Getting to Zero

I came across this blog post by Callie Oettinger on Steven Pressfields’ blog.  The part about ‘Getting to Zero’ spinned me into an introspective mood.

…My read on Boyd’s “zero” is that getting to zero best enables you to live the person you want to be. You don’t have to get rid of every need (such as food), but everything else. . . Getting to zero gets you to your heart. It could also be that place that allows you to zero in on what’s important to you.

I started wondering how many times in my past have I touched the lowest point. And I mean, in life as a whole and not just in career or relationship or family e.t.c. If it is the ‘point-null’ then it is a crucial point in your life (not for a part of it).
This post is not about ranting – it is about looking at reflections of myself from the past. Pardon me if it gets boring or tiresome(and sorry, I for no pictures). Things like this is not what I talk about to anybody; it is all reserved inside. This is to let everybody in and let them also reflect back on it.

“Getting to zero gets you to your heart.”

This line poked through my brain, not heart. Because my brain now understands why it happened. Heart is an innocent one – it can only know the feeling of abyss not the Whys & Hows of it. The point is ‘Getting to zero’ does gets to your heart.

In this emotional state, one can only have his/her heart to grab on to – for help, for support, for hope. And in that moment of void – the action one takes defines him/her. The action directly comes from ones heart and pushes out the most powerful facet of the will of a person.

So, in the quest to know myself deeper – I want to know my ‘Zero-points’ in the past, and what action I took, and why.

As far as I can recall, I think one point came to me during y school days. When all your childish and childlike notions and the views of the world crumbles in the face of reality and competition. I cannot pin-point the year or any incident – but i think it was the ending 2-3 years of school. When I actually faced competition and had to take it serious.
So, what i did? – I went with the herd. I did not have enough mental sharpness to think of my own – I was simply an innocent being. I am clueless about what happened around me at those time. (Yeah, even at such an age.)

The next came when I faced the next wave of reality – graduating from college. By this time, I had started to read voraciously and was on a crazy ride to learn everything. I had acquired a personal way of thinking and reasoning. With all this knowledge – i became confused – too confused. I  had diverse and volatile interests. I can look into any direction and see some path which can be tread or which I can carve out. Made it so hard to choose any one of them.
( I find myself still in that same state confusion, but now I have started to walk on few of them – simultaneously – thinning myself at times)

 So in those moments of chasm, what i did ? I blamed. Blamed my fate. Blamed myself (mostly). Blamed all the unbaked and incomplete knowledge. Blamed the system. Blamed my education. Blamed my parents even. A frustrated, cynical, self-critical, negative… – these words would paint my inner mindset at those time. However, outside I was not like that – I was more or less normal – defending the inner vulnerable fool. This point placed me into more practical path to life – let’s just say I became a realist(or rational optimist not pessimist).

Any other ‘Null-point’ moments after that??

Two word Psychology and knowledge. I have come to unravel my inner psych and started to acquire external knowledge after the last ‘Null-point’.  Recently, when reading one of Dan Ariely’s book – I found these lines pointing to my reality –

“We are storytelling creatures by nature, and we tell ourselves story after story until we come up with an explanation that we like and that sounds reasonable enough to believe.”

I have become too good at self-story-telling. It does not mean I am living in my delusions. My stories have touch of realism and facts. It is the balancing of the ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’ of life to get a ‘Grey’ of my suiting. That is perhaps why I can give people a good advice grounded in reality, and yet shooting for the clouds.

Lately, I am feeling that I am getting close to my next ‘Zero’ moment in life. My curiosity is clamouring for it. My heart is anxious about it. My brain is avoiding it all the time.

I need some body or only a single soul to point to me the reality when it strikes me. Living in ones own delusional reality is far worse than the actual painful reality. One can remain in that void forever,if he/she does not stands up to the reality. I hope that person breaks it to me when the time comes. Or Perhaps I have found such person or I am still waiting for him/her.
(yesterday, when one concerned friend pointed it to me, i revised my story – I am yet to get to zero.)

