This too shall pass

Picture credits: Pure Source Recruitment

I know I am not the only one who has been hit psychologically by the pandemic especially the second wave in India. I also know well enough that there are people who are going through the worst time of their lives. Either their own lives are in danger or the lives of their loved ones. People who are not getting infected with the COVID-19 virus are surely getting infected with anxiety or depression. Psychological disturbance during the pandemic in itself a big deal because it paralyses you and actually makes you sick.

If you open Google search and start typing ‘how to deal with anxiety‘, you will find infinite amount of information. Some will suggest you to exercise meditation (mindfulness meditation or simply deep breathing exercises), some will suggest to take care of your body by exercising and consuming a healthy diet. Journalling will also come up, I am sure. These are all evidence based suggestions and people suffering from anxiety these days can introduce them in their daily routine. While the above mentioned suggestions are helpful in easing anxiety levels I am quite sure you, me and everyone is wondering:


Quite honestly, it’s a difficult question with answers people will not enjoy listening to. Based on my limited knowledge, I believe the pandemic is going to go away when approximately 70-80% of the world’s population is vaccinated. Until then, the waves are going to come and go and come and go….In spite of that, we should not forget how far we have come. Thanks to science and those scientists who managed to come up with vaccines so soon.

Everyone wants the pandemic to end. While pondering upon this thought I was reminded of a Persian adage:THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” Yes, it will pass. The pandemic will pass. Human lives are going to get back to normality. We are going to have days when we don’t have to wear masks and maintain social distancing (physical distancing not emotional distancing). Obviously, we are not going to forget these times. They are going to stay with us as long as we are alive. But remember, THIS TOO SHALL PASS….

THIS TOO SHALL PASS is another way of thinking that nothing in life stays forever. Buddhism revolves around the idea of impermanence: everything is transitory and nothing is permanent. Whatever it is- your feelings, moments, lives , it’s changing all the time.

  • People who are with you right now are not going to be there till eternity.
  • You are not going to be there forever either.
  • Your circumstances are going to change and they won’t remain constant.
  • Your feelings are going to get replaced with other feelings (good for bad and bad for good).

In the same way, this pandemic is not going to stay forever because it shall pass. We may feel right now that this black cloud is going nowhere. But it will pass. It, too, shall pass. Trust me, the lesson of impermanence hasn’t been digested by me completely. I am still learning. But I am glad I have started walking down this path.

We are going through some of the most difficult times right now. Stay wise and please act wisely.

Humans inclination towards ‘novelty’

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There is a very popular saying that, most probably, we are all aware of. It is” Old is Gold.” I couldn’t agree more with these words. There is some beauty in what is antique and old. But as it turns out that we, as humans, don’t necessarily follow it. Actually, our brains don’t let us.

Does it ever happens with you that you have a phone that is capable of doing every work of yours yet you still crave for that new one whose advertisement you just saw? Or does it happens with you that you are reading a book and are bored of it too soon that you are already thinking of picking up a new one? Do you also keep checking your emails every 5 or 10 minutes even though you know there won’t be another email for the next half an hour or so? Human beings have always been attracted towards ‘what is new’ or ‘novel’. New things make us feel so good that we are always seeking them.

Now the question comes why does it happen? What’s the story behind it?

Novelty and The Human Brain

It is not entirely right blaming people when it comes to their tendency of checking phones quite frequently or buying new gadgets from time to time. Somewhere our brains are at fault. Human brain works in such a way that it ignores what is old and focuses the attention towards what’s new. From the evolutionary point of view it is quite plausible because our ancestors needed to pay more attention towards the ‘new dangers’ to survive and not towards what is already known or familiar.

Research especially in the field of neuroscience has shown that whenever we are exposed to new things (new hair color, new people, new shoes, new watch, new house, etc.) or novelty our meso-limbic dopamine system gets activated. When the dopamine system is activated a neurotransmitter called dopamine gets send across different brain regions. This gives us pleasure but at the same time our brain starts telling us to seek more of novelty. This is the reason why new stuff makes us feel good for the time being. This is the reason why a notification on social media makes us feel good. This is the reason why we are always refreshing our emails. Every new thing causes dopamine to get released and that pleasure is what we are after.

Novelty and learning

While it is true that our tendency to seek novelty make us lives a little disruptive, it is not wrong to acknowledge that, nevertheless, novelty has many benefits especially in learning. Earlier it was believed that dopamine is merely a ‘reward chemical’ or ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter. However, recent studies have shown that it is also related to our motivation to seek rewards. These result in brain reacting to novelty by releasing dopamine which further motivates us to explore more of that stuff.

