Yet another post documenting a Nirmukta (Bangalore Free Thinkers) Meet. As the title suggests this meeting was about how to move on from online activism and discussions over coffee to a real world impact. This was about acting on the ideas we discussed over the past few months. No action was taken at this meeting as well. This time however the whole purpose was to discuss on a plan of action for 23rd March which is being observed as Indian Atheist Day. This time the turn up was impressive. With 11 individuals, it was a healthy headcount for a productive discussion.

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It was at a Coffee Day as has now become a norm for these meetings. This time the subtle change was that this was one in Jayanagar near Ashoka Pillar. It was scheduled to start at 2pm. People continued to trickle in till around 2.30. Some of the participants had unfortunately sat at different corners of the venue but thankfully found their way to the main group. The discussions started in an unstructured manner as we kept adding chairs to accommodate the latest entrants. The broad theme of topics ranged from the history of Atheist movements in India to the manners in which Atheism can be taken to the public without offending the hyper-religious. Another topic which divided the group was the perception of the word Atheist.

The discussions carried on about how one can go about educating people about science, philosophy and logic. The discussions were peppered with personal experiences. After a few hours of free-flowing discussion we came to the consensus that the general discussion should be put on hold and we need to look at the matter at hand. To have a presence for the Atheist or Non religious community it was proposed that we should have a helpline of sorts apart from a possible website and e-mail id where we could be reached for support. The idea is to have a sense of community for people disillusioned from religious institutions. This was more of a long term plan since the specifics and the scope would have to be fleshed out in the coming weeks/months. It may also need some kind of investment.

The immediate goal would be to organize an event on 23rd March. The most feasible idea which came up was a stall at a popular mall (tentatively Forum Mall, Koramangala) where we could engage with the public and discuss Bhagat Singh’s ideas and the importance of Freethinking. More details would emerge over the next two weeks. Anyone who fancies the above idea or wants to be part of this is welcome. The exact concept and scope of this outreach is still to be finalized. Any feedback would be appreciated.

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Growing up, a typical Jan 26 would start with a late morning breakfast in front of the TV watching the Republic Day Parade. Gradually the charm of this prestigious event faded off as the TV channels multiplied. This Republic Day was different. I finished my breakfast rather early to make it in time for the occasional Nirmukta meetups I have grown accustomed to. The venue was Coffee Day Square for the third time.

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It started around ten minutes late (I was late myself). Was a slightly smaller crowd than usual. Four by the time I got there which went up to seven in about another half hour. After the initial uncertainty of how the turn up was going to be, we settled on a make shift seating arrangement comfortable enough. After a quick look at the menu, orders were placed. Predictably everyone ended up choosing different types of coffee. Once the decision was made on the beverages we were ready to jump into the discussion. First up were introductions.

As usual most were new faces, but no ice breaker was required. The customary introductions were punctuated with references to Atheism and experiences that come with being a non-believer. The influence of family on your religious outlook and the inevitable friction with the overwhelmingly theistic community took center stage even as the speakers changed. All the different stories and experiences seem to fit almost seamlessly as listeners nodded along in agreement.

On the agenda was “Current Politics and Changes Seen”. Being the flavor of the week or month this seemed to have ‘Aam Aadmi Party’ (AAP) written all over it.  Sure enough the discussion started with a critical outlook on the infamous midnight raid on an alleged prostitution and drugs racket were foreign nationals from African countries were targeted by the Law Minister and a group of locals. Some were of the opinion that this act was unforgivable and moreover the party has not taken any action on the minister. There was also a counter view that even though the act is to be condemned, the new party should be given time to straighten its act. Reflecting a public perception, the party was also criticized for catering to popular views and not having a clear vision. The party to this point has been driven till date, almost solely on an anti corruption agenda.

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Two of the attendees missing. One had to leave early and the other one was the photographer.

