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Think about childhood, those days when you went out and played tirelessly. Ponder on your favorite food. How many times did it take for you to develop a craving for more of it..?? Recollect those habits you are so found of and cannot think of giving up. On the other hand recall the student life. How many of you got habituated to studying..?? How many of you cannot stop yourself from exercising and how many resolutions have you made so far in vain..?? Why is it that some things we can get used very quickly and some others take a life time of getting used to…why..???
Remember, we too are animals however managed to be on top of the evolution due to something which eventually changed and made us superior to other animals. A part in the brain which helps us makes distinction between the right and the wrong. The part which puts a lid called responsibility on the extent of freedom we have. It is a small part in the frontal lobe of brain, responsible for consciousness. This part carries our values and beliefs which we inherit from our culture. This part in us though functional, is mild and primitive and can barely surpass the animalistic brain which is immensely powerful and all about survival, gaining pleasure and avoiding pain. As animals our nature is instinctually guided by sexual and aggressive instincts which were evolutionarily beneficial for us to sustain and reproduce.
As we are growing, we are developing the consciousness eventually on top of animalistic brain. Till 12 years most of our activities are guided by animalistic brain. Though conscious brain is being shaped it is passive in nature. In the teenage as body, thoughts and emotions evolve in every way, there is a fight going on between the strong animalistic brain and the primitive and developing conscious brain. This is the age when we tend to question everything under the sun, including our identity, the societal norms, the rules and regulations, the reasons for denial of pleasure, sexual and aggressive instincts etc. In this age if we do not give a scope for the individual to develop a conscious brain which has well thought of and understood values, empowering beliefs and right boundaries we are creating an individual who though has a strong animalistic mind has a less evolved conscious mind. In this age it becomes important to make a teenager understand the reasons behind boundaries and to find a pleasurable purpose for his identity which is as strong as his animalistic and aggressive instincts, which even animalistic brain can accept. As an adult the habits are almost set. The person has developed the consciousness in the way it functions in him and has his animalistic brain and the conscious brain cooperating.
Science talks about certain number of days, say 30 or 66 and different reinforcement mechanisms to shape habits however Now, Let’s come back to those habits in our life which take not more than one exposure to stay with us forever. These habits are shaped either when there is lot of experienced pleasure or there is a combination of pleasure with sexual or aggressive instincts, the habits formed are deadly. They would take lot of effort to leave us how much ever harm or punishing they prove to be or making us guilty or resentful.
Now we are in the culture where freedom and liberation is promoted over the boundaries or the responsibilities. The freedom has become the ultimate mantra at any cost. What about the expression of freedom in those areas which create addictive habits which rarely contribute to the quality of life. What about the sex education in childhood and teenage..??
We are either exposing our youth to sex education which nurtures their sexual and aggressive instincts or going with a policy of forced secrecy on these instincts. Internet is 37-80% filled with instantly addictive adult content, which is not the real sex education in any way. Outside world is filled with people who think about sex and act on it but never talk or listen in right way. Sexual and aggressive instincts are harmful if repressed and also harmful if exposed. For us to awaken and satisfy those instincts come as naturally as satisfying hunger and hunger here remains with us till death and is never fully satisfied. Only solution is to balance on the rope and come up with means for sex education which helps our youth understand and assert the sexual self in an empowering way. Help them build right boundaries and value system around sex and make them understand the intentions of the restrictions and taboo on sex though it is extremely natural to us. Carefully planned, Properly tested and validated curriculum including not only what of sex education but also why behind the cultural restrictions might be the way to go…!!!
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How many times have you spoken dearly to your pet and felt absolutely understood. Wait, isn’t your pet someone who speaks a language which you might not even dream to understand in your lifetime..!! Again how many times have you conversed with a friend, parent or a partner and felt not understood..?? Plenty of times I suppose. Now, we are talking about a person who speaks the very own language as yours. Why is it that the language though is bringing us together and connecting us, falling short when it comes to creating perfect understanding?
Imagine that you and few of your friends are out in the city; you are very hungry and manage to find a restaurant which is offering only buffet. There are several items on the buffet for you to grab and you happily choose from the options. Now stand back and think. Is there a guarantee that the items on the buffet are exactly what you wanted to eat..?? Need not be, right. Again once you choose an item, say ‘Malai Kofta’, and taste it. The way you experience and explain the item might be totally different from the way your friends do, though you are experiencing and explaining the same dish. Similarly, When you were born, you were eager to connect and socialize hence you embraced the language you came across with its limited communication options. Now, you are very unique in your experiencing of the world and you can only use certain words you are familiar with, within your cultural exposure to communicate your experiencing. You manage to communicate as effectively as possible. However what is forgotten here is the fact that the other person to whom communication is directed is unique as well with his own experiencing, exposure and choice of words. He might understand it in his own way. It is little better than two deaf men trying to make sense of vivid conversation.
