The World is an Amazing Place (Despite All the Suffering and Pain) – Poem

Blue MarbleI still feel too sensitive to suffering sometimes and feel anxious and helplessness. In one such incident recently, this poem crossed my head:

“Pain and suffering can confuse you,
Feeling it all, all the time will bruise you.
You’ve to learn to let it go sometimes,
And see the world in a brighter light.

For the world’s an amazing place!
Full of joy and wonder,
Growth and splendor.
Stop focusing on all the blues,
World is brighter, despite all the dim hues.

There’s suffering, there’s overcoming it too.
There are struggles and yet people smiling through.
If you see all black, may be change your view?
Life is wonderful and you can see it too!

Crushing helplessness you feel,
And hopelessness you fear.
“World can’t be healed” hurt by their sneers.
Even if trembling, will you act, or surrender and kneel?

Those who feign the pain,
And those who stand indifferent.
If they continue to kill and wound around,
Why you too won’t hold your ground?

Remember though only feeling and not doing doesn’t make a difference,
Things aren’t fixed by magic, let toil be your preference.
See the ray of hope, even if  it’s on horizon and faint,
Set an example, it’s not enough to complain.

For the world is an amazing place!
Full of joy and wonder,
Growth and splendor.
Stop focusing on all the blues,
World is brighter, despite all the dim hues!”

It’s an amazing place <3


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New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

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Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take good care of yourself and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.

A Tree in the Forest – Man of Wisdom Tells Stories

The Ugly TreeIf you started from the southern edge of Atlantic Ocean, it’d be hundreds of miles of forest clad in complete darkness until you’d see the first twinkling of light. It was from Estrela’s table lamp. She turned it off as she went to sleep and the darkness extended a few more meters.
 
Estrela’s town was at the edge of the rain-forest. It’s been just a few years since her village had gotten electric supply line. Before that they were dependent on dried logs from the forest. Not just fuel though essentially the economy of whole village was based on the forest.
 
The forest nourished the town. There was plenty of food, wood, herbs, and game. A lot of villagers had moved to the cities, but some people had decided to stay back. They chose a life of simple living and one not away from the touch of nature. Estrela’s family was one of them.
 
She’d turned 12 just last month but she enjoyed walks in the forest more than her peers of same age. In daylight she’d walk a few miles to reach a particular tree and sit beneath it. But in darkness the forest is too scary to wander alone and that tree was too far away in the forest for a 12 year old. “Even for a brave 12 year old girl!”, her father explained as he declined her request, this evening.

“This is a rainforest and even at peak noon only less than 2% of sunlight ever reaches the ground. It’s pretty much dark in day too. What difference it makes in night?” she smirked victoriously. She’d heard that factoid in Planet Earth show. What could her father possibly reply against such a valid argument? She wondered.

“Light doesn’t need to touch the ground to light up the forest. The leaves diffuse and reflect enough to see. And the jaguars and wolves seem to agree as they choose night’s darkness to hunt.” her father explained. She knew jaguars sometime attacked people in forest and they almost always singled out children, so she nodded silently.

But her voice broke down. “I want to be close to mom. We don’t even have a picture. That ugly tree is the only thing still remaining of her.” 

She’d never seen her mother. Earlier her parents lived in another village, right next to a lumber camp. About a decade ago, the highest rainfall in Amazonia was recorded and with no forest roots to hold the ground, entire village was buried in a massive landslide. Estrela and her father had gone to nearby city to see doctor for her fever. They survived. Estrela had lost her mother at 2 and she’d very faint memories of her, she wasn’t even sure if they were real or she had made them up based on stories her father had told.

“The greatest gift and best memory Tanya left are you Estrela. Every cell in your body was formed in your mom’s womb. She lives on in you.”, her father said as he hugged her and Estrela gave a tearful smile. 

“I sometimes think if I’d not fallen sick, mom would still be there with us.” she could hardly hold the tears.  
“No. If we’d stayed back, then all of us would have died. No one can control when they fall sick. And Tanya would have wanted you to be alive and well and grow up to be healthy and happy. This is why she’d insisted me to take you to city to visit a doctor.” he paused.
 
“You know I used to blame myself too. I should have taken her along with us. But your mother didn’t want to miss teaching next day in her school. And I didn’t see any reason. Even the rain was as usual then. No one in the village knew or could think of that – that would happen.” his voice became too heavy. He took a few deep breaths as if composing himself, then said: “We just have to make peace that the loved ones we’ve lost would want us to live on. While remembering the best of them. They continue to live on – in us, through us. So we have to take care of ourselves and try to be happy. Because that’s how they’d want us to live like.” he smiled at her. 

“So it’s time to get proper sleep.” he said. Estrela knew he’d be in tears in his room. She wanted to distract him.

“Why did you people chose the ugliest tree in the forest for your tree house?”Estrela had asked this earlier too and she knew the reply her father would say: “Just wait few more months and I’d tell you.”

“Just wait few more months and I’d tell you.” her father said as he turned off the light. Estrela couldn’t hold her laughter. “Goodnight sweety.”


The next day was a holiday and in the noon she ran through the forest and reached the tree, panting and exhausted. It indeed was the ugliest tree in the area.

It was a very old, dying tree. The bark was rotten and full of stinky sap, the tree branches barely had leaves and looked ghostly barren, most of the tree house that her parents had built had fallen off or decayed with only some mold covered bamboos remaining, its trunk was covered with markings of woodpecker it looked as if the tree was full of insects too.

“Your Mother and I’d created a tree house on it when we were of your age” her father’s words echoed in her head. They must have been looking for the ugliest tree in the forest, she concluded as she stared at the torn, soiled flag her mother had designed. The ladder to reach the tree house was no longer there and some of the branches were either broken or  too weak to support even her. She sat opposite to the tree longing for that piece of cloth. A memorabilia of her mother. Only 2 more months. Till then I won’t visit here. she thought.


More than 2 months had passed and her father would everyday visit the forest and take notes on his notebook. One day he declared, “It is time! We’d leave before dusk and tonight we’d stay in the forest!” Estrela was thrilled, she’d never been in the forest after dark, let alone spend one full night there!
 
They left at noon itself, carrying their tents and sleeping bags. Estrela couldn’t stop herself:

“Please tell na da, why did you two chose this tree? This is old and scarred. It’s infested with fungus and mushrooms. There are ant colonies beneath its bark that it’s shedding and its wood doesn’t seem much strong. All other trees look much better. Why this tree? You’ve been delaying this forever!” She had written down a list of reasons why that tree was so ugly and rotated points when talking to her father so it always sounded new.

“You’ll see. But you’ll have to bear the bugs of forests as we wait” his father calmly replied.” But I hate all bugs. They’re so scary and ugly and weird and slimy and stingy.” she said making a dreadful face.  He just laughed.

They set up a cramped camp in front of that tree and by the time they were done, the diffused sunlight that lights the forest was gone. It was barely 5.

“Now watch closely” his father said as they wrapped themselves in cover and stared at the tree.

After maybe half an hour a little yellow light came flying, it flew around a bit and then settled on the tree bark. “Firefly?” Estrela asked curiously. Her father nodded.

Then another came from opposite direction circumvented the tree a few times and sat on it . “Brace yourself” her father said smiling as a few other fireflies came and sat on that ugly tree. 

This was just the beginning. Slowly dozens and dozens of swarms of fireflies started gathering around the tree. “They’re orbiting the tree as if it’s a Sun!” Estrela exclaimed. Her father laughed and said “Yes, they’re looking for the best place to settle.”

It was a spectacle unlike any other young Estrela had seen. Within few hours, hundreds of thousands of fireflies had covered the ugly tree. It was dark everywhere else, as far as she could see. All other trees – with beautiful bark, the ones covered with flowers, the majestically tall ones, the ones with peculiar leaves – all were shrouded by darkness. And the ugly tree glowed alone.

Estrela lay back, so she could see the dance of fireflies in its full fluorescent fervent. Their light went on and off as they breathed, it looked like twinkling of stars. As they wet up and down, around the tree, it resembled a meteor shower. Thousands of shooting stars had covered the night sky, even when the weather was cloudy.

“Why do the fireflies choose this tree?”

“This is the fireflies’ breeding season. This tree with its open bark and ugly sticky sap has pheromones similar to the fireflies secrete so they’re really attracted to it. They confuse it for their mate’s signal but since so many fireflies confuse it, they can always fins a mate and this tree becomes the central breeding ground.” he explained.

