Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Making sacrifice is not easy.

Sacrifice is defined as, "the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone".

Giving up something or someone is not easy. Attachment, dependence and happiness - all have to be given up in order to make a sacrifice. Sacrifice is about love, friendship, duty and doing the right thing. Not everyone can do this. One has to be strong in order to do the right thing.

Most people will either not recognize the sacrifice at all or think other people's sacrifice is something that they had to do.

The person who makes the sacrifice - who gives something up - has the hardest of it all. They have to give up a lifestyle, they have to give up on love, they have to give up money, they have to give up relationships and so much more. And worst of all - they have to feel the sadness of that loss. They are the only ones who know that if they had not made the sacrifice for the other person, things would have been much harder for that other person. Meanwhile - the "other person" may be clueless....

Making sacrifice is not easy......sometimes one can see it in the kids - some kids give their things easily to others while others don't. Not all adults can make sacrifices. It is hard.....

I don't know if sacrifice is a character someone is born with or that they develop? Who knows? But definitely maturity and sacrifice go hand in hand.  When you are mature, you are able to make sound decisions and do the right thing (hopefully!).  One thinks that mothers will  always make sacrifice for their child - but that's not true; I have seen many selfish mothers!

No relationship guarantees sacrifice - you are lucky if someone makes sacrifice for you - it means you are loved by them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Hopefully, as we age, we mature, not just in our physical appearance but also in our grey matter (the brain!). Its very easy for adults to look at kids below 10 years of age and say - oh they are still kids - they are not matured yet. So there is something about adults that make them more mature than kids. Although, I will say I have seen some kids who are more mature than adults!! (Not because those adults are mentally challenged - or maybe they are!)

The first quality I want to discuss here is - responsibility.

First and foremost when you are mature you are able to take responsibility for your actions in all walks of life. First - YOU are responsible for YOURSELF and your actions, then you are also responsible for family, friends, coworkers etc.  You live in a house/apartment: how should you care for that dwelling? Is it maintained in a good living condition? Your own personal space - is it in order? Can you find something when you need it? Do you lose your stuff readily? etc.

What about family? You should know what your responsibilities are towards each member of your family (regardless of what your spouse or kids do). Are you able to care for them, or do you behave like a child and only take care of your own immediate needs? Can you look beyond yourself and take care of your family? Having a family does not just mean having a spouse and producing babies or just providing them shelter - its also about the emotion, the feeling, the love and caring that goes in it that makes a family a family. But for some it is just a responsibility and nothing of the emotional involvement. That is also not life...but that is another blog.

Although I don't think have friends is a sign of responsibility, it is a personality thing, but maintaining those friendships is certainly a responsibility. One should behave in a proper manner, and if you like the person then maintain those friendships. It takes a lot to maintain healthy relationships - no relationship should be taken for granted. That is a recipe for loss of relationship.

Your belongings - are they in good shape? Your vehicle - car, motorcycle, do you maintain it or bang it up in places? Your clothes say a lot about how you are as a person (sadly) - do you maintain your clothes? Are they clean? Are they torn? Do they look yours?

All the above are responsibilities of action. Then there is the emotional responsibility.

How well can you handle stress? Do you go into tantrums or lose your temper if things don't go your way. Do you have the emotional depth to understand the other person's situation? Do you look for retribution? Are you manipulative in behavior? This also means you lie or not tell the truth, to get your way.

Do you have the strength to say no where a no is necessary and the strength to do the right thing? Some people may have never experienced being told "NO" for something, so when they encounter it the first time, they don't know how to handle it. They have always gotten what they wanted.

These are also part of emotional quotient. I think we are born with some emotional quotient while some we develop as part of our life experience.

Many people will never even try to understand where the other person is coming from or their perspective; so they will never understand other's situation; and most don't care to know also. That invariably leads to one of the person's getting hurt. One does not have to like the other person, or do good for them, but the least they can do is not hurt them. Recognizing and doing the right thing is maturity.

And then there is the financial responsibility.

Hindu philosophy says that first 25 years are for education, the second 25 years for family life, next 25 years for spiritual awakening and the last 25 years to give up the worldly benefits.

So....this means, its okay to live with parents or depend on family early on, but after that you are supposed to be on your own - in fact you should be able to support your family also. One should not have to ask family or friends for money once their education is complete - that is what education is for - learn how to earn money on your own. There can be a whole other discussion of women being financially dependent on their husbands. This depends entirely on the relationship between husband and wife - I will not get into that now.

So... this is the first little installment of maturity as relating to responsibility....more will come.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Robot with a Heart

So I am sitting here watching Wall-E, one of my favorite Pixar movies, and I am thinking, there is not much difference between Wall-E and I.

Wall-E does so much work - and so do I.
Wall-E is dedicated to his mission, even if it is packing trash; so am teaching.
Wall-E is curious about things - so am I.
Wall-E lets cockroaches live - and for most part - so do I.
Wall-E sees a plant and tends to it - I have the same feelings about plants.
Wall-E sees a smart and sleek robot and falls for it - I do also fall in love for smart things :-)
Wall-E follows his heart - and so do I - sadly always heart over brains :-(
Wall-E watches TV and wonders who these people are who hold hands and dance - so do I...
Wall-E is a robot - and 99% of the time I feel like one too.
Wall-E wants to make friends - so do I.
Wall-E would love company, even it is of a destructive robot - sometimes I feel that way too....
and most important one........
Wall-E is cute - and some might think I am too!!

One of these days my life will stop feeling like a robotic repetition of day after day. I feel like the various parts of my life and body are rusting with the repetitive days.

One of these days I will also find a planet of life.......

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blessing or Punishment

During our life we meet so many people - some more memorable than others; some stay in our lives for longer time than others. I have lived in many places and have met so many people along the way (and its not over yet!). When I was younger I did not think too much about this, but as I am getting older (and maturer!) I have opinions, experiences and memories. People can be all kinds - acquaintances, friends or even relatives.

Some people are like a breath of fresh air: I meet them and think - wow! Please stay in my life for a longer time- you are so refreshing in this grim world.  Maybe that is why they don't stay - that refreshing feeling will go away - maybe it will not - but I will never know. They never stay for more than one meeting!

Some people are helpers: they came into my life when I really needed help or I was looking for a person of that "qualification". These people come and go - sadly they have not stayed longer either. They came to help me at the perfect time. Although I think I can still call on some of them. (Like the gentleman who fixed my couch for a great price!!) :-)

Some people are blessings: they have stayed in my life as a support system. I know they are there for me. I can call on them when I need them; they are dependable and I can trust them. Their presence in my life is proof for me that I am doing something right. I must be good to them also for them to hang around my life for so long. My long term friends...thank you!!

