Broken… or… Beautiful

Sania was reading a book and got interrupted when the doorbell rang. She opened the door and greeted Anirban, her husband.

“Tea or Coffee?” she asked.

“Let’s have tea. I will freshen up in 5 minutes.” he replied.

Sania started crooning and went to the kitchen with a smile on her face. The evening was lit. Sania was liking the calm, pleasant, positive evening. Anirban joined for tea and they started talking about their day.

“Before I forget, we have been invited for dinner today by Aakash and Amrita.” Anirban said.

“Ok”, said Sania.

Suddenly, the vibe of the day changed for her. She started feeling a bit jittery.

Aakash is Anirban’s colleague and Amrita his wife. The couple likes dining out and road trips for exploring new places. Sania used to be excited to meet them initially. However, she realised that every time she met them, there was something that made her uncomfortable. It was the couple’s cynicism about everything and everyone. Every discussion led to them ending into judging someone, criticising someone or just gossiping about someone. Sania didn’t quite like that vibe. She also felt guilty of being a part of it, even though she never contributed. She would just smile and, she felt that by even smiling she encouraged those conversations.

Finally, they met for the dinner. Sania appreciated the preparations and before she realised, the couple started talking about their bad dinner experiences at another colleagues’ house. This was the beginning. Soon, they were talking about someone’s looks or mocking someone’s tragedies. They asked Sania if she had some gossip to share. When she said, she didn’t have any, they started pushing her to share something.

“Come on! There would be something spicy that you know. How about the Department Head’s wife? You met her last week.”

“Ok. Tell us about Department Head. Don’t you think he is too lean? Looks malnourished. Doesn’t he?”

Sania couldn’t take it anymore.

She said, “To be honest, I wonder if I have ever come across anyone who looks perfect in all aspects and has a perfect life all the time. And somehow, I have come to understand it’s our deviations from the standards of a perfect look or a perfect life that make us unique, that make us stand out and that make us beautiful. People with broken hearts, people with broken teeth and people with broken lives have stories to tell. They are adventurous, courageous and are living life to the fullest. For me, broken is beautiful. So, to answer your question, I have met only beautiful people with beautiful lives. In my view, these people deserve only respect and appreciation. I have promised myself to not judge or criticise them.

Not that anyone understood what she was trying to say. However, Sania started feeling better once she expressed this.

The Japanese art form Kintsugi is built on the idea of strength and beauty in imperfection. When a ceramic object breaks, the broken pieces are carefully mended by artisans and the golden repairs are visible — yet somehow beautiful. 

Fight against no one

We become what we can’t fight.

We want to stay sane. Why? Don’t know. But we have to. There are things, in numbers quite large, we don’t like. We want them to not happen. We want them to end. We don’t fight them. Sometimes we “can’t” fight them. Why fight a battle that we will lose after we appear to win?

We are cowards. We are scared to risk what we may end up losing after we win. It kills us from inside. We fight against our own selves. This is a battle we choose over the one we can’t afford to lose, or win.

We are losers. We use our fingers, not our arms to convey what we want. We just can’t fight back.

“What the hell do I do?”, asked a voice inside me, one day.

“Why do you have to fight it? It is the way it is. Stop troubling yourself over it. You are not responsible for everything wrong that’s happening around you.”, came a reply in a slightly different voice.

When there is a conflict inside, one of the sides is assigned to the blood pumping organ and the other to the manager of organs. I couldn’t identify which one was which.

The following day, I argued against the notion of chasing dreams.

Heroes in our Homes

(1)

He is sitting silently on the hospital bench. 

“Congratulations! You have been blessed with a baby girl,” the nurse announces excitingly.

He stands up.

“Would you like to see her? I will bring her to you,” says the nurse.

She comes back after ten minutes, with the little miracle in her hand. He looks at the little life as she moves from nurse’s arms to grandmother’s arms.

“Have you recorded the time of birth? You guys are always in your own little world,” he yells at his mother.

Her face turns pale. Everyone around her goes silent for a while.


(2)

He is standing in the hall waiting for his wife and daughter. 

His daughter is going to college and is moving out of their home.

“Darling, hope you have kept your medicines,” says his wife, as they enter the hall.

Yes mom, don’t worry.”

“Also, make sure you take out all the snacks as soon as you reach there and arrange them properly.”

“No, I won’t,” the daughter laughs, “I will manage, Mom.”

“It’s high time you learn to take things seriously,” he yells at his daughter.

She breaks down. So does her mother.


(3)

He is moving out of the hospital with his extremely sick father. As he makes his father sit in the car, his father suddenly holds him tightly and starts breathing heavily.

He looks at his father and looks around to see if there is someone who can help. In seconds, his father stops breathing. He looks back at him to realize his father is no more.

He calls his wife, “Inform everyone he is no more.”

“What!??” she exclaims.

He hangs up.

Her heart sinks as she senses the coldness in her husband. She sits down and cries her heart out.


This is just half the story. Here’s the full story…

(1)

He looks at the little life as she moves from nurse’s arms to the grandmother’s arms.

He is overwhelmed and is feeling a range of emotions. He brought into this world a life; he has a big responsibility now and he suddenly has this unconditional feeling of love.”

He doesn’t cry with happiness.