Now think about the last real conversation you had with your mother or your partner. You tend to keep it as short as possible and expect her/him to know what you meant. You get irritated when the other person misreads you. What exactly is happening here? First of all the language is the limited exposure of our experiencing and on top we are not even ensuring that the message has gone to other person with the meaning we wanted to communicate. Now we start to think that Geez, this person rarely understands me, how am I supposed to stand him/her and even like him/her. This would be another story with friends as with friends we usually are conversing about lighter topics which are not of much personal relevance or emotionally charged. Again we also could be befriending those who might share our meaning system to some extent.
Now, how do we resolve his discrepancy..?? We would need to keep in mind that though language seems universal it is not, it is very unique and specific to the person however there is another huge part of our communication system, namely 93% which is universal…The non- verbal system. We should learn to pay more attention to non-verbal communication to understand ourselves and others better. When you tune into the non-verbals, the meanings become clearer.
Language is an effort to fill all the water in the ocean in a gigantic tank. The ocean is ocean how much ever big the tank is. On top we all carry our own versions of the tank with different size and shape. Language no doubt plays a huge role in connecting us and advancing the mankind however we should never forget that it is a small portion of effective communication and also a limiting factor. In all our versions of language meanings go far beyond the words…Now tell me did I manage to make sense in this 7%....I can only be optimistic here.. ;)
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King Vardana and his Fabulous Dream …!!!
Once upon a time there was a king by name Vardana. Since he was a little prince he had a dream to build the biggest and most exquisite gold palace. He took this up the first thing once he became the king. Though he was a mighty king it was not an easy task to achieve. He had to convince his family that it will get the dynasty name stay forever. He had to convince his parliament and representatives of the people that it would be a politically correct thing to do considering neighboring kingdoms and finally he had to convince people that it would not tax them a lot and they would have an envy and admiration of whole world in their kingdom. Finally he convinced everyone that his dream would be the pride and future of the nation and started working on it swiftly. Architect for the palace was one among the best. The design he came up with was out of this world. King fetched gold from numerous mines and had a mountain of it for the countless craftsmen to work on. After ten years of tireless work, anticipation and excitement his dream became a reality. There stood the fabulous and breathtaking palace wonderfully alive. The king started to live in the palace with his family. The people close to him started to notice that he was not as happy as he was supposed to be living in his dream. Eventually months passed and Vardana was getting more and more restless. The palace which seemed so bright and wonderful as a dream seemed monotonous and suffocating. He did not know if he had done all these years of toiling to live in something which seemed all the more boring day by day. Now, his family was proud to stay in the palace. His people were ecstatic about having something so wonderful in the kingdom. What was wrong with him? Why wasn’t he cherishing his much awaited glory anymore…??? What was he supposed to do now? What would you have done if you were King Vardana..??
You and I might not be King Vardana, however there lie a king in each of us, who dreams big and toils to make the dream come true. If you look back you might have had situations when you dreamt for something. Say a particular career, car, house, girl or guy, income so on. Once you dream, the dream should be convincing for all parts of you, which have different opinions, thoughts and emotions about different aspects. One part wants a particular career however another part says nops, there isn’t enough money in it, one more part doubts if you have the ability, there is yet another part which says the career might not be so desirable. Once all your parts are satisfied and in sync you will be convincing your family about your dream and also ensuring that dream is acceptable for society. After this you take up the dream, work hard and finally reach there. Oops, once you reach the point it doesn’t seem all that great right… Why does this happen..??
There could be two possible ways we can look at this situation. Firstly the dream need to be dreamt not from the point of view of a bike rider in the town who can hardly view 20 meters ahead of him and proceed but from the point of view of a pilot of a plane who has the bigger picture of the town in the vicinity. Bike rider’s view is partial and ever changing and pilot’s view is not, though it expands as he comes nearer to the landing. Secondly, the destination or the final point of the dream is the glitch. How about not having a final point but just the stations which give a space to look back, reflect, learn and proceed. This sort of dream is a reality from the moment it starts and never becomes a fixed reality with an end point. You will continuously have the fun and excitement of proceeding. Think about all those dreams of you which you have already achieved and also the dreams which you are still working on. Which one is more close to your heart..?? Can you keep your dreams in momentum without an end point..??
