Saturday, 19 November 2016

Tearing up

From the first moment we took the clean fresh breath we have started it with a cry. The trembling of the lips, scrunching of the face and here comes the water works. 

Till a certain age, the only communication we had with the outside world was through crying. As babies we cried if we were hungry, sleepy, poopy, droopy, uncomfy and just for the sake of it. But as we grow we add other expressions and crying becomes just one of those expressions.

But it will always remain as one of our strongest expressions. So strong that we cry not only when we are sad, we cry when we are angry, when we are happy, when we are humiliated, frustrated, when we feel we are cornered, when we see others cry, when we see a movie.. Sometimes just seeing a puppy is enough for someone to tear up.

But Why Do We Cry ??

Crying is a part of our being a human being love it or hate it, it is going to happen now and then. But what triggers it, what happens when you are crying ... get your tissues ready its a tearing article here at unravelingzz today. 

Crying can be defined as shedding of tears as an emotional response. There is also a non emotional crying called "lacrimation". But the tear ducts and muscles used for both types are the same. To say the plumbing for both water works are same. 

Now this lacrimal system (think like it is your inbuilt ganga water supply) is both the one which creates and drains tears. You remember that film of tear formed when you saw that old cat befriending a blind puppy and you blink fast to avoid it from falling down, thats when it drains down the lacrimal system or a tear duct. But when  you going through a huge emotional outburst the small duct cannot handle the tsunami of your tears and it overflows. 

Because our body is such incredibly complex engineering system, we don't make just one type of tear. Actually there are three types of tears.

Basal tears are the lubricant which keeps your eye hydrated and clean. 

Reflex tears are the tears which are released to wash out toxins, particles and irritants from your eye. Like you cry when you cut onions or tears form when dust particles enter your eye

But the most well known are Psychic tears, these are the tears produced in response to that strong emotions you may experience from stress, pleasure, anger, sadness and suffering to indeed, physical pain. Psychic tears even contain a natural painkiller, called leucine enkephalin - perhaps, part of the reason why you might feel better after a good cry.

We know why the first two tears happen. But why do we cry for strong emotions even for happiness??

Crying serves as an emotional release when there is a buildup of energy with feelings. But it can also be a survival mechanism. When you cry, its a signal you need to address something.  

Crying may have a biochemical purpose. It's believed to release stress hormones or toxins from the body. After something triggers an emotional response - the endocrine system, responsible for producing hormones through its array of glands, releases hormones to the ocular area and causes your eyes to fill up with tears. 

Although many animals cry out when they are in pain or emotionally distressed, humans remain the only known species that produces actual tears. Evolutionary theorists think that the purpose for this wasn't just to release chemicals, but to signal to other humans that we were in pain and trigger their sympathy. 

Recent psychological studies have determined that crying stimulates our brain's endorphin release, the "feel good" hormones that also act as a natural pain killer. Even though the problem may still persist after you've cried it out, there's no doubt that the act of crying allows for an overall release of bad emotion. This allows us to think clearer about the problem and help us find our logic. (which magically stops working when you are crying) 

But the sad part is crying has been always stigmatized in society for both sexes. If SHE cries it's because she is manipulative, unstable, wreck or needs attention from others. If HE cries, he is a crybaby, unmanly, coward, or a wuss. As you don't hide your smile when you are happy, or your anger when you are frustrated, you don't hide your frown when you are irritated, Why hide your tears when you want to cry. 

Here are some of the benefits of crying

1. Releases toxins : "What soap is for the body, tears are for the soul" - Old proverb. Crying does not only mentally cleanse us, it can cleanse our body too. Tears produced by stress help the body get rid of chemicals that raise cortisol, the stress hormone

2. Crying helps you come to terms with a loss: "To weep is to make the depth of grief" - Willian Shakespeare. 

3. Being unafraid to cry makes you strong. 

4. Boosts communication : Crying can show what words cannot express, especially in a relationship. It happens most times when you shouting or really upset you just cannot put the depth of your feelings in words and end up crying. 

