Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Build Self-Efficacy

Self-efficacy is the key to success outside and peace within. Self efficacy is the belief you hold about what you can and cannot make happen in your life. It does not refer to the actual skills you have, but what you believe you can accomplish with existing skills and the faith that any new skill can always be developed. It is about believing you have the ability to pull together your social, physical, thinking and behavioral skills to accomplish bigger, bolder goals than you originally thought possible. It is stretching beyond your limits and achieving a better fulfilled life.

Self-efficacy is defined as having a core belief or conviction about one's abilities, efficiency and effectiveness. Self efficacious people have the initiative, a high level of confidence, considerable amount of self esteem, think analytically, and are action oriented and persistent. They give up only after the task is accomplished.

This is normally defined as believing in one's own ability to be successful at any given task. Self-efficacy has been linked to workplace performance and specifically to overcoming the challenges which life throws at us. Logically, greater self-efficacy may either enhance ability to tolerate negative gravity, or it may increase the ability to seek positive in any given challenge. It plays a major role in how we perceive situations and how we behave in response to different situations. A person with high self-efficacy tends to set very high goals and remains motivated despite the threat of failure.

People with a strong sense of self-efficacy:

• View challenging problems as tasks to be mastered.
• Develop deeper interest in the activities in which they participate.
• Form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities.
• Recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments.
• Have the "I can do it" and "I will do it" attitude.

It is this certainty that makes them self motivated and able to handle a task and overcome obstacles and challenges with little help from outside. They set goals and execute the actions required and find the resources, ideas and solutions. They make good leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Get the basics right. Either you master a situation or the situation masters you.

Self-efficacy, being a situation-specific form of self-confidence, is enhanced when the perception of self is increased. Positive internal expectations lead to intrinsic motivation. There are many areas of the self that can affect self-efficacy in either positive or negative ways. A great deal of emphasis is placed on the qualities of a positive attitude which impacts levels of motivation, including positive self-expectancy, self-image, self-control, self-esteem, and self-awareness. A positive self-expectancy occurs when an individual usually gets what he or she expects. A positive self-image occurs when an imagined success becomes an actual success; in such a situation, positive self-talk has an enormous impact. Positive self-control is when an individual is capable of accepting responsibility for outcomes. Finally, a positive self-awareness breeds a sense of strength because individuals know themselves as well as where they are going. The importance of positive expectations is a quality that describes the thoughts of a champion. To summarize, positive self-expectations increase motivational levels.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. Maintaining or improving your belief in your abilities is the first step to prepare to win. Mental toughness is vital in these challenging times. There is no doubt that people with a resilient self-efficacy and a positive outlook will emerge from the current economic downturn with greater momentum. Knowing that you can influence and shape your thoughts offers you a powerful edge. One has to develop a powerful positive visualization for any given situation or challenge.

For instance, people high in self-efficacy take better care of themselves, see tasks as something to be mastered, and they feel more empowered. They’re not controlled by circumstances. They see setbacks as challenges to be overcome and can cope with hardship better than those with low self-efficacy. They learn from failure and channel it into success. People higher in self-efficacy also have a greater sense of motivation and persistence.

Visualization is a powerful tool. Not only is seeing believing, when it comes to self-efficacy, believing is seeing…. results. Visualization not only primes your brain for success and enhances self-efficacy; it also helps you to see the smaller steps you need to take to reach your end goal. Another great way to build self-efficacy beliefs is to elicit encouragement from friends and family and to stay away from those who discourage you. Quality social support is a key ingredient to self-efficacy, persistence and ultimately success. Find your best advocates and invite them to be part of your campaign for change.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Beauty Of The Soul

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper - Aristotle. Use adversity to nurture your soul, for soul growth and, inner beauty.

