Was it easier to succeed in our parents days than it is today? The baby-boomers vs the millennials.

All through history, success has been a lot like SAT exam, how successful you are is relative of how well others have been doing. So when someone rises the bench mark, others are expected to follow suit or outperform the number one. I learnt a load of rhymes in pre-school, my son is expected to learn proverbs and write his own homework. My parents never went to pre-school, they went straight to 1st grade. My grandparents had to worry about famine, epidemic, independence, riots and money, my parents- not so much.

Today you need to graduate with flying colors from high school, cracking spelling bees, also outperforming in music, theatre and sport,crack difficult entrance exams, graduate, land a good job or an enviable Masters program, sometimes overseas, get a job, be employee of the year, make money enough experience to strike out on your own, establish a business, promote in the ever changing digital era, buy an array of software products for your business, be successful, marry in time, but marry for love, start a family, get fit, stay fit, be a great parent, be a great son or daughter and the benchmark or even the bench keeps changing as you move one stage to another. And if you don’t go through these stages, you are considered a failure.

Not to forget mortgage, insurance and retirement plans. With travel posts confetti-ing your Instagram and Facebook. So what is success today? what you think is satisfying or something everyone validates?

Millennials, I think, we are more screwed than the screw itself.

Our parents? What has changed since the 80s? Assuming most of our parents were baby-boomers, 80s were a nostalgic era of big hair, bell bottom flare and the signature 80s cassettes. Ask them what it meant for them to be successful? What was the general mindset back then?

It had been almost 30 years since Independence, the socio- political scene was changing,a lot of people were settling down from a revolutionary mindset and adopting the capitalistic economy. A whole lot of people were becoming aware of new fields and opportunities, they could seize, if they tried. I asked my mom and dad what they wanted to be when they finished high school. I wasn’t very surprised when they said all they wanted to do, was get into college, complete it and land a job. To them success meant study hard, study really hard. Those who did succeeded ( by their bench mark, landed a job in high places, which meant a government job) and those who didn’t landed less attractive ( according to them) private jobs.

Today is it enough to study really hard? There are areas where studying really hard can help for example competitive exams and entrance exams, but that is just the beginning. Otherwise to be employable, to stay employed, or to remain in college, to become a notch above others or just to remain above average, requires a whole lot of skill sets. These are not taught in the classrooms but mean the difference between success and failure.

That begs the question, ” Was it easier to succeed in the pre- internet, pre- computer era?”. The answer is obviously, No.

A lot of things weren’t easy back then. Because communication was either snail pace or absent. So communicating updates, copying books, notes, completing assignments, getting them printed, filling out an application was no joke. It wasn’t an era where if you wanted something, you could just look it up on Google. It was not an era of telephone directories either. You can’t just call anyone for enquiries. You needed to do most things in person. The success rate of getting something done was so low that whoever was doing it, was probably doing it right, after a lot of consistent hard work. That was the case with any field, academics, art, cinema, journalism, archaeology, anything. That was an era where a simple backspace or delete couldn’t undo a typographic error. You had to throw the entire sheet out.

Success seems easy to them when we look at it from today because of two things:

1. The standard benchmark of success back then was relatively lower: education, job, house, family, retirement benefits.

2. Success is still hard today but getting things done has become easier, getting information across has become faster and reliable. Since anybody today can get hold of anything and everyone has the minimal qualifications of the same standard, you are asked the questions, “what are you more than that? And how long and how well you can continue doing a good job?

It is easier to be successful today, but almost impossible to remain RELEVANT. A lot of things today seem like overkill and crowded. There are too many IIM graduates and aspirants that it’s no surprise if someone got into the elite B- school. Because we know it gets only a lot tougher after graduation.

In art and entertainment? we see too many singers, too many actors, too many tv shows, too many bloggers, an army of entrepreneurs, too many social media influencers whose names you don’t remember, too many digital marketing gurus selling their wisdom that isn’t wildly different from one another. It all seems only like a rat race than an actual appreciation for talent.

While it is good that today, everyone has something to do, how do we know who is doing them right, consistent and legitimate? Accolades, featured articles and awards? Sorry, they can be bought. Followers, ratings and reviews? Nope, a good PR agency can buy them for you for a good amount of money. So what only is legitimate? This is not to say everything you read is bought or paid. Forums like Quora, Google reviews and Facebook comments themselves give away the quality of a product or somebody’s work. Most social media driven products are hugely disruptive when they first hit Instagram and Facebook, then die out in the waves of similar products come into the digital marketing arena. Likewise, even in business, before you bask in your innovation somebody has seen it , done it and gone to do better.

What you see is a mad house today, very successfully running itself. As on date, someone is making a lot of money somewhere and losing it all somewhere else. By the time you realise all this is eating you away, you have no time to climb back up. It’s almost like the gold rush. Nobody knows what will happen later on. But everyone wants to take away a piece while they can.

In the service industry? back in my hometown a particular hospital was specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology. Today, in a 10 sq mile area, multiple fertility hospitals have sprung up. While this at first seems like a good thing, it’s difficult to tell the right medical care from the wrong. Too many people setting up hospitals only makes them want to make sure the functioning is sustainable- in other words, making decent money to keep the establishment afloat.

Now, over to real estate : in India there are 10 million vacant homes. 32% flats in key real estate areas of Chennai like OMR and Perambur are unoccupied, making around 4450 homes vacant according to a 2017 study. Kerala’s NRIs and out of state settlers unknowingly contribute to 1.4 million vacant homes. Mumbai boasts of the largest number of unoccupied homes. That is with 1.77 million people homeless ( 2011 study). So would you consider real estate success, a success? Who builds unoccupied homes and claims financial success?

