One world

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Can we have a world where there is no need of defense and police?

Earlier human beings had fear of wild animal now of other humans. Have we become like wild animals or we’ve civilized bit more? Recently there was a terrorists attack in Egypt. I wonder what’s wrong with us human beings, we’ve become dangerous than wild animals. Animals kill to eat and that too when required. One animal does not kill the other because the other is not following what one is following, teaching or has learnt.

Recently, when I landed in a country for the first time, my suitcase was thoroughly checked. As usual with most Indians, I too had taken home made, Indian food because the country where I went was predominantly a non-vegetarian food eating country and I am a vegetarian. I opened by suitcase, the security person took out the food and dumped it in dust bean. There are two different types of feeling – 1. individual level and 2. social level. Individual level 1. there is a saying in Marathi – anna he purna bramh (roughly translated as food is divinity) 2. people die hungry and you are throwing the food and 3. that is my at least 10 days ration! and Social level 1. Can someone likely be so dangerous to a country 2. why so much concern even with food items and 3. have we become worst than animals.

This incident translated into two way thinking 1. defense budget of countries and 2. death due to hunger worldwide. Some statistics (source 1) suggest that USD ~4 Billion is required to feed 66 million school age children per year and daily total of 800 million go hungry worldwide. Defense budget (source 2) of the whole world is USD 1686 Billion. If we do number crunching defense budget comes out to be about more than 10% of budget required for food for hungry people. Alas, effectively the defense budget is utilized to kill people. What have we become? Imagine if we utilize the worldwide defense budget money in doing something constructive.

The other downside emerging with this thought was a news of likely death of 44 crew members submarine of Argentina. Its not that only others are at risk, even the risk of those who are working in defense are equally there.

A perspective will be that defense is needed for self defense for example against terrorism or other military hostility. Perhaps there will be time, when we will fight for food and water at that time we will need military! Well, in last so many millenniums we are fighting all in vain, when are we going to have a world – one world, without boundaries – as a family?

Related blogs – Border-less world, world is imperfect, Ambitions selfishness and fear, size of the universe and dont divide we are interdependent.

  1. Image source –Hindustan Times
  2. Hunger statistics source – FoodAidFoundation and DoSomething
  3. Defense budget source – Wikipedia

Start the new year by giving

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Capitalism has specially fascinated me in recent past. The fascination had been such that I have believed that capitalism is an approach where we realize futility of running behind all the comforts and all the need hierarchies. If there are other economic models too that help you approach this realization, than capitalism seems to work faster. My feeling had been that the possibility of realizing that need hierarchy under a socialistic and other type of economic systems is lower compared to capitalism. This impression is based on visits to certain cities of developed – mostly – capitalistic economies.

My opinions may be incorrect, as repeatedly pointed out in comments by Ramana uncleji. I am still analyzing why I may be incorrect in the sense that capitalism a better approach to move towards spirituality compared to other systems.

Image result for donateOne recent incident helped me evaluate my premise bit more. I was collecting donations for an NGO – DSY. The plan was to collect about 1 lac Indian rupee within 5 days before 25th Dec. Some unexpected mail, call and chats resulted in donations. I was confident of other close friends to donate – they did not! It was utter surprise to me. I am not asking money for myself, I am giving financial details of the organization and I am also showing the work the organization has done, yet the closest of my friends are uncomfortable to donate. Impact of two of the projects are below –

Some of my friends are MBAs and others are Engineers working in respectable organizations. They are well to do, yet they were unwilling to donate. What was the problem with them to even commit INR 1000 or say INR 5000? In fact I told a few of them if you donate INR 5000 or more you will get tax deduction under section 80G of Income tax too. The question I had in my mind was – if someone can spend few thousands on New Year eve, cannot someone commit that much or lesser for someone else? The money can help a farmer stay alive, not commit suicide or a tribal child study. Why so? Have we become so callous? Are we less compassionate in the influence of capitalism?

Answer to the question and my recent analysis was – in many cases today’s capitalism is a constant feeling of “having less” and “willingness to have more”. I’ve been writing about this desire for more, constant running behind many things in past. I felt that it’ll get subdued over period of time under capitalism. Prosperity will help a person view futility of this constant race to get more. Because over a period of time an individual will start questioning own’s running – why? What more? Resulting in realizing futility of this rat race sooner rather than later.

