Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An Essay By Einstien

The World As I See It
An Essay by Einstein

"How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people -- first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible..

"My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude..."

"My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality... The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling..

"This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor... This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!..

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."..


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Searching the brain for happiness

Searching the brain for happiness
By Dr Morten L Kringelbach
Neuroscientist at the University of Oxford

For thousands of years people have pursued happiness, but the problem has been that it has always been seen as a kind of fuzzy concept.

But now, in a new BBC Two series called The Happiness Formula, neuroscientists say happiness is tangible and the result of brain activity - you can see it and even measure it. Dr Kringelbach is a contributor to the programme.

In November 2005 the Dalai Lama was invited to speak at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC.

While this event was not without controversy, his speech was generally well received and surprised many scientists with his remarkable open-mindedness, particularly concerning the validity of neuroscientific enquiry.

The Dalai Lama described a normal person's mind as "a troublemaker" and confessed that he "still feels anger and fear".

Meditation, he said, can help. But he was not adverse to other paths and volunteered himself as a patient if neuroscientists wanted to pursue easier ways to quell the "troublemakers of the mind".

The pursuit of happiness is a preoccupation for many of us and has probably been since the dawn of mankind.

Yet few of us come close to achieving this state with any regularity.

And even when happiness finally descends upon us, we often only realise it after the fact.

The neuroscience of happiness and well-being is still in its infancy.

So far, the focus of research has been on two related but perhaps somewhat distant cousins: pleasure and desire.

Reward would seem to be central to both of these states and so has been studied in other animals by behavioural psychologists since at least the beginning of the 20th century.

Pleasure centre

In studies during the 1950s psychologists James Olds and Peter Milner working at McGill University in Canada, found that rats would repeatedly press levers to receive tiny jolts of current injected through electrodes implanted deep within their brains.

When this brain stimulation was targeted at certain areas of the brain the rats would repeatedly press the lever - even up to 2000 times per hour.

In fact they would stop almost all other normal behaviours, including feeding, drinking and sex.

These findings seemed to suggest that Olds and Milner had discovered the pleasure centre in the brain, and it turns out that these overlap with the regions damaged in Parkinson's disease.

The main chemical aiding neural signalling in these regions is dopamine, and so it was quickly dubbed the brain's "pleasure chemical".

Additional human studies during the 1960s by Robert Heath at Tulane University in the US tried to take advantage of these findings in some ethically questionable experiments on mentally ill patients.

Infamously, they even implanted electrodes to try to cure homosexuality. This line of research was eventually stopped.

Although the researchers also found compulsive lever pressing in some patients, it is not clear from these patients' subjective reports that the electrodes did indeed cause real pleasure.

Wanting and liking

Instead, recent work by Kent Berridge, at the University of Michigan in the US, indicates that the electrodes may have been activating the anatomical regions that are involved in desire rather than pleasure.

Investigating reward systems in rats, Berridge found that they have specific facial expressions for pleasant and nasty tasting foods.

Sugary food makes them lick their lips contentedly - just as human infants do, whereas a bitter taste leads to a disgusted, lip-curling expression.

When Berridge manipulated the rats' dopamine levels, he found that their expressions remained unchanged.

Berridge is therefore proposing a distinction between desire and pleasure - wanting and liking - in terms of both the brain regions and the neurochemical substances that mediate these subjective states.

The dopamine system appears to encode desire while the opioid system, which contains our own natural morphine-like compounds, is closer to pleasure.

It is clear, however, that rats are different from humans.

Pleasure and desire are complex emotions in humans, and so there are still many interesting things to learn.

Central to current research is a brain region called the orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region that is evolutionary more recently developed in humans and has connections to both the opioid and dopamine systems.

Using neuroimaging, we have found that it contains regions that correlate with subjective reports of pleasure.

What can this research ultimately tell us about happiness, pleasure and desire?


Could happiness be best described as pleasure without desire, a state of contentment and indifference?

Such a state is perhaps akin to the kind of bliss that buddhists actively seek through meditation.

If so, it is possible that neuroscientists may one day find ways to help induce this state.

We might then have choice of a true utilitarian society where the overall happiness can really be maximized just as the 18th century philosopher Jeremy Bentham wanted.

Although the question of whether such a society would be desirable and pleasurable still remains to be answered.

The Dalai Lama was clearly interested in the end state of happiness, rather than the means by which it is achieved.

However, he also spoke of how humans have "much conflicting emotion, much bad emotion, jealousy, anger, fear. This is our great troublemaker."

He reminded the audience of the "fundamental values of compassion and affection" that are "important to the development of body and brain".

It would seem prudent for future research on happiness, pleasure and desire not to ignore this compassionate plea for human dignity, while tinkering with the very core of what makes us human.

Dr Morten Kringelbach is a contributor to The Happiness Formula which is broadcast on BBC Two on Wednesdays at 1900 BST.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/05/02 19:11:41 GMT

Monday, December 8, 2008

Happiness is contageous

Yes, It's Catching | Discovery News Video .Dec. 5, 2008 -- When you're smiling, the whole world really does smile with you.

A paper being published Friday in a British medical journal concludes that happiness is contagious -- and that people pass on their good cheer even to total strangers.

American researchers who tracked more than 4,700 people in Framingham, Mass., as part of a 20-year heart study also found the transferred happiness is good for up to a year.

"Happiness is like a stampede," said Nicholas Christakis, a professor in Harvard University's sociology department and co-author of the study. "Whether you're happy depends not just on your own actions and behaviors and thoughts, but on those of people you don't even know."

Related Content: While the study is another sign of the power of social networks, it ran through 2003, just before the rise of social networking Web sites like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook. Christakis couldn't say for sure whether the effect works online.

"This type of technology enhances your contact with friends, so it should support the kind of emotional contagion we observed," he said.

Christakis and co-author James Fowler, of the University of California in San Diego, are old hands at studying social networks. They previously found that obesity and smoking habits spread socially as well.

For this study, published in the British journal BMJ, they examined questionnaires that asked people to measure their happiness. They found distinct happy and unhappy clusters significantly bigger than would be expected by chance.

Happy people tended to be at the center of social networks and had many friends who were also happy. Having friends or siblings nearby increased people's chances of being upbeat. Happiness spread outward by three degrees, to the friends of friends of friends.

Happy spouses helped, too, but not as much as happy friends of the same gender. Experts think people, particularly woman, take emotional cues from people who look like them.

Christakis and Fowler estimate that each happy friend boosts your own chances of being happy by 9 percent. Having grumpy friends decreases it by about 7 percent.

But it also turns out misery don't love company: Happiness seemed to spread more consistently than unhappiness. But that doesn't mean you should drop your gloomy friends.

"Every friend increases the probability that you're at the center of a network, which means you are more eligible to get a wave of happiness," Fowler said.

Being happy also brings other benefits, including a protective effect on your immune system so you produce fewer stress hormones, said Andrew Steptoe, a psychology professor at University College London who was not involved with the study.

But you shouldn't assume you can make yourself happy just by making the right friends.

"To say you can manipulate who your friends are to make yourself happier would be going too far," said Stanley Wasserman, an Indiana University statistician who studies social networks.

The study was only conducted in a single community, so it would take more research to confirm its findings. But in a time of economic gloom, it also suggested some heartening news about money and happiness.

According to the research, an extra chunk of money increases your odds of being happy only marginally -- notably less than the odds of being happier if you have a happy friend.

"You can save your money," Christakis said. "Being around happy people is better."

Mind Matters Most

MMM : Mind Matters Most

“Mastery of speech is good, mastery of physical actions is good, but one who masters the mind is a real warrior.” Can’t remember where I read this quote, but it left an impression.

Like many, I went through my midlife crisis and struggled to find answers to questions such as, what is the meaning of life; what is my purpose and what is real happiness? I thought that if I could answer these questions I could then understand how to my mind works and how I would master it?

Had heard of hypnosis and thought that, it would be an easy way to conquer the mind. I’ll just lie on a couch and allow a qualified hypnotist perform surgery on my mind. It did not work! I came out of hypnosis exactly the way I had gone in. My mind was still unsettled. Next I went to a healer and then a fortune teller in the hope of getting answers to my questions. Each time I came out even more disillusioned and confused.

I started doing my own research and almost all research pointed me towards meditation.

Just the word “meditation” puts me in a state of unease as I am one of those who can’t stay still even for a minute and meditation is all about stilling the mind and focusing on a single thought.

But I had made up my mind to become a mind warrior “As an archer aims an arrow, a carpenter carves wood, the wise shape their lives.” The Dhamppada

I had to shape my own life as I was the only one in control of it. I had read about a Buddhist meditation technique called Vipassana. Some friends had gone for the 10 day course and had come out feeling transformed. I felt compelled towards it and thought I’d give it a try. All I had to do was have no contact with the outside world, have two vegetarian meals a day and observe noble silence for the duration of my stay. Noble silence means absolutely no talking or communicating in any way with the fellow meditators. That sounded a bit of a challenge.

