Life: a series of spontaneous changes

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them — that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” — Lao Tzu

I have noticed how suffering occurs when we desire life to be perfect. Somehow, when we expect life to go according to our thoughts and it doesn’t, sorrow ensues. We become resistant.

However, in Buddhism one of the Four Noble Truths is that pain exists, but suffering is optional. We need to work with human nature instead of trying to fight against it as Suffering = Pain x Resistance. The more we resist negative emotions, the more we will suffer and the only option left then is to accept them with every ounce of courage.

It is also interesting to think about how fleeting good experiences should make you less concerned about when they will end, and more grateful of them while they last. Life’s pleasant times must be embraced with wide arms, and that is why I celebrate every time I get a good score on a test, have a meaningful conversation with someone important, make time for my hobbies like growing my flower garden, (clear out my mailbox!), in other words: all my little victories.

Next, because everything is temporary, even horrible situations and feelings are. Remembering that everything is temporary allows me to experience uncomfortable emotions without allowing them to overwhelm me. This is because I know I won’t be feeling this way forever. Just as the good times cannot last forever, neither can the bad.

It is frustrating because we are like a tiny boat being tossed around in a storm at sea. However, the most we can do is hang on and wait for it to pass, so we can emerge unscathed. I see life as a box of endless muddles, but the key is to not get too attached but learn to go with the natural flow.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Why do we try to be like others?

The feeling inside us to be like others is instilled from a very early stage of our lives because of the society we live in. When we are little, playing in the park in the playground, we first begin to notice the differences between ourselves and other children, and we start to mirror the behavior of a dominant group in order to be accepted by them. This mimicry continues into school, high school, and all the way into adulthood, when we unintentionally or unconsciously try to be like others.

Some of us, however, are unable or unwilling to sandpaper ourselves down in order to fit within society’s expectations. The more I delve into this, the more I believe there is a little unbelonging in all of us. We spend our lives attempting to disguise it, but if you scratch the surface of yourself, you will find that it is who you are and what makes you, you. I have always tried to fit in with the people around me at school, even if it didn’t bring me any joy. After a while, I realised I am my own kind of person, and will never be them. The right people who appreciate the true me have always found a way to be in my life.

Perhaps it would be empowering to embrace our differences, rather than fear them. Instead of living our lives in monochrome, it may be more fulfilling to search for the variance and colours, and we can then allow ourselves to be accepted for who we truly are – not for the fragments of our characters we allow people to see. The view from this side can turn out to be the most interesting we ever imagined, and we could very well discover that unbelonging is actually a belonging all of its own.

Feeling accepted means you are part of something, you belong, you have a tribe – and oh that feels good! On the other hand, when we’re not liked, it’s rejection, exclusion, we feel different and weird – and that feels… not too great! However, the less you try to be like others, the happier you will be with yourself. After a while, all the fitting in gets simply exhausting. You find beauty in being yourself. So, why try to fit in when you were born to stand out? Embrace your individuality and take pride in who you are.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

The Beauty of Traveling

After a stressful period of school and work, we all needed an escape. My family and I have always been spontaneous when it comes to traveling. This time, we flew off to Serbia and Albania, and I am beyond grateful for this lovely trip. (Scroll down to see some pictures of me and the place!) But generally speaking, here are some things I adore about traveling…

Traveling is one of the best things we can possibly do for our mental health every now and then. After studying or working for days and months, we all deserve a break to disconnect and recharge. For me, visiting a foreign place away from the things I am used to and see every single day definitely helps me unwind and puts my mind in the right mental state.

Traveling also exposes me to new things. When we travel, we step outside our comfort zones, for one thing. When you meet someone new, whether it’s in another town nearby or in a city halfway around the world, they are also meeting you. And just as you become exposed to new foods, cultures, languages, traditions, and so on and so forth, they also get a taste of yours. It’s a beautiful process of connecting and exchanging. When I was in Belgrade (Serbia), we had lunch with a Serbian guy who enlightened us with some really fascinating things about Serbia, and even recited to me the Serbian alphabets, haha! Talking to strangers and getting a taste of new cultures (and foods!) is an incredible thing that stretches the boundaries of our minds as we explore the things we never knew about. I now know that the word “Vampire” is actually Serbian. And Tirana, the capital of Albania, is one of the only capitals without a McDonalds!

Lastly, traveling indeed is the best form of education that could never be learnt by watching TV or by reading any school textbook. Almost every one of us would agree that life’s real education happens outside our walls. Traveling teaches us history, economy, geography, sociology and so many different things. Bookish knowledge teaches us theoretical concepts worth knowing. However, traveling helps us gather a deeper wisdom as we comprehend real life experiences and knowledge, and discover different ways of understanding life – ways that help us uncover the truth about the nuances of this world.

That being said, tell me in the comments below: what is your favorite thing about traveling?

The Countryside
Me trying to be a Princess at Downtown Novi Sad, Serbia!
The Beach of Vlorë, Albania
The Albanian Riviera
Recap!