Abundance possibly is based on our sense that “I already have things in abundant supply”. Possibly, we’ll have some different economic model in future, not exactly capitalism; where contentment will be primary and give will be preferred over feeling of paucity depravity and wanting for more.

Last not the least – I’ve extended my targets to 2 lac. By 31st March 2018 you can donate at https://www.dsyindia.org/login.php. Once you donate please share the acknowledgement with me so that I know how far I’m from my targets.

Start the new year by giving. Wish you a Very Happy New Year. I hope few of you will think of donating besides wonderful celebration of the coming year.

Image source – http://mike-ward.net/donate/

Related blogs – Education, Chicken in the “poultry farm of economy”, Race – never ending, What more you need?, When will we stop?, Swasthay – dwelling in oneself, Money worth earning, A cup of tea

Capitalism’s possible impact

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Keynes in an essay had said “his grandchildren’s generation would only work 15 hours a week.” Apparently, that generation is in the workforce now. Are we working <2 working days a week? Far from it. According to some studies, working population of the developed countries are still working at least 34 hours a week (if not 40 hours). Possibly the prediction was incorrect by a generation.

On a leisure weekend, we were wandering in one of the biggest cities of Latin America last month. It was our first visit to the country. We were talking about the way of living there and possible future for us. I said, in future, we may be working for enjoying what we do, not for earning our living. So, when Keynes said working 15 hours a week, it is possible that rest of the time, people do what they otherwise would want to do – it can be work too. Given a choice I would want to study, read books, wrote blogs 🙂 share my knowledge etc. Some of it I still do though, but over the weekends. Was this the future that Keynes saw as possible? I think yes.

Uber, Apple and Google are working on autonomous cars. We’ve technology intervention in everything – industrial revolution brought partial automation, technology revolution increasing automation. It is possible that in future organizations will be minting money on robots alone. Hopefully when we reach that state, we will be beyond food, shelter and social standing. In fact that possibly can be one of the reasons for the following outcome of a research – population of developed countries are not that happy. Perhaps our mind has the habit of occupying itself. When there is nothing to be occupied with, either one is unhappy or one can think of bigger purpose in life.

The statistics can be contested such as – how were these 50 years compared? This discontent and prosperity will surely lead to the questions towards spirituality. When a society is prosperous that is when it starts or tend to move inwards – at times capitalism it is that provides opportunity to dig deeper within [From my previous blog]. I see a lot of people pursuing Buddhism or for that matter meditation in west.

Besides, when development will lead to unhappiness, the journey of inwards will start. People will ask question – what makes me happy? That is when people will start working for 15 hours a week for wages and rest for self. I see that as an impact of capitalism. When that happens economies would not remain purely capitalistic. There will be change in our approach of economy, it wont remain purely capitalist.

Image Source – https://twitter.com/nareshnshahani/status/938937338431807488 tweet from – Mr Naresh Shahani.

At times capitalism it is!

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CD of Jane Fonda can be more useful for you to learn Yoga – an Indian physical, mental and spiritual practice. When you watch her video you are likely to feel as if she is a native to this art, have you ever thought why? It is not a case of go Yoga alone that many Indians would neither know nor will be able to practice such things well. It is the case with practice of meditation – an eastern method of consciousness – too. Would not you be impressed with many foreigners not only talking seriously about meditation but also practicing meditation religiously and needless to say better than many Indians.

Have you ever wondered why? What happened that we have relegated such a unique knowledge to either books or only to religious institution? At the same time how the Western world has been taken to these practices with ease and are excelling in it? It would not be surprised that in next 100 years there would be more spiritual readers from the Western world than from India or South East Asia.

There was a time when India was prosperous. Prosperity makes one question the significance of life, after life and whys of existence. It is unlikely for a hungry stomach to think beyond food. It is difficult for a person in danger to think about higher purpose of life; not impossible but difficult for sure. I remember my professor Dr Anand Saxenasaxena-sir-25dec12 told me –

गो धन, गज धन, काज धन, सबे रतन धन ख़ान|
जब आवे संतोष धन, ये सब धुरी समान||

Go dhan, gaj dhan, kaaj dhan sabe ratan dhan khan
Jab aave santosh dhan ye sab dhuri saman.

