The lazy person’s guide to being healthy

Let’s face it, it’s been about 8/9 weeks since your new year resolution to work on a healthier, skinnier you… and now your motivation is waning. Gym is boring. Food is interesting. You are cheating… with yourself.

“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” – Dalai Lama

Fact is most of us will not realize the value of good health until our body or mind or both quits on us.


In our hyper-active, hyper-connected modern life, we are so busy being busy that finding the time and energy to exercise, eat right, engage in activities that reduce the inevitable stress that arises from such a hectic lifestyle should be a top priority in ALL of our lives.

So what can you do when you don’t have time to take care of yourself? Here’s a short list which you can customize and adapt to your own routine. Six non-sweat easy tips and One that encourages you to sweat it out ;)

Practice Gratitude: 

First thing in the morning when you open your eyes, in the space before thoughts invade and the to-do list in your head starts ticking. Stop. Breathe. Practice gratitude.

Be grateful that you are alive.



In your bed and not a hospital.

Be grateful for being able to breathe without assistance.

Some days I am so depressed that I find it difficult to find things to be grateful for. Yet I know that I am incredibly blessed. So on my bleak days, I decide to be grateful for little things, like breathing, reading, books, the fact that I can walk without pain or that I still have all of my teeth. Whatever floats your boat… just find something to be grateful for and sincerely concentrate on that blessing.


Take a few minutes and meditate. There are many ways to meditate. You can chant, concentrate, visualize, play the singing bowl, flute or a guided meditation CD … whichever method works for you. Again, if you are not the kind that can sit cross-legged on the floor with your hands on your knees, don’t. If walking on the grass in the backyard works for you, do.

Meditating is about centering yourself. Connecting to the here and now. To be present. It’s the deepest part of you that remains unruffled through the storm of life. It stores your energy, your resilience. Connect and appreciate yourself.

You can create a daily routine to help get yourself into the mindset to meditate or you can take a few minutes through out the day to practice it as you need it. It’s like taking a smoke-break for smokers. Instead of getting off your desk to go smoke, you take a few minutes to breathe and center your mind.




When you cheat on your diet or worry obsessively or simply don’t get around to doing any of the above… don’t worry .. there’s still something that you can do to keep yourself healthy. You can sleep. Not the tossing & turning kind of sleep but a real good night’s sleep. Empty your bedroom of all electronic devices, specifically the TV and make it the kind of haven that you need to truly relax in. If darkness is your thing, install double blinds or get a light blinder for yourself. If you are a light sleeper, put on some white noise to reduce outside interruptions to your sleep cycle. Whatever else you might cheat on… don’t cheat yourself from getting a good night’s rest. Make it routine & a habit to go to bed at a fixed time. Cheating throughout the week and making up for it by sleeping in on the weekend, doesn’t work.

No matter how blue I am .. I usually feel a whole lot better after I have managed to get a good snooze. It has helped me hang on to my sanity on days I want to blow my top ;)



Hug the person next to you. Hug before you leave home. Hug when you get home. Hug your colleagues if you share that kind of relationship. Hug your friends when you see them. A 20 second hug releases oxytocin, nature’s anti-depressant and anti-anxiety hormone.





Find something to laugh about throughout the day. If not a belly laughter at least smile through out the day, even when you don’t feel like it. Try it. You can’t smile and hold on to anger, depression, anxiety, stress. It’s just not possible. The physical effect of putting on a smile or laughing, transforms negative emotions & releases happy hormones. So go on .. laugh at yourself, or if all fails, laugh at all the cute animal videos on YouTube ;)


Write it out:

Put aside 20 minutes at the end of the day, sit down comfortably and write. Don’t think about what to write or how to write. Just write. Whatever is on your mind. Forget about spellings and grammatical errors. Suspend that grammar nazi in you. Just write.

Write about whatever is running through your head. Whatever is clouding your emotions. Whatever is nagging at the back of your mind that keeps you up tossing and turning. Take up a pen and paper and write it out.

Get moving:

Get moving and feel that blood flowing through your veins. If working out at the gym is not your thing, try a different activity …  yoga, competitive sport, dancing, start walking to the store, running to your chores, parking farthest at the parking lot….  if nothing else, walk back home from work, at least part of the way. Again, whatever floats your boat, as long as you are being active for at least 20 minutes every day, the kind of active that raises your heart beat.



