I was convinced I was a night person till I figured out that the start of a great morning begins the night before. Before you sleep, jot down the next day’s to-dos. Select your clothes the night before. Your morning mind will be relaxed and refreshed if you do these. Mornings are the best time to connect with your body. Even a 15-minute exercise routine gives your body a gentle start. Every morning is a chance to change your life; it’s a chance to change the world. Mind your thoughts in the morning. Empower and motivate yourself. Entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn had said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Build relationship rituals. Breakfast with family is a valuable ritual. Take time to wish loved ones a great day. Give them real hugs and kisses. At work, greet everyone with a big smile. Start your work with gratitude.

The one big task: From the to-do list tackle the most important project that needs your creative and strategic insight and execute with rigour.

Have an affair with yourself

Have you ever wooed yourself? It may take you to places you didn’t know existed… within you

First things first. Romancing yourself is not to be confused with self-love. While the two may overlap each other in terms of definition, the art of wooing yourself goes beyond pampering yourself. To woo yourself is to fall in love with yourself. It’s an idea. As absurd as it may sound, till you’ve romanced yourself, it’ll be difficult to know how it can change your perspective towards yourself, and life.

Here’s the thing. When you woo yourself, you aren’t glowing because of a visit to a spa; you are glowing because you decided to go on a date with yourself. You decided on your way back from work — as the rain finally touched the parched earth — that you’d walk in the garden. Or, that you’d wear that red dress you had relegated to a corner in the wardrobe because your heart desires the temptation and the magnetism of red today...

Life coach Jai Madaan tells us how we can woo ourselves. “Speak to yourself. Hear your own voice, and listen to your own voice. You’ll feel more connected with your soul.” Madaan believes one of the most important part of romancing yourself is to be your natural self within closed doors. Don’t be a wife, a mother, a father, a lover, a son, a daughter… just yourself. “Practise loving yourself… the more you increase the dosage of love, the easier you will find it to be at peace and love others around you,” she adds.


Having a wild affair with yourself is all about showing yourself a lot of kindness in a harsh world. When we

are surrounded with criticism, we should find ways to compliment ourselves every day.

Says dancer Navina Jafa, “Every day, you should celebrate yourself as if you are having a wild affair with – you. I celebrate myself by wearing boho/gypsy jewellery. I nurture my body with love. Every morning, I decorate my body – be it with a double-nose pin or Naga coin necklace. I love wearing ghungroos. I often dance for myself. Having an affair with yourself is not waiting for anyone else to endorse you. There’s no yearning between the yang-yin energies. You have self-empowered yourself.”

Human beings are programmed to have bouts of selfloathing, and for many of us, these phases of doubt or hatred can be our whole lives.

Or, till it’s too late. Therefore, it’s essential to create rituals of self-love every day. And you need to start now. Spiritual healer Ranjini Woodhouse says, “Write notes of selfappreciation to yourself.

Say positive, inspirational words to empower, motivate and uplift yourself. Look at yourself in the mirror every morning. Say ‘I love myself and I love everything about my body. I love every part of me. I am beautiful on the inside and out’.”

Actor Suzanne Bernert says it’s essential not to confuse having an affair with yourself with narcissism. “One must understand that an affair with yourself applies to ones — and there are a lot out there — who have trouble loving themselves the way they are.” Bernert also feels that the idea of wooing oneself comes to us as we get older and are mature enough to understand our own needs better. Mostly, we get to understand ourselves, in hindsight, and possibly understand that we should have treated ourselves far better, long ago. She adds, “As I get older, I’m kinder to myself and more accepting. I surprise myself with good food, coffee indulgences. I make sure I look at nothing as a task – I just create loving rituals for myself.”


Life coach Cynthia Belmer says, “When we fall in love with ourselves, we let go of blame, shame, and anger. We invite ownership, creation, and power into our lives. We feel, hear, and believe, in our power. It doesn’t matter what others think or say about us; what matters is how we feel about ourselves. We feel at peace. We allow ourselves to show up in the world and live our purpose. We don’t need to prove ourselves to others – because we know that we’re enough. We are no longer ruled by fear. We let go of competition, comparing ourselves to others. We become enough.”