It too often happens that beauty is more admired and flattered than any quality of mind or character. But what of beauty which is magnetic and uplifts the soul? When one sees the inner beauty of a person, then that may happen. Beauty is one of humanity’s most utmost quests. It is where the essence of beauty lies. What is within can make the soul happy. What is without is merely for the eyes. What the eyes see are merely on the surface, but what the soul sees is much deeper.

Beauty of the soul does not always attract public observation. It is that which not only has a substance, but a spirit, and to appreciate it we must studiously and intimately know it. In conversation this inward beauty of soul will become luminous, when the mind shines through the casket.

To make the right choices in life, one has to get in touch with our soul. If one concentrates on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul... I believe that to nurture my soul and to fulfill my soul's purpose, I must learn from every event in my life. I must come to realize that every experience has within it a seed of a tremendous gift -- a soul gift – making it further beautiful every time.

Some young women are terribly annoyed because they have a few freckles or moles on their face. What are freckles on the face compared with spots on the -soul!- spots of anger, greed, jealousy and proud. The face may be all black, yet the character may be fair. One may not have outward beauty but we all have inward grace. Neither beauty nor money can compensate for lack of a lovely spirit and bearing. As physical beauty may be cultivated by proper attention to health and beauty care, so moral beauty may be enhanced by giving heed to the conditions of soul health. Curls and cosmetics, paints and powders, enamels and ointments, are all in demand to increase the beauty of the human face, but it would take half the pains to beautify the soul- simultaneously what a glorious transfiguration would occur in the essential natures and lives! A kind heart and noble soul will transform an ordinary body into a form of loveliness. That person is beautiful whose radiant face shows the overflowing of a kind and innocent heart.

Spirit searches, Soul waits. ... When they touch magic happens; when they embrace miracles unfold. . . . The divine love and enduring beauty of our Soul and Spirit can reveal the hidden pieces of our fabric of being, and the missing pieces in our mosaic of growing, changing, and evolving. They can be the threads and the glues: the threads that can weave together our fabric and the glues that can hold together our mosaic. With the divine love and enduring beauty, one can relinquish the traditional threads and glues of guilt, fear, struggle, and control. You can break free of your anchors to the past and your tethers to fear and pain. You can be free of the shame, the blame, and the conflicts of the past, surrender all the past for good and possess a beautiful soul.

One's original nature is soul that is loving, peaceful and wise, positive, good and contented. These are the innate qualities possessed by each soul, but due to clouds of materialism, anger, greed, jealousy and proud, we are unable to see the original qualities with which the soul is born. We have to just undo the artificial stuff to get back to the original nature, realize and live with its true beauty, enjoying a happier, content and fulfilling life.

Beauty nurtures the soul by serving the spirit. Beauty takes you out of your cramped, merely personal worries and sets you down in a field of eternity. The essence of spirituality is an enlargement of vision. The experience may only last a moment, but in these matters a moment is enough. You need a transcendent sense of things, not one that lets you escape from your situation but one that gives you an added perspective. In this, beauty and religion serve similar purposes, and so it's no wonder that they are so often allied.

I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God, but God eluded me.
I sought my brother, and I found all three....Unknown.

Holding a hand doesn't mean chaining a soul.... True intimacy is the opening of one soul to another. Once you see into someone's soul, you're attached forever...No gift on earth could compare with it, for it touches us more profoundly than our imagination can envision. When two people share their lives, freely, openly, without reservation, it is as if each had become complete....let us discover our self through each other – the beauty of our soul through the others eyes.

The man is a success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who leaves the world better than he found it; who never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who looked for the best in others and gave the best he had..

Neither genius, fame, nor money, shows the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that..., kindness towards other fellows is the true beauty of the soul. So sought out with your fellow, whether life partner, lover, brother, coworker, relative, friend …..and attain a beautiful soul within.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life Is Ironic

Life is so ironic, to understand fully, it takes sadness to appreciate real happiness, absence to value presence, noise to distinguish silence, a broken heart to find true love and trials to understand prayers.

