When in need of change…

‘Getting by’ can be a daily struggle. Most of us on this island struggle to get by on an everyday basis. What’s the struggle really? What’s causing it? Is there anything that can be done to avoid or ease it?  

The struggle, no matter what the situation, no matter who the individual, is real. The struggle to live; a content and a comfortable life. Take a look around you – from the man who comes to the door every Monday to pick up the garbage to the employee sitting at her office desk waiting for the next paycheck, are dealing with difficulties every single day of their lives. Money; as we know is hard to come by and yet, spent easily.

It isn’t really about bad management. Us Sri Lankans don’t just waste away our money. Okay, maybe a few of us do. Rather on the wider scale of things, it’s the cost of necessities and the laws of this country that are taking it away as it comes. Atop every necessity required, there’s a tax imposed. Atop savings, there’s yet another tax.

Chairman and Founder of Ceylon Solutions, Marion Mariathasan immigrated to Kansas at the age of 9. He may not have spent most of his years in Sri Lanka, but maintains a close connection as the company’s development team overlooked and managed by CEO Sanjeeva Wijaya, is based here. “I’m very much a Sri Lankan at heart, and I understand there are struggles faced by the middle-class in my motherland. There are core fundamentals, ethics and values in order to develop a successful company. At the root of such a company, lies the hardworking employees. If we don’t give in to the notion of keeping them happy, supporting their ideas and investing in their well-being, then what’s the point?”

Marion Mariathasan

“I’ve come to understand that my most valuable experiences over the years have come from traveling, and the people I’ve had the opportunity to meet and work with. I’ve learned that humility and kindness are virtues I admire the most, and that no matter the level of education, wealth, power and status, everyone is equal. The depreciating rupee value has made me understand that this creates tough living conditions for our local team based in Sri Lanka. Which is why, as a company, we agreed to increase everyone’s salary from the month of November, 2018,” said Marion.

As the cost of living rises, the daily struggles continue. How much is a 1,000 rupee note worth today? If you step outside your home, is it enough to get by? If you aren’t someone who takes public transport, getting from one place to another will cost you more than a couple of rupees. Your three meals will cost you a few more. There are bills to pay. Rent to settle. Taxes that eat away at your bank balance. Children’s education. Personal expenses. The list goes on.

We fail to understand the notion and similarities of every living human. We fail to understand that along with the rise of the cost of living, a stagnant salary isn’t going to suffice. “As a company, we want our employees to have a work environment that is healthy and uplifting; a life that is just so too. An unchanged salary hereon, isn’t going to make the cut when people struggle to make ends meet. We want our employees to live a happy and content life and in order to do that they must also be happy in their workplace. The most important thing is to help one another, give back to the community and this is certainly one way of doing it,” he added.

Marion and I further discussed how passionate and career-driven Sri Lankans can be, and yet why they continue to struggle and get by in life. “People don’t have an incentive to work harder, to be better and to come up with better or new ideas. There’s a hierarchy when it comes to a working environment – something that does not exist within our company. Creating different levels of standards means a junior employee is afraid to voice his or her opinion and is most often simply told what to do, instead of being allowed to grow and express him or herself. We mustn’t restrict our employees this way; we should be encouraging them to speak out, to voice their thoughts and opinions. Myself along with Sanjeeva and the rest of the team believe we should be making them feel valued and important instead of the other way round.”

Most often, businesses and companies tend to fail, have employee containment and job satisfaction issues due to these very reasons. Ceylon Solutions on the other hand believe in putting their employees first – allowing them to feel valued and thereby creating a healthy work environment. Billionaire philanthropist Richard Branson once said “look after your staff first, the rest will follow” and by all means, this rings true.

It’s about time there was a change in attitudes. A change to support one another, not just as employees of a company but as individuals. A change that allows growth, encourages stability, and also brings about a deeper sense of understanding one another. I find that what is most lacking throughout the struggles that we face every single day is empathy. If we have empathy towards one another, then we’d understand one another, and we’d support one another and grow together. Marion and his team at Ceylon Solutions provide a fine example of what empathy can embody and how it can change the lives of the people of our island. Perhaps their actions would someday drive others to do the same.

Ceylon Solutions was founded in 2005 and is based in Denver, with offices in New York City, Dallas as well as Sri Lanka. It is a software development company committed to delivering high-quality development services. Based on each client’s specific needs, the company handpicks a personalized development team of experienced coders and engineers in Sri Lanka, while still operating under US law.  

http://www.ceylonsolutions.com

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What’s the plan?


I met up with a colleague from an ex-work place about four months ago. We talked about how different our lives are from what it used to be just five years ago and where our careers have led us today. After an hour or so, she looked at me intently and asked me “so what’s your plan?” to which I simply stared back. I had a million thoughts running through my head though – what plan, should I have a plan, is it bad that I don’t, what does it mean if I don’t have a plan, should I make up one right now just for the heck of it. I couldn’t think of any one thing that would suffice and instead, I replied with a big fat “no”.

