Redefining Freedom

We read about freedom, dream about freedom, rejoice in the notion of freedom, teach, advocate, and hope for freedom, but what do we mean by freedom?

Freedom means many things to many people. We can view freedom politically, as having the opportunity to vote for particular people or parties which best represent our views. Closely tied to this is the notion of freedom of speech, where one has the liberty to voice their personal opinion or perspective. Others understand freedom in a financial context, where people seek to free themselves of financial debt, outstanding credit, and burdensome loans.

It could be the joy of waking up to a sunset or the bitter-sweet joy of watching the sun go down. It could mean a walk in the park or an hour of yoga. It could mean an evening out with friends or a day without the phone. It could mean a holiday or a shopping spree.

And as you visualize each of these actions, we realize freedom is not about what we do, but how we feel while doing it, it’s about the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. It’s letting go, letting loose and basically breaking free of any shackles. Freedom is a feeling, not an action. It’s time we all identify our definitions of freedom to really experience it and to keep practicing it.

On a personal level it’s easier to find freedom because there is only one person who can help you achieve that – you! But what about freedom in the society? In our country? Why our mind still remains so heavily conditioned after so many millions of years? The mind is conditioned by society with its cultures, laws, religious sanctions, economic pressures and so on.

Freedom is when one can walk “freely” on the streets, feeling exactly how one would feel while running in the park. Freedom is being able to express one’s thoughts without worrying about the consequences. Freedom is not having to change yourself to “fit” into another family or group. Freedom is being able to live your life the way you want irrespective of gender, caste, marital status etc. Freedom is independence to think for oneself clearly and not to act according to the dictates of society.

And when we look at it that way, it makes us wonder if we really have achieved freedom. We may have won battles against outsiders, but we have so many to win against our very own people, our mindsets and oh all those stereotypes.

Our brave soldiers sacrificed their lives and brought freedom to our country, hoping to see a strong, free country. But we only gained freedom from the British rule but we are still under the rule of our past; past ideas, notions, values and beliefs. Maybe it’s time we all join the army and help in truly making the country a free country. And a free country starts with a free mind. The mind is, after all, the result of the past, and this past is tradition. Let’s move on to a free future. Let’s start by letting people around us live. The “live and let live” begins at home. With your children, with your spouse, with your friends. And then hopefully the country will catch up and one day we’ll celebrate the true meaning of independence.

This blog is based on the following article –

https://www.deccanherald.com/content/563982/finding-freedom.html

 

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Kids, happy independence day – everyday!

Freedom can mean different things to different people. And often giving freedom to children is something all parents hold back from doing. Be it with regard to going out alone, or letting them handle money or even simple things like letting them choose clothes. But at the end of the day, all parents want independent adults. Now if as children they have never tasted freedom and learnt to make choices, how would they turn into independent adults?

Freedom and independence are crucial topics when it comes to parenting and we need to question ourselves – what kind of parent am I? A lighthouse or a helicopter? One is a beacon of light from afar that ensures guidance when required. And the latter, is something hovering over your child day in and day out, offering guidance for sure, but also dragging along a sense of annoyance.

US pediatrician Dr Kenneth Ginsburg, author of Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust has coined the term ‘lighthouse parenting’ to describe the tricky balance between protectiveness and permissiveness. We must make certain they don’t crash against the rocks, but trust they have the capacity to learn to ride the waves on their own.

As parents we feel it’s our job to do things for them. Pick clothes for them, serve food to them, clean up, follow up with their school work, keep an eye on their friends and the list continues. While it is natural and necessary to be protective of them, we need to understand that if we do everything for them, we are only making them weaker and more dependent.

They need to take responsibility for their own actions and if that begins at a young age, the more independent they become.

Independent children feel competent and capable of taking care of themselves. Under their parent’s watchful eye, children are able to grow, flourish at their various stages of growth and development, and are more confident in being who they are.