Well I guess the road to wisdom and mastery would demand a few sacrifices!

Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.

So I drove myself to Karnal (a little village in the north of India) on the eve of the 10 day course. There were a few others signing in. I looked around to see the expression on people's faces looking for some kind of assurance, anything to make me feel that I would survive the 10 days. I had heard so many people talk about how strict and tough the regime was that I needed assurance to be able to handle the so called penance camp.

At around 6.00 pm we all gathered in the hall where we were asked to get rid of personal belongings such as phones, books, wallets, note books, pens etc. Anything that would distract us from the complete immersion into our minds.

As I started giving away my life lines, I started feeling very uneasy and broke the first rule. I snuck a phone in my bag, promising myself not to use it, but just having it in my possession gave me the much needed support structure. We were told about the rules and regulations and starting 8.00 pm that night would be the last time we would be allowed to speak for the next 10 days.

I was ready for the challenge!!!!

Day 1

4.00 am the bell rings right outside my door but I had been hearing sounds since 3.30 am as there were some rather enthusiastic attendees who had woken up at 3.15 am and were already queuing for the bathrooms and shower. So, kicking and dragging myself out of the bed I went and stood in line for my turn to use the facilities. Nobody even acknowledged each other, we all stood there like zombies letting our imaginations run wild and judging each other in our MINDS. Our monkey minds had not been tamed yet.

4.30 am we all gather in the meditation hall and are played a tape guiding us as to what to do. The focus was mainly on the breath, the technique is called anapana where one is asked only to observe the breath.

How in the world was I supposed to observe my breath? Do I look for movement in my chest? Do I look out for tiny particles of moisture coming out of my breath? What was I supposed to do? How does one watch their breath?

Well, all I was supposed to do was to concentrate on my breathing and acknowledge the incoming and outgoing breath without any judgment or expectation. Sounds easy but trust me; it is one of the most difficult things to do.

Having woken up with the birds was starting to take its toll on me. Trying to watch my breath, I started to doze off. I very quietly snuck out to the back of the room and drifted into slumber land. My freedom was however short lived. Within about 2 min or so I got a slight nudge on my shoulder; it was one of the helpers. She very politely asked me not to doze and try and sit still. After all I was here to learn meditation and the number one enemy of meditation is SLOTH!

My boarding and lodging was completely free, all I had to do was to follow the 5 percepts ( to abstain from killing any being; to abstain from stealing; to abstain from all sexual activity; to abstain from telling lies; to abstain from all intoxicants) and conduct myself according to the laid down code of discipline. It sounded easy in the beginning, but only two hours into the first day and I wanted to run away and find my way back into the comfort of my bed.

6.30 -7.00 am was breakfast time and 7.00 -9.00 was time for Q&A with the teacher. Most of us ran back after breakfast and went straight to bed for a quick nap. I think I passed out; 8.45 the bell tolled again.

We were asked to be seated for the next round of meditation that went from 9.00 am to 11.30 am. Two and a half hours of sitting cross legged, eyes shut and watching my breath, I was losing my head. I had absolutely no concentration; I just couldn’t seem to focus. All I kept thinking was; why was I doing this to myself? What madness had descended over me that propelled me into such masochism?

Eventually the bell rang, informing us about the lunch hour.

All went straight into the dining room for a simple yet tasteful vegetarian meal. Hunger and desperation made the food taste fantastic. Lunch was from 11.30 to 12.30 and then about an hour of freedom followed by Q &A with the teacher.

At 2.30 pm back into the meditation hall for two more hours of watching the breath. This time it was just impossible to keep my eyes open, started to nod off yet again, but this time I was woken up by this extremely cacophonous burp that reverberated in the pin drop silence. I was jolted out of my reverie and brought right back into the inner me. Not a sound from anyone, and I was dying to laugh. I looked around the room, and only another newcomer had a faint smile, but the rest were like statues, unmoved and unaffected. In the next 9 days I was to hear so many different sounds that this seemed like a melody.

Somehow got through the day. 7.00 pm was the time for discourse where we were told about why we did what we did. This was the best part of the day. At least there was an explanation, to the madness.

According to Goenka ji, the modern day guru of Vipassana, “meditation means a continuous detachment from the body, mind, name and form. We have to detach ourselves from the day to day activities. Unclutter our mind from the mindless chatter and bring our focus inwards. Through meditation the scientific laws that operate one's thoughts, feelings, judgments and sensations become clear. Through direct experience, the nature of how one grows or regresses, how one produces suffering or frees oneself from suffering is understood. Life becomes characterized by increased awareness, non-delusion, self-control and peace. ”

By the time I went back to my room, I was completely in awe of myself. I had managed to go one full day without speaking and actually internalizing.

This was just day 1…………… I had 9 more to go.

I could describe each day in detail; but that would take almost half a book, so let me cut to the chase and come to the part where I can share some real pearls of wisdom.

As I continued to sit cross legged on the floor for the next 9 days, my whole life kept flashing in front of me. My achievements, my mistakes, my pains, my sorrow and my joy. In the silence, I heard so much noise that I thought my brain would explode. As the days kept progressing the noise kept getting louder. I hated every minute of being there. It felt like an experience straight out of a very dark movie where you are the only survivor.

By the 7th day I had a break down. I cried till I had no more tears. I wanted to run away from what felt like a jail. I wanted to scream and shout and call names, I threw up and felt sick in my stomach.

I don’t think I was getting any wiser or calmer. Seeing my distraught state, the teacher summoned me and explained to me what really was happening. I was experiencing deep cleansing.

All our life we keep burying our pains and sorrows deep within. We suppress our feelings and muffle our thoughts in the external noise so they either transform into physical or mental ailments.

Seven days of complete silence and introspection had brought all the deep seated issues to the surface and they were now being purged. I was experiencing the emotional and physical signs of release. The catharsis had begun.

After all the purging I felt much lighter and calmer. I didn’t feel like a prisoner anymore. I felt liberated, not only physically but mentally.

Two more days of the regimented life and we would soon be free to join the real world. The world that we have chosen to create for ourselves. The world full of so much external noise that the internal dialogue gets completely muffled. The world where our ego gets pumped and it gets shattered. The world where we experience pain and joy as rides of the roller coaster. The world that we believe to be real.

Finally the 10th day arrives. We can now break our vow of silence.

By now something huge has happened. I could feel a transformation in my chemical makeup. I experienced strange energies which were almost orgasmic. I can’t explain, but it felt as if my whole being had regenerated.

I just didn’t feel like talking. This was a revelation; unfortunately the urge not to speak did not stay for too long. Within about an hour I was back to being my old chatty self.

But something somewhere changed.

No, I have not yet become a master of my mind, neither have I attained nirvana, but I surely have come to the realization that I do not have to depend on hypnotists, therapists , healers and fortune tellers to tell me how to heal my life. All I have to do is dig deep enough and long enough.

Each person that attends Vipassana has a different experience, for some it is joyful, for some extremely painful, but for all it is life changing.

Would I do it again?

Would love to, but am still trying to gather the courage.

Would I recommend it?

Absolutely yes. Even if the only reason was “because it is there”.

For more information please visit


Shveitta sethi

Monday, December 1, 2008

Lessons on Life

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said no, it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because hey had each seen but only one season in the tree's life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, and that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that
come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfillment of your fall.

Great minds discuss ideas;

Average minds discuss events;

Small minds discuss people

Anger is only one letter short of danger

If someone betrays you once, it's his fault;

If he/she betrays you twice, it's your fault

Fine tuning

Fine Tuning
I generally listen to classical music in my bath. I put some aroma oils and turn on the music and am transformed into my private sanctuary. It’s almost a ritual; one that I look forward to.
This morning however my sanctuary got transformed into a place of noise and mayhem. I think the dial on my radio station inadvertently got changed and all I could hear was noise and static and a few Cantonese ( Chinese) stations all jumbled together ; creating the most disgusting sound .
I tried to fiddle around with the dial, but somehow could not find the right frequency. The stations kept jumping and my frustration level kept getting higher. I just could not find the right station. I eventually gave up and cursing and shouting stepped into the bath, but not before banging my toe against the tub and almost burning myself with scalding hot water as in my frustration with the radio I forgot to turn on the cold water side. One small glitch in my routine and I started a chain of painful events.
While soaking in the bath, I had the epiphany…. Why not listen to AM instead of FM today. I stepped out and changed channels and …there was Mr. Bryan Ferry crooning earnestly if “I would still love him tomorrow!!!!” Beautiful soulful song and a lovely change from my usual classical music.
Wow! It was that simple. All I had to do was switch channels and if that did not work, I just would have to turn the radio off and enjoy the silence. But it had taken me a good 8-10 minutes to reach this conclusion. Short of throwing the radio in the WC, I had pretty much allowed the anger and frustration get the better of me and I think my daughter was glued outside the bathroom door wondering what her mother was ranting and shouting about? So much for preaching calm and happiness?????
Now the preachy bit…..
Often our lives are put in disarray when we least expect. I was expecting my usual morning ritual and got extremely annoyed with a lifeless radio and started shouting at something that could not hear me or respond to my profanities. Fortunately, I calmed down and switched channels and allowed myself the luxury of a different kind of music.
OK! So this wasn’t such a big deal and you might be scoffing and saying “ yeah so what”?
Life works the same way. From time to time it hands us frequencies that we are not used to. It sounds like complete mayhem and we don’t know how to handle the noise. It may not be a part of our plan. Not something we may have visualized or prepared ourselves for. We get angry and frustrated because we can’t control the outcome.
Now we have two choices, either we stay angry and frustrated and attract even more of the negative frequency into our life, or we calm ourselves down and open ourselves to different and maybe better possibilities.
It does take a bit of introspection and self realization to achieve that state. Anger; fear; frustration; greed and revenge have much lower vibration and thus are easier to attract, but the problem with this is if we attract any one of these lower frequencies, the others get attracted too. So frustration will lead to anger which will lead to revenge and eventual pain.
Love; compassion; altruism; justice; peace or forgiveness on the other hand are higher level frequencies and when we attract one the others automatically follow. According to Plato if we were to organize our life around even one of the higher values all the other higher values will come to us because all these higher values commune together.
Choice is entirely ours… should we choose to lower our vibration and stay with the static and the noise or should we quickly switch channels and attracts the other frequency and get pleasantly surprised??

