Is there really a selfless good deed?

Somebody I know likes to donate food and money to homeless people quite frequently and when I ask why, his reply is “To get God’s blessings.”

Which got me thinking.

There is a lot of benevolence around, but just how much of it is selfless? Politicians (or even some celebs for the matter) when they do any charitable work make it a point to call the media and get it telecast or written about in the newspapers to make people see just how “good” they are. These are the good deeds done with an ulterior motive in mind and yes, while the help is not going to waste, isn’t it all just a farce?

The other kind of a good deed is the one done to achieve personal gratification! And I’m not an exception to this. When I look back now, all the good I’ve done is somehow interlinked with what I expected it to make me feel. As I’m writing this, I just remembered that there was an episode of FRIENDS dealing with the same topic!

The third kind of a good deed is done to accumulate good karma! It happens, right? You probably were callous or mean or not at your best in some dealings, so you do a good deed to balance it out! Yay for the karma theory!

And the final kind is of course the popular quid pro quo. You perform a good deed because you expect something in return.  

With all this going around, I realized that true altruism is actually very rare and only very few people have such a selfless heart. I’m yet to exhibit such instincts anyway.

What is your take on this? D’you think I’m wrong or you have a different opinion? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Optimism vs Pragmatism

I’m sure everyone at some point in their lives have been told to either “Be Optimistic” or “Look at the brighter side” or something of that sort. And truth is, we probably needed that advice at that point in time. Even otherwise, most people assume that optimism is the way to go and anyone who shows even the slightest signs of negativity is branded a pessimist. This is part of a larger problem that humanity possesses in seeing everything as black-or-white. It’s either this or that. Like there’s no midway.

Also, as you probably know, an over-dose of anything can be lethal. And the same goes for optimism too. In fact, if you imagine a startup company that is run by all optimistic people, I can pretty much guarantee that they’re gonna run into some nasty roadblocks or surprises along the way. How do you balance then? Throw some pessimists in along with the optimists. They will counter-argue and will try to keep everyone’s feet on the ground.

But you know what’s even better? Being a pragmatist.

And I cannot stress this point enough, but being a pragmatic person will save you from a lot of trouble in any conceivable situation. But how is a pragmatist different from a pessimist? See, a pessimist believes that everything that can go wrong will go wrong. (Ardent believers of Murphy’s laws, these people) But a pragmatist, on the other hand, knows to a better degree what may and what may not go wrong. These are the people who will do their “risk analysis” before starting to do anything (even in personal lives), and will also come up with “risk mitigation” and “contingency” plans. While the more traditional optimists might skip this step altogether!

So why do pragmatists win?

Because they prepare themselves for both the best and the worst.

They don’t wallow in self-doubt or skepticism. Pragmatism is about taking a realistic and sensible approach to things, and about making peace with the fact that things may either go your away or against it. With optimism comes an over-confidence that can cloud your consciousness, potentially blinding you to missteps. Pessimism, of course, leads to fear of taking action.

But pragmatists, on the other hand, are just better at dealing with both success and failure. Because they are also aware that nothing is permanent, and so live in a constant understanding that anything they possess today, they might lose it tomorrow. Loss is after all, a part of life. And dealing with loss/failure is something majority of the human population have trouble with. Pragmatists are slightly better in this regard as they had already foreseen that possibility.

To sum up, pragmatists probably live the most imperturbable lives. They will never say “the glass is half full or half empty”, but they will mostly say, “The glass has an adequate amount of liquid.” 🙂

Cheers.

Why crying is good for you

This is something I’d wanted to write for a very long time. On why crying is not so bad.

See, I’m always wary of people who smile on the outside but cry within themselves, never letting anyone know of their pain. I guess I can’t blame them, because they might be doing it for the reasons best known to them – some do not genuinely want to trouble others with their misery,  while some are hesitent to reveal their personal problems. And then there are some who are worried of becoming lesser in others eyes, if they reveal their vulnerabilities.

But there are a fourth category of people, who do not cry even when they are alone. With no body watching them. I’m not saying that everyone has got something in their lives to cry about, but once in a blue moon something does happen that warrants an emotional outburst. Even in these cases, some people hold it all in and pent up the grief within themselves. And then suddenly, when they can’t hold it any longer, they burst and the tears overflow like a dam whose gates have been just opened. The grief gets multiplied, and this outburst is intense than what would have been if they had succumbed earlier. Crying is as much of an emotional release, the same way an orgasm is a sexual release.

My only advice is, don’t hold it in. Turn on the tap (or faucet, if you’re American) . Let the water fall. Let the river flow. Let it flow until you have no more tears left. It’s only then that you will be over your grief. When relief finally spreads across you. And you will feel a little less fragile. And a little more clear-headed.

And most important of all, talk to people, or just that one best friend of yours. There is nothing that cannot be made better by a supportive shoulder. Or a loving embrace.

And for God’s sake, do not consume alcohol to get over your grief. As someone said, “When you drink to forget pain, all you do is borrow a little happiness from tomorrow.” There are better ways to heal yourself, and drinking is just an escapist job. It won’t solve anything.

P.S. I do not recommend crying over every little thing. I know there are people who this as well, and I’m usally not very chuffed about this. You do not want to be a sob story, all you need to be is real.

Sheldon gets it right 😛

Why people usually don’t give a damn?

In our office we always have three trash cans next to each other everywhere. Each is meant for a different kid of waste.

1) Organic waste 2) Paper, Tissues etc, 3) All plastics.

And guess what? No one cares a damn!