Meaning:

It is true that owning cattle, jewels or kingdoms is mine of wealth
But when you own wealth of contentment (satisfaction) those mines (cattle, jewels etc) of wealth become worthless (like dust)

 

I love capitalism because it gives an individual the possibility to be prosperous. Prosperity, at least once, can give a person a chance to raise questions on existence. I believe capitalism and what follows, for example wealth, well-being, abundance etc may make one question – why and how of cycle of life. That is why probably Jane Fonda is a better practitioner of Yoga and many in West are turning towards meditation.

When a person goes beyond food, shelter and social standing one can think of bigger purpose in life. It has been story of many warriors in India – Mahavir or Buddha. Shashi Throor in one of his famous speech said before Britisher’s arrived in India, India had 23% of the world GDP. That is as much as if not more than current GDP of USA’s proportional GDP to the world. When a society is prosperous that is when it starts or tend to move inwards – at times capitalism it is that provides opportunity to dig deeper within. It seems very counter-intuitive though but that is how the logic of Business to the Buddha; that is how the journey for within may start for the West.

You Need To Believe

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When I hear the phrase “you must believe” the first thing that comes to my mind is “Kung Fu Panda“. I love the movie and here are two videos that come to my mind when I think of “you need to believe”. First is when Master Oogway tells Master Shifu to believe. The other is Po’s father telling him “…there is no secrete ingredient, you must believe the soup is special…” this gives Po an idea what the message of Dragon scroll is.

 

I reached in a country (continent) where I never thought I will go. I am walking on the streets and meeting people on the other hemisphere, it is no less than a surprise. This makes the title “You need to believe” apt for me today. Believe is a verb for belief, I am slowly making some perspectives that one must accept things and be willing to be amazed with life as it comes. It requires some sort of trust (trust in who is immaterial and can be explore in some future blogs).

Change in perspective is happening on other dimensions too for me. I was of the type of liberals who hate present Prime minister of India Mr Modi. In my mind it was kind of dislike for him after 2002 to almost until 2015, even though Indian courts have already acquitted him. Slowly, I started feeling, he being the PM of India is a better choice than any other current politician in India.

On believing some of his steps, I loved demonetization as a decision. In fact I am a step ahead – wish we do away with denominations higher than 100. I know there were execution challenges, however after a lot of planning too in last 70 years we have seen what the results of planned policies resulted in – roads made but do not sustain, money gets allocated but only 5% of the actual amount reaches the needy. What is the need of such planning in those cases?

We need a kick to start a bike, isnt it? Perhaps some decisions of Mr Narendra Modi are like that. If someone who has the guts and takes decision and makes course correction – we think planning is less but at least some actions are taken. Those who start have the possibility to reach those who do not start cannot go anywhere.

We need to believe. I live in Mumbai, I have seen stagnation of property prices in there. I am a fence sitter for buying home, after demonetization the prices have come down, not to my expectations though but yes some things have change for better. The artificial inflation is low now. It is possible that growth number at the time of previous government were impacted positively due to such inflation.

I believe, artificial property price rise and corruption was “Organized loot and legalized plunder” what we saw in Manmohan Singh government of Indian National Congress. It is when CWG, Coal and 2G etc scams happened – that is organized loot and legalized plunder. All the scams were kind of legal activities but organized such that payments were made under the table to those who were in government. I hope former PM Manmohan Singh who presided over these scams will know what a common-man sees as Organized loot and legalized plunder.

We need to believe things will be better – be it GST or demonetization. Who knows perhaps in 2019 it will be a hung parliament?

You Need To Believe was last week’s LBC topic where Maria, Ramana uncleji, Ashok and Shackman write. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.

Shashi Throor in us

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There is a Shashi Throor hidden in all of us. I did not mean the English one – “…farrago…” whose English is such that even native speakers (Brits) need to sit with dictionary. I meant Throor who feels besides him all others are “cattle class”. We all have that Shashi Throor hidden in us; if not all, many of us.