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Everything in life has something to teach

Do you ever feel hesitant in forming new friendships? No one gets to know the real you? How could they? They’d never get it. And what’s the point? Because everyone who enters your life leaves in the end anyway…

Friendships are one of the most important pillars in our life. They form our support system – a beautiful sanctuary where we can share good times and bad times, and feel loved and understood. A place where we feel like we are accepted and appreciated.

Or at least they should feel like that.

If you are someone like me, however, who has questioned the questions above, I often think to myself: why do some people come into my life when they are going to leave anyway? It’s a heart wrenching feeling. It makes me feel like anyone who comes too close will most probably abandon me one day. Very soon. So why get my hopes up in the first place? Over time, though, a bitter truth I learnt is that not everyone who comes into my life is meant to stay in it forever. Some friendships naturally grow apart, and that’s life for us.

One thing this taught me is how to appreciate love even more. Once we learn that relationships may be temporary, we start to appreciate the people around us more, we want to let them know how we feel, and how much we care about them while we still have the chance to. I realised the importance of making memories worth remembering with every friend I make in my life.

When people leave or friendships fade (emotionally or physically), we shouldn’t delve into it, but rather into the lessons they teach us. Unless you’re doing something seriously wrong that pushes the people you love away (which is a separate discussion for some other time), you must remember that this happens not because you aren’t worthy of lovely friends or because you don’t deserve to have good things in life, it’s because everything in life is unpredictable and so are people. It is good to have people in your life. It is better when they make the choice of sticking with you in rain and shine. However, when the time comes and they decide to go, don’t beg them to stay. Being sad about it will be the human thing to do, but in the end, above all things, be grateful for the lessons they taught and brought into your life. They were once everything you ever wanted. They were once your happiness. Don’t allow them to be the reason you start to look down on yourself – someone you will always have no matter what.

Be of good cheer…because everything happens for a reason.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Don’t compare yourself to strangers

We often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others as we scroll through various different social media. We also make judgements about how we don’t/can’t measure up against them. Unfortunately, social media is a place that triggers that unpleasant self-disdain, and this, as I’ve seen is so very unhealthy. In our modern world, social media exists as a tool to highlight the best parts of us and our lives, meaning comparisons have become stronger, but also more unfair.

Sonja Lyubormirsky, a psychologist at the University of California, said that “people who are happy use themselves for internal evaluation.” While in many cases comparisons help us learn from each other, other times, they rob us from gratitude and fulfilment in our own lives. When I find myself thinking that someone is better than me on social media, what I really find myself doing is trying to meet unrealistic expectations. So, in the long run, we should compare ourselves to nobody but ourself.

The truth is, the people we compare ourselves to on social media are almost always enduring struggles that we aren’t aware of. And yet, we typically tend to compare the worst we know about ourselves to the best we presume about them. However, when we do come to know about the fact that even their lives are far from perfect, this just goes to show that everyone, even society-adored ‘perfect’ people aren’t perfect. No amount of physical beautification can mask the fact that we’ll never be content with ourselves. The best we can do then is love ourselves unconditionally and realize that there’s more to life than the internet. It might feel like everything to someone living in this decade, but there are oodles of other things in life to encounter. We can do ourselves a favour and take some time off our screens to think about what we want to make out of our lives, because it is the one thing we solely have and can control.

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Why do we need planning?

All of us have dreams and ambitions. Having reached this crucial stage of my life of thinking about my future, it occurred to me how important it is to plan and set goals! Steve Maraboli, an American writer, interestingly said: “If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?”

Planning gives us a sense of direction, and it orients us in the clear direction we are to follow. None of us want to attempt a humongous task directly – that is absolutely daunting (been there!). However, we can plan the huge task in such a way that it will look like tiny doable bits of tasks. You may also agree with me that once the big task is broken down, we feel like it looks much more achievable, and it does in fact become more achievable.

I am personally using the power of planning for this blog, to get fitter, to lose weight, to get good grades, to become happier, and to get into a good university, amongst other things. If I don’t plan to accomplish these things, I doubt that I will accomplish any of them. I know this because whenever I have failed to carefully identify and plan a goal, I have generally failed to achieve it. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Planning does this for us. It breaks down our giant goal into tiny objectives so that each small bit can be achieved one after the other until our final goal is achieved.

A plan is almost equivalent to having a road map that helps us reach our desired destination. Unless we have already been to the place we want to go to and already know the way to get there, we are going to need a good one! In my experience, a good plan consists of a general target (the big picture), a list of things needed to be done in order to attain this target, and then the daily, weekly and monthly actions and activities to be done that would help attain these goals, along with time durations and time management. That being said, there are indeed some great things in all of our lives that just happen unpredictably without the need for any plan, so I am perhaps only referring to the “big rocks” that do need careful brainstorming.

Planning for me even acts as a motivator. I don’t have to wake up every day wondering where to start and what to do, and knowing that I am doing my best in ticking off each task boosts my confidence too. Simply knowing that I am taking steps to create the life I want gives me a beautiful sense of peace.

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

My First Published Book!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I am so delighted to inform you that I am releasing my very own book today on my birthday! It is titled Teenage Chronicles, and is published by EuropeBooks.

