Harsha's Life Blog

250+ articles on life, career and change

personal development blog

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    The happy life

    The happy life

    One version of how to live a happy life is doing whatever the f*** you want without harming others. Of course, this is much easier said than done on both accounts.  Doing whatever you want  Whatever the external constraints at play (for example time, money) you can...

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    Subtle emotional abuse

    Subtle emotional abuse

    Emotional abuse can be as bad as, or sometimes even worse than, physical abuse. Just because it does not leave any external marks, that does not mean it is any less real. Emotional abuse may also be subtle and can exist in personal relationships and at the workplace....

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    If money wasn’t a problem

    If money wasn’t a problem

    How would you spend your days if money wasn’t a problem? Realistic or not, this simple thought experiment helps identify and make room in your life for the things that really inspire you. Things perhaps forgotten because of the busyness of the daily routine. Indeed,...

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    Denying emotions

    Denying emotions

    Extract from Machine Ego  Emotions are common to us all. To be human is to experience emotion, whether it is anger, sadness, joy, shame or fear. Though denying emotions sometimes feels easier! While we experience complex emotions such as contempt and jealousy,...

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    Personal accountability

    Personal accountability

    Sometimes, people get in touch seeking coaching to keep them accountable for career and life goals. But, what does it really mean to be “held accountable” for keeping track of your own life? The real question is — WHY you would need someone else to keep you...

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    Everybody’s got religion

    Everybody’s got religion

    Everybody's got 'religion' — some idea of what the good life is. The difference is between those who consciously recognise this and those who prefer to live in denial. And, denial is a dangerous game because ignoring something does not make it go away. Our deeper...

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    Psychological barriers

    Psychological barriers

    What gets in the way is often not logistical, i.e. not knowing what to do or how to do it. Rather, it is our own personal blockages. Those often non-conscious, psychological barriers that stop us from doing what we already know.  Logistical  By logistical, I am...

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    So you want to be different?

    So you want to be different?

    To rebel against convention by trying to be “anti-conventional” is still to be defined by it. For, you continue to anchor to the very thing you supposedly wish to distance yourself from. You derive your identity in opposition to it and thus in very close relation to...

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    How to find a coach

    How to find a coach

    How to find a coach The question of how to find a coach is certainly daunting. You are faced with drowning in a sea of google results as you would do when searching for a plumber. Only the problem is worse with finding a life coach because the risks are arguably...

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    Your shadow

    Your shadow

    To think that ‘evil’ is something out there and does not apply to you at all, is perhaps the greatest evil of all. For, we all carry within us both the seed of darkness and the highest essence of divine love, by virtue of being human.  Your shadow exists, whether you...

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    Epistemology of self

    Epistemology of self

    Wisdom has a lot to do with epistemology — the nature and limits of knowledge. What does it mean to know something? What can be known, what is knowable in theory and what is unknowable? And, what about those things that can be known only by you? It is this last...

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    On ethics and morality

    On ethics and morality

    The words ethics and morality tend to be used interchangeably in common discourse. For most discussions glossing over the ethics vs morality distinction is harmless. However, it is worth remembering that they are not quite the same thing.  Morality is the origin  I...

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    It’s never laziness

    It’s never laziness

    Laziness is never really laziness. It is usually a veneer for (i) not caring enough  (ii) feeling confronted by a thing. It is the surface result of a deeper force. Laziness is really dispassion or fear.  Dispassion  Coachees sometimes tell me that they are not...

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    “Busy” is the wrong question

    “Busy” is the wrong question

    It’s not about being busy or not busy — it’s about being busy on your own terms. I used to think I was busy during my early private equity days, with late nights and what not. But, the reality is that I am as busy, if not busier, doing my own thing now. It’s just that...

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    The unattended

    The unattended

    “My experience is what I agree to attend to”, observed the American philosopher and psychologist, William James in 1890. But what James —who was exploring the nature of conscious awareness — noted, is not quite right. What we choose to pay attention to and consume...

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    Yet another challenge?

    Yet another challenge?

    I’ve always been puzzled by the idea of “seeking new challenges.” Seeking out something undefined except for its challengingness, its level of difficulty and hardship. And, this can become almost pathological for some as they look for yet another new challenge — a new...

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    Comfortable with yourself

    Comfortable with yourself

    A fundamental indicator of how comfortable you are in your own skin is the ability to just be with yourself — to sit with your thoughts and your feelings. To not have to rely on some activity, distraction or dopamine hit to feel at ease. To simply be comfortable with...

