A few questions come to mind…

Our mind is always wandering. We are constantly thinking about something or the other. Things that happened in the day that has passed, things we need to get done for the next. There is so much inconvenient noise in our external environment. Cell phones, deadlines, whiny relatives and bad traffic just to name a few. But what about the noise we have in our heads? The relentless, self created noise of our compulsive thoughts.

We are seldom conscious of how much we time-travel in our minds. Our thoughts largely consist of memory and anticipation. Memories can be good or unpleasant. The future can look bright or bleak. We live in resentment and in regret of the past and worry about what is to come. But when are we happy with what we have at the moment. Are we ever in the moment at all?

We often overlook the simplest of pleasures. It could be the company of a person we are with or a beautiful view outside our window. It could be something simpler like how nice the warmth of the sun feels on our skin and how good the food tastes in our mouth. It could be just finding peace in being alone, doing absolutely nothing. The truth is we are seldom ‘here’. We are seldom happy with what we have and the way things are. We are either thinking about the good old days or hoping that tomorrow gets better. Or we’re obsessing over our sad past and worrying about the uncertain scary future. What is so bad about the present moment that we are constantly running away from it?

Everyone defines happiness in a different way. Someone could say I’ll be happier when I get a bigger, better car. For someone else it could be a membership of a prestigious club, designer clothes or an exotic vacation. A bigger house, a better salary, finding the right person, getting married, having kids, sending kids to a good school, getting the kids get married, having grand kids. At what point can we stop and say that we have achieved what we wanted and that we are happy? What will it take for us to be happy? What is stopping us from being happy now with what we have? If we achieve all that we want on our wish list, will we be happy then?

We live in ‘how things used to be’ or ‘how things can be’ not in ‘how things are’.
Why can’t we just be? Why are we always trying to get from one point to another? Where are we all rushing to? Why instead of living in the past or anticipating what is to come, can’t we be fully aware of the blessings we have and be grateful?

God said ‘be’ and the universe came into being. So why can’t we do just that? Just be. And let others be. Enjoy just being. Breathing. Existing. Relishing the moment to the fullest. Why can’t we accept ourselves for everything we are and accept others for who they are? Why do we judge? Who are we to judge really? I really wonder sometimes.

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Misery loves company

Most people are brought up with the belief that its wrong to share feelings of grief with others. Parents and people who shape our behavior in childhood sometimes wrongly discourage exhibiting our sadness. An example could be a mother telling her son, “Brave boys don’t cry when they get hurt.” or that “You’re grown up now, stop acting like a baby and wipe your tears.” This results in the child associating feelings of shame in showing that he is hurt or grieving and keep things bottled up. He feels like he should always keep a stiff upper lip and act tough in face of all catastrophes. Have you ever met someone who always smiles when he talks about something horrible that has happened to him? Someone who always seems to joke about tragic and morbid things?

Society as a whole discourages expression of one’s grief and emotional pain. This inevitably results in the cultivation of a population of emotionally inept people. Well meaning family and friends seldom know what to say or how to respond to a tragedy. Being grown up is taken to mean that you should be able to take anything in a stride. It’s considered effeminate for men to express grief and pain. Does being an adult mean you’re not supposed to feel? Does showing vulnerability make you less of a man? Pretending that something tragic hasn’t happened has become ‘normal’. Covering up anxiety, fears and feelings of despair is preferred and is the more ‘proper’ and ‘sensible’ thing to do. Not crying at the death of a loved one is considered the more ‘dignified’ way to grieve. Not dealing with pain has become the way to deal with it. This ‘normal’ is nothing but abnormal and people think its acceptable because that’s what everyone is doing. It’s important to realize that a person can never run away from emotional pain. It always catches up and manifests itself in the strangest of ways. Depression, aches and pains, phobias and personality disorders are just a few of the endless problems that come to mind. You can’t wish away anguish.

Since there are so many of us out there, not talking about our grief and sadness, it wrongly inculcates the belief that we are alone in how we feel. This misconception does nothing but add to our pain. Especially, since other depressed people assume that we are happier than we are. Happier than they are. This can lead to feelings of isolation and resentment. People can go around feeling that ‘everyone has it better than us’. Misery does love company and there is a great comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our pain. So parents tell your kids its OK to cry if they feel like it. And don’t feel shame in crying yourself. Don’t belittle someone else’s problems and imagine them to be trivial compared to your own. Everybody hurts sometimes. 🙂

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Why do some people like to inflict pain?

This is a question that I have been trying to find the answer to practically all my life. I have come across a lot of people who simply live to hurt someone. I am not going into the topic of physical violence or psychotic behavior in this article. I am just talking about normal, everyday people that you either know personally or randomly run into at a bus stop, at work or even at social gatherings. They are everywhere. People who seem to emanate a lot of negative energy. They generally have a frown on their face and it seems that the only thing that can make them smile from the heart is to humiliate or emotionally torment someone. They live to get a one up in a conversation, to make a nasty personal comment/joke about someone, to start a fight or confrontation, or to get the last word in. They can turn the energy of the room around and make it uncomfortable. They live to cause misery and discomfort in others because it gives them a psychological pay off. This ‘pay off’ is so gratifying and rewarding that it continues to reinforce this behavior until it becomes a primary trait in their personality.  The rush and joy they get from behaving this way encourages them to repeat such behavior. They relish conflict and can only achieve inner peace by going to war.