5. It is said that tears kills bacteria. Tears contain the fluid lysozyme - also found in human saliva - that can kill 90 to 95% of all bacteria in just five to 10 minutes. 

In the same way consequences of not crying is actually adverse. "A sorrow that has no vent in tears makes other organs weep" - Sir Willian Boyd

If you suppress your tears more often then you may be on the road to depression. You will always be upset due the things boiling inside you. Those who suppress emotions and cannot cry maybe jeopardizing their physical health. 

So if you are one of those who cry at the drop of a hat or you don't remember when you last cried. Don't cringe from expressing your emotions through a tear or two. Now that medical field is advancing and educating people that mental health is as important and precious as physical health, we should break the social barriers where crying is ridiculed, where men (in some cases women) are humiliated for crying and show sympathy to those who don't cry. With the dawn of therapy and heavily prescribed feel good medications, we should all be more appreciative of our biological ability to cry and take full advantage of the natural anxiety - reliever it is. 

Its time we said "It's ok to cry, let go of those tears. You will feel good" rather than "Oh don't be a cry baby".

P.S : There also something called as "secondary gain" cry or Crocodile tears. Where a person cries to gain sympathy from the other and do their bidding. Beware of it.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Murphy's law states....

Whenever something goes wrong, which was not supposed to go wrong. I curse Murphy for his laws. 


Murphy's law states : "If anything can go wrong, it will"

Remember the time you stood in line for more than an hour and observe that the other queue is moving faster than yours. The moment you change your lane, the line you were standing moves faster. Yeah this is the classic example of Murphy's law. 

Made me wonder. Who was this Murphy ?? and how did this law came to be about??

Origin of Murphy's law:

Murphy's law was born at Edwards Air force base in 1949 at North base. It was named after Captain Edward A. Murphy, an engineering working on Air force project MX981 (a project) designed to see how much sudden deceleration a person can stand in a crash.

One day, after finding that a transducer was wired wrong, he cursed the technician responsible and said, "if there is any way to do it wrong, he'll find it."

The contractor's project manager kept a list of "laws" and added this one, which he called Murphy's law.

Actually what he did was take an old law that had been around for years in a more basic form and give it a name.

Shortly afterwards, the Air Force doctor (Dr.John paul stapp) who rode a sled on the deceleration track to a stop, pulling 40 Gs, gave a press conference. He said that their good safety record on the project was due to a firm belief in Murphy's law and in the necessity to try and avoid it. Aerospace manufactures picked it up and used it widely in their ads during the next few months, and soon it was being quoted in many news and magazine articles. Murphy's law was born.

Even though this theory is famous in the name of Murphy's law, the original name for "if anything can go wrong it will" was sod's law because it would happen to any poor sod who needed such a catastrophic event the least. 

Murphy's law has been interpreted in many ways and in many subjects, Even though it was coined to be more vigilant and positive towards doing something. But it is frequently used to explain that the situation is outside the hand because Murphy's law was working.

Now a days you find versions of Murphy's law in every field. 

Some of the hilarious Murphy's law rendition are these ( my personal favourites) 

 * If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

* Availability is a function of time. The minute you get interested is the minute they find someone else.

* The time a teacher takes in explaining is inversely proportional to the information retained by students.

* In your toughest final exam, the most distractingly attractive student in class will sit next to you for the first time.

* The examination paper is always easier when you are not taking it

* Success occurs when no one is looking, failure occurs when the client is watching

* There is always a way and it usually doesn't work.

* Never lie to your mother. And if you do, never think you got away with it.

* Everything is a good idea till your mother finds out and tells you why it isn't

* The more times mother reminds you to take an umbrella, the greater the probability of rain.

* If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.

* A falling object will always land where it can do the most damage.

* After you bought a replacement for something you've lost and searched for everywhere, you'll find the original

* Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he will believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he'll have to touch to be sure.

