Hope is all we have

“Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

-Laini Taylor

I didn’t have a very comfortable life as a child. We had many financial and household issues to deal with. Everyday was a struggle for us, especially my mom. However, if I were to compare my mental strength back then to now, I was way more happy, hopeful and positive in the past. I refrained from overthinking every single aspect of my life, I was hopeful and positive of a bright future, I knew things would turn out in our favour sooner or later. I had something to look forward to, I had a lot of goals for my future, the future seemed like a happy dream that I was eager to convert to reality.

Things did work out in our favour. Most of my childhood goals have been accomplished (from earning a degree, getting a stable job, fulfilling the basic materialistic goals such as buying a branded cell phone to fancy clothes to renovating my house). Life should be amazing, I should be happy, I shouldn’t have anything to crib about anymore. Well that’s the issue, why does all of this still seem difficult? Why do we forget everything that has worked for us and always focus on the things that we don’t have? Why does my mind have to overthink every single moment of my life and present me with situations that always seem unfavorable and scary? I was never this confused during my childhood when we had very few reasons to be happy or grateful for. But now when I have a zillion things to be happy about, my mind keeps redirecting me to that one thing that I don’t have or that one goal I might never achieve!

I had problems back in my childhood as well. But I was hopeful of a happy future and that dream kept me alive. It gave me the energy to fight the devils of my mind and just focus on the task at hand. As I grew up and came across more failures in life, my hopeful nature lost it’s sheen and my mind started storing and reliving the real life experiences of feeling lost, disappointed, hurt and scared. Because of this I’ve reached at a phase in life where every new decision causes my mind to relive all the pain and trauma I’ve experienced in the past. Thus, I’m unable to think straight, hope for a bright future, work towards a goal or simply be happy without overthinking any aspect of my life.

Overthinking sucks big time. It makes every simple decision of my life into a life or death situation. It completely drains my energy and distorts my ability to think straight. I know happiness is not a destination but a life long journey. A single event or goal in our life doesn’t have the ability to keep us happy forever. It’s a daily process, a life long effort and developing a hopeful attitude towards life.

I might have mentioned this many times before but I need to reiterate it to myself as I’ve lost my track and fallen deep into the black hole of overthinking. It has drained me and is now clouding my judgement. It isn’t allowing me to enjoy a single moment of peace and happiness without thinking twice about it. Few minor changes that I’m planning to make henceforth to avoid my mind to take control of my life.

  • Practice being in the present : Focus only on the present moment
  • Focus on what I have control over : Ignore what we can’t change, work on things we can control
  • Write down your thoughts when it gets overwhelming : Maintain a daily journal
  • Figure out solutions than mulling over problems : Think about all the possible way out and how it can be effective in solving the problem
  • Become a person of action : Especially in making simple decisions, take decisions right away rather than pondering over it indefinitely.

I’ll share my thoughts and experiences on the effect of making these simple changes in my life soon. Till then, let’s be happy and focus on living our life to the fullest!

Existential crisis

#86/100

“I don’t know if what I’m going to say will hurt or help, but screw it. Do you know what’s really happening right now? You’re learning what it is like to be human. All humans are aware of death. So… we’re all a little bit sad.”

-Eleanor Shellstrop from The Good Place

I’m watching an absolutely mind boggling American TV series these days called “The Good Place”. The show is witty, quirky, funny and the theme also involves a fantasy element which is a big win-win situation for me. What I love most about the show is the underlying philosophical interpretation of every human’s life in general. I’m drawn to philosophy and finding out the greater meaning of life, any person, show or thing that connects me over and above the basic knowledge of our existence has all my attention.

In one of the episodes of this show (I don’t want to give out any spoilers, watch it, you’ll be mind blown!), they discuss the concept of existential crisis, in a witty and funny manner of course. The show has an immortal being who doesn’t have a conscience. The concept of having regrets or guilt doesn’t apply to this being as they live on forever. They don’t have to deal with these feelings at the present moment as it disappears with time which they have in abundance.

Humans on the other hand have a fixed shelf life. Our biggest fear is the fear of non-existence. I always felt that I feared many things above death, but that’s not true. When I say I fear public speaking, I am scared to make a fool of myself and end up in an embarrassing situation. This will cause me to lose face in front of others and become non-existent in a manner that I won’t be acknowledged, respected or considered unworthy of attention. We constantly feel pangs of sadness, guilt and episodes of depression all through our life as we believe that we aren’t making the fixed time of our existence on this planet, worthwhile. At the end of each day I feel upset for not having a remarkable day, wasting my time is considered the biggest sin by my mind, I constantly fear the future, I feel like I would eventually die without living an extraordinary life.

The fear of non-existence can make us do crazy stuff at times. But it’s high time that we slow down a bit and pause to pay attention to the present. There’s no yard scale to measure an extraordinary life. You don’t have to do everything that’s considered cool or awesome by others to feel cool or awesome yourself. As long as you do every single thing that makes you happy, you are doing a great job! It’s time I lift the heavy burden of this self imposed deadline on my life and cut myself a little slack. I don’t wish to feel sad every Sunday evening for not having spent the weekend productively, upset before any big event for not having prepared well or empty at the end of my birthday for having to wait another year to feel special. I don’t know if we can truly be unbothered by fear of the unknown or regrets of our past, I will try to divert my attention to the present at every single opportunity I get. That’s what I learn in my meditation exercise every day.

Distractions are everywhere. Notice what takes your attention, acknowledge it, and then let it go.

-Headspace