Sukkot Week and the Stories of Gratitude: What You See Is What You Are Grateful For

Sukkot week is going on! Some of us our readers who have been following us would know how we are giving you all stories to ponder over gratitude and counting blessings. We will quickly tell what Sukkot is to our new readers. Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish festival, celebrated with a purpose to be grateful about our blessings, in all forms.

Stories provide us an outsider’s perspective, often helping us see the big picture in our own life as well! Something similar happened to one of our readers:

I was talking to a friend of mine, rather, complaining.

I will jump straight to our phone conversation (how else are we to talk these days?)

Let us call my friend Mr. H.

‘I am so fed up of this situation. It’s more upsetting because I finally felt like I had a plan. I had saved up enough to invest in a start-up. My wife was going to get a better job as well, somewhere closer to our house so we could spend more time as a family together. We had also seen a new, better house, in our same neighbourhood. Things seemed to be falling into place, finally. And then BOOM! Then came the pandemic, and I am stuck where I was. ‘

My friend H was listening to me patiently.

‘Let me tell you a story.’ I was about to go off on him. Here I was telling him my problems, and he wants to become a storyteller here! At the same time, I was curious. H is a smart guy. ‘Go ahead’. I told him, almost flatly.

H started his story,

‘There was once a little boy who loved to play football. His family was sort of below average in terms of income- they did well with the minimalistic lifestyle they had and spent only when something was genuinely needed. The little boy who loved to play football wanted those special boots all the kids in his neighbourhood wore, he wanted the football studs.

He asked his parents. The shoes were quite expensive! They told him that they would not be able to buy those for him immediately. Maybe, in a few months.

The boy was sad and angry at the same time.

Why did his family not have the riches? Why could they not afford a pair of good shoes?

He tried to ask his parents once more. Twice, thrice during the week, but it was the same response.


 “Maybe sometime in the future.”

Dejected, the little boy went on his way to the playground. It was evening, and time to play with his friends, something he looked forward to, but today, the air felt heavy and gloomy. The sunny evening seemed to have a cast of grey over it.

Suddenly, he saw a car stop over at one of the houses on the way. From it, a woman quickly came down and opened the door of one of the seats at the back. The little boy who loved football tried to see who the woman was trying to help get down the car. It was a boy with clutches. The boy who loved football saw a boy with clutches, struggling to do a simple activity. ‘

And with this, H concluded his story and paused.

It was my time to speak now.

‘I understand now what you mean. My life is still beautiful, even with all its problems. I have a lovely family. A comfortable house. Food to eat, and everyone I know is safe. I think I need to be more grateful for what I have.’

‘My friend is wise’, said H. I could feel him smiling through the phone.

I could hear the song ‘kuchh log hai juto ko rote, kuchh logo ke paun nahi hote’ in the background. H had started to play this song on his laptop as were talking and I could hear it. He has a weird way of storytelling.

Through my conversation with H, I also realised how gratitude is all about attracting more abundance. The more grateful you are, the more happiness you will get. The more gratitude you practice, the more things you will find to be thankful about.

And with this, we wind up our series of Sukkot week articles!

Sukkot Week and the Stories of Gratitude: The Vision Of 2020

Those of you who have read our previous article know it is the Sukkot week! Those of you who just joined us, let us tell you quickly what Sukkot is all about. Sukkot is a weeklong Jewish festival, celebrated with a purpose to be grateful about our blessings, in all forms. And all through the Sukkot week, we will bring you some stories and anecdotes of gratitude.

One of our readers shares her story:

Quite a few of us must have made New year Resolutions. After all, it was 2020, the year which was to give us 20-20 vision! The landmark year, dawning onto our lives.

Little did we know that the only resolution, the only goal of 2020 would be: Staying Alive. (Can you all hear the song in the background?)

Nine months have passed since. Dear readers would have realised by now how important it is to stay fit and alive. Nothing more, nothing less.

To take a step further, some of us might also have realised how important it is to thank God, for keeping us and our loved ones in good health.

This realisation did not come to me easily and effortlessly. Like most of the people who would be reading this, 2020 has given me a fair share of problems, the latest being a health issue my dear family member faced recently.

My mother-in-law recently had a hip replacement surgery. I have been tending to her since the past two weeks. It has been tiring, and it is difficult to see a loved one bed-ridden like this.

 One night, while turning sides, I had an epiphany of sorts. In my sleeplessness, I realised how fortunate I am to have working limbs; the ability to do this simple act is in itself a blessing!