* If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers it.

* The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act 

* Any tool, nut, bolt, screw when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner 

There are hundreds of Murphy's law variations. But it all originated from one sentence. The irony of Murphy's law is if you remember the law, the chances of it acting is very less.

So no matter what you are doing, Am sure there is something that can go wrong in it, so be prepared.

P.S.  : In nature, nothing is ever fully right. Therefore if everything is going right.. something is wrong.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Making a memory

Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it. - Michel de Montaigne

As soon as I read this, I was like Oh my God, this person is brilliant. Because even though I can't remember where I kept my keys (everyday), I can't seem to forget the bitter memories of my life. 

Makes me wonder how does my memory actually work, how does it store those moments of embarrassment just to torment me at odd times. Well I started on a research spree for this and found amazing and interesting stuff about how our memory works. 

From the time we understood we remember things we have wondered how it happens. It has been compared to filing cabinet, post its and even a book. I just wish it was that simple. But it has been found that memory is not stored in any one place in our brain. It is a brain wide process to remember something. 

For example, the most simple act of riding a bicycle comes from different parts of the brain. The memory of how to operate the bike comes from one area, while the memory of how to get from one point to another comes from another, safety rules is remembered from another part and fear we feel in traffic is yet another. 

Your "memory" is really made up of a group of systems that each play a different role in creating, storing and recalling your memories. All the different systems work together perfectly to provide cohesive thought. In fact, experts tell us there is no firm distinction between how you remember and how you think.

But this doesn't mean that scientists have figured out exactly how the system works. The search for how the brain organizes memories and where those memories are acquired and stored has been a never ending quest among brain researchers for decades.  But right now this is what they have figured out.

Encoding is the first step of creating a memory. The brain receives information from all the senses and these sensations move to a part of the brain called hippocampus (and no it is not a hippo dancing in the campus :P). After receiving this information hippocampus with another part of the brain called frontal cortex analyses this and decides whether this is worth remembering. If so then this memory becomes a part of your long term memory. 

Consider, for example, the memory of the first person you ever fell in love with. When you met that person, your visual system likely registered physical features, such as the colour of eyes and hair. Your auditory system may have picked up the sound of their laugh. You probably noticed the scent of their perfume. You may even have felt the touch of their hand. All this information collected by different senses will be stored as a single memory.

To properly encode or store a memory, you must first be paying attention. Since you cannot pay attention to everything all the time, most of what you encounter every day is simply filtered out. This is the reason you might remember birthday of a long lost friend but forget what you had for breakfast in the morning. If you stored every single thing that you noticed, your memory would be full before you even left the house in the morning. 

But I wondered does our brain store memories from our birth. But if so then how is it that I can't remember most of my early childhood. This is called infantile amnesia  and  Researchers have attributed it to the child's lack of self perception, language or other mental equipment required to encode memories. Also hippocampus and pre-frontal cortex which are essential to store memories are underdeveloped. It is also argued that rapid growth of new neurons in young brain blocks access to old memories and in particular as new neurons integrate they remodel hippocampus circuits, and the remodeling may lead to degradation of information stored in these circuits. So even though sensations are stored it is blocked from access by new neural pathways.

Once a memory is created, it must be stored (no matter how briefly). Brain stores first in sensory stage, then in short term memory and ultimately for some memories in long term memory. The more the information is repeated or used, the more it will be stored in long term memory. People tend to more easily store material on subjects that they already know something about, since the information that is already stored in their long term memory. 

Which takes us to next question as to why we forget certain things very easily, like names. It is found that our brain is hardwired to recognize facial details like eye colour, smile, length of the nose etc., But names are random and hold no particular information to them, the brains struggles to retain them. When you meet people for the first time, you have little to no context about them outside that brief introduction, so their names typically go in one ear and out the other. 

It is found that we can remember emotionally charged memories more easily than anything. Because when our senses are over firing the brain attaches it to that particular information and stores it. As the same part of the brain which processes our senses is also responsible, at least in part, in storing emotional memories. 

