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Friday, 9 October 2015

Algorithm for life

My relationship with computer engineering is like that of chalk and cheese…or – in typical South Indian fashion – like that of Oil and Shikakai powder…or a contemporary comparison that’s even more accurate.…it’s like that between Arnab Goswami and Subramanian Swamy.

So, it’s not likely that I will ever write a software program. But, at a recent motivational seminar conducted for Class 12 students, there were some queries thrown up about maintaining a positive attitude. This led me to try and think of how I deal with unpleasant situations that hold the potential of upsetting me. 
Did you notice what I just said?

“unpleasant situations that hold the potential of upsetting me”


“unpleasant situations that upset me”

Those few words that set it apart “hold the potential” convey a key aspect…one that we all too often neglect as we get caught up in the emotions that follow an event.

It conveys this: how I respond to something is a factor well within my control

This simple logic is what is summed up in motivational quotes such as these

The only problem is that we don’t often exercise this power because we haven’t learned to harness the mind to think in a positive direction...we have not trained it to work like this.

What set me thinking on these lines is also something I’ve been studying recently – the Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) propounded by Albert Ellis. The basic premise of this technique is that just events cannot cause someone to feel anxious, angry, sad or jealous. Instead, it is the beliefs we create about these events that drive us towards unhealthy feelings and behaviours that are self-defeating. If we learn to disrupt these incorrect beliefs with more positive ones, it has a positive effect that leads to new, positive feelings.

When I read about REBT for the first time, I realized this is what I have been unconsciously doing since quite some years now. And those questions from the Class 12 students motivated me to try to create an algorithm that summarizes my approach to difficult situations.

Abstract stuff? Maybe…
But it works for me. 
Every. Single. Time.