“A blue one!” Estrela shouted. In an emerald ocean suddenly a few blue sapphires began popping up. “I swear I saw a red one too! Can’t find it.” Her father’s eyes moistened. He missed his wife, who had a similar reaction the first time she saw the sea of fireflies. From his bag he took out something and asked Estrela to sit down and hold it.

“You hate bugs, right? Hold this branch but be very still.” her father said with a mischievous smile. Estrela got up and held it carefully.

 Even 5 minutes hadn’t passed and a firefly came sat on it. He wasn’t glowing. It was followed by a few more, some were on Estrela’s hand and fingers. She felt ticklish and funny. “Why aren’t they glowing?” she inquired. Fireflies don’t look so beautiful without their light, she thought. “Don’t move your hand, stay very still.” She tried to ignore the tickling and stayed still. The branch was now covered with bugs.

And then they started glowing as Estrela stilled herself. She felt like she was holding little stars in her hands. It was magical, delightful and she was in complete daze. There were even 2 blue ones among yellow-greenish ones. “This is the most beautiful bouquet ever!” she said. Startled, some fireflies flew away. She stilled herself again. A new firefly sat there. It glowed red. “See I’d told you! There are red ones too!” she said excited and handed the branch to her father. All fireflies flew away.

 
Fireflies tree

“Your mother had similar expression the first time I took her here.” he said smiling.

“We were just teenagers then. I was completely smitten with your Mother. Your mother loved stars. She told me how she longs to see the stars. The forest trees, the thick mist and the rain clouds hide the stars most of the time. We could hardly ever see a few bright stars. It’s either always raining or cloudy. And even when the weather is clear, the tall trees hide most of the night sky view.”

“So I kept on thinking and looking out for some way. Don’t consider me crazy but I even looked for ways to make the clouds disappear.”

“Whoa! That is really  crazy da!” she laughed. “But you really did find stars for mom!”

“This was the next best thing I could find for her. And she loved it and I think perhaps even more than how much she’d have loved the stars. She had named you after stars too. We came here to visit every night and then we decided to make a tree house to be enveloped in this light and see this phenomena up close and in all its glory. We’d to make peace with mosquito and other insect bites though.” 

“Wow! But how did you find this tree?” Estrela was now more curious than ever.

“I’d asked your mother to come to the hill town to see the stars. She said we could go once and then I’ll want to move there. But she didn’t want to. She loved the forest too much to leave it.” He paused to take a sip of water then continued:

“So. I’d followed fireflies before in forest and sometimes saw them gather in little groups on some shrubs. I thought there must be somewhere the group would be larger. I noted down the points as I saw larger and larger groups then realized there must be one place with most fireflies. And one night I stumbled on this tree! A year later we were engaged!”  He finished, laughing.

“The starry bouquet worked!” Estrela said laughing. Again the fireflies had started sitting and glowing. They both could clearly see the red one this time. Estrela finally knew why her parents had chosen the ugly tree. No. It was the most beautiful tree she’d ever seen.


Do you see? Even an ugly tree could look like a breathtaking vista of heavens! So do we shine, with all our flaws and fortes. A tree in the forest, a drop in the ocean, a human in mankind.
 

Liked the story? Please share it! 🙂 Please let us know your thoughts in the comments. Especially, where we can improve.

Man of Wisdom Tells Stories is a new story series. We’ll post an inspiring story every 2 weeks. New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

Connect with Man of Wisdom on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Mail us at admin[at]manofwisdom.net 

Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take good care of yourself and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.

If you think world is a bad place, then be better, don’t make it worse by being wicked

I hear it so frequently, I’m sometimes even warned: The world is a bad place, therefore you need to be bad too. 

People often use it to justify their morally grey, questionable actions.  They also use adages like Straight trees are cut first. And justify doing evil: So be crooked.

By following this, you don’t improve the world, you make it worse
Before going into ethics and morals, let’s consider a simple idea:
Consider a dirty, polluted lake. You go to this lake and argue that it’s very dirty and throw your garbage in it. Now answer: Did your throwing garbage in it cleaned the lake? Did it make the water clearer? Or did you spoil the lake further? And if you’d instead picked up a piece of trash and disposed it off properly, wouldn’t it have made the lake even a bit cleaner than before?

Do you get it? Same is with the world. If the world is a bad place, by being bad in it. you make the world worse. You are being part of the very problem you’re stating and basing your actions on.

Be Better – You Owe it to Yourself, Your Children and the Next Generation
“You are personally responsible for becoming more ethical than the society you grew up in.” ― Eliezer Yudkowsky

Stop blaming the world for your weak value system. It’s too easy to point at your parents, your hometown, your culture, your country, the society, the system – and say your actions are all influenced by them and you’re simply doing what they’ve taught you. It’s an excuse to avoid moral growth, take responsibility and at least partake in solving a problem you’re already admitting.

Free yourself from shackles of your upbringing. And remove the vestiges of morally dubious teachings. Don’t let the shortcomings of society limit you for life. You owe it to yourself to be the master of your actions and be morally better than the people and place you were born in.

Our Obligation to the Next Generation
“We don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

Consider that the world you’d help build and leave is the world inherited by your children and the next generation. If you leave a world where it’s ok to do bad by making excuses and if same sentiment is shared by many people, you folks set humanity to a progressive descent and an ultimate doom.

It never seems a little lie will bring the doom of the world but it ever so slightly slides the world on that path. But on the bright side, so does every little act of kindness and righteousness. Be mindful that every small act sets off ripples of consequences in motion, not all of them are direct & obvious.

Leave the world a bit better than you were born in.

“But people will take advantage of us”
“You can lie down for people to walk on you and they will still complain that you’re not flat enough.”
Among all righteous and virtuous aspects, being kind and helpful is criticized most; in regard of others taking advantage of us. It probably happens and I understand that being completely selfless is not possible and can be fatal.

This is why we need to set boundaries and communicate it to people what is acceptable and what is not. It can be difficult sometimes and we may overthink how others would feel but we can’t pour from an empty cup and we can’t let others walk all over us. We owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves.

This said, the other aspects of being good don’t prevent you from following them anyway: being respectful, earnest, helpful and virtuous.

Finally, know that the world is becoming much better day by day
“The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” – Timbuk3. heh

Poverty has reduced, crimes have reduced, healthcare is improving in different aspects – we’ve reduced child mortality, we’ve almost cured many diseases like polio, smallpox, we’ve increased life spans and decreased deaths due to many diseases. We’ve improved literacy and education’s reach. More people live in democracies than autocracies and tyrannies, people have more freedom. Racism, sexism and other biases are reducing. Cleaner energy is getting cheaper. [Sources: 1, 2]

All this didn’t happen magically. If everyone thought that the world is a bad place and then would choose to do a bad deed, then the world would not have seen such a tremendous positive transformation. You ought to stop deluding yourself and start improving your value system.

Final note by Epictetus to make you think more on being morally strong:
“Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now.”
– Epictetus, Enchiridion.


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Upcoming post this Sunday: A Tree in the Forest in Man of Wisdom tells Stories series.
New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday. Connect with Man of Wisdom on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Mail us at admin[at]manofwisdom.net 

Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take good care of yourself and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.

 

2018 Reading List and Reading Challenge – 70 Books, 2 books each week

 “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
-Charles William Eliot

For the past 2 years I’ve been making a reading list. 2017 reading list was a bit heavy with a lot of unrelated challenging categories. This year I’d focused more on books related to areas I want to focus on and have chosen relatively lighter reads than last year. I’ve either removed unknown and irrelevant areas or kept such books at minimum.

Reading Challenge
In 2018, I want to read 70 books, less than last year’s 100. I’ll begin this challenge from May 1st and about 35 weeks would be left in the year. Averaging about 2 books per week, something similar to last year.

How I Selected These Books?
I don’t want to read a book which would consume lot of time and without me gaining anything. So since March beginning I’ve been listing down areas I want to learn about and then going through reviews of and opinions on some of the best and well known books. I’ve also interacted with lot of people and asked what are their favorite books and which books had most impact on them.

The 4 Areas of Improvement for 2018:
For 2018 I’ve defined 4 areas I want to improve upon most, I call them the 4C’s for easy remembrance. They’re about being more: 1. Creative 2. Conscientious  3. Communicative & 4. Clutter-free. I’ve included books related to each of them in this list.