I express my love and romance through dance and my own poetic ways. Ek suroor (nasha) hai to be in love with yourself. To be wildly having an affair with yourself is also not easy. Love cannot ever happen without work. I keep finding ways to compliment myself. I surprise myself every now and then Rani Khanum, classical dancer


If you cannot find ways to love yourself, no one else will. Women always put themselves second, and that’s how everyone sees us too. Falling in love with yourself changes this perspective – it’s about upgrading your own skills, taking care of your emotional and psychological well-being.” Nawaz Modi Singhania, fitness expert


Open your heart and mind

Learn something new daily

Be kind to yourself

Don’t control outcomes

Learn from everything and everyone

Move and meditate

Breathe right

Buy yourself some flowers

Why being lonely and introvert is all the rage

There was a time when parents, realising their children were introverts, would offer or seek help. Not talking, staying in their own world, anxiety towards social occasions, were all traits that were worth fretting over.

Things have changed.

Suddenly, you see this quiet lot coming out and proudly declaring themselves as ‘introverts’. What changed from the times they would hide in a corner?

In one word: social media. Social commentator and columnist Santosh Desai says the virtual world has played a big role in narrowing down sharp distinctions in societies – introvert-ambivert-extrovert, shyoutgoing, talker-listener, etc. “The nature of social media is such that it has given space to people to interact on a platform, where one can freely present his/her views yet have the option of holding back quite a bit – which in the real world can be difficult,” he explains.


Agrees artist Mikki Lamoureux, who runs a Facebook page called Introverts Are Awesome – a huge hit with people all over the world. She says, “I think we secretly enjoy the excuse to have our social groups online rather than having to give the energy in person. We all need a certain amount of socialising to keep us somewhat active in

our communities”. College student Pritha Sinha, also an introvert, says, “There’s a subculture that exists in the virtual world – a place where people, largely marginalised in the real world, or people with niche interests, find their voice.”

Desai elucidates how this subculture has helped people. “You can be on a Facebook page every day or once in a while. Likewise, you can be a superfan of a YouTube channel or just watch one video in your free time... such choices have made people feel comfortable enough to interact freely – the bottomline is that they don’t feel the weight of expectation to keep a friendship alive as it happens in the real world.”

Sinha, who’s studying psychology, believes these platforms have paved the way for a lot of groups, including introverts, to talk freely about their unique problems and interests. “This has made them more confident about the real world. To know you’re not alone, even as an introvert, would be a huge relief,” she says.

American psychologist Laurie Helgoe’s book, Introvert Power: Why Your Inner Life Is Your Hidden Strength, revealed that almost half of Americans are introverts. But it’s now that this trait is being appreciated, and seen as a strength.


Actor-comedian Varun Thakur explains why it may be easier for an introvert to take that first step even if it seems intimidating: “You see people with phone cameras all over recording their own thing and putting it out there for people to see. You do not have to face the audience and lose your nerve. The conviction to chart out your own path has come because of so many avenues being opened up by social media.” Lamoureux feels the same.

“In the seven years that I have concentrated on this particular subject, I have seen the word ‘introvert’ go from being a stigma to an almost-positive trait,” he says.

Architect Debjoy Mitra, who never understood why he felt the odd one out during his childhood, now has the virtual media to connect to his tribe. He says, “Some of the tags like snob, apathetic, and anti-social are still thrown around... but it’s not the norm anymore. People are seeing things in a new way.”


In the professional space too, qualities that come with being an introvert are being celebrated. A Harvard Business Review article titled, The Hidden Advantages of Quiet Bosses, says, “In a dynamic, unpredictable environment, introverts are often more effective leaders – particularly when workers are proactive, offering ideas for improving the business.” Introverted leaders also listen more carefully and are far more receptive to suggestions than extroverts – making them more effective leaders of vocal teams.


Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan believes introverted qualities are being celebrated these days because there is a worldwide movement these days to Go Slow. “Globalisation and fast-paced lives have made a huge impact, and not for the better. People are rethinking age-old strategies and beliefs. There is a call back to the old ways: like working according to your body rhythm, not against it, to look within for reflection rather than screaming you are the best. The world right now is ripe for introverted qualities.”
There is also a misconception that people are either all extrovert or all introvert. But life doesn’t work that way. “The change that we are seeing isn’t just because introverts are more confident today but because everyone is tapping their inner introvert qualities more than the extrovert ones. There is a bit of both among all of us,” adds Visvanathan.


