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Seeking Happiness, with Puneet Singh Singhal
Episode 1111th October 2022 • I'm Back! • Serena Savini
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A really special episode for the International Stuttering Day 2022. Serena talks again with Puneet Singh Singhal, Founder of Ssstart and Disability Activist, about Stammering, a new perspective on Diversity and Inclusion and about the importance of joy, pleasure and happiness.

You can find more about Puneet here:

Transcripts

Puneet:

Accessibility to feel.

Puneet:

Because if we feeling safe, then we'll be comfortable.

Puneet:

And if we are comfortable, we'll be even trying to have fun.

Puneet:

Like why DI is all about, inclusion, why it's all about acceptance.

Puneet:

Can we go beyond acceptance?

Puneet:

Can we go beyond that?

Puneet:

We are just focusing on the needs.

Puneet:

So we never disability with creativity ledger celebration, joy, and.

Puneet:

I want to ask why we are not why we are not supposed to have desires.

Puneet:

Why we are only supposed to just survive and not thrive.

Puneet:

Not enjoy, not celebrate our lives.

Puneet:

And I think enjoyment and comfort is by far a human right.

Puneet:

And just cause we are human, we, we are entitled to have that right.

Puneet:

To seek pleasure.

Puneet:

Welcome to I'm back today, I'm going to have a conversation with puny.

Puneet:

I'm really happy to have unit back to celebrate together the

Puneet:

international stammering day to have.

Puneet:

A really provocative conversation around diversity and inclusion

Puneet:

and then.

Puneet:

About the importance for everyone.

Puneet:

These are not to seek happiness.

Puneet:

Pleasure and joy.

Puneet:

Welcome back.

Puneet:

Only yesterday I was planning to design a curriculum

Puneet:

for diversity inclusion.

Puneet:

And what I have felt like the number of workshops that I have

Puneet:

attended, it's very Americanized.

Puneet:

The perspective is very narrow and the most of the focus is on,

Puneet:

on when talk diversity, most on which I would not say that it's.

Puneet:

It's not required.

Puneet:

Of course it is required, but there are other complicities as

Puneet:

well, which we need to think about.

Puneet:

There are other interactions as well.

Puneet:

So when I think when I was reflecting what is de For me

Puneet:

DEI is to, is the accessibility.

Puneet:

Accessibility to feel.

Puneet:

Because if we feeling safe, then we'll be comfortable.

Puneet:

And if we are comfortable, we'll be even trying to have fun.

Puneet:

Like why DI is all about, inclusion, why it's all about acceptance.

Puneet:

Can we go beyond acceptance?

Puneet:

Can we go beyond that?

Puneet:

We are just focusing on the needs.

Puneet:

And maybe just, let's have fun with this concept.

Puneet:

Less, less experiment a bit.

Puneet:

And what is my, like I always wanted to learn and the best way

Puneet:

to learn is to make mistakes.

Puneet:

And even if I'm like, I'm something incorrect, I would love to hear

Puneet:

what people has to say about it.

Puneet:

Cause then I think with all of these arguments with debate, I think I will.

Puneet:

And we will learn a whole lot of things.

Puneet:

So let's not hold back just to be politically correct and diplomatic.

Puneet:

We can argue, we can debate about it.

Puneet:

And it's about, having some opinions as well.

Puneet:

So I can question what is diversity?

Puneet:

What is eqd, what is inclusion?

Puneet:

I can look up to dictionary and see the meaning of.

Puneet:

And if we see the meaning of that, suppose inclusion.

Puneet:

So inclusion is about inclusion as, as simple as that.

Puneet:

So like we talk about different intersections, we talk about people

Puneet:

of color, we talk about community, but we are leaving behind white

Puneet:

men, white heterosexual men.

Puneet:

Because then they are feeling like we are always on the, on this.

Puneet:

We are always expected to listen.

Puneet:

No one is listening to us.

Puneet:

And it's like our ancestors have done all of these things.