Some people are punishments: these people have come in my life as a lesson for me. It is very late in the relationship that I realize these people will never give me any comfort or happiness. They will always test me, want from me and treat me poorly. No matter how good I am to them or how much I do for them, they will always hurt me. I can never trust them and they will never be there for me. They may be good to other people but not me, they are just.....a punishment in my life. 

I can only hope that I am blessing in people's lives and not a punishment. Although I think some people may think of me as punishment that is why they are not able to treat me as I would like to be treated or as I should be treated.

As Forrest Gump's momma said, "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get." I will only hope that I have more people who are blessings in my life and that I am a punishment for no one.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Feelings and Emotions

I don't care.
I don't have those feelings.
I don't give a damn.
It does not bother me.

When someone says those statements it means either they are denying their emotions or they really don't give a damn, in which case they are selfish.

When people deny their emotions they are lying to others and to themselves. To deny means you are not acknowledging something.  That means you are avoiding something....What?? What are you avoiding? And why?

  • Are you afraid of acknowledging the truth? 
  • Do you think people will think less of you? 
  • Or are you avoiding the responsibility that comes with that acknowledgment? 

People think just because they are saying "I don't care", it makes them not really care or it absolves them of responsibility for their behavior. But the truth is: because you are saying, it means you thought about it, and you then decided you did not care. It was a conscious decision.

The more you ignore your feelings the more you will not be able to handle situations. The sooner you acknowledge your true feelings about a person or situation, the sooner you will have a clearer understanding of how to deal with the person or situation.  Avoidance just postpones the inevitable and then invariably someone gets hurt.

In the deepest of your heart you always know the truth.  To acknowledge it, is the hard part. You try to hide your feelings so much that you develop this dual personality - an outer one for the world where you lie and manipulate; and an inner where you know exactly what you are doing. And if you keep up this dual personality you will not know where you exist anymore - the two will merge. You build this fake world around yourself in which everything is fine - because you don't care - right?

But the reality is - you do care. And inside it will eat you and bother you and the negative emotions - the guilt will manifest themselves in form of stress, pain and other physical ailments. Worst of all the happiness you think you have will not feel real - because you know somewhere along your life you have cheated someone or yourself of the truth.  Sure - we will all live our lives - life always goes on, but the quality of life is not there; the real happiness is not there. You are living just for living sake. And you justify your life by saying - "but this is how the world works - we sacrifice, we tolerate and we compromise."

There is something about compromise and sacrifice that makes it sound very noble - when the reality is in some cases you are doing injustice to all. It is much better to speak the truth so that life does not seem like a compromise anymore. You should want to make that sacrifice or compromise willingly and happily.  And then it will not seem like a compromise or sacrifice.  Your life will be how you want to live, where you want to be, with whomever you want to be with; you will be at peace and you will be happy. Just acknowledge it.....make it real!

And if you really "don't care", then you really are selfish. You use people to your advantage and then toss them out of your life.  Eventually that will also haunt you - when? Who knows? Maybe when you are more mature or when you have time to think about what you have done in life. And if you don't think about it and and it does not haunt you then you are in a completely different category of people (I don't want to name it).

It takes a lot more energy to build a fake world and deceive people.  It is a lot easier to be yourself. Sure we cannot be the same for everyone and you cannot tell everyone everything - but that is not what this blog is about. It is about being truthful to yourself and being truthful to your friends and loved ones who care about you.

One last point - sometimes when we don't care - it means we have given up. We are tired and just don't want to deal with the person or situation anymore. Which in itself is sad, because that giving up causes loss of relationships or no improvement of a bad situation.

I know sometimes I have built a fake world trying to convince everyone and myself that this is what is best for me - but deep down I knew the reality was something else. I have had to make some hard decisions in order to be truthful to myself, and I have no regrets about my decisions.  I think my life is a lot better than what it would have been if I had not been true to myself.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


We have met our share of selfish people. I don't have any wise words to say about these people or how to deal with them. I just want to write that I have met selfish, deceiving and lying people.

I was blessed during my college years (BSc, MSc and PhD) to have really nice friends who helped me enjoy my college years and have a good social life. I never felt like I missed out on anything. Some of my friends were so nice and so helpful that they made me want to emulate them. We would do anything for each other.  Those were really the good 8 years of my life....

Ever since my working years, I have encountered selfish people in each of the work environment.  Why? Maybe its the competitiveness nature of the environment or just a personality clash, but it was always very painful for me.  These people have been so incredibly selfish that they have managed to ruin some of the best years of my life. I could have achieved a lot more, accomplished so much more if only I had a colleague who would have just kept their poisonous tentacles away from me.

Luckily during these times I have had very good friends....for most part. There have been only one or two who have sucked the life out of me. And of course friends end up hurting us more than our colleagues. There is a lot more intimacy between friends than colleagues.

Relatives can also be selfish - and they are related to you, so it is hard to get away from them. Sometimes you cannot do enough for some of them, they keep expecting more and more.

I think selfish people have no empathy or sympathy. They exist in an emotional void where the only emotion they know is their own; the only problems they see are their own. They are the center of their world and they cannot imagine why others cannot see that fact.

I find selfish people emotionally draining. I have the habit of thinking and rethinking of situations that have occurred in my life, so I can assess what I could have done differently or in some cases I just cannot get some things out of my mind. And the more I think about the selfish people, the more I realize there is not much I could have done, because it was not me - it was them.  The only thing I could have done was stay away from them, which sometimes was not a possibility or it was too late.

In some cases I feel that I was aiming to please my friends/relatives; in some cases I was a little gullible and trusted too quickly. I always want to see the best in people and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. But people take advantage of this nature. They manipulate and abuse the relationship.

I don't think there is any getting away from such people as it always takes time to figure them out and by that time - the deeds done!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Selfish People

I have not been able to write much lately. I have been preoccupied with some thoughts that are really bothering me.  I hope these thoughts are temporary and will go away with time, but right now I feel emotionally raw.  I have been lied to,  I have been used and taken for a fool.  It is a really hard feeling to deal with. I've lost my faith and my trust.

It will take some time to get over all these feelings, but until I do, I have to live with them daily....

I think this is the first time I have had to deal with such feelings. Most times I am quite a good judge of character and withdraw a lot before somebody cheats me; or I am aware of the person's nature so I know what I was getting into. But really for most part I have met good and honest people.  But this was the first time I was conned into believing that I meant something in a way that was completely not true.