Here are a few simple tips on how to encourage independence in our children –

  • Stop doing everything for them

From picking clothes for them or deciding what they will eat; stop doing it for them. Instead of deciding on their behalf, start giving them choices to pick from. Instead of doing things for them, teach them to do it. Instead of speaking on their behalf, encourage them to have and voice their own opinions, even on little matters. Let them pick what they want to do in their free time or pick books they want to read. It’s time we stop putting the books in front of them and asking them to read them.

  • Give them responsibilities

Since everybody is living under the same roof and are making messes, everyone should be responsible for keeping the home clean. Chores will undoubtedly help teach your child valuable life skills, the value of hard work, responsibility, and respect for themselves and others. One day, your children will grow into healthy adults. And, when they do, they need to have basic life skills which include things such as cooking skills, laundry skills, money managing skills, banking skills, and the ability to follow through. Having this type of knowledge will help them grow into independent adults as well.

  • Show confidence

Acknowledge when they make their own decisions or fulfill tasks. And this starts right from when a toddler learns to wash their hands on their own. A thumbs-up can go a long way in building independent adults. Because when they have confidence in their own actions and decisions, they wouldn’t mind doing things alone.

  • Let them make mistakes

A parent’s biggest fear is that their child will make mistakes, experience failure and get hurt in the process. But in the long run, it’s inevitable and at some level, it’s essential that they make mistakes, fall and learn to get up. A typical helicopter parent is flying over kids to ensure they pick them up before they even fall. But it’s important they learn to have conflicts and resolve them too. Because they always learn better if they experience it rather than have it preached to them by their parents.

But the thing is, children need to be on their own—when it’s safe and the time is right. To figure things out for themselves. To find solutions to challenges. To make decisions about the kind of human being they’re going to be. To establish their own friendships- Without us. We are doing our children a great service by giving them a taste of freedom. Letting them run errands. Letting them be independent.

So, go ahead and let go. In the end, your kids will pleasantly surprise you. They will flourish and grow as people. You’ll see.

It’s all about the attitude!

Ever noticed new things on a drive out of the blue? Like you are driving through that road every day and notice nothing but one particular day on the same route you discover something beautiful about the landscape and wonder ‘when did this happen’? Did the landscape change? No. So what did? Just your perspective.

For decades, legends have proven that it’s never about what life gives you it’s all about your attitude towards it. Shiv Khera, author of the bestseller “You Can Win” believes strongly that when one is faced with a problem, one can either choose to back away, or turn it into a purpose.

Each one is fighting a battle, almost everyday. And the most difficult ones are the internal battles. Because you can run away from situations and people, but you can’t run away from yourself. To win battles outside, one must fight their internal battles, thereby preparing for the external ones.

And the one lethal weapon that’ll help here is a positive attitude! And a weapon that could harm you is negativity. It’s a choice you make.

Sometimes, we hear people around us saying “be positive”, “everything’s going to be ok”. So is this positive attitude? Well, not entirely. A positive attitude is not about ignoring facts and faults. It’s about accepting all of that, while focusing on possible solutions. It doesn’t require you to be oblivious to the bad, but it requires that you still look for the good in it or at the least make the best of the existing situation. “God has a plan for you” sounds clichéd, however if we reflect honestly and deeply over past ‘unfavorable’ events, we could find some good emerging out of them over time. It is just that we need to reframe it in our mind.

When something goes wrong and people say – it’s all for the good; does it annoy you? Does it feel unrealistic? I mean, how can something good come out of pain? But more often than not, people have looked back and realized that, perhaps that statement isn’t completely untrue. Again, it’s the attitude at a trying time that’ll help us survive it. Developing an ability to focus on finding solutions rather than finding faults is a skill that’ll help you get through the rough patches in life.

Look back and revisit the past ‘bad’ experiences and discover what good came out of that. Visualize the last time you were down in the dumps, feeling miserable and concluding that things can never get better. Did that change? Did you overcome that? Now imagine if we just look at every problem with a whole different attitude. An attitude that lets us accept that there’s a problem, but at the same time, helps us sail through troubled waters with a little background music. Struggle is inevitable. But no one has said that we have to frown through the struggle.