Introverted friends and partners make better listeners too. What the virtual world has made possible is for them to find their own tribe, and celebrate their awkwardness together.
Lamoureux concludes, “Even as introverted as I am, I know that we humans are communitydriven social beings. I give what I can and I also allow myself time to recharge as much as possible. I therefore benefit from both worlds.”
However, it’s essential not to confuse this time in the sun as an introvert turning into an extrovert. You may still find a few in the corner of a room trying to avoid people’s gaze – but the good thing is that they have found their tribe and no longer crave to be understood as badly as they once did.


An expert on the power of introversion, American author Susan Cain said in a TedTalk titled, The Power of Introverts: “Since the Industrial Revolution, when we became a society where you have to work alongside people to whom you had to prove yourself, we have become a culture of personality. From the earliest age, our children have been reinforced with messages suggesting that if you want to be loved and be successful, you have to be more extroverted than you really are.”


No. Being an introvert and being a loner are two different things. All introverts aren’t comfortable being alone. Rather, they avoid large gatherings because they are even more uncomfortable being in the wrong company.


Again. No, introverts aren’t averse to the idea of fun, except that their idea of fun is different from most. In fact, introverts may crave attention just as much as an extrovert – it’s just that they may not know what to do with all the attention. And then get self-conscious, tongue-tied or quietly exit the room when no one’s looking


Look Forward - Be HAPPIER

Having something to look forward to is the magic formula to a happier, more satisfying present

We are told to live in the moment because that helps us eradicate all regrets of the past, and expectations from the future. And as we all know, it is regrets and unfulfilled expectations that bring angst and stress into our lives. So we surmise that living in the present is our best bet to living a peaceful life.

And yet, life seems so limited and boring if you just focus on the now. Peace is sometimes overrated. Have you thought what would be the value of peace in the absence of chaos and turbulence? What if peace were to become a way of life? Life minus conflict and desires becomes mere existence. Dreams are what make living exciting – dreams and desires leading to expectations and plans, which arouse anticipation in us. Feet planted firmly in the present, it is just as important to let our heads float sometimes in the clouds. Having a future to look forward to helps keep our present healthy and exciting.

And that anticipation need not be a far away, life-impacting future. We are talking here of not just long-term, but also short-term rewards that we plan for ourselves. Anticipating something pleasurable in the future can help you get through present hardships and loneliness. We all use this as a psychological strategy from time to time, whether or not we realise it or not. When present reality disappoints or depresses us, we turn to planning for a more exciting future. And so, we anticipate the lunch break through a morning of hard work, or the evening watching our favourite TV show, or catching up with friends once a week. Some may anticipate that one drink they allow themselves every Saturday night, or fun things to do over the weekend.

Planning and anticipation of a holiday gives one almost as much pleasure as the holiday itself. Sometimes, even more. Planning for a party or looking forward to a dinner or a movie with a loved one gives you many more hours of pleasure than the actual event itself. The psychological term for that is ‘rosy prospection’. Figure out something you really enjoy, such as a sport, painting, music or dancing, and plan it at least once a month, if not every week. Strategising to have something interesting and rewarding to look forward to can help you get through not just hardships and days of anxiety, but also pep up the tedium of daily existence.

Any mother will tell you that she lives with the dread of her children flying the nest since the day they are born. My way of coping with the empty nest syndrome once my children went away for higher education has been to insist on setting the next date we get together as a family just before we go our separate ways each time. So when we say au revoir, we already know tentatively when next we are meeting. It helps immensely, because rather than focus on the empty days ahead, I can focus on the date when I see the children again.

So, are we saying that a life minus desires and dreams and nothing to look forward to is a dull and monotonous life? Yes, I am afraid so. A life without purpose, with nothing to plan for or look forward to was certainly not meant for humans. I can live with moments of ‘just being’, ‘existing’ in the present, floating on a no-thought cloud – but a lifetime of it? Sorry, no! A healthy amount of anticipation and dreaming is to me a necessary element of a life well lived and loved.

Such a hope, such a looking forward is very important. Trouble arises when you allow the hope to take up a large chunk of your present time. It is then that hope sets itself on the path of hopelessness.

The trick is in anticipating little doses of future happiness planned as rewards for the big focus we give to our present moments…

Do you really have the courage to be disliked?

