Brunei, finally, caught up with the rest of the world, and is in lockdown. Suddenly I find myself having to handle me, without the buffer of colleagues and routine work. I have to manage myself now. And this task is proving to be not that easy.
Come to think of it, I have been putting off having to face myself, so far. My insecurities, relationship with family and friends, what I like doing, and what I do not like doing, people I like and people I don’t like.
In many ways, Covid 19 has anchored us in reality. Suddenly, we know our priorities, what we truly need in life, and what we do not need. A life down to the basics, with no frills. Starkly visible, in high definition.
If you would like to detox your life, please accept my congratulations, because it is one of the best decisions that anybody can take. It takes quite a bit of will power to detox your life, but it is absolutely worth it.
What are the steps involved in detoxing your life? Let us see.
1. Reflect on your emotions as you feel them. Be mindful of what exactly you are experiencing through the day, each moment. Are you experiencing happiness, sadness, anger, disgust, regret or guilt?
2. Once you have identified what exactly you feel at any particular moment, reflect on what effect that emotion had on you. Did it make you feel good about yourself and about your life? Did you think of it as a learning experience? Or did it make you feel worthless, and inferior to everybody else? Did it ruin your relationships by making you do things like screaming at people?
3. Once you have identified what exactly the effect of the emotion was on you, whether it was positive or negative, find out the cause of the emotion. It could be a person, or an event, or some external circumstances that you could not have done anything about. Very often it is another person who has treated you in a certain way, or said something to you. It could also be habit such as sleeping late, that make you feel crappy the next morning.
4. If it is something that you can control, stop it or avoid it from now on. If it is a person, cut him/her out of your life. You may still have to live with that person, or work with that person, but you can train yourself to be immune to that person. If it is a situation, avoid getting into the situation if you can. If you cannot avoid it, train yourself to turn that situation to your advantage.
5. Once you have cut out all the toxic influences in your life, it is time to fill it with all that you love, consider positive and healthy for yourself. It could be hobbies such as gardening, or going out with chosen friends, or just reading. Nurture relationships with people who make you feel worthy and valuable. Remember that it is loving relationships that make a person happy. Do the things you love to do. Invest time and energy in improving yourself. Above all, nurture the attitude of loving life on this beautiful earth.
Once you detox your life you will be like a stream that has crystal clear water. All the impurities that bothered you, and all the garbage that choked you, is gone. You feel light, and beautiful inside and out.
Today, as I sat down at my desk, beginning my work, I got a WhatsApp message from my 10 year old son. The message was a question: ‘Is life worth it?’
I sat back in my chair, and took a deep breath. My son, all of ten years, was going through existential angst. I texted back to him, “Yes, it is.” Then I added, “Love is what makes life worth it’. He texted me back, ‘I love you’.
As I reflected back on this little exchange between my son and myself this morning, I wondered if he knew the significance – the sheer weight- of this question. I am sure my son does not know that this is a question than mankind has asked itself over and over, over the millennia, and will keep asking long into the future as long as it inhabits this universe. The professed task of religion and philosophy has always been to answer this question.
Monotheistic religions answer this question by saying that God has a plan for all human beings, and that life on earth is worth it because it is the fulfilment of God’s plan. According to this view, if a person failed to do what God wanted her to do in this life, her life would be worthless and meaningless. There are some schools of thought that believe that each human being has a soul that is immortal, and life is worth it if she lives her life in a way that expresses the beauty of this soul, though noble actions. Most religions advocate a combination of these two views.
There are also philosophers and thinkers who do not bother much about God or soul. According to them, each human being finds meaning in life differently, and it is up to each one to find her own meaning. A few of these thinkers believe that one’s life is worth it if she manages to do or achieve what is really important to her. Another school of thought holds that life is worth it to the extent to which a person feels love and care for something or someone. In this view, life is worth it because through life, one is able to experience love.
And then there are the nihilists who believe that life is simply not worth it, that it has no meaning at all.
However, since I am not a nihilist, and I am now reading ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Victor Frankl, I had a ready answer for my son’s question. Love is what makes life worth it. It could be love for other human beings, or some purpose higher than ourselves. It is this love that makes you achieve ‘flow’ and gives you optimal experiences, as the Hungarian-American psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would say.