PS : I made a rather interesting observation today. While I was upset and screaming profanities at the little radio in my bathroom, the static got even louder as if showing me the finger. Eventually when I calmed down even the static calmed down. It does sound weird and trust me I did think it was a bit odd, but I guess we do attract what we give out. My energy field was probably so weak when I was angry that all I could attract was the static, but the moment I calmed down, even the music became clearer and I promise I did not touch that dial.


Shveitta Sethi

The Secret to Happiness: Stop Caring


Our lives are inundated with practicality and productivity. We think that if there’s no purpose to something, there’s no point in doing it. In reality the best things in life have no purpose.

We sacrifice our time and our sanity doing what we don’t want to do, so at some future point we will create the freedom to do what we love.

We seek happiness in things. We seek happiness in the acceptance of others, in material possessions, in social status. We even search for happiness in some future-promised afterlife. We sabotage ourselves and our entire lives because we fail to understand a very simple but easily overlooked fact.

The Search for Happiness is the Single Greatest Cause of Misery

You can’t find something that’s already there. Happiness exists now. It’s not something you have to find. That’s like trying to find your breath.

It’s the grasping of the mind that causes unhappiness. If you’re not happy, it’s because your mind doesn’t allow you be happy. And the reason your mind doesn’t let you be happy, is because you’re stuck in the vicious cycle of productivity, judgment and purpose. That’s not to say productivity is bad, or that doing things that have a purpose is wrong. It’s basing the reason for your existence on them that causes so much anguish.

When we place our happiness solely in "getting" something, completing a certain number of tasks on our to-do list, or achieving a goal, we’re fooling ourselves. We’re like a rabbit with a carrot stick attached to our heads. We keep chasing the carrot, but we never get there. We never stop to think that it might be the chasing that’s causing the problem. We’re too distracted trying to find a better way to beat the game. As soon as we reach one level of success, we’re hurrying to upgrade our search and move on to the next level of the chase. We never stop to think that it’s not the failure to win the game that causes our grief, but the game itself.

We neglect to realize that sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to stop participating in the problem. Sometimes the best way to to solve a problem is to just stop caring.


The best way to solve the problem of not having a lot of cool friends is to stop caring about having cool friends.
The smartest way to be happy with the place you live is to stop caring about living in a two story house with a pool, a fireplace, central air and satellite TV.
The simplest way to be content with yourself is not to achieve greatness and praise, but to accept yourself fully for who you are now.
The quickest route to happiness is to stop caring about finding happiness and to start being happiness.
By not caring, we immediately release ourselves of the grasping of the mind. But it’s not easy to stay in this mindset (the mind loves to grasp); it’s something we have to constantly cultivate.

It’s especially difficult when our society tends to place more value on things, than on experiences. We value what we do more than how we feel.

This is completely ridiculous when you think about it. Because the way you feel should be more important than anything else. Isn’t the purpose of everything you do to feel good? Isn’t the purpose of that new car, that promotion, or college degree to give you a feeling of accomplishment? Isn’t that supposed to make you happy?

The problem with this is we’re basing our happiness on temporary things. We’re deriving our joy from an achievement, or an attainment. This isn’t true happiness; it’s an addiction. We get a short burst of endorphins to our bloodstream from our new TV, or new iPod, and then what happens? It disappears. It leaves us feeling empty and we begin looking for our next fix.

Our advertising and consumer culture doesn’t help this much. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we need this, or we need that. Incessantly, we hear: “Buy this and it will solve your problem!” If only we could solve that problem we may finally be happy. Wrong. It’s not the problems that are the problem. I mean, buying a more efficient vacuum or sowing on that button you’ve been meaning to for seven years is great. You may feel a sense of achievement for a few moments or days. But you’re still looking for happiness in a thing.

It’s the same with productivity. If only we could finish all of the things on our to-do list, could we be content. If only we could accomplish all of our goals, could we finally be gratified. This thinking is based on the illusion that you’ll reach a certain point where everything is done. You finally made it! There’s nothing left in your inbox, all your projects are complete and your lifelong goals are achieved! Now you can rest easy.

But this point never seems to come, does it? That’s because there will always be things to do. There will always be challenges, because everything in life is constantly changing. If you reached a point in your life where you had no more problems, no more struggles, no more worries, life would stop. The game would end and there would be no point left in playing.

So… what can we do about this?

We Need to Stop Caring

That doesn’t mean we stop trying to achieve our goals or striving for personal growth. It just means that we no longer base our happiness on fleeting, semi-permanent things.

There are obviously some situations where not caring may have serious negative consequences (paying your rent). Excessive caring, however, is likely to make you miserable.

The reason caring too much can be detrimental to your health, is you’re so focused on the future. Your identity is too attached to outcomes. If something does, or doesn’t go your way, it will likely have an enduring effect on your mood for the rest of the day.

Instead, we should base our happiness on permanent things. Things that don’t change. Desires that don’t shift from moment to moment. We choose to find our happiness in living. In life itself. In fact, we don’t even need to “find” happiness. We can be happiness.

So stop searching. You can’t find something that’s already there.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

stuck in the mud

Last night I learnt a new game from my 6 year old daughter and her friends. It is called ‘Stuck in the Mud.

There is a Mr. or Ms Mud who is supposed to say the word mud and as soon as he or she says mud, the other children have to run and scatter. Mr. or Ms Mud has to try and catch the children and tag them. The one who gets tagged stays stuck in the mud till one of the other children crawls under the legs or arms of the stuck child to free him or her. Once freed, he or she can run and try and save others. You play till everyone is caught and then change the (“it” in kids parlance i.e. MUD).

It was a bit complicated for me, as my brain is a bit slower than 6-9 year olds!!! Somehow, I did manage to play with them although I got shouted at a few times.

But I learnt something. When we get stuck in the mud…we need the help of another to get unstuck. If I don’t ask for help, I may be stuck for a very long time. I have to attract attention and ask for help and be ready to run when help arrives.

Viola I found the secret to my survival.

It reminded me of the time when I was stuck in my emotional mud and some lovely friends came forward to help. I did have my moments when I rejected the advice and chose to stay stuck, but eventually better sense prevailed and I decided to get unstuck. It wasn’t that easy to let go of the emotional mud that I had gotten so used to, but when I did it felt great.

As young children we are comfortable and eager to ask for help, but as we grow older our ego prevents us from showing our vulnerability and we choose to keep a facade of normalcy even in times of distress.

Seneca a Stoic Roman philosopher says that nature has given us mirrors so that we may know ourselves (ut homo ipse se nosset). Our friends are our mirrors. Ultimately, however, coming to know oneself is a matter of reflective self-examination and philosophical study. But during times of distress our cognitive capabilities are put to test. We may not be able to see the big picture and choose to stay stuck. A bit like the “pig in shit”. This is the time when we need to ask for help. It does not make us vulnerable, it makes us strong. We might even be doing a favor when we ask for help.

Humans are a social bunch and the fulfillment derived out of meaningful relationships and work is what motivates us .

Seneca devotes an entire treatise to the question of how one should benefit others, and how one should receive benefits (On Favors; lat. De beneficiis). He analyses reciprocal relationships of giving and receiving favors, which characterize social practices in ancient societies.

The fact that societies thrived and continue to do so today is because the intention to benefit is closely followed by an intention to repay the favor.

So asking for help is in a way doing another a favor by motivating him or her to be of value. And value and meaning is what we look for in life.

In the process of growing up, we humans acquire rationality, ego, and self reliance. Asking for help is construed as weakness and therefore frowned upon.

