Benefits of Laughing

*This was my speech in the Toastmasters club contest held yesterday.  I won, and will now be competing in another Area Contest (did so twice last year) next week.

If you have listened to me in the past, you would know I have tried to make you laugh every time. Unfortunately, many of you didn’t find me funny 😦 I feel for you! But, I don’t give up easily. So here I am to make another attempt…I hope you will open up your lips, jaws, and everything in between…if not for my sake, at least for yours! The reason being, there are numerous benefits of laughing, so even if you don’t like me being here, you should still give it a try.

Let me lay down what you will gain from laughing:

  1. Helps you live a healthy lifestyle – A good laugh decreases stress hormones while increasing the build-up of infection fighting antibodies, thus improving your body’s resistance to diseases. It also relaxes your muscles for up to 45 minutes once you’ve had a good hearty laugh.
  2. Triggers the release of endorphins – Endorphins are body’s natural painkillers and improves your overall well-being. Once you’ve got accustomed to laughing, rest assured, you will start feeling good all over, and it can even help you fight any chronic pain you might have.
  3. Boosts T-cells: There are various types of cells in our body, one of them being a specialized type of immune system cell called T-cell. They are just waiting in your body to be activated, and laughing can do exactly that. Once they are active, they start fighting common symptoms like cold.
  4. Reduces the risk of a heart attack: Laughter helps your fight risk of a stroke or heart attack by lowering your blood pressure. Btw, how many of you have a high BP issue? It’s about time for you to give yourself a nice giggle! Great, you might have just had your daily dose of medicine.
  5. Helps in burning calories – It gets your heart pumping and burns calories. Just a word of caution – don’t compare laughing to hitting the gym or running your heart out. It does burn calories but comparable only to that achieved with walking at a slow to moderate pace. To that extent, it is even classified as a great cardio workout.
  6. Promotes harmony among people – There is nothing compared to sharing a good laugh with others, especially with those who you have a conflict with. Looking at the funny side of a situation helps you calm down the nerves. And if you have chosen to take a situation lightly, there is no way the other person won’t relax.
  7. Laughing is infectious: It is a social phenomena, and the positive vibes spread like a virus. Think about how many times a person next to you has laughed and you have gone into depression because of that. Never, right? So why not spread the infection of laughing around!

laughter alok singhalThese are just a handful of reasons why you should never give up on laughing.

I was a Yoga Instructor close to my earlier workplace, and I used to make it a point to have the members laugh at the end of the session. Believe me, that was the best I could have done for them. And I am glad to have done the same for you today 🙂

*Image sourced from here

Reasons to Love Donald Trump

*This is my next speech in Toastmasters, from the Advanced Manual “The Entertaining Speaker”Donald-Trump-Quotes alok singhalI am not a fan of Donald Trump, so I really hated myself when I chose to talk about why we should love him! But it is good to take a contrarian view sometimes. So, here are my thoughts on why he needs a bit of sympathy:

  1. Teaches us how to raise kids – I am not sure how many of you pamper your kids every time. But he doesn’t! He makes it a point to not have his kids being given things on a silver platter. This essentially means you are teaching your kids how difficult it is to earn money and have them respect the same.
  2. Shares his feelings openly: By now we know he was not completed fit for the position of the President of Untied States. This is because he doesn’t know what, when, and how to speak. In fact, he mentioned this about his daughter Ivanka Trump, “She has a great figure. Had she not been my daughter, I would have been dating her.” Huh! But I like people who come out clean rather than keeping such thoughts to them.
  3. History with women – It is no secret that Trump was a womanizer. When he ran for the President, a lot of women came out in the open accusing him of sexual misconduct in the past. However, do you know there are contradictory images of him, too? He hired one Barbara Res as his head of construction in the 1980s, when not many women held such positions. She later mentioned him saying, “While men tend to be better than women, a good woman is better than 10 good men.”
  4. An inspiration – My wife always says – if he can become the President of a super-power than America is, any Tom, Dick, and Harry can do anything in life. You just have to think Big! In fact, if you didn’t know, he picked up politics as a hobby a couple of years back and ended up defeating Clinton, who spent her entire career in politics!
  5. A real entertainer – This is my personal favorite. Believe it or not, you won’t ever find a character like him at such a position of authority. I mean who else can fit in his philosophy within just 140 characters on Twitter? And can defend it too! With the twitter text limit now raised, I am sure we are bound to have more laughs 😀
  6. He is a winner, after all – No matter his comments on Hillary during the Presidential debates or numerous women accusing him of wrong doings, a lot of people did go out and vote for him, including many women. So, I would assume he has a bit of charisma that drives people towards him.