Well, this feeling of “I am special” is too ingrained in the politicians and bureaucrats that many feel they are the god’s gift to the mankind – more precisely to India. If you have heard the statement – “You don’t know who my father is (you don’t know who am I)” in all likelihood you have confronted son or small time sidekick of some politician. Or “this will go upto the PMs office” you have lived in Delhi. The swagger is higher in politicians of higher level – like Shashi Throor. Also, this bullying happens by many other son’s of neta / small time netas to commoners like you and me.

Throor’s cattle class comment is special. When he made this comment I believe he was to board a flight. A country where at least half of the population never traveled by a flight, calling the rest of 50% – who are rich enough to fly – a cattle class either makes one feel India has not progressed or there is some disorientation in the minds of few.

At the same time, other mortals like you and me too have the feeling of being unique (watch a 1 minute video of Madagascar which will let you know – we are all unique – but still the same). We – most of us – have a feeling that I am one up over others and a (smaller than like of Throor) gift of god to the mankind. How it occurred to me that we all have a Shashi Throor in us (like Marty of Madagascar) was a brief chat with my sister.

Once, my sister and her daughter was flying from Delhi by Indigo. They were in queue for check-in, a lady just cut through the line and went for check-in. Others in queue said – “we are all here in queue for check-in, Please get in the queue?” The lady said – “there is so much crowd.” My sister was second for check-in at that time, she told her – “Madam, everyone has a flight and is a passenger like you“. Some people when they realized the sarcasm, of crowd and passengers, told her – if you feel so special why dont you take Jet or Air India Business class why are you traveling Indigo? Isn’t it below your dignity to fly an economy flight if you are so special and not like others?

The lady got the message – she is a part of crowd too, she is no different. But she didnt budge. After narrating this story to me my sister said you know we feel special for ourselves but feel other’s as “crowd”. We forget we are part of the same (in general and spiritual context too). The reason she told me this was – I was driving, picked her up from airport and was cribbing about traffic stating “driving is no fun here, it is a ordeal”. She told me we are all equal why are you cribbing?

This cribbing was specially for those who drive Innova or other very long car – monster actually – alone to office or for those who cut lanes just to save their two-three minutes – end up messing whole road. She told me – accept this mess, you will be peaceful. Also, if you think the person cutting lane is crowd, you too are the same for him/her. Accept that traffic is going to be here – you are no special – in fact at times you are the traffic! We laughed, I learnt my lesson, though I still crib about traffic – bit less though. Knowledge will sink slowly.

I wish Shashi Throor (and many others) too had a sister like my sister who can teach him/her – we are unique, yet same. We all are Marty of Madagascar – we need to identify that others are equally unique and like us. At times we’re the traffic. We’re the cattle / sheep – pun intended – following the one ahead of us – by wheedling someone (praising an incompetent).

 

PS – The blog is to make a point – we are unique yet similar and are equal humans. There should not be any ego. “Cattle class” of Shashi Throor happened to be a pertinent example. The author does not intend to malign political personality or defame/demean anyone (including Shashi Throor).

Constraints and contradictions

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This blog from business to the Buddha was started when I was completing my MBA. Few of the sessions on economics, marketing, Organizational behavior and supply chain made me realize that there is more common to business, economics, management and spirituality; in particular concepts of Buddhism than what we think. Though I used to feel it since I moved to Mumbai a decade back in 2006. This thought moved into a wordpress blog – business2buddha.wordpress.com because MBA gave me not only a formal education in management but also time to think about the relationship. At that time, I never thought that this choice of writing can be such that I keep on writing for 7 long years. Of course there was a hiatus in 2017 due to some other personal commitments. My thoughts have always been on finding out relationship between business / economics concept to spirituality (in particular Buddhism). The fascination makes me feel that we are on a path of moving from “me” to an “us” society. A society from competition to co-existence, from Business to the Buddha. I wish this comes out to be true.