Why do some people become this way? From what I have come across in various books and articles it seems that these people often feel very isolated and angry.  Perhaps they have had many painful experiences themselves in their lives. Maybe they view intimidating behavior as frightening and have been dominated and scared into submission in the past. As a result they realize that a feeling of being superior can only be maintained by putting others down. ‘They won’t hurt me, if I hurt them first.’ They are so frustrated  that they feel its their right to get angry rather than to deal with their own feelings. They like to portray the image that they don’t care or that they don’t need anyone, when in fact they are very shy and sensitive inside. The keep people at a distance by projecting negativity and are threatened by affection and caring relationships.If someone reaches out and tries to be genuinely affectionate and caring they reject that person and his intentions.

Now you may say we all get like that sometimes and that it’s not necessarily a big deal. Yes we all have had times when we have lashed out in frustration or had fun at the expense of someone else. Sometimes we all feel angry and get aggressive. In most relationships that’s the only way people know how to be with each other. But if this behavior starts to become our dominant behavior, our reflex way of thinking and eventually a way of life, then it’s a problem. If a person feels that he is entitled to hurt others because he has been victimized in the past and uses this way to cope with life, something is very wrong. Eventually this becomes so much of a habit that the person stops seeing good in anyone and anger and resentment becomes his primary emotion. They often feel like victims themselves and reach the conclusion that they can only feel better by victimizing someone else. It is said that Hitler felt that he and his nation were the victims of the European Jewry. The truth is that no one can put an end to this behavior than the person himself. And usually that doesn’t happen because there are too many people out there encouraging it. All we can do is guard our own thoughts and not become part of the cycle of toxicity.

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Reading ‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle

So far I am on the third chapter of the book and I am already glued and to a certain extent, enlightened. The book talks about how we can either choose to live in the past or the future or control our thoughts to stay focused on the present.

I think it’s a must read for people who think compulsively, which I’m told is a large majority of us. It talks about how we can achieve a heightened state of self awareness and improve how we live and treat others.

I highly recommend it to anyone especially those who find themselves worrying and constantly exhausted by thinking and over analyzing everything.

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My thoughts on primers that I have used.

I have extremely oily skin on my T Zone. If I apply foundation and powder on top of moisturizer my skin looks very shiny within an hour. Reapplying powder results in my face looking caked up. The fact that I live in a very hot humid part of the world doesn’t help.  So for me a mattifying primer is critical for my foundation to stay fresh looking, if not all day then at least for a few hours. I also need something to conceal my open pores which look enhanced if I use any blush or bronzer with shimmer or reflects in them.

I have used 3 skin primers so far. They are M.A.C matte gel, M.A.C Prep + Prime skin and the Body Shop Matte It primer. My favorite of these 3 is the M.A.C matte gel. I apply it all over my face with my M.A.C 190 foundation brush. I feel this gives me a more even application and prevents product from being wasted. A pea sized amount of this is enough for all of my face. I focus mostly on my T-zone and blend it outwards to cover my jaw line and hair line. I usually apply liquid foundation on top of this, followed by powder. I find that this primer helps my foundation stay on longer. I don’t need to apply powder for 3-4 hours. It really makes my pores look more refined and my foundation look smoother and more natural. If the weather is humid and hot I skip the moisturizer and just apply this primer to my bare face. If its dry then I apply moisturizer underneath and it works just as well. One draw back I found with this primer is that I experience painful breakouts, especially around my jawline the next day of using this. I have had this happen to me 2-3 times and I have not used it in a while. But despite this I feel it gives the best finish. I will continue to use it and maybe avoid it on my jawline next time.

The Body Shop Matte It primer doesn’t work as well as the M.A.C Matte gel, but its ok if I use it in the winters, when my skin isn’t as oily. I use it by mixing a pea sized amount of this with a pump of my liquid foundation and applying it to my skin with my M.A.C 190 brush. I have tried applying it separately with my fingers and the foundation brush before I apply the foundation on top. But I noticed that the application is much smoother when I mix it with the foundation before. I think this primer does not work well with powder foundations as the result was a cakey look.

The M.A.C Prep + Prime Skin did not work very well for me. This was the first skin primer I ever bought and later found out that it’s not meant for oily skin at all. My experience with this foundation proved this. My face gets oily faster than it would if I weren’t wearing any primer at all. By this I mean within half an hour of application! After that any blush and bronzer I may be wearing literally slides down on my cheeks and generally I start looking very shiny. I would not recommend this primer for anyone with oily skin and/or large open pores. This primer has tiny reflects in it that enhance the appearance of pores.

I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions on this, please do include them in the comments below.

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