The problem essentially is that we think, the more heads a business or person turns, they are successful. We think, once they land a fancy job in a big company, their life is sealed. That is no doubt the traditional,safe route, it is achieving the basics. But it need not necessarily be the epitome of success. We sometimes only care about who comes first, who seems noticeable, what is worse than celebrating

The more things they do, they are successful. I had graduated 4 years ago, whilst there was an alumni event planned, a discussion broke out that seemed to reflect our commonly held ideas of success. An anonymous alumnus wrote ” you seem to be celebrating only those in big companies, doing really well, we those who have arrear papers ( un-finished credits) have something useful to share with our juniors too” We like listening to pioneers and successful people, but the catch is that, we don’t listen to anyone unless they have achieved something. A motivational speaker may not give you anything more than a friend or professor does but we still herald the idea that they have something more valuable to offer. We shun and insult the mundane, we consider normal a failure. Ultimately, most young people get caught and torn apart in a world whose standards change as fast as stock prices. We forget to appreciate those who do the regular things and keep the world afloat. We forget the seemingly unimportant little bricks and thr invisible beams that hold the building together. We have probably buried everything from the 80s, a time when ordinary was still considered success, when nobody was shunned for not being a star student or employee, when nobody was shamed for not following their passion, when normal was welcome and okay. When huge success was as much a choice than just chance.

The difference between doing things out of fear and doing things because you love to

“Fear is a great motivating factor but you can find no happiness in things achieved by fear alone.

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“It is perfectly normal, not to be okay, to chase after things that drive and give you peace, closure, most people you see who project to the outside world, how happy they are- are faking it. And you don’t have to live up to them or anything they suggest”

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Everyone’s lives are dictated by “have-to-do’s” and “want-to-do’s”. In simple terms we are motivated by”fear and love” or “reward and punishment”. So what happens when we mix up the two separate courses of action? What happens when we don’t have time for what we love because we are occupied by the “have-to-do’s” and vice-versa?. Numerous motivational books and gurus ask you to first abandon anything you don’t want to do and leave everything behind for whatever you “love” doing. Unfortunately a lot of people aren’t given that luxury to just drop their responsibilities and transition into goal-chasing. Even among the things we have put on the bucket list or recognise as ambition, may not be things we “Love” doing but things we want to do to “prove” something to somebody else.

25 years old :I worked harder than a draught animal to achieve my goals and I burnt out. Trying to start over, my mind kept going back to my favorite TV shows. Rewind to 15 years old : expectations about the ideal life and how wanted to put my brain to use were taking shape.It was something about that time that was feeding my soul. Where I thought my answers lay.

I binged through The Mentalist, all 8 seasons of Castle, and in the midst of Season 6 of Criminal Minds, I could abstractly feel what was eating me from within. These were all TV shows I watched when I was , Me. After which being me wasn’t so easy and I HAD to be someone else for everybody else. Now, I think I can breath freely. A TV show can help?, Well , YES. TV shows, books, the right people, experiences, anything that might give you closure CAN help.

The key to not waste the years alive chasing after things that require another person’s approval of defeat or success is- To figure out doing that which truly makes you happy or brings you satisfaction. It is easier to prove something to yourself, than to someone else, whose thoughts we have zero control upon.

But the first step to helping yourself, is being able to seperate your own thoughts and voice from your parents, friends,spouse, children, professors, neighbors, bugging relatives and so on. Until you establish that any pain or need you feel is YOURS and only yours, you cannot start working on it. If you already feel isolated from everyone else, that might be EASIER.

Human beings by essential seek approval, guidance, opinion from peers, it is difficult to completely throw in the trash any sort of interaction. So, what can we do ? Where do we draw the line and for what aspect of our lives do we draw one?

Everyday checklist of a normal life

  1. Which you have to for survival or living- eating, bathing.
  2. Saving/ earning money or helping someone in the family who puts food on the table.
  3. Live peacefully and securely with people you care for or alone,
  4. Don’t feel intimidated, insulted or left out by peers
  5. Personal satisfaction.

Is there something you CAN’T live without? Focus on that first. That is a little above physiological needs like food or water in the Maslow’s Hierarchy triangle. I didn’t have No. 4 and No.5 and it drove me mad, landing a job, and scheduling my house and day helped over-come that feeling of emptiness.

It is easy to get lost among the flood of posts and content in the age of social media. We all know we should NOT compare our successes and failures with our facebook friend/ college mate but we do. Should you chase after something your nemesis has achieved just because you hate being behind them? How long can one run when its fear and hate that is fuelling them? It will eventually wear down and drain all the happy-energy one has, because you are virtually living SOMEONE ELSE’s life without paying heed to what is close to your heart. If you truly figure out what you love and HOW to do what you LOVE, you will feel like a WINNER, every SINGLE day you are alive.

Maintaining a hand written journal is a good way to keep track of thoughts and plan schedules, targets. Writing down things that affect you the most , everyday, like identifying emotional road-blocks can help, sometimes they may-be the result of

1.Pushing yourself to do something for someone else’s approval ie., deep inside you don’t like. Eg: learning a particular language or a new skill that you don’t find amusing but you have to, because its mandatory for the locality or workplace.

2. You may want to get there but don’t like the process- Eg, You may want to get fit but don’t like the exercise routine.

Or the physical road-blocks there are:

For example: You love an art-class but you live, very far away and have time or distance constraints.

Sometimes, these get inter-twined: You can’t live without taking that art-class but your job/family-member/financial situation prevents you from taking one. In the classic case of “en-twinement, instead of working on fixing the problem, we start blaming our fate and the people in our lives, only to realize very late that your life needs NOBODY’s approval nor has fate a PREFERRED WAY playing out. The sad but very real truth is that, 90% of the time, we are in full control of most situations that WE face. But we are too blind to see that its easier to make changes in our lifestyle, thoughts and plan of action than waste time blaming things we don’t control- OTHER PEOPLE and FATE.

Remember that it may take months or years to get to that state of mental homeostasis where you don’t have to go to extremes to get anything done, all that matters is that you follow what affects you the most, either fear, love or both, just START.

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Fate is just a fancy way of saying: There are too many objects and factors in the world, both living and non-living, that are intertwined, those many entwined spaces which I have to cross everyday- is FATE.

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Climate Change crisis – a talk with Franklin Xavier

There are four types of people today: 1) Who start the dialogue (largely the reason for some news trending) but do nothing about it 2) Those who see how something happening can ultimately affect them but don’t know what to do. 3) Those who know the consequences but have given up hope of action 4) People who don’t care.

Given the Amazon rain-forest burning down and the large but controversial climate change strike by school kids (seriously, I don’t see the point), “Global issues” that have a large influence on our daily lives keep flooding our news-feed making us all wonder, “What now?”