Off late I am hearing a lot about “mindfulness”. Some months back Harvard Business Review wrote about it. Initially it made me happy. I was thinking that mainstream is accepting the concept which I had been writing about for some time. Occasionally, I feel that this “mindfulness” thing has become more of a buzzword than a real practice. Hope it does not end up being – six sigma, innovation, analytics and big data type hype. The purpose of mindfulness is for “self”, in effect helping organization and society. Hope mindfulness does not end up like the other buzzword of management jargon; hope people do not end up making it a business and “whats in it for ‘business‘” alone and keep it more practical and individual practice than a corrupt practice of survival of business.

The contradiction here has been the approach. I have moved from Business to the Buddha. The movement from business to the self and self realization and coexistence. The approach of management jargon seems to be the other way round. Making business out of the mindfulness or possibly trying to get “competitive advantage” or some sort of “benefit” for business from the path.

I am optimistic about the move from business to the Buddha. In fact when I realized that I might be making a mistake of showing or possibly thinking of a movement from Business to Buddha I bought a domain – www.SaintInSuit.com though I am yet to write on that. I am thinking that I will let people write on the website – their experiences, their relationship between business, management and spirituality. The idea is not to restrict to the Buddha alone. There are other methods, thoughts, concepts and teachings on the path of spirituality that have strong affinity to business. Though I personally can recount more examples on business and spirituality with Buddhism than other religion.

The concept of Saint In Suit is a thought of middle path, the method that says one can be spiritual without renouncing. One can do business without negatively affecting his/her personal choice of following spirituality. We (predominantly in India) think that there is a constraint between business and spirituality, however we miss out – Saint Kabir was a businessman, so were many others just few examples Gora Kumbhar or even the worst you can think of Kanhopatra was a prostitute. Even the Buddha at a later stage of his life accepted that – one does not necessarily renounce to self-realize.

There is neither contradiction nor constraint of being a saint yet a businessman. Though, I am worried if people make business of mindfulness specially when it is a showoff than for real change.

Constraints was a topic for LBC in Sept 2017, as usual I changed the topic a bit and wrote on it well past the week when it was due. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Ramanna Uncle ji, Ashok and Shackman.

Image source – first image my creation and second image – Image source – http://www.bravefury.com/six-reasons-men-should-do-yoga/

Options, analysis and decisions

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I have been analyzing buying a house vs living on rent and buying a four wheeler vs riding a cab. This is not a new comparison and analysis for me. Most of the time, answers to these two were – buy a house and rent a car or use a cab service.

How did I arrive at these conclusions? Of course after some calculations and considering options. The question is – what was the measure on which I measured these things to come up with some conclusion? The measure was “utility”. In economics utility means resultant benefit achieved from something (usage or consumption of product or service). When you eat Idly on road side @20 INR and when the same idly plate is served to you in a better place it could by @60 INR. We may argue about taste, hygiene etc of idly from 20INR to 60INR. When one moves from basic utility to additional utilities we measure that in terms of marginal utility. Marginal utility, is the incremental benefit one gets from consumption or usage of an offering.

We can continue from our situation of buying a four wheeler. The first question one may have is – which car – SUV, Sedan, Hatchback. Once that is decided which company which brand and what amenities such as AC, power window and music system etc. There are obviously many more questions in making a decision. The other option is hiring a local taxi or app based service. After all this analysis – what one gets is drop from point A to point B. At times pain of parking – if it is owned car or self driving. The drop from A to B is utility in this case. Marginal utility is – can you play music of your choice while driving or is the vehicle air conditioned during the trip. In the bargain of ability to play music and air conditioning you need to pay extra. This extra amount vs the additional benefit you get defined marginal utility.

Many of our life decisions are made emotionally and justified rationally. I analyzed a lot with a decision of buying a house and renting a car. Currently, I live in a rented house and drive a car. How often do we take decision by listening to our heart and mind? Is there a rational justification to our decision? Why do we take such decision? When we have to really take a plunge with faith, we falter. When we have to take a decision with full analysis we do the opposite!

Give it a thought – Mahavir and Buddha – both were from warrior families and were to be the kings. Why did they renounce everything, how on earth they both might have taken such step? Had they both done enough analysis possibly both had stayed back. I know more about the Buddha so can think of an incident, when he was following extreme austerity such that he could had died of hunger, he decided to eat. In short term his five best friends went away saying he has left the path. But the Buddha was right, austerity and self affliction may not necessarily help. He said to himself, if I die of hunger I wont be able to achieve what I strive for.