So who gave me these feelings? Who treated me this way? Of course, I cannot tell who dealt me this life lesson. But this person turned out to be very selfish - I was always there for them; always listened to their problems; gave them what they asked for (and more!) without questioning them - I trusted that they were speaking the truth.  Somewhere in my heart I still believe they were. Then why would they not trust me enough to tell me the whole truth?

They always claimed to be my friend, yet they would hide things from me; not give me answers; judge me for expecting simple things from them.  It was not a few months relationship - it has been a few years. At one point people have to decide what they want in a relationship - I guess they did....their accusations, their hiding of the truth and misleading me showed me how less my feelings meant to them. If one only keeps taking from me and not give me anything in return - not even the things that are free: love, respect, care and honesty; then what is this friendship?

They always did everything for themselves and their family; they protected themselves and their family.  They never thought about my emotions and my feelings and how their behaviour was affecting me.  And now....there is nothing.

I don't even know what to think anymore; there have been too many emotions. But the sad thing is that in order to protect their situation, this friend has never considered mine.  They know I live alone, and that I am emotional and that I am getting attached to them, but they never gave a damn. It was always about them and their family only. How can one think so selfishly? And now they want to talk as if nothing in the past (good or bad) ever can that be? How can anyone be so casual about relationships?

I can only hope that I will never meet such kind of people any more. I hope I have learned whatever lesson God was trying to teach me. Everyone says that you always see in others what you are yourself - but I am not selfish; I don't play with peoples emotions and I certainly don't betray my friend's or anyone's trust.  What I am, is what people get...I have only one face.

I also wonder what kind of life such people had - how much have they been betrayed and lied to in their life? Do they have anyone in their life who they can trust or love? Why do they think this is way to live life? Or did they just behave like this with me?

Right now I am not able to talk to these people - I just don't know what to say to them. They will start talking as if nothing has happened, and I don't know if I can believe anything they say anymore. I feel like some part of my heart has been crushed. They are going on about their lives as if it was just another person who came in their life and went; as if there is something wrong with me and they are absolutely right in their thinking. But that is not what friendship is - you have to look from the other person's perspective.  On the other hand they could be feeling bad also, but how will I know unless they tell me...and how will know they are speaking the truth?

I just wish there was some balm I could use to repair parts of my heart and feelings and trust.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Social Service

Social service, volunteering, NGO....these are all ways of giving back to the society we live in. We all take from the society, so in our life, we should also give back.

Until 15 years ago, this was a novel concept for me. The only volunteering I had done was in Ethiopia for a short period of time, when I used to read for about one hour a week to the blind. And I thought I was doing that because I had time on my hands and had nothing else to do.  But now I know how valuable that reading must have been for the blind who were listening to me. I wish I had done more.

Depending on what one feels comfortable with, one can do personal service, i.e. give time and skills to a cause; or give money to a cause. Whatever is suitable.

I have done both - time and money so I have experience with both. It is a personal decision for anyone when they are ready for social service. This is something cannot be compelled, it is something that comes from within oneself.

I sometimes wonder if I would be doing so much of it if I had a family. I would be busy with them and not have time to give. But in America I see that volunteering is a sometimes a family affair. Volunteering is part of the school education. Kids learn it at a young age. How neat!! I will say that I have never met any Indian during any of my volunteering events - never! Maybe they and I go to different events.....Although in India there are thousands of NGOs (don't know how many are authentic); but in US, there are hardly any NGOs by Indians.  Nothing good or bad about this...just an observation.

I am writing two blogs on my experiences. I am not done with volunteering or donating money. It is an ongoing process.  Part 1 is on Time Donation and Part 2 is on Money Donation

Social Service (Monetary) - Part 2

Ten years ago, I went to India on a touring trip during my sabbatical. I wanted to go to an Ashram in Rishikesh to relax on the banks of Ganges.  It so happened that the Ashram was hosting a Geeta camp, which I then attended. Amazing camp! I learned so much. At the camp, I met a lady who was running an orphanage for girls of all ages in Dehra Dun.  These girls either were discarded by their families, or ran away from home due to some abuse or other. The lady asked me to contribute to the orphanage to sustain one 12 or 13 year old girl through her education, up to her marriage – so a financial commitment of about 5-7 years.

It was against my philosophy to help out with money, especially if I don’t know where the money is going. But the lady was convincing and she was a friend of a family friend. So I agreed to sponsor two girls (the money was not that much when converting dollars to rupees). I supported them over four years. My experience was mixed: I felt good that I could support some girls’ education and maybe give her a good future; on the other hand, I never knew who I was supporting and what the progress of the girl was.  Over time, I would call the lady but never got a satisfactory answer. Through the family friend, I knew that my money was spent well. It may not have gone directly to the girl, but it did help out in the orphanage.

And that is where my problem is – I need to know exactly where my money is being used.  It could be because my salary is not much and so whatever little I give should have some visible impact. I did not go back to India for the next 5-6 years, so that story came to an end. The sad thing is when I stopped sending the money, the lady never even asked me why I stopped sending the money.

I had a similar problem in Brazil. When I was in Brazil, I had worked with a young couple, who were our translators during our visit. The first time I went there, I was so impressed by their hard work and dedication that I wanted to do something. The man who arranged everything suggested that I pay the couple’s salary since he is not able to pay them too much. I thought – sure I can do that for one year! So I made three payments to him over one year. Two years later, I went back to Brazil for a second service trip. I chatted with the couple to find out if they were getting their salary without revealing any other details. It turned out that the man paid them only half of what I had given for them. Ugh!! When I asked him about it, he said, he needed the money elsewhere in the organization. There was really nothing I could do about it!!

So there….my point seemed to be made again and again.  Money given to organizations like this are never quite used for what you intend them to be used for.

Now I knew for sure that giving money was out of question. But old habits die hard!!

When I went to India recently, I met a young woman, very sweet, very hard working and of very caring nature. Despite the fact that she was poor and struggling in so many aspects of her life, she would always have a smile on her face. I was taken by her honesty and hard-working nature. She would tell me about her life and I could feel her pain!! I could not help myself… I decided to support her - financially. Now I talk to her periodically and see how she is doing – I don’t need a full accounting of my money, but I can tell she is not misusing the money. I have met her three times now and finally I feel comfortable in my financial contribution.