There is no shortage of people who talk about what is wrong, but not everyone is realistic or accomplished enough to give you a ground zero perspective of what is happening and what can be done. So I decided to do an e-mail interview with a former collegemate and good friend Franklin Xavier, Climate Change Ambassador for YMCA, Asia Pacific.

I have never seen Frank, exclude anyone or anything in a dialogue, but he would never go past the line of realism, which is why I thought Climate change discussion was best done with him. The thing about Frank that sticks to your memory is inclusivety, polite and real feedback and most of all , his realism. Frank’s positivity is contagious so if Frank tells you something is serious, I’d take it that it is serious as can be.

Shrutthi Prabhu: May I directly ask what do you think about the Amazonian wildfires? Did you see this coming one day or another?

Frank Xavier: No, I did not; not a destruction by fire! I did expect exploitation for it’s richness,but not a wasteful destruction. The Amazon Wildfire is an unforeseen culmination of vulnerable conditions and a very unfortunate accident. The fire cannot be natural as there were no natural triggers like lightening or meteorite fall during the time so, the fire should have be an unintentionally, human, hopefully. If it was a planned operation by any government it shows the future in store for humanity.

SP: Our carbon footprints must have quadrupled when we became an industrial economy, why do you say that Farming is a major contributor to Climate Change, is extensive agriculture the culprit?
FRANK: Take this for example, an athlete was made to practice extensively everyday throughout the year. Energy supplements, steroids etc to make him a winner. But just before the race, he died.
An IT employee committed suicide due to Work Pressure. A Japanese scientist died whilst
walking, after continuous work. The person here, is LAND.
The thing about agriculture is that, it’s not just land dying in lack of natural mineral
regeneration, it is missing it’s friends the earth worms, etc .
Again there is the huge water consumption involved. The pesticides, fertilizers sprayed into air and soil, killing the microbes, insects and other lives that normally would make agriculture easier. Agriculture is process that is intentionally destructive of nature with sadly minimal alternatives or awareness considering the increasingly booming population.
SP:Consuming any form of packaged merchandise lesser, using less electricity, reusing water, can being a minimalist significantly reduce a person’s individual footprint? Is change of attitude the solution?
Frank: Obviously! That’s the only solution. Quoting my most favorite Testla’s claim: “ the solution to all social problems starts only from the enlightenment of each being”!
To realize, accept what we are doing, then, deciding to lead a life which in one way is affecting a fellow life least minimal way, be it animal, insect or tree. Life with less greed and more love, inclusiveness of all life is the only way to sustain life here.
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SP:There are a million, “clean”, “green” products now, almost all of them come in non-biodegradable packaging, what do you think of this, how can companies cover the cost of cleaner packaging?
Frank: Not all products. If companies want, they can do it. They don’t, because of the market
competitiveness in terms of price. The young generation is conscious, research paints a positive picture, future generations will buy products based on the companies values, initiatives and beliefs more than just marketing or the product. The government can simply lay a mandatory law for eco-friendly packing, or the various association of companies can do it with a minimal increase in price, I believe the future generation will take the step forward.
SP:What does it mean to you to be a climate change ambassador?
Frank: Advocacy is needed in a world where ignorance is still rampant despite all the available knowledge and someone needs to keep reminding people around us to do the right thing. The president of Brazil would have acted fast if he had a friend who talked enough about Amazon and Climate change with him. I am that friend to many students in particular who are pitched to be future leaders.
SP:This may sound skeptical but in a state of emergency are the leaders of Governments doing enough? Because all we see are conferences . How long will it take for them to reach even local governments on policy changes?
Frank :Conferences are inherently good, a lot of policies and programmes are the resultant of them. Ironically, The Earth Summit at Brazil in 1992 was first of it’s kind with impactful resolutions. MDGs, SDGs, Paris Agreement the most successful environmental policies, etc all are results of such conferences.
Reaching local implementation, unfortunately is upto each country, state, corporation, etc. In my views, the hierarchy is the main culprit, environmental measures should be give super power and prime attention to bypass this hierarchy and the politics involved and to put these policies to work.
SP:What is the biggest driver of climate change with reference to India? Is interlinking of rivers going to contribute to climate change?
Frank :I don’t stand with that plan. It’s against the very nature of nature. Creating a new flow path is dangerous as this plan has no moderation. The process is of course polluting. Biodiversity will be lost. We advocate that dams in itself are bad. It’s again out greed to meet our demands and not looking at importance of Eco systems and how what we throw will end back with us. Floods are good, as far I am concerned, as water from land must reach the sea for the survival of the sea life.Flood are the saviors of sea life in this human greed filled world. The devastations are consequences of mindlessness and greed.
SP: As an ordinary individual will converting as much as possible from a consumerist mindset to a sustainable one like producing your own vegetables, composting kitchen waste, upcycling clothes and plastic, solar power installation help?
Frank :YES. Resources reutilization, effective utilization and conscious consumption are the prime keys. On a larger picture, Shared economy/resources are the future. For example , Bike rentals like Bounce, Voho, airBnb instead of building more hotels, car pooling.
DAAS(devices as a service) is the future eg. Furniture for rent by Urban Smith, cars for subcription by hyundai, etc.And fortunately these are also proving economically beneficial and therefore are an effective and disruptive business model of today where needs are skyrocketing.
SP:Do you think climate change is affecting animals and humans equally and upsetting natural functioning and hormone health?
Frank :It’s always the helpless who are first and most affected. Animals or any other life formdo not have sunscreens, hospitals or RO water , or air conditioning like us. We are the culprits and the other life forms are victims.
Polar bears can’t build houses with AC to live in. It’s a losing existential battle for them even as we speak, and all we think we are doing is sharing this information when we should be taking action.
SP: Do you think, there is light at the end of the tunnel?
Frank :If we continue to dig the tunnel deeper, there is only grave ahead. We have to put down our regular, mindless practices, stop what we are doing immediately and detour upwards to reach light or we will have to reap the effects of what we sow, which we already are.
SP:On the ground level, If you were to suggest policy changes to my local government like panchayat or corporation, what would you say?

