Neutral State

What is your definition of pure happiness? - Quora

Startups are crazy! Things look so positive one minute and everything goes to negative next minute. Same way, things look so fucked up one minute, and then there is the ray of hope.

In a startup, things seem great one moment and hopeless the next. And by next, I mean a couple hours later.

The emotional ups and downs were the biggest surprise for me. One day, we’d think of ourselves as the next Google and dream of buying islands; the next, we’d be pondering how to let our loved ones know of our utter failure; and on and on.

What Startups Are Really Like, Paul Graham

One biggest advantage I have had so far is to “come back to neutral state” as soon as possible after a positive or negative event. While I don’t know if I can call this a skill, this has been very helpful so far. In this post, I wanted to share (to myself) the list of things I do to get back to neutral so that I can refer to this post when things are crazy.

The best way I come back to the neutral state is simply by getting a full 8 hours of sleep. Sleep fixes almost everything.

The next best thing is to go for a walk while listening to audiobook/music/Vasudha (she does most of the talking when we talk together). While I feel a lot more productive listening to audiobooks, there are super stressful times where it is impossible to listen to anything other than music (usually at the end of long meeting days). With the COVID situation, this is something I’m missing a lot. The number of books I’ve read in the past few months has come down so much. Of course, when I’m walking with Vasudha, books or music is not needed (allowed :P).

I used to play TT to destress. I really enjoy playing against a tough opponent. The tougher the game, the better it is (even if means losing the game). Again, with the COVID stuff, this is out of the picture and now I’m not even sure if I can play anymore.

I enjoy playing board games with Vasudha. This has been the biggest stress buster during this COVID time. We used to play Chinese checkers earlier, but now we’ve moved on to the Sequence game. We love competing against each other and the game is not too long.

Surprisingly, during COVID, I realized that even washing dishes has become a de-stressing task. Washing dishes with an audiobook on gives me distraction free 30-60 minutes. I’ve started enjoying doing this a lot during the lockdown.

The biggest learning for me so far has been that we all have to find our own ways to come back to neutral (both from the sad and happy state). It sounds silly, but this is actually the hardest part to learn as a founder. You can’t even carry the feeling of one meeting to the next meeting.

Usually, everyone assumes you need to come back to neutral when you are sad. But it applies to both a happy and sad state. Once you find the things you which can bring you back to neutral, it is easy to survive longer in a startup (or in any crazy place).

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