Happiness Habits – Make Everyday the Happiest Day Ever

Many of you know that my brother has been a forest monk, and now teaches people how to be happy in today’s stressful world!

He is currently in Richmond, VA and shall be conducting a ‘joyshop’ on Thursday, 4th of August, 2011. All are welcome to join. Details below.

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When a Brain Scientist Experiences a Stroke

Jill Bolte Taylor is a neuroanatomist specializing in post-mortem investigation of the human brain. She speaks at TED of her experience during a stroke. Coming from a noted scientist (she is the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center), it’s rare to hear a message validated mostly by personal experience.
I suppose we don’t have any instruments today to validate her experience.
An interesting watch.

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The Startup Acid Test: Five Questions to Think Through Before Starting Up

So you have a great idea and have decided to create your own startup? Excellent news! Write down your idea in detail, and get ready for some bullet-proofing exercises.

Note 1: Your brain WILL try to convince you that your idea is golden.

Note 2: This exercise can be depressing. If you breeze through this, you’re ready to take off. If not, there are still ideas out there, waiting to be captured.

Question 1. Is the idea already implemented ?

OR
Have you checked … really checked .. for another implementation?

If not, now is the time. You don’t want to find out months into your startup that you’re reinventing the wheel.

2. Who is your closest competitor? How different is your idea?

OR

Would the customer care enough to come to you?

Don’t assume there’s no competition. Explore what the nearest competition is, and understand how they work.

3. How will you generate revenue?

OR

Is there more than an ad supported model here?

Ad supported websites led to repeated bubble bursts. It is possible, but you need to be able to drive large traffic before receiving any substantial returns.

4. Do you have the expertise to implement it (or do you have access to experts)?

Getting into a brand new space can seem deceptively easy at first. Speaking to people in the field already will help you gauge your readiness to enter.

5. How much will it cost? Can you bootstrap your startup? (that is, fund your startup yourself)

Venture Capital is great. But remember, it’s still a loan. Be as realistic and think long term.

Once you’ve successfully completed this exercise and things look good, consider putting together a business plan to get more into the details. Some basic business plans can be found on the SCORE website.

Don’t fret if you found something that’s already implemented. You can still consider targeting a separate market segment or making changes that customers would care about. Then, repeat this exercise.

Think something else should be on here? Share important questions to consider when starting up.

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East vs West, which culture’s the best?

The debate between Eastern and Western cultures is endless. Which one’s better? Who’s to say.

Having lived in both cultures for many years, here’s the most accurate comparison I’ve come across! Enjoy!

The images below have been done by Liu Young, who studied in Germany


Blue=West Red=East

Opinion

Way of Life

Punctuality


Contacts

Anger

Queue when Waiting

Sundays on the Road

Party


In the restaurant

Travelling


Handling of Problems

Three meals a day


Transportation

Elderly in day to day life


Moods and Weather

The Boss

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Be Happy. Be True to Yourself.

From the book “Be happy – A little book to help you live a happy life.” by Monica Sheehan, comes this little filmstrip.

Sometimes the smallest suggestions can help us lead happier, fuller lives.

I hope you enjoy this.

Thanks to rupertrupert, for posting on youtube. Music by Pasquale Catalano.

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You aren’t the only one

This video has a simple message that blew me away. I’ve been seeing it many times since. I hope you like it.

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Three Time Management Tips

I’ve always been a fan of time management. I once saw a documentary of someone with a busy work life; but being a master at time management, he always made time out for friends, and Formula 1 racing. That had me smitten. Wow! I wanted to be that person – an expert time manager. Enough time for everything! I started to read up all I could on time management, and several books and two years I later I found some fundamental truths about time management:

There’s still 24 hours in the day.

Sacrificing sleep is not clever time management.

So managing time is not only about fitting things you want in your day, but also knowing where you are wasting your time.