As I was thinking about this, I realized that women are kinder to themselves; we ask for help, and we don’t mind asking for directions on the road. We talk to our friends and friends of friends when the need arises, but men prefer to find their own path.
Their subconscious forbids them from asking for directions!!!!! Ooh that would be just so unmanly!!!

But if we really think about it, ours is a symbiotic existence. The circle of life ensures the continuation of law of reciprocity. There are no free lunches. If someone does something for you, rest assured you will have the opportunity to do something for them.

So get asking for help and do every one a favor. Staying stuck in the mud just means the game has one less player and the game is not fun anymore.

To quote Seneca again “It’s not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.

So the next time you feel stuck …. Shout, scream, do the drum roll…do whatever it takes to attract attention and get free.


Thursday, October 16, 2008


Samuel Langhorn Clemens, aka Mark Twain said that “the worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself” and yet he suffered from massive insecurities of loneliness. As a premature child who was not supposed to live, he carried a huge burden within his heart. Forever trying to seek love of his parents, he did not really find in himself the love that he sought.

“The love of oneself is the start of a lifelong romance” said Oscar Wilde and yet he too looked for love in the arms of young men!!

Both …masters of prose and poetry offered the world a cure for loneliness and yet searched for fulfillment.

What really is loneliness, if not just a state of mind?

One can be extremely lonely in a crowd or be completely surrounded by thoughts in solitude. All of us have experienced both. Which is better? Being a line looking for an end or becoming a circle and finding the end?

As I sat to write about loneliness at the behest of my friend, I wondered what view I should take. The sadistic, masochist view where I delve into the pain of loneliness or the optimistic view where I look at loneliness as an opportunity to find my inner self?

Being a believer of positivity and happiness, I guess the answer was easy.

Our life is a self created matrix. The only question is which pill are we going to choose. The blue pill or the red pill? Is ignorance bliss or is the truth worth knowing… matter what! “Truth shall set you free” says the bible. So let’s search for truth.

Philosophically; the existentialist school of thought views loneliness as the essence of being human. Each human being comes into the world alone, travels through life as a separate person, and ultimately dies alone.
However, other existentialist thinkers argue the opposite. Human beings are be said to actively "engage" each other and feel the futility of existence if they are unable to communicate, love and procreate.

The debate continues !!!

So should we look for fulfillment outside of us or within ourselves? Both are acceptable, but I think the latter is easier. For the former we need another individual who will accept us in our entirety and that we know is a tad difficult. Acceptance and agreement lead to company and debate and disagreement lead to loneliness.

The more individualistic we are, higher the chances of being lonely. This may or not be bad though, after all we do think as individuals and do not have a collective brain, so why are we constantly looking for acceptance and agreement? Does it all stem from inherent insecurities in ourselves?

The first step to overcoming loneliness is to accept it as something natural and yet ephemeral . It is a state of mind and  our state of mind is our choice and the only thing we have control over. Nothing worse than being a prisoner of your own mind and not even knowing that we are prisoners and therefore not having the urge to escape. Instead of calling it loneliness we can choose to call it solitude.

Solitude is a choice when loneliness is a circumstance. Just by changing the vocabulary, we have changed our thinking. Maybe a positive self image is the key to overcoming loneliness. Instead of running out and looking for company, it may be a better idea to become our own best friend. We could start by indulging in some mental reprogramming via positive self talk and affirmations.

I read somewhere that  “ Be the person that walks into the room and the room lights up and not the person that walks out of the room and the room lights up”.

Once we are comfortable in our own company, we will automatically become the life of a party and loneliness will be a term we need to look up in a dictionary.


Que sera sera!!

When I was just a little girl
I asked my mother, what will I be
Will I be pretty, will I be rich
Here's what she said to me.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

As a young girl of 11 or 12, I remember looking at my palm for lines of health; wealth and happiness. I would turn my palm and wrist in every possible way to look at the lines. I never knew which denoted what? Would I have health, wealth and happiness? I used to stare at my hand and wonder what my future would be. When I asked my mother, all she said was…concentrate on your studies and make something of yourself. She never told me what I could have or be.

A few years went by; I turned 16 and fell in love…..

When I was young, I fell in love
I asked my sweetheart what lies ahead
Will we have rainbows, day after day
Here's what my sweetheart said.

Que Sera, Sera,
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours, to see
Que Sera, Sera
What will be, will be.

I saw rainbows day after day and life seemed beautiful and full. Young love was so beautiful but the societal norms were not…..Unfortunately the love didn’t last. By the time I was 17, I think the rainbows disappeared. I went back to staring at my palm and wondering if ever my true love will be.

Now I have children of my own
They ask their mother, what will I be
Will I be handsome, will I be rich
I tell them tenderly.

Your future will be what you want it to be!

Now I’m a mother and my daughter asks me if she will be pretty, will she be famous and will she find her prince? And what do I say? Of course darling you will. Am I misleading her? Maybe I am; maybe I’m not!

My mother may have told me only what she knew and what she was made to believe. She and her parents had no idea that it could have been possible to have it all. The lines on my hands may have been the only answer to my future.

Today, I know for a fact that (Quantum Physics)- nothing is fixed and there are no limitations. Limitations are only in our observation. Everything is energy and energy is influenced by our thoughts. It is shapeable, formable, and moldable. As Creators, we shape, form and mold the energy of the Universe through our thoughts. We transform the energy of our thoughts into the energy of our reality.

The recent success of the book and movie “Secret” was based on the Law of Attraction. Law of Attraction states that we attract in our lives whatever we focus on. Quantum Physics states that which is observed is the only thing real.

Let’s do an experiment, right now focus on the color red. Now look around you and see if you can find the color red. You probably will find it.... that is because you are looking for it. Your observation makes it real for you. It was probably always there but till you looked for it you did not attract it into your focus. The moment your attention was focused on looking for the color red, it became your reality.

Since nothing is fixed and everything is in a state of potential, everything is possible. As we understand that everything is possible, and as we focus our thoughts on what we want to attract, we can literally call into existence whatever we desire. Your desire for the red color will have brought the red color into focus. If we focus on lack, that will be our reality and if we focus on abundance, that will be our reality. So instead of looking at my palm for the lines of health wealth and happiness, all I had to do was to see myself in perfect health, doing my dream job and earning lots of wealth and being happy with the love of my life. But no one told me about it and I went through a life of uncertainty and struggle where my palm was my companion in my direction to my future.
Now that I know that my thoughts are creating my reality I am in a position to mold my thoughts and create my future.

So when my daughter asks me….mummy will I be rich, will I be pretty? I can say to her…the future is ours to create, so what you create will be, will be.. que sera sera.


Monday, October 13, 2008


"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified, terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
---- FDR - First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Fear feeds on itself, it grows like Bacteria. Bacteria reproduce every twenty seconds if their living conditions are optimal. They make copies of their DNA and then divide in half through a process called Mitosis.

In optimal conditions fear undergoes mitosis and spreads like an epidemic. Today’s environment is extremely optimal for fear mitosis. Fear can be seen at every turn — in headlines raising questions about another Great Depression, amongst crowds gathered around Bloomberg and CNN. Even young children are talking about the crash of the financial markets. I even heard a 12 year old talking about foreclosure and panic selling.

There is no question that the current environment is somewhat of a worrisome time, but by constantly worrying about it we are only ensuring its longevity. Fear is an immensely powerful force, says Andrew W. Lo, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology .Scientists who have studied the brain function have found that the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls fear, responds faster than the parts of the brain that handle cognitive functions. The moment we come in contact with fear, our brain goes into over drive and starts to prepare the body for flight or fight response. Fear paralysis us from making sensible decisions and eventually creates the circumstances that turn our fear into reality. Wordswort very aptly said that “What are fears but voices airy? Whispering harm where harm is not. And deluding the unwary. Till the fatal bolt is shot!"

Are we not going to rest till the fatal bolt is shot? If we don’t stop the panic, we will only add to the negative vibration of fear and unrest. Fear causes stress and stress as we all know leads to various ailments.

I just got off the phone from a banker friend of mine and she is extremely depressed and worried. She was trying to portray a brave front, but the despondency in her voice was palpable.
Worry and fear will not change the outcome for the better; it will however perpetuate more fear and unease. If you really want the circumstances to change, start focusing on change for the better. As Mike Dooly says “thoughts become things….choose the good ones”. Quantum physics is now proving that our thoughts carry vibrations and those vibrations cause results. Fear vibrates at a lower frequency and thereby attracts other lower frequency vibrations such as anger and hatred and causes dis-ease, pain and accidents.

Love on the other hand and I don’t mean just romantic love…carries higher vibrations and therefore attracts other higher frequency vibrations such as happiness, positivity, and acceptance and gives us the courage to face perceived unfavorable circumstances.

All we need to do is focus on love; it could be love of nature, love for your child, love of a hobby, romantic love, love of a pet…. Anything you can think of. This will then raise your vibrations and start changing the energy fields around you and start to change your circumstances. I know it sounds a bit too simplistic and new age, but staying in fear and perpetuating that fear will surely not help, so may as well try to bring ourselves up by getting out of fear and into love.