One incident regarding this woman will always stay on my mind. I was talking to her one day and she told me about some health issues she was having and that she needed to get some tests done. I knew she was not going to work and therefore she was losing money. I asked her if she needed more money for the tests, and very cheerfully she replied, “I have lots of money!” I was so amused! I did not send her any money for the tests. And that is the attitude that makes her so special to me.

Will I keep giving money in future? I don't know. I will not like to support this young woman all her life. At one point, her sons should take over and take care of her. So I will stop at that stage.

And then what? I don't know....

My determination is still not to give money to organizations. I have been asked by one or two NGOs to donate money, but I will not give - I need to work with them in order to see how they work. So at this time....they will get only my time!!

Social Service - Part 1

These words, social service, were alien to me until I started working at Park University. At my university, service was part of the professional development portfolio, which means one of the criteria by which my promotion etc. would be determined.  So I had to ask my mentor about what is “service”, and he said to me, it’s when you volunteer and work in the community. So of course I had no idea what I was going to do.  My first logical choice was to look in my professional society, American Chemical Society.  They had a local chapter in Kansas City and so I started getting involved in its activities. It was perfect for me as I am a chemist and an educator, so the activities I was participating in fit right in with my profession.

Within a year or two I caught on this bug of service. I started enjoying it. It was a great way to meet new people, see new places and all the while contribute to the community in some way. I did a lot of volunteering with science mentoring of young scientists as well as being a mentor to “women in science” – both very rewarding for me. I volunteered at events where they needed people to monitor activities. I was active in my professional society and also other women’s groups.  Eventually I started taking leadership roles and wrote grants and organized events. I learned a lot about team work during this time.

I had vowed to myself that I would never give money for charity. I would give my time and services, but not money. I could never be sure how this money was being used, and my money is not lottery money – it’s my hard earned money that I had frugally saved. It was not going to support administrative staff of any association. I wanted my money to be used to help people who really needed it.

My first service trip abroad was in Brazil. Here I saw how a lady had created a safe haven for kids to come after school and learn crafts or hang out in a clean, safe environment. The organization I went with took 10-12 people and built an open air classroom for the kids – all in one week.  It was really quite amazing for me to see how quickly a dream can be realized. (Of course the procuring and transporting of the materials for building the classroom was about a year long process and all this was done by one person who was dedicated to helping this community).

My next service trip was Hawaii. One would why Hawaii, such a tourist destination, would need help, but help is needed everywhere, even in the richest of the societies.  I saw a part of Hawaii that tourists don’t see. The problems there were many but we could do very little in the ten days we were there.

And then I thought I should go to India, my own country and see what I can do there. That was my motivation of going to Shanti Kunj. But now I realize that maybe it will not be a good fit for me as their activities are not done the way I am accustomed to. They also don’t advertise the activities in advance, so timing is an issue. So I just ended up going to DSVV and giving my time there. I feel like my talents were not completely utilized there the first time, but maybe it was because they did not know me. But even during my 2nd and 3rd trip, I felt a little under-utilized.  I will not presume to say why my services were not used to the max, but I know that I could have done a lot more.

I continue to do service as much as I can – locally. I believe in the saying “Think globally, act locally”. I have my limitations on what I can do, but I do what I can to know that I am making some difference.

And then someone asked me for money......(see Monetary Service)

Monday, August 25, 2014


Having crossed the mid-point of my life there are a number of things I have taken stock of. Of course life does not end after mid-life – for some it becomes better. I don’t know what it is becoming for me….

I have always thought of myself as worldly, experienced, comfortable in dealing with diversity and most of all - fairly mature in my thinking. Through my years of education (through PhD) and now working for a number of years, I think I have seen and been through a lot things/events. My personal life has been always be series of turmoil. Just when I think I can breathe now, a storm comes and everything is back to chaos.

I want to believe there is higher power somewhere who is doing all this. I have always believed in destiny, because no matter how hard I try to prevent something from happening or want something to happen, it will not happen that way. For some reason, this higher power has decided that I don't ask for anything meaningful. Or that my life should go smoothly. Nope! All these ups and downs of my life are giving me nausea.

I also think there is a time and age for events to happen otherwise they don’t have the same meaning. Timing is everything in life.  At this point in time in my life, I have to learn to accept a number of things that I have and somethings that I will never have.  There are also human behavior that I have to come to terms with. So many people have come in my life and taught me so many different lessons; sadly most lessons are through negative experiences.  My life has not gone in any way that I had thought it would go; nor do I have the relationships that most people have.

In one of the most positive events: I had never imagined I would ever own a house! Fifteen years ago I was happy to own a car, and now this house - MY house - who knew??

Through all the positive and negative events – I have come to accept that:
  •  People will lie – they will cheat. No matter which country I go to and however many new people I meet, there will always be liars in this world.
  • People are selfish, they are all motivated by their own self-interest.
  • I really cannot trust anyone. I have learned this the hard way. And I still keep learning this, because deep down I want to believe that people are good – but most times they just are not. 
  • No matter where I work I will always have a nemesis. 
  • I have always found one or two truly good friends wherever I have lived. They may not love me, but they will not do anything to hurt me either.
  • The kindness of strangers is always there for me. I have found help in the darkest of my times from some really close friends and sometimes even strangers.  I really feel these are angels sent just to help me.
  • I will never know some relationships….the time has gone…
  • Life will go on, no matter how I feel today. It is up to me to get up and get going.  I am Arjun and I am Krishna – all in one.
I am reminded of a blog I wrote a while back on Anhinga - the beautiful bird of Florida. So yet again I am reminded that its all me.....I have everything in me - I just have to find it (that's the tough part!!) and accept it (also hard to do!)

Monday, July 21, 2014


I read my Papa's views on Stonewalling, and it made me think about ignoring. Both are similar concepts. Both are communication blockers. Both create the feeling in one person that his or her view or feelings are not important.

Stonewalling means: "not answering any question when asked directly or refusing to participate in a discussion."

Ignore, as the dictionary defines it, is: "refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally."

Disregard intentionally?? The reasons anyone would do that to me is if they:
  • don't care for me
  • have no respect for me
  • don't care what I think
  • don't care for my feelings
  • are really mad at me
- It is a very typical behavior that if you are mad at me you will ignore me (because just looking at me will make you even more mad). But I think if you are mad at me about something - then come on and lets fight it out. Just finish the cold war. Hash out the differences; one way or another, figure out what is going on. Not every fight will have a happy ending but at least we would have tried.

- If you are ignoring me just because you don't want to reply to my concern or question - then it means you don't care about me or my feelings. Or that maybe you are hiding something from me, which breeds distrust in relationships.

