Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Competition--Merits And Demerits.

Whenever I see images of sportsmen,or women in sports pages--their muscles taut,facial expression grim,stance defying the law of gravity and adrenalin oozing from every pore--I am overawed by the spirit which drives them.Fierce competition enables them to beat existing records and establish their supremacy.Undoubtedly,a competitive spirit has many benefits.It paves the way for self improvement,motivates us to do hard work,master new skills,give out good performances and win accolades.Competitions also spur innovative thinking,keep our enthusiasm alive and raise our self esteem; thereby contributing to our success and happiness.So far,so good.

Unfortunately a competitive spirit can also have negative effects.If carried to the extreme it will deprive us of rest and recreation.That's not all-it can also generate undesirable traits like jealousy and violent thoughts.Downturns or failures will be hard to digest possibly resulting in inertia and melancholy.Unbridled rivalry goads us to outshine everyone on our radar but there will always be someone who is smarter stronger,or more successful than us;this becomes a relentless chase allowing us little peace or satisfaction.

Today most of us struggle to compete on many fronts--be it education,career,society,friends or family.In order to present a specific image we strive to be seen living in plush houses,wearing branded apparels,patronizing elite clubs and knowing the most influential gentry in town.All this makes a huge dent in our resources and energy levels and still leaves a lot which we hanker for.When we chase so many targets all at the same time stress is inevitable.No wonder so many of us are not satisfied with our lot.But in order to be happy or successful,we need to satisfy our own urges ,do what we think is suitable and important for us,rather than trying to prove to the world at large that we excel in all that is considered the done thing. 


This craving to always eclipse everybody else is at it's worst when it is implanted in growing children's psyche.It is true that children have to be motivated from the very beginning to study hard and do well in life.But it is a crime to rob a child of the natural pleasures of childhood and instead make him into a robot whose only aim in life is to win every time.

When we implant a fierce competitive spirit in a child from the very beginning and expect him to be at the top in every activity we expose him to dispensable stress.Overenthusiastic parents who express their disappointment or displeasure when the child cannot touch the goals laid down by them may  in fact hinder it's progress by burdening it with additional stress and anxiety.Children have certain innate tendencies and predilections which could conflict with their parents' designs.

I am reminded here of a child who often came home dejected due to his friends' bullying.His mother asked him to give it back in kind,to which the child replied ' But I don't like violence and fighting.'His mother's disapproval of his behavior must have deepened his anguish at being bullied.

Actually children should be allowed to develop the spirit of competition at their own pace from their own volition.Too much pushing can distress them.Overburdening them with targets to be achieved,skills to be learned can leave them breathless.This is precisely what is happening today.As soon as schools close for vacations they line up a horde of activities to snare the students back inside their precincts.Dance,drama,debate, art,music,judo-karate-and God knows what else!The parents too vie with one another to have their child recognized as the brightest all-rounder.

But how many toppers can there be in any field?When we lay inordinate stress upon winning are we not relinquishing the rest to grapple with their feelings of disappointment and inferiority best as they can?If only we lay less stress on winning and more upon just doing our best and bettering our performance a lot of heart-ache can be avoided.After all there is a lot of fun in participating and being part of a group---or just BEING !!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

When Strangers Leave Pleasant Memories :) :)

Memories are an important component of mental health and mental sickness.Pleasant memories are therapeutic in nature.They lift our spirits and drive out boredom.While most of our memories relate to our friends and relatives, some also stem from total strangers whom we accosted once and are not likely to come across ever again.Yet these memories linger on and bring a smile to our lips.

One such memory goes back to my college days.I had to get some certificates attested and not wanting to bother my father,I went to Tis Hazari courts and requested a magistrate to attest them.He did the needful but asked me if I had come alone .I said yes,to which he replied that I ought not to have done this because the courts are teeming with all sorts of unsavory characters.His concern for an unknown girl touched my heart --I mean how many persons go beyond the call of their duty to think about the welfare of a stranger?

