Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Review: Always Know What to Say

Always Know What to Say - Easy Ways to Approach and Talk to Anyone' by Peter W. Murphy
When we first meet new people, we all feel a little awkward and self-conscious until we feel that we understand the other person a little. And the key to feeling at home again and to understanding other people, is to be comfortable with the many facets of communicating with others. This book simplifies that.
In part I of this book, author discusses a development strategy for everyone, such that, even if one is a quiet person one can become more comfortable and expressive, whomsoever one talks to. 
What all can make one better, both at connecting with people, and for expressing oneself. How, practicing kindness, gratitude, loving yourself and forgiveness shall provide the solid foundation one needs, to truly be at peace with all and one.
Part II of this book is about practical conversation skills, tips and strategies. What is the best way to approach someone and start a conversation? What techniques are there that will always work in every situation? 
Author follows up by listing some fundamental principles that do work every time. Tips that can make one relaxed and creative enough to start a conversation with ease, even with a wide range of different people. How to approach someone to begin a conversation, how to maintain one's confidence even when the response is not in expected lines, how to stop feeling nervous, how to avoid getting stuck for words, how to use one's body language to the optimum and a many more golden hints are there, to make this book a treasure.
As the author puts towards the end: Follow this book. You either do great or you learn something that helps you become great.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Human - A Rethink?

People are predisposed to various diseases based on their lifestyle. Naturally, those can be managed with changes in diet, and environment and a few things like that. These diseases characterize problems that arise primarily due daily habits of people. The onset of the lifestyle diseases is insidious, once they develop after years of being holed up, the cure is not easy. The most significant facet of lifestyle, worry, I think needs to be taken as the primary cause. Incorrect food habits, physical inactivity, wrong body posture, and disturbed biological clock are some of the other such factors, contributing to these.
Let us examine our approach to few that are highly dangerous.
We readily acknowledge the existence of diseases like Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Coronary Artery Disease, or Hypertension. And, to counter the dangers, these pose, we also institute many steps, like awareness campaigns, popularizing healthy lifestyle, etc. As we become more and more industrialized, these diseases appear to increase in frequency.
I have a question here. If healthy lifestyle is what is needed, shouldn't we concentrate on treating the lifestyle, more than the symptoms that are caused by it? And as mentioned above, the most significant aspect of the lifestyle, worry, getting the lion's share of attention?
In such a case, I think the cure is fairly simple. Worry being a direct result of the priorities we have set for ourselves, we need to examine critically, the nature and constitution of human society.
We already realize that our forfathers reasoned wrongly about many natural phenomena, and the correction of which is happening everyday. This is leading us to greater awareness, but only of things other than ourselves. Now we need to re-examine all that we think true about the human race. Because it is here that our priorities reside.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Human Nature, Again..

There are many decisions, people at responsible positions make, where it is not easy to find an acceptable justification. Even with difficulty, many of those choices may not qualify as a rational one. The proposal for a gigantic statue is one such. Making a memorial for a rebellion against the state is another one. One about correcting long standing history text books too, is a fit here. Or being quite OK with teaching evolution, but not at all comfortable about teaching its medium, sex. Or another one about the reluctance to teach evolution, but quite progressive and totally at ease, when it comes to sex.
I think we need to judge such decisions, from a point beyond the confines of national borders and other limits. The fact is that humans everywhere are constantly behind the irrational, for certain reasons. They are always behind the uncommon, the mysterious, or the esoteric, giving rise to fresh concepts, explanations, theories, and many other products of imagination.  
Some of such ideas happen to become true, sooner or later; and that becomes accepted as science. 
Some happen to become enjoyable, pleasing, or soothing. These become art, literature, and a whole lot of other common and uncommon facets of our society, which we celebrate as distinct marks of humans. 
But the ideas that enamour us with its irrational content, get treated in a lofty manner. Those are the entities that happen to be valued the most, are always held in awe, and are revered. These appear in different forms, essentially, extremes of all those distinct marks, just mentioned. Such as new vistas of art, different practices of relgion, new reflections in theology, twisted political aspirations, etc. 
We can very easily question the first, where, in many cases, we may even be rewarded. When it comes to the second, we can question here, though not with the same ease. But, no one can dare to mess with the last.
(My book, The Unsure Male, discusses the manifestation of this issue in its many and varied forms. And provides a simple answer.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure, And Other Essays