The old saying sure does hold good – attitude is everything! Well, old is gold! Let’s return to mastering an attitude that can help overcome all barriers!

This blog is based on the article –

Bangalore Mirror paper page18 – 24th July 2018 – Why attitude is everything –  https://bangaloremirror.indiatimes.com/

 

THE LENS OF FEAR OR THE LENS OF LOVE

Ever tried on a pair of tinted glasses? Say green? Then everything seems to have a tint of green; the people, the things around us, everything.

 Now let’s try and analyse at any given point of time in life, are we looking through the lens of fear or lens of love? Are we looking at everything negatively or positively?

 “We are not responsible for what our eyes are seeing. We are responsible for how we perceive what we are seeing” – Gabrielle Bernstein.

 We all see the same things, live in the same world and deal with the same people. But we all have different perceptions of the same. One is happy, one isn’t. One is angry, one isn’t. So where does the difference lie? Clearly in the lens through which one is viewing life.

 Amaya Pryce, a life coach and author of “5 Simple Practices for a Lifetime of Joy” and “How to Grow Your Soul” conducted an experiment for herself.

She realized that she was perceiving herself as a middle age, lonely woman with almost nothing fun in her life. Stuck in a “boring” job, she felt like life was just slipping away.

 And then as a part of the experiment, she decided to change the lens – the lens of love.

Her perception about herself changed drastically. She started focussing on things that she probably had ignored previously. She was thankful for the bond she shared with her daughter and for the fact that she had a job that could open up multiple avenues in the future. She focussed on relationships that were important rather than the ones that were amiss.

 And then, everything changed for her. Nothing changed externally. Her life remained the same, but her perception had changed, urging her to feel positive. This proved to her the existence of two kinds of lenses.

 She believes that this exists in everyone’s lives and it can be tried in different circumstances and with different people.

 Pick certain people that are currently bringing in a negative wave of emotions in your life. Switch lenses and try to see the pros. This will not change the person or your relationship with him/her, but will sure change how you feel about the person and reduce the negativity around the relationship. This is not necessarily done to make things better with the person, but to relieve you of unwanted stress related to them.

 This works great in situations too. Sometimes the worst of the worst situations don’t really have an immediate solution. But each one has an option of changing lenses. Instead of waiting indefinitely for a situation to improve, we’d rather don our lens of love and give it a positive spin immediately. And then we could maybe see that every cloud does have a silver lining.

 It’s time we started feeling proud of all that we have done than fixating on all that we aren’t able to do; be grateful for that we have than mulling over what we don’t. It’s time to put ourselves in the “hero” spot rather than the “victim” spot and replace the minus with a plus.

 So, let’s remember – LENS – STORY – FEELINGS.

 Your feelings reflect a story and that will show you what lens you are looking through. And a change in the lens can change the perspective of a story and thereby help you feel better.

 It’s easy to blame the situation and grumble as we wait for change, but it’s liberating to know that you don’t have to wait and things could change this very minute – just by changing the lens to the lens of love.

 The blog is based on the following article –

 https://tinybuddha.com/blog/all-about-perception-lens-love-or-fear/

 

Endings can be beautiful too.

Every sunset brings the promise of a new dawn and every ending leads to a new beginning. So don’t fear sunsets and don’t fear endings; because for all you know something better is waiting for you.

Often, people find it difficult to accept that certain things have come to an end – be it relationships, jobs or phases. Change isn’t welcome but change is also the only constant. When it comes to jobs it’s easier to leave one behind and move on to another. But how do we handle it when we are to leave people behind and move on? It seems impossible. And which is why many often shy away from doing so and choose to stay in a dissatisfying relationship or job while harbouring resentment. ; because a rocky road is more appealing than a goodbye.

But the important question, what about in the long run? A fear of an ending could lead to life-long suffering in a toxic relationship or in the wrong job. Isn’t it better to rip off the band-aid, feel the pinch but later be introduced to a healed life, to a happier life?

