Chats Under the Coconut Trees


Previously posted Oct 2014

So the guest, a very shrewd psychologist, started talking about ants.

We were sitting under the coconut trees in the garden of Raheem Residency as usual. I said ‘We don’t have much of a problem with ants. Good hygiene in our hotel takes care of that.’

‘Not those kind of ants’, he replied. ‘I’m talking about ANTS – the ones that infest your brain. AUTOMATIC NEGATiVE THOUGHTS.’

Now he had my attention. This was either going to be a dose of New Age claptrap or, given the guest’s professional background, possibly a very useful life tool.

Mr Smith (not his real name) had studied how thoughts influence our energy, appearance, happiness, success at everything from diets to jobs and much more.

Say, for example, biscuits are your downfall when it comes to dieting. So you slip you hand surreptitiously into the tin and take out a bikkie. Not only does it taste good but now that little voice tells you may well as well give up the diet ‘until next Monday’ and in the meantime scoff the lot. Have you been there? Well, you are letting the ANTS in. This defeatist approach will cause you to give up far too easily.

Maybe you start an Evening Class in Computers and you fall behind. Your ANT says to you ‘May as well give up now because you’ll never catch up.’

Your mind is a very powerful gadget. Send it the wrong message and it can start to make this outcome likely.

The tool you need in your armoury to erase your ANTS is what I would call a flipper. What’s a flipper? I’ve made it up. But it’s a brain gadget that is most useful in India if you have a western mind.

Indian thought is not governed by logic like the west. Try doing a practical job like running a hotel and you’ll find out quickly. In the absence of a logical approach to daily problem-solving I have frequently resorted to flipping my automatic answer to the solution and chances are that answer will be the perfect Indian solution. (That’s why we love India. It is so very different). Hence the creation of the flipper.

So Mr Smith is saying that we can really transform our lives through the simply matter of flipping the negative into the positive. And I’m saying that if you want to survive in India as a westerner flip your western solution into its opposite number.

Here’s how you get going.

Do a rigorous scan of your thought patterns for half a day, Write down your ANTS. And then get out your flipper and flip away like mad for the rest of the day. Practice this daily and before too long you may just find yourself a happier, more confident, more energized – and maybe even a slimmer – person.


So said Mr Smith under the coconut trees.


I think it’s worth a try. Do you?