Review: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the most fascinating books I have read yet. Right from the cognitive revolution, the life of foragers and different human species to the industrial revolution, this book describes in detail many aspects of human evolution, their impacts on average human being and on homo sapiens as collective, reasons for typical changes in human life and predictions about future.

This book makes you think about the human life from a broader perspective. Do you think agricultural revolution was beneficial for human life? Harari argues otherwise. Do you think Capitalism and Consumerism has made the world happier? You might be wrong. Read this book to know how injustice has prevailed in history and why industrial revolution began only on one continent and not on any other continent. Read this book to know how human evolution has affected other species on earth and how all the scientific discoveries are not propelled only by the scientists, but by the socio-political clout.

I personally would have never imagined a book on history can be so captivating. Overall a thriller!

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Review: How to be ferociously happy and other essays

How to be ferociously happy and other essays
How to be ferociously happy and other essays by Dushka Zapata
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Really not essays but collection of blog posts. I like Dushka’s writing but sometimes it’s too abstract. This is a book which you can read once in a while, in bits and pieces but not all at once! Most of her writing is based on real life scenarios, so it’s easy to relate to. Overall a good read. Some of the essays give a great insight into everyday emotions and their origins that we don’t really pay attention to.

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Books Connect!

books_connect

 

Books are an ultimate way to connect with someone without knowing them.

You are reading my favorite book? We might get along very well.

You are reading my favorite book? Good choice.

You are reading my favorite book? Let’s discuss so many related things and more.

You are reading my favorite book? Let me recommend you something.

You are reading my favorite book? Do you have any recommendations for me?

You are reading my favorite book? You and I belong to a same imaginary group.

You are reading my favorite book? What a beautiful site. My favorite book being read.

You are reading my favorite book? Looks like I can trust you even though you’re a stranger.

You are reading my favorite book? No awkwardness when we start talking because we are already connected on a different level.

Quite a few times, me reading a book has forced people to talk to me that would otherwise be impossible in any way. Few years back I was reading “Thinking fast and slow” by Daniel Kahneman and a German girl on Shatabdi Express told me how she loved that book and why. Few years before that, a man from Venezuela became my friend instantly when I was reading “Emotional Intelligence” by Daniel Goleman, in a busy restaurant in Pune on a relaxed Sunday morning. And yesterday, just when I was reading “Sapiens” by Yuval Noah Harari, a Chinese table tennis player came to me and said “What an excellent book!”.

Somehow books scream something that we can’t hear while we are reading them, and somehow we listen to books in a way that’s not too evident, when we’re not reading them. Magical!

Complaining Vs Responding

stress

Image Courtesy – tinybuddha.com

 

I think we, humans, have this peculiar habit of taking our complaints with us wherever we go. We not only carry them with vigorous labour, but also make many other people we meet, aware of them. Whenever something happens in our lives, we instinctively find external factors responsible for it and put blame on them. But what do we really achieve by being in complaining mode?

  • We disassociate ourselves from the situation.
  • We find various reasons for why something has happened.
  • We convince ourselves that the situation is not in our hands.
  • We feel victimized by the situation.
  • We do not feel responsible for taking corrective action.

Will we ever get the best out of the situation by complaining about something? How about we start responding to the situations instead? The basic step to start doing this is to take responsibility for everything that is happening to us and stop blaming it on others.

All that is happening to me is solely because of me, and not because of others. Not my parents, not my friends, but only me.

Once you are able to take responsibility of everything happening around you, you are suddenly flooded by the ways in which you can respond to the situation, which were unavailable to you in the first place if you were in complaining mode. You can choose any way to respond to the situation in, or you can choose not to respond. Ultimately, you have the choice. And this gives you freedom. If you felt victimized, you wouldn’t feel free.

Taking responsibility doesn’t have to burden you in any way. Responsibility is “Response + Ability”. Only when you take responsibility, you have ability to respond. Else, you are left to average things that will keep happening to you, which in most cases, not something that you want or are best for you.

We have already been practicing this art our whole life. But the only difference is we start responding only when it happens to others, and we start complaining when something happens to ourselves. Whenever our friend faces any difficulty in her life, we start thinking about all the solutions instead of complaining about the situation, but we don’t do the same when it’s about us.

Whenever we are playing a computer game, and an event happens which puts us in a slightly worse position, we don’t complain, but we respond in a way that will help us win the game!

