The Power of Positive People

Our happiness is not just a personal experience, it is often passed on to the people around us. It’s almost like when a pebble falls into the water causing ripples around it. In a similar way, our words, our actions, and our behaviours affect the ones around us, who in turn affect the ones who come into contact with them, and so on.

I can think about how my own mood is influenced by the lady at the Starbucks drive through who smiles, is happy, and is kind versus the one who is bitter, miserable, or rude. In both situations, a complete stranger’s attitude has the power to impact my own! And I now may pass it on to my friends, my parents, and the people around me.

While our emotions shouldn’t be at mercy of other people, our mind is something we do and can have control over. It’s important to note how our irked behaviours, moods, and attitudes aren’t something people like to keep up with. I can think about the times I have influenced my mood to my family, people like my parents and my sister. When I am in a bad mood, it doesn’t take a while for them to feel the same way. And when I am happy and buoyant, so are they!

With every new day that arrives, and with each new day we wake up, we have the power to touch on lives. We all want to have a good time. We all want to hear good news. None of us want to spend our life in doom and gloom. Let’s be the change we wish to see in the world.

-SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

The Language of Friendships

In times of crisis and struggles, we all want someone to turn to. Relationships are important, and therefore friends are important. The word ‘Friendship’ doesn’t quite fit into a single definition, it’s a relationship that cannot be described using words.

Even though I am not a social butterfly, quality counts more for me than quantity does. While it’s good to cultivate a diverse network of friends and acquaintances, I have nurtured a few true friendships over the years.

When I find myself going through a hard time, my friends help me get through it. When I find myself not feeling good about myself, my friends are the ones who lift me up. When I find myself in between sobs, my friends are the ones who make me laugh. When the world turns its back at me, my friends are right there by my side. True friends are the ones who are there for you when you need them the most, and the importance of friendship in our life is beyond any explanation.

During our childhood, friendships help us grow and develop. We play and learn together with friends. As teenagers, friends become all the more important as we go through numerous emotional, physical and mental changes. As adults, friends help us go through the emotional upheavals or the “mid-life crisis” as we endure an entirely new set of problems. I suppose friends are equally important during old-age too, I see my grand dad’s face beaming with laughter and smiles when he is around his friends!

When we cultivate a close circle of friends, living life becomes just a teeny tiny bit easier. On that note, a very Happy Friendship Day to everyone who reads my posts here on WordPress, young or old. I am truly grateful for this WordPress community!

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Life’s Little Indulgences

On my visit to Denmark and other Scandinavian countries like Finland and Norway, I wondered how these countries have been at the top of the happiness index charts for five consecutive years. Upon chatting with some Finnish, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish people, and doing a bit of a research, I found several reasons for why this was so. I happened to stumble across an interesting Danish concept of Hygges (pronounced hyoo-ga). It loosely translates to “Cosyness of the soul”, or a feeling of wellness and contentment attained from life’s little indulgences – things like leaving our evenings free to relax, having a family dinner, or staying indoors with a hot cup of cocoa.

Walking down the streets of Copenhagen, I saw every little café with blankets on the tables and fireplaces on the sides to keep us warm – a cosy city indeed! My family and I spend every weekend together either playing a board game, cooking something together, watching a movie on Netflix, or doing a fun activity. And we definitely feel the ‘Hygges’ during times like these. It is quite evident to me that we can retrieve happiness if we learn to appreciate the little things in life.

I also think that every day comes bearing its own gifts, we just need to untie the ribbons. One of my favourite restaurants to eat out in is T.G.I Friday’s. It is quite interesting to note how this restaurant is open not only on Fridays, but all week long. This is quite an accurate example of how most of us don’t live our lives. We wait for perfect conditions with the anticipation of good times, relaxation, and celebrations. We long, maybe for the last day of school, our birthday around the corner, or for the summer to begin. But during the wait, we waste much of our lives not living the present moment. Why can’t we feel that ‘Friday-Feeling’ every day? Why can’t we learn to find wellness in every day? Why can’t every day be special?