How fortunate I am to not be bed-ridden. And how fortunate I am to be able to be there for my mother-in-law in these tough times, to be able to look after her. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been otherwise!

Life is full of troubles. And many times, we are the ones who are caught in a storm of difficulties. Some readers might point how it is much easier to be grateful when you are in a good place, when you have all the comforts and conveniences.

What about those who are themselves unwell, unfit or in a difficult position? How are they to remain grateful, and what for?

The point is to have an attitude of gratitude. The point is to be grateful about even the tiniest of things, the seemingly inconsequential things. 

When life seems to be full of troubles, with clouds of storm looming over, be grateful for the lessons you might learn. Be grateful how strong you will emerge.

When life seems to be going smoothly, be grateful for the bliss and the comfort.

An attitude of gratitude is all about being grateful, whether we are in a good situation or an unpleasant one.

The pandemic might have wrecked our plans; it might have disturbed our routine, and it might have amplified our problems. That is all the more reason to count your blessings.

It is all about appreciating even the faint silver linings of the cloud. Or even appreciating the cloud because it is shielding us from the harshness of the sun perhaps!

Sukkot Week: A Festival All About Being Grateful

We have been hearing conversations about how festivals would feel so different this time around, owing to the pandemic. We aren’t going into all that, not to worry! But we are going to talk about a festival, nevertheless. Maybe, a festival which we all can celebrate in our own little ways. A festival that now helps us see its meaning the way we have never been able to see before. We are talking about the Jewish festival of Sukkot.

Sukkot is a Jewish festival, lasting almost a week, commemorating not any historic event but rather as a way to express gratitude. Sukkot is called Chag HaAsif (“the Festival of Ingathering,” or “Harvest Festival”), and Chag HaSukkot (“Festival of Booths”). Both the names remind people of two different things to be grateful about.

The name Chag HaAsif reminds one of the bountiful of crops that grow in Israel in winter, which get ready for harvest in the late spring or early fall. The name Chag HaSukkot reminds one of the tale when God created a shelter of clouds from the desert sun when the ancestral Jewish people were on their journey from Egypt, thus protecting them. Some other legends also say how Chag HaSukkot reminds one of the tents they all dwelled in for their forty-year-old trek though the Sinai desert.

In other words, it is a festival all about gratitude. Gratitude for life, and gratitude for the blessings. There are a whole lot of traditions and customs surrounding the festival, right from the ‘dwelling’ one is supposed to live in through the Sukkot week, to the kind of meals one is supposed to have, all reminding, once again, to be grateful of the blessings and bounty we have.

Whatever be our religious background and belief, there is always something one can take from all the religious festivals. We bring you a little story. Read on!

Counting Your Blessings:

Two friends were having a conversation. To be more specific, they were having a virtual conversation over a video call.

Let us call them Mrs. R and Mrs. P.

Mrs. P and Mrs. R were colleagues a few years ago. When Mrs.  R shifted to a different city, they continued to remain friends. The two were used to keeping in touch over calls and messages. The pandemic made that connection even stronger.

During this particular conversation, Mrs. P was on the verge of tears. She has had a tough day. She told Mrs.  R, ‘I am so tired today. I have been working since 7 am in the morning. I made lunch by constantly going back and forth between my room and my kitchen, with my headphones on, trying to keep track of these endless meetings. My daughter had her online school going on for hours. My husband had his work from home going on for hours. My internet connection was just so shaky, and I kept getting disconnected every couple of minutes.

I got free at 9 in the evening! And now our day is over, just like that. Work, work and nothing else.  I am so tired of this pandemic! I wish I could just go to my office and quietly work there, and come back home, on time, and later go out for a nice dinner at my favourite restaurant. That is not going to happen anytime soon, alas…’

And so she went about her rant.

Mrs.  R, calm as always, listened to her.

After Mrs. P had calmed down a little, and asked if she had been over- reacting, Mrs.  R gently said, ‘I understand things are really chaotic these days. I will not tell you that you shouldn’t react this way. I mean, we all are frustrated by the situation and the makeshift arrangements we are all living in. But I think a little reminder could help you. I was a little troubled too last week. I saw the calendar and realised it is Sukkot! It is the Sukkot week now!’

