“Life is not a problem to be solved, it’s a mystery to be lived”
I woke up hearing the nearby church bell as usual. Searched for my phone first and found it under the pillow. Slowly getting up, absent-mindedly walked to the washroom while checking for news updates. Biden won, Trump furious; COVID still wreaking havoc, idiots still denying it; Farmers rally in India, government callous as always…
When after half an hour I sat down in front of my laptop, I realized that I did all my morning chores almost robotically without any sort of recollection.
We are beings of our habit. We follow a mindless lifestyle without any awareness of what we are doing. This has come to a point where we have to rake our brains when someone asks us whether we brushed our teeth. Thus hours, days, months, even years go by where we do nothing substantial apart from the chores.
Indeed the automated living guides us through the drab daily life. In a way, the mindless lifestyle is good because it saves the trouble of deciding what to do and when. It may even provide insulation from the pain of daily life.
But this zombie existence has some serious drawbacks too.
An automated life
A mindless life is only possible when we are in our comfort zones. It leads to an unchallenging life, full of knowns. Any variables that threaten our beliefs have to be eliminated if we are to live thus.
In such a place, where nothing is challenging, we hope to be comfortable. We close ourselves up to new experiences for the fear of the unknown. Coming out of these comfort zone and opening up feels equal parts unnecessary and fearful.
Yet, we know that we are dissatisfied with life. Something feels missing from it. Though rationally we deduce we are content, emotionally we know that we are not. In the core of our being, we realize that without challenges life is drab if worth living.
The downside of safety
Life is like a flowing river. When it is not fed by streams of new experiences it turns dry. They are the replenishing forces that add freshness to our existence and aid its flow. The staleness of life is due to its stagnancy.
But this is not entirely our fault. Society, which is a large influencer, with its columns and rule books, assign specific niches for us to fit in. On the other side, religion baptizes us into iron-clad belief systems and condemns the thrill of exploration.
Slowly we get institutionalized. We assume that the walls built around us are for our own safety. Though fed up by chores, routines, and familiar people, we learn to live with it, gradually forgetting what freedom feels like.
Eventually, we fall into the attitude of entitlement. Like Hem and Haw in the famous book Who moved my cheese, we take things for granted. We assume life is easy and fume at the discomforts caused by challenges; if after every effort we can’t avoid them.
Ultimately, we become sour people, shut out in darkness behind closed doors.
Into the Unknown
As children, we knew a fundamental truth about life. We knew what we are supposed to do. We knew that our aim is to grow.
Our parents and guides also knew this and pushed us out of our comfort zones, even against our will. Thus we were forced to adapt and grow. This constant challenge helped us be what we are now: physically, mentally and spiritually developed individuals.
But the day we deemed ourselves, adults, we stopped growing. We falsely assumed that our growth phase is over and even rejoiced at the end of a painful time until later we realized that it was a golden era.
Resuming from where we left off
So, if we are to escape from self-created prison and open up in life, we have to develop some qualities. Some tools might help us with this.
Growth mindset – First and foremost, we should change our attitude towards life. Realize that to live is to grow. Hence growth should be given priority above safety. Read more about the growth mindset.
Keep learning– Do not hide your ignorance. The curiosity of a child is imperative for existence. It will help us to learn, adapt and open up to new experiences.
Facing fear – Every unknown evokes the primitive response of fear within us. But it becomes a problem only when it cripples us. We have to go into the unknown despite the fear.
Question belief systems – Society forces us into the suffocating cells of belief systems and faiths. To escape, we should challenge them first. Social dogmas, religious faith and biased views should undergo a thorough vetting. The process will open our eyes to the invisible chains that were binding us.
Meet people from different walks of life– Like-minded people are fun to hang out with. But if you want to open up and challenge yourself, spend time with people having diverse ideas.
Why the trouble?
So why should we open ourselves and go through such pain? Simply because life is to be lived, not to be restricted. If we start living, every day becomes an adventure that teaches us invaluable lessons; an exciting quest with mystery in every turn.
Everything, good or bad, failure or success, transforms into an opportunity for learning. Rather than getting disheartened in the face of defeat, we assess the flaws and sidestep them in the future. Rather than gloating at success, we try to repeat the right approaches.
Thus we acquire a renewed vigor to live. Everything hones and shapes us. Every day we evolve into better versions of ourselves.
Change is the fundamental nature of the universe. However small a speck we are in this infinite cosmos, we are an indispensable part of it and cannot escape its laws. If we can conform to this, we will accept change as the fabric of our existence.
Adopting such a perspective will inspire us to be open to change. When we open ourselves, we start to see life in a different light. The fresh winds of change rejuvenate us and soothe our souls.
How exciting life can be if we evolve and be better versions of ourselves day by day!
Thank you for reading. Please post your valuable comments in the box below.