Category Archives: Mindful Musings

How to Live a Meaningful Life

A meaningful, purpose-filled life is one of the most essential ingredients for true happiness. Here’s how you can start living one.

Source: INFOGRAPHIC: How to Live a Meaningful Life – Happify Daily


I figure I will not steal their thunder. The link above is to the post and the infographic, which is quite complete and a nice one to look through. I wanted to write a little about what it contains and how it pertains to my experiences.

All of us search for a meaning in life and if you are a thinking person, at one time or the other, you have sat down and pondered the meaning of all of this. Why are we here? What is our purpose? If the purpose seems cheapened or weakened due to a recent event or failure, are we lost? Is there anything we can do to salvage our reason for being as we had known it. According this this inforgraphic and according to Gallup, 37% of people in North and South America feel as if they have a strong and consistent purpose in life. I am surprised that this number is not higher. We live in a society that is full of social support, where social security exists as a government tool and where life expectancy has all but doubled in the last millennium. So then why are so many people without purpose? Why do so many people feel disenfranchised with themselves and their lot? Psychology aside, I would like to think that this is easy to remediate than world hunger.

So why do we need meaning in life? Much research  has gone into understanding and documenting why purpose in life is important. This is the stuff of self help books of which I have read many. I conjecture that a strong purpose in life promotes healthy living and a feeling of well being. People who have a strong sense of purpose tend to live longer, bounce back quicker, have fewer mental and physical issues and tend to be better partners and neighbors. Some of the reasons for this are obvious. A strong purpose seems to make people happier, which in turn leads to less self destructive and more constructive activities. These people go to get more regular checkups, which lead to earlier diagnoses of illnesses, tend to drink and smoke less and finally are more apt to be critical thinkers. This leads to more positive brain activity and thus less plaque formation both in the brain and in the heart.

Feeling purposeful begins early in life. Kids with a strong sense of duty and a constantly validated sense of right and wrong tend to find it easier to continue looking for a purpose later on in life as well. Activities such as martial arts and Scout Troops build a sense of direction and a desire to follow the correct lead. These children at first find it a requirement to be good samaritans to be a part of these groups. They soon find that performing good deeds tend to make themselves feel better and they quickly become addicted to the rush of chemicals associated with the feel good activities. Positive re-enforcement is automatic and builds on the experiences of the past. This sense of helping yourself by helping others gives purpose to itself.

I have been really positively influenced by The Practicing Mind (aff). This book did not say anything that was new to me. However, it put things in a context that I could well understand. What I took away from it was that if we decide to practice anything diligently, without constantly checking for results and put the sought after results at the back of our minds, then this practice bears a lot more fruit. One of the tricks that I have learned from this book is to constantly remind myself of the D-O-C rule. It stands for do – observe – correct. This also reminds me of Demming’s Principle. For example: I go for frequent walks throughout the day since that is good for my body and it gets me out of my chair and from in front of the computer monitor. While I know that it is good for me, I do not necessarily enjoy the exercise and I always start to feel lazy or look for ways to not get up. Watches and health monitors have not helped me since all they do is remind me of how lazy I have been or how much more work I have to do to stay fit. I started by telling myself to not feel guilty for that which is already done. If I was lazy today and could not walk, oh well. I will try again tomorrow. I know that worrying about it will not help, I then focus on what I can do tomorrow to make it better. Once tomorrow comes along, I try my best to get up and walk. While I am walking, instead of thinking about things that are not related. I spend a lot of my effort focusing on my gait and my style of walk. I do not worry about how far or for how long. I simply focus on the walking and that is all.

This is HARD. I constantly have to remind myself of DOC, my mantra and constantly have to bring my mind back. It has gotten easier with practice but I notice that do not have to do much except remind myself that my thoughts are veering. Somehow just the thought that I am veering from the practice makes a big difference. Even in that I sometimes fail. I still move on and try the next day. I do this while walking, while driving, while exercising in the morning, while watching Netflix, while showering and almost everything in between. It has gotten slightly easier as time has gone on. I find that the knowledge from the book has paled a little and I am forgetting some of the salient points but I still persevere.

As for results, I am not thinner and am not much better off physically. But mentally I am super! I get going easier, have actually been exercising regularly for the past month or so and am much more fulfilled. I find purpose returning, can recover from excitement quickly and have a much more positive outlook on life. Even when I am barraged with life, outside of slight discouragement, I do not have really bad thoughts as often. It is strange how balanced I feel. I really like it.


