Book Review – Steal Like An Artist

I came across Steal like an artist in the to-read list of a lot of creative giants. Only after reading it I understood how overrated it was. I would be lying if I said, I didn’t enjoy the style in which Kleon wrote the book. If I were to steal from an artist, it would be from Kleon. I will give a 5/5 for his writing style. But the content, it is old stuff in a new cover. If you constantly read self-help books, there is nothing new you will be learning in this book. I ended up highlighting the quotes which Kleon has sourced from different places to create a story rather than original points.
 
Nevertheless, here we go with the main concepts from the book.
 
“The writer Jonathan Lethem has said that when people call something “original”, nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references of the original.”
 
Kleon has collected so many such beautiful sentences which are the soul of the book.
 
“Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.”
 
Steal like an artist is for those who were not listening while reading other books and might end up listening now.
 
“Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively.”
 
This is a gem. If you can keep this in mind, next time you save something, you know whether you are a hoarder or an artist.
 
“You are only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.”
 
Another way of saying you are the average of five people you are surrounded with.
 
“Chase down every reference.Go deeper than anybody else-that’s how you will get ahead.It’s not the book you start with, it’s the book that book leads you to.”
 
For those who don’t know how to research, this helps. Most of the books I end up reading are the books I started with. I pick up one concept from the book I read today and read a lot more to gain in depth knowledge.
 
“Collect books, even if you don’t plan on reading them right away.”
 
I collect 5 times the books I am capable of completing.
 
“They just show up to do their thing.”
 
Photography is all about creativity. When I first started, I was average but I was still showing up daily and posting pictures. One of my friends passed a comment on how art is about creating a masterpiece when you feel like and not creating average stuff daily. Today, she hardly pursues it while I am on my way to mastering it.
 
“First you have to figure out who to copy. Second you have to figure out what to copy.
Don’t just steal the style. Steal the thinking behind the style.”
 
This is another mistake which rookies make. They only see what is visible and not what the original creator’s thought process was.
 
“The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like.”
 
I decided to write my next book on mindfulness so that I can get my hands dirty on this topic.
 
“Keep all your passions in life.”
 
For those who mock at you for being jack of all trades and master of none, you need to remember this. Creativity blooms when you can marry your hobbies with each other.
 
“Instead of keeping a rejection file, keep a raise file.”
 
I was too narcissistic at one time in my life that I actually had this documented. Just something to read when I feel low. 
 
Happy stealing from an artist!
 

Book Review – The Mindful Way Workbook

The Mindfulway workbook is an MBCT ( mindfulness based cognitive therapy). In addition to cognitive therapy, where you are expected to identify the negative chatter which runs through your mind, mindfulness brings awareness that the chatter is happening in this moment. The main aim of mindfulness is to help you identify the ego which is causing the chatter and thereby keeping depression and anxiety at bay.
 
MBCT has been tested on countless depressed patients and showed tremendous improvement in them. Just because it is a therapy, it is not just for dealing with trauma but a wonderful guide to learn to apply mindfulness in everyday life.
 
I discovered this book when I was searching for practical ways to lead a mindful life. Once I went through the book, I discovered how I was already doing some of the practices mentioned in the book and how adding a few more to my everyday life can bring tremendous change. Even though they give you more than a doable number of tasks each week, I suggest that you start slow. Pick something small from all you have read. Do it for a week or a month. Once that becomes a part of your identity, pick up the next habit. 
 
Once I started following what was mentioned in the book, almost for 10 days, I experienced a sort of bliss which never happened to me anytime before. As always, when you try to do a lot of new things, you can’t sustain them for a long time. Now, when I could not keep up with so many new habits, my life went back to normal. Unless you are depressed and need immediate relief, the best way to use the book is pick up one idea at a time.
 
The key habits mentioned in the book are
 

  1. Body scan
  2. Bringing awareness to Routines
  3. Mindful eating
  4. Pleasant experiences calendar
  5. Mindfulness of Breathing
  6. 3 Minute breathing space
  7. Unpleasant experiences calendar
  8. Mindful stretching
  9. Sitting Meditation
  10. Mindful walking

 
Pick Mindful way workbook as the next book on mindfulness if you want some practical tips on mindfulness.
 