And who knows, he might actually make America great again! After all, the US economy has shown considerable progress in the last one year!

**Picture sourced from here

4 years with Toastmasters – a journey worth every meeting!

I joined Toastmasters in New York by signing up with Bryant Park club on Oct 1 2013 – I can’t imagine it’s been 4 years already! Though I moved on from there to Warren in New Jersey in Feb 2014, and to Mississauga in Canada in May 2017, I have continued my membership with Citigroup corporate club at each place (luckily, there is/was one). I have written about what Toastmasters is here and here. In fact, I have a news from early last month also – I came in 2nd in the Area 43 contest for Impromptu Speaking (called Table Topics). alok singhalIf you’ve followed me for long, you might know that I won the Area 34 International Speech contest in April this year (in the US), but couldn’t do well at the Division level. Anyway, life is not just about winning, it is more about learning at every step of the way.

It has been my absolute pleasure to be a part of such a fabulous program, which is non-profit by the way! In the 200 or so weekly meetings that have happened in the past 4 years, I must have attended at least 185 of them – such has been my enthusiasm, mostly because of the learnings and fun they provide. I just go to every meeting not thinking about my professional or person life and willing to take in whatever comes. I strong advice you too to find a club nearby by going to https://www.toastmasters.org/ and maybe just walk by to see what happens there for a start. Most likely, you will come back happy and will sign-up!

I can personally lay down the benefits I have seen in myself. I have more confidence in speaking with strangers now, my humor quotient has gone up, and there is that feeling of doing something different than what most of us do on a regular basis. Btw, Toastmasters is not just about Public Speaking as many wrongly understand it to be – the learnings you get while speaking to a group in a friendly environment can be used in everyday life – imagine not slouching while speaking, using proper hand gestures or body language, making eye contact, or just motivating or inspiring people around you. And the price to pay – well, just $45 every 6 months! In fact, many professional speakers around the world rehearse their speech in the club(s) they are associated with before they enthrall their audience at the big stage.

So, what are you waiting for?

The Power of Believing in Yourself!

Some of you know I am a member of Toastmasters, working on my Communication and Leadership skills. I recently won the Area-level contest, having won in the club last month. I would now deliver the speech at the Division-level in April.

Here’s the Speech text. Since delivery matters as much as the content, if not more, think of all the hand gestures, facial expressions, body movements, vocal variety etc that go along as you read through.


Always believe in yourself! I have always believed in myself!

Toastmasters and Guests…

Are you ready to get inspired? Yes, Yes? Let me take you through my Toastmaster’s journey and how just a small belief turned around the fortunes of my current club in Warren!

I was working for Morgan Stanley in New York when I first heard about Toastmasters. Soon enough, I joined a very active club near Times Square in New York. They had about 50 members back then, each ready to grab any role they could get in any meeting.

Much to my delight, I got the opportunity to do my Ice Breaker pretty soon…in about a month. I can’t be proud of my speech though…I was all over the place. I spoke more about myself than even my parents know about me 😦 Anyhow, the feedback was overwhelming with a good number of suggestions to improve, and I did take them positively. But, before I could settle down in the club, I changed my job and joined Citigroup in Warren. The new location meant I couldn’t go to New York anymore. However, by then that club had motivated me so much that I couldn’t think of my life without Toastmasters!

I looked up on the Toastmasters website to find a club near warren and saw a club in Citigroup itself. A big relief, I was ecstatic! However, my happiness didn’t last long as there was no contact from the club mentioned on the website. Huh! I called up Toastmasters help desk and got the name of the founder of the club. After speaking to him, I came to know the club was practically dormant with only a couple of members around, including himself!

I felt dejected! I questioned myself if this was the right club to join. After all, why would you want to join a club with only 2 members around?

But didn’t I say ‘I believe in myself.’ I joined the club (yay) and vowed to give more than 100% to have the club up and running again. The club had had a pretty good run up until the recession of 2008/09, so there was nothing wrong fundamentally with the club.

I was soon assigned the Membership and Public Relations officer roles for the club. We started with an Open House and got a few members. In another few months late 2014, we did another one and got a few more people. In the next 1.5 years we grew up to 28 member-strong! A fantastic growth! And we have never looked back ever since! It’s a journey that the senior members of our club are proud of and we learned many leadership skills on the way – including patience, communication, motivation, and others.

