What is the Purpose of Life?

We all have been in the state of mind where we thought to ourselves “What is the purpose of my life”. Once you channelize your thoughts, our minds tend to work towards it, and hence now in the age of the internet, we immediately start browsing and watching related videos, and before we know, cookies on the web ensure that this content keeps popping up in every single page that we visit. I have been in that situation and probably had come to the acceptance that this very question is a very overrated one, and one should just lead a life like any living being on earth and hence no one has any purpose in life. But this would contradict the very main reason why homo sapiens (human beings) evolved intellectually while our other monkey cousins did not. The power of thinking is because of this, our species has evolved into the kind of beings we are today. It is because of this thinking, that I am today able to write, and any one of our 7 billion folks can read this. So, I started having a slightly different take on the very same thought, if it has occurred to me, it has also occurred in the past and will continue to occur in future generations.

Every philosopher in every culture across time and space has thought on this and explained what would be the purpose of life? The closest explanation which I came across is from Ikigai (Japanese), Iki meaning life, and Gai meaning reason. Ikigai meant reason to live, and it explains what needs to be done to live a life. But, more so in recent years, this concept is very selfish driven, things to do to keep one satisfied and contented rather than to find out the real purpose of life.

Since my birth was into a Hindu family, I have lifelong followed Hinduism and have been following its rituals, prayers, and its way of life. It is for sure one of the incredibly old religions. As a kid I always wondered and questioned the why’s in every single ritual followed, a physical explanation was given which sure was enough for an 8-year-old, but never taught in a spiritual manner, why? Let us worry about the reason at a later stage.  Every ritual, procedure, and mantras have a spiritual meaning attached to it. The time has come to such that, people have forgotten to focus on the spirituality aspect of it.

Visiting temples was a weekly or sometimes multiple times a week affair, I often observed a tree exists in pretty much every temple, we also, saw that those trees are worshiped. Underneath a tree is where the majority of the gurus sit and meditate. Lord Buddha achieved his nirvana under a bodhi tree. I have visited such temples numerous times and have even done the rituals of circling around the tree and praying for a good life but since no one explained what the real spiritual meaning is, I had to figure it out myself as I matured in life. It kind of started making sense finally.

The real reason for having a tree near the temple is to sit under it or circle it and practice spirituality and wonder how we can ourselves be like the tree itself.

 Here is my take on 5 parts of the tree which will answer the purpose of life.

1. Trunk

The trunk is the backbone of the tree, all the branches, roots, fruits, and flowers emerge out of it. One needs to be like the trunk of the tree, our goal and reason of life should be to support all the life forms and not expect anything in return. Be as selfless support as a trunk of a tree or think about what the trunk of your life is. Either be support for yourself or for others as many people as possible.

2. Roots

These are the important foundation of the tree which holds to the ground and provide nutrients and water from the soil, the roots go as deep to keep the tree alive. Be like roots of the tree which go unnoticed but still so essential for survival, roots also have regenerative capabilities. Even if the upper part of the tree is cut, roots ensure the tree grows back, be like roots, support yourself and even if you are cut off or beaten down, rise again and never lose hope. Extend to other people in life, try to reach and be root to others in life.

3. Leaves

Leaves are an important part of the tree that provide food for the tree through photosynthesis and most importantly provide oxygen for other animals to survive. Be like a leaf that provides oxygen for others. Oxygen here is a metaphor, one must understand and self-contemplate to know what value you can give to others, could be any qualitative value like love, knowledge, wisdom, advice, etc.

4. Fruits & Flowers

These are most certainly the byproduct of the tree, but several living organisms are dependent on survival from these. Be like these fruits & Flowers for other living beings who are directly or indirectly dependent on you. Identify what are fruits you can give to people. These are quantitative in value could be money, clothes, food, shelter, etc.

5. Thorns

These form the defensive mechanisms for some of the plants if not for trees. They really defend and protect the tree or scare away the organisms/animals which try to attack. There are a lot of bad influences or negative thoughts or sometimes even negative people, be like thorns and resist and shun away all the negative influences.

Overall, if you see a tree only provides us with all the items it has to offer. It never asks or even expects anything in return. We all need to focus our energies and only provide for others in life. The more you try to follow these in life, the closer you will reach towards finding the purpose in life. The more you must give to others, the lesser one will be bothered about the purpose of life. Give away and do not expect anything, in turn, if you have met this, you have met the purpose of your life.

