Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Happy-Health-Hope-HeadMy Latest Article for Women published on http://www.sheroes.com on 2nd August, 2016

Be Happy, Healthy & Hopeful: Three Things Women Must Aim For

Recently, I was delivering a session for research scholars at an IIT, and I was happy to see that around 25% of attendees were women. After the session, we were informally discussing the priorities of life. To remain hopeful is a challenge, said one of the girls.

It had me thinking about what women should aim for.

As mentioned in my book Why women are what they are, I believe women lead two lives–an internal ‘dream life’ and an external visible life. They do things more out of expectation and not out of intention.

There are women who act according to family norms, social etiquette and worry about how others will perceive them. There are women who solitarily nurture their inner self and do not bother about people, society, and norms whatsoever. There are women who are aware of both lives and they balance them both, gradually converging the internal and external lives.

Since women are mentally and emotionally far stronger than men, they tend to ignore their mental and emotional well-being.  In societies and communities of India, men are expected to give financial support while women are expected to provide all the other support. With a lot of stereotypes biting the dust in this digital age, we need to reaffirm and reset our priorities.

Besides money required for sustaining ourselves, women must take care of our happiness, health and hope:

Happiness

Most women concentrate on taking care of their families, their homes and neglect themselves. The are so consumed–in maintaining a perfect home, looking after their spouse and kids, balancing jobs, elder care–that they are too tired to look within. They suffer from a burnout as they do things to fulfil expectations; not because they want to.

Women remain unhappy as they allow others to take over. They believe in the image of themselves as created by their near and dear (?) ones, which could be strikingly different from their real selves.

In Rajasthan, I would come across many women who thrived on adventure, loved to experiment but lived a conservative, orthodox life stagnating in a time warp. Women remain unhappy when they ruminate. They keep going back to painful memories of the past and keep rewinding them for daily consumption. It keeps the pain alive.

As they start enjoying their emotionally drained status, women start enjoying unhappiness. It is not only unfair; it is illogical too. Women must work towards forgetting the pain inflicted in any form and start living happily in the present. We need to choose to stay happy.

Health

Women ignore their health because they are deeply engrossed in making each day a perfect day for their families. They keep postponing the regular check-ups and they keep thinking that diseases happen to others. It is hard to detect depressed women as they don’t admit to their mental agony or issues that they can’t sort out on their own.

Women should remember that ‘tomorrow is a disease’ when it comes to exercising and health check-ups. Today is the time to begin, and it should be adhered to every year.

Women need to be aware of their family history and diseases that they are predisposed to. Neglecting health is one of the biggest disservices that women can do to themselves, because men are always taken care of when it comes to health.

There is no age to start taking care of your health. It is our daily duty towards ourselves to eat healthy, on time and to exercise.

Hope

Women get disappointed more, because they are deeply connected to the lives of so many family members–parents, husband, kids, siblings–and something keeps going wrong somewhere all the time.

It is so important for women to keep their spirits high and help others stay hopeful. A friend of mine recently had her nephew hospitalised with a kidney ailment. At the same time, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer. As she was busy helping her mother and brother, she felt guilty of not looking after her teenage daughter well. It lasted more than a year and she felt so low on hope.

Women need their daily dose of hope to sail through myriad responsibilities they eagerly shoulder. Friends, audiobooks and books can be the greatest disappointment-buster for women. Talking to friends and asking for help gives strength and stamina to march on.

Search for HOPE, strive for HAPPINESS and work towards your HEALTH before thinking about the next task.

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Being Emotionally Intelligent Is Important – Part 2

Emotional Intelligence 2.jpgMy this article was first published on www.sheroes.in on 28th May, 2016

While attending an Executive Education Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Governance, we were given an emotional intelligence test – http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/mite/ wherein we were shown a pair of eyes with four choices of emotions being depicted by that pair of eyes. We were shown 20 pairs, 10 seconds each to tick the answer we felt was right.

The top five scorers were women and the highest score was a seventeen over twenty. A higher score meant a higher & deeper understanding of other people. In other words, it showed the higher emotional intelligence of women.

While the previous article emphasized on self-awareness and self-management, I will focus on remaining two parameters of emotional intelligence – social awareness and social skills in this article.

Social Awareness: Women are conditioned to put others before them. They think about needs of their family members before their own. When they walk into corridors of power, they still think about other team members, subordinates and staff members before themselves. Women leaders empathise better than the male counterparts and it becomes their asset. They put themselves in others’ shoes and understand their stories. They care more and their actions reflect their empathy. Apart from empathy, social awareness includes organizational awareness and service – orientation.

It has always been an area of concern that number of women at senior levels in any organization is negligible as compared to the number of women at the entry level. Though the reasons cited for this anomaly are many, ranging from ‘their family responsibilities’ to ‘their lack of ambition’, I feel that women lack organizational awareness – the ability to read the currents of organizational life, build decision networks and navigate politics. It is further fueled by attitude of men in senior positions who do not take conscious interest in mentoring women professionals.

From the beginning of their careers, women need to keep voicing their career plans. They should distinguish between long term and short term goals and build their profile and make networking a routine and priority activity.

Many women have conveyed it through their experiences that male bonding during informal get-togethers, off sites impacts decision making, tuning the women contenders out of major assignments. We, as women, must keep pushing gently into organizational politics by staying aware about what is happening around.

What women lose in organizational awareness, they make up for it through their excellent service orientation. Being excellent at recognizing others needs, they gauge customers’ needs better and ensure customer satisfaction.

Chanda Kochar & Shikha Sharma, mentored by ICICI’s Ex-Chairman KV Kamath are known for their excellent service orientation.

