Decoding Myself- Impermanence v/s Inevitability

Picture credits: Deviant Art

We fear death. We fear we won’t be there anymore in the future. We fear we will have no knowledge of our own experiences & memories and how the world’s gonna keep going on without us.

We crave for life. We crave for more breaths so that we can enjoy what life has to offer. It doesn’t make sense, does it? Wanting more of life and no death even though we know life is temporary and death inevitable?


Why? I don’t understand why we do this.

How’s life any better?

It’s full of challenges, atrocities, betrayals and disappointments. We have ‘one life‘ but we can never afford to live it on our own terms. There’s people we have to think of.

Friends. Family. Colleagues. Teachers. And many more.

We have to think of them before making a decision about anything and everything. We may say we don’t get influenced by anyone, we may say we do what we want to do, we may say we are the captain of our own ships. But let’s be honest. It’s not true.

Yes, in life we make many decisions by listening to our own selves. Just our selves. But it doesn’t happen all the time. It is rude and inhumane to only think of ourselves all the time. Our choices are not as independent as we think they are. It’s pretty messed up, right? Then why do we crave for life?

At least death puts an end to all of this drama.

In life, we often fail. We get success as well, no doubt. But failure never misses any opportunity to give us some company for some time. We lose loved ones while we are alive. That’s like so unfair and life doesn’t seem to care. There’s politics. There’s violence and chaos. There’s jealousy, envy. All of this to live with in just one Life. One so-called life. How is life any better than death? Death is saddening.

Who says life isn’t it?


Maybe we are greedy when it comes to experiences. Probably that’s why we gather so much of courage to stand against what life has to offer.

Craving for bad food? It all goes back to Agricultural Revolution

Picture credits: The Atlantic

Imagine I am holding a powdered-sugar doughnut right in front of you. It is very delicious, no doubt!! Now tell me, would you be able to control yourself from eating it; at least a bite of it? If we are both being honest then I can openly say- NO!! Yes, a big NO…

Why do we crave for sugar and carbs  so much? Why they seems so delicious and tasty to us? Why is it so hard to resist ourselves from eating deserts or doughnuts or ice creams or rice or even having drinks filled with sugar?

It all goes back to our ancestors. It all goes back to millions of years ago.

We are living in a modern world that is suffering from an obesity epidemic. According to CDC (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) in the year 2015-16, approximately 40% of adults aged 20 and over were obese. In other words, they were suffering from obesity. The fundamental reason behind obesity is a long-term energy imbalance. By energy imbalance it means that people are consuming more calories while burning lesser and lesser amount of it over a period of time. Sadly, consuming too much sugar is one of the biggest causes of energy imbalance among children and an adult population.

Something that went wrong in history

Not just us- Homo Sapiens– but other human species including Homo Erectus, Homo Neanderthals, Homo Ergaster survived by gathering plants and hunting wild animals. By plucking wild gigs and hunting wild sheep they managed to survive for millions of years.

But things changed about 10,000 years ago when Agricultural revolution began. From hunting and gathering our ancestors began diverting their time to sowing seeds, watering plants, plucking weeds, etc.  Domestication of plants and animals became common. Wheat, rice, maize, potatoes became the main plant crops that provided majority of calories to Sapiens. And this was the turning point- consuming handful of plant species like wheat, potatoes, maize and rice which were not doing a lot good to the bodies of Sapiens. These plants species were the main culprit. Too much carbohydrates!!

Then v/s now

Although it is true that the beginning of bad diet began during the agricultural revolution, the story doesn’t end here. When Sapiens were hunter-gatherers they needed a lot of energy to look for food that required many longer hours. And whenever they found any sweet fruits they used to consume them as much as they could because food was not guaranteed to be found after covering some distance. Even as farmers they were required to do a lot of work including clearing fields, weeding under the scorching sun, building fences, watering plants, etc. And their bodies were not evolved yet to manage so much of work. So, it was natural to consume more and more calories. Carbohydrates and sugar helped them in the process.

Story of the modern world is a lot different.

Our ancestors had some very genuine and good reasons to consume carbs and sugar in large quantities. We don’t. And there are reasons for it too.

Carbohydrates are not all bad and we do need them to survive every day. Such carbohydrates are called good carbohydrates/complex carbohydrates and they include whole grains, vegetables and fruits. We also need natural sugar that comes along with many fruits and other food items. The real problem comes with refined carbohydrates including sugar that causes a sudden spike in our glucose level making us feel all energized only to find out that very soon we are hungry again. Refined carbohydrates are equivalent to “empty calories” and are affecting our health badly; very badly. Our bad diet is one of the biggest reasons why we are seeing so many people suffering from Type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, etc.

Solution?

