Hello and welcome back to another episode of #thecriticaldialogue with your favourite Mullah Naseeruddin.
Late one night as a man was walking back home, he saw Mullah Naseeruddin, down on all fours, frantically searching for something under the streetlight.
“What have you lost, Mullah? What is so important that you have to search for it at this hour?
“I am searching for the key to my treasure chest,” replied the Mullah, with a sense of despair.
“May I help you in your search” asked the passer-by. “Maybe we can find your key sooner”.
“Thank you, my friend, so caring and kind of you to have offered to help, at this hour,” said the Mullah.
The passer-by joined Mullah in his search.
It was over an hour now and there was no luck as they did not find the key.
The man finally asked the Mullah “Tell me, can you try and recollect where was the last time you kept the key?”
Naseeruddin pointed towards the darkness and said “Over there, in my house. I remember to have lost the key inside my house…”
Exasperated and angry the passer-by shouted at Mullah Naseeruddin, “You fool, then why the hell are you searching for the key out here in the street? You should go back and search inside”.
“My friend I am searching under the streetlight as there is more visibility out here than inside my house” replied the Mullah, quite nonchalantly.
As you see while the story is hilarious, there is so much depth and meaning if you care to reflect.
Most of us are constantly looking for the key to happiness, the key to bliss, the key to freedom, the key to inner peace and tranquillity, the key to love, and the key to God which we seem to have lost.
We are frantically searching for it by attaching ourselves to different concepts, fads, cults and immersing ourselves in different theories just because they are popular and are in the light, out there in the open.
In fact, the right place to look for the key is the place where you have actually lost it, even if there is less light there and it is the only place where you can possibly find it and that is deep within yourself.
What I like about my favourite Mullah Naseeruddin stories is that superficially most of them may be used purely as humor, but inherent in these stories are hidden gems, the depths of which may be understood by anyone who is willing to dive deep and go beyond the obvious.
They can help bring your conscience a little closer to self-realization.
I hope you enjoyed this one. Please do not forget to like, comment or share.
They saw some people gathered under a tree, having an animated discussion. On going closer to find out, they witnessed that there were two people, each claiming to be telling the truth and alleging that the other was a liar. From their discussion it was difficult to tell who was telling the truth.
As they were walking back to the palace, the Mullah opined “O my beloved King, you see, no matter how many laws, rules and regulations you make, you cannot make people better; they must practice certain things, to get attuned or in touch with what I call ‘inner truth’. This form of truth resembles what is apparent ever so slightly”.
The King did not agree to the Mullah. “I can make people observe and practice truthfulness. I will show you how laws can be used to make my subjects speak the truth always” he proclaimed.
The next day the King wanted to show the Mullah how that could be done. He set up gallows right at the entrance of the city, which was the only way people could get into the city. Near the gate he stationed his guards and their captain to implement his idea.
“Anyone who wishes to enter the city, will have to answer a question; and only those who were found to be telling the truth will be allowed to enter. Those who lie will be put to the gallows, right here at the entrance” proclaimed the King.
The following day, when the gates were opened, it was Mullah Naseeruddin who was the first to step forward.
“Where are you going?” asked the guard. “I am on my way to be hanged” answered the Mullah ever so calmly.
“We don’t believe you” said the guard.
“Very well, if you think I have told a lie, please hang me!”
“No way we are going to hang you, cause if we do, then we would have made what you said come true!” said the guard and let the Mullah pass.
“You see, now you know what ‘Truth’ is – YOUR truth!” said the Mullah as he entered the city with his King standing in admiration of the Mullah and feeling glad that he has such a wise man as his counsel.
The truth is ever so hard for people to comprehend.
Truth often isn’t apparent. Truth can be very hard to arrive at. There are a lot of people who hide all kinds of truth and some are so good at it that they let very little escape from behind their shield.
What’s your truth?
For you to Reflect
Do you relate to this story?
How often have you found yourself trying hard to defend the ‘truth’?
Many parents claim that caring for children is much more exhausting than work! Surprised?
The positive side of the story is that caring for your child/children is more meaningful and rewarding in the long-term.
It’s like watering a plant. It can get frustrating at times that you are not able to see the fruits of your labor immediately, but when the flower does blossom, the happiness and joy it provides you is unmatched.
When it comes to parenting, mothers are more likely to wear themselves out and more often claimed that they were exhausted from spending time with their kids, household chores, office and even leisure activities. You may ask why leisure activity must exhaust a mother? It’s cause it is not about their leisure but the role they have to play even in the leisure activity of their child/children.