 - If you are ignoring just because you don't like me - then really!!??? Just grow up and be mature. Learn to handle your feelings such that you can be civil without being superficial. We are all adults and we all don't have to like each other - but we can be civil.

The one thing I have never been able to stand in my life is being ignored. If I know someone is ignoring me, I take it very personally and I make it a point to avoid that person so that I don't have to behave the same way (although in some ways they do make me behave like them....I may have to ignore them too).

In my view - no one should be ignored; no one is that trivial (not even kids!) that their sentiments be ignored; their feelings be ignored or their views be ignored. Everyone should get a chance to be acknowledged and be heard. Because in reality - everyone wants to be acknowledged. (I have written about this before) Everyone wants to feel they are valued and that their existence matters.  I don't have to agree with everything they say, but at least I can give them my attention.  Ignoring someone's emotions/feelings/views makes the other person feel all sorts of complicated emotions and then I don't know what the short/long term consequences might be. Don't forget - every action has consequences.

When I am ignored, I feel -
  • worthless - like I have no value in the other person's life,
  • they don't give a damn about what I feel, which means they don't care about me
  • they don't respect me
  • non existent - that I don't even exist for them
  • hurt.....
  • uncomfortable in their company
  • and most importantly - I cannot trust them anymore. Because I don't know when I am being taken seriously and when I am being ignored.

Of course it also depends who is ignoring me: 
  • A student or distant coworker: it does not matter. They are too busy in their lives. If I am important to them, they will not ignore me.
  • An acquaintance: don't worry - they are not that important anyway, let it go.
  • A colleague: jealousy is a big factor here. This is really hard to deal with.  It has to be taken care of diplomatically.  I have dealt with this one too many times and each time it has exhausted me.
  • A good friend or family: this is the hardest one. Where I have deep emotions, time invested in a relationship, then I also have more expectations, and if I am ignored by them, then it is really hurtful.  It definitely needs to be taken care of. Talking is the best way; but of course that is a two way street - the other person must be willing to participate. Once the misconceptions have been cleared up then the trust has to be rebuilt. And then time and emotions are again invested in that relationship.

I know how I feel when people ignore me, so I have changed myself.  I try my best to not ignore people. I let them know that I am not available, or I am busy - because they deserve a response - however untrue it might be.  And if someone is important to me then I will always be honest about what is going on. Honesty is the best policy.

Ignoring anyone is very hurtful and I will just say - ITS NOT NICE - so don't do it.

One last point to mention here is when after saying something serious, someone says to me, "Ignore what I said." How does one do that? Just like an arrow, once shot from a bow can never be taken back, spoken words can also not be called back. The thoughts that come to my mind when I hear those words are, "What else should I ignore?" "Why did you say something if you did not mean it?" "What about in future? Should I know already what to ignore or will you tell me again?" I cannot ignore what my friends and family say to me.

One absolutely last point.....sometimes I just don't know what to say or how to talk to someone anymore. This dilemma causes a time lapse in communication.  Unless the other person takes the initiative to communicate, the time lapse becomes longer and it feels like I am ignoring the other person; when really I just don't know how or want to talk to them anymore.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Human Behaviour

Lately I have been thinking about human behaviour. Of course its complex, but I still want to try to understand why people behave the way they do. Does it have to do with education? Or family background? Or environment? Or is it something beyond that? Maybe.......our "karm"? Is it destiny? Is it something we are born with? Even in a one family no two people are the same; we may have similar interests or may look alike, but our behaviours can be alien from each other.

I am also trying to figure out why "I" behave the way I do.  When everything goes well, it goes well, and I feel satisfied and confident in my decision. But when it goes wrong, then all this thinking comes into play.

In some cases, I really had no idea what I was getting into.

In another case, it might be that I did not do my research properly and there was a chance that my decision would not be the best one.

But sometimes knowing fully well that there is no good outcome from my decision or the path I am choosing for myself; I still walk on it; and I invariably get hurt or duped and then I wonder why did I do it? I knew this was not going to be good for me yet........there was some unknown force that still made me go that route. Why?

And then all the self-doubts start arising;
  • Am I good decision maker?  
  • Am I really capable of recognizing good/bad character in people?
  • Did I have enough experience to deal with this situation?
  • Did I do the "right" thing?
In my case I would say “yes”, for most part for all the questions.

Then why do I get into something that I fully well know is not good for me? WHY? And so then finally I have only myself to blame - obviously - because I have no control over other people's behaviour.

The questions that come to mind then are:
  • Was there some weakness in me that I am trying to fulfill?
  • Did I feel that I am strong enough to handle all kinds of problems? Or that I don't have enough issues in my life and I can handle this one more?
  • Did I do the “right” thing – ethically and morally? And if I am doing the right thing, then why am I having doubts? And if I did not, then I have to bear the consequences of my actions (which does happen in some cases)
OR - most importantly...
  • Do I see the best in people and feel that they will do the right thing (ethically and morally) and never cheat me or lie to me? (Which means that either I am an optimist or naive).
My decisions are always based on happiness - mine and the other persons. My decision should make me happy and should not cause harm to anyone else. I will deliberately and consciously not harm anyone.  Sometimes people do get hurt - but was it because of me or themselves? That is for them to decide based on their own background and maturity. Although I know most times I will be blamed for their unhappiness also, but if I know I did the "right" thing - then I can sleep peacefully.

With all this going through my head, I happened to visit a faculty here in DSVV with hope to find a good book to read on meditation, to calm my mind.  Just my luck that I saw a book, "Chanakya on Management" by Ashok R. Garde. As with many others, I have always admired Chanakya neetee.  I think he is the most practical teacher in the world and is valid for all times. He was relevant then (330 BC), and he is relevant now. His teachings are as relevant to an individual as to an organization or a nation.

So far I have read the first chapter and it really has made an impact on me. I will try to write the gist of it for myself in my blog so I can read it whenever I feel I am having doubts about decision making or ethics.

Hopefully I will also find answers to why people make excuses for their behaviour; why they don't mean what they say; why they don't do what they say; why they always blame others for anything that did not work according to them etc......

Why do I come to DSVV?

This is my third visit to DSVV (Dev Sanskriti Vishv Vidyalay).  Everyone asks me why I go to DSVV? Very honestly I don’t have a good answer except that I find some comfort here.  The first time I came to volunteer here, I had no idea what I was going to do in the university; so my mind was open to anything and everything (see my blog here).  Luckily I was given 3-4 projects to work on. And I also read a lot on Pt. Sharma ji's literature. The second time I had an ulterior motive and because of which I did not really enjoy my stay that much (shows to go that one should not have expectations).  But this much I know that every time I have come to DSVV I found peace and quiet in a safe and spiritual environment.

