They say when it rains, it pours.
Though it literally may not be true for Delhi this week (we could use more rain), it felt that way figuratively as far as The Wishing Chair was concerned.
June was a month of setbacks and unique challenges for the business. From team upheavals to warehouse woes and landlord-induced bombshells, the universe felt almost conspiratorial. The mini heartbreaks lapped at each other’s heels: No, can’t supply this on time, no sorry this is out of budget, no sorry the price of this has gone up 50%, no can’t extend the lease, no, no no, no no, no, no. But when you’re in business, the list of little calamities isn’t an indication to end the company - it’s just a condition. But even then, you can’t help sliding into self-pity and doom and gloom on some days.
On such days we had to remind ourselves that every entrepreneur needs to be both slightly desperate and delusional. Desperation is a forcing function for taking action - for problem-solving through those mini heartbreaks. Delusion keeps the mind in a place where building something new and sharing it with the world is a not-crazy act.
In the book, Notes from the Universe, Mike Dooley writes: "Don't be afraid. You needn't slay the beast or scale the entire mountain. That's not how it's done. You only need to move through today. Think of the distance you've already covered. Focus on your strengths. Let each new step remind you of your freedom. Let your every breath remind you of your power. Seek out friends and guides; they're anxious to help. You're not alone. You're understood. This road has been walked before. Dance life's dance, just a few steps at a time, and in the wink of an eye you will wonder to yourself, "What beast, what mountain? Was I having a dream?"
Yes this month, we seemed to notice more shadows. And, like everything in life, shadows pass.
And here’s our favorites in programming for the week:
To read: This is a lyrical essay on nostalgia, as the writer takes us on a walk through her grandma's house in Bandra, and back in time. “At the heart of the home and its people is the figure of my grandmother, presiding over a way of life that is now receding from us.”
A fascinating article on love: how it is both a wonderful and a dangerous evolutionary trick. The writer argues that while love feels wonderful, it’s ultimately a form of biological bribery, a cunning evolutionary trick to make sure we cooperate and those all-important genes continue down the generations. In part what may separate human love from the love experienced by other animals is that we can use love to manipulate and control others. Worth the long read for some of its sobering insights on the most transcendent of human conditions.
To cook: Here’s a list of hacks and tricks that celebrity chefs use in their cooking to get that little edge over the rest of us amateurs. If you're the kind of person that prefers chewy cookies over the crispy kind - then Alton Brown’s cookie recipe is for you. It swaps all-purpose flour for bread flour (a high-protein flour), which gives them a super-chewy texture, the kind you get off the shelves of those ethereal bakeries.
Yet another Alton Brown mayo trick: Instead of milk or water, add a bit of mayonnaise to your scrambled eggs. In his cookbook EveryDayCook, Brown suggests ditching the usual water or milk for mayo, which makes eggs so much creamier. If you want to add a flavour bomb to your dish, then chef David Chang’s suggestion is to add Miso. But cut it with butter. This will allow you to impart a deep, savory flavor to lots of dishes without the extra miso saltiness. (We tried this with a dal tadka - da bomb!) And many more simple little cooking tips to level up your skills.
To ponder: As women running a business in India, there’s a careful line one must tread between being aggressive and being passive. The former easily bruises egos and may get you blacklisted by other stakeholders in the biz (though the same fate wouldn’t necessarily befall a man) and the latter gets you taken for a ride.
The art of being confident and self-respectful is a skill we need to develop to best get our needs met. It’s about acknowledging your wants along with what others want and trying to find a winning outcome for all parties involved.
An assertive person stands in the happy middle: between passive and aggressive. The first is apologetic and probably dishonest. The second type is blaming, attacking, and solely focused on having their needs met.
In contrast, an assertive person is able to communicate their needs and rights in a way that respects the rights of others. When you're assertive, you are self-assured and draw power from this to get your point across firmly, fairly, and with empathy. And that’s the kind of business mindset we are constantly striving to master.
To practise mental health: Here’s a way to quiet your mind chatter: talking to yourself more often. Ethan Kross, experimental psychologist and neuroscientist, suggests that a key strategy for controlling negative thought loops and ruminating, is “distanced self-talk”. This means talking to yourself as if you were another person - calling yourself by name and using non-first pronouns like “you”. This interview on Nauti.lus goes further into the technique. Perhaps you could try talking to yourself out loud while driving alone. Or find a sacred time to ask yourself questions, spew out some fragmented thinking and work problems out.
To listen: Based on empirical evidence as well as numerous recent studies from all over the world, listening to natural soundscapes (particularly mindful listening) has a great positive impact on our wellbeing, and potentially on our respect for nature. However, these soundscapes are increasingly scarce as we continue to destroy the natural ecosystems which produce them. That’s where earth.fm comes in: a listening experience that helps you discover a deeper, more direct connection with the wonders of nature around us.
To Watch: We love the way geometric riddles and fractals are presented in this Ted -Ed video, in the form of a Detective Noir film, complete with a mysterious femme fatale and Private Eye. If only mathematics were presented so imaginatively during our school years; we might not have dreaded that Calculus class so much.
To life Hack: This is an unusual piece of advice, on finding a way to keep our heads above water in this crazy, choppy river of life. It’s taken from the book: “Think Like a Freak”, by economist Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. The advice is this: Find someone or something to blame.
When you’re going through a hard time where the outcomes are not totally in your control, it’s useful to externalize the issue and land the blame in someone else’s lap. It makes whatever struggle you’re going through easier to deal with. To wit: “While one might expect that suicide is highest among people whose lives are the hardest, research by Lester and others suggests the opposite: suicide is more common among people with a higher quality of life. ‘If you’re unhappy and you have something to blame your unhappiness on — if it’s the government, or the economy, or something — then that kind of immunizes you against committing suicide,’ he says. ‘It’s when you have no external cause to blame for your unhappiness that suicide becomes more likely.'”
To WTF: On the country that claims to be the leader of the free world, denying women the fundamental right to make informed decisions about their own bodies.
To end:Why Are Your Poems so Dark?
by LINDA PASTAN
Isn't the moon dark too,
most of the time?
And doesn't the white page
without the dark stain
When God demanded light,
he didn't banish darkness.
Instead he invented
ebony and crows
and that small mole
on your left cheekbone.
Or did you mean to ask
"Why are you sad so often?"
Ask the moon.
Ask what it has witnessed.
We hope this week you witness more light than darkness,
Viv and Ami