I read somewhere that Fear is “false evidence appearing real”. Yes the worlds money markets are crashing, but will our being stressed and fearful change the outcome? Will our fear bring money to us? It may propel us to take our money out of banks and put it under our mattress! But it surely won’t solve the market problems.

At an individual level, all you can do is to relax and focus on the positive and not add to the frenzy. If each person was to do their bit, surely the whole would see the change.
As Mahatma Gandhi said “Be the change that you want to see”.

Right now, focus on what you love and attract more of that into your life. Your dominant thought becomes your reality.



Thursday, October 9, 2008

Prisoner of your memories

I read a story about how a 175 pound man can keep an 11,000 pound elephant in captivity. Elephants are known for their amazing memory; unfortunately this very asset becomes its curse.

When an elephant is very young, it is tied to a four foot long wooden stake driven into the ground with a thick rope. The baby elephant tries its mightiest to break free from this captivity, but is unable. After unsuccessfully trying many times to escape, the young elephant eventually comes to believe that escape is impossible. This belief becomes deeply embedded in his memory and is carried into adulthood. When the elephant is fully grown, it can easily break free from the four-foot wooden stake, yet it never attempts to do so. This intelligent, powerful creature is held captive, not by any physical restraint, but by his own memory and associated thoughts.

We humans carry a lot of memories and in those memories we may have thoughts of despondency, inadequacy and regret. At some time in our life we may have been let down or even cheated by someone. We may have tried something and failed at it.Our confidence may have been shaken or even destroyed at that time. We choose to carry that burden even today. Somehow, we started to believe that we were not good enough and became prisoners of our own negative thoughts. Even though we may be extremely qualified, we may have all that we could possibly desire; we don’t feel confident or deserving and sabotage our own happiness?
A friend of mine had a painful experience when he was 16. His girlfriend left him for his best friend. Today he is 24, extremely wealthy and good-looking, but unfortunately very unhappy. He cannot trust either his girl friend or his best friend. He carries with him the painful memory of 8 years ago and sabotages his own chances of happiness.

Do you ever wonder what thoughts of yours might be holding you back? Are you a prisoner of your memories from which you could easily break free, only if you tried?
We are not elephants who can’t break away from the tether. We are blessed with a brain that is extremely malleable and allows us the luxury of change in our beliefs and perception.

Your thoughts can be your hell, or they can be your heaven. If you think you can or if you think you can't, you are absolutely right. In order to do anything, become anything, or have anything, first believe that it is possible.
Like the elephant, my friend is imprisoned by his painful memory and chooses to remain captive of his past and continues to allow it to ruin his present and his future.
What you believe to be true will come true, so choose to believe in the best and you will experience the best. Do not stay tied to old and painful memories. Do not remain captive, break free now. Believe in your ability to break free and you will break free.

Shveitta Sethi

Benign Masochism

Why do we indulge in “Benign Masochism”? What kind of twisted pleasure do we get out of exposing our body to immense pain?

I was in Phuket (Thailand) last week and experienced so much pain due to the gastronomic indulgence of spicy food that I wondered why this fascination with pain. Why was I subjecting myself to this eyes and nose watering, every cell burning experience and yet enjoying the sensation?

"Benign Masochism" is a term coined by scientist Paul Rozin. He says that “people like chilli peppers for the same reason that they like dangerous sports such as sky diving, bungee jumping, climb difficult mountains, ride roller coasters and watch scary movies. All of these activities excite the body by making it respond to a dangerous situation while the mind is certain that these circumstances are safe.”

We have a feeling of control within the uncertainty. Uncertainty within control is probably what turns us on. Pushing the limits of our pain and tolerance gives us a unique high and propels us towards the next high.

Chilli tends to lose its hotness as we progress into the “hot” meal, because our taste receptors undergo a process called adaptation. Similarly our brain tends to adapt to all experiences, whether painful or pleasurable and eventually both seem to affect us less and less.

Rozin says that people often eat chilli at a heat level close to the highest they can tolerate, which means that eating chilli is like pushing the limits of pain and tolerance. It is a subconscious desire to experience pain so that the experience of pleasure is heightened.

Often we try that sort of pushing our limits? We go on roller coasters that defy gravity, drive fast cars at break neck speed, choose to stay in abusive relationships, insert needles into our bodies, go for tattoos and indulge in various other forms of “benign masochism”.

Is it really a subconscious human desire to feel pain? Or are we perpetual pleasure seekers?
I doubt that pain and pleasure can really be separated. They both seem pretty much like two sides of a coin, so what is the real cause of pain?

I think it is our inability to control the outcome that is the main source of pain? Only if we could accept that life is not about control but about acceptance; our pain would most definitely be diminished. The aim is not elimination of pain, but just a diminishing of pain as our love of “benign masochism” will most certainly ensure that both remain a part of our innate humanness .

So next time you feel down and despondent or extremely euphoric, just remember that it is not the situation but your view of the situation that leads to your experience.

The key to living is therefore to live as passionately, creatively, and courageously as possible and choosing to see the situation as being within control and accepting the inevitability of the outcome.

Our fascination with pain and pleasure will never disappear, and our life will remain all the more colorful for it.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Instant mood elevators

In this day of instant gratification, I get asked if there are any instant mood elevators?

Well there are no real short cuts to long term happiness, but there sure are quick fixes to get you started on the path of happiness.

1. When feeling down, contort the left side of your face. Vigorously contorting the left side of the face will release positive emotions by increasing activity in the right frontal hemisphere.( Imp….do not contract the right side as that may lead to sadness !!!!!)

2. Grab a piece of dark chocolate …..Just one small square is enough!!! Try and go for over 60% cocoa. It releases serotonin in the brain, which produces a feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. Studies show that melting chocolate in one's mouth increases brain activity and heart rate. What are you waiting for? Remember stick to one small square.....

3. Smile!!!!!fake it if you have to. Again it is about cheating your brain into releasing endorphins.

4. Knead dough or clay, knit, paint, or do pottery, wash and rinse your clothes ( no washing machines) gardening, sewing, massaging, ironing…. anything that will make use of your hands. Now I understand why the Pilipino helpers are always smiling!!!!!

5. Go for a swim or go for a hike, (enough trails around) any form of exercise. Kissing is also considered exercise as it burns 26 cal per minute, releases endorphins and prevents facial wrinkles!!!!!

6. Get into the habit of writing a gratitude (thank you) journal. This will encourage your brain to consciously look out for things that you are grateful for and those that make you happy.

7. Light some incense or spray some aromatherapy oils on your pillow or put some in your bath. According to research the amygdala is affected by smell. Differing aromatic rings are contained with essential oils. When we smell these, the odor is transferred into a nerve message. The message is sent to different parts of the brain where the process of stimulating different hormones is undertaken.

8. Play Mozart or any music that you like. I listened to Barbara Streisand when I was really depressed, but I can’t do that anymore. Our taste in music changes with the change in our moods and we can also change our mood by listening to the appropriate music. Music has an amazing ability to lift our spirits, gives us new insights and stimulates our mind.

9. Another interesting exercise that works for me. Massaging the point of the Amygdala. Simple way to locate the amygdala gland is by placing your thumbs in your ears, and then place your middle fingers near the inside corners of your eyes. The amygdala gland is found about 1" into the forehead where your index fingers fall. The frontal lobe of the brain can be located by placing your palm on your forehead. The entire area covered by your palm is where the frontal lobes are located. Massaging this area stimulates a release of endorphins. Try it.

10. Watch a silly comedy. Laugh your head off. It might be difficult when you are already down and depressed, so before sitting down for that comedy,call a friend over, get yourself a piece of dark chocolate….maybe a glass of red wine , spray your surroundings with beautiful smelling oils and get ready to lift your spirits.

So no excuses for not pulling yourself out of the get moving and get happy.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

have joy banish pain

I recently met a wonderful person who was suffering from immense physical pain. He had a few toes amputated due to progressive diabetes. He was also suffering from heart trouble and was in pretty bleak spirit. His family was with him, and they too were going through a trying time due to his illness.

I went to meet him at the hospital and found him extremely warm and approachable and at the same time a bit cynical of the purpose of my visit. I had never met him before, he is the father of a friend and I thought it would be nice of me to visit him and try and share some “Happiness” with him.

During the course of the conversation, I found out that he had been carrying a lot of emotional pain. He had unfinished family business and never forgave himself and one of his relatives for having cheated him out of his proper share of land and property. He was carrying a lot of bitterness and anger towards this particular relative. He blamed himself for having let his children down by not having ensured a secure future for them. He felt betrayed and cheated and wanted revenge.

Interestingly, according to Louise Hay- (author, motivational speaker, and healer) Diabetes is emotionally related to –longing for what might have been, a deep sorrow related to need for control leading to bitterness and anger. Heart ailments relate to issues with love and security.

When I heard about his ailments and I heard about his emotional issues I could immediately relate the two. Sure enough, his anger, his bitterness and his need to control and take revenge had to manifest physically and it surely did.