Priority of Books:
I missed some of the important books last year. To avoid that, I’ve added some must read shelves. The absolute must read shelves are: Writing, Death, Suicide, Depression & Mental Health, Cancer, Critical Thinking, Biology & Diseases, Psychology, Communication & Rhetoric and finally Ethics, Morality, Virtues and Humanity. These shelves will get priority over all other books.
Since I plan to write some fiction this year and I’ve been mostly reading non-fiction for the past 3 years or so, I’ve added 10 fiction books.

I’ve not kept any textbooks of areas I’m studying like last year; as I never read them cover to cover and often skip large parts. About 10 books in this list are from last year’s reading list that I’ve added to this list.

Reading Order and Categorization:
I wanted to group books by week and when I should be reading them. For that I wanted to label them on how large they are, so I’ve added a categorization and their length. I’ll post a rough week by week reading order post separately. Each book is categorized from Very Small to Medium to Very Large and is followed by number of pages:
(VS: < 100, S: < 200, M: < 350, L: < 500, VL: > 500)

I still need to add 3 books, so please suggest your favorite books!
The current Reading List has 67 books and I need 3 more. What are your favorite books? What is the most impactful book you’ve ever read?

Part I: Non-Fiction
A few years ago I’d realized I don’t read any non-fiction book. I decided to change that by reading 3 books in 2011 and achieved it. Since then I’ve been increasing the target from 1 book every month in 2013 to 1 book every week in 2016 to 2 books each week in 2017 and 2018. If you find reading challenging and want to start reading, start small and slowly increase. In no time you’d be reading a lot of books.

My areas of focus are related to my life goal: To Reduce Suffering in the World through the Project for Better World Without Diseases, Disasters and Despair. So For Despair/Man of Wisdom shelves are: Ethics et al, Philosophy, Psychology, Depression, Stoicisim etc. For Diseases shelves are: Cancer, Bio & Diseases. For Disasters: General Science. General Shelves: Biographies. Also some Personal shelves like Fitness, Writing, Communication and Business. Here’s the non-fiction list:

Writing (2)

  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King   (M, 320p)
  • The Elements of Style – William Strunk Jr. & E.B. White (VS, 105p)

Death (2)

  • How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter – Sherwin B. Nuland (M, 278p)
  • Mortality – Christopher Hitchens (VS, 104p)

Psychology, Self-Development and Productivity (8)

  • Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience – Mihaly Csikszentmihaly (M, 303p)
  • Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha – Tara Brach (M, 333p)
  • On Dreams – Sigmund Freud, Montague David Eder (Translator) (VS, 64p)
  • The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life – Francine Jay (M, 298p)
  • This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life – David Foster Wallace (S, 138p)
  • The Hero With a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell (L, 416p)
  • How to Live on 24 Hours a Day – Arnold Bennett (VS, 92p)
  • The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle (M, 229p)
  • Self Control – Its Kingship and Majesty – William George Jordan (S, 192p)

Suicide, Depression and Mental Illnesses (4)

  • The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression – Andrew Solomon (VL, 576p)
  • Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide – Kay Redfield Jamison (L, 432p)
  • November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide -George Howe Colt (VL, 640p)
  • Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig (M, 266p)

Cancer (2)

  • The Death of Cancer: Why the War on Cancer Is Winnable and How We Can Get There – Elizabeth and Vincent DeVita (M, 336p)
  • The Truth in Small Doses: Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer and How to Win It – Clifton Leaf (VL, 512p)

Stoicisim and On Stoicism (3) 

  • The Discourses – Epictetus (L, 384p)
  • Musonius Rufus: Lectures and Sayings – Musonius Rufus (VS, 102p)
  • A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy – William B. Irvine (M, 326p)

Biographies and Mémoires (4)

  • The Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (M, 283p)
  • Leonardo da Vinci – Walter Isaacson (VL, 600p)
  • Twelve Against the Gods – William Bolitho (M, 316p)
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World – Tracy Kidder (M, 333p)

Survival, Exploration and Adventure (4)

  • In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette – Hampton Sides (L, 454p)
  • Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival – Dean King (M, 351p)
  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage – Alfred Lansing (M, 282p)
  • Adrift: 76 Days Lost At Sea – Steven Callahan (M, 344p)

    Applied Ethics, Morality, Virtues and Humanity (4)
  • The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty – Peter Singer (M, 224p)
  • The better Angels of Our Nature – Steven Pinkman (VL, 806p)
  • Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? – Michael J. Sandel (M, 308p)
  • After Virtue: A study in Moral Theory – Alasdair MacIntyre (M, 304p)

General Science (2)

  • Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming – Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (M, 357p )
  • Scale: The Search for Simplicity and Unity in the Complexity of Life, from Cells to Cities, Companies to Ecosystems, Milliseconds to Millennia – Geoffrey West (L, 481p)

Popular Space Science (2)

  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson (M ,222p)
  • An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – Chris Hadfield (M, 295p)

Challenging, Hard to Read (1)

  • Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland – Christopher R. Browning (M, 271p)

Communication and Rhetoric (2)

  • The Elements of Rhetoric: How to Write and Speak Clearly and Persuasively – Ryan N.S. Topping (??)
  • How to Talk to Anyone: 92 Little Tricks for Big Success in Relationships – Leil Lowndes (m, 345p)

Critical Thinking (3)

  • An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments – Ali Almossawi and Alejandro Giraldo (VS, 56p)
  • Logically Fallacious – Bo Bennett (M, 248p)
  • How to Lie with Statistics – Darrell Huff (S, 142p)

Philosophy and Spirituality (7)

  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – Shunryu Suzuki (S, 138p) 
  • The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave – Publilius Syrus, Darius Lyman Jr. (Translator) (VS, 92p)
  • The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World’s Greatest Philosophers – Will Durant (VL, 704p)
  • The Dhammapada (S, 114p)
  • Be Here Now – Ram Dass (L, 416p)
  • The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays – Albert Camus, Justin O’Brien (Translator) (M, 212p)
  • Brahma Sūtras – Badarayana (S, 192p)

Fitness (1)

  • Endure: Mind, Body, and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance – Alex Hutchinson (M, 320p)

Biology and Diseases (4)

  • House on Fire: The Fight to Eradicate Smallpox – William H. Foege (M, 240p)
  • The Making of a Tropical Disease: A Short History of Malaria – Randall M. Packard (M, 320p)
  • Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor – Paul Farmer (L, 438p)
  • Illness as Metaphor – Susan Sontag (VS, 96p)

Business, Finance and Economics (2)

  • The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World – Niall Ferguson (L, 442p)
  • Business Adventures – John Brooks (L, 408p)

Part II: Fiction (10)
I’ve decided to read fiction books this year. This is mostly based on recommendations, seemingly interesting premises and/or very high reviews. I only included standalone books which aren’t part of any series. The fiction books list:

  • Silmarillon – J.R.R. Tolkien (M, 333p)
  • Kingdom Come (#1-4) – Mark Waid & Alex Ross (M, 231p)
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zusak (VL, 584p)
  • Fahrenhite-451 – Ray Bradbury (S, 175p)
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein (M, 288p)
  • 2BR02B – Kurt Vonnegut (VVS, 15p)
  • Siddhartha – Hermann Hesse (S, 152p)
  • Pollyanna – Eleanor H. Porter (M, 304p)
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini (L, 367p)
  • A Brave New World -Aldous Huxley (M, 288p)
  • Daytripper – Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá (M, 256p)Already Read 

Part Rereads (Favorite books that I go back to again and again)

  • Bhagvadgita – Original translation (without commentary) 
  • The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • Meditations – Marcus Aurelius
  • Letters from a Stoic – Seneca
  • Enchiridion – Epictetus 
  • War of Art – Steven Pressfield 

    “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”  – Dr. Seuss

    What are your favorite books? Which books would you suggest me to read? Share in the comments!

    New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday. Connect with Man of Wisdom on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Mail us at admin[at]manofwisdom.net 

    Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take good care of yourself and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.

The Bird and the Mountain – Man of Wisdom Tells Stories Part 1

[Image courtesy: BBC Planet Earth]



The crane’s last wound had almost healed now. It left a long scar on her belly. Now she was ready to fly and make an attempt one more time. Like she had done over a hundred times now.

