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Bracing the storm by Siddharth Dash

By Volunteer Siddharth Dash, FHI Jaipur

The only thing certain in these times of uncertainty is that humanity will bounce back regardless of the adversities we are put through. A quintessential part of bouncing back is all of us emerging stronger from these maladies; emotionally, physically or both. I’ve been working on bolstering myself emotionally with self help books and meditation. Ms. Vaishali’s session was a positive reinforcement to this process of self improvement.

She helped us simplify the meaning of life skills: any skill that makes our lives joyful and easier. Life skills depend on the kind of lives people are living and the stage of life they’re in.

Think of each individual as a boat in a vast ocean. Life is a storm. It tries to drown us in a deluge of problems. Bracing the storm is only possible if we know the measures to keep afloat and have the perseverance to do so well before setting sail, instead of wasting effort in figuring out the solution under pressure. The very prerequisites of bracing this storm are life skills and the session emphasized on the need of instilling life skills in children well in time before they face adversities as adults. They help us manoeuvre the storm and come out as a stronger person. Instead of it inflicting a lasting wound, life skills can help us learn lasting lessons from the adversities we face.

Given the definition, we might identify a lot of life skills we need to make our lives easier. At face value, they might seem useful. It might seem rather obvious that they are beneficial and relevant to solving a certain issue. However, we seldom know which one to use and how to use them.

This is where one of the key takeaways from the session come into play. The first step to solving a problem is to identify the problem and its causes well. In order to solve the problem, we should want to solve the problem first. To be able to want to solve the problem, one must possess self belief. Taking a page out of self help author Mark Manson’s advice, we might not be in control of the problem inflicted on us, but we do get to choose how to measure them, what we make out of them and do to solve it. While it may not seem apparent, these are crucial life skills too! To summarize my inference of Ms. Vaishali’s tips about problem solving, life skills aren’t just restricted to certain adjectives; leadership, honesty, kindness etc. They can also be a process, a series of tasks or a methodology of going about things.

It was also fascinating to see her motivation behind choosing drama as a way to instill life skills into children. The brief session opened my eyes to a beautiful concept called kinaesthetic learning. While I am not new to the fact that concepts are better learned through activities, she helped us visualize the things taking place in order for learning to happen. I found a lot of joy in relating to her reasoning behind the effectiveness of body expressions, visuals and voice as I have learnt a lot about life myself from watching visuals like movies and cartoons.

Being deeply fascinated with random topics in psychology as a layman in the field, the session helped me discover the concept of transactional analysis used in dramatics. Playing someone else’s role helps in understanding others perspective really well, and helps empathising with one another. This can be put to use in real life as problem solving can be done by re-enacting or roleplaying the person in conflict and understanding their point of view comprehensively, helping in a higher probability for a positive outcome instead of hostility and bitterness.

An hour can seem like ages like in a classroom, or just a moment if you’re having fun. Co-founder Vishal Sir and Ms. Vaishali had me at the receiving end of the essence of FHI: making learning a fun experience. You could say that this in itself was a roleplay, where I was one of the children FHI seeks to transform and they were the volunteers helping in doing so. I look forward to my mission of self improvement with more self help books and meditation, with more of these sessions providing me the much needed auxiliary support to brace through the storms that life has brewing for us.

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