However, one aspect that stands above all is that we came back from a very critical and crucial situation to being a very active club. Many of our members have started the Youth Leadership Programs (YPL). I’ve also conducted the sessions. We have competed at the Area and Division levels and won a few awards too! Moreover, we went on to achieve 2 Distinguished and one Select Distinguished awards in the last 3 years. Yes, we did it all! And we did nothing different than just believing in ourselves, facing the troubles head-on, and overcoming them.

You can do it too! You can do whatever you want to! You don’t have to go to Harvard or read expensive Books for that. It’s all with you already – Just Believe In Yourself!

Can you all repeat after me? I can do it; I can do it, We all can do it!


Wish me luck. If I win, I would then go to the District contest and then to the International Speech Contest (wishful thinking, eh!) 🙂IMG_1254-2

Advanced Communicator Bronze – Toastmasters

Few weeks back I was awarded the ‘Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB)’ certificate by Toastmasters. Earlier, I was conferred with Competent Communicator (CC) and Competent Leader (CL) on separate occasions. I also wrote a post on the same here.

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Each of the Communication and Leadership tracks are independent and can be pursued simultaneously. Only after achieving the basic levels of CC and CL, the respective Advanced levels (multiple of them) can be taken up.

Towards my ACB achievement, I worked upon ‘Humorously Speaking’ and ‘Speaking to Inform’ projects (5 speeches in each). On the Communication side, what lies ahead for me are Silver and Bronze; while on the Leadership side I have to work towards Bronze and then Silver (no Gold here). After completing all the Advanced levels, one becomes a Distinguished Toastmaster.

The overall program layout is below (read bottom-up). Essentially, each level in both the tracks cater to some aspect(s) of Communication and Leadership qualities, thus making one a better Communicator and Leader.

 Communication Track  Leadership Track
 Distinguished Toastmaster (DTM)

  • Achieve Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG) or Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATMG)
  • Achieve Advanced Leader Silver (ALS) or Advanced Leader (AL)
 Advanced Communicator Gold (ACG)

 Advanced Leader Silver (ALS)

  • Achieve Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB) or “old” Competent Leader CL)
  • Serve as district officer
  • Complete the High Performance Leadership program
  • Serve as Club Sponsor, Club Mentor or Club Coach
 Advanced Communicator Silver (ACS)

 Advanced Leader Bronze (ALB)

  • Achieve Competent Leader
  • Achieve Competent Communicator or Competent Toastmaster
  • Serve as club officer
  • Participate in Club Success Plan
  • Attend Club Officer Training
  • Conduct two programs from the Successful Club Series and/or the Leadership Excellence Series
 Advanced Communicator Bronze (ACB)

 Competent Communicator (CC)

 Competent Leader (CL)

I have been enjoying my Journey with Toastmasters since last 2 years now. We might not be looking forward to becoming a Professional Speaker, but the learning’s definitely count – they can be applied in our day-to-day activities perfectly, like in managing a team, motivating our kids, speaking at functions, becoming humorous and entertaining (as i am trying to be – some of my speeches can be found in the Humor category) and the list is endless as one can imagine!

The club at my workplace that I am a part of is supportive, as most of the clubs in the world are (if not all). We learn, have fun and it is sort of a de-stressor too from work. We meet every Thursday from 12.30 to 13.30 and I have to go to another building in the campus. There has hardly been a day when I was not excited enough to be in the meeting. Sometimes, weather plays a role too, like it did last Thursday 🙂

citigroup citi warren new jerseytoastmasters warren citi campus scenic

I strongly advice everybody to join Toastmasters, wherever they are in the world. It is a non-expensive and practical way to refine ourselves!

More information can be found at www.toastmasters.org

Are you less stressed out at Home or Office?

Many of us live a stressful life, juggling multiple priorities – work, kids, spouse, household chores and the associated chaos. Pressures at home are so much that a research published by the Journal of Science and Medicine last year mentioned that we are less stressed out at work than at home. This is not to say we don’t like being with our spouses or kids or not doing the laundry and other stuff…it just means that our stress levels – as measured by cortisol, a stress hormone – are significantly lower when we are in the office.