“Have you recorded the time of birth? You guys are always in your own little world,” he yells at his mother.


(2)

“No, I won’t,” the daughter laughs “I will manage, Mom.

His daughter is moving into the big bad world. He always protected her and now he is concerned for her. He doesn’t cry and say, “I love you. Please take care of yourself.”

“It’s high time you learn to take things seriously,” He yells at his daughter.


(3)

He looks back at him to realize his father is no more. 

His world is shaken. He feels like there is no roof over him anymore. He feels this unbearable pain in his heart.

He doesn’t cry.

He calls his wife, “Inform everyone he is no more.”

“What!??” she exclaims.

He hangs up.


He  doesn’t cry, he never does. He should not. He is supposed to give strength to the family and be their hero. And heroes don’t cry. Humans do.

Every time he feels the rush of emotions, he doesn’t know what to do. And the outlet is what it is. 


Let’s ask ourselves today…

Do we want to be born to a hero or to a human?
Do we want to live with a hero or a human?
Do we want to raise a hero or a human?”

Defensive Pessimism vs Mindful Optimism?

In stressful times like these, many people adopt an inclination towards defensive pessimism: prepare for the worse and hope for the best. To my mind this is a losing strategy. Events are neither good nor bad. It is our thoughts that make them so.

Defensive pessimism keeps us on the lookout for the negative, and over interpreting events through a very dark lens. The problem is seek and ye shall find. Being inundated with negative thoughts keeps us stressed and feeling helpless— neither of which is good for our health and well being. To hope for the best may sound fine but actually on closer inspection it has a pessimistic outlook built into it that is absent from expecting the best. Hoping for something acknowledges that defeat is a real possibility. Expecting defeat through a series of social psychological processes too often creates defeat.

Mindful Optimism, on the other hand, is not burying one’s head in the sand with a certainty that all will be fine, but still helps us live fully moment by moment without stress. Uncertainty is not newly upon us. Everything has always been uncertain. It feels new because people tend to confuse the stability of their mindsets with the stability of the underlying phenomena. That is, all is and was always changing and not fully knowable but we may have felt we knew because we were oblivious to the inherent uncertainty.

We can worry or relax and things can turn out to be good or bad. If we worry and everything turns out fine, we’ve stressed ourselves unnecessarily and wasted precious time. If we worry and if turns out to be bad we’re no more prepared for it than if we didn’t worry. If we relax and it turns out bad we’ll be stronger to deal with it and if it all turns out to be fine we can continue behaving adaptively.

So what should we do if we want to adopt this more successful life strategy of Mindful Optimism, in the time of a pandemic?

Make a plan for yourself, such as frequent hand washing (which is always good) and engage in social distancing and then go back to living fully moment by moment with the implicit expectation that all will be fine.

About the Author

Ellen Langer


Dr. Ellen Langer, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and the first female professor to gain tenure in the Psychology Department at Harvard University. She is the author of eleven books and more than two hundred research articles written for general and academic readers on mindfulness for over 35 years. Her best selling books include Mindfulness; The Power of Mindful Learning; On Becoming an Artist: Reinventing Yourself Through Mindful Creativity; and Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibility.

Dr. Langer has been described as the “mother of mindfulness” and is also the founder of The Langer Mindfulness Institute. Among other honors, she is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and three Distinguished Scientist Awards, the World Congress Award, the NYU Alumni Achievement Award, and the Staats award for Unifying Psychology. Most recently she received the Liberty Science Genius Award.

Perfectly Imperfect

Imagine if this world were a different place.

If life were a garden and we could just pluck or pick whatever we wanted rather than trying every bit to survive life’s impositions… if everything could be controlled by a magical wand and we were the rulers of our world… if nothing in this universe could affect us and we could monitor our psyches… if every family were a happy family, every child a genius, everyone could find true love,  all marriages were successful, there were no failures and fights, every businessman made profits, and everyone always enjoyed good health… ❤ ❤ ❤

It, indeed, would have been very different to be a part of such a hunky-dory world.
🙂 🙂 🙂

However… 🤔

This world would have deprived us of some silly things.

Yes!
I mean stupid things like the anxiety before the declaration of result and elation on an achievement, insignificant things like listening to the complications in our friend’s love stories and lending the worst possible advice, petty things like scratching our heads for solving a problem and cursing the geek in class who does it, the pain of rising item prices in canteen and sadistic pleasure on posting controversial tweets. 💜💜💜
Thrill, excitement, dreams, adventure, challenges, dilemmas, chaos, spontaneity would be nowhere in the picture. Wouldn’t life be pretty monotonous in this world!

Let’s think of it like this…

Life is a game and there is nothing to lose because whether we win or not, we can have our share of fun.  We win: its fine; we don’t: the game is really interesting. 😎
If only we detach ourselves from our life for a while and be a spectator to it, we shall realise how each moment in life adds meaning to it. ✨ Time stands witness to the fact that nobody in this world has been happy and successful throughout their life. There have been people who have lived without regrets and complaints; and there lies the essence of life. 💫

All these random thoughts indicate that this world could not have been better. Whatever situations, circumstances or conditions we are put into, we just need to be ourselves and ready to experience the most out of it. 

“To love life is to live life” 🤟🏻