Crossfit Qualitative Benefits

It all started with just one video of CrossFit games, the 2018 finale, after watching Mat Fraser crushing the games, I became a huge fan of the man first and then the CrossFit games. These extremely fit athletes make those workouts look like a child’s play when you are watching it for the first time. An average fit person, like myself, would think “Ah I think that’s doable”, only to realize later “I am so wrong”. My binge-watching began and I watched the 2015 to 2019 CrossFit games in less than one week. This was Mat Fraser’s primetime in the games. I was in awe and hence continued to follow the games in 2020. Mat had easily crushed 2020 games as well. All this while never had I thought that I will be joining a box (a place where people do CrossFit, kind of a gym just that it is called a box). Covid-19 did delay my plans but once businesses re-opened and we all learned how to handle the situation better, at the beginning of 2021 I joined the box. A quick google search found me in a box close to where I live, “I know right, the universe wanted this for me”. My first thought, “let me join today and the very next day I’ll start with the power snatch”. If a cross-fit trainer overheard my desires, then his response would have been “Ha Ha you are funny “.

CrossFit is a completely different genre of workouts and I will explain it another day. For now, let us know that it is a combination of gymnastics, strength training, and aerobics. You know that guy in the gym who deadlifts and shows off his strength, well CrossFit is something doing 10 rounds of deadlifts, then running for 500 meters, then doing 10 pull-ups – does not stop here, keep doing as many of these rounds as you can, they call it WOD (work out of the day) and AMRAP (as many reps as possible) – yeah you heard it right.

Mat Fraser 2019 CrossFit games- Picture Credits https://wallpapercave.com/w/wp4507256
Mat Fraser – 2019 CrossFit games – Picture credits

These workouts help increase your fitness, strength, stamina, and endurance, they are also a byproduct of any workout, it may be quickly achieved with CrossFit. Nevertheless, I will talk about this as well another time. What I want to focus on is how I was surprised to see other qualitative benefits which come along with it which I have personally experienced. It has been around 2 months since I have been going to the box (3-4 days per week) and here is my take on the top 6 qualitative benefits of CrossFit.

Discipline

CrossFit sessions are group-driven and not a one on one. So, if you have signed up for a particular day’s class you cannot miss it since there are other members who could not get that day’s spot. It is not ethical to miss the class once committed. Also, the membership fee of a CrossFit Box (gym) is a lot more than a typical gym. So, a class lost is money lost. These factors make you more disciplined in terms of attending a session. Once, you get used to it then it becomes part of your life and then you start missing it if you did not happen to attend one because of whatever reason you have in mind.

Increased will power

Work out of the day (WOD) is a timed activity. There are 3 movements or exercises, and it looks something like: a gymnastic movement, a strength movement, and an anaerobic movement. You must finish the said number of rounds or do as many as possible in letting us say 20 mins. When you are continuously doing these strenuous movements, one starts to focus on attaining completion (I still lag a bit behind, but it is only a matter of time!). This mindset has a positive effect in life, where I found an increased willingness to do day-to-day tasks to a better level than I used to do before. For example- If I had no/ little I will do the night’s dishes the next day, now I would clean it right away.

High Energy

A mix of all variants of exercises in CrossFit increases one’s endurance and strength. This has a direct implication on your day. One will see high energy to pursue any activity. The mind is sharp all day and helps in one’s productivity.

Teaches humility

CrossFit might not be a team sport but for sure it is almost always a group session. The person next to you might be stronger than you or weaker than you, it does not really matter, because every single minute your focus is on finishing your work out and reaching the target set by your trainer. Most importantly, the transition to the next level always humbles you down. If you can lift 20 lbs. today and become an expert on it in two weeks, try lifting 40 lbs. next time,60 lbs. the week after, and so on, this alone will crush your so-called ego.  There is no bigger achievement unless you participate in the CrossFit games and keep winning it like Mat Fraser, but on the contrary, to reach such a position one requires to have developed a great sense of humility.   