This definitely doesn’t mean to say that every argument in a relationship is an ending. There are ups and downs in each relationship. But when the pain exceeds the happiness, one must acknowledge that the relationship has perhaps reached the expiry date. And when one is faced with a dilemma, it’s wise to pause, visualize your future (up to next 30 years of your life) in the same situation, then turn the focus inward and see how you feel. That could give you some insights as to if you have reached a dead-end or not. If the answer is yes it’s worth the pain of saying goodbye now and moving on to the next phase in life.

In the light of frequent suicides by teenagers and young adults, it’s essential to understand an ending to something in life is not the end of life. A relationship, an exam or a job is Lilliputian when compared to the magnitude of life. Unless one goes through the tunnel, how would they know there indeed is light at the end of the tunnel? Giving up mid-way isn’t either fair or the solution.

Some relationships don’t work out, some jobs aren’t meant for you and sometimes it just isn’t a good time. If something isn’t making you happy, end it! End the chapter and start a new one! But one must never shut the book! Because you wouldn’t know if something beautiful was waiting to be discovered in the next chapter.

Like they say, the darkest hour is just before dawn.

So what might seem like an END could only be the beginning to a new, and probably a better chapter.

This blog is based on the article – https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/O-zone/what-s-wrong-with-endings/

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What’s your differentiator?

Oh he’s trying that out. Maybe I should too. Oh she’s wearing that? Then I guess I should try it too. Oh he is reading that? Maybe I should pick up a copy too.

 How often do we see people stuck in this cycle of thoughts?

 Were we humans built to be the same? Why not have robots instead then? The beauty of nature lies in the fact that each flower is different and each leaf has a unique pattern. And that comes so naturally. Then why do we humans struggle to find our one “USP”? Or sometimes, even if we do have them, we tend to overlook that and build on something that’s so not us, only because someone else is doing so.

 The world is getting competitive by the day, and the irony is that people are trying to cope with the same using traits they observe in others, not their own unique ones. Especially today, with people so unsure of themselves, uncertain of what’s right and what’s wrong, it seems easier to just follow the crowd; sometimes at the cost of compromising on your own personality. It’s time we look deep within ourselves, self-reflect and understand who we truly are. It’s ok if we aren’t like others around us or if we have to deal with a little criticism as long as we are true to ourselves.

 Let’s take few examples to understand the role of differentiators –

 Let’s start with babies. Each baby is different. Each one starts walking at a different time, talking at a different time, each one laughs differently and cries differently. Because babies are innately establishing differentiators. They haven’t yet been taught to ape others. They are just being themselves. But as the child grows and goes to school, a child wants to wear what his classmate is wearing, or buy something he/she has bought. Where is this coming from? Us, adults! We have taught them that being different is risky, or in some cases “bad” and unacceptable. We, as adults, need to establish differentiators. Only by doing so and accepting our children the way they are, we are showing them that being different is not just ok, it’s great!

 Another common example we see is about the professions we choose. Everyone wants to be at the desk, doing mundane jobs. How many of us consider being a guitarist or violinist or a kathak dancer by profession? Everyone wants to earn a lot of money, own a house. How many of us are okay spending their whole life in a rented house? Same thing goes with regard to marriage and kids. It is unsettling to see one’s friends getting married and one not finding a suitable person.

 Key question here is – Is everyone, who is doing what others are doing, happy? Is it out of choice that they are doing this? Would they really want to do all of this Or are they doing it because everyone else is doing this and they are scared to be different?

 However, being different for the sake of being different isn’t the goal. Accepting who you are, loving yourself even if you are a little different from others is essential. Because we are in a world where this is no right or wrong for every action; it’s about what works for you and what doesn’t. The minute you embrace your own personality, qualities and values, you naturally tend to carve out your own path, establish your own “differentiator” and eventually stand out!

 If you want to lead a life different from others, and without having to worry about keeping up with them, it’s time to find your differentiator. Then it won’t be about catching up with them or matching up to them, it’ll be about moving ahead and making your own mark.