Frank :Read about Ban Paluk a village in Thailand. The world Eco friendly modern village. It’s a social change towards Eco centric life by all people of the village through a change seeded by it’s leaders.
SP: Finally , what do you have to say to climate change skeptics who believe the earth can heal itself?
Frank :I can’t stress enough how serious this is, though it may look like sermonising:
“If we continue cutting our flesh expecting it to heal, we will loose our hand. We have to give it both time and favourable conditions to heal. We can’t expect for an apple tree to bear an apple by the time we devour one.Healing TAKES time.

There’s a complicated web of economic, social and environmental elements we have created.We need to try and untie the knot first and that can happen only when what Tesla said happens, REALISATION, ACCEPTANCE and ACTION.

Franklin Xavier is an alumnus of VIT and CSI College of Engineering has lead community entrepreneurship projects under Enactus , has worked at companies like Century Extrusions and has co-ordinated Not-for Profit projects at Project-DEFY. He is currently employed at Infosys. He can be reached at frank.roxtar@live.in and at his twitter handle: frank_roxtar

Why do they swatch lipstick on hands? | finding the right makeup for smart shoppers

Everytime we look up ” Finding the right lipstick for my skin tone” we may have had one too many faux pas shopping lipsticks. I have more bad make-up decisions than my childhood toys.

Its harder to find the right nude lipstick than any other colour:

I hardly wore any lipstick all my life until nude lipsticks were a rage. You could wear them guilt free, daily. They accentuated your natural lips, and could go with any outfit or occassion.

After hopping on many shades, I realised that one that looks good on the shopping site doesn’t translate well on my face, because I have not tried it in person, it is either too dark or is exactly my skin tone hence making the lips invisible.

The reason why some lip colours don’t look good on us:

1) The color doesn’t compliment the lipshape. For a better understanding of lipshape and lipstick:

The Correct Way To Apply Lipstick For 6 Different Lip Shapes

2) There is a whole spectrum of shades of the same color that would and would not look great on you. Warmer lipstick colours are less impressive on cooler skin tones and cooler lip colours are less flattering on warmer skin tones and it took me years to understand that, no. It took only one YouTube video linked below.

For more skin tone and undertone wisdom visit French designer Justine Laconte’s YouTube video on the same topic.

3) Uneven toned lips because of too much product use or too little cleansing of the skin on lips or even chapped lips. This can vary the lipstick result greatly

4) Buying them randomly online or under store lighting and not trying them in natural light.

Now, why swatch on hands?why not anywhere else?

1) The inner side of the arm is almost the same tone as your face. When you don’t have time or a mirror to try on makeup before buying it’s best to try them on the inner side of your arm. This would reflect how lip products or eyeliner Colors would look against the skin on your face.

2)Most experts recommend swatching lipsticks on your own hand than watching some youtuber do it on theirs before buying. If you are buying online, be sure to try brands that offer precise Virtual makeup options. There are brands with apps that reflect very less on how their color cosmetics look in sunlight or with multiple coats. Buy in stores for the first time and if it works for you, you can restock them online.

Finally, lets crunch some numbers for some smart shopping:

Women throw away an average of 5800 unused beauty products in their lifetime amounting to €180000 probably the result of bad shopping. I bet most of them should be Color cosmetics and lipsticks should be at the top. This is not the case for minimalists who only wear makeup for occassions.

Aveda is the first beauty product manufacturer to offer 100% clean packaging using a bioplastic called post-consumer recycled polyethylene  This is such a welcome gesture because both plastic AND GLASS take too long to decompose.

Lipstick market or lipmakeup market to be precise, is valued at $9.2 billion as of 2018 and is expected to grow at 6.6% per year, thanks to social media influence, growing image consciousness, e-commerce and a wide range of products maybe, lip stains and lip powders, what not!

Women between ages 20-30 are the largest consumers of lipstick. Probably because this is when career, social and family life actually kick starts and peaks. Studies show we are becoming increasingly image conscious, normalising cosmetics and skin care like it is vital, which is partly good for confidence and a globalised culture but which also means more consumerism, more waste and a market that could easily get saturated, products that can be easily duplicated.

Accidentally or by daily use, the average woman who wears lipstick ( twice daily) most days of her week is expected to eat or consume 4 – 9lbs or 2 to 4.08 kilos of lipstick in her lifetime which also predisposes her to a lot of heavy metals.

Companies that offer all natural makeup: https://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/18-natural-organic-makeup-brands-your-face-will-love-you-for

Studies show that consumers are slowly shifting to environmentally conscious brands because they resonate with their personal values. Smart and conscious consumerism is the need of the hour today because it’s not just the oceans that are getting dumped but our smaller water bodies as well. When reservoirs that domestically supply water to our homes are polluted, we would begin experiencing first hand the effects of our choices.

( There is a river behind my apartment that has stopped flowing because of all the trash it brings from inside the city??

Shop smartly.

Is eating only when hungry good for weight loss?

In short, Yes, IF you know the difference between REAL hunger and cravings and if you stop exactly when you are FULL.

This practice is gaining popularity among the “mindful eating” community and is often mentioned by Healer Bhaskar.

What it is:

Mindful eating or eating-when-hungry is a practice that encourages proper breakdown and assimilation of food by eating when hungry, chewing well and stopping when full. You must know what “fake hunger” and “real hunger” is. You can easily differentiate the two by ignoring the hunger pangs. If it returns after a while, it is real hunger and you must start eating.

Benefits of “mindful eating”:

It has immense health benefits like helping food be digested and absorbed better, better salivary secretion hence better carbohydrate processing ,preventing excess stomach acidity and reflux, improving and curing GERD, improving liver and pancreatic health, maintaining good appetite, avoiding unnecessary fat gain, feeling satiated at the right time, knowing exactly when you are full and enjoying the overall eating experience.

Is Mindful eating new to us?

Not exactly, it was the norm .Humans, regardless of demography had a non-scheduled eating system some years ago. When man was hunting, by the time he found and prepared food, the entire clan was hungry. Remember that we were hunter gatherers for atleast 2 million years.