Puneet:

Why would we be like we declared as in as a pri So we have to take

Puneet:

everyone together, even if like we call them, Even if we told them like,

Puneet:

like they have all the resources at their disposal, no problem.

Puneet:

We have to take everyone together and this is real and thorough inclusion.

Puneet:

What do you think about?

Serena:

I think that for me personally, diversity and inclusion is for everyone.

Serena:

And sometimes I have the feeling that the diversity inclusion discussion.

Serena:

It's not for everyone.

Serena:

And this make me sad.

Serena:

I can give you personal example.

Serena:

Of course I'm Italian, so I'm I'm from the west.

Serena:

I'm privileged for a lot of things and at the same time I'm a disabled person.

Serena:

What is the fine line between.

Serena:

Being privileged or not because everyone on a of us have and can bring a different

Serena:

story and then different perspective.

Serena:

And yes, some people are more privileged than others.

Serena:

Yes.

Serena:

And at the same time, if we are not curious anymore to

Serena:

listen to their stories, What kind of word are we creating?

Serena:

Is it really our word that is inclusive?

Serena:

Is it really a word where everyone feel valued and seen?

Serena:

So I have a lot of question about that, and especially because I really believe

Serena:

that no one needs to be left behind.

Serena:

And uh, I have the impression that we are not doing a great

Serena:

job on this at the moment.

Serena:

What do you think?

Puneet:

Believe that you caught my point of when I said that

Puneet:

privileged people are actually.

Puneet:

That privilege.

Puneet:

There are complexities as well.

Puneet:

There are intersections which are at the, Just because you are

Puneet:

white, it doesn't mean that you have your life has no issues.

Puneet:

Youre a person with disability as well.

Puneet:

So there are of, we are not putting people into boxes.

Puneet:

Too simplify i our thoughts.

Puneet:

So if a person with disability is just not a person with disability,

Puneet:

That person can have lot of other characteristics in the personality,

Puneet:

he or she, or they can be anything.

Puneet:

They can be an artist, they can be like they can have different

Puneet:

interest and all of these things.

Puneet:

So there are a lot of things like we cannot put human beings into

Puneet:

boxes and we are doing exactly that.

Puneet:

So we are making our.

Puneet:

Work which is supposed to be simple, very complicated because

Puneet:

simple things are not easy for simplicity is the most complicated.

Puneet:

That simplicity and it's is time to, You don think Sarah, that we are,

Puneet:

where are we heading in that regard?

Puneet:

Cause then people will have bitter.

Puneet:

It'll be having bitterness because even if I'm mindful of all of these things.

Puneet:

I am not a white person, but I know, like I read, I go through the talk

Puneet:

about societies like In Western countries, the side rate is so high.

Puneet:

Like why?

Puneet:

If you guys have all the facilities, if you guys have everything, why people are

Puneet:

having mental health issues and suicides

Serena:

because there is something that is happening beneath the thing.

Serena:

Exactly.

Puneet:

So the system is not working well and we are thinking that okay there are

Puneet:

some marginalized sections in this world.

Puneet:

And I'm not being dismissive, I'm not saying that it's a pie.

Puneet:

Like we think of everything as a.

Puneet:

That that, that is a pizza Yes.

Puneet:

That if I got the slice, you will not get the slice.

Puneet:

I think this is, sustainability is all about like having

Puneet:

this supply of happiness.

Puneet:

Why not supply of we talk about food and energy and this is like

Puneet:

why we, This is stopping seek happiness from your success.

Puneet:

You take, you enjoy my success.

Puneet:

A lot.

Puneet:

And I do the same.

Puneet:

Like I seek happiness from your success.

Puneet:

You won this award, your podcast and I about that, who, about your success?

Puneet:

There is unlimited happiness.

Puneet:

There is unlimited humanity in this world.

Puneet:

And let's explore that together.

Puneet:

Like we, humans tend to divide things like it's so easy to divide, but can we can.

