Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Toward an Innovative Workplace

§ The lack of resources forces us to innovate.

§ Tough times help us adapt.

§ Tough times force us to think outside the box or even eliminate the box.

§ Everything changes—people, products, companies; men, materials, machines, methods, markets and money (the six Ms).

§ Creativity is the spark and innovation the fire in the fireplace, which cooks and bakes.

§ Creativity involves four components—the Creative Person, the Creative Process, the Creative Product and the Creative Climate or environment.

§ An environment replete with the positive emotions of love, peace, bravery and compassion provides a positive climate, which nurtures creativity.

§ Creativity training at IBM, whose motto is ‘Think’ resulted in producing the largest number of patented inventions.

§ Innovation should be part of everyone’s job description.

§ Vision and leadership are necessary to inspire a widespread commitment to innovation.

§ The lack of collaboration between departments stifles innovation.

§ Motivation of employees and innovation complement one another.

§ Team work drives innovation.

§ The ability to thrive in an environment of rapid change is essential.

§ Money and resources are essential lubricants of the innovation process.

§ Conformism and stereotypes hinder creative problem solving.

§ Innovation should be focused on specific business goals.

§ An open atmosphere ensures greater productivity.

§ Efficient meetings are a trademark of innovative organisations

§ Innovation centres drive innovation.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Toward a Healing Workplace

1. Create meaningful personal relationship with co-workers.

2. Take short relaxation breaks, at least thrice a day.

3. Eat fresh, energy giving foods.

4. Take a walk outdoors during lunch break.

5. Stay away from politics and back-biting.

6. Bring your family to the office during lunch break or on a Saturday.

7. Cultivate a hobby.

8. If you have a toxic workplace, look for another job.

9. Celebrate achievements, even small ones.

10. Make your workspace clean and comfortable. Surround it with happy pictures.

11. Listen to music with headphones.

Learn to Deal with Others and their Feelings

A drug addict once explained the difference between sympathy and empathy. He said, ‘You can never feel anything but sympathy for me and what I need is empathy.’ The he said, ‘Empathy is the capacity to feel my pain in your heart.’ To be ‘socially tone deaf’ * can lead to a life littered with broken relationships. Develop the capacity to pick up subtle verbal, tonal and non-verbal signals from others. Learn also the ability to send out soothing, nurturing signals to others, thus creating a positive interpersonal field.

Unlike in a magnetic field, where positive attracts negative and vice versa, a positive, emotional and spiritual field, attracts positive people and events and, in addition, transforms even a normally negative person into a positive one.

‘How can I develop this skill?’ I ask. ‘Practice working with people and listening to them with the same attitude as you would a beloved child, or respected parent. Your word, tone, your very glance should be completely focused on the person. Don’t dilute the interaction by playing with your Blackberry, talking on your cellphone or fiddling with your laptop. When you are with someone, pay complete attention. Anything less will only elicit a lukewarm response. Those who can create positive fields around themselves attract and build lifetime relationships.’

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nurturing work place

Many of us spend most of our time at work. If we do not enjoy our work, if we feel overwhelmed by it, it will surely damage us. The constant pressure of negative emotions causes inescapable damage to our arteries and other delicate tissues. It also slows down the body’s capacity to repair this damage.

To work at something you love, to be ‘self-actualized’ in Maslow’s terms, is to protect yourself against dying young. As Khalil Gibran wrote, ‘What is it to work with love?... It is to weave the cloth from the strings of your heart, as though your beloved were to wear it.’

Politics can make the blood boil with suppressed rage and unexpressed anxiety. ‘Fast tracking,’ being a corporate star, will extract the inevitable price of damage to arteries if you are not ‘mindful’, if you are not aware of the impact of everything you do on your system.

Reisman speaks of the ‘lonely crowd’. Loneliness, a sense of exclusion, is a poison that can cause illness as easily as a virus or bacteria. Loneliness is the most lethal of modern diseases. For example, newly widowed women have a higher rate of breast cancer than wives or single women.

Happy Professions

1. To make a living causing least pain to living creatures.

2. No mad deadline, no emergency.

3. Self-dependent and can take their own decisions.

4. Allows for innovation.

5. Requires personal touch and get human responses, usually positive.

6. Work with their hands and see their customers.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Healthy Home nurturing Positive mindspace

A healthy home would be a healing space, a nurturing positive mind field. It can be a place where all wounds are healed. Alvin Toffler wrote ‘The family is the giant shock absorber of the family to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with the world!’ If your home is not a sanctuary but a battle-field do something about it. Get help, maybe professional help. Reserve time for laughter and happiness—schedule time for it, like you do for your work.