Any place has good and bad aspects. As a single female going from USA I can see several good aspects in DSVV.

First and foremost I find it very peaceful here. The campus is quiet, there is no noise or disturbance. I also feel at peace when there is peacefulness outside. Water and electricity are always available. And I have a comfortable room. This is all mental peacefulness.

(Mahakal Temple)
The atmosphere is spiritual. In the middle of the campus is the Mahaakaal temple (Shiva temple). I have found a lot of peace in that temple. It is the best place on campus for me. I love sitting there and breathing in the ambience. There is such calmness in the air there. Although in the months of June and July that I have been there, it is really hot and I have sweat trickling down my back, but I still sit there and keep looking at the Mahaakaal, as if at any moment Shiv will listen to my prayers and appear.  6:00 pm is Naad Yog time, such nice meditation melody plays that for 15 mins you forget everything else.

I also learn a lot from reading Pandit Shriram Sharma’s books. Although my Hindi is poor and there are not that many English books there but I still try to read as much as possible while I am there. The books are so educational and informative about religion, culture and how to live your life. Reading these has changed my views and ways of thinking – I have become a more peaceful person. (Read my blog here on Pragyopnishad)

I can be in India and still maintain a level of independence. I am by nature a very independent person. I have always gone alone to the campus, and I like the freedom to be able to do anything anytime (not that there is much to do!) – although I will say that many times I have made good friends during my stay at the guest house and I have enjoyed activities with them also.

Another good thing is that I can involve myself in any therapeutic activity I want – yagya, yoga, naturopathy, Ayurveda etc. I always take advantage of these and try to learn something new.  Because of DSVV I have developed healthier eating habits. Good environment brings about the influence of good habits.

The campus is really very pretty. There are flowers everywhere – all kinds, and so fragrant. I miss that fragrance when I go back home. Especially during the night when the queen of the night blooms – it’s something else! There is a lot of greenery of trees. There is a mango orchard – obviously my favorite place to buy mangoes. There is the herb garden, where fresh herbs are used to make medicine and oils. Very nice area. The buildings are not bad at all – the architecture and color is very soothing to the eyes. And above all the campus, being residential, is all enclosed and gated, so very safe.

And finally: cooking and cleaning! That is one thing I do not miss at all. When I am in DSVV, I stay at the guest house. There the “bhaiyas” bring the breakfast, lunch and dinner from the cafeteria. I don’t have to think about what to cook, how much to cook or cleaning up.  All I have to do is show up and eat. I am not a picky eater, so eating moong daal every day is not a problem for me. I do get bored of it, but it’s not a problem because maybe this way I will lose some weight (hehehe).  Tea/coffee machine is available there. I can get that anytime I want. So generally the mind is free of performing all these mundane tasks of cooking and cleaning. Same goes for washing clothes. I can either use the machine or I can give my clothes to the dhobhi. Ah……nice break from home duties.

So finally you ask – but Sapna, “What do you do there?” Well…..I work on the projects given to me by the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Dr. Chinmay Pandya). He has been generous in giving me nice projects which I have enjoyed working on (making brochures, proofreading documents, collecting data etc.). I have made some friends of faculty here, with whom I can sit and chit chat on a variety of topics and attend some Science and Spirituality classes (with the permission of the professor); I will always get some Naturopathy treatment – which generally involves some massage (aahh – bliss). And then there is the reading – going to the library to read Pandit Sharmaji’s literature. I just wish I knew more Hindi. And yes, I have taken my computer so I can work on my own teaching material while I am on campus.

All in all a winning situation for me!!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Where Does my Strength Come From? Part 2 - A Theory

Everyone draws their strength from somewhere - family, friends, spiritual leader etc.....So what makes me strong? Where do I get my strength from so I can keep my inner Energizer bunny going?

Now that my background is out there (Read This Blog First), I can look back and think of all the places that my life could have gone in the wrong direction but it did not. There are many factors that make us who we are. Some will chalk everything to "destiny". Which may be true, but then it takes away our power of analysis and self-reflection. We will not attempt to do anything, which may also be destiny, but as a human being we should feel we have some control and we should have the ability to do self analysis.

My Home Life - My Parents (years 0-16)
My first credit of strength goes to my parents. We learn our values from home. The main things are written below - I will write details later for each phase of my life (coming later). All of these have brought a center of gravity for me - put me on a path with good foundation.
  • Togetherness - We were always together as a family; we traveled together, played cards together, went on walks together, studied together, always ate together. We were a close knit foursome. 
  • Communication - We talked a lot as a family. All the time at home, at walks, during playing cards or watching a movie - we would be talking - making comments. For a long time we had no TV - so talking was the thing to do in our home. My parents would communicate about so many things - friends, incidences, family structure etc. 
  • Written Communication - Since we were out of India our only way to communicate with relatives there was letters. So I learned how to write letters from my parents. Even now, I write letters or make sure I maintain my connections. Letter writing is a lost art these days.
  • Helping Others - My father is of a very helping nature. He would help anyone, anytime and in any circumstance. I realize now that many people don't have this characteristic. And that help, for most part, did not go unappreciated. I have thus learned that if anyone is in a position to help then one should, otherwise what is the point of earning money or having "things". 
  • Good Habits - My parents never talked about drugs or alcohol, but their off handed remarks were enough for me. I never even wanted to try any drugs etc. Even now I have no inclination towards any form of neurotransmitters (except caffeine - tea is a must!)
  • Social Life - We had a very active social life in the 12 years we were in Nigeria. The friendships were strong and we all depended on each other. I have carried on that tradition of making good friends. Luckily, for most part, I have been a good judge of character and have not been cheated too much. And where ever I have moved I have maintained my relationships.
  • Cultural Awareness - We are Hindus but we are not conservative. I grew up with an open mind and heart. Our friend circle included people of various countries, backgrounds, religions etc. I learned to mingle with everyone. Even now my friend circle is as diverse as a botanical garden.

From My School Years (until High School) (11-16 yrs)
These were some of the hardest years of my younger years. But here are the positives. I also learned some things that made me cautious and the depth of certain relationships.
  • Competitiveness - since I was the youngest one in all my classes all the time, I had to work harder to get good grades. And I had a brother in the same class, so there was that sibling rivalry. This characteristic always drives me to do better in whatever I do.
  • Daring nature - I don't know how, but I have always been strangely fearless. I don't care what people will think about me. It may have started at Vanasthali where I was the foreigner - the girl from Nigeria. I had to be able to do what I wanted to do, otherwise it would not get done.  And thus began my independent streak.....
  • Its Okay to be Alone - that was one lesson I learned in Vanasthali.  I did not, could not make friends, no matter how hard I tried - the Indian girls were just different. So I learned to be alone at 11 years of age. And I still work on this at this stage of my life.