If you open and saw inside each of the cans, you’ll find exactly the same thing: a mix of organic, paper and plastic. Apparently, people think that segregating waste is a mini-game provided by the company that they are not interested in playing. Or they do know why they have to do it, but they don’t do it anyway. When people drink coffee or tea, they get a paper cup and a plastic stirrer. How difficult is it to open two different trash cans and throw paper and plastic separately, I cannot fathom.

This indifference is what gets to me so much. 

The who-gives-a-flying-fuck attitude.

I cannot speak for everyone, but I observe this in my country almost everywhere. There are dirty rivers and lakes, garbage ridden beaches, and severely littered roads. And no matter how many “cleaning drives” are organized, as long as there’s no change in the society as a whole, what difference is it going to make? You clean a beach today, and people will start littering it again from tomorrow.

When did we become so selfish?

Why don’t we mind defiling the environment as long as our own house is clean?

Why do people doodle on historical monuments?

When will we start treating our planet with some respect? 

All questions, but no answers.

And what triggered this outburst? This.

WP_20150614_16_55_12_Rich_edited
A sign at the very beginning of the beach
WP_20150615_09_16_08_Pro
But people are like, “Bitch, please!”

Huh.

All Babies are cute! So can we move on, please!

Something that annoys me all too much is people’s reaction to baby photos on social media.

“OHH MY GOD!!! HE’S SO ADORABLE” goes a screech.

“WHAT A PRECIOUS LITTLE THING!” says your distant aunt.

“AWWWWWW! SO CUTE!!!” says almost every teenage girl. (just for indication purposes, I don’t usually stereotype :P)

“SHE’S DIVINE!” says your overly religious grandfather.

Well, all of the above things may be true. But I don’t understand the need to get so excited each time we come across a baby photo. It’s not like we found a cute baby photo after a string of not-so-cute ones. Every baby is cute and beautiful and precious. So then, why can’t we just accept this fact and move on. I might sound like a crazy man right now, talking rubbish. And you might be thinking, what’s wrong with him? But sorry, sometimes people’s reaction to stuff like this does drive me crazy. It’s like, I get it but why are you making such a fuss about it!

And then there are some parents who feel the need to share their child’s photographs in all postures  and situations for the entire world to see. I understand if you want to take photos for your own personal collection. To capture that memory. I’m someone who would do it too. But no, I don’t want to see a photograph of your kid riding the merry-go-round. Or snuggled inside a blanket. And please, no closeups of your kid’s face next to a flower. Thank you very much.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that there are no ugly babies; heck even animal babies are cute and sometimes even more than human babies. The internet is riddled with kittens and puppies so I will say no more of them but have you seen a baby porcupine?

A baby platypus?

Or a baby elephant?

Or even a baby snake!

Okay, I agree, the last one is more scary than cute. But still, you can’t call it ugly!

So do you see now? There’s nothing special about a cute baby because cute is the way it is meant to be. So the next time you come across something cute, appreciate in silence. If you have to, that is.

The One With The Story AKA “Please don’t pour water!!”

Today I suddenly remembered a story our Hindi language teacher had told us one day, back when I was in school! It’s strange how the memory came back after almost a decade now, but I guess it’s all in this story, which is remarkable in its simplicity. So here goes –

Once upon a time, in 14th Century India, there lived a king in an impoverished kingdom. They had just been to war and exhausted all of their money and resources. As salt in the wound, his one and only daughter fell terribly sick right after. They consulted the best medicine men, but no one could diagnose her condition. They finally consulted an astrologer who looked at her stars and remarked that she was in a bad place and the only way to salvage the situation is to perform Paalabhishekam, a religious rite that involves anointing their local God’s statue in large quantities of cow milk. The king went into distress, he did not have the money to procure the amount of milk required for the ritual. And cattle were on short supply too.

So he came up with a plan. He knew that every household in his kingdom consumed about two tumblers of milk per day. He sent notices to all four corners ordering his subjects to sacrifice their consumption for one day and donate one tumbler of milk to the kingdom. If everyone donated promptly, he would have enough milk for the ritual. He placed a gigantic cauldron with a tiny funneled opening in the city square to hold the donated milk.

Rajanna was the minister’s scribe. That night, when he catches his wife leaving the house with a tumbler in hand, he quickly stops her and yells, “What the hell are you doing?!”

She timidly says, “The ritual…I mean…we are supposed to donate…”

“And waste all that precious milk??”

She looks up at him in confusion,”But they’re keeping track of all the households. We cannot refrain from donation.”

“Then take a tumbler of water and pour into the cauldron,” he says curtly. “It will blend in with the cauldron full of milk. No one would be able to tell the difference!”

So even though the wife feels guilty for donating water, she obeys her husband.

Everyone comes forward and donates that evening. The next morning, when the King’s guard open up the cauldron, they faint at what they see. The cauldron was filled to the brim with plain water.

And there ends the story.

I guess it’s not difficult to deduce what has happened the night before. Everyone assumed that their one glass of water would blend in with the remaining milk and so they all pour water! Not even a single family actually donates milk. While it seems a bit too far fetched, this is of course a fictional story with some very important lessons!

Now if you’ve ever thought something like the below –

  • I’ve already committed so many sins in my life, one more wouldn’t matter. I’m going to hell anyway. 
  • This river/lake is already so polluted, I can throw this one piece of garbage into it and not feel any guilt.
  • No one seems to follow the traffic rules, what difference will it make if I do!!
  • Everyone is cheating in their exams. What point is there in being so righteous, let me cheat as well!  

I hope you see where I’m going with this. I’m sure there’s a proper psychological term for the above behavior but it really is something that brings humanity down sometimes. The notion of – “my wrong doing doesn’t matter in the big picture.” But it invariably does.