Have you had such ‘null-points’ ? What did you find about yourself ?
(If you want to share it with me – I would be glad to hear it.My mail info is on About page for sharing it privately.)

Arigato. 🙂

P.S – Now after writing this I am wondering – is it also one of my ways to weave a story or is it a way to face reality?

Body Language

I think I have already read this one. But still read it to make sure. Finished it in my journey from kolkata to hyderabad yesterday.

Body Language

By Julius Fast

Rating: 2/5

Being an psychology enthusiast, books like these naturally attract me. After reading it I am not sure whether I read it or not. Though, I found the reason for that – the research & findings given in the book have aged for the present times. There are much better & more enlightening research on the cause & effects, meanings, perceptions of body language. And it is mostly western(American) based, so again disappointed that nothing on Indian psych is researched anywhere yet.

Julius Fast starts the book with giving the reader introduction to a new stream of science – Kinesics. It gives example of how the body language gets misinterpreted by people from different culture & profession. Then it moves to the boundary hypothesis of humans, like an animals’ territorial conceptions. The different areas or zones of introverts & extroverts are looked into. Three chapters deal with this space & its invasion. After that the Masks com in focus. The facial masks/expressions which people wear to hide, to confront, to comfort, to restrict e.t.c. Then the language of touch is explored – how a touch can show a persons’ character. Language of LOVE is the heading for the next chapter – well, I will say it was not even in its infancy stage.( There are lots of research available on that- mostly western, but I find they work in Indian context also many times).
The last few chapters deal with small pointers of Kinesics viz – positions,points,postures,winking,blinking and nods. I am sure you must be knowing almost all of it by now. They are just common sense observations & it is amateur ‘psychology’ enthusiasts first reads/observations. The last chapter deals with new language being developed to study Kinesics. And the various use & abuse of such studies becoming generalist.( They can never be – it has been sort of proved by the failure of teleological science in practical world.)

So my suggestion, you can pick it up if you really want to. But there are much better & fresh studies on the same matter.( And I am not pointing to the popular – Men from Mars & Women from Venus). There are lots of them available now – ‘best’ start with Dan Ariely books.

Arigato 🙂

P.S – I have read almost 15-17 books while I was away from blogging. What do you guys suggest – should I post there review also?

A Whole New Mind


Finished reading it in Two months, what a disgrace(not this book).

A Whole New Mind (Why Right-Brainers will rule the Future)

By Daniel H.Pink

Rating: 3.5/5

You know TED Talks , yeah you must have heard about it.If not check it out – they are amazing. I picked up this book after I watched the Daniel Pinks Talk on New Age paradigm shift. His concept looked enticing from the first sentence & I looked up his work & got to this book. This type of books are my cup of tea – Non-Fiction Contemporary work. The book proposes the idea of the next paradigm shift in the human society from L-directed thinking to R-directed thinking. Pink puts some convincing arguments to support his idea. And as for me, I do believe in him to certain extent.It is written in a narrative style where it seems Pink is giving a lecture on the whole concept.

The book starts with Pink inside an MRI machine giving out cognitive tests. The cliched idea of L-directed thoughts & R-directed thoughts are put forth. The main point was only to classify the two types of thinking style. By no way it acknowledged the one-sided thought process( as it is not so, we all are bi-lobed thinkers with some imbalances between their utilization). After that comes the three basic questions which are changing the world at present.

1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?
2. Can a computer do it faster?
3. Am I offering something that satisfies the non-material transcendent desires of an abundant age?

Try answering them. The answers to these questions are, what has been tilting the scales in favor of R-directed thinking : Asia, Automation & Abundance. The presence of these in a globalized world is pushing the Mans’ ability(read Wests) to R-directed working style.The book then goes on to put facts & some western world trend supporting the influential power of above three factors.Pink then puts his idea of ‘Moving to the R-directed Thinking‘ – well to save the west from getting overwhelmed & perish.Then he presents the six aptitudes required for the R-directed thinking in the conceptual age viz.
Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, Meaning.

