3 Lessons I learnt in May

I can’t believe that today is the last day of May. May be it is! 
Reviews are scary at times. But they help us face the reality.

Reality of May:

In the last post, I mentioned two things which were my priority for May – Meditation, learning Tamil.


The only improvement in it was I did it twice a day. Apart from the morning Pranayamam, I was meditating in the night before I went to sleep. Meditating in the morning was easy. Because after a good night’s sleep, the number of thoughts which bombard the brain are lower. But in the night, the entire day’s happenings kept revolving in my head. It seemed impossible to let each thought go. I was trying to train myself to meditate in the worst case scenario. To deal with that, I kept my diary beside me and dumped every thought which kept passing in my head. That helped in cooling the heat of thoughts. I could meditate with less disturbance after that. 

Meditation calmed my brain a little before sleep. I could fall asleep immediately after that.
Sadly, I could not feel much improvement in quality of meditation. I didn’t know if I spent even a few seconds thoughtless or not. But at this stage of meditation, I don’t think it is really important to buy a devise and measure the quality of my meditation.
I shall continue this for the next month. But this time I will concentrate more on quality.
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Learning Tamil:

I speak a few sentences in Tamil everyday with my friends now. They correct my mistakes. But I have not really learnt a lot of new words. Watching movies was just like revision. Even though I was not doing any deliberate practise from the words of movies, they helped in passive learning. Unseen advantage of watching movies was, I was getting my daily dose of laughter. 

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Apart from the two I prioritized, other areas which were continuation of April:

1.     Exercise: I followed the same routine. Haven’t changed anything in it.

2.    Writing: I did terribly in this when it came to writing blog posts. I started a few articles but couldn’t finish them at all. 

3.    Reading: I spent 17 hours on reading this month which is one hour lesser than last month. But I read two really good books.

4.    Waking up: On the days I was tired, I forced myself to sleep more. Otherwise, I was able to be awake by 6 daily.

Lessons learnt this month:

Whatever I have written above are for the days I stayed at home. But when I was on vacation, by default I discontinued routines for a change. But the vacation taught me a lot:
      One: Small habits can be continued wherever you are: 

     I was still doing elevate even on vacation. Because it just takes five minutes of my time.

      Two: Don’t break a habit without making a plan on coming back

     After I came back from vacation, I found it tough to catch up with my habits. I had lot of other pending work which occupied my mind all the time. I have learnt that I need to plan on the work I will have to handle after a break and how I will get back to each habit. This is a useful lesson for the next vacation
     Three: Vacations help in discovering yourself

     Productivity is not about working for 365 days. I have been more productive and happier after returning from vacation. It also helped me discover myself. Plan your vacations along with your work.

Goals for June:

1.      Art
     Lately, I have ignored painting or sketching or zentangles. My art material looks at me with a sad face whenever I clean my room. I want to spend just ten minutes on zentangles everyday to start with.

2.    Writing
      I am unhappy with the progress I have made in writing. This month, I am going to complete all the half written articles and publish them.

3.    Exercise
     I will improve my exercise routine by adding a few new exercises. It not only increases my exercise time but also makes it interesting.
That’s all folks!
How did your May go? What are your plans for June?
Plan right away.

Happy planning!

5 Daily Routines which will make you a better person

Days come. Days go. 
What has changed? 
Have you increased weight because of unhealthy habits? Have you lost weight due to stress? 
Is your life stagnant?
Whatever it might be. It is never too late to see a stark improvement. I am sharing my favourite picture for you to feel inspired.
Are you ready for this?
I have 5 simple routines for you to try for the next one year. You can see the change in 30 days but in long term you will have improved by 37.8 times. Here they are:


I have been doing yoga since 7 years. But in the last 6 months, I wanted to try something different. I decide to add running to my exercise routine. I ran, walked and jogged for a stretch of 3 kms. I was enthusiastic to wake up at 5:30 to feel the sea breeze blow on my face softly as I ran. I was thrilled to see the sun rise gracefully from the water. It gave me a chance to enjoy nature to the fullest. It was not only about that. For the first time, I was doing an exercise which made me gasp for breath. It exercised my heart. I could feel the stretch in my leg muscles.
It was one of the best part of my day. It exercised my idea muscle too. I get ideas to write. I wrote some of the best poems and articles from the ideas I got while running. A lot of my office problems and life mysteries were solved in my head when I ran. It was overall a good feel.
But in the initial few months, I was not able to manage both running and yoga. But later I was doing them both to exercise better. But during rainy season, I could not go for running anymore because of rains. That was when I started body weight exercises like push-ups. It taught me the true meaning of pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
Unfortunately, due to wrong posture, I hurt my knee. I had to stop all exercises to give some rest to it. That was when I learnt new yoga poses to strengthen my knees. My problem got cured without any physio-therapy. I was more confident than before just by solving my problem with yoga.
Overall, the journey has been a wonderful roller coaster ride. It taught me that where there is a will there is a way. Joy is in trying new things.
Why should you exercise?
You need not exercise to get the same benefits I did. If my experience was supposed to help you, you would have already started exercising. But you haven’t. This is not the first time you are reading about exercise. There are already innumerable articles on this. The secret to understanding why you have to exercise is start exercising and see the results for yourself. 
Now that you want to exercise, don’t go and register at a gym. My friends have done that. They go for 3 days a month and still end up paying for the entire month. Exercising when you are free does not come under a routine. It is just a hobby.
Don’t tell me that you are going for a walk in your street and that comes under exercising. It doesn’t count as an exercise.
When you exercise, you should feel that you are pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. If you don’t feel that, then that is something that your body is already used to. That is the reason a lot of people don’t see any results for the exercise they do.
A few of my friends laugh at me saying that yoga doesn’t come under exercise. But yoga does. It doesn’t accelerate your heart beat. But it will help you stretch. You feel more flexible and energized. Also, Yoga is the only exercise which makes you feel energized instead of making you feel tired. It has its own ways for weight reduction. It also helps you to push your body a little more and make you more flexible.
Why do a lot of people not exercise?
Time: “I don’t have time”. This is the most common excuse I hear. Do you have time to eat food? Then you can make time for exercise too. It is just that you have to give it the importance it needs.
Strain: Exercise is painful. If you do body lifting on the first day, it is definitely strainful. Start with stretching exercises for a week and then decide your exercise routine.
No use: If you are like my friends who exercise or go for a walk once in a blue moon, you will not see any results. You need to push yourself beyond what you are capable of to see a change. I have been doing push-ups for a few months now but I still don’t have fully formed muscles. But I can see that I am on the right path. That matters more.
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 2.Brain Training:

I have recently finished 150th Mile stone on Elevate app. I enjoy the 5 minutes I spend on it daily. When I suggested it to a friend, she did not want to try it because she considered it a waste of time. She told me that latest research shows that brain training does not help in becoming smarter. But what is ‘smartness’?
‘Smart’ is an ambiguous word. You term a person who can calculate the value of 3456 * 5678 as smart. You also call a person who composed great music also smart. How can they both be compared?
Brain training will not help you become smarter in playing music. It helps you become smart in Math, Reading, Speaking, Listening and Writing.
I don’t enjoy all the areas in which the app trains me equally. There are a few exercises which have helped me a lot. I had a tough time initially in finding redundant words. Their exercise helped me identify them. I struggle to find synonyms while writing. But their app makes me think under pressure for the synonyms. Who does not want to learn things through games?
It’s not only about the exercises they have. It is about solving something in a short time accurately. Practicing accuracy with speed will take you a long way in life.
Why should you train your brain?
You don’t try to train your brain just because you will be trained on real life problems. It might not make you smart in terms of the vague definition you have in your mind. But it keeps your brain active.
How can you do that?
As I did, you can try Elevate. I haven’t tried peak but that is also a good app, according to those who tried. If you have more than 5 minutes time, you can try lumosity. It is not just about the exercises which have been specifically modeled for this. You may also try Chess, Crosswords, Sudoku, puzzles. It can be anything which will make you think and keeps you active daily.
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3.Learn a new language:

Learning a new language has been a struggle. I have been learning two languages simultaneously. One is French, the other is Tamil. One foreign language and the other a regional language.
I have been an active user of Duolingo. It helped me learn the basic words and phrases. I can’t converse in French with this but it helped me expand my mind and connect with words.It made me think of new ways to remember words. It also gave me a strategy to learn the regional language easily.
What can you do to learn a new language?
A lot of people don’t learn a new language for wrong reasons. They have misconception that learning a language other than mother tongue is insulting their culture and customs. It is a really wrong attitude to start with. You become broad minded when you start embracing other cultures. It teaches you new words. They might have words for a few feelings which don’t exist in your language. You will enjoy the process involved in it.
If you want to learn a regional language, use books like Learn X in 30 days, Colloquial X, where X is any regional language. That teaches you the basic words and phrases. Once you are comfortable with that, interact with the natives of that language. You can pick up the accent from them. Listen to songs and watch movies in that language. The last and the most important thing to do is speak in that language. That is where actual learning starts.
If you want to learn a foreign language, you can try Duolingo, Memrise, Pimseuler. They help you learn the basics. Find a friend who is interested in the same language. Conversing with him will help you learn better. But if you want to perfect the accent, find a person who is a native of that language.
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I always wanted to write. But I did not know what to write on. I used to just waste my time on thinking on what to write. Quora has made it possible. A few users ask me to answer questions. I choose one and answer them. This way, I get to help people and also keep with my writing habit.
When I write, it helps me discover myself. I share thoughts which did not exist in my mind a moment before. It gives me a sense of accomplishment that I could put that thought in words. It pushes me to become better every day so that I can share my success stories with my readers. Overall, writing has shown me a side of me which I did not know that it existed before.
What should you write on?
Every one has something on which they lose their senses. Think about that one thing you have. That is what you can write about. When you start writing about something, you start thinking about it in ways you never thought about it before. That is the beauty of writing. And it also pushes you to read more about that topic and it turn makes you knowledgeable. The best thing about writing is it gives you clarity in your thoughts.
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In the past 8 months, I have read close to 40 books. They made me knowledgeable, wiser and smarter. I can’t find smart people every day and spend time with them. Books are the way to go. They helped me understand the thought process of smart people. They improved my comprehension and vocabulary. I learnt to argue better. I am a more rational person.
How can you start reading?
The thought ‘reading’ can put many to sleep. Well, you need to change the thought. It is fun to read. Read this article to learn how to start reading.
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 What can you start with today to become a better person in the next 6 months?
As you have seen my life, you don’t have to lift rocks to become better. You can do simple activities which don’t alter your life style but still help you become better. You need not do 5 things. May be you can start with 2 things. You need not follow the same list as mine. You can have your own list. This is just for a guidance. Follow your heart. Take action.
Happy becoming a better person!

6 Lessons learnt from sticking to resolutions in April

April is gone.

Here comes May.
How did April go?
What is April teaching May?
Last month I introduced you to the idea of Monthly resolutions. I declared my resolutions for April. Was I able to stick with all of them?

The one thing I wanted to change: Wake up at 6 AM

The one thing which I could do diligently was waking up early. I did not use an alarm to wake up early. So in the first week, I was waking up as early as 4:40 for the fear of not waking up by 6. But slowly I could convince my brain that it can wake up by 6 without oversleeping.
I give the credit of this success to public accountability. I felt accountable for the promise I made.
Good : I could tap into my natural alarm clock and did not depend on external alarm clocks.
Bad : I was not getting enough sleep as I was waking up early irrespective of when I went to sleep.

The other things I wanted to improve:

Physical Fitness:
On the days I exercised, I could do 25 push-ups by pushing myself a little more. But I had to discontinue exercise due to my knee pain. The pain became worse that I was afraid to do any sort of exercise. But later I realised that there was not much harm in doing knee strengthening exercises.
Good: On the days I did not exercise, I made use of the time for cooking. I also learnt five new yoga postures which helped me to strengthen my knee. I gathered back the courage to exercise within a week.
Bad: I did not exercise for a week for the fear of hurting myself more. I should have taken an expert’s advice without taking such a long break.
I am not happy with the progress I made. I sat for the extra time but I was doing that with great difficulty. There is a huge scope to improve on this.
I spent 18 hours on reading last month which is more than my target of 15 hours a month. The books I completed are:
The one thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
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Do the work by Steven Pressfield
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Re-awaken the giant within by Tony Robbins
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The books I am reading right now are:
Talent code by Daniel Coyle
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I failed terribly in this. I find it easier to stick with writing an answer a day on Quora but the same logic does not work for writing a blog. I need a writing prompt for blog. I should also be equipped with enough practical knowledge on it to write. For the practical knowledge, I need to do the experiments first. The faster I improve myself, the better my posts get.
I realized that the target I set for myself was unrealistic. I will stop putting a target on the number of articles and only work on improving the quality of my articles.
I was on schedule for the first week but missed the schedule in the second week as my laptop was not working. The internet speed was too slow to watch it on my phone. But I plan on finishing the course on time by doing it 30 minutes a day for the next 10 days. Catching up is more important than complaining.
Lessons learnt:
  • Concentrating on only one thing definitely brings the change (Waking up)
  •  Public accountability helps (Waking up)
  • Obstacles are there all the time. It is about how quickly you can get rid of the obstacles.       (Exercise & Course)
  • It is okay to set unrealistic targets. That is the only way you will learn what realistic is.         (Writing)
  • When you love something, you tend to over perform. (Reading)
  • The tougher it is to do, greater is the resistance. (Meditation)

Plans for next month:

The one thing I want to concentrate on this month is Meditation. Apart from that I will spend 5 minutes watching a Tamil movie and learn the conversations. The plans of April will continue as it is.

How did your April resolutions go?
What are your plans for May?
Comment below.
Happy planning for May!