Our king Vardana had a beautiful dream and that was to build a masterpiece and not to dwell in it. Dwelling in it was decreasing the value of his dream day by day. Have you already contemplated a way he can still be happy and excited about his life, living his dream…???
Note : The picture is not from Vardana's palace..;)
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Using only 10% of your brain?
This was a age old myth that humans use only 10% of our brains. This myth came about due to many reasons and was later busted. Lets get a sneak peak!
HOW THIS MYTH CAME ABOUT?
ON THE CONTRARY..
Nevertheless, the much complex brain has been the most intriguing organ of the human body!!!
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There has been a newfound gush about keeping the mind and body healthy in the last decade! When we look around we see the popular "stay-healthy" campaign in a variety of ways. There are more gyms than before, more people running the treadmill at home, losing weight, more advertisements about foods like oats, whole-wheat noodles, healthy oils, low-cal foods, balanced diet and the list goes on. On par with these, gaining popularity are the spas, stress-busting techniques we get to read, yoga centers with power yoga, laughter yoga, meditation centers like art of living, techniques like vipassana. The buzz that's going around entails not just health, if we zoom in, we see that revolves around creating a state of well being and very fundamentally that which is positive.
So what is it all about staying healthy and happy? Is it really that important? Why is everyone engulfed in bringing about this positive bodily and mind states?! Am I a better version of me when I'm happy? Lets discover...
Positive states essentially mean your own subjective feeling of positive emotions like happiness, cheerfulness, excitement, joyfulness, liveliness, playfulness etc. When we experience these, it has far more implications than what's apparent. We'll see how. At the time when you feel these emotions or states, studies show that the horizon of your mind opens up. What does this mean? This open mindedness means the expansion of your thought processes such that you will be able to see things in broader perspective than you would have if you were not experiencing this state. Suppose you just got a compliment from a friend and then you were put in a maze and asked to find your way out, you are more likely to get out it faster if you were in a happy state of mind than if you were angry or sad. This opening up of your mind, thus, causes you to think of multiple pathways to get to the exit. You were quickly able to think and trace the alternatives you could take. This form of thinking in divergent ways was you being creative. The same creativity could be expressed while doing any other activity but with the pre condition of having a positive internal state. You would be able to find more than one outcome or way of doing it.
Now assume if this was a race and since you came out of the maze very quickly this was well appreciated, you are likely to feel motivated to do such a task again. Thus, you moved to a higher state of feeling worthy, accomplished and confident to do something. At the same time you also discovered the resources within you.
So here we saw that from an internal state of being just happy because of a compliment, you grew to become open in your mind, which enabled you to think in many ways and be enthusiastic and creative. However, it did not stop there, you were able to see your own potential, and again moved higher to feeling motivated, successful at the task and confident. Any positive felt state has a ripple effect, it causes you to utilize your own abilities better quite automatically!Now this maze could be replaced with any other problem in your life, be it in academics, relationships, family, financial or anything else. Just imagine how different your solutions or ways out would be if you thought through them in a positive and calm state of mind rather than aroused. Its more likely that these problems are closer to us and the associated feelings are intense. However, if you consciously choose to reach a better state of mind before thinking, you would be able to generate better workarounds. People who have done this repeatedly have shown to be able to cope with their problems better. They build a higher level of resilience .i.e. ability to recover quickly from difficult situations. When such recovery happens, they believe that they can do it again, thus creating the ripple effect. Such individuals are without a doubt more adaptable, courageous and accepting of any situation life can offer.
Studies also show that when a student evoked any positive memory in his mind before taking a test, he was likely do better. There are also studies which go up to the extent of showing us that positive internal states can actually enable us to look past racial and cultural differences between people. It broadens one's view and enables one to look at another person as an individual rather than looking for the dissimilarities. Now this can have great implications of fostering positive relationships between various communities which live together. It increases trust and empathy between them, decreasing rivalry and opposition and in turn increasing their survival rate!
More simply, the feeling a foodie gets when he eats good food, the feeling a player gets on winning a match, the feeling a student gets to see good grades, the feeling anyone gets on seeing their loved ones happy, the feeling a teacher or an employee gets on getting a quality feedback are all precursors and definitely convertible to greater feelings of contentment, serenity, purposefulness and empowerment! So the next time you're feeling all excited and perky don't let it go without escalating it!
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Paint box of a teenager...