Happy Mindfulness!

Book Review – Eckhart Tolle -The Power of now

Power of Now was in my to-read list for 3 years. All I knew about it was the story of a man who went from suicidal feelings to a joyous life. In my pursuit of mindfulness, I ended up picking this as the first book.
 
The entire book revolves around one concept “Now”. The past is for regrets and the future is for anxiety. The only moment you have control over is now. But you are wasting it away in the past or future. 
 

Why should you read this book?

 
I felt motivated to stay in the present after reading the book. There are a few instances in the book where Tolle questions you and gives you tips to stay in the present which are quite helpful. Apart from that the book is mainly theory on mindfulness which helps you catch yourself from drifting. 
 
Two main concepts which influenced my life.
 
1.Timelessness
 
We measure time in seconds but when you stay in the present is when you go into timelessness. It sounds absurd but at the same time means so much.
 
2.Giving energy to an emotion
 
After reading the book, whenever I experience a negative emotion, I keep a check on what are the thoughts I am holding to which is providing energy to the emotion and fueling it. I don’t live in the present like Tolle but this sort of awareness will definitely help me get closer to it.
 
This book is not for someone who is looking for readymade solutions. It is like the textbook on mindfulness concepts.
 

Notes

 
“Have you found the off button?”
 
That’s a very strong question to which a lot of us have a wrong answer. We don’t switch off. We switch the channel. If only we learn how to off our minds whenever we wish our lives are so much under our control.
 
“Just become intensely conscious of the present moment”
 
This sounds like a very tough job. But he gives a practical way to do this. If you are walking, pay your complete attention to the steps, movement and breathing.
 
“Everytime you create a gap in the stream of mind, the light of your consciousness grows stronger”
 
If you have 100 thoughts bombarding you at the moment, if you can let go off the 101th thought, it is a little success to celebrate.
 
“80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless but because its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful”
 
When I did my thought tracker exercise a few years ago, I realised how I was wasting away my life worrying about the same things daily.
 
“To the ego, the present moment hardly exists. Only past and future are considered important.”
 
The very reason why we are either regretful or anxious.
 
“No-mind is consciousness without thought. Only in the way is it possible to think creatively, because only in that way does thought have real power”
 
Tolle explains the creative artists and scientists get their breakthroughs in no-mind state.
 
“Emotion arises at the place where mind and body meet”
“Research shows that strong emotions even cause changes in the biochemistry of the body”
 
“If you cannot feel your emotions, if you are cut off from them, you will eventually experience them on a purely physical level, as a physical problem or symptom”
 
It is one of the signs of the negative energy which is stuck in your head and shoulders as tension.
 
“What’s going on inside me at this moment? That question will point you in the right direction.”
 
“If there is no emotion present, take your attention more deeply into the inner energy field of your body”
 
This is one of the practical tip which helps you deal with identifying how emotion is affecting your body.
 
“Vibrational energy of the emotion keeps feeding the original thought pattern”
 
The very reason why you should be aware of that you and your mind are different entities and everything your mind says should not be bought.
 
“Pleasure is always derived from something outside you whereas joy comes from within.”
 
The reason why you are never satisfied with pleasure but joy makes you satisfied.
 
“The greatest part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.”
 
If your mind dictates how you should feel, you have no control over your happiness.
 
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present”
 
When you stay in a state of denial, you are stuck in the same thoughts which broods negativity.
 
“To complain is always non acceptance of what is”
 
A simple truth which is very difficult to follow.
 
“You attract and manifest whatever corresponds to your inner state”
 
While other self-help books simply tell this, here he explains how to check the sanity of your inner state.
 
“Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story will keep you stuck in suffering”
 
I definitely noticed how self-pity reduced once I stopped complaining about how bad my life is.
 
 
Check out the book here in case you want to give it a shot.
 
Happy staying in the present!
 

Book Review – 10% Happier

 
After reading Power of Now, I was in search of a book with practical advice on mindfulness. One of the suggestions was 10% happier. I started the book with a 10% increase in excitement to know how to implement the power of now. 
 
