Selfienomics: A Seriously Funny Guide to Living the Good Life- Review

Title: Selfienomics: A Seriously Funny Guide to Living the Good Life

Author: Revant Himatsingka

Publisher: Bloomsberry 2016

Pages 191, Rs.299

From Napoleon Hill to Stephen Covey and beyond, writers of various callings have felt the need to tell us how our lives could be improved. Revant (known elsewhere as Revant Himatsingka, but here, simply, Revant) seems to have a grin on his face as he travels through the various stages and spheres of life and urges you to “start rethinking”.

The purpose of this book, he says in the Endnote, is to open up a dialogue about the things that we may not normally think about. And behind all that humour lie gems of wisdom – like “our ability to help others is the greatest privilege we have,” thus balancing your life between making others happy and keeping yourself happy. He starts off on a rather ponderous note about the paradox wherein people are obsessed with selfies (the bane of mobile cameras!) but rarely focus on self-development. So selfienomics deals with reflecting on different aspects of life, taking the initiative to improve … the only exercise he thrusts onto the reader being to write down seven positive things about the previous day. Every day. Thus, underlining the need for a positive frame of mind. “Positive Thinking” re-visited?  As Revan would say: Positive or Negative. Thinking shuru to karo!

We tend to drift through college and some PG course in Management or whatever and then drift into a job. If we are ‘successful’ we are happy by some pristine programming that has gone into our CPU. While nothing much can be done about that except talk about tampering with the motherboard you should not, says Revan, let the job decide what kind of life you’re going to lead. Since we cannot have it all, we need to take an active part in controlling life we have. He divides jobs into three categories and suggests that once you have identified where you stand, decide whether you need to, and if you can afford to, change your career. The aim should be that while you focus on “making a living” during your work hours, you also need to focus on “living” in your non-work hours.

In tackling the issue of self-motivation, he identifies three stages where we increase the size of our comfort zone – by moving actively into our ‘growth zone’ and frequently touching our ‘freak-out zone’. The uncomfortable become comfortable as we go along.  ‘Giving up’, on the other hand, is one of the easiest things – and, says Revan, the more you fail, the cooler your success story will become. But that presupposes a success story. Quitters never win.

So how does one go towards success? Make a bucket list of goals and categorize them: Experience bucket, moral bucket, family bucket, finance bucket, career bucket, hobby bucket …  each bucket has its own unique method for handling; mix them and your goals get confused.

Revan then moves into the concept of Freedom and the need for political correctness in what we say and do; then drifts on to Feminism  (which he says is opposite of sexism). Then strangely, he tackles “Choice” dissecting it to its bare bones to find out the basis of our choices. Logic or Morals or perception or convenience?  Echoing those haunting lines of Bob Dylan he asks: How long can we justify the negative impact based on our positive intent? How long will we choose to not take direct responsibility and conveniently ignore the so-called indirect outcomes? While the answers are still “blowin’ in the wind”, Revan goes on to note that when some people choose to fight certain battles, we have no right to tell them that there are other causes which are more important … and adds, characteristically, that as you try to solve the problems of your neighbourhood, don’t forget that your house is a part of it!

The next chapter, about money, starts with the proposition that if you want to make more money, then find ways to provide more value to others. While cautioning that your net-worth should not influence your self-worth, he suggests saving methods: There’s three buckets to apportion your income in i.e. 50% for needs, 30% for wants and 20 percent for savings, subject to the condition that savings is not the balance left after expenditure but what’s available to you after you have ‘saved’. He also has suggestions for controlling your expenditure, giving you a brief on Opportunity Cost and Net Present Value (NPV). What about the concept of Sunk Cost in relationships, house-building, emotions, money? Well, he has his thumb rules.

We then find ourselves in a chapter that deals with Health, Safety and Health food (which is chosen depending on Price, Convenience, Health and/or Taste– though not necessarily in that order). What is the NPV of unhealthy food? That’s a disturbing question. The chapter then deals with water as a means of avoiding /curing several illnesses. Can we make our health rules? Revan has suggestions about that too.

A major contribution of the book is the Wingman Theory. The tendency to aggregate with your own kind leads to a limited network; a wingman may be from another field altogether but helps you in meeting new groups of people. Your network expands exponentially. In relationships of love, he cautions, the goal is to be interdependent, not over dependent or independent.

A whole chapter is devoted to Personal Branding, covering attitudes, clothes, and credibility. This is followed by protestations about Religion and India with its technology, population/women … and the Patriotic Global Citizen.  The last chapter is about Death.

So rambling between LIFE as it should be lived, straying a bit into Freedom and Feminism and Choices, to personal branding ….to death, we may arrive at some capacity to re-think.  What keeps you going is tongue-in-cheek, the lessons are incidental. A good read while you wait for your connecting flight.

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