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    Notice your default

    Notice your default

    Notice your default.   Default is where the most time is spent, yet is the least examined.   Default is the realm of habitual behaviour and hidden beliefs. Beliefs that often live in the dark, outside your conscious awareness.  Your default may or may not be good for...

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    Paradox of progress

    Paradox of progress

    The richer a society gets, the less it seems to appreciate what it already has. I often look around and feel that there is so much to be thankful for, but little appreciation. It seems that while many things are amazing (at least in the material realm), nobody values...

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    Characteristics of the Machine Paradigm

    Characteristics of the Machine Paradigm

    The driving force of the Machine paradigm is the desire for greater control and certainty across all areas of life. Control and certainty are typically sought via measurable, external indicators. The Machine paradigm believes that what is unmeasured (or cannot be...

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    Snake oil self-help

    Snake oil self-help

    “Ten steps to lasting happiness; The path to a better you; Personal growth and beyond”. I just made these up, but they could easily all be contemporary self-help book titles. The sad reality is that so much of self-help reminds me of those get rich quick scams. They...

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    Human Separatist Movement

    Human Separatist Movement

    I spoke to a friend today who left the big city to return to a smaller town. He spoke of many positives; the less hectic pace of life, the walkable distance of the entire city, the fresher air. But, what he welcomed most was a sense of community and camaraderie —...

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    Coaching: The Anna Karenina principle

    Coaching: The Anna Karenina principle

    How does coaching work? What is the underlying premise at play? Coaching, like many things in life, follows the Anna Karenina principle — that all happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. At least, that is what I have observed in...

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    Lost for words

    Lost for words

    Just because you cannot articulate something, it does not automatically mean that you don’t know what it is. Given how much we rely on language-based reasoning in modernity, you can forgive someone for falling into this trap. For not realising the limitations of...

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    Distraction of achievement

    Distraction of achievement

    Focusing on “achievement” is a distraction. It pulls your mind away from attending to the thing, whatever that may be. So, rather than being fully immersed in it, you give-in to the distraction of achievement. Distraction that generates anxiety and inner tension....

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    Neomania is so 2019

    Neomania is so 2019

    One of the biggest challenges of modernity is making sure that technology serves you, and not the other way around. Whether it is as subtle as keeping the apps on your phone to an essential minimum or sticking to a simple moka pot rather than a fancy new coffee gizmo,...

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    False dichotomy: Your Career

    False dichotomy: Your Career

    The problem of identifying too much with your career is a problem incorrectly framed. Where a dichotomy is created between you as a person, and your career as a quite separate thing.  Identifying too much with your career  The question of over-identification arises...

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    To understand someone

    To understand someone

    "In order to understand any man, one must be deliberate and careful to avoid forming prejudices and mistaken ideas, which are very difficult to correct and get over afterwards”. These wise words from the protagonist’s mother, Pulcheria Raskolnikov, in Dostoevsky’s...

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    Double binds everywhere

    Double binds everywhere

    Double binds can arise in the most unexpected places. What's more, they often operate without us being consciously aware that we are caught in them. The term, double bind, was coined in the 1950s by the pioneering scientist and thinker, Gregory Bateson. His idea is...

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    Hidden self-image

    Hidden self-image

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” These simple yet profound words by the American writer and thinker, Upton Sinclair, can explain so much in the world. And, these words lend themselves to all...

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    Blinded by narratives

    Blinded by narratives

    (Extract from Machine Ego) Human beings seem to have an evolved predisposition to create narratives. And, creating narratives relies on establishing causal links between events, things, concepts, people, and places — making mental connections along the lines of “this...

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    Don’t ignore your hang-ups

    Don’t ignore your hang-ups

    We've all got hang-ups. Certain topics or situations that are triggering. Often, the temptation is to ignore these, to sweep them under the carpet. The reality is that this is a very fertile area for growth and self-understanding. Don’t ignore your hang-ups....

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    A matter of chance

    A matter of chance

    “One’s opinion is itself a matter of chance”, notes one of Kafka’s characters in the surreal and mind-bending tale of The Castle. But, how true this is for so many of us, much of the time! Matters of chance don’t just stop at opinion, they often extend to our deepest...