The debate slowly moved into governance issues and the effectiveness of democracy in India. The Constitution of India was discussed as the topic of Republic Day came up. Despite having a commendable constitution the country has not been able to live up to the ideals prescribed in it. This was the general sentiment of the entire panel. Many questions were raised. Was this the failure of democracy as a system? How did we end up here and who is responsible for the state of affairs? How do we get to a better system or how can governance be improved?

There was a discussion on Communism and Marxism (I really need to read about how they are different) and how these systems have fared around the world. Case studies were Cuba, U.S.S.R. and China. I put forward my own thoughts in the form of the 1945 Satire by George Orwell titled Animal Farm. The conversation got interesting as there were differences in opinion on why Capitalism is needed and how far a Govt. can go forward in terms of welfare to the poor. How the corporate lobbies influence governance. More specifically the disagreement was about private participation in Education and Healthcare.

Eventually the opinions converged around ideas on how technology could and should be used for welfare. It should not be surprising as most of us were from IT/ITES sector. Things that could be done to alleviate poverty, improve education and healthcare were the broad topics which were subjected to our analysis. On that note the discussion turned to the final phase.

Enough talk, what do we do about all this? What do we plan to achieve in the future. There was a suggestion that we could organize a run on Indian Atheist Day. Having done the research now, it falls on March 23rd, the death anniversary of Bhagat Singh. It falls on a Sunday, so looks like an ideal day for the next meetup anyway. Another idea raised was about poverty and how we know so little about it. Hence the suggestion was to find a village affected by poverty and pay a visit to find the underlying reasons for it. Also we could think of pushing forward ideas from earlier meeting like the Feminism campaign, Intervention program etc. We paid our bills and headed out where a few of us hung around for further discussion on random topics.

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The aftermath.

Please feel free to voice your opinions in the comments section. If you were at the meeting please add anything that I might have missed or overlooked.

Coffee_Day_Square_2Today was what I would call a very productive day. I didn’t exactly achieve or create anything substantial. It was a discussion I had today which proved to be an eye opener. I got to meet a few interesting people. Today was a meetup of Nirmukta‘s Bangalore chapter. The topic of discussion was the I need feminism campaign. Feminism is a topic I never really understood. I was asked right at the start if I saw myself as a feminist. I did not, because I never truly understood it. Even now I’m not much of an expert. It was however reassuring to know that feminists do not hate men. I already knew that, but that is a common misconception. I had read somewhere men cannot be feminists. Apparently men who support feminism can be called Pro-feminists and not feminists. That was at the back of my head as well. There was something which made me think again even before today. Last week I came across a quote mentioning that feminists were the only ones fighting for boys and men who get raped. Surely  men could do more than being just pro-feminists.

When my turn came to speak, I admitted how society was unfair to women in a lot of ways. Even though I could never understand what a woman goes through in her everyday life, I am at least aware of some of the challenges. I have always been a supporter of equality. It is one of my core beliefs and I just don’t know how anyone could be against it. I was told that my thoughts were that of a feminist and I could call myself one. After reading a bit more about feminism (Wikipedia) now i realize it is indeed about equality and oblivious to me I have been a feminist in my thought for quite a while now. What followed was a discussion of a variety of issues affecting women, men and transgenders.

At least half of the things discussed were already known to me. The way it was put forward made me think. You become numb to repeated news about rapes being reported all over the country. You tend to become apathetic, or show a little or mild irritation to these reports. One fact shared today disturbed me more than anything. Every woman we know has been molested or abused either physically or verbally. It is not very hard to believe, but is a very sad fact. Boys are not spared as well, but those occurrences are relatively rare.

Specific topics discussed were Patriarchy, Privilege, Sexism in popular culture, Need and effectiveness of education, Feminism in Indian context, The role played by women who conform to the patriarchy. A variety of other issues were also touched upon which I hope could be discussed in detail in other session the notable ones being the obsession with fairness, self esteem in kids, issues faced by the transgender community,  Religion in life rituals etc.

