The best relationships in my life are those founded upon the principle of debate.
June 21, 2009
Posted by Ankit at 4:36 AM
May 30, 2009
It might be weird that the first place I learned about semantics was in my chemistry class of all places, but it created a bit of a domino effect where I thought a lot about how I say things and what exactly I say. I'm not talking rhetoric or aestheticizing my language, but rather, how I use my words in day-to-day conversation.
Simply by changing your habitual vocabulary, you can instantaneously change how you think, how you feel, and how you live.
- Tony Robbins
Posted by Ankit at 2:02 PM
May 26, 2009
Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.- Winston Churchill
Posted by Ankit at 1:00 PM
May 25, 2009
As humans, we are blessed with so many different things, and most of them are rooted in our ability to think and express ourselves. Think about it -- that's why we're (unfortunately or not, depending on how you look at it) as high up on the food chain as we are. Livestock can't express themselves the way we can, and that's why it's "okay" to eat them. Primates are close, but they don't have coherent languages the way we do (they could whoop our butts though, and that's why we don't eat them). Simply put, we should be grateful for our ability to express.
Posted by Ankit at 11:10 AM
May 20, 2009
Yesterday, I was called "Captain Obvious" after pointing something out. Sometimes, things become so ingrained in our nature and obvious to us that we don't think about the intricacies behind them. One of these things is what we do with ourselves on a daily basis -- the people you listen to, the ideas you make yourself permeable to, the things you naturally say to people.
- Friendships I found myself in that yielded nothing but pointless, gossip/drama-filled conversations
- Foods that I ate just to put something in my mouth (get your minds out of the gutter)
- TV shows I watched that I did just to feast my eyes on something
- Classes in school that I didn't really extract much from
- My poking fun at people around me for little things (really, just displays of my own insecurities)
- Things I'd buy and not use and later realize that some material things only last so long (read: a few minutes, an hour tops)
Posted by Ankit at 12:04 PM
May 18, 2009
One of the best things about the world today is that you can pretty much do ANYTHING, and I kind of just realized that this weekend. So many times I notice, both in myself and in others, that when we're exposed to new experiences, we respond something like, "Oh my gosh! That's so cool! I would love to try that some time!"
- Try Bikram yoga (or any type of yoga, for that matter)
- Do a charity walk
- Raise money for something meaningful
- Go to a sports event (if you're going to do it once, make it excellent -- try the US Open [golf or tennis], the Olympics [how often are the Olympics ever going to be within 1000 miles of you? Make an effort], the Superbowl, or something of equal magnitude)
- Meet someone random and do something they want to do within the first three hours of the encounter
- Go to a botanic garden
- Go somewhere scenic and be a photographer for a day
- Buy front-row tickets to a concert and really rock out/sing along like you mean it
- Listen to some classic rock music
- Go rock climbing
- Run a local race (whether it be a 5K, 10K, or a marathon -- whatever suits you)
- Go skydiving
- Go hiking
- Be in a movie (even if you're just that guy crossing the street in the background)
- Tell the truth
- Plant something
- Write a letter to a politician or celebrity
- Handwrite a letter of appreciation to someone who's really made a mark on your life
- Learn how to dance (even if it's just the basics)
- Play around at the foot of a waterfall
- Sleep outdoors
- Go pedal-boating
- Build something with your own two hands
- Speak to a telemarketer. Seriously.
- Go to a driving range
- Learn how to ski
- Keep a journal for a full month of your life. Update daily.
- Act carelessly, in a "childish" manner for a full day.
- Smile in the face of humiliation
Posted by Ankit at 9:49 AM
May 16, 2009
I was looking back at my older posts on this blog the other day, and I saw a comment from my cousin, Arpit, on a post in 2007 where he said something like, "Keep doing what you're doing kid. There's obviously no stopping you." I didn't think much of it at the time, but I look back. It's that kind of thinking that has led me to any success I've ever noted in my own life and the kind of success I see in anybody that has had a hand in revolutionizing our way of thinking in this day and age (think Sergey Brin and Larry Page, founders of Google, Evan Williams, the guy that started Twitter, etc.).
If you want to make something happen, you have to actually make it happen.
There are so many people who are just waiting for your idea to fall apart, and there are just as many people trying to get you to stop just so you can fall back into the pit of the norm (anyone that points out the flaws of your actions and criticizes without construction). The rut that most of society is stuck in, away from ideas that are more progressive (often mistaken for ideas that are more radical), is only improved upon by people who don't let down when they're criticized.
Posted by Ankit at 1:17 AM
May 9, 2009
I don't know if it was the Dalai Lama that said it, but I couldn't find the quote on Google so I'll just paraphrase:
To love others, you must first love yourself.Think about that. Pause. Okay.