Have a rule to avoid difficult topics during meal times or bed time. Music, if is soothing, can be a powerful force for peace. The very walls absorb the vibrations of the music. Mantras can do the same for your home. I sometimes feel that if music can be infused into the mindspace so that it plays quietly in your mind, as the background to your day, it can have a really soothing affect. Avoid violent, depressing programmes. Just as you would not allow a terrorist into your home, do not allow such movies into the sacred space of your home. You surely are the protector of the field that exists in your home. Make your home fragrant with incense. Clean and sparkling and beautiful. Respectful of the sacred forces that can animate your home

Monday, May 23, 2011

Towards the Ardhanareeshwara Model

The new millennium is a time for growth and promise for women managers. It is a time when the ‘Complete Man’ is allowed to cuddle babies and shed tears. The sharp man/woman divide, the Mars/Venus chasm has been miraculously bridged by the challenge of the times. It is a time to build partnerships and collaboration.

The answers bridge the radical divide that separates the Indian heritage from the cyber world of the future. That unimaginable time had finally arrived on the doorstep of corporate history when the Mind is far move relevant than all the other Ms—materials, machine, market methods and money. All of them surrender before the implacable application of the Mind. The Mind is neither male nor female. To be ‘ardhanareeshwara’ is the challenge all human beings today. This is why the ratio of men to women in the IT industry begins to approach that magical figure of perfect collaboration, fifty-fifty.

Bill Gates, the richest man in the world and author of At the Speed of Thought, is a symbol of this crucial shift. It has enabled him to create unimaginable wealth by the sheer application of the Mind.

The Ideal Householder

The ideal householder leads on earth a consecrated life, not unmindful of any duty to the living, or to the departed. His wife, the glory of his house, is modest and frugal, adores her husband, guards herself, and is the guardian of his house’s fame. His children are his choicest treasures; their babbling voices are his music; he feasts with the Gods when he eats the rice their tiny fingers have played with; and his one aim is to make them worthier than himself. Affection is the very life of his soul, of all his virtues the first and greatest. The sum and source of them all is love. His house is open to every guest whom he welcomes with a smiling face and a pleasant word, and with whom he shares his meal, courteous in speech grateful for every kindness, just in all his dealings, master of himself in perfect self-control, strict in the performance of every assigned duty, pure, patient and forbearing with a heart free from envy, moderate in desires, speaking no evil of others, refraining from unprofitable words, dreading the touch of evil, diligent in the discharge of all the duties of his position, and liberal in his benefaction, he is one whom all unite to praise.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happiness Creating Activities

It is up to each family to celebrate, to enjoy life on a regular basis. Maybe every day, with super celebrations on the weekend, like teenage kids do. A special movie on television can be celebrated with popcorn. One can dress up for dinner on Saturday night at home. We can make affirmations for the family, a way of life.

Singing together.

Thanking your gurus or teachers.

Being loving and giving affirmations to parents and elders.

Forgiving those who harm you. Image the best events and people.

Call forth the highest from others.

Think of God, the source of all abundance.

Celebrate Abundance. Praise God.

The ancients tell us that Brahma the Creator has put in a certain predetermined number of breaths into every creature. If a person gives in to intemperate passions, the first system to be affected is his breathing. He uses up his designated number of breaths faster and succumbs to death. The blue-print of all life is the same. The structure of every atom in our bodies is reflected in all living and non-living things. The joy and pain of life flows through all animals, birds, fish and plants. It is not difficult to believe that the divine spark is in all beings. Imaging creates reality. We are surrounded by the field of all possibilities. The thought seeds we plant in the form of intentions, thoughts, dreams, actions today, grow into tomorrow’s realities. ‘As you sow so do you reap’, says the Bible.

Friday, May 13, 2011


The poorest among mankind celebrate the gift of life and the bounty of Nature. In early January, the whole village celebrates Pongal in Tamil Nadu, South India and similar festivals all over the world depending on the harvest time. It stretches over four days, which become an island of joy, even if life is a stormy business. All old things are burnt in a huge bonfire. New clothes are worn. Overflowing joy and good fortune are celebrated by the Pongal pot of plenty which boils over with the rice and jaggery that will be eaten at the celebration.

The house is newly painted and decorated. There is a whole day devoted to cows. Their horns are painted and bodies decorated, and they enjoy a rest and good food. The last day is devoted to going out and seeing friends and relatives, watching movies and generally celebrating life.