We finally wound up with the decision to be part of the I need feminism campaign.

I would like to end the article with a sincere thanks to the three ladies who organized this and everyone who attended and shared their experiences and thoughts. It not only made me think, it had a profound impact on me and has encouraged me to delve deeper into the concepts of feminism and the real world challenges that keep women from living their lives on level terms.

This is a thought which often catches my imagination. I start reasoning with myself and never seem to reach at any sensible conclusion. What makes people work hard? What do they try to achieve? Do they do it to bring home the accolades? Do they simply want to be in the good books of the management, so that they get noticed for a promotion or get a better raise? Maybe they just want to feel important and yearn the recognition.

Most of these aims are short-term and too obvious. There has to be something deep-rooted to drive an individual to go beyond the call of duty and work up to or sometimes even more than 16 hours a day. It does not have to be the number of hours, It could be the amount of work an individual puts into those hours. The performance alone does not usually enable them to reap rewards. The person working hardest does not always get the highest raise or the promotion he/she think they deserve. Most people find a job because they have to. While some try to get by doing the bare minimum, or are happy being an average performer. Everywhere you will find a few people addicted to work (rightly called workaholics). They may appear glued to their desks, hardly ever getting up.

Very few people work out of a love for their work. The vast majority goes to office to make a living. Solely, for the sake of a paycheck. I can recall at least half a dozen instances where I have asked a friend why they would skip a meal and work, when we work to fill our stomachs. Even though I make it a point to have my meals on time, there have been a few instances where I had to skip a meal or delay it to accommodate work. I have never made a habit of it and made sure it happens rarely. It never fails to fascinate me when I see people over working tirelessly. The vast majority of the workforce do not come under this category. Most people do a decent job of the work given to them and go home happy. I do not have any research showing the figures of people working long hours. As competition rises the office floors should spawn more employees of this profile. So how does the general population react to them? Bosses would want their employees to see the workaholic as a role model. If they do not have a choice or are insecure about their future in the company; normal employees might try to emulate the workaholics even as they hide their resentment.

I came up with the following types of individuals who exhibit the workaholic behaviour:

They become so passionate about their work, that they enjoy what they do and don’t feel like they are over working. We are usually not surprised to hear a person in sports training for upto 12 hours a day. Hence these individuals have equated work and play. These are probably what you could call the aspirational role models. They excel at what they do, but they also go out of their way to take initiatives, improve the processes and help others.

Then there are some who don’t receive any pleasure from work, but need to excel at everything because they are ultra competitive and cannot stand the fact that someone is doing better than them. They may not be very keen to help their colleagues, unless they believe that helping others would put more positive light on them as a valuable employee. They may even resort to taking credit for things someone else has done. They tend to get disappointed or frustrated very easily when things don’t go their way.

There are also those unfortunate souls, who are forced to over-perform in order to keep up with the crowd. in an organization or a team where more than half the people are considered really good performance, you cannot afford to be left behind. When there are five members in a team and four of them work for more than twelve hours a day the fifth one will also be forced to work longer than what they are comfortable. Before they realize it, they become part of the system which made them forget about being laid back. Some either become resentful and crib about it. Some get used to it, especially if it is their first job. Then there are those who seek employment elsewhere.

The top performers in any of the above categories, usually do grow faster than the average performer. They would expect to grow still faster and would normally feel they are not being appreciated as much as they should be. To be a top performer and competing are not bad things. I have always been fascinated by the purpose in life. I have never been close to finding my purpose, but whenever people talk about their dream or ambition or even plan I am all ears. In this article I’m shining the spot light on these top performers profiled above.