Puneet:

Can we stop and show solid solidarity because in this planet we are

Puneet:

having a war at this point of time.

Puneet:

Theres places like Pakistan where there is flood, there are leaders who

Puneet:

are not behaving in a mature level.

Puneet:

So there is whole lot of issues and I think as if we can, if

Puneet:

we know a whole lot of things.

Puneet:

Can we feel really inclusive?

Puneet:

Can we look up to dictionary and see the meaning of

Puneet:

it's us?

Serena:

You said before that it's so important to create a safe space.

Serena:

Not only for inclusivity, but also for this pursuit of happiness and joy.

Serena:

And I will add also freedom to be who you are with being truthful to yourself.

Serena:

How can we create this safe space when the world is on fire?

Puneet:

I give you an example of in, in our neighboring country, Pakistan,

Puneet:

we are having blood and some of my best friends are there, they are stuck.

Puneet:

They have lot of challenges.

Puneet:

Lot of diseases are also, they are water bonds is, I would think is going.

Puneet:

The wrong way.

Puneet:

And you know what are the one thing that, that they're seeking

Puneet:

pleasure from is music and dance?

Puneet:

Like as simple as that?

Puneet:

Because when I was proposing that, no, why cannot we arrange a

Puneet:

community level academy will a thing.

Puneet:

I'm not talking about.

Puneet:

Like using money.

Puneet:

I'm just talking about people coming together and seeing that

Puneet:

yes, it's this, like maybe at this point time we are having lot of

Puneet:

challenges being dismissive issues.

Puneet:

Again, I am very mindful that what our heart goes down when we think about it.

Puneet:

It's so difficult to survive, but at the end of the day, people coming together.

Puneet:

And they are share sharing their sorrow and they're trying to be happy.

Puneet:

What's wrong in that?

Puneet:

But some people are like, Oh no, we should only think about food.

Puneet:

We should think about shelter, medicine, all of these things.

Puneet:

This is fine.

Puneet:

These are basic necessities.

Puneet:

But when I think about myself, when I was when my father used to beat me daily,

Puneet:

when my mother was in depression, when I.

Puneet:

I was struggling to eat.

Puneet:

What was the one thing that that me going was get a chocolate.

Puneet:

Like I'm during the day I'm buying myself a chocolate in evening.

Puneet:

That's the one thing I was looking to eat to celebrate that I'm alive

Puneet:

it is all, it's as simple as that.

Puneet:

Like why we are just thinking about look, these people are poor.

Puneet:

These people are like, not p, so we'll also only think about their

Puneet:

needs, but they cannot have desires just as people with disability.

Puneet:

They just can, They are just supposed to survive, just live their everyday lives

Puneet:

with whatever challenges they're having.

Puneet:

Okay.

Puneet:

You do that.

Puneet:

But you cannot seek pleasure.

Puneet:

You cannot have sexual desires, You cannot have romantic partners

Puneet:

cannot have simply, you cannot seek pleasure as simple as that.

Puneet:

So why not?

Serena:

And what if we put pleasure as a basic need?

Puneet:

Beautiful.

Puneet:

Why not?

Puneet:

I just

Serena:

say, Why not?

Serena:

Why not?

Serena:

It was so moving, what you were saying, and I really think that it's a change

Serena:

of perspective because If I'm thinking about people that are coming back

Serena:

to work, for example, it's so easy for them and for all of us to think

Serena:

about, okay, what are the basic needs?

Serena:

Maybe it's the accommodation, maybe it's the chair, maybe, I don't know,

Serena:

something that is really practical.

Serena:

And then you think, Okay, I'm good.

Serena:

No.

Serena:

It's not true because yes, the practical things are important and

Serena:

essential, but what help you to move and to live and to say to yourself,

Serena:

Okay, I can restart from here.

Serena:

I can have dreams, hopes it's something else and it's it's a conversation,

Serena:

I think really disruptive right now because we don't want to talk about

Serena:

the need of pleasure and happiness

Serena:

but at the same time, it's so important.