I didn’t think about it much for the next couple of days until two weeks later, yet another person asked me the same question. Once again, I responded with a “no” but this time, I felt a tad concerned about what I had just said. Why didn’t I have a plan? If people are going to ask me about it, perhaps I should? And what does it say about me if I don’t?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that what the question actually posed was “what can I do with my time that’s important and make it fulfilling?”

Finding an answer to this question is a far better one to tackle than the previous one which honestly made me feel like an idiot. I don’t have to sit on my bed contemplating the significance and importance of my life; instead all I have to do is find out what feels important to me, and what makes me happy. And this is exactly what you should find out for yourself too.

You see, because life isn’t about what everyone is posting on social media or what I had for my last meal, or the last time I watched a dumb television series or went to work and felt a bit undervalued. A purposeful life is about the moments that make you forget about the bad things, and instead make you feel like you’ve not lost much time. It fills your hours and days with gratitude for the life you breathe.

I understand that sometimes differentiating work and life isn’t possible. Your passion and drive towards the career you’ve built and are building make it hard to separate and that’s okay. Rather, come to an understanding that they both go hand in hand. This way, every working moment is also fulfilling and will bring you joy. I look at millennials who are a couple of years younger to me and have realized that they tend to blur the line between work and life and strike a balance. Instead of compromising on one, they make sure both complement one another and view it quite holistically.

It is imperative that you spend your time wisely; however, sitting at home, doing nothing every now and then is not such a bad thing either. For many of us, old fashioned complacency can be disastrous; we fall into a routine that serves no purpose, we distract ourselves and end up doing absolutely nothing. I’ve told myself that I want my life input to reflect on my life’s output. As much as I like working hard to receive that paycheck at the end of the month, I also will ensure I put it to good use (add a quarter every month to my savings and spend some of it on traveling and seeing my country). These ideals can change from one person to another, and that’s perfectly alright as long as you find opportunities to be engaged by the challenges that come your way, and you continue to be engaged and energized.

I think I initially panicked because I had forgotten how much of an impact the choices I make in life can have on not just myself, but also the people around me. Know what you value because this will help you understand what’s important to you and how it makes you feel.

Good luck!

In our quest for perfection….


No one truly prepares for that moment and year they turn 30. I say it like it’s a big deal when I bet some of you are possibly thinking that’s not even so, but it is to some; it kind of is, to me. “What do you have planned for your life,” a colleague asked me recently. Plan? I have no plan. Should I? From the moment that question entered my brain, I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Am I not living my best life because I have no plan? How much of a difference is a plan going to make anyway?  

All these questions could be important, or it could be nothing. I could be panicking and overthinking for no reason. You see, everyone lives differently. Everyone’s perspective of how to live life differs and if its nothing like mine, it’s okay. If it’s nothing like yours, that’s okay too. You live your life according to your own pace and if that seems to be working out for you, good on you!

Here’s where the fallout kicks in though; when you overwork yourself, when you’re tired all the time, when you don’t have the time to take a break and go on a vacation, when your lack of efficiency creates issues and hurts your progress with work, when you neglect yourself, when you stop making plans with the people who mean the most to you. In our quest for perfection, we seem to be on a roll to get from A to B, when in reality there doesn’t exist an A or a B. We’ve simply created that in our minds and have conditioned ourselves to believe that’s where we need to be heading.

When I turned 30, I made a few mental goals for myself. It had to be simple (basic goals, nothing too far-fetched) and it had to be things I was willing to work towards, for myself. I want to continue to travel at least once a month. Even if it means an overnight stay somewhere, I want to be able to go to someplace new, have experiences and make memories. I want to take better care of myself and by this I mean both physically and mentally. I want to be kinder to myself and not kick myself when I make mistakes. I’ll learn, I’ll grow; it’s not the end of the world or the death of someone. I want to feed my body good food and also exercise it. Whether its cooking more meals at home or making healthier choices when I dine out, whether its running thrice a week at the park or taking yoga lessons, I want to feel good by doing these things for myself.

I want to progress in my chosen career path as an entrepreneur. I want to prioritize each avenue I’m a part of it, think of ways I can make it grow and have some progress in terms of introducing new product lines, creating own collections, and quite honestly earn a bit more money than I do at the moment. Like everyone else, I’ve bills to pay, essentials to purchase and so on – so yes, even though my current salary would do, it wouldn’t hurt to have a higher pay in the time to come.

I like the idea of moving out of my parents’ home and having a place of my own. However, at this point in my life, I’m not sure how feasible of an idea that is. You’d think that by 30 I should have this figured out, but in my culture, children are most welcome to live with their parents for as long as they like. And as a divorced, single woman, the chances of moving out are slim. It doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen; I do want to work towards it. Fingers crossed.