It is safe to assume that recognition, growth, money, respect, competition (not necessarily in that order) are all major factors which drive these tireless professionals. They would like to have a better title, a fatter paycheck and of course keep performing the way they have been. This would enable them to live in a better place, buy the things they wanted, but could not afford. The standard of living changes, the car they drive will also change. The long hours they put in, usually does not change. The amount and quality of work they used to deliver would still be expected out of them. The nature of the work might change, but the volume/hours rarely goes down. Once you get into a high and comfortable position, it does not mean you can relax. You need to work even harder to maintain your position and to grow further. There are fewer positions at the top. In a corporate concern you rarely find someone who does not report to another person. Even the person at the very top, calling the shots does not have it easy. They would have to convince the shareholders, investors, clients and even the employees. Even if the person owns the enterprise outright, it is not an easy feat to protect their investment and make sure it runs profitably.

An individual employee usually aims to make their future secure. They invest, insure and work like hell to safeguard their future. What cost do you have to pay for this future? Do people strive today for a better tomorrow? If so what stops them from striving in a similar way in the future as well? You can’t really plan how long you are going to live with any fair degree of accuracy. So when can one decide they have worked enough and time has come to reap the benefits of their hard labour. In most cases this time never comes, or it comes very late. You either end up working harder than before to meet your ever-rising expenses or spend your savings on medicine or on your children.

Most often people dream of earning a substantial amount of money and retire at an early age to do the things they really want to do. There are people who succeed at this as well. So if that is your dream, there is no reason to be disheartened. It might still happen. How can you not succeed in anything if you are putting in this kind of effort? You may get to drive around in that big car, live in a fancy place and send your kids to a decent school. Then you can retire in peace once you are satisfied that your retirement account has swollen to a sufficient level. Make a few extra investments to hedge against uncertainty. How hard can it be? Does it make the long hours you spend at the office fruitful? It is a question open to interpretation.

Whatever I have mentioned above does not have to be your goals just because that is what your friend dreams about, or how your neighbour lives or is what your elders tell you how you should live. People who have lived their life this way would always encourage you to follow in their footsteps. This reinforces their belief in their success and the path they chose. People who have tried and were not all that successful may also tell you to make an attempt at what they thought was ideal. What we need to realise is as long as we breathe, things could always go wrong despite investments and insurance policies. Success is always relative, you would always find people more successful than you, and there will be people who wish they were in your shoes.

The least you could do for yourself is to take care of your health. Realize the fact that food and sleep are any day more important than your work. Whatever your dreams are, do make sure you have time for yourself and your quality of life does not get compromised. Doing something which you don’t like for most part of your life to relax in your final few years does not make much sense to me. It disturbs me that not many people are seeing this. Sometimes I feel like I am living in a world like the one in matrix where people all around me are living a pre-programmed life.

Anybody who deviates from this typical life is seen as an outcast or a loser. Only the ones who succeed in a substantial way are recognized (artists, sports persons, entrepreneurs etc). People who choose a different path often do so because they are left with no other choice or due to an irrepressible calling towards their craft. I cannot figure out how anyone could have a passion for banking (my least favored profession). If you would take the time out and do a bit of soul-searching. You will have no trouble finding your true calling if you can be honest with yourself. My moment of epiphany came when I saw the below quote:

What would you do, if you knew you could not fail?
-Robert H. Schuller-

I asked myself that question and I got an answer instantly. Maybe you would get an answer if you ask that question as well. If you answer with what you are currently doing, I am really happy for you. Most of us deny our true calling out of a fear of failure (I am not mentioning my dream here for the same reason). We tuck away our dreams safely, where nobody could see them or ridicule us for harboring such ‘ridiculous’ fantasies. We hope someday conditions may become conducive for us to breathe life into this vague calling. Sadly this happens very rarely and to a very few individuals. Once you find your true calling, chances are you have previously thought of it as a profession. Take a second look, try to acquire skills which would enable you to get closer to your real goal. The more time you think pondering about the options you are denying your true purpose and making it harder for yourself to achieve something in that particular field of interest. There are limitations and that is the challenge. Once you find your true calling does not mean you quit what you were doing all these years and be adamant that you will only do things which help you with your dream.