Civilization grew and as we became an Agrarian community (We have been farming for 12000-23000 years now), we produced and stored food. Even then, there were no hour clocks, physical work was dominant and we either ate telling time looking at the sun or ate when hungry. Rich, sugary and fatty food were rare and occasional. All this changed in the past 100 years or so. Wholefoods became processed and we began ignoring the body’s natural cues. We put nature under a tight schedule, began treating meal-times like an unproductive part of the day. Ever since then, we have paved way for a lot of metabolic diseases largely unknown to our grandparents.

One of the following questions must pop up when we say “eat-only-when-hungry” :

 Does it work, if so how and for whom does it not work?

Eating-only-when-hungry aims to maximize nutrient absorption and hence fastens a sluggish metabolism. It follows the same principle intermittent fasting does. It works by utilising your natural digestive cues to prevent you from fuelling up more than you really need. Occassional consumption of food to heart’s content is okay but regularly eating too much in one meal is over working the digestive system.

But like all health practices, there is a catch. For example, it may not benefit people with the following conditions because hunger cues may mean different things for them:

1) People with already low blood sugar.

2)Diabetic patients.

3)People with low blood pressure.

4) Anaemic and anorexic people.

5) People with any type of ulcer.

6) Pregnant women.

7) School going children.

8) Toddlers and infants ( they already eat only when hungry anyway so don’t force it on them)

9) If your work or travel depends on physical stamina eg. Sports, trekking,

10) If you normally feel faint often.

It is safer, if you either cure or bring these conditions to a manageable level before following the “eat-only-when-hungry” principle.

How does it work?

Remember that fats and carbohydrates get metabolised fast whereas proteins and key nutrients don’t successfully get into the blood stream if the digestive system is not in good shape. The digestive juices and the gut ( intestinal barrier between the blood stream and bowels) need to work harmoniously for proper nutrition.

Again, this has nothing to with counting calories.

So why should I stop when full?

Because everyone needs different food proportions on different days.The body has a different clock as opposed to the 24 hour schedule, some people feel hungry exactly at lunch, some feel hungry just at the thought of food. One cannot eat the same sizing proportion a super model eats and expect good results, one may need more or less that day, and it’s best to let the body decide.

For whom does it work?

We must understand that weight loss(fat loss to be precise) is not the only concern for many people. A lot of people have hormonal and digestive disorders like gall stones,GERD, leaky gut or low stomach acid that prevents them from absorbing important nutrients crucial for normal body functioning. It works for all people, whatever diet or workout you are following. Just wait until you are mildly hungry and you can have your meal.

I am working or traveling often, how can I set meal times that sync with hunger?

Carrying healthy home cooked food packed with you is a good strategy. Try to fit complex carbs, protein and fiber rich food so that you don’t feel hungry just because of low blood glucose, like veggies, eggs and meat combo or falafel, nuts, quinoa black/ brown rice etc for vegans

3) Is it just another popular diet strategy that will disappear soon?

That is less likely, because lesser and lesser people are following fad diets. Everyone is looking into diets methods ( one or combined) suitable to body type that help them reach their goals. When more people want consistent practices, the ages old tradition of eating when hungry will be followed more.

If I am already on a keto/paleo/vegan diet schedule, is this going to hinder my progress?

No, because you are not changing your diet, you are only modifying when you should eat and how you eat.

 

Final verdict:

Try Eating-when-hungry on the days you are at home, like weekends. How you feel will tell you, if you want to follow it on the longrun.

Richard Branson to Robin Sharma- The many ways that self-help books may be losing potency

Not an avid reader?  Heard of names like Richard Branson, Brian Tracy, Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Rhonda Byrne? They have got to you then. They have very successfully got to you. Behold the, Success Gurus. Life Hack experts, welcome to the SELF HELP INDUSTRY.

Off-paper, most of these authors spend time conducting workshops and conferences for corporates, sales professionals,  schools and the general public. I really like all of their work and their insights they offer. But with so many Life changing Gurus, the world is just churning out new problems or a large part of the world is still un-motivated or worse- BURNT OUT. So it begs the question, Does self-help really help a person grow?

This is not to say that all these authors/ publishing houses are conspiring together to make money off our weaknesses-but the usefulness of this industry seems  recently under debate.

Why do we choose these books and listen to these authors?

Innately, at all stages of my life, I have wanted to be better  than the next person or be the equivalent of a successful person until I realized I want to be the best version of myself. Yet I don’t know how to do it perfectly. So I constantly look for motivation and quick hacks to help me make the best decisions. We are probably the only mammals that measure our traits and abilities against others or against our past selves almost constantly.

What has changed since the social media boom?

Digital marketing, New York times best sellers, paid partnerships, video lectures, free subscription for one year etc, etc.

I feel  no less chased after by  books, leaders and authors than by products. A decade ago, we were prowling for books. Now all the gurus seem to be hunting for more and wider range of disciples. It is almost as if they are in a rat-race themselves now that youtubers, review sites  and bloggers seem to be far reaching and influential than legit professionals in the life-hack industry. Only recently many self proclaimed industry “leaders” and experts (who were only famous on social media) were debunked for “Renting out” their villas, luxury cars and yachts inorder to lure people by marketing videos into their subscription and webinars.

What decides a book/author’s longevity in the reader?

If I looked for the next self help book, it means the first didn’t work too well, right? It didn’t serve me LIFE LONG. Self-improvement needs can change. One time it is public speaking, another time it is health and fitness. “Get anything you want, faster than you ever think” may have been an inspirational catchphrase but if any content doesn’t unknot  the logic knots that the real world throws at you, you may not remember it too well.  So does that mean all that these served was a temporary spike of motivation that fades with real experiences? Not entirely. Books of both inspiration and reason, great language stick around more in our memory. The longer it is in memory, the more often we go back to fetch excerpts and use its recommended methods.

Nobody has all the time in the world to read book after book for motivation

When the Blinkist App came by, it was like a slap in the face for me. the Blinkist app, which has over 2,000 nonfiction book summaries that you can “read” in under 15 minutes, was very welcome, highly promoted on social media and could have done a much better job if it came any earlier. That way we could compare content an take what we need.YouTube channels like Fight Mediocrity summarize books with animated clips. All we really want from self-improvement books and seminars is jump to the core of the subject without the hustle and ado.