She was an obstinate bird who had refused to give up on her flight despite consistent failures. Her body was covered in scars and wounds. She’d hit the mountains far too many times, her wings were tattered by going against storms and turbulence again and again. Her body had weakened for there is hardly any food in the frozen mountains. She was a water bird that used to eat fishes, now she could get only insects, seeds, acorns and sometimes rats, if she’s really lucky.

It’d been 6 months since she was separated from her flock. She remembered that day clearly: It was her first migration. She was hungry and tired from flying nonstop for days. The cold of Himalayas was unbearable. It was sickening. She was falling behind her flock and it seemed she’d either turn around, hunted by birds of prey or simply fall down of pure exhaustion.
 
And then she caught a glimpse. She had seen nothing so magnificent, ravishing, otherworldly. She felt the mere sight had cleansed her tardiness.
 
She’d never seen anything so tall. The mountain peak seemed to go beyond the heavens. Covered in snow it glowed like a blinding silver pillar or was it golden, under sunlight?
 
All the birds in the flock took a steep turn and avoided that mountain, which was engulfed in a storm. But she continued, as if mesmerized by its mortifying beauty. She flew straight towards the mountain, hoping to fly over it. She couldn’t even reach half of its height nor anywhere near it. The storm stopped her midway, she couldn’t fly one inch forward and then once she lost her endurance to keep flapping her wings, she was thrown straight to her death or so the flock thought, who’d finally sped up and continued their journey.
 
She fell straight through a pine tree, onto the ground which was luckily covered with fresh, thick snow. She’d survived with a broken wing and numerous thorns on her body. She somehow managed to drag herself to a crevice. Surviving on moss, fern, leaves, twigs and on some lucky days: buried insects. Once healed, she moved to low altitude, not-so-cold mountains. There she found a cave, probably abandoned by some other animal. She had found warmer caves, but she chose this because from its edge she could take a peek at the peak of that mountain., She’d decided that she’s going to fly over it, no matter what. She spent weeks collecting twigs and dried grass to make the cave warmer as well as collecting and storing some food . So she could spend her days focusing on improving her flight than hunting for food. This was her new home for the foreseeable future as she continued to practice.

She’d begun with low flights, learning how to take steep turns, conditioning  her body for cold wind and regulating her speed. When going at higher altitudes, she slowly grew accustomed to low oxygen but faired poorly against the turbulence and stormy winds, which she could never get through. She’d return to her cave with new wounds.

It’d been months since she’d seen anyone of her kind. Yet she could see the mountain from her cave. She shared her loneliness with it, her companion in solitude. Whenever she felt lonely, she’d steal a glimpse of the peak and would feel better.
 
Each time going out of the cave took great courage. The winds were precarious and flying over Himalayas, even the lowest mountains is perilous. The height is too great, the temperature too cold and the winds too strong. The turbulence and storms stand like an invisible barrier, sometimes even over the mountains – as if the mountains weren’t high enough! She’d wait for weeks for good weather to practice.
 
But good weather was rare. Frequent hail and snowing had made her feathers coarse and brittle. She’d lose lot of feathers in her flights against strong winds. This made flying even more challenging. The cold was often overwhelming and no matter how much dried grass she’d cover herself with, she still shivered. Sunlight reflected from snow covered mountains were blinding and her eyesight had weakened over time. There was lack of oxygen at such heights and she’d try to breathe in as much chilly air as she could, feeling the sting inside-out. 

But she’d look at the frozen mountain and strangely, it’d warm her heart. Under sunlight the snow glistened on the mountain, it felt like a golden river was flowing down. It was the most gorgeous sight she’d ever seen. She wanted to come close to it, to fly over it, to touch it, even once, even if it meant death…
 

She’d made the attempts too many times, always aiming for the peak. But Everest is no joke, as she realized after dozens and dozens of flights and falls. But she always made the attempt one more time. Her mind was occupied monomaniacally to cross over the mountain that challenged her spirit.
 
After weeks of waiting, she found the weather was comparatively clearer. She left her cave and began her flight. She was still miles from the mountain and harsh winds broke her ascent. Her flight was no longer smooth, there was a hailstorm ahead, she’d to turn back. Else one hit and she could be dead. Dejected, she began her descent.

As if the storm wasn’t enough, on her way back, she saw a shadow passing over her. She turned upside down and saw him: his wings were large and broad, they seemed to cover the sun. She’d seen eagles attacking birds earlier, but to see an eagle up close was daunting. She dived down, she’d to get to her cave. Its opening was not large enough for the eagle to enter but the cave was deep enough for her to stay out of reach. Then she saw her imminent death: there was another eagle beneath her. Himalayan eagles hunted in pairs. Perhaps their nest was close by or may be it was miles away. It didn’t matter. Neither height nor distance is a big hurdle for an eagle.
 

The eagle hovering above her took a deep dive. Bolting down like a spear sent from hell. His wings cutting through the wind, like a bullet aimed straight at her. He was getting closer and closer to her. His flight was so majestic, so intense yet so graceful; for a second she forgot she is his prey. He was almost at her height now. She tried to fly rapidly up and down, in waves – quickly changing her altitude and taking sharp turns but he followed the exact course, locked onto her like a torpedo. She could hear his wings fluttering. Too close, too close, she thought. She was completely exhausted, she could no longer continue. She felt the talons on her back, her feathers torn, blood spurted. It was painful. The claws grasped around her neck and the eagle flew up. She writhed in pain. He was flying up, going for his nest. He carried her as if she was weightless. His strength was terrifying.

As they emerged from the shadow of a small mountain, she saw it: Everest covered in sunlight. She still hadn’t flown over it, not even touched it! She couldn’t die here. She must escape. She had to try. She curled herself into a ball. Her wings inflated like a parachute, resisting the wind. Everything about eagles was aerodynamic. Having a parachute like resistance suddenly slowed the flight. Startling and greatly taxing the eagle. His grip loosened. The exerting eagle due to his insane momentum flew straight ahead like a missile, while she fell down like a stone. She’d evaded the first eagle. He was too far to follow and must have hoped her mate below would make the kill.

She opened her wings to stop the fall, trying to glide towards the mountains. She could see the female eagle below her, who was laser focused on her, following her every move. Was this the end? The mountain image was fresh in her head, she decided to give it her all. In her dozens of unsuccessful attempts, she had learned a lot about diving and falling. When you fall from 23000 feet, you are freely falling in gravity and can do lot of risky acrobatics in air before you’re endangered by gravity. She slanted her legs backwards, stretched her neck outward and began spinning herself forward. Thanks to her sharp beak and her serrated claws, she struck the eagle like a shuriken. Her beaks and claws dug through the eagles body, tearing its head apart.

The hunter was hunted. The crane had never enjoyed such a nourishing meal. Snow is a great preserver and the meat lasted almost a month for her. 

This encounter taught her a lot. She realized she needs to build strength. She must nourish her body. She also needs to understand and feel the wind flow better and utilize it as much as she can. She could learn a lot from the way eagles flew. She was still in awe of the dive, the strength, the effortless fly and the focus of the eagles. They were master aviators, truly apex predator of the skies. And that was because of the way they utilized the wind to fly and their bodies.
 
Sadly a crane’s body is not that aerodynamic friendly. Their bodies are more suited for warmer climate near the water bodies, closer to the ground. So she’d to make the best of what she had. She spent almost three months strengthening herself and learning to fly like an eagle. She was ready for the final flight.
 
Everest was enveloped in a thick, blinding hailstorm. As if the storm was its guardian that must be dueled, a trial that must be triumphed. She wasn’t strong enough to soar to its peak in this tornado. So she decided to use the storm to her advantage; same storm that had nearly killed her numerous times. The main obstacle was getting inside the hailstorm. The outer winds are strong and impenetrable and random flying and falling ice rocks could kill her.
 
Wind and snow can be thick, but she was  a water bird. She would regularly jump in an opposing current to catch fish. She could dive through the hailstorm, she just had to get through the outermost turbulence layer.
 