I can relate to the study, because my concentration and efficiency levels go up when I am in the office – a point also proven by the researchers. At home, the expectations of my family are high with regards to helping them out in some way. If I am not able to, my own guilt creeps in. The result being I feel pressurized to perform on all accounts. Hence, my performance goes down by not being able to focus on any given task and I feel tense.

Within the genders, research points out, women feel more relaxed at work as compared to men, who consider home just marginally better. And this is understandably so, as women have tasks lined up at home when they return from work – parenting, housekeeping, emotional work of the family, and others. It is not only the work itself, but the associated planning, organizing and keeping track of it all also that adds to the stress. When they are at work, they only have to perform one role.

The reason for men feeling slightly better at home as compared to women is because our responsibilities have hardly changed over the years or decades. Many of us still don’t like doing the laundry (an example post with some humor is here) or even cleaning up after the kids. The result being, our working spouses have taken up considerably more workload.

Considering that both men and women are a lot less stressed out on the weekends – when they are home – than on the weekdays, points out that it is more of a multi-tasking issue than anything else. It’s the juggling across multiple competing tasks that is killing us during weekdays, which is not the case on weekends, when most of us are not working.

The findings are particularly disturbing as high stress levels contribute to high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, inflammation and cancer, and many other mental and physical disorders. An earlier research concluded that cortisol can act like a contagion and spread like a virus through the family. It can even alter the DNA in children.

The way to overcome the issue is to make the juggle more manageable. A research funded by the National Institute of Health has found out that a creative workplace policy like Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) can help. It evaluates employees by their performance, not when, where, how or the hours they put in. It has been found to lead to lower stress levels, improved health, mood and employee commitment and loyalty.

How can Toastmasters help you?

There is a practical and inexpensive way to work upon our Communication, Public Speaking and Leadership qualities – Toastmasters. It is a non-profit organization that i joined based on recommendation from my wife and i absolutely love it.

The concept of Toastmasters is simple – they have clubs all over the world, where one can work on refining oneself, primarily in the areas of Speaking, Listening and Thinking. In any club meeting, there are multiple roles involving Toastmaster (host for the meeting), Invocator, Joke Master, Word Master, Speakers and their Evaluators, a section to learn impromptu speaking called Table Topics, Grammarian and General Evaluator for the meeting. Each of the roles are taken up by members on rotation basis. For Speaking, there are defined projects on Communication and Leadership, in the manuals one gets on becoming a member. There are both Basic and Advanced levels for each. We learn from each others’ experiences in the club…the feedback is supportive and constructive.

One is also Awarded as we progress through the projects. I am already a ‘Competent Communicator’ and ‘Competent Leader’ (see certificates below) and on my way to achieving ‘Advanced Communicator Bronze’ later this month.

alok singhal - competent comunicator   alok singhal - competent leader

Toastmasters education program allows us to do much beyond the club activities. We belong to areas (combination of clubs), divisions, districts and International organization. There are contests that are held at each of the levels; if you win, you progress over to the next level. The fees for becoming a part of all such activities (membership fees for a club) is not much and goes to the Toastmasters International – $36 for 6 months and a one time $20 joining fee. Some clubs charge a nominal club fees also.

I joined Bryant Park Toastmasters club in New York on Oct 2013 and because of my job change moved over to a Bank in Warren, New Jersey in Feb 2014. The club there was founded in May 2005 and had a great run for many years. But it was now practically dormant because of recession and accompanying layoffs. I desperately wanted to see what’s going on because it is so easy to attend a club at the workplace. I contacted Toastmasters Contact Center and got contacts of a couple of club members. After contacting them, i realized they also wanted to have it up and running but were lacking members.

So, with a bit of fresh energy, we started with the meetings – just the Founder of the club, President, and myself. We also had a couple of other members who were non-regulars. The Bank had a huge facility in Warren, with multiple buildings in close proximity to each other. It was just about making employees and consultants aware of our Club. Some had heard about Toastmasters in general, but not the club. Soon, with had marketing fliers in all the buildings and got a few members.

Then, we conducted an Open House in Apr 2014 and made people aware of Toastmasters and our presence and what are the benefits of joining a club. Soon, we got additional members and the count went beyond 10. But then, not many turn up in every meeting. As a result, not all the roles were filled up in meetings or one had to pick up on multiple roles. I learned that one has to be motivated enough from within to really come by in meetings. So we had to get additional members.