There are two best solutions to the health epidemic that we are facing in the 21st century at an alarming stage:

  1. Restoring our diet
  2. Physical activity

Food industries are not helping us. They are not our friends. They are our enemies making every way possible to ruin our bodies. That is why our health is in our hands. Moreover, governments are also needed to stop being on the side of food industries and start making some stringent policies to ensure good health of its citizens. It is completely irrelevant to blame our ancestors- what had happened throughout millions of years is of no significance right now because we can’t go back and change it all. Evolution doesn’t care about our resentment. But after having all the facts right in front of us and still turning a deaf ear is no wise.  

Decoding Myself- Paradox

Picture credits: NPR

You see, I love this word. It sounds so sophisticated to me. But that’s not the whole story. Paradox is our lives’ reality. It’s who we are. It is a part; a big part of our lives.

We are paradoxical beings.

We wouldn’t want to be anything else, I believe.

Some days we laugh when we are actually very sad– deep within. We laugh very loudly and energetically so that no one hears what the actual sound is deep inside. Some days we are sad from the outside but still there is some contentment and joy deep down. People coming in to make us feel better when in reality we don’t want them to do anything because we are simply at ease and peace.

Many times we say things we don’t mean and don’t say the things we actually mean. We comfort people we don’t like much just because it is noble and conforms to the societal norms. There are times when we are trying hard to impress the very people who are completely different from us just because we don’t want to live with the company of our own thoughts.

Truly we are paradoxical beings. We love being one. We believe life cannot be sustained without it. We believe its one skill we must master at or else we won’t fit in the paradoxical society filled with paradoxical beings.

This is our rigidity.

This is a mistake we are committing every single day.

Who says we must do the opposite of what we love or truly believe in? Who says we must get along with everyone even at the cost of impressing them when we don’t to? Who says we must hide what we are feeling inside of us? Who says we must smile when we are sad and cry when we are deeply blissful? Let the world be a slave. You don’t have to be. Life is too short to be someone you are not. It is way too short to be living like a paradoxical being.

Stop Misusing OCD: Myths about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Picture credits: ADDitude

In this modern world, we are suffering from different types of mental health issues that are disrupting our personal, social and work lives. And OCD or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is one such mental health issue that affects about 1.2 percent of the Americans (American Psychiatric Association).

But what is OCD and what are the misconceptions that people have about this particular disorder.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a type of an anxiety disorder which is characterized by having unwanted and recurring thoughts, referred to as obsessions, which forces an individual to act on them repetitively, referred to as compulsions. We all suffer from having unwanted thoughts. We all have recurring thoughts too about something or the other and many times such thoughts compel us to act upon them. However, things are a little different for people suffering from OCD. They have these obsessions and want to have a control over them but they can’t. They know well that their thoughts are not making any sense but they can do nothing to stop themselves from having them and acting upon them. Things get out of their hands to such an extent that their obsessions and compulsions start to mess up with their personal, social and work life. Fortunately there are different treatments that one can seek and get better with time.

What’s worrisome is that people have misunderstood this particular mental health issue and let some myths take control over their level of understanding. And it is very important that these myths should be debunked.

3 Common Myths about OCD

MYTH 1: If you are meticulous, you have OCD

Some people are very punctilious. They work with a lot of precision. Even I like precision and want to do every task with perfection (although I know well enough perfection doesn’t exist). But that does not mean such meticulous people have OCD. Being precise with everything is one of their personality traits. It doesn’t mean that they have impulses and compulsions to act upon them. So before you go out and call someone having OCD based on their orderliness, make sure you don’t pick up on myths anymore.

MYTH 2: If you are washing hands many times or like things hygienic, you have OCD

A lot of people believe that OCD is all about washing hands many times and keeping things neat and tidy. While it is true that many people with OCD have one of the obsessions where they believe their hands are dirty and feel compelled to wash them 20 times in an hour; it is not the end of the story. Obsessions can be of different kinds including fear of close ones dying, fear of harming themselves or loved ones, fear of committing a sin or crime, etc. Many people have obsessions where they believe they haven’t locked their almirah locks or haven’t turned off gas stove. As a result, keep checking them compulsively many many times in a day.

MYTH 3: People with OCD should learn to have some control over their thoughts

Stigma is very common among mental disorders or psychopathology. People never miss on any opportunity to teach the sufferers that they need to be bold and take control over things. They must not act weak anymore. Such sentient beings make it all sound so relaxing as if it all so easy. It is not easy to let go off the obsessions. It is not easy to stop acting upon intrusive thoughts altogether. There are a lot of factors playing their part: changes in brain’s chemistry due to imbalances in neurotransmitters, triggers in the environment, cultural background, interpersonal relationships, etc. That is why it is not so easy for people suffering from OCD to simply have control over their thoughts.

