Journaling Exercise: A Creativity Prayer



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The highest kind of writing – which must not be confused with the most ambitious kind – belongs to the realm of grace. Talent is a part of it, certainly; a thorough understanding of the secret laws, absolutely. But finding the subject and theme which is in perfect harmony with your deepest nature, your forgotten selves, your hidden dreams, and the full unresonated essence of your life – now that cannot be reached through searching, nor can it be stumbled upon through ambition. That sort of serendipity comes upon you on a lucky day. It may emerge even out of misfortune or defeat. You may happen upon it without realising that this is the work through which your whole life will sing. We should always be ready. We should always be humble. Creativity should always be a form of prayer.”

–         Newton’s Child, A Way of Being Free by Ben Okri – Pg. 26, 27


If you have not yet read the above quote, I suggest you read it out loud before you read the rest of this post. Go on.

Read it out loud.

You will feel the tone and cadence of the words. It begins simply enough, like an opening sentence of a speech even, but then you get to the third sentence and it is a breathless journey until that sentence ends. In that breathless moment, you feel the hidden dilemma and the hidden joy of being a creative. You understand the truth of what that sentence says, hope that you would be the lucky one who would find the subject and theme that are in perfect harmony with who you are. You also feel the disappointment that ambition alone is not enough. Drive, hard work, complete dedication – none of it is enough by itself. Because creativity is not just about you. It’s about what you take from the universe.

I’m not talking about fluffy new-age concept here. Because you should know by now that we don’t do fluffy here on Kaizen Journaling.

I am talking about the creative essence – ideas, thoughts, inspirations – whatever you want to call them – that somehow come into your brain, and your transform them into some kind of work, whether it’s a painting, or a pot, or a story, or a piece of clothing, or an app, or whatever.

Everything around you contributes to your creativity. Those with the most tuned antenna are more at ease with receiving the inspiration from all sources, internal and external. Those whose antennas are slightly rusty, need to work a little hard to listen, to see, to understand and to absorb.

As people often pray, or wish good-luck, or say something positive before beginning a good deed, perhaps we can entice the universe to turn its head towards us by saying a creativity prayer before we begin our creative task.

What is a creativity prayer?

I think it could be something as simple or as complicated as you want, as long as it reflects your beliefs, your creative tasks, and your relationships with the universe.

You may choose to say simply:

Dear Universe, I’m ready and listening, to all the messages you want to send along your way

Or you may create a prayer that is more like poetry. It is entirely up to you.

What you do with it is more important.

Prayer, no matter what religion or sect it belongs to, is an act of faith. A prayer for creativity requires the same thing. It must be said with complete faith. You must believe in it, for the universe, and for your muse to believe you.

For this exercise, write your own creativity prayer, and if you wish, share it with us in the comments below.



The Importance of Everyday Thoughts



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“The questions that ‘engage our thought’ on a daily basis reflect our life purpose and influence the quality of our lives.”

– How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci, Michael Gelb


We think millions of thoughts every day. For many of us, our mind is never empty. Every waking moment, often even sleeping moments, are filled with thoughts. Imagine all these thoughts as little hamsters, running around in your mind. They run back and forth, circle around, and basically keep your mind seem full.

But what is your mind full of? What is the quality of these thoughts? Are these thoughts the same old hamsters who keep aging in your mind, or do you periodically get new hamsters who come with new ideas?

Your life is made up of your thoughts. These thoughts make up the quality and content of your life. Therefore, if you wish to improve your life, increase your contentment and happiness then it is essential for you to manage the quality and content of your thoughts.

First, you need to think about where you are right now.

If you have been keeping a journal regularly for a while, then you merely need to look back at your previous entries over the last few months, or even the last few years. What thought patterns are repeated? Are there any issues that you keep repeating? Any concerns that keep you preoccupied, and have done so for weeks, months, or even years?

If you haven’t been keeping a journal, or haven’t done so properly, then for a few days, or even a whole week, record your thoughts in your journal. Especially note your thoughts. What keeps your mind occupied?

Once you have done so, think about whether you are content with things that fill your mind? Are these thoughts based on what you do all day? Or are they worries without substance, or dreams without plans? How constructive are your thoughts? How often are they influenced by other people, particularly in  negative manner?

Your thoughts – whether positive or negative – influence your mind, and whatever influences your mind, influences your life.


“Mind management is the essence of life management.”

– The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, Robin Sharma

How are you going to manage your mind to improve your life management? How are you going to ensure only the best thoughts influence you? 



Ask the Readers: What is Your Message?



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If  you were given the opportunity to spread any message to a large group of people, what would your message be? 

Think about its impact. This message will spread far and wide, and therefore, you are responsible for the ripples it will create. You are responsible if people choose to follow it.

What message is worth this responsibility?

