Ikigai- The Japanese secret to a long happy life. By Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles

Fun fact: The average life expectancy in India is 69.73 years, USA is 78.54 years and Japan in 84.55 years.

What do you think is the reason for high life expectancy in Japan? Take a moment to think about it.

If you ever wanted to step back, slow things down and contemplate over your life, I’d suggest you to read this book. Ikigai is a short and easy read that delves in about the lifestyle of centenarians in Okinawa Island of Japan.  There are about 35 centenarians for every hundred thousand inhabitants in this island.

What’s even more fascinating about Okinawa are the people and the lifestyle they have chosen for themselves.

This book has an intriguing combination of major life lessons, eating habits, lifestyle and interesting discoveries of Japanese terms.

Ikigai : (Iki & Kai)

It roughly translates to finding the meaning/purpose/ value of life. In a world where people are trying to discover their ‘passion’ and fulfil the meaning of their life, this book is a good headstart.

From what I’ve read, to put it simply the purpose of your life begins by questioning yourself:

  1. What do you love?
  2. What are you good at?
  3. What the world needs?
  4. And finally, what you can be paid for?
Note: *spoilers ahead* I only jotted down some of the thought provoking pointers to not spoil the book for you. 😊

I tried to fit in the major take-aways with some of my favourite advices:

  • Present is all that exists, and is the only thing that we can control.  (Ichi-go ichi-e: 期一会)
  • Things that we love are like the leaves of a tree. They can fall any moment with a gust of wind. Everything that we have, and everyone we love will disappear at some point. We have to be mindful of this, without being pessimistic about it. It should help us love the present moment and those who surround us in this moment. Keeping this in mind helps us to avoid the immense pain in times of loss.
  • A wise person should not ignore life’s pleasures, but should always remain conscious of how easy it is to be enslaved by them. You have to be prepared for those pleasures disappearing in no time.
  • We don’t create the meaning of our life, we discover it.

Secret behind the life of a centenarian:

  • Japanese stop eating when their stomachs are 80% full.
  • Expose yourself to constant change.  As important exercise is to body, so is it to the brain. Lack of activity to the brain stagnates it.
    • That is because, the things you do out of habit forms a neuronal bridges and makes your brain go in automatic mode. That’s why sometimes you zone out while doing the usual things you do.
  • Relax – Slow down a little. Eat and Sleep well. Everything is fine. Life is a marathon, not a 100 m sprint.
  • People who live the longest are not the ones who do most exercises but the ones who move the most. Metabolism slows down 90% after 30 minutes of sitting. After 2 hours, good cholesterol drops 20%. Just getting up for 5 minutes is going to get things moving.
And then there’s the philosophy for perfect life by the Japanese: ‘Wabi sabi – わびさび ‘

It is a Japanese concept that shows us the beauty of fleeting, changeable and imperfect nature of the world around us. Beauty can be found in things that are flawed and incomplete. In fact, they believe that such things resemble the natural world more closely.

Its about accepting & appreciating the complexity and valuing the simplicity of life.

The message is clear, but this book focused on longevity rather than the core concept of Ikigai. The structure of the book does not go with the flow. Either way, I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. If you’re looking for an easy read with positive outlook in life, this is the one. Honestly, it is not a ‘major-new-revelations type of book’ but about the things you already knew.

It enables you to focus more on the simple things. The things you’ve been taking granted for so long.

This book left me wondering, “Has it always been that simple afterall?”

(Image Source: Google)


Honestly, I think my dad makes me street smart, than the college and school combined. But then again  “college is for fun, not for learning” is what Elon Musk says.

I say street smart because I ended up buying a book that costs around 900 INR for 140 INR (although it was an e-book which did cost ~450 INR or so) It counts for some level of smartness. Right?

I’ve wanted to read this book for a year now. I’ve also come to realise there is more to this book than just becoming the first coloured woman to be the first lady of the US. It talks in detail about her childhood, her life at Princeton and Harvard, meeting Mr. Obama, switching careers to fulfill her passion, being a mother and her life in the White house.  It also talks about some of her very private and intimate struggling moments like her miscarriage and having a marriage counselling.

It is a story about a strong-minded girl who grew up to become one of the most powerful and influential black women.