Posted by Ankit at 12:00 PM
May 8, 2009
A common misconception I often see about this blog and others like it (I guess you'd call them personal development blogs, but I stray a little bit every so often) is that the readers assume that the writer is this guy who does everything he preaches. I couldn't imagine a thought more untrue than that when it comes to my writing. I am so far from the ideals I write about here, but I write this blog because all I can truly say about myself is that I've raised my awareness to these different things, whether it be the excessive nature of complaining, the need for some positivity, the lack of individualized action, why we need to live, or anything else.
Posted by Ankit at 11:41 AM
May 3, 2009
People often tell me my ideas are too idealistic. I believe too much that everyone is going to do what works best, that people will take account for their own actions, that people will understand that complaining doesn't make sense, that people will take control of their health, that people will LIVE. Society doesn't work that way. I know society doesn't.
Society works this way. It's too crazy to think people will (eat the way their supposed to / maximize their lives / live in the moment / stop spreading so much negativity).People will never say, "What's the point of trying?" but without realizing it, that's essentially the message they convey. Don't fall into that category. Be progressive. Be radical. Be YOU. If you want to take control of your life, defy societal expectations.
Posted by Ankit at 1:00 PM
May 2, 2009
- My '90s teen TV star look (and my pubescent acne/facial hair)
- Our love for criticism, only if it's positive
- How we tend to respond to negative criticism (i.e. nitpicking at fallacies in the opposition's argument, failing to actually consider the criticism as a whole)
- That all criticism is constructive, whether that's the intention or not; there is always something to learn from the criticism.
Posted by Ankit at 8:52 PM
April 26, 2009
There's a big difference between pleasure and joy. Pleasure stems from immediate gratification of something that tends to be superficial (i.e. new clothes, gadgets, a successful hookup, whatever). On the other hand, joy, which I personally prefer any day, comes from a sustained happiness that occurs as a result of a good life -- usually from appreciating little daily happenings that might typically run by you without you taking notice (a good friend, quality weather, the trust and respect of your colleagues).
Posted by Ankit at 5:31 PM
April 15, 2009
Most times, I'm all about experiencing life in abundance -- not in the sense of overindulging, but always believing that the joys of life are infinite. Sometimes, though, I forget these joys. Not that I'm not enjoying them, but I forget to embrace them. I won't smile when the weather's really nice. I won't realize how great it is to be surrounded by so many people and be involved with so many beautiful communities online and in person. Basically, I'll take life for granted.
Posted by Ankit at 1:06 PM
April 12, 2009
It's weird that sometimes, the things I think about most are those that I have least to say about, so I don't know how much this will hit home, but hopefully you can resonate with this in the slightest bit:
- That habit will not change any time soon. It's normal, but...
- You can start being more cognizant of the habit. Realize when you're doing it. Take note of it.
Posted by Ankit at 10:22 AM
April 9, 2009
I love when people ask questions. So many times, they'll preface it with, "Sorry I'm bothering you, but..." and all I can think is how great it is that they're interested in whatever they're asking about. Most people hear about something, they'll ask one or two questions, hesitate, and then stop asking because they don't want to seem like (1) a nuisance or (2) they're obnoxious and interrogatory.
Posted by Ankit at 11:31 AM
April 6, 2009
A friend asked me if I loved her once, and I had trouble saying yes because in my head, the only people I loved were my family, my cousins, and a few of my boys that I held close enough to me to call them my brothers.
That was a stupid response. That was a trained response. That was a response that came from thinking that I was supposed to keep my love exclusive.
After some thought and some perspective from various bloggers (a lot of inspiration from Jason Mraz), I'v realized that all you can do is love. Having different magnitudes for how much you like someone and creating a line between "like" and "love" just makes appreciation harder. It makes it harder to connect genuinely. If you keep it at love (not to mention, staying away from "dislike," or "hate"), all you want to do is make the most of your relationships.
I'm slowly becoming a great believer in love. That love that Jason Mraz so effectively describes:
The greatest love imaginable: That Love that dwells inside us all,That Love that makes us so, That Love that makes us all connected whether we believe in it or not.I'm trying to remind people of that love at the end of my conversations. Whether it be on the phone, on AIM, or in person, it leaves the person thinking - "Wait, did he just say, 'I love you'? Huh. That was kinda nice."
It's weird for me too, but I think it's kinda nice.