Our senses and memories have a very strong connection. In all our senses smell is known as memory sense, we are less likely to forget something which is related to a strong smell. If I say garbage, you nose crinkles remembering the god awful smell and am sure a image of over flowing garbage pops up in your mind.

But how do we lose memories? 

There are several factors that contribute to bad memory, including age, chronic stress and mental health conditions. As we age deterioration is evident which can be attributed to the brain shrinkage as the hippocampus loses five percent of its neurons every decade. 

Just like muscle strength, we need to use our brain or risk losing it. Many suggests physical activity (to get blood flow to the brain), eating well (provides the brain with nutrients), and challenges (like learning a new language) are the best ways to preserve your memory and keep your brain healthy.

Some of the most interesting facts about our memory are: 
1. There is virtually no limit to the amount of information you can remember
2. But we can only remember a handful of things in our 'short term' memory
3. Learning new things produces physical changes in your brain structure. New neural pathways are formed which strengthens your ability to recall
4. Being able to access information quickly (i.e., on internet) makes you less likely to remember it. Therefore we can not remember phone numbers more than few people after we started using mobile phones.
5. Almost forgetting something makes you more likely to remember it. The feeling of you know the thing but just can't tell it will make you remember it sooner and more efficiently.
6. Emotional intensity prioritizes how memories are stored

There is unending information about how memory works, but researchers are still finding new information everyday. And even with so much knowledge we are still not sure how neurons fire up and make us remember some things so vividly. 

P.S. The more your work your brain, the more you can remember things. So learn a new language, count backwards from 100 to 1, remember the mathematical tables and try to see something new in your everyday routine. Happy remembering :) :) 

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

A friend in need....

Friends are those family that we choose for ourselves. Among those many sweet, nice and naughty friends everybody has that one person on whom they can trust their life. Best friend - the best of friends - BFF (best friend forever), no matter what you call them, they are the best. 

But I wondered time and again, when does a friend become best friend. Was that when I spilled out my most embarrassing moment, or when I didn't worry that I might be boring them, Maybe it was when I knew I can count on them. There is no hard and fast rule to define a friendship, let alone a best friend. 

Many researchers say that there needs to be certain level of intimacy required between two best friends. Emotional and Mental intimacy where even a change of sentence in chat will alert if either one of them is upset. But there is a special component in best friends, they support our social - identity support, where a friend supports and understands our self in society. 

Every person in this world needs at least one best friend to lean on. You many wonder why?... we can be self sufficient without best friend. 

Yes, you can be. They are not vital for living, but essential for the quality of our life. When we look back at the life we lived we will never document the moments we were alone or only with some acquaintances. But every memory spent with good / best friends will be catelogued. Man being a social being needs to surround himself with people he can share his life with. 

Well if you are still not convinced, let me list out a few things about best friends

1. They provide you comfort - It may be at the end of a bad day, bad relationship or just a bad moment. They are there to listen to your whining and always a step ahead to scold all the people responsible (according to you) for it. They will do whatever needs to be done to comfort you and bring you out of your misery.

2. You have a secret language : You can just state something and most often they will immediately recognize what you are talking about. This can happen only among best friends and it is an amazing feeling, when you can just vent and not explain every sentence, Its like only they can decode your  cryptic message.  

3. Honest opinions : If you shirt is ridiculous or you have put on weight. If you acted unreasonably or when you hurt someone. If you are acting like a snob or when you egoistic arrogant maniac. It is only a best friend who will tell you to shut up and review your act. One of the few people in your life, who care so much that they will risk your anger to tell you where you were wrong

4. Partners in crime : There is a surprise party to plan or to spy on someone. To gossip or to cover up the story. Your hand will dial their number on your own for anything and everything. 