My friends’ circle keeps getting smaller. I can’t for the life of me understand why. Am I doing something wrong? Maybe I don’t have the patience to tolerate nonsense any longer. I lost one best friend during the time of my divorce – which was almost a year ago. I lost another best friend earlier this year. And I’ve recently detached from yet another due to a bit of miscommunication and lack of confrontation and communicating about it afterwards. Who’s to blame? I can’t point fingers now can I? I could be the one at fault. Regardless of what the reasons and circumstances are, I’m here today with a very small circle of friends – souls I truly value and keep close, who I’ve come to undoubtedly appreciate and who understand me as much as I do them. The lesson here is simple; it doesn’t matter how many friends you have at the end of the day, as long as they have the qualities that complement your friendship and enrich your life. Quality over quantity, always.

I am far from perfect. I don’t strive towards perfection or a perfect life at all. What I want is to simply be happy if not content with my life. 

I’m not looking for a fancy-ass job or a hundred friends to cling to; all I need are connections between souls that inspire me, a chain of events that put a smile on my face, and a mind full of memories that make appreciate every breathe I take.

Letting Go


Admit it, we’ve all had to let go of things in our lives at some point or the other. Whether it’s a person, a feeling, a desire (want or need) or even an object, we as humans are constantly beginning and ending chapters in our lives.  This is normal.

Although age and experience can possibly make the journey easier, no matter how many times, completely letting go can be quite difficult to achieve. As humans, our natural tendency is to focus on ‘what used to be’ or ‘what could have been’ and idealistically though unhealthy, holding onto it as if it was everything we ever wanted.

Unfortunately, the problem is that this notion and holding on can cause more suffering. It does not encourage growth in any form of way or the ideology of moving forward. The ideal situation however be to find a balance between grieving and focusing on the future and things that could be.

If you’re finding it hard to let go of the memory of someone you’ve lost in your life to death, there’s always the opportunity of paying tribute. It could be a family member, a distant relative, a close friend or even your pet companion.

Remind yourself that you are only human, and sometimes it’s okay to cry if you want to. Many times we tend to tell ourselves that tears should not be spent on something that’s lost but this does not help with the process of letting go of something that meant near and dear to us. Allow yourself to grieve. Whether its at the grocery store when you’ve been hit with a memory flashback or while you’re quietly reading a book in your favourite nook, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. If you feel like letting it out with a good cry, do it.

Most often while we grieve for what is lost and what we may never have, we tend to lose focus on what it is that we need. We tend to forget that our lives matter and that we need to pay attention to our mind and body. Take care of yourself; do not lose wind of the importance of inhaling and exhaling. It is the key to our existence. Give yourself time to heal, but also feed your body. Go outdoors and get some fresh air. A walk will help give you a sense of clarity. Do something you are passionate about and puts a smile on your face. Eat your favourite foods.

There is no time constraints on how long you should grieve and deadline to when you should let go. You can do it in your own time but also focus on what you can gain while you do so. Overcoming a sense of sorrow and hardship can mean you are becoming a stronger individual, an open-minded person who has willpower and who is brave.

Ultimately, remember that tomorrow is a new day. It may be and seem difficult to understand but a new day brings new opportunities and with it new experiences.
There’s no denying that perhaps a teeny part of you will hold onto things without 100% letting go, but that’s okay. The trick is not to heavily focus on it or to completely let it take you over.  


Some will find it far more easier to let go than others, but we all have our means and reasons to do so. The biggest misconception of letting go and detaching is as a sign of ignorance, aloofness or even emotional disconnect. But as the Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh once said, letting go is a sign of loving more, not less. It is compassion, and contains a deep sense of concern and more love, not the opposite. In truly letting go, we practice gratitude and there is relief and joy is doing so. A sense of soulful satisfaction.

There is no art to letting go in reality. We all have different directions. Letting go is simply a sense of allowing and being.

Good luck!

A Bit of Happiness


Don’t we all long for it? A little bit of happiness, at least, every single day to keep our zest for life alive? I like to think yes. We all do. But why is it so hard to be happy nowadays? Why is happiness so costly? In today’s world, happiness can cost you time, money, effort and energy, friends, family and even your life. But why is it that we still harness all our might and strength, determination and energy to find it even in the slightest form? I’d like to think because it’s worth it. It has to be right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but why else would we struggle all our lives to find it if otherwise? 

Decisions


In the end, what we all want as humans is to live a good life and be happy. Do it, without harming or hurting others. Falter if you must, and learn from it. Life will always continue to throw hurdles and hardships along the way. Embrace the battle and let go stronger than ever before. Make up your mind about what you want to do in life and strive to achieve just that. And, always remember that this is YOUR life; no one has any right over you and can tell you what to do with it or how to live it. YOU decide that.