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    Flowing through time

    Flowing through time

    The longer I live and the more I talk to people from different fields – philosophers and physicists, abstract mathematicians and musicians — the more empirically ungraspable reality seems. Whatever stability in our socio-economic systems we think we have, it is not...

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    The waiting game

    The waiting game

    Waiting for people (your boss, your friends, whomever) to change so that you can feel happy, is like waiting to win the lottery. It may happen, but chances are that this is quite unlikely. This waiting game is very likely a fool’s errand. Your agency Waiting is really...

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    Unexpected heat

    Unexpected heat

    If things are unexpectedly heating-up in a discussion, make sure that the other person has definitely understood precisely what you had intended to say. Especially, if what you are saying is quite mundane. It could be that you are just being misunderstood. Filters and...

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    Through the fog

    Through the fog

    We often spend time trying to understand the complex world we live in. But, how often do you spend time really trying to understand yourself? We create our world in our own image and there lies vast complexity within you if only you dare to explore it. Reflections Our...

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    Knowledge tribalism

    Knowledge tribalism

    Jung was not a Jungian. Keynes was not a Keynesian. Hayek was not Hayekian. Buddha was not a Buddhist. It is one thing to learn from the wise, it is quite another to restrict oneself to a particular school of thought when their supposed founders probably themselves...

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    Cult of individualism

    Cult of individualism

    The Me! Me! Me! cult of individualism is the apogee of modernity. We have abandoned traditions, religion and community in favour of dollar bills and the individual right to be whatever we want! Not that traditions and religion are all inherently good. I’m sure that we...

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    Unseen self-harm

    Unseen self-harm

    Caution: Potentially emotionally disturbing self-harm references.  The word self-harm conjures-up images of self-inflicted physical abuse. Arms slashed with razor blades and individuals plucking their own hair out. The pain of dealing with dark thoughts and emotions...

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    Disenfranchised

    Disenfranchised

    How disenfranchised does someone need to feel in order to loot a store for a couple of jumpers? Or to attack innocent store owners. One would expect any self-interested person that has a stake in society to instinctively not want to destroy their own community. What...

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    That free lunch

    That free lunch

    There's no free lunch in life. However, what we can do is to consciously decide what we pay for and to fully enjoy it. In this way, the apparent cost really becomes no cost at all! There’s no free lunch The phrase there’s no free lunch suggests that every decision has...

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    It may quack like a duck, but..

    It may quack like a duck, but..

    It may walk like a duck, look like a duck and quack like a duck. But, it may still not be a duck if it does not feel like a duck. Modernity’s obsession with analytical reasoning has its benefits, however it can become problematic when it leads to narrow, reductionist...

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    Obscuring the light within

    Obscuring the light within

    Ask not how you can shine more. Rather, ask what obscures the light that is already within you. Often, we get in the way of ourselves, to curb what exists. To curb what is already bright but not allowed to be seen. A question incorrectly asked The question of "how to...

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    When coaching and mentoring converge

    When coaching and mentoring converge

    The difference between coaching and mentoring is not always clear cut. In fact, it can vary from being quite distinct to virtually the same depending on the focus. Coaching vs mentoring may be quite different things in the realm of “career”, but they can converge when...

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    Welcoming insults

    Welcoming insults

    Sometimes people think they are insulting you, but in your mind it's actually a compliment. Because the thing they accuse you of, is exactly what you are going for. However, this requires you to be very clear in your mind on if something is an insult or compliment! To...

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    Reveal your green

    Reveal your green

    Our bamboo plant was looking dry a couple days ago and I was surprised to see it well today. It took me a second to notice it had just shed its dead leaves. Our habits and beliefs too can be like dead leaves. And some of these may have to be consciously shaken-off to...

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    Legend or lackey?

    Legend or lackey?

    Where do you stand in your job? Are you killin’ it or are things looking precarious? There are many factors to consider of course. And, two that are absolutely fundamental to the quality of your overall employment experience are: (i) Skill and (ii) the relationship...

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    Too invested in an identity?

    Too invested in an identity?

    Becoming too invested in an identity, any identity, is ultimately fragile. It can keep you stuck in a place of fear and insecurity because you are constantly measuring yourself against this identity. Afraid of falling short that it becomes a source of constant tension...

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    Recognising our suffering

    Recognising our suffering

    Our capacity to recognise the suffering of others is directly proportional to our capacity to recognise our own suffering. And, your capacity to recognise your suffering depends on how open you are to yourself. How open you are to the totality of your felt experience,...

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