Camaraderie

When you start, you barely know anyone at the box but slowly when you start seeing the same faces again & again you establish a connection. CrossFit gyms have this amazing culture of starting with small chitchat before the workout begins. This is a short and sweet ice-breaking session and because we keep doing this every day, we get to know each other very well. This additionally reduces the fear of talking in public and helps everyone develop a sort of mutual respect and understanding. One gets constant support from other comrades when we are struggling with the AMRAP, or applause when we do a muscle-up.

Competitive spirit

Even if you are not competing in a CrossFit session, somewhere in the corner of your mind, just by following others and looking at other competitive souls, the spirit seeps in. The competition in essence is with yourself, to become stronger each day. And the box helps with inspiration. After a workout, you go home with a sense of achievement.

That Meghan & Harry Thing!

I am a little late to the party but how could I miss writing about one of the most talked about interviews after the 1995 Princess Diana’s scandalous yet intriguing interview.

But, now that I have your attention (The Office viewers will get this), before getting into the invigorating details about Meghan and Harry, I wanted to discuss a lesser interesting topic that I read a couple of days ago and you might have missed it (maybe you didn’t) as it doesn’t hold much significance in our lives. I am talking about the World Happiness Report 2021.

The World Happiness Report is a publication of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. It contains articles and rankings of national happiness, based on respondent ratings of their own lives, which the report also correlates with various (quality of) life factors. The World Happiness Report 2021 focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared. It’s aim was two-fold, first to focus on the effects of COVID-19 on the structure and quality of people’s lives, and second to describe and evaluate how governments all over the world have dealt with the pandemic. In particular, it tries to explain why some countries have done so much better than others.

A total of 149 countries are ranked by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be according to various parameters.

  • The rankings are based on polling (Gallup World Poll) which looks at six variables:
    • Gross Domestic Product Per Capita (Purchasing Power Parity).
    • Social Support.
    • Healthy life expectancy at birth.
    • Freedom to make life choices.
    • Generosity.
    • Perceptions of corruption.
  • Respondents are asked to rate their own current lives on a 0-10 scale.

Finland has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for the fourth consecutive year and it is followed by Iceland, Denmark, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Sweden, Germany and Norway.

India was ranked at the 139th position in World Happiness Report 2021 and Afghanistan at the 149th place. India ranked 140th in 2019 and 144th in 2020. Let’s talk about this for a minute. I can’t say that we haven’t improved but this improvement is like, I was scoring 32 marks out of 100 and the next year I scored 33 because that was the passing score. The improvement of India, 6.88%, in this context is very slow and I don’t know whether we can afford this slow growth or not. For the fourth year running, Finland has come out on top in the annual list powered by data from the Gallup World Poll. Check here for ranking country wise and continent wise on Human Development Index.

Finland, a Nordic country located in Northern Europe with a current population of 5,546,856. This small country in relativity has been at the top of World’s Happiest countries for 4 years now. But how has Finland been able to sustain at that level for 4 years and the thing to ponder about is whether Finland is making some changes or whether countries like ours are making none in this regard. Talking about Finland, It has extensive welfare benefits, low levels of corruption, a well-functioning democracy, and an instilled sense of freedom and independence, which is a big part of what makes this country the happiest. In addition to that, progressive taxation and wealth distribution has allowed for a flourishing and world-leading universal healthcare system. Though, what strikes me as different and one of the most influencing factors of Finland being the leader of this report is its leadership. Sanna Marin, at 34 years-old, she is the youngest prime minister in the world. The prime minister’s coalition government was formed with all five party leaders being women. Finland’s cabinet features a significant number of women: twelve portfolios are represented by women, seven by men. Almost half (47%) of the country’s parliamentarians, are women. This might come across as different to a lot of us as we are used to seeing our leadership being dominated mostly by one gender. And I am not saying this is the only factor that makes Finland stand on the top of World Happiness Report 2021 but it has to be a major contributing factor.

Now, Lets talk about India.

India is a country in South Asia. India’s 2020 population is currently estimated at 1,380,004,385. The question of the hour is, Why is India or Indians so unhappy that we are in the bottom 10 countries of the Happiness Index?