Remembering the eagle’s dive and how she herself would jump in streams, once she got close to the hailstorm she closed her wings, straightened her body and used her momentum to get through the turbulence, penetrating it like a drill. Now she was inside the storm, but in the opposite direction of the wind. She could barely last a second. She instantly turned completely around to align with the wind direction and opened her wings slightly. She was riding the storm wind. She slanted herself slightly vertically and the wind was taking her up. Balls of snow and garbage left by human mountaineers was flying randomly throughout. She’d to dodge continuously. One hit and she’d lose control over flight and would be killed. Hailstones even larger than her were floating randomly. Her eyes had teared up due to piercing cold wind and the moisture was frozen and crystallized. She was essentially blind in the blizzard. She folded her neck and used her wings to break the ice on her eyes. But this ruined her control, she got strayed in the wind. A sharp ice stone pierced her still crystalized left eye. Her white head became red with the blood, which instantly froze. She couldn’t possibly fly with a blinded eye. She was going to fall to her death at the footsteps of Everest. With her one good eye she could see the summit, after all she was flying over its base. She’d never been so close. Oh this damn mountain! What all she’s already gone through for it?! The mountain glittered in the sunshine, this time it didn’t feel heartwarming. This time the bird found it annoying as if the mountain was mockingly, triumphantly smiling on his invincibility. There’s no way in hell this piece of tall rock would stop her now.

She inflated her wings to increase the drag and cease the fall. Then facing upwards, she aligned herself to the direction of the wind. Gliding was not going to cut it. She used all her strength, beating her wings to raise her height. She had never flew so fast, rising hundreds of meters in mere moments but to her it felt like eternity. She was sapped of her strength, her vitality and maybe even her hope. As if fortune smiled on her, soon enough she saw  the peak. Within moments she was close to it and then at same height. Then finally flying over it.

She took a sharp dive and her feet touched the peak. She landed there. She felt rapture. Hundreds of fall, dozens of wounds, hungry nights, no air to breathe, unbearable cold and even losing an eye – all was worth it. She felt a strange warmth over one of the coldest places on the planet.

But it didn’t last. The mountain was unforgivable. Its guardian storm had intensified, as if unable to digest that its impregnable walls of hailstorms were breached by a mere bird. So it gathered all its forces to bury it right there and remove all evidence it happened. She couldn’t stay there for too long or she’d be frozen dead. She ran over the peak and jumped, in descent she’d to just cut through the wind and then ride it like an eagle. She was out of the storm. She looked back one last time. That glorious golden mountain. Their affair was now over. She faced forward never to look back.

After some hours time, over the horizon she could see the greenery. Warm weather, big fishes, soothing baths and green surroundings, oh how much she’d missed it! 

She was the first bird to migrate this year, a month before any bird. She was also the first bird foolish enough to migrate over Himalayas at peak winter through raging storms. First to migrate solo, without even one companion. And of course, the first bird to ever fly over Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. But she was blissfully unaware of it as she lay into warm water after munching on belly full of fishes.

The humans called Everest “The mountain no bird can fly over”, they had no idea.

 
It was outworldly, that in an icy wasteland a bird could find warmth in a frozen mountain. And she could share her loneliness with it.


Liked the story? Please share it! 
Man of Wisdom Tells Stories is a new story series. We’ll post an inspiring story every 2 weeks on Tuesdays. New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

Connect with Man of Wisdom on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Mail us at admin[at]manofwisdom.net 

Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take good care of yourself and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.

I Hope Someday Cancer will just be a Zodiac Sign – Poem on World Cancer Day

Image Courtesy- Hope Against Cancer, Hope for Cancer Research Charity, Leicestershire & Rutland’s local Cancer Research Charity

Each year 4th of February is celebrated as “World Cancer Day” to increase the awareness about Cancers, one of the world’s deadliest group of diseases.

I’d written this poem about 7 years ago. Each stanza in the poem describes the difficulties a cancer patient faces. The first stanza describes the pain & hopelessness of diagnosis, the second describes treatment & its effects and the last one deals with defeating the cancer and being positive. The main message in chorus urges everyone to join hands and eradicate Cancer from Earth. If we all stand together, it’s possible:

“When darkness falls onto your door;
Would you even see the light of another day? You’re not sure.
Though great memories & caring people provide an armor,
But the hope has gone, leaving days & nights of painful horror.
The suffering grows each day, you think you don’t want to live anymore;
Because you think it’s the end of your world, what’s there to live for?

Though I don’t feel your pain, the way you do;
But I’ll do whatever it takes to help you make it through.
If we all unite, together it is possible;
Because we humans have always triumphed over the darkest maligns.
I hope someday cancer will just be a zodiac sign;
And till we see that day, we’ll keep on trying.

When you feel like that beast has taken your beauty away,
And you think, if you go in the crowd, you’ll lose your way.
Don’t listen to people, let them say whatever they may;
Trust me, you’re more Beautiful with your every new birthday.
Each day the Sun will give new hope with its blazing rays;
And just take those medicines without any delay & soon everything will be okay.

Though I don’t feel your pain, the way you do;
But I’ll do whatever it takes to help you make it through.
If we all unite, together it is possible;
Because we humans have always triumphed over the darkest maligns.
I hope someday cancer will just be a zodiac sign;
And till we see that day, we’ll keep on trying.

Welcome! Here you come like a soldier back from the war;
With that victorious smile & a few proud scars.
Now you’re at home & those bitter memories are far,
And no more hospital’s empty-whiteness, everything’s the way you like, it’s familiar.
My life would have been shattered without you, you’re its strong pillar;
And now when darkness comes in my life, you’re always there like a bright guiding star.

Though I don’t feel your pain, the way you do;
But I’ll do whatever it takes to help you make it through.
If we all unite, together it is possible;
Because we humans have always triumphed over the darkest maligns.
I hope someday cancer will just be a zodiac sign;
And till we see that day, we’ll keep on trying.
We’ll keep on trying…”


Following is a list of few Cancer resources:

While we tried to put links from authentic sources and Government sites; if you have any possible cancer symptom, it’s best not to rely on internet info and visit multiple doctors to be really sure.

Almost all of the cancers are treatable and in earlier stages, most of them are even curable.


Connect with Man of Wisdom on  FacebookInstagram and Twitter. New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, see the joy around you, radiate happiness, stay emotionally resilient, take care and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path. 🙂

35 Days left – Why you should start now to make 2018 your best year yet and 10 ways to get started

“Now is the time to start living the life you’ve always imagined for yourself.”

We’re in the last quarter of 2017 and 26 days of November have already passed. A lot of people get up on the 1st of January with the enthusiasm that they’ll start new good habits or break old bad habits, start something, change themselves: The New Year’s Resolutions.

Sadly though, for a lot of people the enthusiasm soon wears off. They don’t follow through on their goals and give up too early. By the middle of the year, most people don’t even remember their New Year’s Resolutions let alone progressing on them.

Part I: Why you should start now?

1. Enough time to choose and plan:

Lot of people have in their back of the head some ideas on which they want to work on. Like to lose/gain weight, to have a skill, be better in relationships, start a habit and break another one. In the last week of this year they’ll make a choice and formalize it buy buying gym membership, web hosting, camera, a rose, some guide book or whatever is appropriate for their task. And then start on 1st January. And then fail, because of lack of proper, step by step planning, not thinking of obstacles or later on realizing the task to not be so important.

Some of these situations may occur even with well thought choices and detailed plans. But the chances are really reduced.

Choose and plan now: Right now, you have sufficient time to look back over the year, find out the areas where you really need to change yourself, prioritize them, plan on how to work towards achieving them, step by step, think of possible odds and their solutions. So when you really get down to do it, potential obstacles don’t deter you.

2. Enough time to get started now:

It takes more than 60 days to create a habit. This may seem straightforward but we should keep in mind we may not be consistent. In anything new, after the initial excitement wears off we are faced with the challenges that truly test our commitment. We feel the “dredge” as we slowly shift out of our comfort zone into war zone where most people give up.

One should give themselves at least 75 days for a habit they really want to instill. And though we don’t have 65 days, we’ve 35 days. When you get up on the 1st of January, you’d already be experienced and accustomed in that habit by 1 month. You’d less likely to give up and more likely to follow through.

Part II: 10 Ways to Get Started

1. Look back at the year so far, reflect and list out what you want to change/improve/add in your life. what could be improved?

You’ve 11 months (and a whole lifetime actually) to look back on what worked and what didn’t this year (and so far in your life).
Here are some helpful questions, think and make a note of the answers: What are the areas where you lack and where you can improve? What are your bad habits and behavior patterns that have hold you off from being your best and achieving your goals? What have been your lifelong ambitions? What’s the number one thing that if you achieved would have the greatest impact on your life?