Growing in south side of Chicago, her father was a worker at water infiltration plant (with MS), her mom stayed at home taking care of Craig (her brother) and her who later began working. Her brother was the extroverted, charming basketball player who later went to Princeton. Michelle Robinson was shy and studious kid, liked playing with her barbies, who also followed her brother’s footsteps to Princeton and later got her law degree from Harvard law school.

She talks about her love for jazz ingrained by Southside (her grandfather), loss of her father, her best friend and about the women that have inspired her till today.

She is very meticulous and has a systematic life planned for her over the course of time until one day a man with strange name whose reputation for brilliance preceeds him walked in late to her office and changes her life. This book shows how different Mr & Mrs Obama’s personalities are, their romance is endearing.

Leaving Sidley Austin, a law firm with high paying job to fulfill her passion was a very bold move, in spite of having massive student loans to pay. What left me in awe about this book is how this shy, studious person stood up to bullies and owned her presence in every room she walked into.

Her determination, strong will and compassion is something I wish to acquire someday.

Being continents away with different time zones and not even born. I was unaware of the racism and the geo-economic conditions of the Southside Chicago in early 1970’s until I read this book.  She also talks about male dominated Parliament in her book.

“An ocean of whiteness and an ocean of maleness” is how she describes the congressmen taking their seats while the President addresses a joint session of congress.

From being a Robinson to becoming Obama, from being surrounded by her neighborhood kids to being the only coloured woman in the room, there are several key takeaways from this book that truly inspired me:

  • Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own.
  • Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result – believe in yourself.
  • Do not let the ‘nay-sayers’ get to your head.
  • Own your presence in the room.
  • Life is short and not to be wasted.

Pandemic: A test of time?

Two weeks of inactivity and yet managed to start writing something. That counts as progress, right? If you’re a new reader, Welcome to my blog. 🙂  (This is what I’m talking about:  https://mytwocents.news.blog/2020/05/06/procrastinators-mind-debunked/)

I hope ‘YOU’ reading this is safe, healthy and content amidst this pandemic and so many other things happening around this world. I used the word ‘content’ and not ‘happy’ because happiness is relative. When you are content you’re naturally happy.

To the class of 2020, Congratulations! (From a fellow graduate) Don’t be stressed about your future or offers being rescinded, there are better opportunities ahead of time.

I’ve been avoiding writing about the topics ‘Outbreak of Covid-19’ and ‘Mental Health’ like a plague since the beginning of this pandemic.

  • Because everyone’s talking about it, naturally when I do too, you might ignore it saying ‘just another blogger ranting to get more traffic.’ I completely understand. I’d have thought that too.
  • These topics are extremely sensitive and some of them tend to get butt-hurt about it.

But, I’m also writing this to tell you the facts:

  • As the country fights the pandemic, political parties are busy fighting elections.
  • Doctors are being assaulted for the lack of country’s proper health care systems.
  • Insufficient beds for the positively tested patients around the country.
  • Most of the countries post lockdown, had a tremendous decrease in cases whereas, India has had an exponential surge in cases in just a few weeks alone.
  • Hotspots for Covid-19 cases are failing to quarantine enough the red zones effectively.
  • Mental health of people taking a toll on their lives.

Believe it or not, fighting this pandemic is not just about curing the patients. It shows how well the government functions and a person’s perspective during tough times.

This time period can make anyone feel lonely, depressed or anxious. It’s easy to write about depression in a blog post than recognize it in an individual and make them take proper measures to save them before it’s too late.

You know what depression is and it’s symptoms are. (Please refer to this link to know more about depression: https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/detecting-depression#1)

After all, everyone’s been raving about mental health for a really long time now.  Briefly put, it’s a mood disorder that affects the way you think, feel and behave. (This is not another post on its symptoms and how to recognize it.)

Here’s the real talk. When was the last time you asked someone “How are you?” as not just a conversation starter but really meant it?

Identifying someone is depressed is as important as asking people to open up. You’d not know someone is depressed unless you really are willing to hear them out with an open mind. I’ve heard my friend’s friend commit suicide because of depression. Someone in my nearby locality commit suicide because of depression. Everyday, someone out there is having a thought of ending their lives.

