Publisher: Wisdom Tree
Published in: 2010
Price: Rs.245 (discounted to Rs. 201 at Flipkart)
Category: Non-Fiction, Self-help
Sonal Kalra is an Indian Journalist who recently received the coveted Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award 2012! No wonder, I would say, she totally deserves such awards. She writes a weekly column in HT City, a daily supplement to Hindustan Times. The column is all about little (or not so little) troubles and things that stress us out in our daily lives, providing rational tips to deal with stress and embrace calmness, with an element of fun and humor. It's not like the regular cliched columns where they give straight tips that are boring to read; the use of wit, measured sarcasm and humor, and practical points that we probably already know, but need reminders, are the uniqueness factors that add charm to this column.
About the book (and my review)
A Calmer You is a compilation of 63 articles from the weekly column, sub-divided into seven different sections, similar and related articles being under one section.
This section has articles on stress factors related with people we love. Be it kids, spouse, parents, siblings, close relatives, distant relatives, friends, ex-friends, you'll find calmness tips for so many common problems everyone faces in their lives! My favorite chapters include:
- Life in Circles (talks about prioritizing people and work in your life.)
- Learn to say "No, Thank You" (I so needed this! If you're stuck with someone who's getting on you with unnecessary hassles, say 'No'!)
- Shut up and Listen (about those annoying souls who don't let others speak)
- My Lovable Monster (If there's a category of 'my favorites' withing My favorites, I would give this chapter the position! Talks about parents worrying over how their kid behaves in public. I loved the way she described her own cute little daughter's antics!)
- Be a hero at home (why we should be at our best behavior even at home, and not just at work and in public!)
Dealing with everyday stress-giving situations that most people face. About not laughing enough, going overboard, making hurried decisions, about parking problems, being late, forgiveness, finding calmness, mannerisms, neighbors, partying, dining, Diwali, house maids, or keeping resolutions!! Though I loved all the chapters, I greatly enjoyed reading:
- Maid in India (for its humor and light way of seeing a problem relevant to so many of us. I thought I wouldn't ever stop laughing!).
- Three Magic Words (The bottom-line was "It doesn't matter". The words the author used sometimes ring in my head when I'm facing nervousness due to a problem- 'A particular person or incident that has disturbed you doesn't really matter in the overall scheme of life').
3. Work is Worry-ship
Talks about stress faced at work- about hiring/firing, taxes and filing, working at BPOs, dealing with immediate hurdles or bosses! My favorite chapter here is:
- Deal with it...now ('Follow the thirty-second rule in life. Don't postpone anything which can be dealt within thirty seconds of it coming to your notice'. Piling up stuff that can be dealt with, adds to the stress.)
4. Stress Study-stics
Ha! About problems and problems and problems related with "studies"! Be it the dreaded board exams, or the pressure to achieve more 'marks', admissions, exam results or dealing with high expectations, each chapter delves into the truths about a student's life and states certain warm tips about not freaking out over little stuff like 'marks', which generally do not matter in the overall scheme of life. (That's what it said and that's what we need to know :) ).
5. News and don'ts
Even news telecasts give us stress, right? What's the point of getting glued to the TV watching gruesome scenes of a gruesome terror attack and getting panic attacks yourself, when you know you can't help the affected people? It's important to know the news, but not necessary to watch a four day live telecast.
6. Tech my Stress away
Technology sure has made lives easier, but has also brought its stress-inducing characteristics along with it. The chapters here talk about little irritations that arise out of technologically advanced devices, like cell phones. My favorite chapter was 'The trin-trin monster', that talked about how, even at casual dinners, people seem to be glued to their Blackberrys and ignore the real people sitting two feet across from them! "There's a switch off button designed in every phone. Use it!" (a lot of people need to learn this!).
7. The Burning Strain
When stress catches you and affects your body and mind. About loving ourselves, achieving inner peace, having a good night's sleep, facing competition, procrastinating, and many more. I would say this whole section was the best among all. For instance, 'Tomorrow never comes' tells us why procrastination is bad and 'Are you a star' brings a heart warming story of a little boy, who's so positive even dealing with a disability.
This book has calmness tips written in simple, yet thought provoking language, that all of us can identify with. Such practical insights coupled with wit and humor (aided by her characters like the property agent, Chhadha ji, neighbor Bubbly Aunty, MNC friend Jayant and dhabawallas Pappu Singh and Chottu). Witty and ironical punchlines at the end of each chapter brings a smile on the reader's face. All I can say is I would recommend this book to everyone!
PS- I've had the wonderful fortune to meet Miss Sonal Kalra personally- twice! Apart from her writings that has me hooked to the weekly column, her warm smile, kind words and humble personality has made me a big fan! <See my signed copy of the book? ;)>