By the end of the first chapter, my excitement levels became neutral. I thought Dan Harris was introducing himself. But, near the end of the second chapter, I doubted if this book was about mindfulness or not. I wavered between giving up on the book and skimming through it. I felt it was not worth my time to read what Dan Harris did for a living and his experiences as a reporter were. There might be a lot of others who had that sort of free time to read about him and get to know Dan but I didn’t. My goal was clear. I wanted to understand how to live mindfully daily.
 
Luckily, I came across a page, how he sits up all through the night reading ‘A new earth’  by Eckhart Tolle. This reminded me how even I read Power of Now because I could not keep it aside. Finally, he gets to interview Eckhart, that is where the story gets interesting. Dan looks at Eckhart, the man who is spiritually awakened as an alien and whatever he says seems practically impossible. That is exactly how I felt about mindfulness as described in Power of Now. Later, when Dan meets Deepak Chopra, he realises how Eckhart was genuine and Deepak was just a fraud who claims to know it all but can’t practise the same in his life. While Eckhart has just one secretary, Deepak has an entire business product range to run. The funniest part of the story comes when Dan meets Vitale, who speaks in the DVD version of Secret. Vitale said that thinking should be coupled with action which is glaringly obvious. But they still made millions of dollars out of that.
 
In search of practical solutions, Dan gets introduced to works of Dr.Mark Epstein by his wife. After reading endlessly all the works of Epstein, he felt that Epstein conveyed the message in a more practical way than Tolle. As usual, Dan now goes on to interview him. Unlike the previous people he met, he found him human who just embraced Buddhism and implemented those principles in life. Through him, he gets introduced to meditation and a retreat program.
 
The crux of the book starts here. Dan goes on to describe the experiences he goes through in the process of meditating daily and how the retreat program went from undoable to bearable. Similar to Dan,I always wanted to go for a Vipassana retreat but I always feared it. I also went through a lot of arguments in my mind about meditation to make peace with it as it is today. In the next few chapters, as he talks about his journey I could empathize with him and felt that I am not alone in the journey of mindfulness and everyone else out there also goes through the same stages.
 
In the last few chapters, he talks about incidents how people took him to be weak and not so ambitious just because he is into spirituality. He beautifully explains and sets things right in his career by showing that going after mindfulness and being relaxed is not the same as being lackadaisical. 
 

Why should you read this book?


Throughout the time I was reading the book, there were multiple moments when I thought this is the line which my friends who think spirituality is pseudoscience should be reading.
 
You should read this book, if you want to understand how meditation has got nothing to do with religion or spirituality and how you can practise mindfulness as a normal human being. 
 
You should not read this book if you are looking for tips on how to meditate. This book is mostly about the journey of Dan. 
 
This book is best for those who are struggling to meditate and are not sure if they are on the right path. You will find a virtual companion through this book.
 
In case you plan on reading it, here is the Kindle version.
 
Happy becoming 10% happier!
 

Book Review – How to sit

Author : Thich Nhat
Print | Kindle
 
When you read the phrase ‘How to Sit’, it sounds quite funny. You have been doing this all your life and you wonder what is there to know about it now.
 
You should read this book to know how sitting in the right way can change your life. Thich Nhat explains the basics of where, how and why of sitting.
 
Where
 
You can sit anywhere. What do you do on your commute? Worry about every possible thing about life. Thich suggests that the best way to make use of commute time is by sitting.
 
How
 

  • Sit straight with your body relaxed.
  • Smile so that it relaxes your facial muscles.
  • Don’t sit with an expectation because you won’t be in the present moment then.
  • When you sit, you should be at ease, happy and relaxed.
  • You can use a bell to practise your attention on breathing.
  • Just sit daily. It will help you create a habit.
  • When you sit, you can name your feeling as a pleasant feeling and a painful feeling which is the first step in distancing the feeling from you.
  • Count one to ten for every breath, if you lose focus anywhere come back to one. This is not as easy as it sounds.
  • Use a clock and breathe with its rhythm.
  • You can use a notebook to write notes while or after sitting about thoughts or insights.
  • Sitting in a group helps in utilisation of collective energy.

Why
 

  • You need a stable posture to ground your mind.
  • An ease in sitting helps in nourishing the body and the mind.
  • Sitting and breathing mindfully will bring into your life – peace, clarity, compassion and courage.
  • It helps you weather storms like strong emotions.
  • It is not an obligation but daily nourishment like eating.
  • It develops concentration.