It’s amazing how life is… Funny, ironic, strange, beautiful, sad, happy, painful, joyful. There are so many different shades to this wonderful creation of God and gift to mankind. It is like a beautiful painted picture and all these emotions are its various shades/colors, if it was all happy, and one color the beauty of the painting would be lost, since it has so many colors, and each color has its own role to play, altogether it looks so beautiful.

It's important for us to understand that when things find their way into our lives which are unexpected and/or may prove to be difficult to understand or even to make sense of, they often-times come with the loving hand of our Father in Heaven guiding us to where He would have us be. We must be honest and admit that we spend a great deal of time arranging our lives in a way that proves comfortable for us. However, our loving Father knows that this is not always what is best for us.

Troubles rouse our spirits, and constrain us to call upon the Lord in good earnest, when we feel a need of that help which we only can have from Him.
What do you do with the "but God" moments in life? When God interrupts your good plans, how do you respond? A great life lesson about how we view things that happen to us.....

Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments. Life's troubles and trials are only a part out of a big picture. We must be slow about drawing conclusions... Although we may not understand our circumstances, God does. His plan works everything out in His time, for our good and our growth....God, He is the one who has painted the complete picture of our life we are the one who sees it in parts, that is why at times we are overwhelmed and confused why this? why me? why now? But we can always pray: if we can’t have what we want, let us want what we have.

Note the word "consider." We have a choice concerning how we will view our trials. Are trials really divine paybacks for sin or a God sent opportunity to grow in spiritual maturity? It is so easy to react to difficult circumstances rather than carefully and thoughtfully respond to them. To react is natural. Responding to that same situation demands discipline. The issue is not what I feel like doing, but rather what should I do. Is God in control or am I alone? Trials offer an opportunity to make a conscious choice to think naturally or supernaturally.

There is something to be learned from praying even when it seems there is no answer. We learn important lessons in faith when we persevere in prayer and eventually see God’s miracle in our life, we would learn not to lose heart. No matter how bad your situation might seem, no matter how hopeless the circumstances, or how helpless you might feel, don’t lose heart. It may seem like God is far away and has abandoned you, but that is never the case. Instead, God wants you to learn how to persevere in your faith. Faith does not grow when everything is smooth and easy; faith grows when we are facing suffering or trials.

God will sometimes refuse our requests or delay in answering them. At those times we may become very frustrated and feel like giving up.
To those who persevere in prayer, God will act speedily. This should encourage us not to give up, not to lose hope. God will answer us according to his divine clock and by his eternal timing. It may sometimes seem like it’s taking too long, but years later we will understand the purpose of God’s timing.

The last thing is that true miracles happen in the heart. So when you find that people are especially kind to you and you are astonished how someone you would not expect has come to your rescue, or fixed something which you could not fix yourself, all through the goodness of that person's heart, you may draw the parallel that God has worked a miracle for you through that person's heart.

Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything – In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.

Life is ironic so let us get inspired with the most minuscule ironic things in life. Little joys, people, things, incidents… that breathe of fresh air, smile on a child’s face, morning sun rays filtering through leaves of the tree, that lovely chat with an old friend, a warm hug with your loved one and all other small things, which are plenty to be seen all around, each day.

Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turned out. Let us enjoy the irony of life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Look Fear in The Face

The most dominant emotion in our society is fear. We are afraid of losing the things we have worked so hard to buy, afraid of rejection and failure, afraid of certain parts of town, afraid of certain types of people, afraid of criticism, suffering, heartache, change, telling people how we truly feel, and we are afraid of ourselves. Some fears we are conscious of, some are subconscious. Fear can paralyze the human spirit and stop any of us from living life.

For looking fear in the face, one requires courage, by courage I mean the ability to face those imaginary fears and reclaim the far more powerful life that you've denied yourself. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of going broke. Fear of being alone. Fear of humiliation. Fear of public speaking. Fear of being ostracized by family and friends. Fear of physical discomfort. Fear of regret. Fear of success.