Posted by Ankit at 3:52 PM
I was talking to a friend of mine tonight about fitness and the more superficial results of it (i.e. defined bod and the like), and naturally, I got into talking about the pleasing consequences of getting back into a 5-/6-day-a-week fitness routine with track and got into the specifics. Then, I started drawing back from the conversation because I took note of the slightly arrogant air I was producing by talking about having a relatively cut figure.
To this, my friend responded: "I feel like we've all trained ourselves to preface everything we say with a disclaimer. Sometimes that's necessary, but I wish it wasn't."
I wrote about this in my moleskine in February and never ended up blogging about it, but true honesty comes in a form without disclaimers. Try to stop justifying yourself before you say things. Try to stop turning back after saying things. These disclaimers we put out there before presenting ourselves are a convenient and unfortunate method we use to to deny ourselves our true selves. In other words, we're lying to ourselves.
The most frequent word used when justifying ourselves is most likely "but." Chill with the but.
But while chillin', stay real,
Posted by Ankit at 12:26 AM
March 28, 2009
I guess this post would serve as somewhat of a supplement to the last one. Complaining is one of the most common and most intolerable of negative expressions. The way I see it, there are two types of complaining: (1) complaining for the sake of complaining and letting out a frustrating situation, and (2) complaining about a situation that can be remedied but without much thought into what those remedies could possibly be.
To solve the first type, you need more sources of positive energy. It's key to understand that there is light in even the darkest situations and that things happen for a reason. Although not immediately apparent, the universe is functioning on your side. This isn't religious talk. This is understanding the goodness of the world as a whole. Sure, there are always the occasional outliers, but it's your job to look past them, towards the greater light.
For the second type, we need to start realizing that we drain our energy (while creating more negativity) by complaining. When you encounter an unfortunate situation, you've GOT to stop thinking "Aw, man." You've GOT to stop thinking, "Wow, fml." You've GOT to stop thinking, "Why does this always happen to me?"
What you actually have got to start doing is thinking, "Okay. I accept the situation as it is. I understand the past has passed, and the only time I have is the present. Now, what do I do?"
Only you have the ability to change a sitaution. In Kanye West's book of "Kanye-isms," Thank You and You're Welcome, he says something along the lines of "Stop complaining if you don't offer a solution," and I think that's the essence of what I'm trying to convey. Instead of complaining about all the flaws in a situation, offer fixes. Think about improvements.
While only you have the ability to change your situation, you're also the only person with the ability to choose whether or or not you complain.
Posted by Ankit at 1:59 AM
March 24, 2009
Posted by Ankit at 6:44 AM
March 23, 2009
Often times, I’ll wonder what the purpose of some of my relationships are. For me, relationships are a mutual agreement of usage. I use you. You use me. It’s only logical (and I’d rather be useful than be useless). Occasionally, I forget what I’m actually gaining from a relationship. Lately, what I've realized, in all our relationships, no matter how evident it may be, we’re all teachers and we’re all students.
Now, I'm not into formal education. I like my learning process to be as liberal as possible with emphasis on experiential learning, which is why I like to extract as much from my day-to-day interactions as possible. For a good portion of time this past few months, I lost interest in some of my relationships with some of the people that once played a prominent role in my life. Blind to the fact that I lost this interest, I began to notice the quality of my life decreasing - not because anything was changing, but because I began to lose the variety of perspective I was usually able to incorporate in my daily doings, that same variety of perspective that allows me to maintain a certain level of levity.
It took me a while to notice that I stopped communicating with the diverse group of people that I typically did, and thus, I made a conscious effort to re-incorporate that wide variety of people -- from the ridiculously school-focused type to the relaxed type to the skeptic to the person that just loves life. I used to think there were some types of people I just wanted to stay away from, but come to think of it, there's a reason we are forced in the same space as the people we are. We're meant to create learning experiences from new types of people.
Everyone plays a role in your life, just as you play a role in theirs. Disregard the significance or magnitude of that role, and just be you. Embrace your role. Embrace their role. Understand that we're all students and teachers at the same time.
(Follow me on Twitter @ankitshah. Tumblr @ankittt.)
Posted by Ankit at 8:15 PM
January 27, 2009
I had a conversation with some good friends the other day, and one of them mentioned an idea of the Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh. Hanh notes that most of us don't really embrace our sensory pleasures as we should, that we take them for granted (and I might possibly be citing his idea a little bit incorrectly, so if someone is more knowledgable than I am, feel free to correct me in a comment). I thought about it, and that idea resonated really well with my thoughts on single tasking, which I discussed in my recent post.
I thought about it, and I have a proposition: experience your day-to-day actions one sense at a time. It might not be practical if you're in an environment that's really busy, but when you're at home or anywhere by yourself, try it. When you're eating, close your eyes and turn off the music, TV, podcasts, whatever. When you're listening to music, close your eyes and stop eating. When you're viewing photography, stop everything else you're doing. Reduce all the other noise and stop eating. You get the point.
