Thursday, August 27, 2009

World is a Small Place

The first few years of a child are spent surrounded by the walls of the house and protected dearly by the family. He enters a world which comprises of his mama, papa and sister.

Ever wondered why this toddler dreads going to school? One of the reasons is that he dreads losing the protection of the family. He sees his school bus as an Unidentified Terrestrial Object that would take him away from his world. He conceives his new school as a new world with new unknown faces and strange people.

Yet, his playmate in school might find it a wonderful new world with many new people to meet and newer friends to make. This child is more likely to grow independent and open to new things unlike our cry baby. This child's world is more likely to grow bigger sooner than our cry baby's world.

Not all of us are good at accepting new people and their newer different ways of behavior. We tend to bond with a small group of people around us whom we select based on our own judgments. The rest are conveniently disowned as different, not-our-kinds, weird - Aliens. They form the outer world not warmly welcomed into our own world.

Groups are formed in order to provide support and protection to the members. But I doubt if groups formed out of religious basis do just that. When religion is used as a tool, more often than not, it takes the form of paranoia. I have been an eye witness of college riots among students of rival religious groups and those were enough to keep me from joining any such groups myself.

Paranoia surpasses limits in the part of the world I hail from. The apparent logic behind distrust for other religions and groups is the genetic make of the members of those groups. Different religion unquestionably implies different genes, different biological make-up and therefore, 'different' humans. Marriages, therefore, can happen only among the followers of the same religion.

As noted by researchers of the World Values Survey, culture strongly influences how a person sees the world around him. Collectivistic cultures of Istanbul, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Muscat, and Oman stress interdependence between people and the notion of group goals. Cooperation is sought with people inside the network which is organized along family and friendship lines; everyone else is an outsider.

Individualistic societies, on the other hand, view each person as an individual and value individual goals. These mores are more prevalent in wealthier, market-based democracies where group boundaries aren't very important. Cooperation with unrelated strangers becomes necessary in such societies. Accordingly, members of the capitalist democracies are more likely to accept strangers into their societies and are actually kinder and gentler than more traditional economies.

World is a small place, belittled by our own prejudices.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Importance of Hobbies

Though I had professed the goodness of boredom in a recent article, I was wise enough to add a necessary qualification of rareness to it. Rare boredom is helpful; if you frequently find yourself dying of boredom for the lack of other options, read on.

I felt the urge to write this article because I feel lucky than ever to have hobbies that I am passionate about. One fine morning I found myself in a new part of the world amid new faces, and totally unprepared. Not having a conventional regular office job might be viewed by some as a disadvantage; the same has proved bliss for me.

How many of us can claim that we return reenergized and revitalized after a busy day at work? Not every hobby can earn a living, and we are compelled to seek careers that give us headaches as each day ends but loads of moolah as the month ends. Jobs that leave no time for hobbies are themselves strong reasons to have hobbies and to take time to indulge in them.

Ever wondered why CVs require you to mention your hobbies? What has a software company to do with my hobbies? I had not realized until recently. Hobbies bring out hidden talents in us which we might not realize. Experts say that having hobbies keeps us focused and improves our concentration. Hobbies boost our self esteem and confidence and bring out the leader in us. Indulging in group activities with fellow hobbyists teaches us the rules of working in a team. Religiously following a hobby imparts us singular knowledge in the field and with it comes a sense of achievement.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Body: The mind, body and the soul are in total synchronization while pursuing hobby. Pursuing a hobby stimulates parts of the brain related with creativity and positive thinking. When a hobbyist passionately pursues a hobby, it is the emotional returns that are valued rather than the monetary returns. Keeping oneself busy in hobbies leaves no time for wayward thinking and helps channel our energies toward constructive activities.

All of us are passionate about at least one thing that gets the blood gushing through our veins. Passions can be as trivial as collecting stationery and as demanding as social services, each is a source of energy and ecstasy for the hobbyist.

Passions and hobbies can become a source of income too. You will find demand for almost anything that you can supply – goods as well as services. If money is what drives you, let it drive you toward your passion. As for me, money spoils the fun attached to hobbies and I prefer to keep it out of my way.

With the kind of sedentary lifestyles that most of us live, hobbies can save us from sluggish minds by allowing imagination to flow. Of course, creativity cannot be forced and is not constant; there are ways to enhance it. And, as with everything else, age is no bar here.

Have hobbies? Keep them.