India is a developing nation with an estimated nominal GDP of $2.8 trillion. It is the world’s sixth-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP). However, the per capita GDP has been comparatively low. Similarly, the distribution of capital has also been unequal to substantial amounts within the country. Thus, spending is lot less than it it should be. Now, GDP is one of the factors of the WHR 2021 which is gradually but constantly improving, but factors like social support and corruption are bringing the overall ranking of India down. Talking about deaths by suicide, India reported an average of 381 deaths by suicide daily in 2019, totaling 1,39,123 fatalities over the year, according to the latest NCRB data. The causes of suicide have been listed as Family problems, Illness, Drug Abuse and Mental Illness among others. Corruption and social unrest has been another major factor in the Happiness Index. Since 2010, there has been 100s of scams amounting equal to or more than INR 100 crore. In 2020, apart from various incidents of mass lynching, two major riots shook the nation resulting in 56 people losing their lives and more than 300 people were left wounded with loss of property, the amount of which is unascertained. I will have to write a separate post for criminal activities and environment damage.

I can’t say that the picture isn’t as gory as its painted out to be, It’s worse. I know, because I live here. But, there are positives, India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. India has attracted a total FDI inflow of USD 58.37 billion during April to November 2020. It is the highest ever for the first eight months of a financial year (F.Y.) and 22 % higher as compared to the first eight months of 2019-20 (USD 47.67 billion). India has been a leader in handling the pandemic way better than developed nations with resources much lesser than them. India has developed a vaccine in such a short time with great efficiency. India is currently in the process of vaccinating people with 44.6 M vaccines administered and 7.48 M people have been fully vaccinated. Foreign minister, S. Jaishankar, when addressing the Asia Economic Dialogue 2021 said, India has lived up to its talk on a collaborative future by exporting vaccines to more than 70 countries and will be adding 40 countries to this list soon.

As Indians, we all are responsible for the good and the bad. We have a tendency to overshadow the bad with the good and that is perhaps the reason, we are not improving the way we have the potential to. It is not only the job of the government to do everything and we can’t hold them responsible when we are not. A very basic example of how callous and irresponsible we have become is, I see people cleaning their houses and throwing the garbage on the road and if you ask them to not do that, they have the audacity to talk back and start an argument with you. This is a very small and basic example of how we are failing at not being responsible citizens but just failing at being humans. Let’s be better, let’s make this country we call ours actually ours, let’s help in cleaning our country and recycling the garbage not throwing it outside. Let’s raise our kids with morals along with mobile phones and tablets. Before, teaching them coding, let’s tell them what is wrong and right. Let’s talk about depression, let’s not talk about gender equality, let’s start implementing measures to make that happen. Let’s talk about secularity and not believe everything that is on the news like gospel. Let’s be objective instead of judgmental, let’s be kind before being doubtful and let’s be humans before being anything else.

Before I forget, Oprah was a great interviewer and Meghan and Harry were great interviewees. That’s all!

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What is Love?

As I was wandering through the lanes of my mind on a lazy Saturday afternoon with a burger in my hand, I was somewhere lost between pondering about love or burgers or both, but as the sky was beautiful and maybe it was the influence of the songs (Agar tum saath ho and Simply the best) I was listening to, I chose to give my thoughts to love. As I started to think about Love and the complications that come along with it, this is a bit of what went through my mind.

We have so many ideas and expectations of love, as I have written earlier, millennials think love is complicated – Modern Love, but, really

Love is not always dressed in a pretty black dress waiting for you at the end of the hall

Love is at times in jumpers with crooked teeth crossing the road in front of you.

Love is not dinners at restaurants whose name you cannot pronounce,

Love is having cup noodles at 4 a.m. in the winters.

Love is the butterflies you have while holding their hands

Love is looking across the room filled with people and meeting their gaze somewhere in the middle.

Love is not about marriage or societal tags

Love is about seeing through eternity together.

Love is not about being happy all the time,

Love is having the strength to live through the sadness.

Love is dancing in the rain; love is having a bucket of ice cream to ourselves.

Love is in every tiny bit we do. Love is simple, it is us who complicate it by our expectations of love.

And I finally got up to not ponder but dig into the burger, after all love is also in eating a delicious burger.