We grew a bit more through word of mouth, and corporate communications. In Sep 2014, we again went for an Open House and that’s when we really banged it. We shooted up to 28 members just in a few weeks from then. And rest is history…we are going pretty strong now. There have been minor hiccups on the way, but that is life anyway!

We are on our way to becoming a Distinguished club for the year ending June 2015. The club achievements are based on the credits members achieve as they work on their projects during any year. There are 3 levels of being distinguished, we hope to finish at the 2nd level…a fantastic achievement for us!

Now a good news from last week – i have been nominated for the Area Director position, which i have gladly accepted. The journey looks even more exciting.

P.S. I represent the VP – Membership and Public Relations for my club and have vested interest in getting additional members 🙂

www.toastmasters.org

Blissful Yoga!

My mother suffered from severe Migraine for many years, and tried every medicine and treatment in the book and any other options she heard of. It was the most stressful time of her life; but in the end, she was rescued by Pranayama, which is the formal practice of controlling the breath.

Many of us would have heard of such stories about Yoga and its benefits for both Physical and Mental well-being. Some of us might have even tried it at some point in life. But how many have actually made it into a routine? Very few… we are so busy with Social Media these days, that our own health has become secondary for us. However, do you know Yoga is actually an addiction for many? Why? Because its regular practice provides benefits like improved flexibility, stress reduction, mental clarity and many other benefits.

I try to do my bit every weekend by attending a Yoga session at Gayatri Chetna Center in Piscataway. It’s an hour long class that is free of cost and I have been attending it religiously for the last one year or so. An additional benefit is I get to visit the temple, which my mom is so happy about.

The session normally starts off with a Prayer followed by body warm-ups. The best way to do that is through Sun Salutation (also called Surya Namaskar) which is a combination of 12 poses. It is a great workout for the whole body and includes stretching, flexing and toning the muscles, and is an excellent exercise for weight loss. It leads us to meditation also by relaxing the mind.

Equestrian pose (Ashwa sanchalanasana)

Downward facing dog (Adho mukha svanasana)

Once we are through the basics, we do multiple poses (or asanas as they are normally called). These include stretching, balancing, forward and back bending, twisting and many more in both standing and sitting positions.

back bending yoga

yoga stretching

Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana)

The benefits of all these are numerous.

On the Physical side:

  •         Our body becomes more Flexible. Also, with our sedentary lifestyle, we need these exercises to loosen up our sore muscles.
  •         It builds up Strength as a result of which Muscle tone also increases and weight loss is much faster.
  •         Helps in Balancing, which helps as we age.
  •         Pain prevention, helping with arthritis in a major way.
  •         Better Breathing, thus avoiding certain types of allergies.

Even Mentally, we derive many benefits including Mental calmness, Stress reduction and becoming aware of our Body, thus leading to greater self-confidence.

We also do some Pranayama, which is the source of our prana, or vital life force. For those who are familiar, we cover Alternate Nostril Breathing, Frontal Brain Purification and Bumblebee Breath. What follows is a period of short relaxation in Corpse Pose (shavasana).

Corpse pose (Savasana)

In the end, we practice Yoga of sound by chanting 3 sounds of Om. Om is considered the monarch of all mantras. Expert Yoga teacher Adrian Cox explains, “When you chant OM with the right understanding, it becomes a powerful yoga practice in its own right…Chanting OM creates detachment and empowers all mental and spiritual processes. It can take you all the way to deep states of yoga, if you have good concentration.”

I feel so relaxed after this class that I look forward to it.

I suggest if you want to live a blissful life, practice Yoga. Just doing Sun Salutation alone five times in a day has innumerable benefits. And, it’s our body after all!

Attire matters!

PS (Pre-Script): Contents are funny (or supposed to be), please proceed with a Smile!

I have come a long way to look decent, if not good! If you had seen me before marriage, you would be utterly surprised to see me now. My dressing sense has improved drastically, courtesy my wife, Saru. Today, the likes of Calvin Klein, Gucci and Ralph Lauren adorn my wardrobe.

Let me take you through my Journey.
Saru and I studied together in school though we were in different sections (sort of different classes because of batch size). I don’t remember speaking to her at length ever, so we didn’t know each other much. It was during my Summer Internship with IBM as part of my MBA curriculum much later in life that I somehow met her on Orkut, the Social platform that is no more. She was running her online business then and used to be on the Internet quite often. I at least remembered her name from school, so we found a way to talk.

