Jun 29, 2022

Let's build our strength

 "namakkum vellakkaarangalukkum enna thatha vithiyaasam coloura thavira?" ("What's the difference between us Indians and the Westerners, apart from our skin color?"), I remember asking my grandfather this question 30 years back. He was helping me with an essay on the freedom struggle.

His response - "Avanga physically strong, naama mentally strong" ("They are physically strong, we are mentally strong")

I didn't probe further, but his answer got strongly etched in my memory.

I'd request you to not take this statement literally and start an argument here. The point is not about whether this statement is true or not.

The body is flexible when we are born and it slowly deteriorates as we age. Whereas, the mind is fragile when we are kids and slowly builds strength through life experiences. 

Physical health across the world has been deteriorating over the past 3 decades because of food habits, sedentary lifestyle, various ailments, lack of sleep, etc.

Mental strength / mental stamina / resilience of our mind - let's ponder over this for a few seconds. 

Think about your grandparents and how they responded to stressful situations. 

With each passing generation, our mental resilience seems to be reducing. 

The practices to build our mental strength are no longer prioritized - deep friendships, a sense of community, disciplined life, delayed gratification, concentration/focus on a certain activity, work/life harmony, and the strong support of an extended family.

The practices that affect our mental health have become common parlance - instant gratification, excess sensory inputs, constant stimulations, unwillingness to accept and open up our vulnerabilities to a close friend/family member, increased work pressure, individualistic mindset, and the ever-increasing aspiration towards reaching the goals set by the society.

It's a double whammy when our physical health also gets impacted by the low priority given to our mental health.

A few recent observations:

  • Wanna eat chocolate? There is a 10-min delivery option provided by 5-6 apps that will gratify your desire instantly.
  • Continuous honking from cars as soon as the signal turns green or about to turn green
  • Movies have become more violent and gory these days
  • Reels/Shorts have reduced our attention span so much. Mindless scrolling of these short videos is considered a relaxation activity and yet we feel more drained after 20 minutes 
  • Came across a job description on LinkedIn with this tag - "Very full time, Remote". What does this mean? Earlier, you were taking restroom breaks and now you don't get those too?

If the same question was asked today, my grandfather's response would have been - "oru vithiyaasamum illa, ellarum namma strengthsa ezhandhu nikkurom" ("No difference now, all of us have lost our strengths").

Let's gain back our strength - both physical and mental. Our conscious efforts will help us to choose the right path instead of the easy one.

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