5. You can be "You" with them : The best part of this relationship is you don't have to be someone else. You can be "You". In this time and place, there are very few places where you can be You without being scrutinized. Even while you are alone your own insecurities will not let you be "You". But with this person, all bets are off. You can be as crazy, as goofy, as nerdy and as weirdy as you want. Imagine the relief

6. Listening : May it be a short expression or a monologue of epic kind. They love you enough to conjure up patience to listen to all your ramblings without judging or piling up their opinions.. just listening. Ahh the bliss :)

7. Secrets : This is one unbreakable box of your secrets. Even after you end your friendship you can trust this person to hold on to your secrets like always. My advice - Don't lose them.

8. Appreciation and Encouragement : The one person in the whole world who will appreciate even your minute work and encourage you even when your family lets you down. That one person who has your back even when the whole world has turned their back on you. And who will always encourage you no matter what they are going through.

9. A shoulder : At times all we want is to cry our heart out and somebody to lean on. No words, no sounds, no suggestions, no advice. Just a shoulder to cry on

10. Love : They love you. Love your stupidity, love your craziness, love all the unlovable things in you. Love you when they hate you, love you more when they love you. Love you even when you don't love them back. They just love you without any other reason that they love you.

There is no end to the things they do for us. No description for the support they give us. No comparison for how they stand up for us, sometimes fight with us for us. Best friends are like beacon of light, when you are stumbling in the dark. If you have a friend like that treasure them. They are a rarity :)

P.S: Sri, this is dedicated to you. You are a wonderful friend who has gone through my crazies. You are one of those rare persons that I feel lucky to have as my best friend. You share your birthday with my dad. Who was my first best friend. He was the one who taught me many amazing things. And you are the one who encourages to explore all of those. 

May you find all that you are searching, may you always be loved and treasured. Happy birthday Sri.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Passing thoughts - 1 - Letting go

Loving somebody is maybe the most easiest of acts. There is no set rule to fall in love or raise up in love (whichever is your preference). You can like a person on first sight or gradually come to love them. You may love them because they are such an integral part of your life or because they make your yearn for something out of it. You may love them just because you are supposed to or because they were there at the right time. 

But its the letting go part that hurts so much. The very thought that we have to move on makes your heart cringe. Whenever I feel someone is trying to move away from me, I double up my efforts on keeping them close. Am sure most of you do that. It takes some time for me to breathe deep and tell myself, its ok. Its ok to let go from your side. 

If they are letting go of their end of the rope, then no matter how hard or fast you hold you can't pull them close again. It makes me think of all the reasons why would they want to leave me. It takes time to know that it doesn't matter what the reason is.

Later one day down the lane, you wake up to realize that you did move on. And no matter how hard you just cant remember the most intricate parts of their touch, voice or smile. Sometimes that hurts more, that we forgot the person so easily, whom we loved so fiercely. All that remains is ghost of their memories which doesn't even stir your heart.

But that's how we work. We lose the memory of non-recharged sensations. What is left are memories like long forgotten photographs of an age old album.

Just a thought

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Sorry, Please, Thank you.. Fading courtesies

From the time my dear son started talking I taught him how and when to say Please and Thank you. Had this big idea to create a polite environment for him to grow up to. But to my shame the other day, while I was busy in my own world and asked my son to get me a glass of water. Nor did I say please neither did I thank him for helping !.

Well thankfully a 5 year old doesn't keep grudges, he rather prefers to demand what he thinks is right. So he immediately said me "Amma, say thank you"

His tone and words did shock me, I was about to warn him to watch his tone, then I remembered, wasn't I the one who taught him to be polite, so doesn't he deserve the same courtesy and politeness from me. I immediately smiled and said thank you and for a good measure praised him for being helpful. 

But this got me thinking, in this fast growing, fast moving, instant world are we forgetting common courtesies in our life ??.

Now a days we are so lazy to even interact and talk in full sentences let alone showing patience to observe common courtesy.

Our parents have painstakingly ingrained some etiquette and courtesies in us while growing up. Which we gave up so easily in our busy lives. These small things sometimes matters more than big gestures.. 