After that Each section takes up one of the above aptitude & explains through it using quotes & anecdotes from various research, reports & people.At the end of each of that chapter there is a list of things which one can use to inculcate that aptitude.And that’s it, the book ends at the ‘Meaning’ aptitude.

Now about my take on it. I read through some criticism of it before writing this review. And I agreed to some of them. Though one thing was common in all of them( even the criticisms)  Daniel Pink proposes a plausible & convincing idea. And he really does – we all can see that world is getting saturated now with abundance & paced production centers of goods & services. To get noticed in this deluge of items one has to innovate & there comes the R-directed thinking. It is obvious by now that creativity has to show the path now, the time of smoothing out techniques using technology & skills are over. Now is the time to innovate – awesome,amazing, crude, ugly,beautiful, crazy… – stuffs. Then again the L-directed thinking will come into play to streamline & smooth-en it.

However, all that looks good when seen from the Western world perspective.But what happens to country like mine(India) which is in Asia. I think it’s obvious that we will also be soon shifting to the R-directed thinking(Very soon). The peculiar point about Indian diaspora is the social structure & the work structure. The no. of people getting affected by this change will be huge but the no. of people who would be able to shift to this new culture will be too small. The most active players in the changed situation will be the Indian Middle Class.Only they can even care for such transition & they will surely ignore & criticize it.From the look at the present scenario & thought-process with the added problem of ‘risk-averse’ attitude if Indians, this transition will be very tumultuous here. Some who will take the lead here will fail in near future but may be also able to ride the new global trend wave in India.Well, it is only a topic of speculation to think of that way for Indian mind-space.The future will tell about the truth in it.

Leaving the ideas apart, the book was like a composition of great mind-titillating thoughts. I would have loved to quote someone the stuff i noted down from the book. Being a design lover & creativity seeker, this book was one to own.The best things were the references given in the book (a lot many of them).At the end of the book there is a long list of references & books  for further reading- I wish I could have also gone through them( perhaps I will). The section of Design, Story,Symphony & Meaning appealed the most to me. The part of Meaning & Play where psychological studies were given was interesting to know about.If you like you can also take some of the psychological tests (links from the book), I went through them & got to know something more about me.

(click on them to take them)
EQ (Empathy Quotient not Emotional)
SQ (Systemizing Quotient not Social)
Eyes Speak (Aankhein Bolti hain :P)
Fake Smile Test (Teri Muskaan hai Jhooti  :P)

I would recommend this book to you if you have similar taste as mine.Or if you are in an industry or work-area where such transition will affect you or is affecting you. After all (quoted) – “Today we’re all in the Art Industry”.(For Indians, we will be or we are going to be) 😉


P.S – This book presented to me some moral work dilemmas like Will it be OK if the new work will be low-pay? & would not require much education/training? or will leave a major population into more destitute level of life-style? They are for later posts(if i get time to contemplate over them)

Part-1: Desensitisation & GOW

I hope most people would have heard about Gangs of Wasseypur if not watched it. I loved the movie & I would highly suggest going for it. I feel that I am slowly joining the Anurag Kashyap fan cult. He gives raw & fresh perspectives and remarkable storyline to the bollywood cinema. He is one of those people who have given the blasé bollywood romantic movies a sidestep. His movies are like statement similar to Chetan Bhagat’s foray into writing though much stronger & richer in quality. Too much on him, this post is not about him, you can read about him in media news & on internet.

[Image: via wikipedia]

This post is about something I observed in retrospective after learning about a psychology lesson on learning. There was an experiment done by one eminent psychological cognitivist researcher, Bandura, named as Bandura’s Doll experiment. It was about how children learned aggressive action by watching a model hit a doll. You can read about it here. Its impact can be seen in the explanation of increased crime in society due to violent media & movies, desensitization to crime, justification of violence & disinhibition to crime. Focus of this post is about the desensitization to crime.

