Five years of My Zen Path

Things have changed quite a lot in the past 5 years since I launched  My Zen Path back in 2015. However, I didn’t know what to write for this fifth anniversary piece. I have already written about My Zen Path journey in the last anniversary post Four years of My Zen Path that some of you might have read.

For this anniversary, I have decided to pick the most important articles (in my view) that represent the essence of My Zen Path. These are not the most read articles, or most popular/cited articles; instead these are the articles I think any new reader of this site should read. Some of them are related or interlinked, so I’m clubbing them together. It was challenging to pick only 10 articles from 100+  articles that we have now. I have intentionally not included My Zen Path Exclusive articles about inspiring individuals in this selection, although I have loved interviewing and featuring each one of them. The reason is simple – each one of them is walking their own path and their journey is unique. To feature one or two in this list would mean disregarding others, and I didn’t want to do that.

So here are those 10 handpicked recommendations – do browse through the excerpts and read the ones that you find intriguing.

1. Rethinking busy life/Rethinking efficiency/Work-life balance

Rethinking busy life
Rethinking busy life

>> It is saddening that even at senior level most talented individuals negotiate hard to get that raise and better pay-package, but I don’t know many individuals who assert that they would prefer to have work-life balance and being senior and responsible does not necessarily mean being committed to long hours at work. (Read: Rethinking busy life)

>> Being more efficient is the mantra that we all live by today. Adam Smith’s idea of efficiency has completely engulfed modern work-culture, despite newer age research showing many of its pitfalls. Behavioural economist Dan Ariely questions if the meaning is more important than efficiency in the current knowledge economy? (Read: Rethinking efficiency)

>> Your life is your responsibility and it is for you to decide where do you want to set your balance for work and life. Moreover, it is a very individualistic preference – someone might want to finish work by 4 pm and be happy with that balance and on the other hand someone might be happy working only 3 days a week. (Read: Finding work-life balance)

2. How much money do you need to be happy?/Does money bring happiness?

Money & Happpiness

>> There is never enough money as such, you can still run after it despite having half-a-dozen mansions and cars, and you may turn your back to it without actually possessing any significant assets as such. “I do not want money to dictate my life, work & happiness” is a conscious, thoughtful decision and it has very little to do with the actual amount of money that you have in your account. (Read: How much money do you need to be happy?)

>> People might leave a community for a higher paying job. They might have long distance relationships or what we’ve seen well-documented in many parts of the world is working extremely long hours to make more money. That begs the question: does money bring happiness? (Read: Does money bring happiness?)

3. Being yourself/What does it mean to be yourself?

Being yourself
Being yourself

>> Caroline McHugh’s talk about ego as an equilibrium between self-congratulation and self-castigation is quite profound. It is spiritual, philosophical as well as practical – not easy being or staying there as such, but it is sort of an asymptote between the two extremes: self-admiration and self-deprecation. (Read: Being yourself)

>> We have the ability to inspire other people simply by being who we are, and it doesn’t mean we have to be successful or have all the answers; we just have to be honest and open about our insecurities.” — Carly Sotas (Read: What does it mean to be yourself?)

4. What would you rather do with your gift?/Thai Cave Rescue insights

Concrete spikes under a road bridge in Guangzhou city, Guangdong, China. Photograph: Imaginechina/REX
Concrete spikes under a road bridge in Guangzhou city, Guangdong, China. (PC: Guardian)

>> I have just covered few examples of interface design and defensive architecture to show how effectively they have achieved what they were asked to do. In case of dark patterns, get users to do things that they wouldn’t do intentionally or prevent them from doing the undesired things. While in case of defensive design, they are successfully keeping the homeless away. Important question here is – is that the right thing to do? (Read: What would you rather do with your gift?)

>> John Volanthen is a British cave diver who is passionate about diving and one of the leading rescuers in the Thai cave rescue operation. He chose what to do with his gift of diving. It is miraculous to see all of them coming out safe in a near-impossible operation, but it consisted of several resilient, heroic efforts from all involved – from the international team of rescuers to those young boys themselves. (Read: Thai Cave Rescue insights)

5. Being creative/Creativity and likes/Creation, beyond utility

Creativity (PC: Anke Sundermeier)

>> Creativity – ability to create, to produce or use original unusual ideas. And that includes all of us, not just artists – whether we write, create products, apps, or use our creativity in coming up with novel dish ideas with our unique culinary experiments. (Read: Being creative)

>> But I do think there’s an unintended consequence for anybody on the planet with an urge to be creative — myself included, because I’m not immune to this. I think that our creativity is becoming more and more of a means to an end — and that end is to get attention. — Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Read: Creativity and likes)