So time to get on that band-wagon of new year resolution to achieve a healthier you. If you are tired of sweating it out without seeing some results that motivate you to continue… I suggest practicing the first six tips vigorously ;)

The wandering doe of the enchanted forest: Maybono Biharini

I love this beautiful cover of a classic song, written by Rabindranath Tagore. It featured last year in a bangla movie “bedroom”. I don’t know about the movie, but the lyrics of the song… mind-blowing!

The song is about wanting, obsession, the need to possess or not possess that which we covet. Whether it’s the wandering doe in the enchanted forest, a new love interest, the fleeting memory of first love, a flashy sports car. Picture whatever it is that you yearn for, long for and strive to acquire or not acquire…  as you listen to this song and just let the feelings wash through you… for a few minutes, if you let it, it’ll take you on a magical journey :)

For the non-bengali’s … fast forward to 3:06 and you get a little bit of the background and the english translation of the song.

Transcending boundaries

and some more random acts of kindness that blossoms into full-fledged friendships between very different species

Some of these relationships has developed between species who are traditionally defined as ‘predator and prey’ and yet an act of faith, a random act of kindness, has enabled these creatures to transcend the traditional boundary of their relationship into one that is based on friendship & mutual caring.


The cost of societal violence

What’s the biggest killer in our societies now? Wars? Diseases? Religion? Road accidents? Snake bites? Guess what takes the cake?

study by James Fearon of Stanford University and Anke Hoeffler of Oxford University’s Centre for the Study of African Economies argues that societal violence – homicides and especially violence against women and children – is a much bigger problem than civil wars. Nine people are killed in interpersonal violence for every battlefield death in a civil war, and one child is killed for every two combatants who die.


Me too.

I thought I am more likely to die in a road accident here in crazy Dhaka traffic. Or wait, with all the plane crashes, maybe on the plane. Or worse case scenario, maybe get buried under my building if Dhaka gets a BIG earthquake.

Nope….. It seems that me.. and you… and most people we know….. are far more likely to die from societal violence.

From living in close quarters with other people. People just like you and me.

Bleak isn’t it?

While we still don’t know enough, two points are certain. First, domestic violence against women and children imposes a social cost of $8 trillion each year, making it a huge – and vastly under-reported – global issue. Second, there are solutions that can help to tackle some of these problems very cost-effectively. That is why reducing domestic violence belongs on the shortlist for the world’s next set of development goals.

This is part of a global report authored by: Bjørn Lomborg, an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School. You can read more about the Economic of Violence here

Since I am a woman, my chances of dying from societal violence just went up, along with my mother’s, my sisters, my cousins, my friends and our children. Basically, almost every other woman whom I know and the children I know, has a bigger chance of being affected vs. the men in my life.

While the picture is bleak, the report mentions at least two ways of reducing violence that are cost-effective and targeted.

Stronger social services can reduce violence against children. Studies in Washington State show that home visits from trained staff can reduce child abuse, improve children’s quality of life and physical and mental health, and reduce child-welfare and litigation costs. One dollar spent on this programme produces benefits of $14, making it a highly cost-effective policy.

In the United Kingdom, a pilot study on stronger enforcement of existing rules showed that assaults could be reduced in a very cost-effective way, with the benefits outweighing the costs by 17 to one.

So if we know that investing in prevention of violence can save the countries of the world trillions, why is the biggest expenditures still on the army?

If our chances of dying from societal violence is higher than by any other means, shouldn’t we be campaigning & pushing for a higher allocation of state resources dedicated to reducing violence?

Since violence affects 1 out of every 3 women world-wide and 9 out of 10 women in Bangladesh, it’s time to realign our priorities. It’s time to stop thinking ‘it’s not going to happen to me‘.

I worried more about eating the wrong food, getting cancer or diabetes even…. but I guess my priorities are not based on facts….

The 7 pillars of Netflix Culture

Generally speaking I am not very good with sitting through long presentations, certainly not one that is 126 slides long. But this was riveting. Why?

Simply because it is so precise, therefore effective and efficient.

Yes it is 126 slides long but the lessons contained is such that you could probably read at least 10 Management books, go through a couple of extensive management trainings with special emphasis on strategic thinking and still fail to grasp or condense all the points that are so precisely formulated here.