No sooner had Mrs.  R uttered these words, Mrs. P instantly realised what direction Mrs.  R was leading the conversation into. A smile came on her face. Mrs. P, now much calmer, said, ‘I am so happy, no, I am so thankful that you reminded me of this. I feel so much better just remembering to be grateful about the things I have. Sure, it was a bad day, sure, the internet connection is terrible. The work will not end, and I am tired of the monotonous routine. I must cook my own food and I must balance out the chores and my work life. Everything just reminds me how we are living in a pandemic. But I have a house to live in, an internet connection that works as much as it can, I have a wonderful family, all safe and sound. I have a roof over my head, and our kitchen closet is full. I think, the day hasn’t been too bad after all. It is the Sukkot week indeed.’

Mrs.  R and Mrs. P exchanged a knowing glance, virtually of course. Sukkot week reminded them, to be grateful about, all throughout the year.

This week, we bring you some more stories and anecdotes of gratitude. Watch this space for more!

Attention Management: What Is It, and Why Is It Important

We all have probably read a hundred few blogs and articles about time management by now, haven’t we? But we still find ourselves stuck in routines which seem to leave us with so little time. Maybe, it is time to think differently. Maybe, instead or along with time management, we need to start thinking about attention management. Read on.

The concept of attention management goes back to 1890 when psychologist William James talked about it in his book The Principles of Psychology vol 1. In today’s time we have Maura Thomas telling us all about attention management, what it means in our modern context, and how do we practice.

Given that many of us are working from home at certain times, with fifty tabs open, and a few hundred emails arriving every morning, attention management seems to be the thing to get a grasp about. Without further ado, let us delve into it!

The Definition And The Intention:

Maura Thomas writes in an article for HBR:

Attention management is the practice of controlling distractions, being present in the moment, finding flow, and maximizing focus, so that you can unleash your genius. It’s about being intentional instead of reactive. It is the ability to recognize when your attention is being stolen (or has the potential to be stolen) and to instead keep it focused on the activities you choose. Rather than allowing distractions to derail you, you choose where you direct your attention at any given moment, based on an understanding of your priorities and goals.

That sounds so simple, right? But let us take an example to understand the intention of attention management more clearly. Mr. C had decided to finish that report he had been meaning to write since Monday. It was Wednesday today and he had decided to finish it, no matter what. Just as he was about to sit down and open the file, he heard the ping of his email. He instantly checked. He soon began to check other emails in the inbox as well.

The report just lies there in the corner and before he knew it, the report has been pushed to the next day, and he wonders where did the time go. This is an example of being reactive instead of intentional.

Although, being distracted by notifications is just one trivial example, it is a highly relatable and real one at that.

Most of the times, we understand our priorities and our goals. What we don’t realise is that tiny distractions can derail us from our track very easily.

Most of the times, we recognise when our attention is being stolen. What we don’t realise is that we have the choice to change our focus at our will, with a little effort. The question is, how?

Control Your Technology and Environment:

Take control of your notifications and devices! One simple strategy is to get rid of push notifications, or even notification sounds if possible. That sounds too unrealistic? You need all of that to keep track of emergencies? Then take control of your environment! Virtual people in the distance may need your attention asap, sure, but you may tell the real people in your environment to keep a distance if you know you are going to be working on a task that needs as much as of your undivided attention as possible. You can do things like making use of DND signs, going to a different part of your office/home.

 You can involve your colleagues and decide on a time during the day when everyone would work heads down and hands on their respective important tasks, for a fixed number of minutes or hours, no chatting, no breaks.

There is still something unbelievable about the fact that a simple notification distracts us, right? Maura Thomas recognises that and gives us some food for thought:

…the problem isn’t just that an email interrupts your work. It’s also the fact that being tethered to your email inbox conditions you to expect an interruption every few minutes, which chips away at your attention span. You then become so afraid of forgetting to do some small task — like sending an email or forwarding a document — that you start to do everything as soon as you’ve thought of it; but then you end up getting sucked into your overflowing inbox before you know it. Moreover, knowing that you have a catalogue of all the world’s knowledge at your fingertips — in terms of the internet on your smartphone — makes it difficult to be comfortable in a state of “I don’t know,” and hard to avoid the distracting temptation to “find out now.”

So, what do we do about that?

Control Your Thoughts and Behaviour:

This is where that little effort comes in. Know thyself, and recognise when you are likely to zone out. And practice catching yourself just as your mind begins to wander away. Maybe even keep a teeny tiny treat for yourself ready which you can use to motivate yourself to finish the designated task.