For those mothers who have their little angels reaching their teens it can put additional stress as the transitioning period comes with its own set of challenges. This due to their child/children going through intense emotional and mental upheavals which comes with their physiological changes.
It demands high level of endurance, especially for working mothers and it would be very important that they take care of themselves first.
Self-care has to be your number one priority as a stressed-out mother can get overwhelmed with personal and professional work overload. It will start impacting your thinking, decision-making and problem-solving ability and more importantly your communication.
Frequent emotional outbursts, anger, conflicts, relationship struggles are some which you could add to the list.
Our ‘Positive Parenting’ program focuses first on ‘Self-Care’ before even it attempts to address the challenges of your child/children. It guarantees that you are in better control of yourselves before you start helping others in the family.
The ‘Power of Positive Parenting’ – Online Program
Any attempt to change from your current state is dependent on the ‘decisions’ you make, and infact starts with a decision. That’s probably the reason why you are told, in order for you to change, you first need to ‘decide’ that you really need to change.
“You do not change your life in a minute, but the decisions you make can change your life in a second.”
I was discussing with Dr. Abraham Gerard Meyer about the MindfulChoice™ Model which he so advocates in making informed decisions and he explained this concept beautifully by correlating change and decision making with the act of driving a vehicle.
I realized that when we drive, we are always presented with choices aka decisions to make – whether to turn right or left, stop or proceed, swerve or bash-on regardless. He went on to tell me that if we carefully examine, all our decisions are binary and we need to become aware of that first before doing anything. He went on to add that we must move away from focusing on the ‘Why?’ and start looking at being in the present – the ‘What?’. There is no point in wallowing in the past, thought past experiences do influence our knowledge in making decisions, they do not help greatly. In fact if we keep focusing on the ‘why?’ of decisions, we become paralyzed for action.
Imagine, you are stuck in a traffic jam, and you are in the ‘Why?’ mode of thinking and feeling. ‘Why does it have to be today?’; ‘Why is it happening to me?’, ‘Why don’t the authorities do something about traffic conditions?’ – ‘Why?’ Why? Why?
Do you see, how it takes you into a negative spiral of thoughts and emotions? Does it in anyway change your condition? Probably yes! But for the worse, isn’t it?
Instead, if you move your attention towards the ‘what?’, it will help you remain in the present, analyze the situation you are in currently and make informed choices to either ease the pain or maneuver through the traffic. I personally have not seen people when faced with an emergency situation while driving, asking the question ‘why’? Instead they unconsciously are focusing on the ‘what’? and take a decision in the moment. It does not matter whether the decision worked out right or wrong eventually, however, it does move you forward to the next step. Either way you know whether it worked in your favor or not.
Let’s say you start asking – What’s happening now? What do I do now? What options do I have now? What?, What?, What?…. You will find that you will be able to act and change your direction effectively to reach your destination.
If we can start to bring the lessons from our driving experiences into our decision making process, it will go a long way in helping us change for the better – affirmative towards change.
It starts with you learning to make MindfulChoice™ – this Dr. Gerard says, is different from the Mindfulness talk we hear all around us. The MindfulChoice™ Model is all about being in the present, focusing on the ‘what?’ and on changing behavior.
Remember, it always is a ‘Decision’ which ‘Changes’ the course of your life!
Here is an interesting video on the ‘MindfulChoice Model’
Social media today post-Covid-19 is seeing a world full of know-it-alls, who don’t have any idea of what they are talking about. Everyone seems to be claiming a deep knowledge in the field, without actually having any experience whatsoever. They seem to be doing so with confidence. The irony is that the less knowledge they seem to possess, the more confident they seem to appear.
This is a phenomenon you must become aware of, in order for you to differentiate those spreading lies and fake news from the truth-Sayers.
This is called the “Dunning Kruger Effect”, which can be quite harmful if the actions and words have consequences. Especially when it comes from those who are in positions of power and authority. This effect means that people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability.
This effect is seen in a more pronounced manner today than ever before after Covid-19 struck the world with devastating consequences.
We had Heads of States claiming that there was nothing to worry about, to some who confidently stated that having a particular drug will effectively cure the infection. We also have some who seem to have already found some miracle drug and alternative therapy which would heal the world.
Post the discovery of vaccines for Covid-19, we have another evidence of the “Dunning Kruger Effect” taking place. There are people who seem to have no idea of the scientific basis behind these vaccines and their efficacy confidently talking about the pros and cons of it on social media. The more incompetent they are the more confident they seem to appear. This social media trolls spreading all sorts of lies and misinformation are creating havoc in the minds of the already stressed and stretched population. The news media is adding the multiplier effect, what with anchors and their guests sitting and debating with confidence about something which they know nothing of.