Social Media Special

In a world of social media likes, having the courage to be disliked is freedom from fake ego

Last year, a Japanese book, The Courage to be Disliked sold like hot cakes in the land of the rising sun, and the rest of Asia. ‘The Courage To Be Disliked’ though isn’t just a book but a Japanese philosophy based on the analysis of the work of 19th-century psychologist Alfred Adler, who had established that happiness lies in the hands of each human individual and does not depend on past traumas.

Authors of The Courage To Be Disliked, Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga, talk about how to brush off social pressures and trust in your innate self-worth to find happiness.

The reason for the success of this philosophy is that in all societies people are constantly trying to please others and worry over how they will see us. 

This exercise to always please others contributes directly to our own selfworth – it’s exhausting and making us more unhappy than ever.

In this complex digital world, we are perpetually weary of saying or doing the wrong thing, lest we lose face or face ‘dislike’. Kishimi and Koga believe if we become a little more courageous and know that what others think of us is completely beyond our control, it can set us on the path to a peaceful existence. Here’s how you can embrace the courage to be disliked:


Whatever you do or say will displease someone, somewhere. Know it that it is not possible to please everyone. If you try too hard to please, you are setting yourself up for a fall. To be true to yourself means accepting how you feel, expressing your truth and accepting that everyone is not going to agree with you; this acceptance will free you from the deep-rooted inner misery that keeps us from being happy.


You are not the source of every conflict you face. The problems you have with others reflect their conflicts too. Says Kishimi in the book, “A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self.” Don’t feed the need to be acknowledged.


In a world of social media likes, where everyone looks forward to a ‘like’, having the courage to be disliked is freedom from fake ego. Accept yourself as you are, without the need for those likes. Resist recognising and celebrating what you have already achieved. “The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness,” adds Kishimi, as one of the golden rules.


Don’t fall into the trap of being liked by many. Stick to your ideals. Dismantle any fakeness that you used to prop up your happiness. Ask yourself, how will you master the courage to be disliked. Don’t doubt your confidence.

Importance of discipline and a daily routine

We must not underestimate the importance of discipline and a daily routine; it is the only way to a happy and successful life

I have mostly been an admirer of spontaneity, and found excitement in walking into my day looking forward to surprises. So my mornings are not necessarily well structured. One day upon waking I could reach for a book to read, while another morning I may be mooning around, reflecting and dreaming. Yet another morning could see me thinking and planning frenetically for an official project that has me excited.

Most of us tend to underestimate the power of routine and life structures. Routine gives a structure to life, and it is this structure that ensures life makes sense to you. You wake up with a sense of purpose and ownership and an organised day. You sleep well, you eat well and you look after your health better. Mornings are the best time to set to routine with least external disturbance.

Most high achievers, when asked for the secret of their success, put daily routines high on their list. 

They wake up early, using the morning hours to look after their health proactively, keeping themselves informed, and organising their activities for the day. In short, they remain faithful to routines they have found useful over time. Meditating, exercising, and reading the daily papers, checking up on email and having a healthy, set breakfast are some of the morning routines shared by the world’s most successful CEOs in articles across media.

These successful young men and women generously share other routines they fit somehow into the rest of their day – little things that refresh their spirit, help keep them grounded and re-energise and re-inspire them. One CEO says he stops five minutes every day to find some humour in the day, or recount a funny story. Another finds the time to be grateful for something every day. Yet another admits that every morning he writes out his intention for the day. This helps him concentrate on what’s important that day and push aside the rest. In a variation of the same, another CEO says she visualises every morning what she wants to happen that day, and then stays true to her vision, focused on overcoming hurdles in the way.

These may just be various known ways of energising ourselves and staying positive, but what is important here is that these people have built in these mantras into their daily routine. Come what may, they ensure that they make time for these activities till they become a daily habit and are done without conscious effort.

School and office enforce a routine, but we must find ways to stitch together the fabric of our daily life in other areas too. Registering at a gym is part of the life structure to ensure our wellbeing. To plan your weekly meals is a habit that ensures you eat healthy. Planning to meet friends every Saturday night is a routine that helps keep you connected and social. Dinner with family every night is a discipline that helps hold the family together. You could add your own to these… Indeed, when you intentionally decide to organise your days, you are making a commitment to do positive, useful things with your time and lead a more organised, meaningful life.

I plan to discipline my mornings soon… with some leeway for spontaneity still though. How about you?


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