One very important thing to do as much as possible during these times of ‘deep work’ is to focus on only one task. Keep just one tab open, and direct all your attention into it. Next hour, you can work with a different task. But the point is to avoid multi-tasking as and when you can. We understand it is a highly unrealistic strategy to use these days, and that is why we slipped it in at the end. But there’s no harm in at least trying, right?

As you must have realised, understanding attention management and its strategies is ridiculously and deceivingly simple. We all know what we need to do. The key lies in recognising that what we are doing with these simple strategies is making space for our priorities.

Important Soft-Skills for A Remote-Worker

There has been a rise in remote working because of the ongoing pandemic. While many offices have started to open up, partially or fully, there are some offices which continue to function WFH. Everything is unpredictable, everyone must be prepared to change their working habits; ‘new normal’ is the new buzzword. But one thing is clear: remote working has gained more importance than ever before, and it is here to stay.

Let us take a look at some soft skills necessary to be an efficient remote worker. While these aren’t new skills, their importance has grown manifold over the past few months. Whether you are a hiring manager tasked with recruiting a remote worker, or an employee wondering how you can be a good remote worker, these qualities are something to look for and develop.

Self-Motivated and Self-Disciplined:

The most important skill when it comes to remote working. In an office environment one is under direct or indirect supervision. When it comes to remote working, that supervision is more or less absent. It becomes the job of the employee to get work done, by themselves. Sometimes, one may even need to set self-imposed deadlines and targets.

The freedom comes with a responsibility of being self-disciplined. The motivation has to come from within while working remotely.

This brings us to the next point.


With the freedom to self-impose deadlines and targets comes the responsibility to stay organised.

An employee must have that organised nature to make the necessary to-do or not-do-lists, to prioritise tasks. This organisation should also be used to recognise at what hours of the day they work the best and at which hours they tend to slack.

Being organised is thus an important skill necessary to sift through the barrage of emails and calls that populate everyone’s minds these days. This takes us to the next point.

Being Tech-savvy:

An in-office employee has the privilege of being there. They can simply knock and enter the room and communicate face to face. A remote worker might be able to communicate face to face through a video call, but they first need to be able to use a video calling app optimally, making use of the extensive features offered.

One needs to be an ideal sender and receiver (more about this later), and that goes hand in hand with the ability to use the tools of communication to their full purpose.

Being tech-savvy is now a necessary soft skill which hiring managers must look for in an employee, and one which employees must constantly upgrade.

The Balancing Act:

A remote worker often has to work independently in the sense that they don’t have the privilege to ask or clarify what might be considered as minor doubts or hiccups; an in-office employee has the freedom to simply ask around.

The ability to make important decisions independently, the ability to consult the right sources at the right time, the ability to decide which questions need a consultation in the first place are some necessary  skills associated with independence which a hiring manager should look for and a remote-working employee should build on.

But this is where it gets tricky. Read on.

A remote worker must be independent but also a good team player. A remote worker, in addition to their own team, may have to deal with multiple departments and teams at certain points. This where all the communication and organisation skills come into play. Co-ordinating projects, brainstorming ideas, managing and delegating tasks remotely not only  require great communication and organisation skills but also require one to be a good team player. Talk about balance! There is one more aspect which needs some balancing. Read on.

Communication Skills:

 An in-office employee may have only moderately well communication skills. Non-verbal cues, facial expressions and body language do the rest. But again, a remote worker doesn’t have that privilege of being there.

It thus becomes necessary that they know how to use their words and tone of voice exceptionally well. There will be a back and forth of calls of all kinds (video and audio), emails and messages. One must have the ability to not only frame all that communication in a clear, concise and coherent manner but also have receptive skills where they read the intended message from the sender correctly. This is what we mean when we say one must be an ideal receiver and an ideal sender. This is where the balance comes in.

Something to keep in mind is that although WFH demands great communication skills, some of us may not be too comfortable with the virtual world. It then becomes necessary to be ready to unhesitatingly ask for help. Consulting people who are more tech-savvy if one feels stuck, consulting seniors before drafting important communication with clients and being open to learning new things are some necessary steps to take. Isn’t this willingness to ask questions unhesitatingly also a part of being communicative?

As we must have realised, remote working is a lot about stepping out of the comfort zone on many levels.  We have come to realise the role of flexibility and adaptability as soft skills. But with these, being self-disciplined and well-organised, being communicative and tech-savvy, being a good team player with an independent mindset are some more necessary soft skills we need to have conversations about.