According to Paul Eckmen- researcher of emotions, anger is experienced when we feel someone is interfering with what we want. We experience an innate need to control the situation, we feel like attacking the source of our interference and sometimes we are successful in our attack and at others we are not. When we are not successful with the attack and are unable to achieve the desired result we tend to retain our anger and the mere mention of the object of our anger tends to lead to an increase in heart rate and an increase in the blood flow in our extremities, taking it away from the vital organs. This is due to the fight or flight response. Unmitigated anger over a long period will most definitely lead to physical ailments.

Uncle, was paying a huge price for carrying this anger. He was suffering both emotionally and physically. Only if he could put it aside, he would really start to heal. Often our anger and pain, becomes so much a part of our lives that we forget to live without it. Fortunately anger is a learned emotion; therefore it surely can be unlearned. When holding on to anger starts to threaten one’s own survival, it surely must be let go.

I know from experience the physical effects of guilt and anger. I was extremely angry and at the same time guilty of a certain episode in my life. At that time I used to suffer excruciating headaches and could hardly sleep. I looked older than my age and was constantly tired. I almost believed myself to be a manic depressive and was constantly looking out for signs that made me believe that I was suffering from Bi polar disorder. I just could not put the pain or the guilt aside. Eventually however, I did manage to overcome the emotional issues and before I knew it, I was sleeping like a baby and headaches were history. I took the whole drawer full of sleeping aids and headache pills (which I had collected like candy) and threw it in the bin. Of course it did not happen overnight; it was a slow process of acknowledging and accepting the situation. The giving up of the need to control the outcome by indulging in the right practices-namely yoga, meditation, reading spiritual literature and listening to uplifting music. I did everything I needed to do to get me out of this losing proposition. Wonderful friends who gave the right guidance were a god send. It took almost two years to give up the pills completely, but it happened and I can’t even remember what headaches and insomnia feels like. ( Am not complaining!!!!!!!!)

Is any pain worth holding on to the anger, bitterness and unforgiveness? Very often the object of our anger has moved on and is leading a happy fulfilling life, whereas we choose to suffer and wallow in self pity and self flagellation. Our body suffers and starts to retaliate, our friendships and our families suffer. Our work suffers and we are left with nothing but our anger and our hatred towards the world at large. Nothing seems to please us anymore. We forget joy and we forget happiness. Life becomes a burden and we can’t wait for it all to end.

Again, is it really worth it? We all have a purpose and a destiny and I sincerely doubt if it entails carrying pain, anger and bitterness. I recently watched the movie – Bucket List starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. In one of the scenes Morgan Freeman tells Jack Nicholson that it is an old Egyptian belief that when a person dies and his soul reaches the gates of heaven, the Gods ask two questions that determine if the soul will enter heaven or not. The two questions are “have you had joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to someone’s life?” It is as simple as that.

Have joy and bring joy. An angry, bitter person will never be able to enjoy life and his life will most certainly not bring joy. Happiness and joy are contagious as are pain and misery? What would you rather choose?

I don’t really know much about heaven and hell but why make our life on earth hell when we have the capability right within ourselves to make it into heaven. Why not choose happiness and attain heaven on earth?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The noise of silence

How often have we heard people say that “Silence is golden”. In fact the Tremeloes even dedicated a song to silence.….bet you are humming it right now.
Didn’t realize how noisy and scary silence can be. All our lives we are surrounded by so much external noise that the internal noise gets buried somewhere in our subconscious. The moment the external subsides, the internal starts rearing its ugly head.

I decided to brave my way into silence for the second time. I had attempted to do this a couple of years ago ( Attended Vipassna – a ten day course in silence and meditation) and despite everyone challenging me that I could not do it , I had somehow managed to survive the 10 days with minimal talk and minimal interaction with the outside world. I had however cheated on few occasions as I could not understand the logic behind the exercise.
Since then however, something in my chemical makeup must have changed as I now willingly look for opportunities that take me away into silence and allow me to commune with my inner self.

Having said that; it still is extremely noisy and scary to be in one’s own company.
I was recently in an ashram in India where on offer were Panchakarma treatments. I had heard a lot about the Ayurvedic Panchakarma treatments, so I decided to give it a try. Panchakarma literally translates into “five actions” actions that work towards cleansing and rejuvenating the body, mind and consciousness.
It is well known that our mind plays an extremely important role in influencing the health of our body. By controlling our mind we can control our body. Many life threatening diseases have been overcome by way of positive thinking, repetition of affirmations and visualization techniques.
Panchakarma works in the opposite way. It works on the body and thereby brings about desired results in the mind and eventually helps to raise ones consciousness. The therapies include full body and head massages with oil and herbs, oil baths, pouring of Ghee ( pure rarified butter) into your eyes, nose and ears and other orifices if one is brave enough. Back massage, shoulder treatments, powder massages and synchronized massages by two therapists.

It all sounded extremely exotic and relaxing.

My friend and I quickly signed up for a 10 day program. This was however no 5 star luxury, the accommodation and the food was as basic as it could be. One saving grace was hot water and toilet paper! We had beetles and spiders for company and the variety of beetles was pretty impressive!
I was mentally prepared so took it all in my stride. I was paying – a mere 500 USD for my 10 day stay which included all meals and treatments. The same in a fancy spa would have cost me 4000 USD. I had no right to complain.

The first day was a beautiful full body massage followed by steam. I felt great and started looking forward to the rest of my days.

The second day , I was made to lie on my stomach and a moat of dough was made all over my back. Warm oil was then poured on to my back and I was asked to stay still, both in mind and body. The body somehow managed to stay still but the mind started racing at the speed of 180 mph per sec (The take off speed of a jet). My mind went everywhere and anywhere. I could not bring myself to relax. I thought of all the silly things, my pains, my joys, my past and my future. In 45 minutes I had relived my life a lifetime over.

Next day was the Shirodhara treatment, where warm oil is poured constantly for 45 min on your forehead in soft sweeping motion. Again I was to lie still and let my mind and body rest. I went into panic mode at the thought of having to keep up with the 180 mph speed of my thought waves. Yet again it came to pass, but by this time I was completely exhausted and spent trying to muffle the noise of my internal clutter.

Two more agonizing days of wonderful therapies and crazy thoughts, and by the fifth day I had come to terms with the noise of silence and was ready to face it. It must have shown on my face, because as soon as I walked in to the therapy room, the therapist commented on how calm and peaceful I looked.
The therapies were finally producing results. My body and my mind were getting rid of all the toxins. The physical had finally transformed into the mental. By way of externally treating my body, my mind had gotten treated as well. It was not easy though. At times it felt as if my head would explode with all the thoughts that kept coming to the surface. I had extremely nasty headaches and my nose would not stop running, but somehow I was convinced that it was just an outlet for all the clutter and toxins to leave my body. I became a masochist. I started looking forward to pain and misery.

My friend had a similar experience and during our evening walks we used to compare notes. All was wonderful except the internal noise. Why were our thoughts running at this insane speed? Why was our whole life being packed into 45 minutes a day? All our fears and aspirations were coming to the surface and we had to finally deal with it.

Often we put things away in a little part somewhere in our minds, hoping that the unpleasant would not come to the surface and the pleasant can be visited on demand. Life unfortunately does not work that way. Both the pleasant and the unpleasant are a part of life and both play an equal and important role. We never value the pleasant if we have never experienced the unpleasant. It is the combination of both that gives life its meaning.

In my silence and solitude, I experienced the emotional roller coaster of thoughts buried under layers of external debris. All our lives we try and muffle the internal noise by indulging in external activities. We drown ourselves in work, in our children, in parties, in alcohol, in books, in TV anything that will keep us occupied and keep us away from our own internal chatter. The fear of coming face to face with one’s own self is far greater than any fear from the outside.

I met a 26 year old lady from Slovenia who was also visiting the ashram; she would sit quietly outside the temple and not speak with anyone. One day out of the blue, she came and started talking with me and told me that she was here trying to run away from herself. She was mortally afraid of her thoughts and was trying to drown the internal noise in the ringing of bells and the chanting of mantras in the temple. She said she had experienced glimpses of happiness and peace, but most of the time she had to face the demons of her mind which were convincing her of her fallibility and constantly reminding her of her past indiscretions. There was nowhere she could run to escape this noise. A friend recommended “silence therapy” and that is why she was here. She seemed extremely distraught and unable to cope. The noise persisted and got worse, but as the saying goes “It is always darkest before dawn”. I guess she was going through a catharsis and she had to dig really deep.

Talking to her made me aware of my own fight with my emotional baggage and sure enough I decided to start putting it away. Often it is easier said than done, but habits are formed bit by bit, so they can only be broken bit by bit.