Mental Health problems are never easy: both for the person suffering and people who are closed ones. That is why it is of utmost importance that we get to the facts and seek professional help and not get wrapped around misconceptions and myths.

Decoding Myself- Who Am I?

Picture credits: perfectchaos.org


Yesterday, I was taking a stroll in a nearby park. I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t angry. I was simply walking believing it would make me feel good. All of a sudden I stopped. I couldn’t walk. I was completely frozen. Was something wrong in my brain? Was I getting a cardiac arrest? Maybe it was a panic attack. But it couldn’t be because I wasn’t having any palpitations, I wasn’t sweating, I wasn’t feeling any sort of breathlessness.

Hmm.

Most probably the culprit was an existential question that often comes to my mind. And the other day, it had a lot of gravity. “Who Am I?” was my culprit.

Am I a human?

Am I someone who is kind, considerate and compassionate?

Or am I merely my thoughts?

I think I am a good human but how do I decide what’s good and what’s bad? What are the parameters? Moreover, who gets to finalise these parameters? Why should those parameters be taken for a word?

I think I am an Indian belonging to a particular religion who is educated and very hard working. I think I am someone who loves watching movies and reading books.

Wait a minute.

What’s Indian by the way? Who told me that I am an Indian like it’s the truth? Why am I not an American or a British? Who invented concepts like Indian, American and British? And what’s with religion? Was Indian not enough as a category to divide me? And why do I have to follow certain rituals to become member of a particular religion? Why is everything so divisive in this world?

Into countries? Into regions? Into languages? Into cultures? Into colours? Into genders?

Most importantly, what’s up with my name? Why my name is Sumbul and not Basket? And why is basket a basket and not an apple? And why is Apple called an apple and not a mango?

Why?

Who am I in the midst of all this? What’s me? Who is me? Why do I know that there could be a multiverse but have so little knowledge of me? Why can I not figure out the me?

Am I just a body?

Am I my brain?

Am I the universe?

Because when I die everything will be an end for me. There would be no universe, no earth, no planets. I wouldn’t be bothered about countries as I’d be dead.

Everything will be an atrophy.


I still can’t figure out the ‘Who Am I?’.

Psychology behind Retaliation- Part 2

Picture credits: heroism.wikia.com

I had established the idea in my previous blog post that seeking revenge feels good but not for a very long time. It feels good in the short-term and for that instant pleasure we put in a lot of energy to bring things in complete balance. The idea that ‘revenge is sweet’ needs more explanation, however. Thankfully, a German psychologist Mario Gollwitzer came forward to do just that. Gollwitzer wanted to prove that many times people feel they are going to feel the happiest after taking revenge and when they don’t it should not mean that revenge has no value. Or that it is always bitter.

Theories of Revenge

Gollwitzer came up with two theories on revenge through which he tried to explain why people find revenge so appealing and satisfying. The first theory is called “comparative suffering” and the second one is called “understanding hypothesis”. Comparative suffering theory is based on an idea that the offended one feels very much good and content seeing the offender suffering the same way. While understanding hypothesis theory says “an offender’s suffering is not enough, on its own, to achieve truly satisfactory revenge. Instead, the avenger must be assured that the offender has made a direct connection between the retaliation and the initial behaviour.

Why message should be delivered?

In order to give more explanation to an idea ‘revenge is sweet’, Gollwitzer came up with an interesting research experiment. He randomly selected participants for the study and asked them to solve some puzzles or riddles. Every participant was assigned a partner. And every participant’s partner was also assigned the same puzzles but in a different room. If the riddles or puzzles were solved correctly each team of two people would be getting a gift certificate of 25 Euros. When researchers asked the participants to divide the amount they did so equally. However, their partners who were actually research confederates did not opt for dividing the amount equally but took the entire amount to themselves. Interestingly, participants were informed of this injustice and given a chance to retaliate by reducing the share amount of their partners. More than 50% of the participants took their revenge.

Furthermore in the study Gollwitzer gave participants a chance to send their partners a note. Majority of them did send their note. To make research even more interesting participants who took their revenge by reducing the share amount of gift certificate, received responses from their partners. In one type of responses participants got an understanding from their partners that they took revenge because of the unjust action. While other responses reflected no understanding and rather indicated a bit of rudeness or disrespect for what the participants did. After getting all these responses participants were asked to rate their level of satisfaction.

What were the findings?

  1. Participants who received responses from their partners reflecting an understanding were much more satisfied than the ones who received indignant responses from their partners.

Gollwitzer’s research shows that revenge is not only about making others suffer the way we did. In order to make revenge successful it is very important that the avenger gets an understanding from the offender as to why that revenge was taken in the first place.