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Being Mother

Being mother is hard.
Not because of pregnancy or labor, but for every second we are in strain.
The baby screams at night, we feel someone could have held her for a while, but holding her, we are restless listening her cry.
When she clings, we feel we need some space, but even few minutes away from her makes us hold her in tight embrace.
We wish she could handle all her deeds, but if she does, we are no more in need.
Handling all responsibilities makes us feel wish she could grow up fast, but when she grows, we miss her past
The feeling of wasting time being a fulltime mom goes away the moment the feeling of being a mother takes control.
We wish we could hang out with friends, party & shop but without her, our minds are constantly worried about whereabouts of her
Sometimes we feel we should be little less attached but could someone who has grown as an organ inside our body be so easily detached.
Sometimes they get on our nerves and we reprimand only to realize that our guilt cannot be controlled.
We restrict them from using screen time overall, but isn’t it what even we are doing as being adults?
We wish to lead a carefree life like before, but we would even then be longing for a kid to adore.

Written by Sahana – Find her on Instagram

Fire – from a simple spark

Times like these, when we’re confined to the walls of our homes, gives us time to ponder, that we need to rethink what we have been doing in the past. Our methods, our ways were not designed to live but just to exist. Now, when we see ducks swarming the canals of Venice or a clear blue sky in Mumbai, or dolphins in Italy’s waterways, we must realize that there is something wrong with what we have done in the past to the environment we live in. We have taken it for granted and not paid enough attention to it. And as we realize that there is no bigger force than nature, we should treat it better. Think about using a plastic bag and throwing that in the ocean, think about using a car to the grocery shop near you, think about your eating habits, and think that you’re not bigger than this planet. Nature is simple, you take care of it and it takes care of you. This planet is our home, and we have to take care of it or else there would be nothing left to take care of.

For any change to take place, a fire has to be ignited in the hearts and minds of people. A fire that inspires, motivates and compels us to be better. Any revolution in history started from a spark that turned into a fire and transformed the world we live in. In the current scenario, I believe a spark wouldn’t be enough, a fire as potent as the sun has to be lit because the time for metamorphosis has arrived and if we still remain oblivious, then like ash, all there will be is remains.

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Anthology

NOT READY TO LEAVE

I remember her voice,
It was amalgamated
I heard hope, helplessness
I felt pain and desire.
She was, is, not ready to leave

All this while

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Words hang in between
Unsaid by you and me.
Silence precedes,
Eyes search across the Nile
Gaze transfixed all this while
A moment stretched in time
Few words sewn in rhyme
Lips curve, evaporates a smile,
Hearts start on a journey of many miles.

Ignorance, maybe

‘What makes someone work hard every day?’, I often ask.
Motivation is temporary,
Discipline can have an exception,
Passions can wither,
Love is an unknown!
What, what keeps people going day in and out?!
Survival?
The desire to excel?
The aspiration to make history?
To utilize time efficiently?
What, what, what?
Ignorance, maybe?

Evolution

I want to write a book.
There is no story, though.
Just words
Pressed by lead in a diary
Spanning years
Spanning continents.
The pencil still looks new
The grip a little soft
And the holder evolved

Illusion

I get bored of nothing.
Stayed home, watched T.V., ordered food!
Mind evaded work first,
Then created an illusion

Maslow’s hierarchy

I strung some words together
And it made me happy.
I have my stomach full.

Poems written by Smriti , follow her on Instagram

Modern Love

I am a sunflower, a little funny, if I were a rose, maybe you’d pick me!

My earphones had this on loop when things went left. I couldn’t fathom what really happened. I spent weeks in denial, then months in sadness and eventually accepted that I wasn’t worth the fight.

After months of self-loathing and guilt came a resounding belief that I did everything that could have been done, you did everything that could’ve been done. Yes, I left and you can blame me for that and I can blame you for not fighting enough!

But we weren’t meant to be together, we knew that since the first time we met, right? I was the girl who’d overthink over things that didn’t require thought, the girl who’d prefer long walks instead of sitting in over the top places, the girl who had faith and you were the boy with a fire in the black of your eyes, you were the boy who was overprotective of the people you love, you were the boy who would sing and dance to music that was unbearable for my ears. But we changed, we adapted to each other’s needs and I always said that no matter how many traits you change, your core never really changes. You never really alter your core. And from love, it became something more complicated if there is such a thing. We became the swing that goes forward but equally backward too, our minds became aloof, and even though you and I were together but there were only moments when we really were.