2 (a) Based on #1, write down your 5 most important 2018 goals
These goals are the mot important goal that you think would take from few months to a year to achieve but would essentially improve your life significantly.
If you can’t come up with 5, come up with as many as you can. More than 5 is also fine but don’t exceed 10, otherwise they become too much to properly focus.  You can make another list of goals less important than these top 5, as secondary priority. And don’t worry, we’ll be refining them throughout this post and the next two posts on Thursday and next Sunday.

2 (b) Do not forget to include the most important aspects of your life in your 2018 goals
Our Health, Relationships, Self-Improvement and Career are 4 aspects we should work on every year. So include goals and habits around these 4 area. If you set out only four habits, one related to each of the four areas, in a year you’ll get 3 months to work solely on a single habit. Which is more than enough time to develop a habit. And by the end of the year you’d have 4 good habits that improve your health, relationships, your career and yourself too. Similarly you can have one goal for each month.

3. Break your yearly goals into quarterly and monthly goals
“The gym is more crowded on first of January than it is on first of June. ”

The reason being most people are hardly still following through their yearly goals and resolutions. Most people’s goals are vague and too big and never broken into smaller steps.
Ideally, if something’s so important to you that you’d include in list of things that would change your life then you should definitely work on it every week or at least every month if not everyday.

How?

I’ll take the example of reducing weight since it’s easily measurable and thus easy to divide. e.g. if your current weight is 90 kg and your goal weight is 75 kg with muscular build then you’ve to reduce 15-20 kg and gain 5kg equivalent of muscles.
If you’ve never worked out, you should spend first 3 months developing the habit of working out daily [see 2 (b) above], starting out in smallest step possible [point 5 below]. So first month, say 3 push ups, or 100 meter jog. As well as mindfully reducing junk in diet and incorporating healthy foods. Then gradually increasing and including more exercises. In the second quarter, as you’re regular in workout, you’d want to reduce 3-5 kg weight, and update yourself more on nutritious foods and better exercises. The third quarter as you should become very regular in workout and restraint in workout, you should aim the highest here, say 7 kg weight loss and very less to no junk food with harder workouts. In last quarter you’d want to focus more on muscle gain and attain your goal weight.

4. Start acting now, in November itself, on the most impactful goal among all goals
Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling, but start.”

This is the most important point this post is trying to make. Don’t wait till January 1st, start now, right now. Regardless of how your past year has been, how your life has been. ACT! Taking action and getting into habit is the single most important thing to attain your big goals. And it doesn’t have a perfect time or the right time or the right feeling and it will never come. Life is short. Start now.

5. Start with the smallest steps, get over the initial bump
“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” -Confucius.

Dream big but start small, very small. Start so small that you can’t procrastinate or make excuses. If the goal is to be in prime health, start with 1 push up for 1 week. If it’s to wake up at 5 AM when you wake at 11 AM, than start with goal of waking 5 minutes earlier for a week. If it’s to buy a house, then start with putting away 5 cents everyday for a week. If it’s to run a marathon, begin with 10 meter jogs for a week.

Set such ridiculously small goals that your comfort seeking, fear mongering, self sabotaging mind can simply not convince you to not do that.

Then, when you’re comfortable with it, increase. 1 to 3 pushups, 5 to 15 minutes, 5 cents to 50 cents, 10 meter to 50 meter. Week by week, keep improving.

6. Build consistency by creating a system or habit around your goal
“We first make our habits, then our habits make us.” – Frederick Langbridge

In the really good book, The Power of Habit, the author Charles Duhigg describes each habit is made up of 3 parts: 1. Cue (Trigger) 2. Routine and 3. Reward. i.e. There is a trigger or cue which gets us into the routine or action and afterwards we get some reward. Depending on how positive or negative it is, we’re more or less likely to do it again.

We can utilize this information to form our habits around our goal. For trigger, we can utilize existing daily habits like waking up, bathing, brushing teeth, having lunch etc. So e.g. if you are finding hard to find time for your 1 push up, do it daily after brushing your teeth, this is the routine or action part of the habit. Bind your new habits to existing habits. Workout after brushing teeth, go for a jog after waking up, make three call after dinner etc. This is good when starting, slowly you want to build a system around this habit itself that ensures and helps you to finish this task.

So keep your running shoes and clothes on bedside to go just after you run. Add a “Do X pushups” on your bathroom mirror. Your phone on the kitchen marble to call once done with dinner. And reward yourself. See below.

7. Reward yourself

I wanted to cover the reward part separately. Each time we do something pleasurous, the brain as a response releases certain neurotransmitters like dopamine, seretonin and a few others and a circuit in our brain, called the reward circuit, gets activated. The more we do that task and reward ourselves, the more neurotransmitters are released, the more reward circuit is activated, the more it’s activated the more likely, easily and intuitively we are to do it next time. In laymen terms, reward circuit is also responsible for drug addiction but we can use it here to our advantage, we’ve discussed dilemma of good and pleasant earlier.

So after you’re done with the action (routine) part of your habit, do something that makes you feel good, something pleasurous, reward yourself this way. Overtime your brain would begin to associate that reward with the activity and you’d feel less resistance in doing it. But don’t give self defeating rewards. A cupcake after workout is wasteful.

8. Rely on discipline rather than motivation
Discipline is doing what needs to be done, even if you don’t want to do it.

Despite being so detailed, despite remaking on importance of your goals, despite breaking them into ridiculously small steps, despite setting up habits and utilizing rewards for your goals, there would be days you’d still not do that little task and you’d fail in taking any action.

That’s where discipline comes in. We’ve talked about how to be more self-disciplined earlier.  Overtime, you’d want to mentally rely on your self-discipline developed around your habit. So that you go do your task even when you don’t feel like it, or are in a bad mood, or ‘tired’, over all these excuses you finish your work. That said, be mindful of progression and your health and don’t push yourself mindlessly. Begin small and slowly progress. Be disciplined in small steps.

9. Create a list of books to read
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Joseph Addison

Learning is essential for our growth and reading is one of the simplest ways to do that. Each year on should create a list of books to read. It doesn’t matter how many. 6 books for reading once every 2 months to 12 books for monthly read or 52 books for each week. Decided on some great books. Read books that help you grow. This was our 2017 reading list.

10. Do the sign ups and shopping for your goals now

This may not apply to everyone and to all goals. But some of your goals may have some pre-requisites. So if it’s gym membership, or website sign up, or domain buying, or books to buy, or shoes to buy or enrollment in the coaching. Do it now. Not in the last week of December, not in the first week of January. Do it now and get started.


All the best for your 2018 goals. Get started and keep going.

In the next two posts I’ll be sharing how I use 5 free apps to keep a track of my yearly goals down to hourly progress and 2018’s public goals to give an idea of how to set these goals.


If this post was helpful, please share it. Please tell us how do you set and achieve your your yearly goals?

You can also connect with Man of Wisdom on faccebook  and twitter. New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

Till the next time, keep improving yourself, stay positive, stay emotionally resilient, take care and keep trailing on your Untrailed Path.

On A Slow Suicidal Track- An Inspiring poem for quitting Smoking on World No Tobacco Day

World No Tobacco Day

Hiding from my wife and children, I secretly walk out of the house;
I can’t resist the feeling that this smoking arouses.
I light up the cigarette every 20 minutes without a break;

Though I’d love to live long, but I know I’m walking on a Slow Suicidal Track.

 

Though I love her a lot, but still we often fight;
The never ending discussion of what is wrong and what is right?
I’d love to somehow fill our relation’s ever occurring cracks;

Though I want to live a happy life, but with smoking, I know I’m walking on a Slow Suicidal Track.

 

In the price of my expensive cigarette, a hungry soul could have a meal;
In the time I finish one, 50 children would have lost their lives, it’s true but seems so unreal.
I never knew with my one cigarette so much was at stake;

Though I’d like to save their lives but with smoking I find myself on a Slow Suicidal Track.

 

My kids don’t come close to me, my breath repels them;
My wife won’t love, my parents won’t talk, my life, it is mayhem!
They all in one voice say, if I don’t quit smoking, there won’t be many candles on my birthday cake;

I know they’re right, but still I haven’t quit, I’m still walking on this Slow Suicidal Track

 

Though I’m pretty young but I can’t walk long, don’t feel strong, I feel very old;
“This Cigarette is a medicine my friend”, Oh! It all began with this lie that so called “friend” sold!
The blood, the cough, the cancer and tar have filled up to my mouth and my neck;
And I being an idiot still walked on the Slow Suicidal Track.