After a few conversations which made us comfortable, we opened up a bit. As her Parents were looking for a groom for her and I also was not much away from my days, somehow we got into the discussion of marriage. I have always been pretty simple in life and have had a good corporate career even before getting into MBA which I was now doing from a pretty reputed college in India. Barring my looks, my professional and family credentials were noteworthy. Saru must have taken a note of them and she never worried about the looks anyway.

Soon, we decided to meet during my upcoming weekend trip to our hometown, Ambala. We told our families that we would meet informally at a neutral place. On the D-Day, I was such a nerd that I set out to meet her for the first time in a white T-shirt and dark-brown Pajama. What the heck, I think of myself now. Who with the complexion I have wears such terrible attire on a date! God knows what Saru would have thought about me then. Luckily, that’s history now.

Saru has worked hard on me, the way I look and the way I behave also. Not only the external appearance, but my undergarments have also been upgraded. Earlier, I used to go with my favorite Red Hill (a local brand famous in North India) so much so that I used to mock my wife ‘Red Hill ka kaccha Calvin Klein se achcha (Red Hill’s brief is better than Calvin Klein’s),’ but now it’s more of Hanes and Jockeys of the world.

But considering the wacky looks I sometimes get from ladies around, I still feel there is some scope for improvement. For a consolation, at least now they are looking at me. I can now relate to how much elated ladies feel when we look at them and why they spend so much on their make-ups. Makes me feel I should increase Saru’s monthly allowances.

So guys, take it from me – what you wear is how people perceive you. It is very essential to be properly dressed; who knows, you might just get lucky with that lady you have been dreaming about 🙂

PS (Post-Script): If you ever see multiple creases on my Trouser or Shirt, it means I recently had an argument with Saru and I have been ironing my clothes.

What is our Purpose in Life?

Most of us are not even sure where we are heading in our lives. In fact, it is a constant struggle for almost each of us trying to figure out “What exactly do I want to do with my life?”

The truth is we all want to do something important in our lives, but then what exactly is that ‘something important’ is a bit hazy for most of us. After thinking through, it all boils down to making the best use of time that we have in our lives.

To help clarify the doubts, there are a few questions we can ask ourselves, which can define the purpose of our lives a bit more clearly.

  1. Can we handle the tough times?

Some of us want to make it big in our lives, but that requires navigating through the tough times, which most of us are uncomfortable with. But then things are not rosy all the times, there is some sort of cost or sacrifice associated with each and everything important that we want to do. For e.g. If we want to be a successful entrepreneur, but we can’t handle failures, then our goal itself is a big question-mark for us. If we want to make it big, we need to be comfortable with the ups and downs that come with it.

  1. What is that the child in us wants us to do?

We all loved to do something when we were kids. But somehow have lost touch with all that may be because of social pressures or professional obligations. This essentially means we are not doing what we wanted to do with the innocence we had earlier. To me, that is an important aspect of enjoyment in life. For e.g. it wasn’t until recently that I rediscovered how much I loved writing. And I started this blog — something I did in my early teens, because I enjoyed it.

  1. What is our real passion?

One might say I love anchoring the shows, which even I used to do not so long ago. But the real passion is not that, it is actually the improvement behind it, being good at connecting with others and may be making them laugh or just entertaining them. The anchoring itself is just one aspect, but i can easily live without it since it’s the improvement behind it that matters to me.

So we all need to find our passion. It might be anything, but we need to really look at the cognitive principles behind those activities; because if we do so, we can easily apply the underlying concepts elsewhere.

  1. Is our embarrassment holding us down?

Great things are, by their very nature, unique and unconventional. Therefore, to achieve them, we might have to go against the herd mentality. But most of us feel scared of being singled-out and may be afraid of losing some friends. Unfortunately, sometimes we can only make headway towards the wishes we have by treading the lonely path. It might be embarrassing and scary, but then that is the only way.

  1. If we knew we are going to die one year from today, what would we do and how we want to be remembered?

Most of us are so afraid of thinking about death that it freaks us out. But that is the only certain thing in our lives. In fact, thinking about our own death surprisingly has a lot of practical advantages. One of those advantages is that it forces us to zero in on what’s actually important in our lives and what’s just frivolous and distracting. Think about if you had only one year to live, what you would like to achieve and many things will automatically fall in place.

We can add a few more such questions to the list, but ultimately the goal is to be clear on these points ourselves. Once we do that, we are going to come out of the haze we find difficult to cross. That’s what will lead us to our purpose in life.