Next entry in this series: Finding Meaning at work

The power of the Losada Line

I like saying thank you! I truly do.I selfishly enjoy everything about the experience. Today was no exception. I made a big deal about a co-worker who had performed really well over the past week and added to his already long list of accomplishments. But I made it a point to say thank you in front of everyone and promised to take him out to lunch, along with everyone else, on my dime, to celebrate. It felt amazing!

The Losada Line, as explained in the ‘pedia, is the ratio of the minimum number of positive feedback to negative feedback that is needed to make teams higher performing. Of course you can go overboard (see Losada Zone) but that number is so high that a normal human being (me) would never have to worry about it. We bitch at people all the time and all I care about doing is making it a point to say thank you and provide positive feedback at any and all occasions, no matter how small or inconsequential. I figure that the negative feedback will creep in because I am a human being with my own set of issues and I don’t need to worry about keeping myself in check with finding something to complain about.

Meaty Congrats

Creative Commons License photo credit: Anemone Letterpress

I am not the best boss in the world. On the contrary, I might suck. So I try to do everything I can to make it better, just in case I really do suck so my co-workers can come in to work and really want to be there. I just have to watch it when I get crabby and force myself to not react when I always want to. I try to hold back the negative and let the positive flow through with gusto. So there!

PS: All of this is to make myself happy in the long run, so I am selfish as well.

Lucien Loves to use the Couch as a Slide

My son Lucien, much like many other kids his age I am sure, loves to play on a slide. However, since we do not have a slide at home, he has learned to make one of us adults help him get to the top of our leather couch and then slide down to the ground. He has such a good time that he cannot contain his glee. This afternoon when I went home for lunch, I took a few minutes to play with him. He must have slid down a hundred times before I had to let him go and come back to work. It is such a guilty pleasure watching him grow up. I keep reminding myself to enjoy the little moments as much as I can and not get caught up in the act of being a parent too much.

Slide experiment

Creative Commons License photo credit: Caza_No_7


He is my shona chele!

Why do people find it so difficult to agree with others?

Disagreements are a surefire sign of passion and involvement. They make us humans, they involve us in the topic at hand and give us a sense of belonging. Then why are they so painful and why do they lead to so much division? I have a couple of theories.

  • Too many people are used to disagreements. The minute there is an option to agree or disagree, they want to be sure to get their end of the story in. I think a lot of people think that disagreeing somehow will make things better in the long run and it is their responsibility to make sure everything is perfect according to them. Anecdote to that is to think about the cases in your life where disagreeing has led to a positive outcome and how that positive outcome was reached in spite of the disagreement.
  • Too many people are used to having their disagreements discarded and their voice not heard. Since they think that they will be ignored anyways, they try even harder to be heard. As they get desperate, their counterpart pushes out their opinion quicker, thus resulting in discord. An anecdote to not having your opinion heard is to think of the other party. Have you paid attention to them while they were explaining their position? Can you put yourself in their position for a minute?
  • People disagree because they care. However, we are conditioned to care more about the topic of disagreement than about the person we are disagreeing with. This idea came to being because I have often found myself not caring about the issue that I had a huge argument about, but caring more about the person I have been arguing with, when I have let enough time pass after the argument. If I felt that way during the argument,¬† I would not have let the argument happen.
  • People disagree because they are disgruntled about something else, but the disagreement allows them to vent their frustration/anger on the present issue. This cause increased discomfort because the opinions seem strained and reaching. Would you have disagreed on this topic if you were in a happy state of mind? If not, how will you get there?

Now I think that it is very important to disagree. But I think that we should get into a disagreement with the right state of mind and be ready to accept the outcome of the disagreement, whatever that might be.

A few questions to ask yourself when you get caught in a quagmire of disagreements and arguments.

  • How much does this mean to me? Can I live without it?
  • If I was in a happy place (think Happy Gilmore Happy Place), would I still be saying/doing the same thing?
  • Am I listening to the opposing party? Could I explain their position to them?
  • Has the opposing party listened to what I have to say? Are they paying attention to me? Can they explain my position to me? Have I asked them that?
  • Am I choosing my battles?¬† Do I really care about the issue or is it something else?
  • Do I have an exit strategy? Am I just building boundaries with no compromise in sight? Am I giving the opposing party an option to come to a conclusion?
  • And last, but not the least, am I too angry to think straight?

How do you calm yourself? Disagreements and arguments work well for all of us and that is why we have successful relationships throughout our lives (preponderance of us). What techniques work best? What is different about those disagreements?