I had read somewhere that “when painful thoughts visit , one should immediately try to supplant those with some neutral or nonsensical thought such as a pink elephant or red rose or repetition of a word like dig, dig, dig…anything that will take away the attention from the painful thought . Of course it would be better to think of something positive, but at times it is easier to think of nonsense than to think of something positive. The technique is called “brain switching”. Concentrating on a neutral or nonsensical thought will jam the sad thought and eventually get one out of the depressed state. Our brain has limited capacity in this regard. It can only think one thought at a time. Mind jumps from thought to thought, but at any one time it can only think one thought. So when faced with the noise of painful thoughts, immediately switch to nonsensical thoughts.”
I had forgotten about this technique, but as I was revisiting my silence and dreading the onslaught of 180mph thoughts, it suddenly came back to me. I immediately put it to test. Lying with my face down and body still, enjoying the warm oil being poured on my back I started to recite a mantra. Before I knew it, my mind had gone into silence and I was at peace. I was not afraid of the internal dialogue any more. I had found a way of dealing with it.

It’s true, what we resist, persists. I was trying so hard not to think of the painful memories that, that is all I kept thinking about. The moment I accepted those memories and decided to switch my focus on the mantra, the thoughts slowly but surely started to dissipate. By the 5th day, I was completely at peace and not afraid of the internal chatter any more.

Our 10 day sojourn eventually got shortened into 8 days as by the 7th day both my friend and I had enough of the bugs and the beetles and had probably had enough decluttering that we were ready to go back to our respective lifestyles full of clutter and chaos ….. All the stuff that makes life worth living!
We decided that, it was enough for the first time and that next time around we would brave the internal chatter, but indulge in a real spa and have some gorgeous hunks for company instead of the bugs and the spiders.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Goal setting Webinar by Carol Gates

Just finished hearing Carol Gates –President of Bob Proctor Coaching Program. It is a wonder that I actually logged on time and managed to dial in without any hiccups.

You see, I am a self proclaimed Luddite. Technology has a way of scaring me off, so although I have heard of things like Pod Casts, webinars, uploading and downloading … I still have not been able to crack it. Although some of my friends may disagree, because amongst them I am probably the most technology savvy as I stare at the computer all day……

So let’s get to the real crux of the matter. Today’s webinar was on Goal setting.
Why do we set Goals?

We set goals to achieve results…… no brainer!, but how often do we achieve those results?

Maybe about 50% of the time?


Because we don’t have a proper action plan and our goals are based on our past thinking and past beliefs, so maybe although we want to achieve a goal, there is a constant nagger telling us it might be impossible.
This is where people like Bob Proctor, Jack Canfield, John Assaraf, Lisa Nichols … and all those from “The Secret” and many others come to our rescue. These people apparently set goals and achieved them and are now are setting goals to help other people achieve their goals.

According to Carol on the Webinar, there are three basic premises to our being.
1. We are spiritual
2. We have an intellect
3. We live in a physical body.

We are constantly in a state of vibration with the Universe. The vibrations that we are in choose our emotions. Those emotions form our beliefs and propel us either towards action or inaction.

Our mind is larger than our physical body and it generates approximately 60,000 thoughts a day. We have the ability to choose our thoughts. We either accept or reject those thoughts based on our experiences and thinking. From those thoughts we generate feelings. Those feelings then convert into actions and those actions bring about results.


Often when we set goals we limit ourselves based on what we have experienced in the past, so even though we want something, we immediately second guess and say to ourselves “but that is impossible” This is just a dream.
This is exactly what Carol wants us to do. She wants us to set impossibly high goals. Goals that we think are beyond our capacity. Goals that we think are just pipe dreams.

At this stage all we need to do is set an impossible dream and not care about how we aim to achieve that goal. Why waste energy in the how, when all we need is the what. There is no limit on what you can dream and no limit on what you can achieve. We are only limited in our ability to believe. So for once give in to your fantasy, go into fantasia and dream.

At this stage get yourselves a pen and paper or go to your computer and make a list of 30 things that you would like to achieve. The list could be as seemingly impossible as you would like it to be. For once don’t limit yourself by being realistic.

Your dream could be wealth related, relationship related, achievement related, fame related, health related and so on. Out of all these choose one primary goal. The bigger the better, but let the goals be materialistic instead of being grandiose like attaining world peace and eradicating hunger!! At this stage be selfish. Think of what you really would like to achieve… maybe millions of dollars, maybe a beautiful condo, a new car, loose a few pounds, get your dream mate etc.
Now start with one that you really want and start to live that fantasy, start to visualize it. See it in color. See it in your mind’s eye. Believe it to be fulfilled. Have faith in its achievement. Do not focus on the how; just continue your focus on the what. Know where you are going and know that you will get there.
According to Earl Nightingale, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”.

This is where you need to evaluate success, what does success really mean to you, what does success really feel like.
Every day we are trading our lives for something, so we may as well trade it for something worthwhile. Make yourself a worthy goal.
The steps to goal achievement:-

1. Start your goal by saying that “ I am so happy and grateful now that……………………………….

2. Write your goal in the present tense. Our subconscious mind that is actually more powerful than our conscious and it only understands the present . State your goal in the now… I am so happy and grateful about being 120 pounds, or I am so grateful and happy about living in this beautiful condo…. You get the idea!

3. Set the target date. At a later stage if you think you are unable to comply with your target date, just shift the target date, but never ever give up on your goal/dream

The webinar ended on a beautiful saying by Henry David Thoreau, “ If a person will advance confidently in the direction of their dream and endeavor to live the life they have imagined they will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”
She went on to motivate us to take result oriented steps and encouraged us to ask questions…for the quality of our questions will determine the quality of the answers we will get.

More to come!!!!

I surely got a lot out of it and hopefully my goal of writing that best seller on happiness will be a reality .

Thanks Carol and thanks Bob.


Monday, June 30, 2008

The Dragon Scroll

I went to see Kung Fu Panda this afternoon with a bunch of children. A movie about a big fat Panda whose one dream is to be a Kung Fu master. As we were walking out, I asked the children what they saw and what they learnt. A very animated discussion followed and they said , it was a movie about Kung fu, It was about the animals, It was about the dragon scroll, it was about the triumph of good over evil, it was about a fat Panda called Po and so on.
But the one line that made a impact on me was “Things become special, because people believe them to be special”. It all comes down to the power of belief. If we believe we can, we will and if we believe we can’t we won’t.

The following is a summary of the movie as stated in Wikipedia.

Po is a panda who works in a noodle restaurant owned by his adoptive goose father Mr. Ping. He is a kung fu fanatic with secret dreams of becoming a great master in the discipline; however his weight and clumsiness seem to make his goal unattainable; Mr. Ping hopes instead that Po will one day take over the restaurant.
The tortoise Master Oogway has a premonition that the evil snow leopard warrior Tai Lung, the former student of his own protégé, the red panda Master Shifu will escape from prison and return to threaten the Valley of Peace. While Shifu sends Zeng, a messenger goose, to Chorh-Gom Prison to have the security increased, Oogway orders a formal ceremony to choose the mighty Dragon Warrior who can defeat Tai Lung. Everyone assumes that one of the Furious Five — Tigress, Monkey, Mantis, Viper, and Crane— a quintet of supremely skilled martial artists trained by Shifu, will be chosen for this honor.
While the Five demonstrate their skills at the ceremony, Po finds himself locked outside the walled palace square. As a last-ditch attempt to get in, he makes a chair out of fireworks, which sends him flying into the center of the arena. Inspired by this sudden appearance, the old master tortoise designates Po the Dragon Warrior to everyone's shock. Despite Po's protests and Shifu's pleas to reconsider, Oogway stands by his decision.
Revolted at having Po under his tutelage, Shifu attempts to make him quit by berating and humiliating him. The Five similarly dismiss Po as a worthless interloper. Although he becomes aware of Shifu's true intentions and is deeply hurt by his heroes' disdain for him, Po endures their abuse willingly for the dream to become something more than the failure he thinks he is. Master Oogway, still certain that Po is the right choice, gives him sage advice to believe in himself. Eventually, Po endears himself to the Five (except for the disdainful Tigress) with his tenacity, good cooking, and sense of humor.
Meanwhile, Zeng's errand backfires when a tour of the prison given to him by the overly confident head of security, Commander Vachir inadvertently enables Tai Lung to escape. Tai Lung orders Zeng to send word of his arrival to Shifu. In the Valley of Peace, Oogway passes away, his final wish that Shifu train Po. However, upon learning of Tai Lung's return, and realizing that he has to face the evil warrior, Po attempts to flee. Shifu stops the panda and promises to train him if he is truly destined to be the Dragon Warrior. When Po confesses his deep self-loathing due to his obesity and his belief that he may never be a match for Tai Lung, Shifu is at a loss for a solution. Overhearing the argument between Po and Shifu, the Five take it upon themselves to intercept Tai Lung. After a long night of pondering, Shifu discovers the following morning that Po is capable of impressive physical feats when motivated by food. Realizing that he has found the right focus for the panda, Shifu leads Po to the countryside for an intensive training regime in which Po is offered food as a reward for learning his lessons properly. As Shifu hopes, Po excels with such motivation and swiftly becomes a skilled combatant.
The Five battle Tai Lung but are eventually paralyzed with a specialized nerve-striking technique. When they return defeated, Shifu decides Po is ready to face the villain and gives him the sacred Dragon Scroll, which promises great power to the possessor. When Po opens it, he finds nothing but a blank reflective surface. Stricken with despair at the scroll's apparent worthlessness, Shifu orders his students to lead the villagers to safety while he stays to delay Tai Lung from pursuing them for as long as he can.
As Po participates in the evacuation, he meets his father, who tries to cheer him up by telling him the secret ingredient of the family's noodle soup: nothing. Things become special, he explains, because people believe them to be special. Realizing that this truth is the very point of the Dragon Scroll, Po rushes off to help Shifu. At this time, Tai Lung attacks Shifu and berates him for not granting him the title of Dragon Warrior just because Master Oogway did not choose him. To remedy that, the leopard wants the Dragon Scroll for himself to complete his training. While fighting, he expresses that he gave in to his aggression and anger so he could make Shifu proud of him. For his part, Shifu is crippled by his profound feelings of guilt and responsibility for his former protégé, whom he loved and raised like a son, turning to darkness.
Tai Lung angrily discovers that the Dragon Scroll is gone, and he attempts to kill Shifu in his anger. But before he can, Po arrives and challenges him. Although Tai Lung scoffs at Po's abilities, the ensuing fight proves Po to be a formidable opponent. Despite Po's skill, Tai Lung temporarily stuns him and gains the Dragon Scroll, but is unable to understand its symbolism. Po tries to explain the wisdom of the scroll to Tai Lung, but the frustrated Tai Lung tries to subdue Po with his nerve strikes. The attack proves useless on the panda, as his nerves are difficult to find due to his body fat. Emboldened, Po counter-attacks with an improvised combat style that takes advantage of his girth to absorb and deflect the force from Tai Lung's attacks back at him. In the end, Po uses the Wuxi Finger Hold on Tai Lung (which he claims to have "figured out" on his own), and destroys him with a devastating explosion that ripples through the valley.
The Five return to the valley to investigate the cause of the explosion and find a slightly dazed but triumphant Po. Deeply impressed at Po's victory, Tigress leads the Five to acknowledge the panda as a Kung Fu master. The villagers, including Po's father, follow suit and hail Po as a hero. At first, he is overjoyed, but then Po remembers that his teacher is badly wounded, and rushes back to Shifu, who claims that he is now finally at peace. At first, Shifu appears to be dying, and Po panicks. But it turns out that he is only resting after such a trying battle .