For me, trying this has actually amplified my sensory experiences. It has worked the same way people describe when you lose a sense (i.e. going deaf or blind), your other senses become more acute. Deactivate other sense as much as you can to really enjoy the one that you're working with, with purpose. Maybe it'll work. Just another idea to amplify that other sense we all have (I hope, at least) - the one of gratitude.
P.S. If I'm drinking a really shit smoothie that I made or if anything I made goes bad, I'll blast the music, watch really action-packed movies, and smell everything I can. The taste practically disappears :)
Posted by Ankit at 11:18 AM
January 20, 2009
I wish I were more familiar with each and every policy of Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of our United States. I do understand him, politically, to an extent, but I could certainly do more. Why do I love this glorious man so much if I don't even know his political views as much as I should to make an informed decision? What exactly does his message of hope even mean to me?
I'm proud to be a citizen under Barack Obama's presidency, not because I think he's going to incorporate policies that work magically to fix all our problems, but because he represents all I want to see in a citizen. Not only that, but he invigorates the people of this country to want to be him. He fills us with this love for everything that he is, and I think that's so key to his presidency. Whether or not he gets us out of Iraq, the economic crisis, or the 1,334 other pits we've dug ourselves into, he will undoubtedly inspire us to better ourselves as human beings.
Obama is the one of the few presidents we've ever had that stresses so many of the things that Americans should embrace but don't: exercise, reading & academia, loving his family, composure. Now, if we could all just take one thing away from him. We all see a bit of ourselves in him, but if we could just take a step further and really embrace his virtues to the extent that we live them ourselves, we'll improve the standard of not just the American citizen, but the global citizen.
We'll change the world.
The nature of a change in our habits is also not to be forgotten. We don't need to be politically engaged to better our country. By reading more, we improve society with our knowledge. By exercising more, we improve society by encouraging healthy lifestyles and we improve ourselves by realizing the more important things in life. By loving more, we improve society by radiating our positive energy to encourage others to pursue all the things they fear.
Obama works out for 90 minutes daily. He is a bookworm beyond the beliefs of many of us. We all find ourselves too busy to incorporate these two habits into our daily schedule. If HE can find the time, can we really say that we can't? Get to work, ladies and gentleman. It's time.
Now is the moment.
Posted by Ankit at 9:36 PM
January 17, 2009
Vlog: Just Do It. Now. from Ankit Shah on Vimeo.
- A sweet anecdote from the blood bank today
- The absurdity of words like, "soon," "later," "tomorrow," and "eventually"
- How cool is it to actually act on your word immediately, right now.
- My lack of drive but newfound influence to do volunteer work
- Another sweet anecdote about the most difficult of random acts of kindness, giving away one of someone's possessions, right now
- Nothing's guaranteed tomorrow and, thus, the importance of doing things now
Posted by Ankit at 1:00 AM
January 10, 2009
So my brother woke up and my parents came home, and I feel really weird talking to a computer screen when they're around because every time I've done it, someone has walked into the room, I've bugged out, and I've lost my train of thought because I keep thinking of being walked in on. The point is that I'm converting what would have been a vlog to a blog because I have yet to rid myself of that self-consciousness.
How often do we stop ourselves from fully sharing our thoughts, perspectives, emotions, or ideas? How often do we shy from wearing our hearts on our sleeves? How often do we think that doing just that would be a bad thing?
I think it's really important to share yourself with the people around you. It's more important to talk about the way you see it (whatever "it" may be) instead of other people, instead of absurd drama and gossip and other negative-energy radiating topics you don't really need to involve yourself in. Most of us are too scared of judgment because we continually think that our thoughts aren't mainstream enough or that they aren't good enough. It's crucial to (1) forgive yourself for whatever negative energy you've drawn to yourself by thinking that you're not good enough to overcome judgment and (2) love yourself.
Some may call it narcissistic, but I can't love anyone truly until I love myself, and right now, I love myself. You know what that allows me to do? It allows me to share myself with all of you, knowing some of you won't like what I have to say, some of you will love it, and some of you will not really care, but no matter what, I'll still be perfectly content with my state at the moment. Of course, I always aim to improve in one way or another, but that comes with great satisfaction with how I roll at the moment. That might not make much sense unless you actually experience what I'm talking about, but hopefully you can relate to it on some level.