A little about my book…

Teenage Chronicles is an honest reflection of my personal teenage journey. It captures the emotions, anxieties, and the euphoria of an average teenager. I am hoping that, vicariously, it may help other teenagers better cope through these intriguing years – as fascinating as they are difficult!

I am a typical teenager who has experienced and endured ubiquitous teenage emotions. When these emotions started getting rather overwhelming, I tried to introspect deeply. I would spend many nights thinking about what was really happening inside me. I also talked to a lot of friends to try and get collective wisdom. Was I alone in feeling this way? If not, how were others coping? Themes that appeared repeatedly were Insecurity (a constant feeling of not being able to measure up), Jealousy (our nascent individuality also drives comparisons), Happiness (the quintessential fruits of all our labour), Friendship (with ego, good friends become hard to find and maintain), Anger, Failure, Ambition, Fears, Curiosity, and Love.

This blog is a place where I would write about everything I felt related to these emotions. Then I wondered how these emotions, if brought together holistically as a book, could have a wider appeal.

Hence this book happened: a memoir, self-help, parenting, and personal well-being for young adults all rolled into one! Ten chapters for these ten enigmatic emotions… written by a teenager for a teenager.

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Teenage-Chronicle-Journey-Discovery-UNIVERSES/dp/B091DYRDWW

India: https://www.amazon.in/TEENAGE-CHRONICLES-JOURNEY-DISCOVERY-UNIVERSES/dp/B091DYRDWW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Teenage+chronicles&qid=1627408719&sr=8-1

UAE: https://www.amazon.ae/TEENAGE-CHRONICLES-JOURNEY-SELF-DISCOVERY/dp/B091DYRDWW/ref=sr_1_1?crid=1FLFVRL60ONMB&dchild=1&keywords=teenage+chronicles&qid=1626874266&sprefix=Teenage+%2Caps%2C285&sr=8-1

If you do wish to purchase a copy anywhere else in the world, please drop a DM at teenage_chronicles (Instagram), or send me an email!

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

It’s okay to take a break

Quite often, we get deeply embroiled in our hectic lifestyles with deadlines to meet and a continual pressure on our shoulders to “be productive”. But as I have realised, it is so important that we give ourselves a break when we need one. Giving our bodies, minds, and hearts a chance to relax and recharge is as vital as hitting our most important deadlines.

A lot of us feel guilty when we aren’t productive. As a high-school student, every time I look at my laptop, I see ten assignments I need to complete, deadlines I need to meet, essays I need to write, and tasks I need to get on with. I feel constantly overwhelmed and it seems like there isn’t any end to it. I even feel like I’m going and going, almost drowning. There are times when I feel like I’m not able to spend time with my family, with the people I love, and investing my time doing the things I love. I feel disconnected from them, from things I’m passionate about, and from myself! Something I have come to realize is that self-care and looking after our well-being isn’t unproductive. In fact, any work I create with a negative state of mind is never my best one, and this brings me further down in the hole of feeling miserable about being productive.

That being said, it doesn’t matter how we choose to do it. The important thing is that we owe ourselves the gift of a deep breath (or the view of a long sunset!) after all the hard work we put into our day-to-day lives. Taking some time off to focus on ourselves and our mental health, specially during these exceedingly stressful times, is as important as getting any work done. So even with “so much to do in so little time”, after a busy day, we all deserve to relax and unwind.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

True Happiness is Internal

The other day when I was texting a friend, I noticed how impatient and grumpy I felt when she didn’t reply and get back to me. There were similar instances with other people wherein I felt irked the same way. However, it made me wonder why my happiness is dependent on external factors. And, ultimately, just how wrong this is!

We haven’t actually ever been taught to look inside of ourselves. Our worlds are not exactly set up to help us discover our personal boundaries in pursuit of growth, and we are therefore encouraged to cling onto external events in the hopes that we will be happy after, and with the hopes that they will calm our troubled hearts and minds. But quite fortunately enough, true happiness can be found within us.

Internal happiness is when our happiness is influenced by our own realizations, mindsets or thought processes. The weight of other people’s thoughts and opinions can easily become a burden for us, but once we learn to let go, it feels like taking a nice deep breath for the first time. We see the world as different. We feel happiness from within ourselves.

I also realized that people don’t care as much as we think they do! We all have a life of our own to worry about, and all the problems that come with living it. Even though it may seem like we are constantly being scrutinized, it is unlikely that someone is spending much of their time thinking about us at all. We will lose our minds trying to make sure that everyone responds to us the way we want them to, so ultimately, people’s opinions and actions don’t matter. Thankfully, happiness is a skill that can be cultivated, and it is entirely within our reach.

The hard truth is that we can’t please everyone, nor can we control the things that happen to us (all the time). It is impossible to live up to everyone’s expectations and it is impossible to achieve everything we desire exactly when and how we want. So there is no point in burning ourselves out in trying to do so since perfectionism is a destination wherein we will hardly ever arrive. The important thing, however, is that we make sure that one of the people we do please is ourselves!

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️