This is what we hear frequently:

A *insert famous name* committed suicide because of depression.”

“A 17 year old jumped off a building because of depression.”

An pregnant woman with no proper facilities killed herself because of depression.”

Real facts aside, this is what’s happening inside the brain of a depressed person depending on the severity of the condition:

In layman terms, it means:

  • Insufficient oxygen to the brain.
  • Structural changes due to shrinking & inflammation.

This causes the imbalance in hormones that regulate the mood in the brain and results in depression. (in simple terms)

Identifying the root cause of a problem is always critical. Because sometimes, being depressed is not just a phase. It might be fatal even before you realised/understood its effects. If you suspect someone is depressed or if you are:

Please seek medical help.

Visiting a psychologist is not taboo.

Having therapy sessions are not taboo.

Life of a person matters more than the societal standards.

With the advancement in technology and changing times, your health determines your success and worth. Not the other way around.

If you have read until this line, thanks a lot for putting in your time to read this post completely. I hope you gained more knowledge than what you already know.

Have a good day y’all! 🙂

WHO estimates that one in four people in the world will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide


Confidence vs Imposter Syndrome. Which one do you have?

I started out mytwocents for three simple reasons:

  1. To spread some insights on little known interesting things.
  2. To have a log of some of my favourite topics.
  3. To see the growth of my writing.

I’ll leave you to judgement. Besides any creative writing, when I blog, I mostly include these minute details – ‘What is it about? How does it matter? and Why am I writing about it?’ in no particular order. But when you dig(read) deeper, I assure you, you will find the answers to it.

Now that we are past the moment of truth, I’ll tell you why I’m telling this. Having confidence wasn’t always easy for me. Most of the times I achieved something, I believed it was because of sheer luck or someone’s bad luck. For example: Recently, I began getting views from different countries and I began thinking “Is something wrong with the wordpress algorithm?” Not so optimistic. I know. 

And so, I went and Googled. Yep, I googled, “Why do people doubt their accomplishment?”  at 2:33am.

It said, ‘Self doubt is an important part of success.’ There was a momentary happiness for a few seconds. Why just a few seconds you ask? I’ll tell you. Going deeper, I came across this term ‘Imposter Syndrome.’  That’s how the momentary happiness vanished into thin air. *evanesco* [Harry potter reference]

Imposter/Fraud syndrome is when a person doubts his/her accomplishment or thinks doesn’t deserve what they’ve got.  

They say confidence is the key to success, and I often think it only leads to, over confidence.  

Did you ever doubt yourself when you started something new or just moments after it came true?

Self doubting your actions/decisions/thoughts provides a room for growth and better insights. But what happens if you constantly doubt yourself over the things you’ve done and decisions you’ve taken?

You know better.  

Imposter syndrome is not because of low confidence or excessive humility.  It is associated with fear of failure and judgement. Let’s go deeper. What’s the root cause of this?

Low self confidence and self-esteem.  Fixing this would solve most of the problem.  Or, atleast I think it will.

Self-confidence is the belief that ‘I AM ABLE TO’ & Self-esteem is belief on identity ‘ I AM’


How do you silence that ‘voice of self doubt’ then?

  • Recognise the imposter feelings: You can’t change the things you don’t have control over.
  • Rewire the thought process into an action plan.
  • Find the reasons for the self doubt: sometimes it can be completely normal and logical to question the things you do. Do not go overboard.
  • Visualise your success: This is something I’ve always read in the books – It strengthens your belief system.
  • Talk: Talk to friends, family and people. Talk your emotions and yourself out of your pitfall(self doubt.)

You will always have your inner critique to protect yourself, don’t let it dominate you.

 If our passion and persistence are great enough, if chance rolls its impartial dice suitably enough – it is a portal to “a brave and starling truth.” ~Ann Druyan.

(and maybe that’s how the imposter feelings vanishes too.)

Things you didn’t know about DID!

A Deal is a deal.

(To know what I’m talking about, click here: https://mytwocents.news.blog/2020/05/06/procrastinators-mind-debunked/)

Dissociative. Identity. Disorder.

(Disorder characterised by the presence of two or more distinct personality states.)