The saying is that when Thai (following the mid January Harvest festival) is born, a way will be found to solve all problems. These celebrations lift you out of the trough of despondency. They fill you with the energy to make a new beginning with the help of God and the family.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Power of Affirmations

The family is the magic circle where all wounds are healed and all dissonance melts into harmony. It is important to make sure you give affirmations to all members of the family, particularly the ones to whom you usually send devastating Heat Seeking Missiles (HSMs) like, ‘Why is your room like a pig sty?’ ‘Why do you always forget anything I tell you?’

Make every day an occasion to show how important your family is to you. Everyone talks of quality time nowadays. Once, a girl from Kuala Lumpur told me about her exciting marriage to a man from LA. ‘We have a really good time on holidays,’ she said. Another bright young yuppie from a major bank said her husband worked for the same bank in another city. ‘We meet on weekends and feel just like we did when we were dating!’ she said her eyes shining. Is this looked-forward-to weekend the antidote to the solid permanence and possible boredom of a traditional marriage? Are the constant travels away from each other the basis for the ‘open birdcage’ marriage to which the bird always returns from its travels?

Children however need the security of a simple, dependable schedule. Ambiguity or lack of dependability in family life is known to affect the individual’s capacity to live in a secure long-term relationship in the future.

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'

Teenagers in the Family

This is a critical time when family can make all the difference. I remember the time my fourteen-year-old nephew came to me and said, ‘I want a ring in my navel.’ Being by then an experienced uncle of teenagers, I said, ‘Hey, I also want one. Let’s go to a hospital and get it done.’ My nephew was shocked. ‘Do you really want it too?’ he asked. When I nodded in the affirmative, he said he’d get his done later! The fact that an old man (at twenty-eight I was ‘old’ to him) wanted it, made it far less attractive to him.

This is a time of acne, broken hearts, a newfound interest in the opposite sex, in looks and clothes. ‘Only a mother could love him,’ a friend of mine said of her teenage son.

Many times as a parent, one just remains patient and hangs in there. And suddenly one day they are grown up.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spend More Time With the Family

Most working couples say `I wish I had more time at home’. If they cannot go home, can their homes come to them? A classic turn it upside down thinking tool. Can kids meet parents for a picnic or lunch at the office? Can couples plan business travel together? Can the office incorporate a Saturday kids’ day into its schedule to improve participation from the family. An open house for kids to see the world their parents inhabit.

In the family, creating a positive field, full of the positive emotion is critical.

The Five Senses and Happiness

1. The smell of incense and home-food cooking.

2. The taste of love and attention.

3. The look of a newly swept yard with a kolam (design on the ground done created with rice flour)

4. The touch of freshly washed and ironed bed sheets.

5. The sound of contentment after a good


Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Supportive Circle of Family

Today, however, the family unit itself is under attack.

The breaking down of the joint family has led to a loosening of extended family relationships. The powerful mother­in­law of the joint family is emerging as the subdued caretaker of children, helping the educated daughter­in­law to augment the double income of all upwardly mobile young couples. The large, amorphous, supportive joint family that supported a wide variety of people, physically and otherwise challenged, has been reduced to the nuclear family where everyone is in sharp focus. Where there is no place to hide—much like the modern corporation, where there is no place for passengers, everyone has to pull his weight.

There should be one person who can be a shock absorber in the family. Someone who is not too busy to listen, to support, to manage the daily tasks of living. This could even be a paid caregiver or a cook. Networking is the key for working mothers. Networking with parents, in-laws, neighbours, domestic help and friends.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


After the World Wars, many babies were orphaned. They were placed in state-run orphanages in the United Kingdom. They were kept warm and clean and fed at regular intervals. Suddenly many of the babies began to die of unknown causes. Scientists ascribed the reason for death to ‘lack of human touch, a lack of mothering.’ These deaths were caused by lack of hugging, fondling and nurturing. No one mothered the babies or spoke to them or sang to them. The children died due to lack of love.

The family provides the love and nurturing required for the survival of children. As we grow older, we crave nurturing, but are not adept at asking for it. We long for affirmation from the ‘significant other’ in our lives.

Affirmation is when important people in our lives say, ‘What I really like about you is ...’ They say it verbally, tonally, non­verbally. The opposite of an affirmation is a discount. You need at least ten affirmations for every discount for the maintenance of a healthy relationship. A home filled with discounts becomes a torture chamber instead of a sanctuary. Dr Dean Ornish says that men who feel that their wives love them are much more likely to reverse heart disease, than those who feel the opposite. The home can be the cause for disease. It can also be the safe sanctuary for healing and reversal of disease. Fill your home with affirmations, with positive strokes, with a peaceful atmosphere, a nurturing space that enhances prana, the life force. Laughter and smiles, compliments and hugs can create a powerful positive field in the home.