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

A Sweet Story

Happy Friday! Here’s a poem I wrote for my relatives for their 50th marriage anniversary. Being together (and happy) for fifty years is truly incredible, and their love story immensely amazes me! I hope you enjoy it, let me know in the comments below.

We fall in love
Hoping to share a life together
With someone special
Who will be there forever
An emotional bond
Where the hearts get paired
Where the bliss is shared
As well as each despair
Enduring life
The thicks and thins
The joys and sorrows
The losses and wins
To stick together
Through uphill climbs
And sharing laughter
In happy times
Love brings you sunshine
When all you see is rain
Love makes you smile
When all you feel is pain
Fifty years of togetherness
Bring out a meaning today
You both have truly shown us
That love can find a way

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Let’s Spread our Sparkles!

Here is a poem about letting out our inner sparkles! (And today is my birthday!🎂)

Let’s spread our sparkles
Wherever we are
Like the effulgent moon
And the scintillating star
The world isn’t fair
It doesn’t always listen
But let us be grateful
For the life we’re given
The daunting diseases
The cataclysmic wars
Take hundreds of lives
But we still have ours
The ability to wake up
The opportunity to live,
To start another day with
The power to dream big
It’s easy to hate,
To be a scoundrel and a snide
Let’s retrieve the kindness
Found deep inside
Let’s flash our lights
When it’s so dark
For it’s time for us
To ignite our spark
The anger we spew
The fears we feel
The problems around us
Only love can heal
We refuse to be kind
And unfurl love along the way
But when we open our eyes and see
It’s what this Earth needs today
It may go unseen
It may go unheard
But it’s these tiny bits of love
That will overwhelm our world…

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

Mary’s Room

The Australian philosopher Frank Jackson devised a thought experiment to represent a Knowledge Argument in 1982.

Mary is extremely smart, she is educated on neuroscience to the point where she is an expert on the subject. Mary has read about everything there is to know about the perception of colour in the brain as well as the physical facts about how light works in order to create the different wavelengths and colours and about how the brain processes visual stimuli. She knows every scientific fact about what happens when we see colour.

Except, Mary herself has never seen a coloured object. A red strawberry, a brown chocolate, colourful m&m’s, the blue ocean, the yellow sun… Mary has never seen any of these!

Mary has lived her entire life in a black and white room. Her books are black and white, her hair is black, her T.V is black and white, and even her clothes. She has never directly experienced or seen anything in colour, all she knows about colour is given in her textbooks.

But one day, the door opens to the outside world. Suddenly, she sees what she has been researching for all these years – colour! The question is, even though she knows everything about what should happen inside her brain now, does she learn anything new? Does she learn anything new by seeing a green tree or a red apple that she couldn’t get out of reading textbooks?

If she does, we’ll have to conclude that mental states like seeing colour cannot be perfectly explained by physical facts. There has to be more to it, something that’s dependent on conscious experience.

If she doesn’t learn anything new, we’ll have to go with the idea that knowing physical facts is identical to experiencing something.

I think that there are some non-physical properties and attainable knowledge that can only be discovered through conscious experience. A tiny bit like love – we have read about it and most of us even know the hormones like dopamine and serotonin involved. But when we actually experience love for the first time, it feels like something completely out of the world!

Is the way in which we experience the world more than just simple biochemical processes in the brain? Is our mind more than our brain? What do you think?

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

The Highest Form of Knowledge

As we go through our lives, one of the most important things we learn is how to connect with people. No wonder we, humans, are known to be “social animals.”

Feeling heard is a human need, and all of us want to feel understood.

Often when I would have an argument with someone, I would almost find myself preparing my response instead of genuinely trying to listen to them. But I now realise that people don’t want to hear your “logic” all the time. Sometimes, they just want to be understood. Like we all do. Empathy is something that helps us get in touch with our feelings and hence gives us an emotional understanding of others around us.