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading a book by Sidney Sheldon- ‘Tell me your dreams.’ Spoiler alert: This book is about DID and you wouldn’t have known about it until you’re done halfway through the book. It’s about a woman named Ashley Patterson, a workaholic designer who lives with two alters within her – Toni Prescott (extroverted singer) & Alette Peter (shy artist) I’m not going to breakdown the plot to you. But the point is, this book talks about DID and its treatment. It shows how Ashley gets rid of her alters by conquering her fears. A must read if you want to know more about DID in detail from the protagonist’s perspective.

We have other Indian thriller movies like Anniyan(Tamil) aka Aparichitudu (Telugu) and Chandramukhi/Bhoothnath that has given a glimpse of DID and well received by the audience.

If you’re not really a fan of Indian movies or from India for that matter, we also have Fight club, Identity, Glass and Split showing what DID is.These movies don’t do justice to what actually DID is in real life. For the most part at least, these movies have made a negative impact, calling out the patients as bipolar, dangerous and schizophrenic, which they’re not.

Here are some myths that everyone believes to be true:

Myth1:They’re faking it to run away from situations.

For a long time (until 1980) people thought it did not exist and the patients were faking it and did not exactly know how to treat them.

Myth2:DID people are  dangerous.

These people lead a normal life just like the others. Only the movies portray them to be violent.

Myth3:The alters are extreme and very different.

The alters depend on the trauma faced by the patient and their defense mechanism to the trauma. Some may have two alters while the others may have more than fifteen.

Myth4:It’s just in books and movies. It’s not real.

DID is very rare, and there are people living with it getting their treatment to know the cause of alters in their lives.

Here’s what you need to know about DID:

  • It is caused due to a childhood trauma as a defense mechanism to protect themselves.
  • A person with DID has a frequent gaps in their lives taken over by their alters. It could either be for a few days or a few months. (Dissociative Amnesia.)
  • The affected individuals may have symptoms like confusion, sense of losing time, out of character behavior.
  •  They are usually treated by Psychotherapy, medications, hypnosis and cognitive behavioral therapy.

But what’s more important?

These treatments are done to explore the feelings, thoughts and experiences in a safe environment. This is done to know the reason for the existence of alter/s and to make the individual aware of their trauma.

Most of the times these individuals, are misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia and are given neuroleptics. Doesn’t help and doesn’t work.

Here comes the last question,

“So why write about something that I could have searched by myself? “

Not many are aware of DID. We never know what was someone’s childhood like- abusive, traumatic, happy or sad. Besides, there are times when someone notices the symptoms in others and brushes it off as a sign of anxiety or stress.  

The rate of DID is 0.01% to 1% of general population.  Which precisely means there could be atleast(minimum) 750,000 people with DID and may not even know it.

Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom. Sharing it, is the first step to humanity.”              



A glimpse on what DID in real life is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0kLjsY4JlU

To know more about DID: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dissociative-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20355215

(Image Courtesy: Google)

Procrastinator’s Mind- DEBUNKED!

Are you binge watching TV series instead of working? Are you not able to start your project until its deadline arrives? Don’t worry mi amigo, you’re not alone. And hey, you’re also welcomed to ‘The Procrastinator’s Club.‘ In fact I have an exam day after tomorrow, but I decided to write this blog instead of studying. Happens to the best of us.

Funny isn’t it, we try to evade things until the last moment and then rush and stress about completing it on time. I opened chrome to study. Instead googled – ‘Famous Procrastinators in the World.’ I kid you not, its a real thing. And that led to the inspiration for this post. You’ll be surprised to see the one’s on the list. Okay now, don’t go googling who they’re I’ve already added the link below this post. (You’re welcome.)

Procrastination (/prə(ʊ)ˌkrastɪˈneɪʃ(ə)n/) : The act of delaying/postponing things.

There will be at least 20% of you claiming ‘I don’t procrastinate at all. Why are you making it a big deal?’ God bless and Kudos to you. How do you do that?

For the rest 80% it’s okay, don’t be disappointed.There are a lot more people like you. My time in college, staying in hostel gave me lots of free time, but most of it was spent procrastinating and the rest completing assignments pulling an all nighter. In my defense, that’s how the engineering colleges in India work. Here’s the thing though, I didn’t choose to procrastinate. It just happens and sometimes you just don’t know how to undo it.