Young working women must keep their social awareness high by being empathetic, service oriented and aware about organizational networks and politics.

Social Skills: Emotional Intelligence gives an edge to a working woman and sets her apart from the rest. A woman like Sheryl Sandberg is extremely emotionally intelligent as she manifests superb social skills. She shows visionary leadership by inspiring others with her compelling vision.

She has started “Lean In Circles” which are small peer groups that meet regularly to learn and share from working women. A circle can be a monthly round table at a member’s house, a regular lunch or even a virtual meet–up. I see many enterprising young women in the digital space who are providing much needed support to young women entrepreneurs on sites like Mompreneurs India and many such groups. These groups have thousands of young women members who act as catalysts for each other and support each other to excel.

Indian women should strive to create a unified voice which communicates ‘a clear passionate wish for professional advancement’. Since many women do not promote each other, get into petty arguments, they lose the big chunk of professional pie. A network of emotional intelligent women would be high on communication. ‘Women talk in kilograms but communicate in milligrams’ is the general conventional idea which needs to change.

We, as women, must develop listening skills and skills to send clear, convincing and well – tuned messages.

If women become better conflicts managers, nobody would be able to hinder their career goals. It is important for us to learn to de-escalate disagreements and orchestrate resolutions. Being assertive but not aggressive is the key to express our emotions in a dignified manner.

Digital development has enabled women to network with ease and stay abreast with everything happening around them. Earlier, a woman at home would be disconnected from the professional front and thus lagged behind after a few years.

Now, a woman who decides to extend her maternity break or takes a sabbatical for adolescent children/elderly parents stays in touch with her colleagues and connects with many others through different online groups, meet-ups and blogging sites.

A Mom Bloggers Club connects more than 23,000 women online to give them a global exchange of ideas and support.

Groups of women entrepreneurs on social networking sites empower them to showcase their business products and services while staying at home. Enterprising women are ready to network with other women through these online enablers which are transparent and ethical. The admins of such groups ensure that rules are obeyed by all community members. They manage the groups with utmost sincerity and focus.

Know yourself, dwell deep within to discover yourself, connect with people, offer your empathy and understanding, create your online and offline presence, feel confident and act motivated wherever you are.

It is not difficult for a woman to practice emotional intelligence if she decides to do so. What are you waiting for?

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I am an Author, Entrepreneur, Motivational Speaker, Parenting expert based in Mumbai. Having written Bestsellers like Don’t Raise Your Children, Raise Yourself (Amazon Bestseller), Why Women Are What They Are, Come On! Get Set Go

 I am running Life Lemonade which offers unique Training Programs on Life Transformation, High Performance Leadership, Women Issues and Parenting.

Connect with me on Linkedin, Twitter @drswatilodha Facebook

Also read my best articles here!

Menstrual Health Start-ups – Anchoring a social revolution

Menstrual HealthMenstrual Health Startups look at solving much ignored problems that all women face, especially among the rural and socioeconomically backward populace.

During my sessions with startup enthusiasts across the country, I try to inspire them to look for a worthy problem to solve rather than copy a profitable but hackneyed venture.

Problem solving endeavors in spaces of waste management, solar energy, education in rural areas, emergency health services, etc., are breaking new grounds and giving new meaning to social innovation.

Menstrual Health Startups are creating a much needed but ignored innovation space. They are extremely welcomed because:

Only 12% Indian women have access to menstrual products

According to a 2011 survey by A.C. Nielsen, only 12% of women in India use menstrual products. Use of sanitary napkins is unimaginable by a majority of Indian women due to its cost. There are certain startups like Sarala Designs, co-founded by Suhani Mohan which manufacture economically priced sanitary napkins as well as vending machines.

Menstrual man of India, an amazing social innovator, Arunachalam Muruganantham made a sanitary pad machine patented under his name.

He has been using these machines to spread the use of sanitary napkins in the interior most rural areas of poor states in India.

I wonder why no Government initiative or a startup scales it up. Can’t the disruptive work done by likes of Suhani and Muruganantham be quickly scaled up to reach the 88% of Indian women population suffering every month

Poor menstrual hygiene leads to most reproductive diseases

Around 70% of all reproductive diseases in India are caused by poor menstrual hygiene. Awareness about reasons behind menstruation is very low and it is considered a big taboo to talk about it. A long list of cultural don’ts are faced by girls during this period. It not only causes physiological problems but also psychological trauma for girls and women.

They are considered impure and outcastes during these days and the sources to give right information and purposeful awareness are negligible.

Aditi Gupta and her husband Tuhin founded Menstrupedia, a portal with a comic book to cover everything around menstruation. Their path breaking work through menstrupedia.com has helped thousands of girls and women to be aware about this natural process which has nothing to be ashamed about.

Products like sanitary pad incinerator have demand and can go a long way in managing waste properly.

Tracking periods can help in preventing/planning a pregnancy

For better management of time and health, LoveCycles, founded by John Paul, is an easy period tracker which predicts symptoms, moods and can also guide about days most likely to lead to pregnancy. It helps busy women to get reminders about pills or any medication related to the premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Not only this, it allows women to keep a history of each monthly cycle which helps them to gauge any change indicative of any disease.

Such innovations will be landmarks in influencing health of women and giving them a sense of owning their own bodies, its natural processes with confidence and ease.

These are not just innovations but steps towards a social revolution.

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Image source: rural Indian woman by Shutterstock.

This article was first published by www.womensweb.in on 07th Apri, 2016http://www.womensweb.in/2016/04/menstrual-health-start-ups-social-revolution/