Or at school, I would always want to be seen as the ‘smartest’ amongst my friends. And so I would brag about my grades, step on the feelings of others, and be just so full of myself. I now realise that people don’t care about that. We would all rather want to be around people who understand us, people who have the ability to be happy for us, and people who can connect with us emotionally. It is not always about being the best and the most ‘perfect’ person in the group, it is so much about being a kind person who is always ready to help others, be there for others, and appreciate others with a big smile on our face.

We should be kind because it makes us feel good about ourselves. I can think about the days I do good things for other people. Helping them with the maths homework we get in school or simply listening to their troubles in life. These make me feel warm. I feel like I have accomplished something. I feel like I have a purpose in life. I may have hundreds of dreams to fulfil but nothing makes my heart happier than knowing that I make a difference in someone’s life.

Empathy works so well because it doesn’t require a solution. It requires understanding – when we step outside our own emotions to view things from the perspective of others. By thinking outside ourselves and feeling others, we develop a medicine this world needs.

⁃ SaaniaSparkle🧚🏻‍♀️

The Trolly Problem

Let’s imagine that a madman has tied five innocent people to a trolley track, and they are unable to move. A trolley car that is out of control is hurtling towards them, and is only a few seconds away from running them over. Luckily, we can pull a lever that will divert the trolley to another track. The only problem with doing this is that the madman has tied a single person to this other track too. Considering these circumstances, should we pull the lever? This is the Trolley Problem, created by philosopher Philippa Foot, which is one of the most famous thought experiments in the field of ethics. The question is, should we:

1. Simply stand there and allow the trolley to kill these five people tied on the main track?

2. Pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person? Should we kill one person to save five?

What is the right thing to do?

From a utilitarian point of view, the obvious decision is for us to pull the lever, saving the five people and only killing one. But there is another view that would state that in pulling the lever we become complicit in what is clearly an immoral act, as we will still be responsible for the death of that one person. Other people argue that just our mere presence in the situation is a reason good enough for us to act, and that to do absolutely nothing about the situation would be equally immoral.

I think there is no wholly moral action at this point. Many philosophers have used the trolley problem as an example of the ways that real world situations often force individuals to compromise their own moral codes, and that there are times when there is no totally moral course of action. What do you think?

– SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️

The Drowning Child

Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher who created a thought experiment called The Drowning Child, in 2009.

In this thought experiment, we imagine ourselves walking down the street. Suddenly, we notice a girl drowning in a lake. We have the ability to swim, and we are also close enough to save her life if we take action immediately. However, doing so will ruin our expensive shoes. Do we still have an obligation to save her?

Peter’s answer to this question is yes. We do have a responsibility to save the life of a drowning child and price is no object. If we agree with him on this statement, it leads us to a salient thought-provoking question: If we are obligated to save the life of a child in need, is there a fundamental difference between saving one who is right in front of us and one on the other side of the world?

In his book, The Life You Can Save, Peter argues that there is no moral difference between a child drowning in front of you and one starving in some far off land. The cost of the ruined shoes in saving a drowning child is analogous to the cost of a donation in saving a starving child. And if the value of our shoes is irrelevant to us, the price of the charity should be irrelevant too. If we save the nearby child, we have to save the distant one too. He, in fact, even put his money where his mouth is, and started a program to make people donate to charities across the world.

There are definitely some arguments against this thought experiment. Most of them rely on the idea that a drowning child is in a different type of situation than a child who is starving in another part of the world, and that they require different solutions which impose different obligations.

Most of us would innately rescue a child drowning in front of us – it would be rather monstrous to compare a child’s life to a pair of shoes! But how many of us really pay attention to charities? How many of us actually donate to charities? How many of us take a second to sympathise a child who is starving in a city overwhelmed with poverty? What is the difference?

⁃ SaaniaSparkle 🧚🏻‍♀️