I watched several videos on how not to and landed upon Tim Urban’s TED talk and the gratification monkey. He uses the Eisenhower (By: Dwight D Eisenhower) and procastinators matrix to explain the mentality.

He says completing the Q2 quadrant is what helps us thrive and grow as an individual and get things done. But we (procrastinators) follow Q1 & Q3.

Maybe digging deeper into this matter will make us more productive. There are possible common reasons for doing so: fear of being judged, fear of failure, anxiety, peer-pressure etc. Your subconscious mind knows why you’re procrastinating. You just have to think deeper. And Voila, problem solved!

Agreed, it’s not that easy.  If it were, I wouldn’t have written this blog after such a long gap and just a day before my exam. You wouldn’t have binged watched on that series either.

It takes a lot of will power and determination to get started on things ahead of time. Suppressing your temporary pleasures for the future benefit is a huge deal. On the contrary you can do something to reduce your procrastination slowly:

  1. Use Pomodoro technique:

2. Remind yourself of your future goals constantly.

3. Break down your target to mini goals.

4. Journal everyday to know your productivity.

5. Create a routine with sufficient time to relax and get work done. Be fixated on getting things done.  

Easier said than done If its that easy why don’t you start doing them first?

~ your inner voice.

You were thinking that.(Weren’t you?) Let’s make a pact together for getting things done efficiently. I’ll post content every week and you read them every week AND hustle harder. Not just before your deadline or because of your sudden adrenaline rush.


 As I promised earlier, Footnotes:


(Image courtesy: Google)

PS: embracing that you procrastinate is the first step to get rid of it.

Good luck fighting the demons.


(Disclaimer: This is not to disrespect any country in particular. Just an anecdote to state the author’s views.)


It’s not Chinese. It’s not Japanese or Vietnamese either. You think I’m bluffing? Probably.

Just kidding, I’m not. It’s Korean. It’s pronounced as ‘Sogae’ which means Introduction.

I’m not sure if you have noticed, but the header of this website reads, ‘The Unpopular Opinions’- Discomfort of thoughts and it does so, for a reason close to my heart. Well, reasons. But nevermind.

I once wrote a blog post about ‘Racism: Not Just a Black and White Issue’ in 2016, I know it was a really long time ago. It was about how racism was not just restricted in the US against the blacks but prevalent everywhere. And also how no one really spoke about it upfront in India.

Fun fact: This dude from Nevada seemed to be in a really good mood that day and decided to comment saying, ”You Asians are greedy. We give you so many opportunities and yet, you talk about racism. Go back to your homeland.

I know what you’re thinking.
1. How do you know he’s from Nevada?
2. How does he know if you live in India or in the US?

Well, that’s because he wrote a long ass paragraph complaining how there were so many Indians in Nevada (where he lives) and I’m still not grateful for the opportunities his amazing country was providing. And Asians dominating the US. Also, he didn’t seem to mind telling me, nobody cares about my opinion Gee, thanks buddy.

Long story short he was being cranky and a pain in the ass, who also assumed I lived in the same country as him. Clearly he didn’t pay attention to the title, let alone to what I wrote. Eventually people were having mixed opinions and commenting about it. The comments section had a longer thread than I imagined it to be.

Seventeen year old me couldn’t comprehend if what I wrote had offended him or he was just being mean. I deleted my blog the next day and made other blog of mine private. Looking back at it, I should have done something. Reported his comment or just ignored it.

I stopped writing for a while, considering how one small post backfired on me. But then again it got me thinking, What are opinions anyway? Why do people have different perspectives? What role does upbringing, environment and mind play in forming opinions and thoughts?

Over a few years, psychology and medicine began to interest my curious mind. Although I’m an undergraduate in Engineering Biotechnology, I began reading on different aspects of it and finally realised, what better way could it be than to curate them all in a blog.

The Unpopular opinion should have begun a long time ago. Turns out I chickened out because I’m not really good at taking criticism. And hence the delayed start.

Positive and negative criticism are always welcomed with open arms. If you’ve been reading until this point. It means a lot! Thank you and have a grand day.

PS: I’m always open to a good discussion on Neuroscience, Psychology and Medicine. Feel free to comment or reach out.

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