Blinkist app pricing: https://www.blinkist.com/en/nc/plans_v3

We bought  a lot of books because of their blurb (The backside of a book), a good ruse that is fading because of online piracy and online ratings .  We are more likely to pick a book that says “New York times bestseller” than  ‘Life changing masterpiece”. This is because it is human instinct to lean on peer and expert opinion.

They hold good when we are in need of immediate motivation  but the real deal is when people actually start weighing in on “The help” the books can do.We  practice all the preaching, and it seems to be working, then  when real life kicks in, the algorithm seems blurry, then  a little impractical, then after a while, we may need new motivational lectures and videos. Strangely I haven’t seen one successful person who credited his success to these motivational books or speakers or gurus than praising REAL LIFE experiences for shaping who they are. Turns out most Kung-fu movies might be right. The answer, the fire must come from inside, if it has to fuel you consistently.

Here are some straight facts:

Either way, the self-help industry takes advantage of people’s weaknesses. Earlier, religion did that quiet successfully.

The Self improvement industry is worth $10Billionand self improvement audiobooks stand at $769 million, growing annually by 5.6%

Women are more likely to buy and read self help books than men.

Americans spent $563 million on self help books in the beginning of the millennium (2000).

People resort to self-help books mostly because, it is cheaper and discreet than going to a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Self help books and audiobooks fall under 4 main categories: Identity, Growth, Coping with stress, Personal relationships.

Self-help books cannot treat undiagnosed or chronic mental health conditions.

The bottomline is, all self-help merchandise are accessible, but their usefulness and longevity varies for different people. Simply put, do not judge a book by its cover.pexels-photo

 

 

When is the online mental maturity going to pervade our real lives?

The internet is full of awareness and breaking stereotypes but how much of that online positivity, maturity is incorporated into our everyday real life? A lot of us are still afraid of helping strangers. We first judge the race, color, sexuality and morality of someone before we see the human in them. We take kindness for flirtation. We judge a young mother for letting her child cry because she s tired while we laud online posts.  We function around fear of tomorrow whilst caring less about twenty years into the future. We care more about achievement than the effect it leaves on our peace, morale and our world. We function on desire in secrecy and pretend to be grown up outside. Do something good and you have to explain yourself. We question the morality of the weak while we celebrate arrogance of the powerful. Are you and me, regardless of age doing the right thing? Is this the madness we are going to teach our kids?

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A little story on how we function these days :

There is an old abandoned building in a crowded town that can either be re-used as a shelter, apartment, grocery store or warehouse or can be demolished.

Most people ignore the building largely and keep complaining about the lack of space in the town.  They keep teasing each other about their inability to make money because of lack of opportunity but nobody does anything about it. When little children and others question the purpose of the structure, they are told, “That is the way things are, just do what you do, this is what we did and don’t think too much”. These people who have a say-so, do not let anyone do anything, get jealous easily, shame the under-achievers but tag themselves, the “KNOW-IT-ALLS” , the “MATURE” ones in the society.

In short, I hate the way most people in their 40s today think and thought and act. I hate the things they say even more. So does that make me immature? Read on and decide.

In my years of existing (that is all I have done anyway) I have met only a handful of people who are kind, who do their duty religiously, who are not critical or judgmental of others and are humane whenever possible. Among the worst people I have met, from classroom to family, if I could publicly mention the things they did to others, in an attempt to make them realize how bad they are at living, I would. BUT… I can’t. That would be immature. We shall all keep our struggles to ourselves and never speak about them, because that is maturity. Wait.

What is maturity? Learning how to give opinions about everything, learning to mingle with the crowd,  suppress all emotions and act calm in public? I don’t think so.

Maybe it is true that we never really grow up, but only learn how to act in public. Sometimes I feel I act differently under pressure and don’t exactly follow the same things I teach my child. I felt grappled to even realise that I am very anxious and conscious of being watched in public while teaching my son to explore the world, of which I am still uncertain. Social media has only magnified what we already have in our culture or perhaps even human nature- the feeling of inadequacy and want of being accepted. Despite people breaking stereotypes everywhere equality and maturity has still a long way until it can reach everyday, real life dialogue.

The nature of the things we want as a child change as we grow older but the need to be appreciated and heralded remains the same. So again, do we really grow up?

The answer is tricky because it is very personal.  Only I would know how grown up I am now from who I was because it happens only in my head. And like cancer, it can relapse.  Hard times, failure or criticism can send someone back to being the person they wanted to grow out of. In earlier days, when someone wanted his inner journey to be deep and complete, he did it without having to explain why he hadn’t achieved the things others hadn’t. But today, you seem to have to achieve something inorder to simply exist in society, mostly because food is not free, but that is a topic for another day. You are afraid of your parents, your parents are afraid of your relatives, your relatives are afraid of their secrets so they ask you as many questions as possible and the cycle goes on and on, until you have grandchildren or until someone questioning you, you know passes away. We all know, that we are headed towards a pointless destination satisfying only our FEARS along the way.

There is another quote that goes: We remain stuck in that age where we received least love. As philosophical as it sounds, there is a lot of psychology to it. There is a popular “Need hierarchy triangle”.  Unless we don’t achieve the needs in tier 3, we can’t cross over to tier 2. The simplest example is when you have had a strict or abusive parent. No matter how much educated you get, how far you travel, when presented with the same stimulus at 28, you respond how you did when you were 8. Getting over any type of trauma is a Himalayan task because in our society, we celebrate perfection, we are not allowed to be hurt or embarrassed. That was until people began speaking up and finding like minded people around the world. You can tell a forum member, your struggles that you can’t tell your cousin. Still though,  all around the world, humans are humans’ first and last problem. Thankfully both internet forums and social media groups have allowed everyone regardless of their influence a voice. We have definitely changed into a more positive, informed, aware, broad-minded, supportive community online despite what the secret societies if any wanted to morph us into (Just saying). But to materialise the good wave into everyday action requires us simply to stop judging those who do it first. 

Peace and light.

From sunscreens, skin toners, scrubs to serums- what you can DIY at home

There is always this thought that crosses the mind when choosing pricey organic, plant based products: can I make them myself?