Content provided by Samiksha Singh. Please follow her on Instagram and Linkedin

Top 5 qualities required for WFH!

Inference- Not every single one of us can work from home!

Some say working from home increases their productivity while some some slack at it and there are others who would want a mix and match of both. What truly depends is exactly why is one working from home, the drive and motivation to work is what would make a person work from home very highly effectively. My wife has been working from home pretty much from past 3 years and boy i have seen her work, sometimes tired at looking her endlessly on a 14″ screen and slamming her keyboard. Me, on other hand finish a nice morning shift of probably 10-6 sometimes 7 in an office and yeah once in a while may be fire up the laptop and punch in those some important emails, hey but thats just for 15 mins unlike my wife who keeps repeatedly doing that for 15 hours.

Every day living room scene in our home, me reacting to random videos on 55″ screen while my wife reacting on a 14″ screen

We discussed previously is working from home the future ? So what is that drives people to work from not only home but from where ever the hell they want to? Below are my top 5 personality traits take on it.

Ownership– A sense of owning to a particular project or a task is always a very important factor when it comes to work, but more so very crucial if it is not working from office.

Responsibility – If one is responsible for a bunch of projects and group of people, it automatically drives one to work without complaining.

Entrepreneurial – An individual who is so strong willed to do something like creating a product or a service to achieve something that they have aimed for, then no matter what place, they are always on the move thinking and working all the time. This particular trait is also measured these days in most of job interviews, apparently it does not only stand for entrepreneurs but is more an attitude or mindset.

Passion– I know i know! It is probably an overrated word, but it still drives one to work on their own, passion brings happiness and one tends to just work towards excellence day in and day out.

Leadership– Leading is an important trait which most people either learn by following others or some have it in them naturally, any of which makes one work naturally, the best example of which is 2020 covid times, during which the leader would say stay at home and work rather than coming to a workplace.

These are by and large most important qualities whether be it working from office or working from home, such people do not really bother if it is home or cafe or office. But, most importantly necessary if at all working from a non office environment.

Is Working From Home the future?

Inference – The year 2220 will have everyone working from home, may be even working from Mars.

Before the Industrial revolution, let us say before 19th century ,the basic profession and most career choice one could have was being a farmer, carpenter, mason , barber , fisherman, saint, soldier and trader. These were really a broader choice and one had to really fit into these somehow or the other to survive. Most of them involved working near to home but you had to be still out to pursue work.

With advent of Industrial revolution, more jobs were being created by the end of 18th century , the concept of higher production in less time had just begun. A lot of people started getting jobs, a job would be to work what one is asked during a particular day and get paid by the hour. Majority of us today are part of this contract where we go to a work place, work what has been asked of us and end of the day get paid for it, just the terms have changed these days, they pay now bi-weekly, monthly, annually (bonuses).

20th century brings to us fantastic tools called computers and then comes WWW ( World Wide Web), this at first creates more jobs, but people still go to a workplace, because these devices are heavy. Slowly within a decade we see the size of this device shrinking linearly and by 2020, we have devices which can be pushed in our pockets. Innovation in the past 2 decades has grown way faster than generations combined. When innovation grows faster than people, people do not know to adapt to it at the same rate. Smarter folks are creating tools to revolutionize the world, but the world is not able to change its mindset. A study has shown that it takes at least one generation for a collective change of mindset to happen. We slowly see that happening.

Object of the Day - Smithsonian Associates

The year 2020 simply slapped this archaic world and taught many things to mankind. A sudden event changes people, world changes faster. People are forced for a mindset change. The change we are seeing is coming sooner than usual, most importantly, when today’s workers become industrial leaders after a decade, they will never forget what 2020 taught them. A lot of people have already begun working from home, this is true for most of white collared jobs in the world who are paid to think and not for a laborious task. The blue collared jobs will continue to work in creating very valuable assets and manufacturing the needs of this world, but with robots and mechanizations happening, it is beyond our thinking two centuries from now for the year 2220. May be even them can start working from home, that as of now is only a fiction and a good story for a Sci-Fi movie, but food for thought , there was no internet and computers- 30 years ago, no electric cars- 20 years ago and no popular work from home just 5 years ago.