“The other day, my colleague, Payam Sadeghi, shared his wisdom with a number of us during a regular lunchtime chat:
“Life is a journey. Along the journey, we pick memories – good and bad, both. Good memories are our only true treasures, while bad memories are just bags of toxic rubbish. At the end of the end of the day, what does a person cherish – good memories or bad memories? Of course, the good memories, the true treasures! If we keep storing bad memories, we are certain to be sitting on a pile of toxic rubbish at the end of our life journey. It is, therefore, prudent to keep flushing all bad memories down the toilet bowl as we keep going. For example, if anyone throws a bag of rubbish in your backyard, what do you do? You pick it up and throw it in a rubbish bin. You never take it inside your house. Similarly, bad memories must be rubbished and disposed of quickly. So the message is: Good memories must be treasured while bad memories must be laughed at.”
Another colleague, George Cooper, also chipped in quickly with his piece of wisdom:
“Generally, people carry two suitcases all the time. One suitcase carries their past memories – of pain and suffering, losses and failures etc. The other suitcase carries their constant worries and apprehensions about their future – born out of fear (of imaginary failures) and anxiety (due to imagination of losing face and embarrassment). At any point of time, neither the past exists, nor is the future known! So, why we do keep carrying those two suitcases? Would it not be wise to travel light – without carrying those suitcases unnecessarily – and keep moving ahead happily through our life journey?”
Well, am I not fortunate to have those wise young guys as my colleagues?
By the way, why is unhappiness and mental illness rampantly increasing across the globe, especially amongst the youth, and even the older people – both in the developed world and the corresponding upper socio-economic strata in developing countries? One would intuitively assume that people who are materially rich and successful should be very happy. But are they?
In our quest to make things easier and our life relatively more comfortable, we have distanced ourselves from our inner-Self. We have made ourselves more reliant, rather slavishly, on numerous external agencies for our happiness. Over time, due to a relatively more affluent lifestyle, as compared to that of our predecessors, we have become used to instant gratification of all our five senses – like instant noodles and tea bags! A famous cosmetic company keeps reminding us, ‘You are worth it‘. Material consumption, eh! Furthermore, the availability of numerous options ruins us. We have forgotten those good old phrases – ‘all that glitters is not gold’ and ‘appearances are deceptive’! Are we able to think? Do we have control on ourselves?
We feel lonely because we fail to connect with our inner-Self. Accordingly, due to our internal vacuum, our lifestyle is driven – to a considerable extent – by the social media; we keep crying (albeit silently) ‘look at me, look at me …’ and suffer from an insatiable craving for maximum ‘likes’ on the FB. We are surely losing control on ourselves. Sadly, the locus of control is passed on and remains with others who decide how we should look, what we should wear, how we should live our life! Fashion industry and celebrities set the trends and most of us follow them – slavishly.
Through an aggressive advertisement campaign – overt and covert – subtle and bold – active and passive – material things and physical comforts are constantly being sold to us – right, left and centre – on both electronic and published media – on billboards – and by filthy rich and successful celebrities, who are paid truckloads of money to endorse and sell virtually everything to us (as if they were short of wealth, but human greed prevails). We are constantly being bombarded by the glitter; we keep getting lured into (an unhappy) material world. The more we move away from our inner-Self, the unhappier we become. We are slowly but surely losing the necessary survival skills of deep contemplation, rationalisation and pure thinking in this ever-growing maze of material world.
A fast growing competition – due to uncontrolled population boom – and a constant struggle to survive – especially in a capitalistic world – keep eroding our empathy and compassion for the fellow human being and the environment around us. It is mostly ‘me, me, me‘, just like lambs and sheep. We are proving we are nothing but another herd animal, but much more selfish, cunning and conniving. And also unhappy!
A few days ago, when I wrote the above lines on the social medial, I received response from only a number of friends, which indicated my message may not have travelled its full distance.
- It is God’s Will, we can’t comment.
- Money and success can’t be any criteria for happiness.
- But lack of it does sometimes leads you to struggle and depression.
- Somebody rightly said, ‘Sai itna dejiye jitna kutumbh samaiye main bi bokha na rahu sadhu bokha na jaye.’
- People are being used and material valued whereas it should had been other way.
- We may be smarter than other beings, yet at the end of the day we all have animal instincts.
It also seemed the want or absence of ‘money’ had (almost) high jacked my core message ‘about the need for spiritual satisfaction and internal dependence for happiness’.
Every year, 10th October is celebrated as the WORLD MENTAL HEALTH day! Two years ago, this day inspired me to write my second book, ‘My life does not have to be unhappy.’ As noted in the book, based on a consistent message from a number of related medical professionals, philosophers, people of wisdom and the religion, the following everyday 4-pronged approach can help one to live a relatively more satisfied, balanced and fulfilled life:
- Live to an unselfish purpose of your choice;
- Unconditionally help others on a daily basis;
- Meditate daily; and
- Do some aerobic exercise regularly.
As someone said, “Mental health is not just about one day. This one day – 10th October – is just about promoting awareness about mental illness. Every day is World Mental Health Day.”
It is okay not to be okay. Getting sick is normal! But it is NEVER OKAY to not do something about it. Mental illness is just like any other sickness of any other body part. It is NOT madness, so please don’t follow any outdated taboos and stigmas about it; they are all rubbish. Remember that it is not only you who is suffering, one in every four persons around you has some form of mental illness; sadly, the number could be more than that!
Admit without shame that you are suffering … discuss with your family and friends, without hesitation or fear, that you have a problem … seek the necessary medical help and get better … give yourself time to heal and regain your mental health. As responsible adults, we are all responsible for looking after our mental health, as well as the health of our family members, work colleagues, friends and relatives. As responsible adults, we are all responsible for looking after our mental health, as well as the health of our family members, work colleagues, friends and relatives. Let us do our bit. And, yes, let us not forget to breathe and be grateful that we are breathing!
“Row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream – merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily – life is but a dream (a nursery rhyme, 1852)”
Be your friend and be your own master. Live your life, full and contended.”.… Bill K Koul