With that love for thyself, you can understand a important concept -- that you are not your emotions. You don't identify with your ideas, perspectives, or thoughts. All of those things are temporary, impermanent. Upon that understanding, we can all truly grasp the fact that we should share these things, further confirming their impermanent nature. I think sharing is the easiest way to let things go/detach from them and also open others' eyes to new things. Who you are is not the way you feel -- your emotions, ideas, beliefs, whatever -- at the time. Those things just are what you're most present to at the given moment. Once you love who you are, generally, you can understand that all that other stuff is temporary. Share it, let someone else gain from it as you grow from it and become something better than what you once were, and love every moment of it. But don't, for a second, believe that you aren't good enough, that you are subject to judgment and should therefore not share. The moment that you believe any of that is when progress comes to a halt.
Love you (and myself),
Posted by Ankit at 12:28 AM
January 9, 2009
- That the ultimate goal is actually being truly happy
- Single tasking and immersing yourself in what you're doing at the moment
- Coming to a realization that multitasking doesn't exist. You can only do one thing at a time. "Multitasking" is an illusion of doing multiple things at a time; it is really half-assing everything you're doing by doing each for several moments.
- That there's no need to plan out your schedule and set blocks of time for your plans; you only need to do what you're doing, and just that.
Posted by Ankit at 11:27 PM
January 8, 2009
Instead of wishing you all a happy new year, I wish you a good new day. It's really important to view each day as a turning point, for it is one. I'm sure we've all heard it several times by now -- that there's no reason to wait for January 1st to formulate your intentions and act upon them, but it really is nice to see that we still have some hope, that January 1st provides a stimulus for some of us. Eventually, however, I think it's important to trust in each new day's promise -- that it is what it is, a new day.
With that, I will briefly (seriously, I'm on a time limit here) talk about what I have been thinking about incessantly for the last few weeks. Now that I'm in college (oh yeah, I never mentioned that on the blog - I'll be at the Wharton School @ UPenn from 2009 - 2013 :), I have had a lot of time to really focus on myself, my living (as opposed to my mere existence), and I have tried thinking of what I could do to ensure that if I died any day, I would be totally at peace. This thought-process has recently been even more fired up as a result of reading Tuesdays With Morrie in my Philosophy class (great read if you haven't checked it out already; it's by Mitch Albom).
Now, I have always thought that I would be perfectly fine with dying at any moment in the last few months, but I really thought about it over my winter vacation, and I realized that I would not be. A few things have been holding me back from that peace, and part of my new intention with this blog is to resolve that peace. My character flaws are something I rarely acknowledge -- if I do talk about them, it is only how I used to make a certain mistake but now it's all cleared up. I really do think that part of resolving character flaws -- which could be a factor in being at greater peace with oneself and could very easily release mental burdens that one may have -- is acknowledging those flaws, not just to yourself, but to the people around you.
I am terribly arrogant. When I do receive honest flattery, I let it get to my head. That flattery allows me to think that a lot of my ideas and perspectives are "right," whatever that means. Then, I started reading the works of many people who have done much more than I have (which, really, is nothing. I just like to think I'm important), and I have realized that my arrogance, my inability to lay my feet flat on the ground and realize that I am but one of 6,600,000,000 people on this planet. This leads me to part of my intention for the rest of my life -- to acknowledge myself truthfully rather than simply the thoughts I consider to be more morally correct.
I just started reading Gandhi's autobiography today, and something he said in the first ten pages hit me hard:
I have gone through deep self-introspection, searched myself through and through, and examined and analysed every psychological situation. Yet I am far from claiming any finality or infallibility about my conclusions. One claim I do indeed make and it is this. For me they appear to be absolutely correct, and seem for the time being to be final. For if they were not, I should base no action on them.Gandhi, a man who spent his entire life trying to step forward, trying to reach the ultimate goal, for him, of salvation, is so humble as to say that what he does may not be right. I, by no means, am saying that I am anywhere near him in moral standing, but I do think there's something to be learned from him, and that is that nothing is correct, nothing is final, and our perspective is always subject to change. I'm sure if you compared what I've written or spoken about in the last two months, it would be very different from a year ago. What I write about or share is what is most present to me at the moment, and because of that, it is always subject to change. Nothing is final.
Before ending the post before I go on for hours, I'll note a coming trend. Because my perspective always changes, and because this blog is, in strong part, for myself and my own experiments with life, I will be posting more frequently about what I'm thinking on an (almost) daily basis. I find that my thoughts are always shifting from one perspective to another, and I think it would be interesting to note a contrast in the lenses I view life through by posting on a more frequent basis rather than writing everything in a little black book that never really goes into much detail.
With that, I will take off. Enjoy your day, every day.
Posted by Ankit at 1:03 AM