Well long story short, you CAN. But one, they won’t have as much active ingredient content as specifically extracted for.

Two, you can’t store them as efficiently for longer periods because they are not sterilised for shelf life and we don’t have as many preservative options that are sure to work. So the bottom-line is, you can make your own products if you make them for short term use or in situations where you don’t have your own packed product.

These are easy diy alternatives with available ingredients.

1) Peanut butter and fine sugar exfoliating body scrub.

Have a jar of peanut butter nearing expiry? Don’t throw it out. The following recipe can give you polished skin that is not parched dry.

  • Two – three tbsp of peanut butter .
  • Fine sugar or powder glucose- 3 tea spoons
  • Olive oil or almond oil – 1 TSP

Melt the peanut butter in microwave oven or double heat it in a pan of water until fully melted.

Wait until it cools for a minute and add the oil ( to increase runniness) and sugar/ glucose and whisk.

Apply on skin and scrub gently until the sugar melts away or peanut butter gains thick consistency on skin. Wash off with mild foaming cleanser. Works best when done before shaving with a blade and after waxing to sooth skin.

Note : avoid fine sugar if you have very sensitive skin . Avoid olive oil if you have extremely greasy skin.

Do not apply on face unless you have tried peanut butter on face before.

2) peppermint and rosewater toner:

Visible pores are any woman’s headache and toners are here just to tackle that. In case you run out of your regular toner, you can try this DIY toner with ingredients popularly used in many brands.

  • Rose water : 2 tbsp
  • Ground peppermint juice, strained: 2 tbsp

Mix these two in a bowl, refrigerate for 20 minutes and apply with cotton pad generously over face and neck in upward motion. If there is acne do not apply too much pressure and only gently tap over sensitive areas. You can follow up with moisturizer or your regular serum.

3) calamine and coconut oil sunscreen:

The debate over whether sunscreens are safe, doesn’t seem to have hit an end for now. Carrot seed oil and other natural substances with a fair SPF are now used in many green brands with the only downside, they are pricier than your average sunscreen. But if you feel you could try a simple, DIY mineral based sunscreen, give this a try.

  • Drugstore calamine lotion or the brand “Lacto calamine” , 3 tbsp
  • Coconut oil 1 tbsp
  • Talcum powder 1tbsp
  • Vegetable glycerine 1 tbsp ( optional)

Mix the above ingredients and store in a clean container. Use when necessary throughout the day. (Quantity for one day use)

So wait, what is calamine?

Calamine has been in use since 1500 b.c. It is made of zinc oxide, ferric oxide along with ingredients such as phenols and calcium hydroxide. Originally used to treat a variety of skin irritation and sunburn. The lotion offers a “mineral based” sun protection that sits on your skin rather than penetrating into the skin and offering sun protection.

Inorganic minerals such as titaniumdioxide, zinc oxide and calamine act as a physical barrier to UVB and UVA (especially zinc oxide)”. – Science direct.

4) Hair vitalising serum.

Serums work better than oils in promoting hairgrowth because they get absorbed better and have more active ingredients per ml than an oil does. I looked up many natural growth serums and found they have a lot of common ingredients. You can make your current serum bottle ( I am using Vedix) last longer, if you alternate it with a DIY you can use every other day.

Note: increase the quantity of ingredients by half with every two inch increase in hair length. The recipe below is for my medium length hair for three days.

  • Kalonji seeds or black cumin : 1 tbsp
  • Fenugreek seeds : 2 tbsp
  • Cedar wood oil : few drops
  • Rosemary essential oil : few drops
  • Hibiscus flowers 2, ground to paste and strained.
  • Baby ginger root juice 1/2 tbsp.
  • Calamus root or vasambu or vacha powder 1/2 tbsp

Grind the calamus root or the powder with soaked kalonji seeds, soaked Fenugreek seeds and strain them well. Add hibiscus juice, ginger juice, the essential oils and transfer them to a clean glass bottle. Apply over a period of three days ( after which it may loose it’s freshness) regularly with a stopper at hair roots.

What other DIY quick products can you use for makeup and personal care? Do share your knowledge in the comments below.

The real problem with your health supplements

You may be a consumer of fish oil, protein, rare herbs and spirulina supplements or you may be the cynical kind that needs nothing of the sorts.

Either way, our society is booming with cosmetics and supplements alike. And this trend is going nowhere any sooner.

The health supplements market will hit a whopping $194 billion by 2025, which is just a 5 years, 6 month gap from now.

So how did we go from food and prescriptions to consuming supplements for health and beauty?

Proprietary and supplementary food has been around for decades now. But the needs of consumers has changed. We now pick products that gives targeted benefits. Nobody takes random Multi-vitamins now as much as they did ten years ago. People take supplements for deficiencies they know for sure they have. People either look up their own symptoms or take diagnostic blood tests.

We must thank diagnostic labs for now allowing tests to be taken in self-interests without recommendation from doctors giving us the flexibility and power over our health.

The boom of internet, health bloggers, alternative medicine, diets, influencers and nutrition becoming common knowledge has led a lot of people to believe they need supplements to makeup for the nutrient void in regular food ( which is only partially true because you CAN get all nutrients only from food).

This combined with technology and knowledge to harvest material that targets specific needs ( like hair growth supplements) has given the big pharma another detour from making profit only from sickness. So now we have the “wellness” industry, a distinct ecosystem thriving and growing on its own. And I do not see much harm with that except on two things.

1) We CAN’T be sure of the CLEANLINESS of the source or of the packaging at first glance

There are different standards to the same supplement. For example, Omega 3 fish oil capsules priced at $3 dollars, can have rancid fish odour, whereas a cleaner but pricier one will deliver benefits without rancidity. This comes down to multi step processing, which the end consumer is less likely to know about.

Rancidity is the general term used in oils when they undergo self oxidation or hydrolysis, reducing the shelf life and nutritional value.

How do you get hold of clean Omega 3 capsules?

Sometimes you can’t figure this out without trial and error. A rancid capsule will leave a fish odour in the oesophagus few minutes after consumption, while a cleaner one won’t. Reading on the consumer reviews will help get an idea if the tablet is rancid or not.