Netflix has obviously spent quite a bit of time and effort in putting together this ‘bible’ for their organization. In fact this could very well be a road map that can be adapted and adopted for MOST organizations.

A snapshot of the Seven Aspects of Netflix Culture & their corresponding bullet points are:

1. Values are what they value – Judgement, communication, impact, curiosity, innovation, courage, passion, honesty, selflessness.

2. High Performance

3. Freedom & Responsibility

4. Context, not Control

5. Highly Aligned, Loosely Coupled

6. Pay Top of Market

7. Promotions & Development

Why I love Alice in Wonderland

I have quoted Alice in Wonderland before and having just watched another re-run of the movie, I am reminded once again of why I love this movie so much. The conversations are like little nuggets of wisdom spread throughout the movie.

“I have believed as much as six impossible things before breakfast” – Alice

“That is a wonderful practice” said the mad Hatter.

Just imagine, if we could all do that, practice imagining impossible things before breakfast. What would you imagine for yourself? Your life? Would your life remain the same? Or would it cause you to bring about changes that you had thought impossible in some corner of your mind?

Want to be happy? Slow down


“The Dalai Lama often says, “The problem in the West is people want enlightenment to be fast, to be easy, and if possible, cheap.” So by cheap, he doesn’t mean by paying money, but cheap in the sense of “you know, just do it casually, it will work.” But you don’t become a good pianist instantly; we’re not born knowing how to read and write, everything comes through training, and what’s wrong with that? Skills don’t just pop up because you wish to be more compassionate or happier. It needs sustained application. But it’s joy in the form of effort”

Take the time to read this piece, it’s so worth it!!!

Originally posted on

In 1972, Matthieu Ricard had a promising career in biochemistry, trying to figure out the secrets of E. coli bacteria. A chance encounter with Buddhism led to an about turn, and Ricard has spent the past 40+ years living in the Himalayas, studying mindfulness and happiness. In this free-wheeling discussion at TED Global in October 2014, Ricard talked with journalist and writer Pico Iyer about some of the things they’ve learned over the years, not least the importance of being conscious about mental health and how to spend time meaningfully. An edited version of the conversation, moderated by TED Radio Hour host Guy Raz, follows. First, Pico Iyer on how he became taken with the idea of staying still:

Guy Raz (left), Pico Iyer (center), and Matthieu Ricard (right) discuss mindfulness and the importance of being still at TED Global 2014 . Photo by Duncan Davidson/TED. Guy Raz (left), Pico Iyer (center), and Matthieu Ricard (right) discuss mindfulness and the importance of being still at TED Global 2014 . Photo by Duncan Davidson/TED.

Pico Iyer: When I was in my twenties, I had this…

View original 3,181 more words

Growing is painful

Last year in January, I declared that I am challenging myself to grow. The challenge initially felt like I was biting off more than I can chew and I huffed and puffed and ruminated over it until I realized that what I was experiencing is growing pain. My challenge to myself to grow beyond my own comfort zones was bound to bring on a bit of that. My university classes are from 6 pm to 9 pm and after putting in 8 hours at work, it gets difficult to keep up the energy to actively participate in class. On the other hand, I am finding my subjects so interesting that I hardly realize how time flies.

The commitment to keep growing sometimes feels like trying to carry a mountain, there are times I am tempted to put it down, permanently. Yet here I am .. sloughing right through it all… carrying on. “Cannot” is a word that I refuse to keep in my dictionary.  I don’t give myself the option of saying that I can’t do something. I expand and challenge myself to grow by constantly pushing my boundaries/limitations. And partly the reason I don’t use “cannot” is my continuous effort to keep motivating myself to be better than yesterday.

I had an ex-colleague who was in a difficult career path.. he motivated himself by loudly repeating “I love my job” 3 times several times a day. It allowed him to deal with the day-to-day stuff that would’ve easily unmotivated him IF he had allowed it to. Instead he chose to use these 3 empowering words.