It’s not just about the pandemic, we find this effect all around us. The few I can think of are the self-proclaimed gurus, mindfulness coaches, meditation and yoga experts, success coaches, alternate therapists…. The list is long. LinkedIn is one such platform which is now showing ample evidence of the Dunning Kruger Effect.
Agree? Can you think of more areas where this is seen?
According to APA (American Psychological Association, 2017), all individuals are unique and differ in their patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. While your emotions may fluctuate during the course of your everyday interactions with the world; your personality infrastructure is thought to remain stable after a person reaches a specific age (McCrae & Costa, 2003).
One of the foremost and widely researched personality models is the ‘Five Factor Model – Big Five’, measured by a set of highly reliable and valid inventory supported by McCrae and Costa’s work. These Big Five measures the five descriptors of personality as ‘Openness to experience’, ‘Conscientiousness’, ‘Extraversion’, ‘Agreeableness’ and ‘Neuroticism’ or the ‘Negative emotionality’ or popularly known as the OCEAN Scale. The core set of dispositional traits within the Big Five are the predominant aspects of a personality and provides a much organized framework with which a human personality can be measured. While the Big Five can broadly predict your personal disposition, there are over 30 facets or sub-traits which go to make the Big Five comprehensively describable and accurate.
Over three decades of research focused on the relationship between personality and psychological well-being (eg: Schmutte & Ryff, 1997) and more recently Siegler and Brummett (2000) have shown a strong positive association of the Big Five traits and its related variables to mental wellness.
“Mental health is not just an ‘absence of illness’ as you have known. It is rather the ‘presence of wellness’. There are human capacities which are needed for you to flourish and protect and are associated with being well.”
Mental Wellness – Prathibimb™
The ‘Prathibimb’ means ‘reflection’ in Hindi which builds on the most powerful framework and model of your ‘Mental Wellness’ which will help you analyze and organize your life better and help you generate ideas about how to lead and live a better, a more satisfying life.
With my experience of working with over 450,000 people across all walks of life and studying their behavioral dispositions and impact on mental wellness, I believe that as most of the big five research conforms, your personality has a strong correlation with your mental welleness. Once you are able to deeply undestand all the personality traits and related variables, you will get a hold on how you respond to stimuli – both internal and extraneous.
We have identified, 6 Key dimensions of your personality which when related to your personality dispositions can be a good predictor of your mental wellness. These six dimensions are your Emotional well-being, Defense mechanism, Anger response, Impulsivity, Purpose in life and Positive relationships with others.
By understanding your personality or ‘Prathibimb’ and how it correlates with the mental wellness dimensions, you will derive immense benefits like;
Self-awareness and acceptance
Self-control and discipline
Greater understanding of your strengths and ability to use them to your advantage
Predict dimensions which could negatively impact your sense of well-being
Help you develop coping strategies for mental wellness
The 6 Key Dimensions of Mental Wellness
Each individual is unique and comes with a unique set of personality traits and characteristics. These traits predispose them to certain behavior which contribute positively or negatively to their mental state. While there could be many possibilities, our research says that there are 6 key dimensions the correlation of which provides us with a basis for predicting how an individual will respond to what is thrown at him/her; in turn influencing the mental wellness. Given below are the 6 dimensions for your understanding.
Your Emotional well-being (EWB) is a cognitive appraisal of satisfaction with life in general and includes a positive balance of pleasant to unpleasant. Well-being and mental health are issues of everyday life and emotional well-being can be considered as a component of positive mental health. Experiencing positive emotions can be considered as one of the pillars of positive psychology. Your emotional well-being includes how you relate to the subjective experience of the past, present and the future. (reference Keyes 2003).
There are two key factors of the big five which influence your state of emotional well-being namely, Neuroticism or Negative emotionality and Extraversion. Basis on how you score on these traits, either high, average or low, you would show dispositions which have a certain impact on your mental status and could be described as;
Sanguine optimist – Those who are usually cheerful because they are not unduly troubled by problems, and who have a keen appreciation for life’s pleasures. They are quick to recover from setbacks. Nothing in the world which would often worry or frighten others, bothers them. They have confidence in future possibilities and are focused on the same. Their cheerful nature manifests in all their interpersonal interactions, spreading positivity all around.
Apathetic – Those who often have tendencies showing a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, or concern about things. They tend to remain in a state of indifference and show little or no interest in the happenings and events that would excite or worry others. In their interpersonal interactions they may come across to others as cold, insensitive, uncaring, and bland. As an apathetic person they may lack a sense of purpose, worth, or meaning in their life. They may also exhibit insensibility or sluggishness.