 

I don’t want to suffer it all just to light the fire and to give in to my pity desire;
If I don’t quit I’d lose it all, now to quit it forever is what I aspire.
I suffered a lot, I had enough, this misery has to end and now there’s no turning back!
I Stop, I Quit, I know I have walked enough on this Slow Suicidal track.

 

Please listen my friend, if you use tobacco or smoke it too,
Don’t give in, the quitting is hard just in the first month or two.|
Now since you’ve begun don’t fallback, attack! there’s nothing you lack,
There’s no use on walking on this, let’s smack! this dirty Suicidal Track!”

On this
World No Tobacco Day

Quit Smoking!

 

            Choose life over death, Choose happiness over misery!
End the suffering, begin living!
1216 people quit smoking everyday, by dying!
Please don’t be part of this statistics.
If you agree with the message of the poem and you know someone who smokes, then share, pass it on and spread the words, so more people can live!

We Human, can always, have always and will always triumph over the darkest maligns! And this is just a pity desire. Throw the cigarettes into the trash. This time let this misery be smoke and disappear into air, while you breath in fresh air.

Of all deaths, one out of six die because of smoking. To put this into context, in the US alone, tobacco kills the equivalent of three jumbo jets full of people crashing every day, with no survivors. On a worldwide basis, this equates to a single jumbo jet every hour. (Source- Health Effects of Smoking).

Lot of people consider only Cancer as the harmful effect of Smoking, they’re completely wrong. Here are effects of smoking, ignoring 12 types of cancer it causes: What are the effects of smoking if we ignore Cancer?

If you smoke you’re a danger not only to your self but to people around you, people you love, the whole society and the whole Humanity! There is a chance that 33% people around you will get the cancer and die due to Passive Smoking.

This poem and Man of Wisdom is part of a collective project to make the World a Better Place, called The Project for A Better World Without Diseases, Disaster and Despair.

 

Part 2 of Characters and Virtues of Self Caring series on Developing Character and Building Moral Code would be published tomorrow, on Thursday 1st June. Last post on essential virtues and how to build them is here.

Did you like the post? Where can we improve? Please give your valuable feedback. Thanks a lot for reading!

Connect with Man of Wisdom on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more frequent updates. New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

Be kind. Stay positive. Radiate happiness. Goodbye. Take care. Keep Trailing on your Untrailed Path. 🙂

10 Essential Virtues for Modern Times and How to Develop Them – Being Virtuous is Self-Transcending Part 1

Being Virtuous - Slowly confronting and illuminating the dark parts of our conscience

“He that has energy enough to root out a vice should go further, and try to plant a virtue in its place.”  ~Charles Caleb Colton

This is part 2 of the 5 part series on Self Caring: Healthy Body, Mind, Heart (emotional/spiritual aspect), Character and Lifestyle.  This post focuses on Character and Virtues. The last post on Self-Discipline as healthy lifestyle is here.

This post on Character and Virtue is divided in 2 parts, this is part one. Part 2 on developing Character and a Personal Moral Code would be published on Sunday.

What are virtues and vices?
Virtues are the morally excellent qualities in a person. Vices are the bad qualities that harm self as well as others. As opposed to vices, virtues are inherently good for the person and often for others too.

Why we should be virtuous?
For a life of fulfillment, happiness, inner harmony, clarity, success, peace, stronger relationships, deeper bonds, abundance and prosperity, we should try to be virtuous. Since all our progress and experience that’s in our hands is ruled by our virtues and values, it’s essential that we try to be more virtuous.
Also it’s important to answer the opposite question: Why you shouldn’t be virtuous? You shouldn’t be if you want to live with guilt, being hurt, poor ethics, self harm, hurting others, and essentially acquire all vices and damage they bring on a personal and community level.

How to be virtuous?
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” -August Wilson
To be virtuous requires self-observation, contemplation and correction of our thoughts, behavior and actions. Are we thinking and doing good? What are the bad qualities and habits we have? Where we can improve?
From a more practical perspective, pick up something bad that you do/think or good you want to do/think and slowly try to practice it on a small level. This is general advice. Below, with each virtue, I give points specific to it that are helpful in developing the virtue.

Isn’t Virtue an outdated Concept, irrelevant in modern times?
“Focus on making yourself better, not on thinking that you are better.” – Bohdi Sanders.
No. Virtues would be relevant as long as machines don’t completely take over us and as long as thinking and acting human beings would exist – because there will always be possibility of becoming a better version of ourselves.

Making Virtues Mainstream Again
“We value virtue but do not discuss it. The honest bookkeeper, the faithful wife, the earnest scholar get little of our attention compared to the embezzler, the tramp, the cheat.” John Steinbeck
We live in a society of advertisement and marketing that emphasizes on vices and temptations and how it’s good to indulge in them, all to sell their products and services. They make people who don’t indulge as “uncool” people. The sad aspect is not only they succeed in selling their products but they succeed in making this thinking mainstream. Let’s change this.
Embrace virtues. From one perspective, purpose of life is to be the best version of ourselves. Embrace virtues and appreciate people for their virtues. And especially parents, try to teach your children about why and how to be virtuous and encourage them to be virtuous.

The Popular 7 Virtues
Following and a few other virtues have been mentioned repeatedly in religious and social texts, often as the opposite of the 7 cardinal sins: The virtues that have been chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility. I think this needs revision.

10 Essential Virtues for Modern Times
There are too many virtues and it’s not possible to imbibe all virtues. So I tried to narrow down the list of essential virtues to the following 10. Each virtue is followed with a brief discussion, set of associated virtues and quick glance over important points to develop them. I think these are the most essential virtues one should dedicate life to developing:

Virtue 1: Kindness
“Searching all directions with one’s awareness, one finds no one dearer than oneself. In the same way, others are fiercely dear to themselves.
So one should not hurt others, if one loves oneself.” –Udana.
Kindness remains as relevant now as it was 3000 years ago. Kindness and the level at which we can feel and practice it is what, more than any other trait, separates us from animals.
Associated virtues: 
Helpfulness, Caring, Charity, Loving, Altruism, Equity, Selflessness, Inclusiveness.
Developing the Virtue: Count to 5 before judging anyone. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before judging someone. Recognize good in people. Smile more. Try to leave everyone or at least someone (feeling) better than you found them. Help people in need. Be there. If can’t help, don’t hurt. Don’t increase anyone’s burden if you can’t share it.

Virtue 2: Action
“It’s not who am I but what I do that defines me.” – Batman Begins.
We spend too much time in talking, thinking, feeling and reacting and hardly any in doing. From armchair activism at community level to procrastination and distraction at personal level, our problems are only magnified as we take less and less actions and find more excuses to avoid our work. I could’ve put this along with self-discipline. But it’s high time that we begin to reward people who act more than people who talk. Value action more than words and intentions. Appreciate people who act.
Associated Virtues: 
Hard work, Decisiveness, Diligence, Progress.
Developing the Virtue: Start small. Start. Don’t wait for right moment or right feeling or motivation. Associate work with cause you care about. Plan minimally. Schedule your time. Be committed. Start small. Start now. Start. Do.

Virtue 3: Positivity and Emotional Hygiene
“There is a magnificent, beautiful, wonderful painting in front of you! It is intricate, detailed, a painstaking labor of devotion and love! The colors are like no other, they swim and leap, they trickle and embellish! And yet you choose to fixate your eyes on the small fly which has landed on it! Why do you do such a thing?” C. JoyBell
Lot of people I interact with are negative towards their lives, their friends and family, pessimistic towards their abilities, passive towards bright possibilities. Lot of us feel too much sadness, guilt, inferiority, take people’s opinion to heart.
Emotional Hygiene: We don’t live in dirty, messy environment then why should we allow our consciousness to reside amongst negative, self-sabotaging, self harming, self impairing thoughts? Practice emotional hygiene. Confront your negative thoughts take necessary steps to address them and if they recur purge them, eliminate them. 
Associated Virtues: Patience, Liveliness, Meaningful Distractions, Forgiveness, Encouragement.
Developing the Virtue: Emotional well-being is part of the series on self caring and there’d be a detailed post next week

Virtue 4: Resilience and Self Preservation
“Resilience is all about being able to overcome the unexpected. Sustainability is about survival. The goal of resilience is to thrive. ” – Jamais Cascio
Life is hard. This is a truth we should try to understand and accept. Circumstances would probably never be as perfect as we would like them to be. We’d meet with defeats, rejections, indifference, hatred, pain, sadness and the most difficult to deal with – loss of loved ones. And we’d have to live.
Survivalism: We must have an unflinching love for self and self-preservation. We must tattoo this in our brain that our life is a priceless, precious gift to us by nature/God/probability and we must try to preserve it at all costs. No matter what comes our way we have to survive and live.
Associated Virtues: Grit, ResolveSelf Love, Courage, Self Caring, Patience.
Developing the Virtue: Value self and your life beyond anything. Believe in self. Prepare for unfavorable situations before hand.