 
The book makes you ponder on whether there is so much to sitting. When was the last time you sat doing nothing? With no thoughts? Just sitting there and observing how you breathe?
 
He defines sitting as “sit in such a way that you enjoy sitting, to sit in a relaxed way, with your mind awake, calm, and clear.” Did you ever feel the union of mind, body and breath? Did you know that just by paying attention to your breath can make it calmer, deeper, and more harmonious all by itself?
 
The book doesn’t tell you something new but presents the known in a calm way. Reading the book itself provides a sense of calm and motivation to pursue meditation. The book doesn’t have long chapters. Just a paragraph or two in each chapter. You can finish the book in half an hour but the satisfaction it leaves makes you come back to it again. Because you feel that you lost something and there are certain concepts you have not mastered yet. 
 
It doesn’t talk about meditation as a tough affair. It asks you to just sit. Practise sitting without worry first. Then learn to focus on breath. Then provides tips on how to keep the focus and make it a habit and how to save yourself from the possible distractions. 
 
Once you are into sitting, Thich talks about how you should start sitting in groups to make the meditation easy and how just being there for others. The book ends with guided meditation and how you can create one on your own.
 

Quotations

“I like to describe sitting as enjoying doing nothing”
 
“People can try to steal many things from us, but they can’t steal our determination and our practice.”
 
“I have passed through many storms. Every storm has to pass, no storm stays forever. This state of mind will pass”
 
“ Every in-breath can bring joy; every out-breath can bring calm and relaxation. This is a good enough reason to sit. We don’t need to sit with an intention like getting smarter or becoming enlightened. We can sit just to enjoy sitting and breathing.”
 
“Sit in order to sit. Stand in order to stand. There is no goal or aim in sitting. Do it because it makes you happy.”
 
“In the present moment, we can be free from regret concerning the past and from fear concerning the future. Happiness isn’t possible without freedom.”
 
“When you sit, sit in such a way that you feel you have already arrived. To sit doesn’t mean to struggle”
 
“Breathing in, I know that this is only an emotion. It’s not the whole of me. I am more than my emotions.”
 
What is your favourite book on mindfulness? What other books by Thich have you read?
Happy Mindfulness!

2020 April Review and May goals

April is always the special month of the year as I turn a year older and hopefully wiser. To stay positive amidst the epidemic, I cut myself off from all the negative news and focussed on what is positive in my life. This helped April in being a fruitful month which helped me to get back to a lot of things which I never had time for in the past.
 

Review of April

 
1.Mindfulness Routine
 
April was one of the true mindful months I ever had. My day started with a gratitude diary followed by mindful brushing. Then my pranayama routine of Kapalbhati followed by Anulom vilom. I increased the time and intensity for both of these. Then I practise Hatha Yoga for flexibility and mindfully notice the muscles stretching in each pose. I enjoyed my morning lemon water by feeling it. Apart from these, I did the regular meditation and yoga nidra. I was never this relaxed. It felt like why haven’t I tried this before. 
 
2.Books
 
To discover and continue my love for mindfulness, I kept reading books on the same topic. 10% happier, Mindfulness Workbook, Fear, Intimacy, Chakras, How to sit,Untethered soul. I also started reading Waking up and Letting go but just in the beginning. The other books which I read this month are Read this if you want to become a great photographer, Steal like an artist, Exactly what to say, Understanding color in photography,Tools of titans.
 
Every book I read has expanded my knowledge in its own way.
 

Plans for May

 
I am tempted to say that I will use the month of May for enhancing my mindfulness but it will be an escape from adding new habits. The one thing I do love a lot but have been ignoring for a long while is writing. So I want to use this month to get back to writing. I can’t commit for a 30 day blog post like I did in the past. The main reason why I was not able to stick to writing is the time it consumes to write a good blog post. So I want to take it slow and commit to an easily reachable target like 12 blog posts in May. Another question, which I always struggled with, was the topics. An easy topic now to write on are the pending book reviews since more than a year for all the books I have been reading. I have enough topics to last me for the next few months.
 
Keep watching this space for new content this month.
 