Once you are sure of where you want to reach, setting the course becomes easier. Life so far, becomes a detour when you realise you wanted something else out of life. Getting back on track may need a lot of planning, effort, time and money. This time you could be sure of yourself that once you gain even a moderate amount of success; you would know your time was well spent. Finding your true purpose is the only way you could maximize your potential. For life to be fruitful the destination and the journey must be enjoyable. When you think of it life is a journey. We are time travellers going forward into the future every moment. Wouldn’t you want your journey to be comfortable if it is going to be long? The destination may not even matter if the journey is a fun ride.

The below link is an article I found which resonates with my thoughts.

http://money.howstuffworks.com/five-day-weekend.htm

International Women’s Day (8th of March) seemed like an apt time to post this.

Once you near the age of thirty, people seem concerned about your future. Not so much your profession but, of your marital status. The concern usually starts earlier, in the case of girls; as it is hard for people to comprehend the concept of a single woman in her late twenties. It is assumed that every girl has the same dream of getting married and bearing children. Women who want to focus on their career and don’t want to bear children at an early age are traditionally shown as ‘Vamps’ in soaps and movies. What could be nobler than motherhood? How can someone not be interested in that? If she is not eager to fulfil this purpose, how can she be a good person? Hence marriage becomes mandatory. Marriage as an institution is ridiculed in countless jokes, while very few consider not taking this very essential step.Inequality is entrenched in most traditions surrounding marriage. From the engagement/wedding ringto the honeymoon.

So why is it considered almost inevitable? It is a meeting of minds and supposedly, the happiest day of your life. It is definitely the biggest party you will throw and you might spend around two years saving for it. Banks are happy to lend money for marriages. Isn’t that a deserving reason for the funds to be utilised. It just happens once (Ideally) in a lifetime. Who in their right mind would not want to make sure that they share this joy with everyone they ever knew? The guests should have a good time as well, so no stones are left unturned to ensure that. Not every marriage is celebrated on a grand scale. This usually has more to do with the means available to the families than their prudence.

Maybe, marriage is a necessary evil? A ritual; where a couple solemnize their relationship, with God’s blessings. It is one of the few occasions, where you get to see your relatives and friends, under one roof. It also becomes legally necessary in many cases. Does all that satisfy my curiosity? No. Is there no other way to move forward in your life with or without a companion? Of course there are individuals who spend their lives independently. Either they get disenchanted with the concept of marriage or get too absorbed in their work. Are their lives then, incomplete? Maybe that depends on an individual’s perception of the meaning of life or what he/she wants out of life.

So what would be the alternate to marriage? Before we address that question, we need to look at what is wrong with marriage. There are two major aspects with marriage; one is the ritual itself which would be conducted as per the religious beliefs of the couple concerned. The second aspect is the legal concept where it is treated, more or less like a contract. There is also the personal aspects, the changes, that come into their lives after matrimony. The major concern with marriage is how it is unfair to the woman involved. She changes her surname. In some cases she ends up quitting her job to take care of the household.

Even as a ritual, marriage seems to have a gender bias. In most rituals I have seen, the bride is treated like a property handed over by her father to the bridegroom. We are so accustomed to these rituals that we fail to see this blatant objectification of women. The woman changes her name and even her title. This perhaps marks the change of ownership. It makes you wonder how these rituals have remained unchanged over the ages and women still have a long way to go in attaining true equality. I have little doubt in my mind that these rituals were designed by men as it reflects the old world mentality. The sad thing is it is almost impossible to question these topics as it touches the sensitive topic of religion. Who would risk being accused of blasphemy? Any chance, of changes in these rituals seems bleak.

If one does decide to forego the rituals and opts for a registered marriage (which they do), what would be the concerns? It is much less expensive. The bride however, still changes her surname and her title as well. I have always wondered why this happens. When a man sees a woman whose name is prefixed with the letters “Mrs”, is it a signal for him to back off? Is it like the signboard which people display on their property “No trespassing”? These things are of course not enforced. However it is expected. Very few people even stop to think about it.