Puneet:

We see warmth, basic warmth.

Puneet:

Like building the last know that I, we were our last podcasting have

Puneet:

learned the one most touching thing that, that I learned from working with

Puneet:

kids that they have not looked at me.

Puneet:

As a person with multiple disabilities, they have looked as me as a person.

Puneet:

They have not me into a box.

Puneet:

They are looking beyond that and they are listening.

Puneet:

They are observing.

Puneet:

They think I have something to offer.

Puneet:

And they accept it with all heartedness.

Puneet:

Yes we are with you.

Puneet:

Let's do something less experiment.

Puneet:

They're always that, that open.

Puneet:

So what I have learned, like I am not putting them into that, that

Puneet:

these kids are with disabilities.

Puneet:

They are from this, no, this is not their identity.

Puneet:

They're much more than that.

Puneet:

And it's about warmth.

Puneet:

Like people coming back from sickness and they're coming back to the office and

Puneet:

then it's it's someone talking to them.

Puneet:

Like how are you feeling today with that warmth?

Puneet:

No it's not about like getting a job and, or maybe it's not only about

Puneet:

getting his salary and all of this insurance and no financial support.

Puneet:

Yeah, it's fine.

Puneet:

It's really.

Puneet:

But at the end of the day, human beings seek warmth.

Puneet:

Are they getting that?

Puneet:

Are they feeling welcomed and valued?

Puneet:

And half of the issues will be gone because, we are already having a pain.

Puneet:

We are already having this kind of mental stress.

Puneet:

But if someone says okay, let's sit down and talk about how's your life going?

Puneet:

Tell me.

Puneet:

Half of your worry goes go away, and you're feeling like

Puneet:

you're feeling so better.

Puneet:

And even just seconds.

Puneet:

It's better than therapy.

Puneet:

Like we are spending so much on therapies and all of these things,

Puneet:

but the relationship, the in relationships are really important.

Puneet:

And we are somehow missing upon that on everywhere.

Puneet:

On this on, on this.

Puneet:

Planet call heart.

Puneet:

I think

Serena:

sometimes that having a conversation, it's not only enough,

Serena:

but it's what's really needed.

Serena:

And real conversation.

Serena:

Not just saying, Oh, our, you, let's talk about the KPIs that we not need

Serena:

to achieve, but it's about our you.

Serena:

I'm interested in you.

Serena:

I see you.

Serena:

I'm here for you because I care about you and yes, let's talk also about the KPIs.

Serena:

But you first, and this is something that is not so understood right now,

Serena:

that the, our society, it's running Towards money performance, success, et

Serena:

cetera, cetera, and at the same time is creating all the condition to not

Serena:

achieve success, really performance and success, because it's so related to

Serena:

bonds, to connection, to conversation.

Serena:

And as you said seeing the other person with the eye of a child.

Serena:

So without boxes, without labels, who cares about your identity?

Serena:

And I'm saying this in the most positive sense because I think every one of us

Serena:

is much, much more complex than the identity that we are creating for our.

Puneet:

Yeah, and it's we're like to think that we're way too sensitive, that,

Puneet:

we have these kind, fun conversations.

Puneet:

Like it time it takes a lot of trust building.

Puneet:

And you cannot just go to someone and say that, No, let's talk.

Puneet:

If that person doesn't trust you, how can, like how can we

Puneet:

actually talk and it's pretty deep.

Puneet:

It's like it can take time, it can take months, it can take lot of time.

Puneet:

Manage.

Puneet:

It's like, it's not that simple and it's not the only thing that we require.

Puneet:

But certainly it can help.

Puneet:

And because we can just go and rely on someone who to share

Puneet:

that what we are going through.

Puneet:

It's simple, it's easy, it's spaces, and

Puneet:

I think rather than we are more focused on identities.

Puneet:

Can we be more focused on values?

Puneet:

And because you say something about about, about me.

Puneet:

I got triggered insecurities there.