The budding life of a teenager is like a paint box full of colors. These colors raw, untouched and urgently needing to be experimented with. Though *he may want to play along with them according to his own tunes, the canvas often reminds him that there are people looking at it. As a child he could have done things much easily but now there is a sense of an outer shadow hovering overhead. He may find himself battling with "if i were to be completely free, i would have...." and "if others don't like it, i would feel....". Adding to this he knows that all the attention is on him. He knows that he is the central object of everyone's view, they are looking at him, commenting on him, judging him or talking about him. So he has to cautiously weigh all his moves. Friends circle become increasingly important and it becomes a way to show people that he is independent, he can go on his own, he is mature enough. The chit-chatting with friends helps him relieve his own curiosities, new feelings with respect to the opposite sex, ideas, thoughts about what's right and wrong. He also gets a sneak peak into his friends lives and sees what they are doing with their paint boxes. He along with his group would most likely identify with a popular idol, a band or movie stars. Endless discussions about what's cool, whose body is better leads him trying to groom himself, experiment with his clothing style and feel accepted. He may secretly feel the need to talk to another adult about anything of concern because parents don't seem like the best option. The more he is away from parents, the less he is treated like a child, the less is the control on him and feels far independent when outside.
Going through he may experiment with his own paint box and sometimes along with friends. He doesn't care if there is any danger in these experiments. Even if he realizes it, he chooses to ignore them by saying "i think it will be fine.. why become scared..stay cool" or "everyone else is doing it...why not me?" thus convincing himself to do what he wants. Only when there is a risk will there be fun and then the feeling of finally have done something he wanted to. When parents try to control him, he expresses his rebellion by doing what he wants! While he sometimes craves for that love and attention from his parents he may attempt to hide these feelings to appear adult-like and mature.
As he moves through his teen years he learns that he is slowly beginning to understand what picture he was painting. Earlier as raw as it looked, it begins to take a shape, he sees the edges and boundaries. He knows what he likes more now, he begins to focus on those things. He learns to control his impulses. He thinks about his future more seriously. As the clarity in his head increases, conflict with parents decreases, decisions are made together rather than me versus you. He understands though friends are important he has his own way. Though he needs approval, its simply not like it was before. He thinks before he makes decisions. He is better at being able to sense how others may be feeling. He realizes he has a long way to go before he finishes what he intended to paint on his canvas...with hope, challenges, curiosity, enthusiasm and zest he moves towards a blooming future ahead...
*he is used in the article as a neutral pronoun for both genders.
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Think about your first day in the high school. How was your experience..?? Were you at ease on that day..?? What did you do to be at ease? Probably you found another person who was most like you and bonded with that guy or girl and then the world changed. You started enjoying being yourself in the high school…!!! Isn’t that amazing what the company of similar people can do to us..??
In most of our relations we have the tendency to sway towards the alike. Though there is a belief that opposites attract, if you look back at your life, it is hardly true. We are inclined towards those who are either like us or the ones like our desired self. We are the way we are possibly because of three things. Firstly we might be habituated to be what we are: The routine type, Secondly it could be only way we know of and comfortable with in our current exposure: The wannabe type and finally we really like what we are: Rock star type. In first case we will be compelled to find similar, in second case we crave for more exposure and in third case we are naturally comfortable with others like us.
There are many relations in our life which choose us rather than us choosing them. These could be our parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, colleagues, kids and in some cases even spouse and so on. Can we ensure that we are happy in these relations and even make them fulfilling..??
We certainly can. How do we do it..?? We are not as we simple as we present. There are several fine intricacies associated with us. Out of all these there could be one small thread which is common between two people. Consider one of your relations you can barely converse with. Explore for those common threads. I am sure there will be more than one if you are honest in your exploration. Now you have a foundation of similarities. Start your conversations from this thread and try to find out the category person belongs to. Is it the first habitual category? The second exploration category or the third, I am the rock star category. If he is in first category, he will eventually be habituated to your ways if you are truly with him for few days. If she is in second category she already is on her way to model you. If he is in third category, well, here you have a person from whom you can learn or unlearn one or 2 things. You will be amazed to find out how much more you would have explored this person in the process and bonded. Who knows..?? You might even start to like the person during the parade…!!
Think about your best friend. She might share many similarities however even she is unique and has several other qualities, which you might not approve of, however has embraced anyway because you already like her. There is not a single person who can be exactly like us. Relations are about starting from the similarities, expanding and eventually embracing the differences. Try it and you will see how life changes for the better…!!