So let me list out few courtesies of this generation.

1. The most basic one and which will not change for any generation, say Please and Thank you. And smile while saying it. It doesn't even take a second but the impact stays forever. 

2. When you are talking to someone face to face, don't keep checking your phone or texting someone else. While you are being efficient to someone else, you are ignoring the person who is sitting in front of you

3. Don't fight in public. No matter how hurt you are or how angry, that doesn't mean you should wash your dirty laundry in public. Talk to that person in private and resolve your issues. According to today's world I should say, Don't fight on social media, Facebook and Twitter is not the place to fight or even share personal differences. 

4. Be on Time. Punctuality not only saves your time, it shows that you value other's time too. I should say that there is no shortcuts to this courtesy, you have to just be on time. But in today's world I have to tell you to at least be polite enough to inform the person waiting that you are running late. But don't be late more than 20 mins from the appointed time. Being early is always preferred.

5. Turn your phone ringer off in movie theaters, dinner or while in reunion with friends. It is not only very annoying to hear a phone ring in movies, its also extremely rude to interrupt somebody's viewing for your convenience. But worst part is not only people keep their ring tones on, they actually answer it and talk (quite loudly).

6. Dont play your music on speaker while in public places. Not everybody wants to hear whats in your playlist or even radio. There are hundreds of different types of headphones available. Please use it.
7. When you stay at your friend's or relatives place, keep their place clean. Making the bed and folding blankets after sleeping, not disrupting their toiletries in bathrooms, not eating up all the snacks etc., is the least you can do in return for their hospitality.

8. Please don't cut the queue. I understand you are in hurry, but that shouldn't be an excuse to cut queue. If you in so much hurry you can ask permission to move forward but be polite and accept if they disagree.

9. After standing in a long queue when its your turn, please be ready. Whether its ATM line or a line to file application or even to buy food, people forget they are in line and don't keep their cards, papers or money ready until they are at the counter. As you have waited, people behind you are also waiting, don't waste yours and their time. 

10. Pay back borrowed money, no matter how small the amount it. Don't assume they don't need it and never make them ask for it.

11. Don't forget to return what you borrowed from anybody. May it be a book or  that movie.

12. When you are using other's phone or computer. Don't browse through their personal stuff, use it for what you asked and return it. Don't start flipping through their call lists, photos or folders. 

13. If you ask your friends or relatives to help you with some housework, feed them as a thank you. Don't send them away without atleast feeding them in appreciation.

14. If you are invited to lunch or dinner to somebody's home, after eating offer help to clean up. 

15. If you borrow somebody's car or bike, please make sure to fill up the petrol before returning. 

16. Please please don't break up with a friend or a loved one in text. Some issues deserve a face to face or atleast a call.

17. Taking selfie is super fun. But limit taking selfies while in a get together or office party or even a quite party with friends. Rather be in the moment and enjoy the company.

18. Don't encourage gossip about a friend. Be loyal and say you can't hear gossip about them because they are your good friends. If you do hear, don't pass on to someone else. 

19. Don't make your food habits someone's else headache. While having meal at some one's place, don't blatantly reject the food, at least taste it for their satisfaction (unless you are allergic to that food).

20. Appreciate your host's food and home. It means a lot to most.

And finally all the old classics apply here
  • Chew with your mouth closed
  •  Cover your mouth while sneezing or coughing (with left hand)
  • Wash hands after using restroom
  • If you bump into someone, say excuse me or sorry
  • Say thank you to anybody who is helping or serving you. From your grocer to that random autowala
  • Smile or wave in thank you to that person who leaves you way while in traffic. 

My parents taught me, don't treat someone in a way you don't like to be treated. The world out there is already cold and cruel, lets find little politeness in our hearts to spread. Your children will learn from you, if you want your child to be polite be their example.

P.S: The things I have listed is very basic, there are so many small courtesies to follow. It may look tedious but it will not only make you a better person but will also make the world around you a better place.