College Years (India) (years 16-20)
Technically from this point onward I consider myself an independent adult. I used to come home for vacations but I felt sometimes like I was a guest in my own home.
  • Compromise - Living with relatives for four years taught me a lot of compromise. I really grew up fast in Meerut (B.Sc.). Hazing in college really teaches you to be humble. 
  • Not Taking Things Seriously - At that time the only way I could teach myself to get through some of hard days was that, "don't worry, its going to be over in a few months!" And that is because I was a guest for most part where ever I was - at home or in the hostel or wherever. This is good and bad. The good is that I can bear anything for a while. The bad is that I have never had to live with anyone in a long term commitment.
  • Trust and Friendship - I knew true friendships for the first time during my M.Sc. years. My girlfriends there were amazing. I had genuine, down to earth friends and we were all loyal to each other. 
  • The Power of Connection - Both my admissions, B.Sc. and M.Sc. were through connections of my uncles. I realized the value of connection and knowing people during those years - here in USA we call it networking. 
  • Hard Work - After enjoying too much in B.Sc. I realized that I had to do better in M.Sc. So I studied my behind off. And it did pay off.  

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (year 20)
The best advice I got was from my boss in the AAU chemistry department. He told me this as I was leaving for USA to do my PhD. He said, "Sapna, you don't owe anyone any explanation for your decisions." And boy he was right!

USA Years
Ph.D. taught me even more about hard work, having good friendships, value of social circle. When I started doing my post doc work I realized that chemistry was not an easy field to get into for women. During Ph.D. I was valued as an "Indian" student, although I did not feel Indian (I also faced discrimination because of my ethnicity). During post doc I felt the discrimination of being a female in the male dominated field of chemistry.

So Really.....
I still don't know where I get my strength or if I am even strong.  All my past experiences have contributed to my being able to stand up for myself, make my own decisions and be independent. My biggest comfort comes from the fact that I don't really have to explain myself to anyone. You can accept my decision or not - its up to you because I am going to do what I have made up my mind to do. I can give my reasoning if anyone is interested - and really most people are not.

There have been some heart breaks and major negative events on the way; I had to force myself to not get depressed. I have to keep going - mostly because I have only myself to depend on. If I give up on myself then I might as well give up on life - so better shake off the bad feelings and keep moving. If I stop, then life stops for me. I think being away from home since 16 years of age has given me some ability to protect myself by being stubborn and decisive. I feel I am the one who knows myself the best so I am the only person to make decisions for myself, and I am the only person responsible for myself.

Living alone has made me do things that I would never do when I was with friends: simple things like watching a movie alone or touring places by myself, driving in the loneliest of the highways in the pre-cell phone era (and keep praying that you don't have an accident). I realized that if I don't do these things that it was going to be my own loss.  Among the hardest things I have done, is pack up my home 5 times and move to a brand new city with no idea of what I was getting into (that part of strength I get from my parents who did the same thing!!).

This will be a whole separate blog, but I still want to mention that I have felt all sorts of discrimination: as a female, as a short person, as an Indian, as a foreigner (even in my own country - India) and so on. It made me realize that people are not very accepting in general. But since I have always been a fish out of the water, I have learned to swallow bitter pills and not let them pull me down. I don't know if that made me stronger; but it definitely made me more aware and I learned to live with it.

Last Word....
Couple other pieces of advice I got when I came to USA; and I found both to be very useful for me. I follow them at much as possible.
  • If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything.
  • If you do something, give it your best otherwise don't do it.

Where Does my Strength Come From? Part 1 - My background

Am I strong? How do I make myself do the best I can everyday, living alone for so long? What is in me that gives me inner strength? Life has had its challenges and I have been dealing with a lot of them on my own.  I have achieved some things I wanted to, but some are still eluding me. As I am nearing my mid-life I have been thinking about this a lot.I don't have good answers - but I have given it some thought. 

First of all - why did I think about this at all? My background is quite different from a number of my peers and the more I think about it, the more I wonder how did I manage it all? I feel comfortable in my life right now - my job, house, health, social life etc. I have been living alone for about 20 years and have had to take care of a number of things myself. Where does the strength for all this come from? I may have an idea...but I have to go through ALL my life on this earth so far.

The Early Years:
My mother's love showing in this picture
My first 8 yrs in Dehra Dun (where I was born), were okay for me. There are a few things I remember I disliked: one was that being the youngest of all my immediate cousins, I was teased a lot; I never felt like I fit with my classmates - don't know if it was because I was the youngest? My parents move to Nigeria (with my brother and I) when I was 8 years old. My father had just changed his career to begin a new one as a professor at University of Ibadan. 

After two years in Nigeria, when I was 11 years of age, my parents sent me to Vanasthali Vidyapeeth, Jaipur, India, for one year. I was in the 8th grade at that time. Living in the hostel was definitely not easy. It was one mishap after another. But most of all - it was lonely.

After one year, my parents decided to bring me back to Nigeria for four years to finish O and A level (10th and 12th). Not easy at all!! My brother and I were in the same class (and section!!)  It was hard work and since I was always the youngest in the class - I had to work twice as hard to understand what everyone got easily. I finished 12th grade when I was 16. 

The College Years:
I was sent back to India to do my B.Sc. in Chemistry. I am very thankful to my father that he persisted on me studying Chemistry. I was back in the hostel after four years of living at home. I was also under the guardianship of my maternal uncle (mama) who I had met only once before.  So I had to adjust living in someone's else's guardianship other than my parents. I was only 16, and I did my best! And I am grateful to my uncle for making sure I got admitted in RG Girls College. I would not change that college experience for anything!  

After two years my father made sure I did my M.Sc. in chemistry and the only place I got admission was JV Jain College in Saharanpur (thanks to another uncle).  This was an adjustment of mammoth proportion - although I did not realize it at that time. First, I was living at home in my aunt's (bua's - my father's sister) in-law's house (not in the hostel), and second the family was a joint family. My first and only experience of such a home. Oh I have stories!! Again, in retrospect this was the best time of my education yet.

Oh back to Nigeria after 4 years; here Papa advised me to take some classes to pass time until we packed up and moved to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. So I took two classes- sewing and typing. Both were very useful - typing more than sewing :-). 