Why is it important to you? Is it in keeping with your personal values and beliefs? Is it for the greater good? Does it require a big change in the attitudes and behaviours of most people?

What would your message be? Or would you pass on this opportunity, and this responsibility? 

Share your answers in the comments below. 



Secrets of Adulthood



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As a part of my Kaizen Reading Challenge, I am reading The Happiness Project. In the book, Gretchin Rubin talks about Secrets of Adulthood that she’s discovered. As I read that part, I thought about making a list of my own Secrets of Adulthood. I wrote this fast, without thinking about much, because these secrets – learnt from experience – should come from instinct rather than thinking. So here they are:

Dolly’s Secrets of Adulthood 

  1. There is nothing more important than freedom. Freedom to be yourself. Freedom to change. Freedom to say no.
  2. With Freedom comes responsibility. You have to accept that every decision, good or bad is on you.
  3. Accidental growth is possible, but you could have a conscious growth. It’s far better, and comes with better returns.
  4. Just because you  don’t want at 30 what you wanted at 20, doesn’t mean you were wrong to want it. Don’t have regrets. Have experiences.
  5. As long as you have health, you will come out the other side of every storm.
  6. Surrounding yourself with the right people. People who inspire you, push you to become better is important.
  7. Constantly be on the journey of self-awareness. If you keep in touch with your mind and heart, what you want won’t come as a shock.
  8. Keep in touch with people who matter to you.
  9. Don’t settle. In any area of your life. EVER. 
  10. There is always another way. If you want something bad enough, you can make it happen.
  11. Life is for living. That means making the most of every day. Eliminating things that are contrary to your purpose. Live. Follow your bliss.

What Secrets of Adulthood have you learned through experience? Share in the comments below.


On Judging Others


judge hand with gavel

image by safari_vacation

Lately, I’ve had a considerable experience of being at the receiving end of people judging me and my life. It’s not because of my life, but rather because I’ve been in India for the last two and a half months. This habit of judgement is not uncommon in India. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why I don’t feel particular kinship with Indian society at large.

Everyone judges you from whatever basic facts they know about. Relatives, however distant, in particular seem to take it for granted as their right. A caveat here: there are many progressive, open-minded people in India (even amongst my many relatives), but the society in general is very judgemental, particularly towards women, especially about things and values that are different than what is the norm.

As I am in thought and deed mostly Western, the Indian norm is obviously not my norm. Being here, under this unwanted and often unfair scrutiny has made me think about how I judge people. Because of course I do judge people. We all do. Some of us simply take longer than others, and perhaps put in a bit more effort learning about someone before we make up our minds.

To judge someone based on their factual data alone (i.e. age, sex, job, nationality, marital status) is to judge a book by its cover. Yet that is what happens frequently. Everyone account who is married with two children is not the same person. Every married couple is not happy, and every single mother is not miserable. Judging people based on stereotypes may be a matter of casual conversation when you are bored, but when you are doing that to someone directly, it impacts their psyche. Those who are emotionally strong and more self-aware can perhaps handle it well, but those who are more emotionally vulnerable could be affected severely. 

I wouldn’t achieve much by arguing with these prejudiced judges. They are who they choose to be. I wouldn’t waste my time defending myself, my actions, or my life to these people, because they simply don’t deserve that kind of attention or respect. Instead, I choose to focus my energy on improving my own character, in ensuring that I don’t do to others what these people do to me. That when I judge again in the future, I am careful of not doing so too hastily. That I move past the stereotypes and focus on the individual. That I learn about them first, listen to what they have to say, and only then give my mind permission to form an opinion of them. But even more importantly, even if my opinion is not favourable, I refrain from handing out lectures or advice, because it’s all too easy to give advice and far harder to act upon it. 

I would do so much better for myself, and for others, by focusing on improving my own character and my own life, and to lead by example rather than lectures. To paraphrase Gandhi, by being the change I wish to see in others. 

Do you judge too swiftly, or have the experience of being judged? How does it feel? How would you make a positive change in judging others? 




How to Keep a Herb Journal



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If you are a keen herb gardener, just fancy starting an herb garden of your own, or an ardent cook looking for fresh ingredients, you may benefit from keeping a herb journal. It could also be a legacy project that you can pass down to your children.

You can create your own herbal encyclopaedia.