Stay Home. Stay safe!
 
Happy May!
 

2020 March Review and April Goals

One thing which has taken over the world right now is fear. As each day passes, there is only anxiety which is building up not knowing whose turn it is next. I think I moved from denial to acceptance stage of the world pandemic. I hope all my readers are safe and are reading this article in good health. 
 

Review of March

 
The month of March started for me with a high fever with chills and sore throat. It took me a week to recover. The fever could have been due to the unnecessary panic I was putting myself through or the non stop travel I did in February. I was grateful to the Universe for sparing me from the deadly disease. Due to the uncontrollable panic I went through, I binged on social media which made my days worse. One fine day, I decided enough was enough and cut the time I spent on my phone from 4-5 hours a day to less than one and half hours a day. That felt like an achievement. With working from home the entire month, it was a lot easier to stick to my goals.
 
1.Breathing exercises
 
I finally found a way to make it a part of my life. Except for the week I was sick, I did it on the rest of the days of the month which made the streak higher than the past month where my sole goal was to master this habit. I could make this happen this month because I used the technique of ‘Do it after X’. Never does a day go without brushing. The next action I do after brushing is breathing exercises. I mostly did kapalbhati and anulom vilom. The time ranged from 5 – 10 minutes. But I feel that it is a huge achievement in itself. As long as I don’t have to rush to the office, this habit will continue.
 
2.Gratitude diary
 
I used the same technique of ‘Do it after X’ for the gratitude diary. The first thing I do in the morning as soon as I wake up is write three things I am grateful for. Most of this month, it has been about 

  1. I am grateful to stay safe
  2. I am grateful to have a job which has an option to work from home

 
If you are not writing one, it is high time you feel grateful for the good health you have may there are thousands out there struggling for their lives
 
3.Learn Kannada
 
I am not at lesson 30 as planned. I reached only lesson 15. One thing I didn’t take into account is revision. I spent a week just revising the 10 lessons which I studied and redid a few where the words weren’t registered in my head. Thankfully, I practise them a few times with my husband who corrects my pronunciation.
 
4.Books
 
I read Power of Now, The road back to you and a few e-books on photography. 
 

Plans for April

 
Mindfulness
 
Power of Now had a powerful message on the importance of staying in the now. It was all good in theory but I had no clue on how to put that into practise. I started searching for practical tips and stumbled on The Mindful Way workbook. It has a 8 week course on how to stay in the present. Based on my previous experiences and the availability of tools I have these are the action points for this month.
 

  1. Body Scan – This is one of the awareness exercises which helps you examine each and every part of your body and helps you mentally give instructions that it is relaxed. 
  2. Mindful routines – Every morning as soon as you wake up, you brush your teeth. But did you ever notice how the brush feels against your teeth and how many times you move your hand. I want to bring awareness into my everyday activities like brushing, bathing and eating.

 
This month is the right time to start it as the situation demands to stay calm and the conditions of working from home are favourable to achieve the same. Even though it might look like I am overdoing it because I already do pranayama and meditation daily, it is the need of the hour.
 
How was your March? How are you coping with Covid 19?
 
Stay Home. Stay Safe!
 
Happy April!
 

2020 March Review & April Goals

One thing which has taken over the world right now is fear. As each day passes, there is only anxiety which is building up not knowing whose turn it is next. I think I moved from denial to acceptance stage of the world pandemic. I hope all my readers are safe and are reading this article in good health. 
 

Review of March

 
The month of March started for me with a high fever with chills and sore throat. It took me a week to recover. The fever could have been due to the unnecessary panic I was putting myself through or the non stop travel I did in February. I was grateful to the Universe for sparing me from the deadly disease. Due to the uncontrollable panic I went through, I binged on social media which made my days worse. One fine day, I decided enough was enough and cut the time I spent on my phone from 4-5 hours a day to less than one and half hours a day. That felt like an achievement. With working from home the entire month, it was a lot easier to stick to my goals.
 
1.Breathing exercises
 
I finally found a way to make it a part of my life. Except for the week I was sick, I did it on the rest of the days of the month which made the streak higher than the past month where my sole goal was to master this habit. I could make this happen this month because I used the technique of ‘Do it after X’. Never does a day go without brushing. The next action I do after brushing is breathing exercises. I mostly did kapalbhati and anulom vilom. The time ranged from 5 – 10 minutes. But I feel that it is a huge achievement in itself. As long as I don’t have to rush to the office, this habit will continue.
 