‘Family is the shock absorber of society, to which the bruised and battered individual returns after doing battle with the world,’ wrote Alvin Toffler in his landmark work ‘Future Shock’. The family provides unconditional love for the crippled, the old and the helpless. It heals the pain of failure and provides rest from the assaults of a cruel competitive world. Family dynamics can cause disease or reverse it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Affirmations for Personal Wellbeing

You are a powerhouse of potential. The great Michelangelo was once asked how he created great statues. Old and half blind, Michelangelo stood before a block of marble, scarred and muddy from the quarries of Carrara. He said quietly, ‘I have never created a statue. I just stand before a block of marble and study it with reverence. For I know that within every block of marble, there lies a statue, waiting to be liberated by the touch of the Master’s hand.’ Within each of us lies hidden a masterpiece waiting to be liberated by the magic touch of attention. Only you can do it.

Be your own ‘expert’. Do not build negative ideas about yourself through the comments of others. Your self-talk should be calm, happy and elevating. Choose to see and hear what is beautiful and encouraging. When you are wounded, learn to soothe yourself by using these affirmations.

(Sit with eyes closed and silently affirm)

By nature I am kind, gentle and loving.

Any mistake committed is unintentional and I forgive myself and others for it.

God’s grace has created a magic circle of love, a safe haven for me and my loved ones.

I am capable of achieving my goals with hard work and dedication.

I look around me for help and knowledge to reach my goals.

I seek companions who encourage and help me.

Happiness Bytes

The world is in your drawing room, it is clamouring to change your life with more and more sophisticated toys. As a popular jingle goes, 'What separates the men from the boys is just the price of their toys.’ Simplify and go home to what you really need.

The world is like a buffet counter at a five-star hotel. Let's not grab everything on our plates. Let us be choosy, so that we may avoid spiritual indigestion and physical exhaustion.

Let us replace stress with positive emotions that engender joy. Let us increase our Happiness Quotient (HQ).

‘I felt like a waterfall,’ said Diane Roffe–Stainrotter, gold medallist skier in the 1994 winter Olympics. The joy of a job perfectly executed, fills the body with the chemicals of bliss.

Professor Mihalyi Csikzent speaks about a state called the flow, which athletes, musicians, surgeons—in fact everyone experiences when they are at their best. It is the experience of doing your job with total immersion in it. So absorbed are you, that there is no place for anxiety or niggling worries.

·Finding a job you love is one of the ways you can immunise yourself against health problems. A good marriage is a protective shield against heart attacks.

The capacity to enjoy the free gifts of Nature—sunlight, rain or flowers starts the flow of the chemicals of bliss. It is in this gentle chemical bath that the body is able to replace dying and dead tissues. Merely avoiding negative emotions is not enough; one should consistently cultivate the positive emotions: love, compassion, courage and peace.

Stress is the epidemic of the new millennium. Protect yourself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stress and Health Care Systems

The indigenous health-care system is commensurate with the traditional habits, lifestyle and value systems of a particular culture from where it has evolved. The indigenous health-care systems cannot be effective if there is a radical change in the habits of that culture. This ‘patient-system-mismatch’ is very evident in the case of westernised Red Indians who have lost their traditional healing capacities. On the contrary, the Keralities, inspite of coming into contact with the western culture, have not themselves become westernised. They still value their tradition. Perhaps that is why their age-old habit of using a rather high cholesterol diet has not resulted in an increased incidence of heart disease. It is also interesting that the indigenous systems of medicine continue to have a stronghold in Kerala.

All health-care systems, including modern medicine are in agreement today over the issue that a patient’s psychological state has much to do with the healing process. Minor activities like taking part in a satsang, singing a tune you enjoy and dancing for fun to your child’s delight can make you feel contented and allow the good chemicals to flow.

‘The chief role of the doctor is, by various means, to induce the body to recover its trust in the Supreme Grace,’ said the Mother from Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry, decades ago.

The contact of the patient with the physician and the system is only an occasion to awaken him to the touch of the healer within.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Religion and Stress Relief

Religion, said the communists contemptuously, is the opiate of the masses. If religion can calm the mind and slow down the heart and pulse rate, if it can make the engine of life work sturdily and longer, why not adopt it?

Sri Aurobindo writes about a grand spiritual concept of health:

’For nearly forty years I believed them when they said I was weakly in constitution, suffered constantly from the smaller and greater ailments and mistook this curse for a burden that Nature had laid upon me. When I renounced the aid of medicines, then they began to depart from me like disappointed parasites. Then, only then, I understood what a mighty force was the natural health within me and how much mightier yet the Will and Faith exceeding mine which God meant to be the divine support of our life in this body…’

Excerpts from 'The Happiness Quotient'