In my analytics practice one of my senior’s Eron Kar used to say – “If you torture data enough it will confess to the story you want it to narrate.” Always it is not right to over analyze, at times leaders need to take a leap of faith and decide.

Prof Mankad told me once – “Pravin, when you become a leader, sitting in the 76th floor of your corporate office when you have to make a tough choice do one thing. Leave aside all the papers and analysis. Walk toward the window. Take out a coin from your pocket, toss it and you will have the decision.” Dr Mankad continued “Pravin, sometimes you should stop over analyzing.” I need to learn a lot to do that one I have to become that big a decision maker of a company and two stopping the urge to analyze everything, I still analyze a lot!

Image source – http://novalo.com/flat-fee-self-employed/

Opportunity cost of being Humans

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It was a 2013 evening, my sister and I went for a walk after dinner. It was a daily practice for us those days. Chinu was playing with the stray dogs – well behaved and good dogs of our area. This habit also included feeding left over chapatis to these stray dogs. We had started eating multi-grain chapatis, my sister used to prepare the composition (of course sourced from internet) of different grains – usually five. One day my sister told me – “I have noticed that these stray dogs do not eat these chapatis, earlier when we were making wheat chapatis it did not happen.” I jokingly said – “They have not developed a taste for it!” Her observation was correct, these dogs did not touch these chapatis, matter became bit serious and a learning – eat chapatis of one grain at a time. Perhaps the animals are closer to the nature than us, they know what will suit their body more than we know about our body. That is our problem – we have moved away from listening to our natural instinct. I wonder if animals have glutton intolerance or lactose intolerance etc. We humans have such eating disorders. I believe the reason is our not listening to our body. I believe our body can give us signs that – you should not eat it. But we do not listen.

I could remember incident of 2013 when I had been watering plants at home. I noticed that the pots were discarding water that the plant did not need. Plants also take as much as required, we do not, our greed is for more money than what we need to survive, we’ve huge wardrobes and eat more for taste than for nourishment. Have you seen a fat leopard? But obesity is a problem with us. We go to gym to be fit, yet our eating habits belie our natural instinct.

Have you heard a saying birds of a feather flock together. Needless to say, many must have seen birds of same species flying together from season to season. Literal meaning of this saying actually changes in our (human being’s) context. Because we humans have divided our existence by color of skin, our way of thinking and our religious following etc. We have been fighting for Left Vs Right or religious supremacy – be it ISIS in Syria (for Islam) or Rohingya (against Islam). That is an opportunity cost of being Humans.

We have – somewhere – missed our intelligence in our growth (smarter phones but dumb people), our belief of being morally correct (building stock pile of nuclear weapons for self protection – war for peace) and proving one being religiously pious than the other (my religion is better and correct than your religion is). That is opportunity cost of being human!

The question to ask is – are we really “being” human? Animals are better in some sense, they don’t kill to either propagate their religion, control other animals and show supremacy.

In Indian theology it is said that a person is born as human after a million+ lives as other creature. Well, few people would not accept this concept because of their way of thinking or conditioning of mind. Why there is harmony in nature but not in our cities, countries? Isn’t it the “cost” we are paying for the opportunities we have got as human beings?

This was topic for Sept 7th 2017 LBC, I wrote after a month. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Ramana uncleji, Ashok and Shackman.

PS – English meaning of Opportunity cost – the loss of other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.

More on opportunity cost as concept of economics at investopedia

Image source – http://www.jamieatlas.com/2008/07/24/stepmill-most-underrated-machine-in-your-gym/

Decision making

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One can make a decision or gets into a situation of decision making only when one has choices. Choices at times spoil us or confuse us.

I would not want to write much when I have a great video to share in relation of this topic – it is about life, choices and decisions.

Decision making is (LBC topic) Loose Bloggers Consortium topic where MariaRummuserAshokShackman and I write. You can visit their blogs and read their thoughts on the topic.