The power of words, self-motivation and the vibe we send out to the universe… should never be underestimated. Each and everyone of us has the power to shine, to be the best possible version of ourselves. We don’t need someone else’s permission to do what is right for ourselves. The tyranny of the cousins must be realized for what it is and left right there. We are not here to live to by someone else’s rules & regulations. We are here to live our own unique life the best way we can.  But the growth seems to always comes with pain.
So here I am growing, feeling the pain, stretching and accommodating. Word press reminds me that I need to find the time to write even when life gets in the way. It’s not that the words have dried up, they are just being replaced by new ones that I am learning every day.

Perspectives: Sidney vs. Paris vs. Baga

“We see things not as they are

But as we are”


Not sure who said that but I am pretty sure that it has been said over the centuries repeatedly by people far wiser than me. Faced with any situation – at home, in the office, in the society, in the greater world – we all look at the same situation and analyse and reach our own conclusions based on our own experience. We look at the same event but we each see a different perspective of it.


So while the internet flooded with hatred and finger-pointing it lacked crucial acknowledgement of the double standards in applying free speech. Charlie Hebdo fired one of its employees over anti-Semitic content in 2009. Similarly, Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten said soon after publishing cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in 2005 that it would not publish cartoons offending Christians and Jews.

Carlos Latuff, a world-renowned Brazilian cartoonist, told Daily Sabah, “It is an everlasting discussion, because what is freedom of speech and what is hate speech? Why are some subjects protected by freedom of speech and others not? Why can we mock some issues and cannot do so with others? Should Holocaust denial, for example, be included as freedom of speech, or racial hatred? See, for example, the treatment given by the Western mainstream media to Muhammad cartoons and the Holocaust cartoons.”

These are some of Latuff’s cartoons that speak a thousand words:



My general take on reality is to try to keep an open mind about it. After all, no matter how many others are witnessing the same event, we each will have our own version of ‘truth’ or ‘reality’, defined by our differing perspectives. The difference doesn’t diminish us or our take on the situation, but it does create ripe grounds for confrontation. And in any confrontation, there are those who will peddle fear and hatred.

Compare the hostage crisis and shooting in Sydney and the way the Aussies reacted with their “# I’ll ride with you” hashtag v.s. the Paris shooting and the anti-muslim backlash that followed in Europe. Considering that since Jan 3rd Boko Haram massacred up to 2000 people in Baga & Doron Baga- which event was covered in a media blitz & given live round-the-clock coverage??

Amid round-the-clock coverage of the shootings, reprisal attacks against Muslims have been remarkably under-reported, as have other deadly attacks against civilians and suppression of free speech worldwide. Violent incidents in Nigeria and Yemen in the last week led to far more civilian deaths than in Paris (up to 2,000 in Nigeria), but they were not deemed as newsworthy.

The solidarity rally in Paris was attended by a who’s who of enemies of free speech and independent journalism. Those hoping the mainstream media would highlight this hypocrisy were disappointed.

You can read the full article here on the Aljazeera site.

Backlash continues against a religion that has 1.8 billion practitioners worldwide, just 0.4 billion less than the 2.2 billion Christians. The reaction in Europe & the West, this fight for so-called freedom, is hypocritical. From my personal perspective, the Paris shooting brought out the worst traits – it brought out the colonialist mentality, it paraded blatant intolerance for  freedom, and an eagerness to turn a blind eye on their own failings.

I am one of the 1.8 billion population worldwide who identifies Islam as their religion. I have quoted the Quran, the Bible, the Torah and I have quoted from Buddhism, Taoism and Sufism in my blog posts. In my little corner of the world, I have kept an open mind about the spirituality of all religions and their central teachings, same as the billions of others who has gone about their lives, demonstrating tolerance for difference.

Yet here we are again. An incident caused by isolated individuals. A media blitz. The world is busy putting on blinders and pointing fingers. Voices getting louder in competing over whose truth is ‘truer’. The hate-mongers & fear-mongers are out in force and 1.8 billion practitioners are being asked to stand up and declare that they are not terrorists by media moguls.

And a brilliant retort to that from J.K. Rowling and others named ‘Rupert’, here.

There are voices like Mark Steel writing “Norway’s Christians didn’t have to apologise for Anders Breivik and it’s the same for the muslims now”  but the majority on media seems to think otherwise.

Oh wait…. we were mistaken again…. according to Fox News Anchor Shannon Bream the rules are different for anyone who is not white, blond or blue-eyed.

Hypocrisy continues to reach new heights.

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