Sombre pessimist – Those who have heightened levels of negative emotions and frequent bouts of anxiety, worry and stressful episodes, you often find life hard and joyless. Their predisposition towards lower levels of social interaction makes it difficult for them to vent and share your negative emotions leading to a downward spiral of negativity. They tend to have little faith in the future and often come across as pessimists to people who interact with you.
Highly emotional – Those who often experience high levels of negative emotions with frequent mood swings, negative thoughts, high levels of stress, and anxiety. Add to this their inclination towards high levels of social interactions make their interpersonal transactions extremely tumultuous.
Defense mechanism points to how your personality traits influence your mental processes to find solutions to stressful episodes in your life. It points to the ways in which your mind will project your negative emotions into thoughts and feelings. This mental process is usually unconscious and tends to conceal your internal drives or feelings that threaten to impact your self-esteem and provoke anxiety.
There are two key factors of the big five which influence your state of emotional well-being namely, Neuroticism or Negative emotionality and Openness to experience. Basis on how you score on these traits, either high, average or low, you would show dispositions which have a certain impact on your mental status and could be described as,
Super-sensitive – Those who fall under this category of emotional super-sensitivity have something like a sixth sense, a highly developed level of empathy, that allows them to recognize different emotions in others. The problem is that it affects them, and because they feel much more than everyone else, they feel other people’s pain in their own flesh.
Non-adaptive – A non-adaptive person’s anxiety, stress, negative emotions are often not lessened by their own behavior and is dysfunctional to the individual. They may often find it difficult to find solutions to the anxiety you experience. They may be prone to using repression and denial as a defense mechanism.
Under-sensitive – People with an under-sensitive personality rarely experience negative emotionality and often downplay its affects. They do not dwell too much on their setbacks and instead move quickly to solutions. This is often to distract themselves. The threshold for pain is so high in them that they may often overlook or are not sensitive to the impending dangers.
Adaptive – These individuals are often calm in the face of threat, stress, or any problem. They are naturally prone to find solutions and use their creative abilities to adapt themselves to various situations. They find humor in the face of stress and often calm nerves using their vivid imagination.
Anger is a natural and mostly automatic response to pain of one form or another (physical or emotional). Anger can occur when people don’t feel well, feel rejected, feel threatened, or experience some loss. The type of pain does not matter; the important thing is that the pain experienced is unpleasant.
There are two key factors of the big five which influence your state of emotional well-being namely, Neuroticism or Negative emotionality and Agreeableness. Basis on how you score on these traits, either high, average or low, you would show dispositions which have a certain impact on your mental status and could be described as,
Timid – Those who are timid often lack in self-confidence and are apprehensive over their response to conflicting emotions which make them angry. They get easily hurt and often feel down, taking a long time to recover from negative feelings. They are easily angered when faced with adversity and their reticence often makes them direct their anger inwards towards themselves.
Moody – Those who are moody often overlook the impact of their anger on others. They are easily angered and direct their anger on others. In their interactions with others, they come across as volatile and get irritated over minor issues. They boil with anger for prolonged periods of time and are always at the tipping point of an angry outburst.
Callous – Those who are callous do take offense, but they have the ability to remain calm and not be overpowered by feelings of anger. They are very calculative in their interactions with others and have the propensity to seek revenge in a cold-blooded manner. They could hurt people nonchalantly and hardly ever feel bad about it.
Mellow – Those who are mellow do not get angered easily. They remain calm and in the face of interpersonal conflict would prefer to forgive and forget. They believe that most people are of good intent. In the face of any dispute with others, they try and focus more on reaching a common ground for resolution.
Impulsivity, or an impulsive behaviour, is broadly defined as actions without foresight that are poorly conceived, prematurely expressed, unnecessarily risky, and inappropriate to the situation. Impulsivity is associated with undesirable, rather than desirable, outcomes. From making hasty decisions to getting into fights, impulsivity can cause harm to yourself and those around you. In addition to undermining relationships and your overall sense of well-being, impulsive behaviours can also lead to personal harm if left unchecked.
There are two key factors of the big five which influence your state of emotional well-being namely, Neuroticism or Negative emotionality and Conscientiousness. Basis on how you score on these traits, either high, average or low, you would show dispositions which have a certain impact on your mental status and could be described as,
Over-controlled – Overcontrolled people are tense and stressful with a high need for control. They look for perfectionism in everything and tend to get edgy and agitated when they are unable to achieve those levels. They are obsessed with the need to reach an imaginary high level of performance which are often unrealistic and at times unattainable. They often feel a sense of incompleteness in their work which puts them under undue stress. They are often so worried about the outcome that they find it difficult to stop. They tend to panic for the slightest reason.