How many of these fears are holding you back? How would you live if you had no fear at all? You'd still have your intelligence and common sense to safely navigate around any real dangers, but without feeling the emotion of fear, would you be more willing to take risks, especially when the worst case wouldn't actually hurt you at all? Would you speak up more often, talk to more strangers, ask for more sales, and dive headlong into those ambitious projects you've been dreaming about? What if you even learned to enjoy the things you currently fear? What kind of difference would that make in your life?

Have you previously convinced yourself that you aren't really afraid of anything... that there are always good and logical reasons why you don't do certain things? It would be rude to introduce yourself to a stranger. You shouldn't attempt public speaking because you don't have anything to say. Asking for a raise would be improper because you're supposed to wait until the next formal review. They're just rationalizations though - think about how your life would change if you could confidently and courageously do these things with no fear at all.

Look fear directly in the face, means you might be scared, afraid but still go ahead and face it, do it, rather attempt more on the things you are afraid to do. Life does not give us a second chance, let us not hold back our self, take that first step and face the fear, you shall come out much stronger and courageous and in the process enjoying life more.

The most important point I want to make here is that real courage is a mental skill, not an emotional one. Neurologically it means using the thinking neocortex part of your brain to override the emotional impulses. In other words, you use your human intelligence, logic, and independent will to overcome the limitations you've inherited as an emotional mammal.

Fear is not your enemy. It is a compass pointing you to the areas where you need to grow. There is some weakness of your own, which is holding you back. So when you encounter a new fear within yourself, celebrate it as an opportunity for growth, just as you would celebrate reaching a new personal best with strength training.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the acquired ability to move beyond fear. Each day we must pass through the jungle of doubt and cross the valley of fear. It's only then that we can live on the high peaks of courage.

Take a moment to wander through history (family, national, and human) think about the men & women you most admire. Who would they be without courage? Courage is the father of every great moment and movement in history.

Courage is essential to the human experience. No one is born with courage. It's an acquired virtue. Like most qualities of character, when practiced we become stronger. Everything in life requires courage. From asking someone out on a date, to starting your own business, to struggling to overcome addiction, Life takes courage.

So much can be accomplished in one moment of courage. The measure of your life will be the measure of your courage. Courage is what brings us to life, and makes everything possible. Yet, courage is the rarest quality in a person. By getting to the root cause of our fears and doubts we can examine them in the light and re-frame them for the future. This will enable us to function in a more satisfying and rewarding manner. We become what we are through our decisions, all of which require courage.

Lack of courage is often express in the decision not to make a decision. Conquer your fears and live fully. Stop and look fear in the face, it will cease to bother you. Stay with the fear and be a victim, face the fear and be a conqueror/ winner, choice is yours.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Reconnecting With Roots

With all the hustle bustle and responsibilities of our busy lives, many of us have lost the ability to see the joy and wonder in the world around us and to feel connected with it.

Often our lives drift aimlessly like a boat in the rough sea and we run a life of frustrations and despair. The inner self craves for reconnecting with our roots but mental boundaries often act barriers in evolving. Little do we realize that life without family reconnection is just like a fish out of water? I still fondly remember how as a child my parents carried me along to marriages and social events, where one meets all relatives. The acceptance and love we give to others comes back to us tenfold.

Today the growing individualism, social comparisons, outperforming each other, and discontentment has made it difficult for us to integrate attitudes, feelings, and thoughts with the value systems and fellow feelings. The nuclear family system is slowly distancing us from our roots. As a mute spectator we witness how relationships are shifting from 'care and share' to 'give and take'. People forget that honest family relationships are an integral part of human system.

When we lovingly and mindfully reconnect with our roots, we simultaneously strengthen our love for ourselves, and our interpersonal relationships become more joyous.