From my experience I know that not everyone is equally excited about getting married. Some of my friends, I know would prefer to stay single if they had a chance. Again, it is slightly easier to accomplish this if you are a man. Why would this handful of individuals try to stay clear of marriage? People are choosing to get married at a later age. Education is probably the game changer. Perhaps this is the reason why some girls are not allowed to pursue higher education in developing countries. Perhaps the most important reason for people to delay or defy marriage is that they are mortified by the thought of getting married to the wrong person. Another major reason could be that it curtails your freedom. So what could be an alternate, or a way out of getting married?

I am not advocating a life of celibacy or promiscuity. There could be countless ways around this ‘social evil’. Most of the people who do not marry tend to live alone or with parents. While this may not be an ideal way to live, it gives the individual a great deal of freedom. Being single is now becoming more common in urban areas. He or she is also free to pursue their romantic pursuits, which does not necessarily culminate in marriage. Somewhat like a live-in relationship, where the couple does not live together. Roughly like a pro-longed dating phase.The couple could spend time together whenever they feel like it. If this concept seems hard for you to accept, bear in mind you have been brought up to think marriage is the only reasonable option. It is not only the things you are told. You keep seeing marriages all around you while growing up. You end up thinking it is the only sane way to live.

People who are averse to getting married may settle for a live-in relationship (still rare) to ‘test the waters’ of cohabitation. Living together is a big consequence of marriage. Is it really necessary for a person to live with their partner to have a meaningful relationship? Why can’t you continue living with your friends or parents or alone just because you are romantically interested in someone? In most cases the people in question do not have a choice. Most often they don’t even realise that they are being denied a choice. My motive is to find an alternative which does not disturb the independence of either partner. Living single as a lifestyle is finding new takers among the urban youth. In the next post we will be taking a look at the options available for an individual or a couple who want to go on the road less travelled.

I would love to hear thoughts on this.

Ambition is a pretty big word, not to be thrown around casually. Kids at school, are perhaps the ones bombarded with this question most often. I remember being asked in class, what I wanted to become. I was 9 then. My Classroom quickly transformed into a group of future Doctors and Engineers. I was least interested in engineering or medicine. In an attempt to break the pattern, I declared, I wanted to become a contractor (My Dad, worked for a big-shot contractor, who employed several engineers. That gave me the idea that a contractor would be an important person). I ended up being the laughing-stock of the entire class, even though half of them had no clue who a contractor was. That was not really my ambition but was merely a place holder which would make way for other dreams. As I grew older my classmates changed a bit. Some wanted to go into business, a few were interested in law or even civil services, but medicine and engineering remained the overwhelming favorites. I had become clueless as I had too many interests. I wanted to be an astronaut, a sky diver and a mountaineer among many other things. I never got to work at a higher altitude than at an office in the eighth floor of a building. My dreams did not come true, at least not yet. I can find solace in the fact that I am not the only one with unrealised dreams.

At school I shared my classroom with roughly 100 students. Around 30 of them are now engineers. Some of them held on to their ‘dream’ right from kindergarten. Medicine turned out to be a much harder dream to attain as only two or three succeeded. When I look back now, I had no clue that any of the jobs I have done even existed at that time. We had heard about computerization happening, but i could never have imagined carrying one of those things in my backpack. When I was queried about my ambition in an exam, I could express myself fully. I explained my interests in journalism, photography, film making etc. When somebody(mostly a teacher or relative) expected a one word answer, I was stumped. Now I know that I am not the only one who had such experiences. In a recent conversation a friend recollected how she was branded as a failure at school by her teacher when she was not able to answer this question.