Under-controlled – Undercontrolled people often lack in self-discipline and cannot pull back their urge to do many things at the same time. They are often unplanned and do not pay attention to detail which comes back to hurt them in the long-term. They frequently switch their attention from one activity to the other leading to sub-optimal outcome. They are prone to high levels of stress as they encounter more failures than success. It takes them on a spiral of dysfunctional behavior of seeking solace in external sources. They are prone to the feeling that everything around them is going out of control and they cannot do anything about it. They may indulge in behaviors which risk their health.
Relaxed – Relaxed people are never really bothered about the outcome and they do not feel the need to exercise control over their actions. They often find it hard to motivate themselves and they are hard to be motivated by others as well. They don’t easily get disappointed when results are not as expected. They tend to brush aside setbacks with such ease that others may find them to be disinterested, disinclined, or plainly not bothered.
Focused – Focused people are clear about what they want in life and work diligently towards achieving their goals. They are not flustered by setbacks and have the ability to recover quickly to continue pursuing their goals. They remain calm and composed in the face of adversity and are not angered easily.
Purpose in life
It relates to one’s ability to feel that there is a purpose to life. It indicates a clear purpose and meaning of life. It relates to your sense of directedness and intentionality. It is about your drive to achieve your goals. It’s your pursuit of making life meaningful or purposeful. You could either be seen to have a ‘strong’ purpose in life or ‘weak’ purpose based on the scores on the big five factors and related variables. The factor of conscientiousness has a major influence on this dimension.
Strong purpose in life – People who score high on the aspect of “Purpose in Life”, always have goals and a sense of directedness in their life; they feel there is meaning to their present and past life; hold beliefs that give life purpose; and have aims and objectives for living.
Having a strong purpose in life is a good predictor of both health and longevity. Evidence suggests that the ability to find meaning from life’s experiences, especially when confronting challenges, may be a mechanism underlying the resilience in those who have a strong purpose in life.
Weak purpose in life – Those who show a weak purpose in life may lack a sense of meaning in life. They often have few goals or aims, lack a sense of direction; do not see purpose in their past life; and have no outlook or beliefs that give their life meaning.
It is your ability to have positive relationships with others. It emphasizes the ability to form close union with others, and the guidance and direction of others. It relates to your ability to maintain warm, affectionate, friendly, cordial relations with others. It is an indicator of your social wellness. You could either be seen to have a ‘strong’ positive relationship with others or ‘weak’ relations with others, based on the scores on the big five factors and related variables. The factor of extraversion is known to have a major influence on this dimension.
Strong positive relationship with others – People with a score indicating strong positive relationship with others, have warm, satisfying, trusting relationships with others. They are concerned about the welfare of others and are capable of strong empathy, affection, and intimacy. They understand the give and take of human relationships.
Weak relations with others – People with a score which indicates weak relationships with others have few close, trusting relationships with others. They find it difficult to be warm, open, and concerned about others. They often find themselves to be isolated and frustrated in interpersonal relationships. They often are not willing to make compromises to sustain important ties with others.
Note: Sree Kumar, the author of this article, who is the co-founder and partner at Equinox Consultants, is the co-creator of the Prathibimb Mental Wellness™ (PMW) Model and framework. This article is intended to outline the framework. For more information on the PMW assessments and how it can help improve your personal and organizational wellness, you could get in touch with him directly at email@example.com
Copyright: Prathibimb and Prathibimb Mental Wellness Assessment™ (PMWA) are copyrighted and are the intellectual property of Equinox Consultants. No part of this document or related assessments and suggestions may be reproduced, copied or used without the written and explicit consent of the authors.
This story is in continuation to my last poem “Who Am I?”
I was walking through the local supermarket the other day when I saw a grandfather walking around with his 2 year old grandson. It was obvious that the grandpa wasn’t having an easy time of it, with the cacophony of his cherished grandson scaling upwards every time candy or toys came into view.
The grandfather, however, kept his cool, and intoned softly to the child: “Rama relax, it won’t take long.”
When the screaming didn’t stop, the grandpa continued: ” Rama, there’s no reason to get angry, try to enjoy this walk and in a minute we’ll be on the way home, I promise.”
When I came out of the store I saw them in the parking lot, the child screaming and the older man still talking softly and quietly to him. I couldn’t help myself. I walked over to him.
“Sir,” I said, “I have to say you are an amazing grandfather. The way you talk to the boy and keep your calm despite all of this screaming – Rama sure is a lucky to have a grandfather like you.”
“Thanks,” said the grandfather, “but I’m Rama. This little devil’s name is Krishna.”