. A few sample categories might be travel, personal, family, career, hobbies. In the next column, write down by when you might actually be able to do them.

    Now pick a few from the list. Whatever you think is achievable this year. Write down a detailed plan for it. 
    Let’s say you want to travel across Europe this year.
    Most important aspect of traveling is finance. How are you going to manage it? With whom are you going to travel? 
    Do you have any responsibilities? If yes, whom are you going to transfer them while you are away?

    The above questions are just to guide you to get the overall picture. Plan in detail. Cross off the tasks as and when you are done.

    Make your life richer and more beautiful.

    Happy making bucket list!

    Shhh! No Gossiping

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    “Can you hear the sounds in the neighbor’s house? I wonder what they are fighting over. Carrie told me that she doubts her husband. It is probably about that. How mean he is!”

    “Rita has been lately staying at home. Did she lose her job?”

    At a party, “Rony had been spending quite a huge sum these days. There is no legal way he could have earned so much.”

    Well! Well! All of us would have gossiped some time or the other. And some of us live only on gossip. And a very few of us hate it. We know it is wrong. But why is it wrong?

    Why do we gossip?

    Gossip started as a social bonding activity in the early days. It was used to condemn immoral behavior. It sets the unwritten rules in the community. In 21stcentury, do we still need to gossip?

    Now, we gossip for a variety of reasons which are not so useful. Some people gossip because that is the only way to make friends for them. When two people dislike the same person, they just become thick friends. Their friendship runs on the hatred for the common enemy. Shared hatred makes a stronger bond then shared positivity. For a few others, it helps in overcoming their inferiority complex. Some do it just out of envy. Whatever might be the reason for it, it is a negative behavior which one should get rid of.


    Why should you not gossip?

    It lowers your value:

    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.Do you want to be the small mind?

    It lowers trust levels:

    No one trusts a person who gossips. People want their secrets to be safe. The person whom you gossip will not trust you because he knows that you will gossip about him also to someone else.

    It ruins relations:

    People who gossip do not have healthy relations. Their relations live on negativity. They just live on a guilty pleasure. And all they have are superficial friends. Happiness depends on the number of quality friends you have and not quantity.

    It breeds negativity:

    If you keep gossiping all the time, you are only looking at the negative qualities in a person. You will never be able to be happy if you continue your life in negative pleasure. When you look at the positive qualities in a person, life looks more positive.

    It does not help you grow:

    When you satisfy your ego
    by gossiping, you are only looking ways to put others down but not the ways in you can improve. Do you want to keep degrading or improving in life?

    How to not gossip?

    Put yourself in others shoes:

    Have you ever heard a gossip about you come back to you? How did you feel? You must have felt very humiliated. Won’t the other people feel the same? Irrespective of whether they are good or bad, you don’t have the permission to hurt others. You have better work to do than judging others. If you truly think what they have done is wrong, inform the person what the right behavior is. Talking behind their back helps no one, including you and him.

    Triple filter test:

    Whenever you are tempted to gossip, ask the following three questions:
    Is it true?
    Is it good?
    Is it useful?
    If the answer is false for even one of them, don’t talk about it.

    Katy: Mary is dating Richards.
    You: Did Mary or Richard tell you about it?
    Katy: No, I have seen them together a lot of times.

    That’s purely gossip. Avoid this at all costs.

    Ask yourself “What’s bothering me?”

    When you feel like gossiping, ask yourself why you feel like gossiping. In the previous example, Katy must have been envious of Mary for spending a lot of time with Richard which she was not able to. If Katy would have worked on becoming a better person, her chances of spending time with a person like Richard increases. She should work on it rather than gossiping about Mary.

    Make healthy relations:

    Develop a few hobbies. Read more about what interests you. Next time you meet your friends you can talk about interesting topics. Tell them what you learnt in a way they can relate to. They will start liking you.
    Give up gossiping. Make your life healthier and happier.

    Happy stopping gossip!

    Organizing things paves way to Organised life

    Image result for organised person
    “Mommy! Where is my school bag?”
    “Darling! Have you seen my belt?”
    “I can’t find the file I need to take to work today.”

    A common scene in every house in the mornings. Despite being a daily headache, hardly any of us bother to come back in the evening and set things right. A few articles say clumsiness is a sign of intelligence and a few others say being organised is the habit of highly successful people. Leaving intelligence and success aside, there are a few other advantages of being organised.

    Saves you from early morning frustration:

    I feel frustrated in the morning when I can’t find a pair of pressed clothes. I don’t remember where I put my handbag last night. I search for it in the drawing room, in the dining room, in the bedroom and everywhere. It used to drain my mental energy early in the morning. One fine day, I have decided that I had enough of it. I cleared my cupboard and kept only the dresses which I actually wear to the office. Every Sunday, I arrange the clothes I am going to wear for that week. I bought a hanger where I hang my bag every day after I get back home. Probably I could not increase my happiness levels but I could definitely reduce my frustration. Being happy need not necessarily be about doing happiness causing events. Reducing unhappiness also counts.

    Saves you a lot of time:

    If I compare the days when I struggle to find things to the days when everything is organised, I find a lot of time saved. You can always use this time to do something productive.

    Saves your decision quota:

    Deciding what to wear every day is a waste of your decision. Trying to remember where you left something wastes your working memory early in the morning. This can be done the previous night itself so that you can spend the morning in taking more useful and important decisions.

    Saves you from negative self-talk:

    You admonish yourself every time you misplace things. Then you go into a non-stop negative self-talk of how you do nothing right. Negative self-talk right in the morning costs you a lot.

    Saves you from losing control:

    You feel more happy when things are under your control. Being organised makes things to be under your control. You can find them the moment you think need them.

    How to organise?

    Clear the clutter: 

    You can find useful things easily only when you get rid of the unnecessary things. Take some time and clear the clutter. There might be many clothes which you have not worn in years. There might be books which are outdated and dusty. Get rid of them all.

    Assign places: 

    Books should be placed only in the book rack. TV remote should be placed back in the TV stand. Have a standard place for each item in the house.

    Label items: 

    In the kitchen, label each item you store. Label them in such an effective way that even if a new person walks into the kitchen they should be able to cook a tasty meal without any efforts.

    Fine those who cause the clutter: 

    Keeping house in an organised way is not a one pe
    rson job. It requires efforts from the entire family. Whoever in the family misplaces a thing, they have to pay a fine.

    Reward the best-organised person: 

    With the fine amount collected, reward the person who has misplaced the things the least.

    Organise not only your home but also your office place, computer system, notes, everything you can. Life suddenly feels so simpler and happier.

    Happy organising!