Then why is it so difficult to do it during our own life events? Because we don’t feel responsible enough! But it shouldn’t be too hard to practice! Why don’t we start small and slow? Let’s start responding to all the events that happen to us instead of complaining and may be life will be much more fun game!

[This article is inspired by excerpts from the book ‘Inner Engineering‘ by Sadhguru]

Circle of life

 

Circle of Life

Circle of Life

 

Sometimes someone tells you something. But the way in which you are told the things might compel you to not believe that person. Human minds need evidences, results and proofs, especially when it comes to the life and death scenario. If the person telling you talks merely based on experience, you can’t trust him completely.

Few years ago I was admitted to ICU in India followed by few visits to my family doctor. The hospital couldn’t find out the reasons behind high blood pressure. And my family doctor couldn’t explain intermittent chest pain that I was experiencing. Whenever I visited him, he told me that it’s your nerves that are causing you pain, and nothing related to your heart. He wouldn’t do any tests.

Two years later I again voluntarily went through full body checkup in the hope that somebody would find something wrong. But no luck this time too. I continued to think that something WAS wrong but I wouldn’t know what.

Fast forward 2 years, I am in the USA and now I visit the emergency department of a hospital, complaining to them of an intermittent chest, back, and arm pain. They decide to do all the necessary tests to rule out any life-threatening condition. First, they do blood tests to see if any part of the heart is damaged. Then they do EKG. Then they do chest X-Ray to see if there are any swellings on the heart or any blood clots in the lungs. And then they do the urine test.

Every test turns out to be negative and the doctor tells me, “It might be your nerves that are inflamed”. The circle of life my dear friends.

The key of life

Every person on this planet has a special key, which drives his life. But not necessarily he knows about it. He might not have the key with him. But somehow it drives his life. I don’t know how. The mind subconsciously knows about it may be.

If he loses the key, all the things in life don’t matter anymore. All things stop making sense. Every funny thing becomes meaningless. Life becomes purposeless. He wonders why is he even alive, as he has now lost the key. And that too when he hadn’t known “this” was his key.

The most important thing in life is to find out “What is my key”? And next important task would be to obtain that key if he doesn’t have it already. There shall not be any delay in the efforts to know and get the key. For the delay can be disastrous. Once you lose the key, you can’t get it back. All you can do is search for the purpose of life.

This is my 50th blog and I might be the saddest of the people I know, for I have lost my key. But I will start a new search and a new purpose. That I am pretty confident of. I shall cry, but I shall wipe the tears off soon. For the life can’t stay without purpose.

Reduced Priority Syndrome

Reduced Priority Syndrome is the psychological phenomenon which is solely defined by me and there is no study in the circle of psychologists that backs my claim. Reader’s discretion advised. The data set on which this assumption is defined is very limited. So there is high probability that the entire argument might be untrue.

The reduced priority syndrome is the automatic reduction in perceived priority of supposedly high priority tasks after the introduction of even higher priority task.

Explanation: (Re-wording)

When something is made more important than other important things, those other things are perceived to be less important than they really are.

Example:

I have been to hospital emergency rooms in India couple of times and I experienced urgency in treatment, attention and the care provided. The ER department of the (at least private) hospitals really treat the cases as emergency cases. I expect this from every hospital in the world. But what I experienced in the US in a private hospital ER department was somewhat unexpected. The ER department was visibly understaffed and I had to wait for two hours for them to take me to the diagnosis room equipped with all the medical instruments. The nurse closed the room’s door as soon as I entered the room and let me sit alone there for over an hour. Finally, when the doctor arrived, she didn’t allocate all of her time to me and kept doing visits to other patients. It took them 40 mins to get the discharge papers alone. Meanwhile, I was bored to death by observing each and every detail in the room.

Doesn’t the ER mean that the cases should be handled as quickly as possible? Was it because they thought my case was not urgent enough? But I saw the same thing happening to many other patients whom I got a chance to talk with in the waiting room. Many patients were sicker than me and I felt they needed more attention.

Has the availability of 911 reduced the urgency in dealing with urgent cases? Although someone is not losing her life, doesn’t she deserve urgent treatment in ER? Does the hospital staff think that “If it is not 911 case, it can be dealt in a relaxed manner!” ?

 

PS: The reason I was in ER was I got hit in the left eye by a tennis ball and had lost the ability to see anything with the left eye for subsequent few minutes. Condition improved gradually and now I can everything except that the distant text is a bit blurry with the left eye! It will get better in next 3 days, I have been told!