Virtue 5: Courage and Individuality
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”  –Friedrich Nietzsche
It takes courage to follow our dreams, be ourselves and have individual opinions where so many indulge in group thinking, follow the rat race and echo mass opinions without thinking through. It takes courage to stand up to our challenges, our enemies but even more to our friends, family as sometimes we need to. Sometimes we’ve to choose what we believe in, especially when we’re right, even if we’re in minority or completely alone.
Associated Virtues: Saying “no”. Boldness. Self Expression.
Developing the Virtue: Stand up for what you believe in. Express it. Manifest it. Encourage others. Raise your voice. Don’t lose who you are for others.

Virtue 6: Self Discipline and Self Regulation
No evil propensity of the human heart is so powerful that it may not be subdued by discipline.” -Seneca
In a sense we’re sophisticated apes and our monkey minds can’t cope with so many temptations, distractions and desires especially when they’re so easy to satiate in modern world. It wants to be gratified right now but is simply insatiable. Its demands are unending. Discipline and self-regulation are what we need to navigate through all the distractions, improve our self and get things done.
Associated Virtues: Developing all virtues and all growth depends on level of self-discipline. It’s a core virtue. Temperance.
Developing the Virtue: Start small. Practice tough love. Eliminate distractions. Work in quite, secluded environment. I consider discipline as lifestyle and this was part 1 of self caring, here’s a post detailing how to develop self-discipline.

Virtue 7: Awareness
“Be the witness of your thoughts.” – Buddha
This is probably the most important easily available but rarely utilized faculties of our mind. By awareness I mean observing the thoughts that arise in our mind. This practice alone is great. But later on, in the beginning we can slowly steer the thoughts in the direction of our choice. Later when proficient, we can completely change our thinking in a moment. Mastering our awareness and thinking is almost a superpower. You can take actions, you can truly experience or completely alter your emotions, change mood in an instant, stay resilient, positive and respond proactively rather than merely reacting.
Time Management: Managing time is not in our control. What we can manage is our awareness, thoughts, focus and then take actions accordingly. Planning, scheduling, tracking etc. is efficient but you actually have to get things done and that comes easily when you can manage your thoughts.
Associated Virtues: Mindfulness, Time, Energy and Focus Management.
Developing the Virtue: Meditate. Observe, visualize, confront and clarify your thoughts. Utilize meaningful distractions.

Virtue 8: Dedication to Truth
“This above all: to thine own self be true
And it must follow, as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man.” – Shakespeare
Dedication to truth means consistently revising our map of reality and not being deluded by daydreaming, illusions and how we want things to be to make ignore how things are. If you don’t even acknowledge the problem, you can’t solve it. Be honest with self.
Being truthful to others is also very good. Truth almost always is better than sweet talking.
Associated Virtues: Truthfulness, Humility.
Developing the Virtue: Continuously revise your map of reality i.e. what you believe to be true. Don’t let daydreaming and idle reveries drift you away from truth. Even if truth is harsh or inconvenient, problems can only be solved when you actually observe and accept there indeed is some problem. Don’t white lie i.e. lie to yourself. Be open to challenge of your view of reality from other people.

Virtue 9: Learning
“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti
One of my favorite virtues. In the age of information, ignorance is choice. Lot of knowledge is few taps or clicks away. From improving ourselves, to progressing in our careers, strengthening our relationships, resolving our problems – if we seek properly, we’ll find the answers. This idea should be considered very empowering. The onus of finding answers to our problems is on us.
Associated Virtues:
Curiosity, Observation, Introspection and Reflection. Wisdom, Financial, Survival & other Knowledge. Learning from setbacks.
Developing the Virtue:  
Be curious, observe, introspect, reflect, correct and assimilate. See which areas of your life can you resolve/improve through knowledge. Then seek the answers.

Virtue 10: Self Caring
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Sharon Salzberg
Associated Virtues: 
Being Healthy (Physically, Mentally, Emotionally), Being Virtuous, Being Disciplined.
Developing the Virtue:
Remember, you deserve happiness, peace and your own love too. Begin by taking care of your emotions and lifestyle. Take care of your health. Since this is self referencing, when this 5 part series on self-caring concludes, I’d link each part and the conclusion here.

Bonus Virtue: Discernment and Decisiveness
“Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.” – Brian Tracy
This could have been put alongside other virtues but I found it important enough to make a point about it. Everyday, we’ve to make hundreds of decisions, choices and judgements. The ability to minimize decisions and making effective choices can really boost up our productivity, stress and help us excel in our work. Indecision and delay diminish progress.
Associated Virtues: Judgment, Deciding what is right and wrong, Balancing.
Developing the Virtue: Always try to make some choice. Practice. Plan before hand. This would also be covered more in the cognitive aspect of Self Caring in future blog post.

A Word of Caution on Extremes of Virtues
Virtues need to practiced with balance. Too much of virtue isn’t always a good thing. In some cases people can take advantage of you, in other cases you could be harming yourself. As Adam Grant puts it:
Too little of a virtue is bad, but so is too much. Aristotle believed that every virtue lies between vices of deficiency and excess. Too little humor is dry; too much is silly. Too little pride makes us meek; too much breeds narcissism. Too much self-restraint leaves you doing homework while your friends are tailgating. Too little self-restraint means you’ll really regret eating that fourth Scotsman Dog.

I hope this post has been helpful to you. Next post on Ethics, Morals, Values, developing Character and Personal Code and hows and whys of it would be published on Sunday.

I’d conclude the Self Caring series in about Mid June. Then I’d be writing about Death, Dying and Dealing with Loss of Loved Ones because it’s a topic so many of us struggle with but we don’t talk much about and so there’s little info on how to make sense of life.


Did you like the post? Where can we improve? Please give your valuable feedback. Thanks a lot for reading!

Connect with Man of Wisdom on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more frequent updates. New blog posts every Thursday and Sunday.

Be kind. Stay positive. Radiate happiness. Goodbye. Take care. Keep Trailing on your Untrailed Path. ?

 


Notes:

Tears of the Sky – An Inspiring Poem for Earth Day

Has this thought ever came into your mind?
When you looked up in the Night?
The falling rain as the tears of the sky?
The loud thunders as its loud cries?

What do you think why do you cry?
When you’re hurt or someone has blown dirt in your eyes?
This is what happens with that beautiful sky,
When it rains without season as the sky cries.

‘Cause you pollute, put smoke and dirt in the eyes of the sky,
The toxins from industries rising up and high.
 Daily the trees are cut and the rivers are getting dry,
Most species you’ve exterminated as the living ones sigh.

Why do you always hurt your mother?
The mother who suffered pain but still gave you birth?
Though you may not agree but there’s still another,
The Mother who nurtures and sustains, the one you call Earth!

And my selfish friend what would you say to your children?
When they’ll live and die below the hot sun.
Without water, food, trees or greenery, with just hunger, thirst and a barren land.
From yourself you run now, from your children then would you run?

Blossoming fields, blessing greenery and a happy Earth, if you want to see,
Save water, plant more trees and don’t waste the energy.
Don’t throw what you can eat and save electricity;
We don’t mean don’t use, but please use efficiently.

Don’t cry, don’t make excuses, don’t be sad or get mad;
There’s still time for us if together all of us try.
On this Earth Day see the Better World that we can have ahead,
Now let’s wipe clean the tears of the Earth and tears of the beautiful sky.


“Happy Earth Day”
Share and Spread. Let’s work for a Better Planet, a Brighter World and a Happy Tomorrow 🙂

Here are 50 simple ways in which you can save our Planet Earth.

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You can mail your queries and suggestions to Man of Wisdom at UntrailedPath[at]gmail.com.

Till the next time, Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish, Keep Smiling and most importantly,

Keep Trailing on your Untrailed Path.