Monthly Archives: Apr 2014

Setting Limits

Setting Limits

Often our brains are fired up by demands to “dream big”.

In principle, that’s fine. But setting limits has a place, too.

Let’s take the example of ‘making more money’. How much is good to aim for?

Some will say a few hundred dollars, some a few thousand, some a few million – and all will be critiqued by a few for not “dreaming big”.

Yet, when you dig deeper into the WHY, all these answers may be perfectly correct!

If all you NEED is a few extra bucks to tide over a problem or enhance your quality of life, without sacrificing all else, then that’s your right target. You don’t need ‘bigger’.

Maybe your existing commitments mandate little time available for other things.

Personally, my online work generates money to further a purpose… to fund complex and expensive operations for poor children with congenital heart disease.

If I devote most of my time to making money, I could achieve ‘big’ targets – but unless I have time and energy to perform surgery, that does NOT further my goal.

‘Big’ is big ENOUGH.

To fuel your ambition. To fire your dream. To live your purpose.

Set limits. Reach them. Push them out a bit further.

Rinse and repeat. Grow. Succeed.

And be happy as you do.

It begins by setting limits.



500 Words To Change Your Life!

500 Words To Change Your Life

Look, I realize a 500 word post on a blog isn’t likely to change your worldview or the way you see life. But then again, it might – in some small way. So I’ll share parts of a conversation I had recently.

Viji and I went to medical school together. We last spoke in 1989. Yes, twenty years ago. So when I picked up the phone at 10 p.m. to hear her voice introducing herself, it was a very pleasant surprise!

Sunday generally finds me in a more introspective mood than during working weekdays. And maybe it’s a reflection of a common way of thinking amongst members of a generation, or perhaps we both share a similar view of life, but our hour-long discussion ranged over various topics related to our professional, family and personal lives – with near-perfect resonance on our thinking about most issues.

On this post, I’ll talk about only one of them. A mindset. One that stems from two perspectives or belief systems.

“I deserve”.

And “I want”.

What emerged from our conversation, that’s based on a collective experience of 80+ years of life on Earth, is a feeling that most discontent and unhappiness for people in our circle of contact stems from either:

A sense of entitlement“I deserve”

A desire for what isn’t theirs yet – “I want”

And while one (the desire) can be framed in a positive way, to fire one’s path towards a set of goals, the other is generally a formula for unhappiness because, frankly, no one cares what you think you deserve!

And no one is about to bend over backwards to make sure you get it.

This seems a common theme across Western and Eastern lifestyles, and is constant across continents (at least in India and the U.S.).

So what’s the way around these two self-defeating attitudes, then?

One small shift of thinking – towards a platform of gratitude.

Being thankful for EVERYTHING one has, including the reality of being alive today, healthy, well-fed, in possession of one’s faculties, with family and friends around… for the world, for nature, for technology, for society… for yourself, for me, and for the others in the world.

In short, being grateful for everything, without a sense of entitlement for what you have, or a grasping greediness for what you don’t, is a surefire recipe for finding deep, soul-satisfying happiness and joy in daily life.

Try this simple exercise (I’ve followed it every day, for nearly ten years now).

Wake up in the morning, and with your eyes still closed, tell yourself:

“I’m grateful for being alive today!”

You’ll be amazed at how much this simple statement will change the way you view the events that you’ll face and experience through the rest of your day.

You’ll still feel you deserve some things. And yes, you’ll keep wanting stuff. That’s only human.

But you’ll feel thankful for whatever you already have – and that will make a big difference.

(500 words!)



Pick Your Battles

Pick Your Battles

In 2005, more than 135 million children were born; a little under 10 million children under the age of 5 died.

As a medical professional who has devoted his career to caring for kids, my heart aches at these statistics.

No child should die.

That’s my dream. It’s also a gargantuan challenge to meet.There are battles to fight – against infections like measles, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases, and malaria, against birth asphyxia and neonatal tetanus, and against birth defects.

I have to pick my battles – so that I can win, not merely fight.

We all face similar choices every day.

  • Which issues to address?
  • What actions to take?
  • How to make a difference?

Injustice and unfairness is innately oppressive and disgusting to every normal human being. We want to believe in a world where justice prevails, where the good are rewarded and the evil punished.

And that is why violations of these ‘rules of natural justice’ make us angry.

Yet anger alone is useless. Even if it spurs you on to taking action, unless the action is focused and directed in the right way, you may not achieve the desired result.

A chisel is more effective at cutting through mortar or rock because all its energy and force is concentrated along a thin, sharp edge. It isn’t spread out over a large area, and therefore can break through tough barriers.

Be a chisel.

Pick your battles.

Make a meaningful difference.

It’s a hard choice – because it means you’ll have to ignore some unpleasant things, turn a blind eye to some forms of injustice, pay only passing attention to some unfairness in the world – and live with that burden of guilt.

Just make sure you don’t use that as an excuse to ignore everything.

Pick your battles.

Don’t run away from the battlefield!


What If You Only Had A Year?

What if you had just a year to live?

What would you do? And what wouldn’t you?

Whom would you talk to? Whom would you not?

Where would you go?

What would you mend, fix or replace?

What would you learn? And teach?

What would you give, share or offer? To whom?

What risks would you dare to take?

What fear would you overcome?

What dreams would you chase?

Whom would you tell, “I love you”?


What if you had only a month more left?

Does that change anything?

What if you had barely a week?


What if there was only today?

Think about it.

Maybe there is only today.

Now Clock - There's Only Today


2 Questions to Live By

Last night, I watched “The Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. It was a powerful movie, touching and funny, insightful and inspirational.

There were profoundly simple messages scattered through the movie, like one of my favorites when Carter (Freeman) asks Cole (Nicholson) if they had been cleared to race a Mustang around a track, and he replies:

“Does it matter if we aren’t?”

Or when they’re talking about how fast time flies.

Carter: “Forty-five years goes by pretty fast.”
Cole: “Like smoke through a keyhole.”

Or Cole explains his elegant philosophy of Life thus:

“We live. We die. And the wheels on the bus go round and round.”

The best scene, for me, is when the two are catching their breath atop a pyramid, and discuss the Egyptian belief about Death and Heaven.

Carter mentions how Egyptians believe there were two questions a soul is asked as it ascends to the gates of Heaven – and the answers determine whether or not it gets to pass through.

#1 – Have you found joy in your life?

#2 – Has your life brought joy to others?

Late into the night, and again ever since I woke up early this morning, these 2 questions have been echoing in my mind.

I’m sure they will continue to replay this way for a long time to come.

They are certainly 2 questions to live by.

How would YOU answer them today?

How would you WANT to – later?

(I found a YouTube video showing this part of the film – watch it, if you like)

Bucket List movie

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