You can check if your product complies with International Fish Oil Standards (IFOS) here:

http://consumer.nutrasource.ca/about/how-certifications-work/ifos

Another example is the spirulina supplement. Dubbed the super food, spirulina supplementation is on a steady rise but the source from where they are harvested is a little tricky to track.

Spirulina assimilates most minerals from the environment and tends to assimilate heavy metals, if present. So for the price of great protein and nutrients you would be consuming free heavy metals like lead, arsenic and mercury. These are the last things you would want in your system.

So how do you know if the spirulina is grown and harvested from clean waters?

You can call up the manufacturer to know if it was grown in tanks, river water catchment or the sea. If it is sea water you can be half sure, that the spirulina may have imbibed some heavy metals and inorganic chemicals. When it is grown in other sources you must be sure to ask if it was grown in effluent water from industries and dyeing units. Always opt for spirulina from fresh water. Never take a protein supplement unless you are physically active enough to promote muscle mass. Always consume more water to flush out protein byproducts that may settle in the kidneys.

How about biotin, iron and zinc supplements?

It is always safe to get blood work done to find out what exactly is lacking before taking vitamins. Excessive inorganic residue can be harmful to the liver and kidneys in unprecedented ways. Opt for supplements from plant or natural sources, because they are absorbed better. If you experience heartburn or develop ulcers on supplementation, you should stop the product or switch brands because the fillers in vitamins may be corrosive to the stomach lining. Always take supplements with, during or middle of the meal than minutes after eating for better digestion.

2) What do you do with all the empty packaging?

The one problem I dealt with in great pain was finding ways to reuse or dispose the empty packages. You may use them as containers for other things, if your city does not have a dedicated recycling plant. Find if the product you use has a disposable refill pack.

The over dependence on supplements can lead you to think there is no optimal health without them. It can lead to a sense of helplessness when you can’t get your hands on the packs in time. This common psychological side effect of dependence can be overcome by finding natural, alternative and raw sources of the nutrients and reducing the regularity of consumption.

Eat fish oil once in 5 days while you get enough mild sunlight, eat flax, chia, pumpkin seeds, and eat oily fish like salmon the other days of the week.

Either way, we can’t actually guage how much we eat gets absorbed as much as we know what our food and supplements contain.

Finding natural sources of healthy food, eating a balanced diet, being physically active whenever possible and supplementing wisely are the sure steps to mental, physical and environmental health.

What is exfoliation and how often should you exfoliate skin?

20190616_120344_0000.pngExfoliation literally means shedding.

The skin naturally sheds skin cells by the thousands by moving older and dead cells on a superficial layer over the epidermis. In evolutionary terms, this is a natural barrier for skin shielding it from humidity, temperature and sunlight. Artificial exfoliation is the act of removing that dead layer of cells along with dirt and pollutants (though not very cell targeted, you will chip away some new cells too) by using physical and chemical exfoliants.

By nature, the skin on the face and neck is more soft and sensitive in comparison to the rest of the body. Which is why experts do not recommend using the same product on the face and body.  Regular and customized skin care routine is necessary from the teens for healthy skin with minimal problems.  A daily routine consists of cleansing, toning and moisturizing whereas a facial consists of cleansing, exfoliating, specific mask , toning and moisturizing.

What happens when we don’t exfoliate?

You exfoliate passively everytime you rub your face with a towel. Cleansers help in gentle daily clean up of the face but regular and well spaced exfoliation can improve skin health and appearance in many ways. Not exfoliating for months and years together leads to product buildup and makes blemishes appear prominent, can lead to product buildup, clogged pores and hence more acne. Appearance of fine lines and wrinkles will become very noticeable because the new cells cant get to the surface. Over buildup of dead cells lowers the effectiveness of any product you use, be it sunscreen or a serum because it gets absorbed lesser into the dermis.

What happens when we exfoliate too much?

Recent research suggests that over exfoliating skin, reveals the more sensitive portion of the skin open to the environment. This opens pathways for skin infections, clogged pores, more blemishes and exposure to radiation. Either way, exfoliating everyday is unnecessary when cell turnover is slower than the rate you scrub off dead cells. Further the upper harder and protective layer form a natural barrier to sunlight and the environment.

Physical exfoliants:

All herbal scrubs and apricot, walnut bead scrubs and  brushes fall under this category. The thumb rule is as long as you don’t have acne or open wounds or sensitive skin, physical exfoliants can help shed dead skin cells, improve blood circulation and leave a freshened effect.

Indian skin is used to using Ubtan, turmeric or sandal as natural cleanser/exfoliant since ages. As much as it helped our mothers and grandmothers with skin care, abrasive exfoliants like these seem little help to this generation with an array of skin problems. The reason? We are more exposed to harmful products and environmental pollutants from air to water and eat far less healthy foods than our ancestors did. Think of a piece of silk washed using a rough brush. Physical exfoliants will only do MORE harm to damaged skin however natural the product is. If you have acne wait till the acne clears out before you use rough exfoliants. Use paraben and silicone free gel based scrubs for regular exfoliation.

Chemical exfoliants:

They are essentially exfoliating acids . Chemical exfoliants contain acids AHAs, BHAs  and glycolic acid that function by oxidizing and chipping away the upper surface. Plant based exfoliants contain papaya, pineapple, pumpkin enzymes and extracts from peppermint etc. Chemical exfoliants and scrubs can cause as much damage as physical exfoliants if over used.  A good skin care routine that involves cleansing, toning and day/night product is enough on a daily basis with occasional scrub or exfoliation on the face. If you feel too clogged and sweaty, using a body scrub should do no harm but the same must not be used on the face.

 

How often should you exfoliate?

The skin replenishes with a completely new layer of skin on an average of thirty days .Most people think once in two weeks (if you cleanse and tone regularly) is ideal or once in a week if you are a very active person who goes outdoors a lot. Exfoliation after heavy makeup worn for longer periods is necessary to remove left over product buildup. Listen to your skin, feel unfresh and cant feel skin properly when you run your fingers over even after cleansing? Exfoliate using  gentle exfoliating gel. If your skin feels so sensitive even when your hair falls over your face, don’t use an exfoliating product and settle with mild cleansing and recovery product