2.Gratitude diary
 
I used the same technique of ‘Do it after X’ for the gratitude diary. The first thing I do in the morning as soon as I wake up is write three things I am grateful for. Most of this month, it has been about 

  1. I am grateful to stay safe
  2. I am grateful to have a job which has an option to work from home

 
If you are not writing one, it is high time you feel grateful for the good health you have may there are thousands out there struggling for their lives
 
3.Learn Kannada
 
I am not at lesson 30 as planned. I reached only lesson 15. One thing I didn’t take into account is revision. I spent a week just revising the 10 lessons which I studied and redid a few where the words weren’t registered in my head. Thankfully, I practise them a few times with my husband who corrects my pronunciation.
 
4.Books
 
I read Power of Now, The road back to you and a few e-books on photography. 
 

Plans for April

 
Mindfulness
 
Power of Now had a powerful message on the importance of staying in the now. It was all good in theory but I had no clue on how to put that into practise. I started searching for practical tips and stumbled on The Mindful Way workbook. It has a 8 week course on how to stay in the present. Based on my previous experiences and the availability of tools I have these are the action points for this month.
 
a)Body Scan – This is one of the awareness exercises which helps you examine each and every part of your body and helps you mentally give instructions that it is relaxed. 
b)Mindful routines – Every morning as soon as you wake up, you brush your teeth. But did you ever notice how the brush feels against your teeth and how many times you move your hand. I want to bring awareness into my everyday activities like brushing, bathing and eating.
 
This month is the right time to start it as the situation demands to stay calm and the conditions of working from home are favourable to achieve the same. Even though it might look like I am overdoing it because I already do pranayama and meditation daily, it is the need of the hour.
 
How was your March? How are you coping with Covid 19?
 
Stay Home. Stay Safe!
 
Happy April!
 

2020 February Review

February was a short month because I was out of office for half of the month which took a hit on most of my routines. That being said, the best part of it is understanding my type of travel places. I realised that I can’t just go to a beach and say wow. I need the place to be serene to feel connected to nature to feel relaxed. Travel is a therapy when you can discover where your heart feels connected. Else it is just about checking off the list. 
 

Review of Feb

 
1.Breathing exercises
 
To be honest, I couldn’t do it on all the days. On a few days, I just kept postponing under the pretext of finding a good place to do this. On a few other days, I was struggling to push myself out of the drowsiness to start the exercise. But, on the days I did it, I could definitely feel the difference. Whenever I was idle I resorted to doing pranayama. Also, I tried it in a forest, by the beach and while in water to notice how the quality differs. I don’t want to lie. At this point, I didn’t really feel a lot of difference. But once I get into it deeply, I am sure it will be a treasurable experience.
 
2.Stay away from social media
 
This worked well for a couple of days. I am starting my day now by writing a gratitude diary which I find quite helpful. This in turn reduces my urge to scroll through social media on the rest of the day. But on the days, I am stressed out, I am resorting to social media to escape reality. I have a long way to go before I can get rid of this completely.
 
3.Gratitude
 
After a long break, it was difficult to get back to work. I didn’t feel like going to the office. I wrote in my gratitude diary that “I get to go to work.” Changing ‘have’ to ‘get’ has made a huge difference in how I look at things. 
 
4.Books
 
I am glad I finished reading 9 books this year already which gives me confidence that I will easily reach the target of reading around 40-50 books a year. I started Ikigai last year and finished it this month. I read two books on spirituality which expanded my mind and helped me find meaning to different things I have heard before. One of those is Sex Matters by Osho which made me think about love in a totally different way and Many Lives Many Masters taught me how to find meaning for the difficult times in life. I also read Atomic Habits which was a revision of Power of Habits and a book to confirm that I am on the right path. I have heard about Super 30 when I was a kid and finally got to read his story as a grown up. I learned from this book that you need to do something bigger than yourself in life at least once.
 