All these four years I was flying back and forth to India from Nigeria on my own. Now that I think about it, I lived out of two suitcases for those four years. That in itself was interesting as I had such few belongings :-) Parents would pickup and drop me off in Lagos and relatives in Delhi.

Then time to pack and move to Addis. Oh what an adventure! I will write details in another blog but needless to say it was another experience of my life. Again, on Papa's advice, I volunteered in the lab of a wonderful professor and mentor (and thank God - an organic chemist!!) in the chemistry department, University of Addis Ababa. (Educationally speaking, Papa has been my mentor and director, and it has paid off - at least from my perspective.) I also gave my GRE exams and prepared for PhD in chemistry in the USA.

One year later, I was in University of Toledo admitted and starting my PhD. I was very different than the other Indian girls as they all came from India (I considered myself part African). I also had a cushy landing as my brother was already in the university so I never had to go through what other foreign students had to go through of settling in a new place.

My brother and I in Chicago
PhD time was most eventful and memorable time of my life. I would not change a thing!! I had the best boss, best lab mates and a great room mate (my brother!). I also finished my PhD in a good time of four years. 

I would say that my education was smooth from my point of view. Whether it was my uncles or father or brother - they all helped make my education a smooth process.  All I had to do was study hard.  Well...and I did have a lot of fun on the way; I enjoyed every aspect of my higher education. By age 24 I was ready for post doctoral work.

Post Doctoral Life:
With a little networking I got my first post doc position at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, a premier place for PDT scientists in the world - as it was the birth place of PDT. This was also my first time living on my own in my apartment, managing my money, driving around in the city on my own etc....had some micro hiccups.

After working there for one year, I felt my first major hiccup. I was jobless for the first time in my life, at a place in time where I was supposed to have secured a job and be independent. I was 25 years old. I had a very hard 4 months. I literally hit the pavement in Buffalo, as they say, to find a job. I was wondering what would happen to me if I no job? What about my status in the USA? Where would I live? The uncertainty was too much. I had to move to Detroit to live with my brother and parents and go back on a F-1 visa. Not pleasant. 

Luckily while I was working at Roswell, I had managed to secure an interview with another leading chemist in PDT, at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The interview happened in November in Ottawa, Canada (that interview was another experience I would rather not have again - ever!). I was offered a post doctoral position at UBC and I was happy to go to Vancouver, Canada the next year. One of my uncle's sister lived in Vancouver and they became my family there. It was such a blessing. 

My "Real" Working Life:
Just after 9 months in Vancouver, I was offered my first teaching job at Park University - how I got the interview is also another story! I interviewed in Seattle and nailed it! (When the provost gives you a hug after the interview you know you have the job!) I did not even know where Park University was on the map of USA. One month later, I moved to Parkville (near Kansas City) in January - middle of the snow season.

I have to mention that I had never been to Buffalo, Vancouver or Parkville before. I went to these places mostly by myself, found a place to live until I got a more permanent place. It was a little better in Parkville since the college had faculty housing, but I had not seen the work place!! What a surprise that was! A pleasant one. This will be a huge other blog.  Many key events happened while I was in Parkville: my H-1 visa, my marriage, my divorce, my green card and my citizenship. All very important events of my life.

My next move came after 11 years to Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia. I interviewed there, saw the place; but kismet would have it such that it was the worst two years of my life. I would never want to relive those again. I met some nice people and had some good experiences but as an academic - worst place ever.

My desperate search for job brought me to West Palm Beach, Florida, where I currently am. Here again were some adventures and mishaps very early on (mostly in the residential part of my life) - but all things happen for a good reason - right? As a result of those I quit renting and ended up buying my first home here which is now my little piece of heaven.

Then in 2011, I realized I was getting bored over the summer (and I did not want to teach) so I decided to go to India on my own (previously I had always gone with Papa because I never really felt safe traveling in India by myself). Went twice in two years and it was good experience. My blog for those years is already written.

In the meantime, I learned a lot about managing a house on my home, renovating, painting, finding a handy man etc etc. 

Its worthwhile to mention that while I was working in Kansas City, I went to University of Hawaii, Hilo, to teach organic chemistry during their summer semester (sadly, just one time). Lately I have a nice relationship with Capital University, in Columbus, where I have been teaching over summer, when I am not in India. So yet again I live like a gypsy!!

While at Park and Shenandoah, I was very active in attending conferences and workshops.  I got the chance to see so much of America through my professional development. I have driven in so many states and taken so many road trips.  I know for sure that I could do only because I was living in this wonderful - most comfortable country - USA!

So back to my original point - what makes me strong? Now that my background is all out there; I think I can assess what has helped me get here.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Work Management

This was sent to me a while back. It is about being productive and happy in a work environment.  I have edited it a bit to incorporate my own ideas.
  1. Be a team player:  Being a good team player is attained at the point of realization that the company and the team come before you. Outperforming in a team project lifts your morale, which obviously increases your chances of being promoted. Personal attitude matters a lot here. Not everyone in the team can be your good friends, never a possibility. What counts is your professional maturity of not voicing your difference against another while at work.
  2. Be a good observer:  There is no excuse if you miss to observe what is happening around you and how things are done in your organization. Observation means involvement too, rather an indirect participation. Here you should try to find out what are the values of the company and how are they enacted? What is the process of decision making? What is the risk tolerance level? You will get an accurate idea about the culture of your organization by finding out the answers for the above questions and thus you can design your style of work in your organization.
  3. Be a good communicator:  Communication doesn't only mean that you talk and develop a good rapport with everyone around you. Rather, it's how you let everyone know what you have achieved in a con vincible manner. But at the same time, a fallacy of exaggerating your success or taking undeserved credit for your role in teamwork will land you to neck-deep office politics. A good communicator creates friends and a makes even enemies talk good about him - he is the master of diplomacy.
  4. Respect all:  Respecting your subordinates is as important as your superiors. While you shower your boss with countless salaams and behave with people working under you or co-workers in an autocratic manner with the wrong notion of positional hierarchy, you can never expect respect from anyone. In the heavily complex professional and personal relationship web in an organization, you never know to whom someone might be connected.
  5. Manage your own behavior:  You got to be calm and cool at times of tensions. Refrain from gossiping, questionable judgments and spreading rumors. Grow beyond interpersonal conflicts. You should never compromise on your integrity. Professionalism and work ethics should be the basis of your actions. Above all, you should be extremely careful when revealing things to others - never blindly rely on confidentiality.