Puneet:

I say something about you.

Puneet:

You got triggered.

Puneet:

Like it's a note ending.

Puneet:

Circle.

Puneet:

And, but if we have trust and if we know that our values are in sync, like maybe

Puneet:

there is something behind that to explore.

Puneet:

So first we will listen to the other person before reacting.

Puneet:

And it's in every little relationship.

Puneet:

It's with parent and child, it's with partners.

Puneet:

It's with colleagues.

Puneet:

I think we are as, it's a very overused phrase, but I would say that we are

Puneet:

listening to react, but not to respond

Serena:

and link it to that.

Serena:

We are recording this episode for our really special occasion that

Serena:

is the International Summering Day.

Serena:

I'm really happy to have you because I think we can have a beautiful conversation

Serena:

about why this day is so important.

Serena:

And what is your wish for the stemming community, for the future?

Puneet:

Thank you so much for asking that.

Puneet:

And to all the listeners, I have not told to ask me that, but I'm pretty prepared

Puneet:

for this question cause this is what I do.

Puneet:

So I got lot of calls, like I got calls at night when I'm

Puneet:

sleeping and these young stores.

Puneet:

Coco is going young people with standard, they want a quick fix.

Puneet:

They want a magic pill.

Puneet:

They just want, get to get themselves treated.

Puneet:

They want talk, what we call fluently.

Puneet:

And it's like I understand like what they're going through, bullying, they're

Puneet:

going through whole lot of issues.

Puneet:

It took me 20 years to actually I was just like that when, in my college

Puneet:

days, in my school days, I was just like oh God just make me a normal speaker.

Puneet:

Just my standing.

Puneet:

It has given me whole lot of things.

Puneet:

When I opened my heart, when I.

Puneet:

Looked back into time, it just make me such a sensitive person.

Puneet:

Such, such a, You made more humane, more I valued word that

Puneet:

is coming out my valued everyone.

Puneet:

I see people who are not hard.

Puneet:

Like I, I see an every marginalized community as relatable.

Puneet:

Cause I, I can see that what it feels when people don't listen to you.

Puneet:

So it's I talk to them that, no just take your time and, you cannot run

Puneet:

from something that is within you.

Puneet:

You cannot run away from.

Puneet:

It's fine.

Puneet:

You're going through a lot.

Puneet:

It's completely un understandable that people are mocking you,

Puneet:

people are loving on you, people are finishing your sentences.

Puneet:

But, all of these pauses, when I was giving a speech in my

Puneet:

school, there was a huge pause.

Puneet:

couldn't address a single.

Puneet:

And when people were laughing on me and I took a long breath and these few

Puneet:

moments of mindfulness, I think it's, this was some kind of meditation for

Puneet:

me, some kind of spiritual awakening for me that I'm so alive when I, by why I'm

Puneet:

doing that to myself, like world can be.

Puneet:

Little harsh on me, little root on me, but why I'm so rough.

Puneet:

Let's not fight with your, just, enjoy that.

Puneet:

Just don't try to do anything.

Puneet:

And it's it works as a therapy for me and.

Puneet:

And now I have no issues with whether I ta or I don't.

Puneet:

It's fine.

Puneet:

It's just the way we speak and I want every single person

Puneet:

withering to feel that way or not.

Puneet:

Justing, any kind person who is not able to express their feelings,

Puneet:

their emotions, it's totally fine.

Puneet:

It's okay.

Puneet:

It's like, Just give yourself some time.

Puneet:

Don't be harsh on yourself, and you are not the only one

Puneet:

who is going through this.

Puneet:

And it's a process.

Puneet:

It's a process of healing will take time, but you allow yourself to,

Puneet:

you have, give yourself that, that open environment and air to breathe.

Puneet:

And yeah, breathing is the fundamental unit of life.

Puneet:

And let's breathe.

Puneet:

That's not run without breathing keep breathing and just walking.

Puneet:

Let's keep walking on this path.

Serena:

We are always running.