Sometimes, painful memories encourage us to disconnect from our personal histories, and sometimes, we just get caught up in the present. The suffering and the disappointments we experienced in the past lead us to disconnect with people and stay in our shell, just to avoid getting hurt again, we lock our emotions and self expression in one of the corners of our heart and become more like a machine. Much of it lies completely unprocessed in our store consciousness. One needs to revisit it and heal it, so that in our present, the life can be complete and more fulfilling. It is like reclaiming a long forgotten part of our own self. Reclaiming one’s true self.

We can choose to ignore or forget our family heritage, but at what price? Not only does it provide each of us with pride and history, but also it helps us to be grounded, living a life which is happy, peaceful, loving, and fulfilled. So take pride and take the time to reconnect to your roots. How to start? Ask your parents, uncles, aunts, and cousins for leads that will allow you to locate distant family members. Then make an introductory contact, probably with a letter. Find out if they have e-mail. Exchange photos. Let it progress naturally. Will a phone call be next? Then a visit?

Last whole year was a year of reconnection for me. I got some new assignments for Amritsar city, and I was overwhelmed number one as I had never visited Amritsar before and secondly more as it was the birth town of my father, little did I know till then, what was reconnecting to my roots. I have visited many places not only in India but all over the world, but trust me visit to Amritsar was above all of them. The air felt so much more cozier and warmer, the smell of the earth and people were much as if my own, altogether I don’t have words to put it, but it was unique which I never felt before, although I was alone in a new city but it felt like my extended home. And this is the feeling of reconnection, the food there tasted like the one cooked by my grandmother, I felt once again reconnected to her, a great feeling. She had expired some 18 years back, and we were not at her side during her last days, although I had spent an entire childhood with her. Similarly each one of us has some missing link with our roots, which can only be connected once you revisit.

Another memorable incident which I remember in one of my visits to Amritsar, I had to give a presentation to local retailers on our shopping mall. Just 15 minutes before the presentation my boss said, Sonia no English, you should give it in the regional language Punjabi. At home or with my relatives, I never speak Punjabi, although we listen and understand it very well. Now it was a great challenge and gave me shivers before presentation, but I just told myself it’s my mother tongue and my home ground, I can do it. The crowd was much more than expected and very local and regional, I don’t know from where did I got all that strength, from where did the words came, from where the sentences were formed but in the end I received appreciation from all. At times we don’t know our own potential, inside us lies the resource and limitless ideas to solve the mysteries of all challenges we come across. And in the process we get reconnected to our own self.

It felt as if I am reconnected to a half-forgotten, long buried part of myself. Not just a part of me, but the part that is truly creative and carefree and connected to those around me. Lovely feelings.

Later during the year I connected with my old schoolmates through facebook and that was also a great feeling as some part inside me which carried the hurt for several years, was healed, and it happened so gracefully. Most of the time we realize the hurt which we are carrying for years and drinking the poison of resentment, hardly the other person is concerned or even knows about it, I realized it was not anyone else who hurt me, as they did something so many years ago, for few minutes, I was the one who kept it alive and nourished it for so many years, I had chosen them to hurt me.

After all this reconnection and much more, for the first time in years, I had genuine, honest-to-goodness. I started talking more, laughing more, writing more, and creating more. It actually creates magic. Basically living much more, at times, reconnecting with the past–is the beginning of something bigger and better. The challenge lies in knowing when and what to shed and when/what to keep. Like most things, I suppose it is a learning process. I look forward to connecting further. It’s a constant dance with time and part of what makes life so very interesting.

You needn't limit this to family or students with whom you were once friends? But even with your coworkers, ex colleques, from your past companies? It is an amazing blessing to have an extended circle of family or friends of different religions and cultures. Through them, you can learn much more about life, you shall find that reconnecting to your roots will influence your life in many meaningful ways. And above all is the connection to God, our source from where we came, take some time out during each day to connect to this universal energy also.