I have found three resources very helpful in managing my time, as I simultaneously manage a demanding day job, an equally demanding volunteer, startup and educational activities, apart from the usual demands of my personal life. I hope you will find these useful:

1. Put First things First: Plan to put not only the ‘urgent’ work related tasks in your day, but also the ‘important’ tasks – like time with family, your long term career, or your friends. Identify and stop wasting time on things of no importance or value. (From Stephen Covey’s book: First Things First)

Covey recommends identifying separate areas in your life which need time (family, self, work… ), and planning on a weekly level, so you can set aside enough time for each.

2. Avoid multitasking: You might find this suggestion shocking! The point is – do one thing at a time, and do it right. You will find you can add most value to your day by focusing on one task completely.

Many companies unknowingly acknowledge this reality – by creating ‘quiet’ work areas or no-disturbance ‘core’ hours. I have heard of organizations that enforce ‘no-email’ times – possibly stopping one of the biggest time-thieves.

The case against multitasking is probably made best by Dave Crenshaw . I heard him speak to the American Entrepreneur (you can hear him at this link).

3. Try renewal breaks: Tony Schwartz, in an HBR Ideacast, shares that our bodies work best in ‘waves’ – spending energy, and then regenerating energy. He suggests we work with our biological ‘ultradian rhythms‘ – which are: work (expend energy) for 90 minute stretches, and then take a 30 minute renewal break – doing some activity that rejuvenates you (such as going for a walk, talking with family, etc)

Read more, in Tony’s book ‘The Way We’re Working, Isn’t Working’

Please comment and share any other resources that have helped you with time management!

There is no God?

My friend who’s lately getting high on atheism, showed me this video by George Carlin.

He makes some pretty bold statements – questioning the existence of God.
The one thing he seems to miss though, is that he’s choosing a particularly Christian view of God. In my interactions with people, I find that God is very personal. To many God is not a person, but maybe just energy or karma. If god is totally unbiased, maybe God doesn’t have to be a life form as we know.
Maybe our views would meet if he spoke some more about his views on the Sun.

Note: Video is only for the open minded: believers might be offended!

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

On reviewing speeches to top ranking business schools, I came across Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s speech to Wharton Grads. The demeanor and style of Sri Sri captivated me! His communication is bare of all the stylized talk we are used to. It is the beautiful message that he focuses on sharing.

Looking around some more, I came across a popular CNN journalist who spent a few days at his ashram and interviewed him (for the life of me, I don’t know the journalist’s name). This was another glimpse into the world of Art of Living followers. I can now better appreciate the followers of Art of Living.

Meditating in the Rain

I am part of a meditation group that meets on Sundays to meditate in the open. We meditate under a large tree near the entrance of the beautiful Maymont Park in Richmond, Virginia.

Meditating here is a delight, and a chance to commune with nature. This well landscaped park is far from the sounds of the modern world, and immersed in nature. Maymont is picturesque: covered in large trees, shrubs and wild flowers, it even has its own waterfall. As we explore ourselves in meditation, nature explores us too. Curious birds come up close or whizz past. The sun shines down through the leaves. And insects attempt to get food by biting us (too bad there’s insect repellant!). And then there’s the ever present orchestra of leaves rustling in the wind, birds chirping, and the occasional child’s laughter in the distance.
Its no wonder that we have interesting experiences in meditation here.

But today was different still. As we settled into meditation, rain clouds came in. About 20 minutes into the meditation, the sun was gone, and it started to rain.
Weather.com had warned us, and we had come prepared with umbrellas. But in our meditation, nobody felt the urge to hold up an umbrella. As the rain drops fell on us, we continued to meditate. Today, the rain was just another element of nature to us. The light touch of rain was an object of meditation today, and not a distraction. And meditating with the rain was a joy today! So all of us sat there, not resisting – instead, watching.

At the end of our 40 minute meditation the rain passed. Lightly wet – we discussed our experience in today’s meditation. And once again, as we spoke, the rain fell on us. But this time too nobody bolted for cover.
The rain was just accepted. A part of nature, and a part of life. Something in our meditation had opened us to the possibility of exposing ourselves to this element of nature we would typically avoid. Today, it seemed, we had communed some more with nature, and as a result, felt some more peace.