5.Writing
 
I have completed the consolidation of all the content on self improvement I did so far. The next step is to bring a structure to the content and write elaboration for it to make it easy for the reader to follow. 
 

Plans for March

 
1.Learn Kannada
 
The one thing of this month is to learn Kannada. I moved to Karnataka more than a year ago but I still can’t speak basic statements in Kannada due to lack of exposure. Hence I bought a book Conversations in Kannada. There are 50 lessons in it. I will do one lesson a day. In the next 50 days, I will be able to speak like a beginner in Kannada. I can practise this with my husband and the locals here for the subject to stick.
 
2.Write book
 
I will spend 15 minutes daily in bringing structure to the content i consolidated there by bringing the book to a readable shape.
 
How was your February? What are your plans for March? Let me know in the comment section.
 
Happy March!
 

2020 Jan Review & Feb Goals

I am thankful to everything which happened in January 2020. Not that something amazing happened but the theme of gratitude has definitely captured a lot of good into my life.
 

Review of Jan 2020

 
1.Gratitude 
 
I started off with writing in my diary what I was grateful for whenever I felt thankful. Slowly it reduced to just writing a header on what I was grateful for the day. Then it further reduced to telling myself what I was grateful for mentally. Through this entire transformation, I could clearly see how my happy days reduced to neutral days then one final day, I realised I just had a bad day which could have been totally avoided if I didn’t take my gratitude practise for granted. That was when I got more serious and started a physical diary and think at the end of the day about all the beautiful things which happened to me. I am grateful for picking this habit which helps me focus more on the beauty of life.
 
2.Photography
 
The first half of the month was amazing for photography. I clicked some of the best pictures in the beginning of this year. I am grateful to have a husband who takes me to places where I get to improve my wildlife photography skills. The beauty of Pulicat lake and flamingoes I saw there is one of the most beautiful things I have seen in life. Practising gratitude helped me attract a particular scene which I wanted to click since a really long time.You can check out the latest pictures I posted on my Instagram account.
 
3.Books
 
January was really bad for reading. I picked up the wrong books. Fooled by randomness was on my wishlist for a very long time. Only after I reached half way through it, I realised it was a very complex way of explaining the simplest things in life. I didn’t want to force myself to finish the book. After that, I picked up two books by Tony Buzan – Head Start and The Power of verbal intelligence. Sadly, I read too many self-help books in the past few years that he had hardly anything new to teach me. For a change, I wanted to try reading 13 steps to bloody good luck. Even though the author gave a promising start, it was only about reading excerpts of great people which you would have heard of tens of times before. It was a book to revise those stories and didn’t really have anything new to learn. It is just that book which gives the instant dopamine rush to do something great in life and doesn’t really bring any new change in life.
 
4.Writing
 
I haven’t blogged anything. None of the books I read were worth writing a review. I wanted to write at least one answer on Quora each week but I could write only 3 this month. The reason why I was not able to write more was that I realised half way through my answer that I hardly had anything new to write about. Over the past few years of self-improvement, I did a lot of challenges. As a result, I failed in a few, struggling to make a habit with few more and then made a few others as an identity. Now, I just keep boasting about the same old things over and again. I need to start a self-improvement v2 to write fresh content. At the same time, I thought why not consolidate all that I learnt and implemented in life as a book. It will be one place as a go to guide who wants to try what I did and also a self reflection for me to gain an understanding on what I mastered and what I need to master and what I wish to try in the next version.
 

Goals for Feb 2020

 
1.Pranayamam
 
One of the things which were a part of 2020 goals but couldn’t reach was sleep well and on time. Frustrated with that, I chose to do alternate nostril breathing for 5 minutes before sleep. It helped me have a deep sleep after a very long time. Why limit such good things to just a few exceptional days? I want to practise breathing exercises for at least 5 minutes daily. Preferably in the morning and if I miss in the morning then in the night. I have a tough time to wake up completely in the morning so I resort to social media to get out of the drowsiness. Doing breathing exercises will jolt me out of sleep in a healthy way while countering my need for social media. This is going to be tough but totally worth it.
 
2.Write
 
Even though I decided to prioritize only one item for the month, this is like a hobby. If I get free time, I will write my book and aim to finish by April end.
 
How was your January? What are your plans for February?
 
Happy February!