Like  a tree flourishes as long as it keeps contact with its source and origin, the roots and through roots to the soil. Pull it out and it shall wither and die.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Contaminated Happiness

Most of us seek happiness throughout our lives, not happy with what we have but want something different or more. Many look for happiness in the wrong places, such as material possessions - a large house with all the latest luxuries, a luxury car, or a well-paid job or may be in reputation, good looks, power, excitement or adventure. Many try to find the meaning of their life in relationships with their family and circle of friends. All these things can make us happy for a short while, but they can also cause us much worry and suffering. They can never give us the perfect lasting happiness that all of us, in our heart of hearts, long for. Since the key to happiness is in the hands of another person, object, place or situation, one can never be truly happy, it shall only be linked outside.

As an end in themselves worldly attainments are hollow; they are not the real essence of human life. The happiness of living beings is rare and fleeting, and this is only a contaminated happiness that is in reality the nature of suffering, as we increase the cause of our worldly happiness, our happiness will gradually change into suffering. You are hungry, got food became happy, ate too much, caused suffering. You were lonely, found love- became happy, wanted too much, got possessive, suffered. Without job, found one, very happy, gave in your best, wanted promotion, incentives, suffered. And so on. Since suffering is coming from happiness, thus it is coined as contaminated happiness, only to end in despair.

When things go wrong in our life and we encounter difficult situations we tend to regard the situation itself as the problem, but in reality whatever problems we experience come from the side of the mind. If we were to respond to difficult situations with a positive or peaceful mind they would not be problems for us; rather we regard them as challenges or opportunities for growth and development. Problems arise only if we respond to difficulties with a negative state of mind. Therefore, if we want to be free from problems we must learn to control our mind.

Suffering, worry, depression and pain are feelings—of mind—so, they exist inside and not outside our mind. If while experiencing adverse conditions, our mind remains calm and happy through the practice of patience, we do not have a problem. By keeping a peaceful mind in difficult situations we are far more likely to find solutions and respond constructively.

When you find yourself reacting with anger or opposition to any person or circumstance, realize that you are only struggling with yourself. Putting up resistance is the response of defenses created by old hurts. When you relinquish this anger, you will be healing yourself and cooperating with the flow of the universe. Motivated by the truth inside you, you can face any threat because your inner strength is invulnerable to fear. Live in the present, for it is the only moment you have. Keep your attention on what is here and now; look, for the fullness in every moment. Accept what comes to you totally and learn from it, and then let it go.

Don't struggle against the infinite scheme of things. Instead, be at one with it. Relinquish your need for external approval. You alone are the judge of your worth; and your goal is to discover infinite worth in yourself, no matter what anyone else thinks.

The key to being truly happy—is a way of life, and you have to choose that as your way of life. I have to be happy and that is my way of being. You have to seek happiness in whatever comes your way.

Helping and sharing with others than to be self-centered and caught up in one’s own problems, cares and concerns. Living the way of ‘give’, as opposed to the way of ‘get’.Do not wait for life’s circumstances to come together to provide you the perfect life you always dreamed of living, rather be happy with what you have got.

Even if someone I have helped
And of whom I had great hopes
Nevertheless harms me without any reason
May I see him as my holy Spiritual Guide.

Our normal reaction when faced with a problem is to try and find someone to blame, but if we look at the situation with wisdom we shall realize that we created the cause of that problem through our negative actions.

The main cause of all our problems is necessarily a negative bodily, verbal, or mental action that we our self created somewhere, sometime in the past; other people’s actions are only secondary conditions that enable our negative karma to ripen.

If they do not provide the conditions for our negative karma to ripen, someone or something else definitely will; for once the main cause has been established, unless we purify it through purification practice, nothing can stop the effect from occurring sooner or later. Instead of blaming others for our problems we should use our misfortunes to deepen our understanding of karma.

By training our mind to recognize the spiritual lessons in all our experiences, we can come to view everyone and everything as our Spiritual Teacher, and we can turn any and every situation to our advantage. And stay away from the vicious cycle of contaminated happiness.