In the Gangs of Wasseypur(GoW) show, I observed how the audience was jubilant & laughing at the abuses & violence projected in the movie. Every time the characters use any abuse/curse, the whole crowd would be on a laugh wave, whistles going off, comments flying out. ( I also enjoyed it & shared the moments alike). After the psychology class, I started correlating it. Have we been desensitized to the crime? Does it encourage such behaviour in an individual? Has it been acceptable in our society to act or take such steps? Has our society already accepts it or glorifies it? Contemplating over all the questions seem to stuck onto first objection that I am considering it a new phenomenon and it has always been there. Even in the movie the gangsters admire the heroes in films.  But the earlier movies had a filmy touch in it unlike the raw representation of contemporary movies. And I am accepting that it has already crept into our society and is there to stay for a long time entrenched deep into the psych of our past, present & future generations as movies are eternal in nature.I don’t want to get mired in the reasons responsible for this phenomenon when movies were not there my area of focus is contemporary times.

The next step after desensitization to crime is justification of violence and finally disinhibition to crime. The growing acts of open assaults in day light in public by hoodlum and political class is the evidence of ‘justification of violence’. All the growing cases of assault, remember manglore,Bombay,delhi,gurgaon ,on both men & women is strengthening the support for this point. Disinhibition is the tendency of not able to inhibit that particular behaviour. Hence, it would be hard to censure the criminal activities with each generation to come and with each enforced criminal act. Slowly I think there will be news about disinhibition of criminal activities increasing in our country. May be it has already occurred & just brewing to get on the surface soon. Already our patriarchal society has created so many societal issues & problems; one more would or have already taken its roots. There is still hope & ways to curb this tendency & changes in the society, but it would depend on out political & popular will.

That’s not all; I also have one more perspective on this. It will be in Part-2: Humour & GoW.

Classes Starts

From 1st june both the classes for UPSC Optional started. I have chosen Psychology & Geography as my optional. For Psychology I joined Vajiram & Ravi (taught by Mukul Pathak) and   Alok Ranjan for Geography. Excluding my anti-coaching perception or bias, this post is about my first impression of the classes


The Psychology class is in the morning 11 am to 1-2pm.The classroom is packed with uncomfortable metallic chairs packed in a manner to accommodate as many chairs possible in the class. It is really uncomfortable to go to your seat. It’s so like the Big Coaching business taking so much money & packing the students like cattle in tiny air conditioned space fitted with loudspeaker to listen the lecture. About Mukul Pathak Sir & his teaching style. He taught well with focussing on the thought process or mind maps which gets build on as we progress with the topics. He didn’t stated that. He more or less dictates definitions & explain the particular terms  and there connection with examples & funny anecdotes. The general opinion with students is that his notes & vajiram material is enough for the mains; though i doubt that. He uses the basic feel good triggers or jokes for revitalising students attention. Up till now I only have one problem that he has not yet told how to write the answers. I mean in what style or manner, hope he’ll do so in coming classes. The best thing I have liked about his style is his emphasis on connecting different subjects & knowledge areas and produce the answer in a logical & fitting manner.

Alok Ranjan Sir’s class was more better. I think I liked his attitude or approach towards the subject and his suggestions to the students. He uses few jokes to re-energize the students rather he tells short stories based on the subjects application itself, which are much more interesting than petty jokes. Actually I didn’t got bored in his class or felt sleepy at all. He has a decided structure of course & it looks more efficient in inculcating not only the writing habit but also the knowledge of subject matter. He gave clear answers to the queries of the students relating to the subject & other options, writing aspects, writing style, attitude towards the subject. Only point which put me off was his emphasis on paragraph type answers rather than logical point based precise answers. I write in concise & logical manner using points more often than paragraphs. Let’s see whether I can develop that ability with his guidance( I think it can, his methods felt genuine not the marketing ploy or shallow appealing ones; it would need hard work).

The worst thing in both the classes is that – I don’t get any day off. A Sunday off would have been great 😛 .  Then here it goes the 4 months most rigorous learning period of my whole life with whatever patience, energy & grey matter I have with me to achieve my aspirations & desires.