Then there is this amusing incident which stands out because it is so innocuous.We had just passed a by-lane in our car when a boy came rushing on from that lane on his bike and dashed against our bumper.He stopped to say sorry and my husband cautioned him that had we been driving fast then he would have had it. And do you know what the boy says to this? 'Just think ,today is my birthday'.Now what are we supposed to reply to this revelation-we both burst out laughing.

This happened very recently.We had stopped at a red light when i noticed that my window was open while the AC was on.I asked my husband 'you have the AC on?',when suddenly,from my left,I hear a voice say 'it is so hot,see I have prickly heat all over'.I looked to my left-a very flustered youngster was sitting on his bike.I had not even noticed that anyone was so near and listening to what I had said.I was surprised at his innocent  spontaneity.

What is it about these one-time encounters that makes them memorable?You tell me.I am sure you too must have some such anecdotes which gladden your hearts.



Monday, August 4, 2014

Perfectionism--The Bane of my Life :(

We all love efficient workers,jobs well done--no flaws peeping,no loose ends dangling--perfect execution of any given task.But perfectionism ?Ahem,that needs more thinking.

I remember when I was in school we used to get three hours to solve a question paper of five questions.I used to take one and a half hour to solve the first question because I had to write a perfect beginning,mention all the salient points,recheck and finish with a flourish.Then I would look at my watch,gasp and start the second question which took another full hour,and that too,would be a pretty good answer.Half an hour left and three questions to be answered :( I could barely scratch a few lines for each one.The result? I could never (almost) go beyond the second division.This continued in my college life too.

Now,after having been a slave of perfectionism for umpteen years,I can pontificate upon it's drawbacks till I have bored you to tears but it is not as if I have gotten over it.If I am dusting, every object has to be picked up,the surface cleaned,the object wiped and then placed at it's designated spot.Doing this all over the house becomes so tiring that I am forced to overlook the dirt for a few days at least. Wouldn't it have been more pragmatic to just swish through the rooms on most days and save precious time and energy?Well,I am trying.

Rather late in the day,I have realized that perfectionism can be counter productive.Firstly it eats up a good part of my day as I run after inconsequential details following self imposed procedures.Then I feel dog-tired and have little stamina for other activities which too,are important.It makes me anxious,stressful and drained of energy because it is impossible to relax when a host of pending tasks are hovering over my head.The worst part is that I cannot lessen my burden by deputing jobs to others since nobody can do it the way I would want something done;so that I am always over-burdened with work.This gives me tremendous stress.I try to hurry up and tackle other issues but a lot is left untouched because of paucity of time.

The most essential me-time,when I could pursue my various hobbies or relax with a cup of tea and a good read is the worst sufferer.Even when I have made my tea just the way I relish it,I tarry in the kitchen to ensure nothing is left uncovered;the fan,cooler or AC has to be at the exact setting I want,there should be some music in the background and a good book at hand if I have to enjoy my tea perfectly.And by the time all this has been arranged my tea has gone ice cold.

Really this perfectionism can be self defeating at times.It often leads to procrastination because I will not take up something  till my stamina is at it's optimum and other conditions are conducive for perfect execution of a task.So there!

The worst fall-out of perfectionism is the effect it has on my family--they are often at the receiving end for being sloppy or disorganized.Going beyond the inner circle--socializing too--is not easy for the likes of me because we have fixed ideas about the kind of company and ambiance we desire.Moreover,to be honest,others too,must find us rigid and unbending.

Sometimes I fear that this habit of mine could transmute into OCD .Perfectionists are also vulnerable to quite a few diseases caused by the enormous burden they carry on their mind,body and souls.Therefore I am trying my best these days to be more lackadaisical and easygoing.There is a world of difference between being efficient,putting in your best,striving to raise the bar ; and being obsessed with unrealistic goals or sticking on to unproductive behavior.There are many spheres where good enough is good enough.


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Image courtesy google.