Shady Sirius XM business practices

So I had XM in my Honda Accord and I subscribed to it on for one year after I found a really good coupon to use with it. When I turned it on, I figured since I was paying for a year in advance, I would not pay for it again if I don’t use it enough. My wife drives the Accord now and she barely ever uses XM. So we decided to let the subscription expire, thinking that if we did not renew it, they would simply not renew the radio again and life would be dandy.

Boy were we wrong! A week after the radio truly expired, we received a letter in the mail stating that our credit card on file was not valid (we had used a one time use) and that our subscription was going to be canceled if we did not call and present a new credit card. Well that meant to us that we should just ignore the issue and it will be canceled. Wrong! This was followed by regular phone messages on my cell phone without a real person on the other side. I figured this was another way to force a call back that would take effort and they were banking on the fact that people would forget. Phone calls became more frequent, till this week in July when I started receiving two messages a day.

Finally I called back today from work and was told that my “contract” was valid forever and I had agreed to the fact that my service would be renewed every year if I did not call and cancel. While I do not recall that I had agreed to this, I have no doubt that it was read to me when I signed up. However, I had verbally agreed to only pay for the first year and there was no written contract signed. I was also told that their letter might have stated that the service would be canceled but it also meant that I would still owe for the month(s) that it sat unused without being canceled. But really, they would not cancel the service until I called and canceled. They would just make harassing phone calls till I responded. Since I had called back a month after my paid period, I would have to pay for that months’ use, at the full price.

To add insult to injury, the lady on the phone asked me if I would like to continue using the service if she made it free for three months. I asked her to use one of those three free months and redact my bill but she started getting snooty and snarky. Rather than get irritated, I decided to let it go. I asked them to send me a paper bill and I will put a check in the mail. Then I told her I wanted nothing else to do with XM again, ever!

I know very little about US law, but I remember reading somewhere that these phone sales and verbal agreements do not hold water in court. They really need to get a written signature in order for them to enforce their contracts. Does anyone have any relevant information that explain the details of phone call based contractual obligations and their enforceability?

An Angel came to us and then went away and took our hearts with her …

As some of you were aware, Jennifer was pregnant with our first child. Due to a sudden complication with her pregnancy brought on by a hidden weakness called an “incompetent cervix“, Jennifer had to deliver our baby at 21 weeks of gestation at an unexpected rest stop in Indianapolis.

Our baby passed away very quickly after the delivery in spite of all the medical attention that was available to her. She lived for 15 minutes and spent her last few breaths in Jennifers’ arms. She was absolutely beautiful and made me smile and cry at the same time. We baptized her Angel. She is the Angel of our eyes and our hearts.

I know she is happy in heaven. We will miss you our dear child. May the Lord bless you and may your soul rest in peace.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

I am a sucker for data

I have always liked data in every form and manipulation of that data tickles my fancy a little too much. In pursuit of that endeavor, here is a little gem I recently uncovered.

I (recently started to) work out regularly on my exercise bike. I own a Nordic Trac AutoRider R400 which I absolutely adore. The bike is comfortable, there are lots of options and it is still fun to use it. Fun is a crucial component of any exercise routine. My plans are to train on this bike all winter and then ride in the summer. One feature of this bike that I find unsatisfying is the EKG monitor on the handlebars. The pads are not very accurate, nor very sensitive and the readout leaves a lot to be desired. I have been targeting heart rates (I have high cholesterol) and it is hard to do with the bike.

Recently I also found the Polar FS1 Hear Rate Monitor Watch for about $50 and I thought that it might be cheap enough and work well. Then I found the ADI05 Software Logger on Amazon (it works with the FS1 and all its cousins) for about $27 and it all fell into place. I had a heart rate monitor, a receiver to plug into my computer to receive my heart rate data, a data logger for my computer and all the data I could ever dream of. From one of the reviewers, … keep track of how much time you have spent in each zone per week and tells you how many more times, for how long, and how hard you need to exercise the rest of the week to reach your goal of maintaining, improving, or maximizing. I love it.

Now I need to fork over another hundred bucks to get all the stuff and write some code to put it into cool flash graphs. I can’t wait! PS: I will be looking for a relatively inexpensive road bike come summer. Any suggestions would be well appreciated.

BestBuy Secret Website to cheat Customers

BestBuy Secret Website to cheat Customers BestBuy confirmed that it maintained a secret intranet website that could be accessed only from inside a store to cheat customers by not giving them the advertised price on for products. I love this part “After making sure the computer is turned on, employees should click twice on the Yahoo Internet icon and then type in” Then the hoax is complete. This increases my faith in the bastards….ha!