 This blog is based on the following article:

 https://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/O-zone/what-is-your-differentiator/

“ME TIME” – A much-talked about phenomenon but rare to find.

When was the last time you were able to find time to do what you really wanted? Time to relax? Time to read a book? Take a long shower? “Me-time” could be defined as time to do as one pleases, without any disturbance from the outside world. If this seems like a far-fetched dream to you, then maybe it’s time you started your search for your “me-time”.

When one is single, it’s perhaps easier to find time for oneself. You could go on a drive, stay in you room or stay glued to Netflix for hours. But things change when you get married and perhaps, more when you become a parent. So what is the way out? Do we accept that things have changed and forget about “me-time”? Or do we do everything we can to find that one chunk of free time for ourselves?

 

While the former is what most of us are doing these days, the latter is advised. Like they say, you can’t make others happy if you aren’t happy; similarly, you can’t find peace externally if you aren’t at peace internally. And to do so, it’s essential to skim out some time from your busy routine for yourself. Be it having a cup of coffee by yourself, or taking a walk; listening to music for a while or just sitting outside and observing nature; exclusive time for yourself can help you stay calm. It’s a way of bidding goodbye (at least temporarily) to daily stress. It’s like taking a mini (really mini) vacation everyday. Just the thought seems refreshing right?

Mothers especially tend to neglect their own needs, sacrificing day in and day out to cater to their children’s needs. And in such cases, “me-time” becomes a luxury. Not a necessity. The minute we reverse that thought cycle, we are only doing ourselves a favour.  While we go out of the way to make sure our kids have a bit of studying, sport and leisure in their lives, why do we forget to do the same for ourselves?

Be it for fulfilled relationships or happier working hours, dedicated “me-time” is a life-changing factor. We need to not only accept that we need the “me-time”, we also need to start demanding for the same; from ourselves and from those around us.

 

 

 

 

 

Screen time for your kids

Before we go into how much time our kids must spend in front of the screen, let’s look at what we ourselves do. Because that is what influences their association with screens and mobiles.

How much time do we spend on phones or gadgets? What could we have done if we didn’t have these screens? Maybe spent more time with our kids? And while we discuss about how harmful screens are for kids, why do we forget it’s not doing us any good either.

The concept of even trying to monitor screen time for kids is something strange. I mean where did screens come into the picture for kids? Are we trying to indicate, that of all the options available in toy stores across the country and on global websites, we have been unsuccessful in finding something for our kids to do; that with Google knowing everything, it still doesn’t give us suggestions on how to keep our kids busy; that with a truckload of hobbies, sports, arts and crafts in a culturally rich country like ours, we haven’t found something interesting for our kids to pursue?

Really?

The article does suggest what parents must do and how they must restrict screen time for their kids but why not go a step further and restrict screens? This is not to say one shouldn’t learn how to use a computer or be tech-savvy; but to identify the difference between using the phone/computer as a hobby and using it as a gadget is important. A gadget serves certain purposes and especially in today’s tech-friendly world, one must understand its functioning. But that’s where we need to draw the line. For ourselves and for our kids. The problem arises when the minute a child has free time, the need for a screen arises; be it for Netflix, YouTube or games.

The smell of new books, sailing boats in the rains, jumping from square to square in hopscotch, finding the most unique hiding spots etc. We had SO MUCH to do when we were kids. Why don’t we want our kids to enjoy that? Is our laziness or rather our need to find quicker solutions making them lose out on such exciting experiences?

It sure is challenging to keep our kids occupied with our busy schedules, with most mothers being working mothers. But the bottom lines remains, if a child doesn’t know what a mobile can do, he/she will never ask for it. But once he/she has been exposed to the magical, addictive world of screens, it’s rare that they forget about the same.

Go that extra mile, spend that extra hour, pass that extra rule – it’ll all be worth it. It’ll help build children who are enriched with all kinds of experiences; not just screen-related ones.

This blog is based on the article –

Deccan Herald Metro life page17 – 14th May 2018 – Is screen-time harming kids? – http://www.deccanheraldepaper.com.