Due to the influence of novelty, plasticity of the hippocampus (which is primarily associated with memory) gets increased while the brain is involved in exploring new things or stimuli in the environment. This causes new neural pathways to get formed, thereby increasing the chances of learning new concepts and ideas. Novelty has also been shown to improve our memory. That is why it is always a good idea to change our environment from time to time while we are working or studying. Working or studying at the same place all the time impedes our progress and by changing the location we improve our performance as brain responds differently (and in a good way in this case) in new settings.

Managing the inclination towards novelty

When novelty isn’t for our benefit it becomes very important that we take control of ourselves and our actions. Whenever we are distracted by new stuff like media notifications, devices and many other things we should be mindful of their usage. We should put a hold for some time and let those cravings and urges pass away. It is quite understandable that it is not easy in any way but with constant practice we can surely get better.

“I Can Think. I Can Wait. I Can Fast.”

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Recently I have finished reading a book called “Siddhartha” by Hermann Hesse.

Why did I pick this book? Maybe I was expecting to gain some wisdom.

Did I?

Yes. I did. Of course I did.

There are many pages in the book pouring down some ultimate truths. But my favourite line throughout the book is when Siddhartha, a young man seeking discovery of the self, said, “I CAN THINK. I CAN WAIT. I CAN FAST.”

The line might seem trivial. If we care enough to think about it, however, there is so much that we can learn from it. We humans are always seeking ‘something’ in our lives. And unfortunately, many times we don’t have the slightest idea what that ‘something’ is. We have longings for materials. We have more attachment for ‘things’ and not ‘people’. We seem to be trapped in a vicious circle of desires where fulfilment of one doesn’t guarantee happiness and contentment. As soon as we accomplish A we turn our attention to B without even taking a moment to celebrate the A. It is not wrong to have goals and ambitions. We must have something to ‘look forward to’ or else we’d be walking dead. At the same time, there is a fine line between being satisfied with what we have or accomplished and desiring for more. Whoever sees the line clearly learns to stay blissful.

When Siddhartha told he could think, wait and fast he did not mean that he could not do the other things. Of course he could. But he emphasised on three key qualities which are worthy enough to be pondered upon. No matter what facts we know. No matter how smart or intelligent we think we are. No matter how big or mediocre or small we think our dreams are. If we cannot harness our ability to think deeply and constructively, to have some patience and satisfaction in life and control our instant gratifications then everything will be in vain.


We all think. Thinking is an integral part of our lives. We are a lot because of our ability to think. Interestingly, mere thinking is not enough. What’s important is the quality of our thoughts that is manifesting our process of thinking. Like Sam Harris mentioned in his book “Waking UP- Searching for Spirituality without Religion”, “The problem is not thoughts themselves but the state of thinking without knowing that we are thinking.” We all have negative and positive thoughts. And that’s okay because it is a result of evolutionary processes happening since millions of years. At the same time we must not forget to develop how to think constructively whenever a negative/bad event takes place in our lives. Constructive thinking helps us gain a better perspective of the external world and guides us further to minimize friction with the external environment.

Majority of the people, nowadays, are not deep but shallow. They don’t bother getting much into the core of at least some things. And this is very unfortunate because superficiality in anything especially in thoughts will only alleviate the symptoms & not the problems of our lives. Therefore, deep thinking should be practiced by making sure we are not turning into chronic over-thinkers.


Patience is the key. We have heard this innumerable times. Sadly, we don’t actually understand what patience is all about. At least that’s what I believe. People who are hard-working, tenacious, opportunists and most importantly patient can manage to accomplish what they are seeking. It is because they know how and when to wait. They know good things take time and no one ever gets anything without keeping some patience. Siddhartha knew this very well.


Many people are going to comprehend the last key quality/ability of Siddhartha in terms of modern concepts like intermittent fasting. While intermittent fasting is beneficial for our physical and mental health this is a completely different area of which I will be talking about in my future posts. What my analysis is that by fasting Siddhartha is referring to having control over ID which is the source of instant gratifications. We must learn and teach ourselves to never sacrifice future pleasures for short term ones. That does not mean to be constantly putting experiencing pleasures in the moment on hold for future which is not guaranteed. But we must know how to experience pain in the moment for a better future. From time to time we should experience what it’s like to be devoid of something for some time.

Reading Siddhartha and coming across such a powerful sentence can never run short of imparting wisdom. Life is not a destination and we should not expect to become wise at any one point in life. Rather it is a journey and becoming wise is a process and each day we can become better than the day before.