'Civilisation: Its Cause and Cure, And Other Essays': by Edward Carpenter is a book published in 1889, reflecting the scientific and philosophic thought of that period. The first observation goes like this. "Some of us are inclined to think that civilization is a kind of disease which the various races of man have to pass through—as children pass through measles or whooping cough."
Desire, or inward change, comes first, followed by action. That results in an organisation or outward structure. And on which, a civiliztion grows.
But, as the author says, the human mind is incapable of really defining even the smallest fact of nature. The simplest thing baffles us and, incapable of an answer, we resort to generalisations. So, sometimes we are idealists, and sometimes materialists. Sometimes we believe in mechanics, sometimes in human or spiritual forces. As we master more of these, we become civilized.
Other aspects of our society are examined in such unique ways. For example, what is wrong with a criminal. Is he really harmful to Society? When his only fault is to break a law: and the law being consolidated public opinion of Society, which the Society keeps changing. Contemplation into further topics, like the state of science, the way we appreciate morality, etc. follows this. Both from the point of view of western philosophy and the more mystical eastern thought.
Author makes it a point to clarify that while we are considering Morality as a foundation-element of Society, it must never be lost sight of that it is not the only element. Also, it would be comparatively senseless and useless to mould one's life on the basis of morality, unless grafted on and complemented by the other personal qualities that can influence a society's cause. Though the author does not explicitly mention this, the book makes one thing clear; our fascination with civilization should not lead us to lose whatever we hope to gain from it. A critical vision is always good, more so, here.
The constant disturbances we have been experiencing in human societies across the globe since time immemmorial, and the agitation we presently experience even on harmless issues like beauty contests or Valentine's day, tells this loud and clear. These essays are relevant now, more than before.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

We Have A Long Future Ahead!

Contrary to all predictions, I think we humans shall not have to face any surprises. We, quite likely are going to remain as humans, for a long time to come. 
Consider my take on this.
In a single day, trillions of bits of scientific data zip through cyberspace at light-speed, making a high-tech civilization possible. The world is able to sustain against the adversities and disasters that happen naturally as well as those initiated by our own thoughtless nature, thanks to the slow but contnuing improvements, we happen to get thus. In fact because of these lucky breaks, human race continues on an upswing.
While physical science and technology silently direct much of the action, millions of people around the globe still practice pseudo-science, using fortune-tellers, seers, and philosophers for their daily direction. Many world leaders regularly consult psychics, mediums, and astrologers for guidance in decisions that determine the fate of millions. In fact these (un)fortunate events are the reason, human race cannot continue its upswing for ever.
We can identify the former as our rational self, and the latter, as the irrational in us. Our life in fact is a contest between the two, where the rational always is on a winning spree. But continue to compete, we would, since the irrational never can leave us; it changes itself to align with the results of the competition.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Book Review: The Power of Focus

Through the stories of some well known people who survived going bankrupt, David Essel spells out the wonders, a clear vision can bring. His book, 'The Power of Focus: How to Exceed Your Own Expectations in Life, Love, Health, Career, Spirituality, Finances, Recovery, Attitude and More' examines the many facets maintaining a clear vision, that too by examining a few real life cases. Former presidents Ulysses S Grant, Thomas Jefferson, Willian McKinley, and Abraham Lincoln, Industrialists Henry Ford, William Durant (GM), Walt Disney, and actor Burt Reynolds are some of those cases.
Our desire for instant gratification destroys our focus. We tend to lose our ability to concentrate, direct, or sharpen, when we run behind a big hit or conglomerate. What is needed in such circumstances is to stay focused,  the book begins. And goes on to the next secret, the necessity to focus on one goal at a time. Also, the need to devote all the energy at one's disposal, which is introduced as The One Thing Theory. 
Another essential need, adding a sense of accountablity, is covered next. How a coach, or a partner who will be willing to ask for the uncomfortable, can make one capable of creating the desired results. How those actions can act as a reminder, as well as an encouragement.
Next chapter is a gem. For, it examines one very popular notion of these days, karma, expressing it rather intuitively. "When we start to see how often our mind is wrapped in negativity, our words are wrapped in gossip, or our actions are not as loving and kind as they need to be, we can then get a grasp of where our karma is coming from." It seems the book is repeating my idea of karma, 'It is nothing but the idle time processing of our minds, which always choose the easier path, namely, negative thoughts'.
After providing a good collection of tips, like meditation, prayer, gratitude, etc., for staying focused, the book talks of the necessity to set sublime goals. And the way to do that also is made more clear by a few real life examples.
I think I have already let my feelings known - I liked the book a great deal. And, after going through this book, focusing is child's play.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Book Review: Finding Reality

Finding Reality: THOREAU‘S LESSONS FOR LIVING IN THE DIGITAL AGE, by Nate Klemp is a book about living life. 
   Our grandparents shifted from one reality to the next at a snail‘s pace.  They woke up, walked outside to get the paper, drove to work, and waited all day for the afternoon mail.   Whereas, we shift realities in an instant. 
 We now live in so many worlds.  We dance throughout the day between the virtual and the actual. Say, a state of digital disorientation. Also we wonder,  Who am I?  What is real? 
This book offers one possible answer, an answer drawn from America‘s great 19th century philosopher, Henry David Thoreau.  What matters for Thoreau is whether you live each moment fully and deliberately.  What matters is whether you find reality in each moment. 
The book then explores the the treatment of reality by Descartes, where one's  thoughts played the primary part. 
If I doubt my own existence, then there must be an I – a doubting agent who exists. The book then talks about the threat, the present days bring, of splitting life between managing work and managing things, with no time left to live.  
This is where the book discuss the suggestions of Thoreau. Of downsizing life, shifting the focus, inwards, ans experiencing the present. 
I liked this book. Through quite pleasant and easy explanations, it made clear, the challenges of the fast life of the day. And it also offers amazing resources for living a fuller, happier, more conscious life, to face those challenges. 

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