Serena:

I feel that we are running against time against people, against ourselves.

Serena:

So it's really beautiful what you are saying and also the reflection

Serena:

that you can give yourself time

Serena:

with the international sta stumbling day, there is a sense of also of celebration.

Serena:

What means?

Serena:

Celebrate your sting to you and do you want to celebrate your sting?

Puneet:

If you would've asked this question few years back, I would be saying

Puneet:

like, Why would I celebrate something that is making my life miserable?

Puneet:

? Yes.

Puneet:

But now I just love, I just love and I, talking about when there was some

Puneet:

incident when someone is timeing on the TV or someone is timeing in real life, I.

Puneet:

I used to become invisible.

Puneet:

Just like I pray to God that I become invisible and I don't wanna

Puneet:

be seen because it's so horrible to see someone as person with, If I

Puneet:

see someone with, It was like I was, I used to ble, I used to shakes.

Puneet:

Really great to encounter that cause.

Puneet:

It's simply the diversity in, in, in the form of expression is what steming is.

Puneet:

Diversity expressing is a different way to express with somes, with

Puneet:

it does different.

Puneet:

It's and still I want to celebrate this day cause I'm proud.

Puneet:

The way we live our everyday lives is difficult, no doubt.

Puneet:

But it's beautiful at the same time.

Serena:

Do you want to add something more on this conversation?

Serena:

I want to add historical political and religious side of stem.

Serena:

Cause it's really important to see that where, from where we are coming.

Serena:

Because in, in the Hinduism and in Buddhism, it is sad that it is ising

Serena:

or any other kind of disability is the result of your past life.

Serena:

Karma.

Serena:

It's the punishment it's it's bad and it's negative, and and

Serena:

you should like, you deserve.

Serena:

This is the narrative, this is the religious narrative.

Serena:

And and then we have Victorian literature in which each time was equated with

Serena:

same sex intimacy that that as tempering is a physical impediment being.

Serena:

Gay or being from gay community is like socially forbidden.

Serena:

So it's quite same thing.

Serena:

And also like they used to say that in some stories being gay men and if you're

Serena:

a men steming, then you are not, man.

Serena:

You're not like, you're not a yeah.

Serena:

Like, how to say that you're not fully developed or whatever for the better.

Serena:

The lack of better.

Serena:

And in politics we have Draw Biden now president of United States and

Serena:

he is continuously facing bullying the opposition parties and all.

Serena:

The people who are against him says that, this person cannot even speak properly.

Serena:

How will he lead the word?

Serena:

So these narratives, we are coming from these narratives.

Serena:

We, we are still facing bullying.

Serena:

The journey, The path is not easy, but on the 22nd of October, as we are celebrating

Serena:

international stuttering awareness we can, we can try to be a good listener.

Serena:

We can try to have more empathy and it's, it works both sides.

Serena:

The people who, whose and people who doesn't.

Serena:

If we are little more open, if we are a little more.

Serena:

Open to change, open to question.

Serena:

I think we can move forward to a new kind of society where differences will be not

Serena:

considered a bad thing because it's all about differences, Homophobia, racism.

Serena:

All of these things are about differences, right?

Serena:

Ableism is also all the difference.

Serena:

It's our defense mechanism to the people who act different, who look

Serena:

different, who think different.

Serena:

So it, it's our human tendency to be afraid of something that is different.

Serena:

We always show assistant to change just about.

Serena:

Showing little bit of openness and yeah, we can be a little

Serena:

more what we say more vulnerable and to have a more inclusive society.

Serena:

Thank you for me.

Serena:

Thank you so much, Punit.

Serena:

It's really a pleasure to have you back.

Serena:

And I am back.

Serena:

Yes.

Serena:

It's pleasure to be back when I'm back.

Serena:

Thank you for listening to this episode, please share it with friends then needs

Serena:

to hear this important conversation.

Serena:

You can find more information in the description or on the website.

Serena:

pod.link/welcomeback.

Links