Things to Include in Your Herb Journal:

  1. Herbs You’ve Grown
    If you already have an experience growing some herbs, you can include them in this section. Include as many details as you like about how to grow them best, including planting locations, water and soil requirements, and potential dangers to the plants etc. You can also
  2. Herbs You Want to Grow
    Are there any herbs that you haven’t yet tried growing but would like to? Include them, and learn about them. What do they need? What conditions would be best to successfully grow them?
  3. Uses of Different Herbs
    Herbs have multitude of uses, from cooking and medicinal to decorative and household. List of all the uses you can learn for each of the herb. This will motivate you to keep your herb garden thriving. Medicinal use is not advised for anyone who is not a professional, as incorrect use can have long-lasting or fatal consequences.
  4. Drawings
    If you are good at drawing then you may also want to include drawings of herbs in your journal, so that you will learn to recognize them by sight. Even if you are not adept at art, you can draw how a herb plant will look with some care and practice. Make sure you use colour so that the representation is accurate. Be aware that using a wrong herb could be at best disastrous and at worse fatal. If you are absolutely dismal at drawing, then you can simply paste a picture of them in your journal.
  5. Recipes
    Herbs can enhance any dishes, particularly fresh herbs. Write down recipes you want to make with your freshly grown herbs. Not just cooking recipes, but also for things like soaps and perfumes.
  6. Dangerous and Poisonous Herbs
    One thing you must do is make a list of all dangerous and poisonous herbs so that you can avoid them. Write down specific details of these herbs, as it is extremely easy to confuse one herb with other similar looking herb.
  7. Lessons learned
    As you gain experience of growing herbs, you will come to accumulate immense knowledge about these herbs, and about your personal preferences. Keep a record of these lessons, including what works for you and what doesn’t. This will help you in your future gardening projects, as well as become a tool for advising other budding herb gardeners, or even writing a book about it one day.

How to Organize Your Herb Journal

The best way to do this would be to have sections by herbs. This way, you can include everything related to a particular herb into one section. Do this by having an index with names of the herbs, and the pages assigned to this herb. Include their common name as well as botanical name so that you will learn to recognize them by either of them.

Once you have created sections by herbs, you simply need to refer to that particular section to learn anything about that herb.

One exception to this might be the recipe section, which you should keep separate, so that you can look up recipes that you want to cook, rather than by the herbs.

Herb journaling could become a project of a lifetime. If you are interested in, you can improve your journaling as your interest grows and develops. It can complement your gardening process, and potentially turn an amateur hobby into a professional skill.

Do you enjoy growing herbs? Share your experience in the comments below. 




If You Get Bored, Your Life’s Not Right



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Boredom is the root of all evil – the despairing refusal to be oneself.

– Soren Kierkegaard


I honestly can’t remember the last time I was bored. It’s not a boast. In fact, if anything I can’t believe why there was an ever a time when I was bored. I don’t mean in a boring situation. I mean bored.

What’s the difference between being in a boring situation, and being bored?

If you are forced to be somewhere where you’ve no control over your activities, or the company you are with, then you are in a boring situation. This situation is temporary, and as soon as you escape it, you can go back to your non-boring life.

If you get bored, even when you have control over where to be, who to be with, and what to do, then this is the boredom with your life, and or with yourself. If this is the case, then you have a problem.

Being bored indicates you don’t know how to spend your time. Time is life. Therefore, being bored indicates you don’t know what to do with your life.

If you get bored when you are alone, that indicates your interest in life depends on other people, and you are not content in solitude. There is a big difference between solitude and loneliness. People who are able to be themselves are not afraid of solitude, because they have fulfilling relationships, but they also have interests, hobbies, and activities that keep them occupied when they are alone.

Boredom means you lack things to do with your time. When there is so much to do, so much to learn, so much to see, and so much to live for – this lack of things to do indicates lack of something in your life. Whether it means you have not yet made enough self-discovery, or lack the confidence, or are simply at a loss about your purpose in life, is irrelevant. It could be any or all of these things, or something entirely different.

The thing to be aware of is that if you are prone to being boredom then there is something amiss with your life, or simply with the way you are living it. Perhaps you don’t yet understand the value of it. Perhaps it hasn’t sunk in yet that every moment happens only once, and that if you spend a day being bored, that’s the day you are never going to be able to relive.

Boredom is a good indication that you need to examine your life, perhaps even spend some time on self-discovery. The more time you spend being bored, is more life you are dwindling away. It takes courage to admit it, but admit it now because the longer you take, more life you waste. Each moment, each hour, each day of your life is precious. You will only get it once. Make the most of it. 

Do you get bored often? If so, why? Share in the comments below.






Journaling Exercise: What Makes You Smile?



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A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.

– Phyllis Diller

Smiling is way underrated. It’s a little thing that can instantly lift your mood. That’s why laughing clubs work. Try it. Just smile for no reason. Look in the mirror and smile at yourself. No matter how grumpy you are, if you keep smiling again and again, you will feel the genuine cheer coming on. 

For today’s journaling exercise, list 100 things that can make you smile. Start writing. Don’t stop. Write as fast as you can. Just keep going until you list at least 100 reasons. They can be anything. If  you can’t think of 100, push yourself, and find them anyway, because in this world made of billions and trillions of things, you should be able to have at least a 100 reasons to smile.