Ever found yourself stuck in a living arrangement that seems to be a scene from the movie Blade runner? It’s a place where human life has become machine-like, completely desensitized, and interpersonal values replaced by detached and a shallow way of life. Where relationships like marriages take a dysfunctional form due to increasing short-sightedness. And so, we start blaming other person’s shortcomings for unhappiness in a relationship rather than realizing that such deep relationships need constant work and compromises over a lifetime. Or our efforts and enthusiasm towards our families or friends take a back burner as they are not viewed as high on the “time value for money” radar. This in turn makes us more selfish, cold-shouldered, and nonchalant towards these civil attachments. Or at offices, we become more greedy and cutthroat due to the constant presence of competition in a market economy. As we know our status depends on victories over others, and we become a part of constant psychological and economic rivalries.
So what is all of this a harbinger of? Something profoundly wrong with the way we live in today’s modern times. According to Leppert (2004), modernity along with its fashionable characteristics like individuality, personal visibility, visual culture, etc comes with many woes e.g. increased dehumanization due to factors such as loss of certainty or increased competitiveness amongst people in the society (survival of the fittest) as the jungle rule sets in, etc. So as confusing and monopolistic such living conditions may seem, here are 5 ways in which a person can be humble and down to earth without drowning in the Tower of Babel sense of modern times:
1. Find beauty in ordinary things:
Things don’t always have to be heroic or larger than life to be beautiful, as some of the modern rules of iconicness espouse. As the saying goes, “ It may seem small, but the ripple effect of the small things can be extraordinary.” And so ordinary life can very much be full of virtue, as long as we muster the creativity and aesthetic energy to discover it.
A few things that can be done:
- Take pictures of what’s around you, people who are in your life, and the friends you are fond of to make memories that you can retain forever.
- Give yourself some time and peace everyday by doing things like meditating, yoga, crystal therapy etc so that you are better in tune with your inner self that may help and support you on your outer journey.
- Go out for a walk/hike on a trail. Many of the most beautiful “little” things are found in nature, be it a fiery autumn leaf, delicate shape of a snowflake, the blue of the sky or formation of the clouds. Just stop and take out some time to smell the roses, as they say.
- Keep track of the small things. Intentionally, everyday take note of 3–5 things that you are grateful for in your life and keep a record of them.
2. Learn to appreciate small things in life.
Life is imperfect. Things are hardly ever ideal. But what matters the most is what we do out of the hand we are dealt. And certainly, giving ourselves the freedom to cherish it while we are at it:
Some useful ideas:
- Write a diary to become better attuned to yourself and get some clarity of thoughts.
- Create a bulletin board where you can pin a thank you note from a client or a memorable picture of your family.
- Take out time to talk to someone you care about over the phone. Connecting and hearing the voice of someone that matters to you should alleviate your mood.
- Celebrate your small achievements or completion of a daunting task by doing something you enjoy.
3. Join forces with others
Individualism that modernity espouses can many a times feel far-fetched, as we are not capable of achieving more than a small part of that which matters by ourselves. Therefore, we must appreciate a culture that properly respects the notions of dependence and must allow ourselves to be blessed by what lies within common human wisdom:
Some practices which can open this window for our benefit:
- Find people around you who believe in you and who have confidence in you
- Join support groups where you can find like minded people
- Contribute to the causes you believe in so you reap benefits from all the activism that is going on in your daily lives
- Try to shed your fears by joining people who have had similar experiences as you e.g counselling groups, therapy groups etc.
4. Take a more compassionate outlook towards life
In today’s super competitive world, where mistakes are hardly condoned and the forces of evil make them ever more psychologically debilitating, causing us to loathe ourselves and hate ourselves, we must take consolation in the fact that we can never be infallible or completely avert disasters. After all, some angels even fall to the earth. Hence, considering the workings of fate and chance that are abound around us, one should try and be more compassionate towards oneself and others:
Some things to consider:
- Put yourself in someone else’s shoes more often.
- Practice kindness, without people pleasing,
- Heal your own trauma. Many a times our outer harshness or many of our personality disorders like OCD etc might be due to some unsealed trauma. When you do the work to heal your psyche and connect to your soul, compassion is a natural outcome.
- Listen generously. Most of us hardly take time to genuinely hear others and are always rushing, interrupting or trying to overtake others. When you can allow yourself the luxury to remain silent and listen to others, one can often find the true bond we share with others and this can act as a gateway to compassion.
Modernity comes with many of the ideals of renaissance; It is an anthem of perfectibility, that stupidity should be eliminated with science and technology. But what about human folly? Our natural flaws? Propensity to make irrational choices? And our fallibility to making gross errors? With these dark facts that are always enveloping us, and which human beings just have very limited control over, self acceptance offers us that consolation and that assurance that everyone of us is just a member of a race that has limits over its powers, without the need to feel undue contempt or misery for ourselves.
Some beneficial things in this respect:
- Embrace what makes you unique
- Gain some perspective on your limitations
- Plan ahead e.g. create your not-to-do-list
- Learn to forgive yourself and others