Life Style

Mindful Choices

Mindful Choices
By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/30/2019 5:39:16 AM IST

 We live in a world of convenience. Everywhere you look there are options and so many of them. A person’s life in the 21st century is more heavily influenced by money than ever before. There’s an underlying latent yet potent belief that materialistic things will guarantee happiness. If this is a fact then world over more and more people should be happy. Yet, nothing could be farther from the truth. Anxiety, depression, stress, substance use and dependence are all on the rise. So somewhere we’ve got things all twisted up and without realizing this, we continue down the same path like automated machines. 

Simplifying it, there are too many distractions around us, leading to an outward approach. If we dissect this approach, we can see two distinct yet related parts. 

Firstly, the outward approach prioritizes achieving goals according to developmental milestones, moving from one goal to another without questioning the meaning that these goals have. For example, a strict notion that one has to have a well paying, secure job by a certain age, settle down and marry by a certain age and have children by a certain age and buy a house by a certain age. 

The goals by themselves aren’t problematic. The issue lies with the automatic fashion in which these goals are adopted, without serious thought. For a large majority of individuals, these goals become a part of their life script because they are socially sanctioned and fulfilling these goals becomes mandatory. This is one of the reasons why mid life crisis has become such a common occurrence. 

Secondly, there is more emphasis on happiness being obtained by amassing wealth and materialistic objects. You think that if you wear certain clothes, you would look a certain way that is appealing to you, leading to a state of happiness. If you have a grand house and a family, you could all live together happily; a great car or a luxurious lifestyle, are essential ingredients in the recipe for happiness. 

What eventually happens is that happiness becomes an elusive object, one that we desire but cannot experience because we mistakenly believe that everything in life has to fall into place for it to happen.  The key here is being mindful and making mindful choices; consciously deciding that there are alternative ways of living life, one that can be filled with meaning and satisfaction. This is not to say that money doesn’t have a role to play but calls into question the meaning and importance ascribed to it. 

Our lives are currently driven by consumption, which is not only bad for the environment but also for the mind. 

Majority of the decisions we take in our lives are mindless, influenced by misconceptions and myths. We end up feeling dissatisfied, wondering where we went wrong. For many people, this existential dilemma may result in mental health issues and use of maladaptive coping strategies. 

It was Nietzsche who said “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.” What Nietzsche meant was that reason is important because it helps make us resilient. 

The reason, we draw from the meaning we give to our lives. There is no arbitrary notion of what a reason should be or what the meaning should be; we each have the ability to decide this for ourselves. However, doing so requires a marked shift in the ethos of our world. 

The choices and decisions you make in life should come from within, based on your interests, abilities and aspirations. Prioritize experience over possessions. Choose a degree because you are passionate about it, not because it has a greater likelihood of payout in the end. Marry because you want to, not because it’s time. 

Spend more time cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself; engage in hobbies and activities that you like. 

The idea is to shift from an outward approach to an inward one. If we are able to cultivate such a mindset and transmit this onto the future generations, the world will be a much better place sustained by mindful individuals who find meaning in their lives. 

Parvathy Nair, Clinical Psychologist,

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