>> Creating something with our own hands is immensely useful for our brains as well. When you are not doing something mechanically (for example – driving, which primarily uses CNS, not brain), it does lot of wonderful things to your brain and health. It helps you to focus, to become calmer, and being mindful. That’s the reason many of us (including myself) find cooking or gardening almost therapeutic. (Read: Creation, beyond utility)

6. Choices, not abilities

Choices, not abilities

>> “It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” — J. K. Rowling (via Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter). At almost every crucial crossroads in our career or life, we are faced with many options, and essentially, what we choose in such situations reveals more about us and what we value. (Read: Choices, not abilities)

7. Connecting meaning & calling

Connecting meaning & calling
Connecting meaning & calling

>> I believe we can always contribute to meaningful causes through our own purpose, by being who we are. Meaningful cause could be anything that you feel strongly about. Do more of something that makes you really happy, or do something to change the things that really disturb you, or cause pain. Many individuals such as medical researcher Dr. Abhay Bang, musician Kaushal Inamdar, or barber Mark Bustos have discovered ways to connect their calling with meaning. (Read: Connecting meaning & calling)

8. Reflections on corporate resignations/Why I left Google

Corporate Resignations
Reflections on corporate resignations

>> Corporates also exist to maximize profits through their work. Often bottom-line and maximizing productivity result in pushing the individuals in work-schedule that makes their life incredibly hectic leaving little time for their family or other interests.  (Read: Reflections on corporate resignations)

>> About 6 months ago, I decided to quit my very good job at Google to explore a different way to live life. I had a loose plan of how I wanted to spend my time, but the main reason I left was that I couldn’t stay. I couldn’t put it into words at the time, but something inside of me was telling me I shouldn’t continue down the career path I was on. I felt strongly that it wasn’t getting me closer to where I wanted to be, though that destination was largely unknown, and I had to get off that road. — Ellen Huerta (Read: Why I left Google)

9. The bliss of solitude

The solitude Solace
The bliss of solitude (PC: Foundry Co)

>> A blessing in disguise with this lockdown is the ample time that we get to be with our family – something that long commute, longer working hours have snatched away from us. One approach is to do something that you always wanted to do, but never actually found time to do it. This is probably the best time to give it a try. (Read: The bliss of solitude)

10.  Before I die/Dying to be me

Dying to be me
Dying to be me (PC: Anita Moorjani)

>> Well, knowing about life’s uncertainty and ultimate death is one thing, and realizing it is quite another! Fortunately, we don’t need to be diagnosed with something as serious as cancer to realize this. The realization can occur anytime. I had mine when I spent entire night alone in the cold, open Shiv Temple in Himachal in 0 to 4 degrees temperature. (Read: Before I die)

>> (1) If you know that you are going to die in the next 6 months or 1 year, what would you prefer to do? (2) If you’re not doing it currently, when would you do it? What is keeping you away from doing it? If these questions disturb you, I’d request you to stay with these questions for a longer time and see what insights they could bring. (Read: Dying to be me)

What My Zen Path readers liked

I had requested My Zen Path subscribers to write back with their favourite article/video and their reasons for liking it. Here is what they said –

#1 The short-films posted in the most recent issue #60 gave a much needed Perspective.

In the end we realize we’ve been a “product” of the system created by a hierarchy of exploitation.
…until collective consciousness of the society goes the next steps in evolution, there is no getting out of this.

Thanks for some of the best curated content. Yeh Dil Mangey More!
Many Best Wishes on the 5th Anniversary of “My Zen Path” Manish!

~ Ashim Purohit

#2 The first article that comes to my mind is on becoming a Generalist vs Expert.

In today’s fast paced world, I believe it is very difficult for people to even comprehend the idea of becoming a generalist for a few years at least, so as to better get a grasp on different possibilities of life. Everyone is too eager and busy to aim for high paying jobs by becoming an expert of something or the other. The article very nicely pointed out the pros and cons, and was very reassuring of a different approach to leading a career!

~ Ashish Kumar

#3 I personally liked many articles and videos attached with the articles ever since I am following My Zen path, but the one that I liked most is the Ikigai- Reason for being, it inspired me to really read the book too and understand the beautiful concept of flow as well as understand the essence of living a healthy and holistic life and liked all that clearly says that a life with a purpose that you love to follow and living with a balance could be so satisfying.Thank you My Zen path for such enriching posts and looking forward to more of such beautiful write ups.

~ Bosky

#4 I will pick up Mindfulness: What you practice grows stronger. Best line of this article is –

   “Oh dear you’re not practicing mindfulness, you’re practicing judgment and frustration”.

This is so true. Being aware of what’s going within our mind is such a powerful thing. We should first accept what’s going on and then work on improvement. Practicing mindfulness will lead to practicing and focusing on the right things.

~ Vivek

Thank you all for being a part of this journey. 🙂

The featured image:

The featured image is my own click at magical Ladakh.

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