How could a lazy , clumsy Panda win against the mighty powers of a skillful leopard? The only weapon he had in his arsenal was the power of belief. It reminded me of the Peter Pan movie I had seen a few years ago and, when Capt Hook and his cronies start singing in glee that they do not believe in fairies the fairies start disappearing and when Peter Pan overpowers them and insists on having them say that they believe in fairies, the fairies start reviving.
Of course these are fictional characters and fictional stories, but there is nothing fictional about the power of belief.
It is now being proven beyond doubt that our beliefs and our perception of our environments create out reality. I just finished watching a talk by Dr Bruce Lipton who talks about how our biology is affected by the thought programming of our beliefs. ( So if we believe ourselves to be failures, we will create circumstances in our life that will validate our beliefs. On the other hand if we believe ourselves to be successful our biology and the perception of our environment will change to fulfill our belief of success.
This is no doubt true, but explaining that to 5, 6 , 7 and 8 year olds was not exactly cake walk. When I asked the children what they believed in and if their beliefs were strong enough to come true, their answers were “of course yes”. So when the 5 year old mentioned that her belief was that she could fly from the top of the building, I really had to burst her bubble and say, “you know darling your beliefs have to be realistic, like becoming the best in your class, the best golfer, the best skier etc”. There I was in my limited belief structure already influencing the 5 year old with limiting thinking. I guess, our belief structure is so deep rooted that it will take a few thousand, maybe million years of evolution for our genetic structure to conform to the belief of flights of physical fancy. But having said that, I still believe in the power of belief and love the HSBC line “ What can be imagined can be achieved”. So for once let your flights of fancy take off and aim for the stars, so what if you fail you just might catch a cloud!!!


Gherlin makes us eat more!!!

According to an article in the Science Daily May 7, 2008

“A gut hormone causes people to eat more by making food appear more desirable, suggests a new report in the May issue of Cell Metabolism, a publication of Cell Press.

In a brain imaging study of individuals, the researchers found that reward centers respond more strongly to pictures of food in subjects who had received an infusion of the hormone known as ghrelin. The findings suggest that the two drives for feeding--metabolic signals and pleasure signals--are actually intertwined. It has also been well established that ghrelin activates feeding through its effects on the hypothalamus, where ghrelin receptors are densely concentrated. However, ghrelin also has specific effects on many brain regions implicated in reward and motivation.

"Ghrelin has widespread effects," Dagher said. "It's not one or two brain regions, but the whole network. [After ghrelin infusion], food pictures become even more salient--people actually see them better. It influences not only visual processing, but also memory. People remembered the food pictures better when ghrelin was high."

The reward centers linked to ghrelin in the new study are also those involved in drug addiction. "That shows it's reasonable to think of high-calorie food as having addictive potential.”

Wow, we really should be closing down the Mc Donalds and the KFC’s of the world!!!!!
We are always told that “ you are what you eat”, therefore it is imperitive that we put only the good stuff inside our bodies. But how often are we successful at following the right advise ?We always blame our lack of will power and berate ourselves for indulging in yet another gastronomic pleasure.Every time I took another bite of that tiramisu, or that lovely dark chocolate, I would get that momentary high followed by a long guilt ridden low . Now research has proven that it is not my fault that I am unable to stick to my resolve. Its that miscreant Gherlin rearing its ugly tentacles and forcing me to take yet another bite . I have an alibi, “its not me its Gherlin!!!!!!!”.
Or is it really???
Of course , if research says , there is a hormone that makes us eat more by giving us pleasure, so be it. I like the theory. I really like it. As I was discussing this article with a couple of friends, all too suddenly one exclaimed “ I knew it!! I have tried so many times to loose weight, but I just can’t stop eating, now I know why? Another took her que and said that it was the same with her, she has been trying to give up smoking but she can’t, it’s the bl…y gherlin.” I too thought of my indescretions with food and alcohol and eased back in my chair thinking that finally I too could relegate responsibility of my actions to my hormones.
I came back home and as I was giving my daughter her daily dose of inspiration!!!!!! ( our favorite line is if you say you can you can and if you say you can’t you can’t) it dawned on me that I was trying to preach what I was not following. How easily I was blaming my new friend “GHERLIN” for my addictions.
The Gherlin was more like a Gremlin and we all know what Gremlins do,( they wreak havoc by sabotaging airplanes). So the gherlin was the gremlin responsible for sabotaging my resolve and self restraint….
But did I have to be a slave to my addictions? Addictions only happen if we allow them to become addictions. Gherlin’s job is to make us feel hungry,it will do what ever it needs to make us eat. It is marketing its need. Marketing is all about making the product look more attractive and thereby more appealing. It is our descretion to allow the marketing strategy to work or not.
There is word in sanskrit called ‘samskaras’. Samskaras are grooves and impressions of the mind. These samskaras are formed when certain thought waves become habitual. If we were to ignore these thought waves or ‘vrittis’, no patterns or impressions would be formed, but if we were to give in to our momentary pleasure, it would become a force in our life and a samskara would be formed. Once a samskara has been formed, it takes a huge effort to erase that particular impression.
Every time we give in to our desire a new brain pattern is formed and our desire becomes our necessity.
The cycle goes like this. Meal times- gherlin production increases, we get hungry we eat, but 90% of the time we over eat. Now our stomach and our brain has gotten used to eating more than we need and the groove/impression of the required amount of food has been formed. This generally happens during childhood. Often parents in their well meaning way force the children to eat more than they need . So now our gherlin production has increased and leptin ( the hormone that tells us we are full) has been slowed. It now takes a huge effort to retrain our brain and our stomach to go back to its original food requirement. Our ‘samskara’ for overeating has been formed.
Gherlin also activates the reward centre of the brain and indirectly adds to our pleasure, so if you read between the lines, it is not really the food that the brain is craving for, it is craving pleasure.
Now we understand why when we are emotionaly down we crave food. It’s the pleasure derived out of eating a high calorie food that we crave, so if it is pleasure that the body is craving, we need to look at what gives us pleasure.

Could alternative pleasure be an antidote to obesity? Could sex substitute food? What are the other activities that give pleasure? Going for movies, ( no popcorn and no sodas), spending an evening with friends, Indulging in your favorite pass time (other than eating), exercising, reading, etc. whatever brings pleasure to you will help you achieve your weight loss goal.
Find a passion . Get into the flow ( as mentioned by Mihaly Chikszentmihalyi). When one is in a state of flow, nothing else matters… so gherlin or no gherlin…you are always in control