Taking into account the number of seats available, I guess it is easier to be an engineer. If I had to choose between the ‘big two’, I guess medicine would have been better for me since I am a disaster with maths. I never wanted to choose any single profession. I still have not. Why choose one, when you can have fun with different things? I definitely don’t want to live in a world where people are either doctors or engineers. From a grown up perspective engineering or medicine is only a career. I would not say every engineer is ambitious, or even everyone with an engineering degree really wanted to be an engineer. I almost became one myself. It is not a terrible thing to become an engineer. It is just that, I get the feeling that there is a surplus of engineers today. I know many people who did engineering in diverse streams doing jobs more suitable for a commerce graduate. My concern is, as an intelligent species, are we not behaving like a more primal being living in a herd, or a colony. We get settled into the existing systems and procedures either too scared to change anything or oblivious to the fact that there are countless ways to go about with your life. You don’t have to mould yourself into a role acceptable for people around you. People make the society and society would be a lot more vibrant if we stop behaving like a brick in the wall.

It is not only about medicine or engineering. Once those options are filtered out people tend to look for the next best thing. The safest and financially lucrative options. A few ambitious ones see the role of a chartered accountant as something just as good as the ‘big two’, they could not get. Most baffling for me is to see people getting charmed by a bank job(What could be more ‘bankable’?). The lure of a bank job has become so attractive that even those who nurtured dreams of becoming engineers are now becoming bankers despite having that coveted engineering degree. Banks are also one of the few privileged institutions that get paid to conduct recruitment drives in the form of exam fees. Personally I find a bank to be a grim and gloomy place. I feel a strange sadness when I am inside one and feel relieved when I walk out. I cannot imagine how people can survive a lifetime in that sort of atmosphere and why many of my peers are dying to get into one.

Your profession need not define the person you are. If it does, make sure it aligns with your personal lifestyle and interests. You don’t want to end up living your entire life waiting for weekends, vacations and paychecks. Yes, it doesn’t hurt to have a safe and secure job that pays well. That is typically why most people spend the most of their time in office rooms and cubicles. Very few people I know have a job which they sincerely like. Even fewer have a job which they would do out of choice and not for the salary. Your ideal job should be one which you look forward to do. Not the one which you must do. We will always find ways to justify ourselves saying we are barely making enough money, or we need the job to pay our bills/loans. It really comes down to what you consider as your ‘need’. Something you do to entertain or amuse yourself is not a need. Once you find a truly interesting way of life, you will never feel the ‘need’ to go on a vacation or to even see a movie. A closer look at expenses will reveal what things you really need. Lower expenses does not mean just savings but it means you can ‘afford’ a job which pays lower (provided you like it better than your old job)and also a different lifestyle.

Most kids get possessed with the idea to be the best and school provides this competitive atmosphere and also nurtures it. Parents reinforce these beliefs. The idea grows stronger as your peers start competing with you. The true believers fight it out, vying for pole position. Then there are the slackers, who are more laid back and try to get by. Some become disinterested (or overwhelmed) and drop out or are pushed to the fringes. The last category is often humiliated and denied promotion. You will find all these categories and more in your office as well (If you work in one). The simple truth is money drives the system. Getting rich means you get to lead a better lifestyle. Does that alone explain all the trends? The richest people are often into business and not doctors or engineers. The rich may get rich in different ways. Business, for example does not guarantee success. Therefore the master plan is to find something which is lucrative and safe. The professions which come on top are hence most coveted. Not everyone can however qualify for these professions, hence the competition. The ones who are left behind look for an alternate plan to earn more money or as much. There are plenty who go abroad in search of better opportunities.

A few stray from this plan consciously. Some search other avenues after achieving the childhood ambition and realizing that there are better things. Others are forced to look for other options. Most people in business are forged in this manner. Many writers and bloggers have put up their own ideas about what your profession can be like. I have listed my personal favorites below. They are all people making a living doing things they like and are passionate about. Even if you don’t agree with me, the following links do provide a good read.

http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2006/07/10-reasons-you-should-never-get-a-job/
http://puttylike.com/true-calling/
http://paidtoexist.com/start-here/