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MI

The game of love depends on your MI!

Forget IQ. It’s time to test your MI – Mating Intelligence.
IQ could get you a great job but for a great partner and a sustainable relationship,
psychologists say Mating Intelligence plays a very important role.
Now, MI is not something everyone is born with. It’s mostly an acquired skill, and may we safely say a life-skill? It’s how one can navigate relationships successfully, using mental skills to keep your partner attracted.
Being smart and aware can help you woo someone you really like. It is of course also linked to your confidence level that allows you to use your intelligence aptly or on the contrary, lack of confidence that could restrict your ability to begin a relationship.
Unfortunately, with technology taking over dating and romance, to possess mating
intelligence is almost mandatory. To steer through different paths and keep someone
interested in you despite the availability of options, is sure a daunting task. However
clichéd it may seem, wooing is still an integral part of our society and lives. Like Oliver
markus (Author of ‘why men and women can’t be friends’) quoted – Why are we here? We have pondered for centuries. The answer is disappointingly simple: Mating. That’s it.
While mating may not be the goal in everyone’s life, it’s hard to deny that it sure is
essential to fulfill needs. And to find a mate and sustain a relationship, we might need
more than just a heart. Our mind may need to sit behind the steering wheel for a while,
especially in today’s comptetitive world.
Pyschologists believe that relationships do end quickly for people with lower MI. Higher
confidence often helps in higher levels of MI. Moreover, there isn’t one rule that could be
applied to all relationships. It’s about being confident, knowing what could work for you and your relationships, being aware and going for it. Because if you don’t just go for it, in
today’s world, chances are it’ll be gone before you even blink.
So for all you men and women out there, wear that smile of confidence and go find your
soulmate. Use a set of pyschological abilities to look for someone, choose someone, go
through a period of courtship and guard your relationship. And surely, to do all of those
challenging things, you do need to let your MI flow.
The blog is based on the following article –
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/relationships/love- sex/whats-your-
mi/articleshow/63829564.cms

Being single!

Single and not ready to mingle? Well, then it might be quite difficult if you are a woman over the age of 30. Our Indian society is not very friendly with “unmarried” women over that age!

 A day in the life of a 30+ Indian woman – start the day with a heavy breakfast of proposals from all over the world, a mid-morning snack of some taunts, lunch with a huge portion of doubts on sexual orientation, an evening snack of emotional blackmailing, light dinner with some labelling and perhaps a sweet dish of tears.

Raised eyebrows, side glances and hushed talk – all of which a single woman who has crossed “the marriageable age” in India is quite familiar with.

 So what is the big deal? So what if a woman isn’t married or even so, not thinking of getting married at 30? She still does have it all – a job, friends, family, perhaps even a house of her own. Is that all invalid?

 If men aren’t married at so called marriageable age, do people portray the same kind of displeasure? Or for that matter do we give a second look to a man who has ventured out to eat alone or even watch a movie alone? But somehow when a man is replaced by a woman, perceptions change. And that’s when we know that gender equality is still only a dream.

 Women who have younger siblings who are ready to get married are faced with questions like – Will you be ok? How will you get married later then? Will someone agree to get married to you? This not only puts them in a tough spot, it doesn’t let them rejoice and celebrate their own sibling’s big event!

 I wish it was as funny as it sounds, but unfortunately this is the harsh reality for women in India who are striving hard to be independent, to live life on their own terms and to make their own rules and regulations. However, the society still believes that women are born to only follow rules and not make them.

 Having said that, it’s refreshing to see women get past all of these obstacles and show the world what identity is all about. Identity is not about getting married and having kids, or about changing your name and taking another family’s name, and certainly not about giving up your dreams and ambitions for the sake of tying the knot. True identity is finding your own path for life and identifying one’s passion and pursuing the same. So, women – Claim your space! Get out there, and live life “queen” size. With a husband or without. With kids or without. With a job or without. It’s all really about you! What are you waiting for?

 This blog was based on the article:

 https://www.deccanherald.com/features/living/singled-out-being-single-665639.html