Creating a life of balance and joy
THERE is no doubt in the fact that the achievements of science, technology, industry and commerce have revolutionized the human way of life.
Mankind has attained the unthinkable in many areas of life. The advancements in every sphere of life have accelerated at a back-breaking pace.
At the extremity of development, human beings are now set to leave Earth and set up colonies on Mars.
There are multiple space programs and thousands of satellites rotating across the globe as the next step in exploration of the Universe.
The internet, social media and technological connectivity has made all human knowledge accessible at the click of a button on a cellphone.
Super-computers are now doing the mental work of a thousand human brains in a single second.
With industrial progress and technological breakthroughs common citizens of the world are able to afford comforts that were only available to kings and emperors in the past.
Mankind is on the verge of creating Artificial Intelligence and uncovering the secrets of life and death.
Thanks to medical and genetic research, it took less than a year for research institutes to come up with a vaccine that could defeat Covid-19 virus, which otherwise could have killed millions more.
But all these developments have not come with a price. In the face of all this progress, laws of nature still apply.
The cost has been paid, and sometimes, the implicit cost has been more than the explicit cost.
The explicit cost includes the destruction of the planet, the impact of global warming, the production of arms and ammunition, the incidence of war, pollution, cutting down of trees, extinction of endangered species and destroying the very air we breathe, but it is the implicit and intrinsic cost that is more immediate.
It is the cost that we have paid in the form of loss of balance and happiness. Mankind has lost its sense of balance as a whole.
The integrity of the human intellect has been compromised. Science, technology and consumerism has overwhelmed the human mind.
The cellphones, super computers and all other electronic gadgets may have made us more efficient, effective and smart but they have necessarily disrupted our sense of happiness.
According to a research, there is more unhappiness, anxiety, worry, depression and suicidal tendencies than ever before across the rich and the poor, around the world.
The overwhelming speed of life, the competition and continuous struggle for more is incompatible with the human mind.
It is playing havoc with all three basic areas of human life, the mind, body and spirit. And all three need to be looked at separately, if there is any chance to live a balanced and happy life.
First comes the easy part that is achieving happiness and balance in the body. The body needs balance in consumption and then the utilization of that consumption.
Stress, anxiety and depression affects millions of people regardless of age, class, nationality, race, creed or religion.
The human body is not designed for such stresses, and it is the mind that becomes the weapon that works against the body.
As a thought experiment, when the mind of a human being perceives danger or a threat or negative emotions, there is no difference for the body between perceived danger and actual danger.
And doctors believe that around eighty percent of all illnesses such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, kidney failure, degeneration, dementia, and many others are a result of living a stressful life.
In creating a life of joy, one must realize that a human body does not ask for much apart from a balanced healthy diet, some exercise, good sleep and positive thoughts that is by far, the first steps to creating joy and happiness.
Yet another factor that is contributing to an unhappy life for millions is the sense of urgency, competition and the race to be rich.
The modern-day culture of progress, corporate ladders, high-paid careers and the state of economies across the planet are forcing the people to adopt unhealthy routines, forgetting that the human body is a beautiful machine that needs physical work out.
It is designed for physical labour, exercise, walking, running, climbing, swimming and even stretching.
Yet, modern life does not allow enough time for either of them. There is no possibility of happiness and balance without a healthy body.
The idea of blissful sleep can only come when the body has been worked out to its maximum, leading to realization of the full potential of the body.
Next comes the mind. In the eyes of many scholars, the animals of our planet live a perfectly balanced life.
They eat, drink, sleep, reproduce and die in harmony with nature. Mankind on the other hand has managed to confuse the very idea of existence thanks to the double-edged gift of having a complex mind.
Life is a blessing and every creature must realize its place in the eco-system. Yet, human beings have a tendency of flooding their balance of existence with unnecessary thoughts.
These thoughts that constantly bombard the mind of the modern man are mostly negative. Fear and worry are the most common emotions among human beings these days.
And this fear is the cause of many illnesses, and evils in the world. When thoughts are not guarded, they become negative emotions.
These include conflict, stress, hate, jealousy, greed, sadness, ignorance among others. And when these negative emotions are not checked, they convert into negative actions and that is what we see everywhere in the world.
People are either living in the past or in the future. Many are living in days go by or are living for a future in heaven but in doing so making their present day a living hell.
Happiness and balance should be the ultimate aim in the life of a human being. Moderation has been taught by all prominent scholars and religious leaders in history.
The technology of the present day and the culture of hurry and worry has taught us that balance and happiness lie in the external environment.
But the fact is that happiness and balance come from the inside. Before fixing the world, we must first fix what is inside the mind, inside the body and inside the soul.
Not many people will be able to understand that happiness comes from the innermost part of the human mind and soul, not from expensive cars and big houses.
You can be the richest man in the world and still have a gap in your existence, sadness in your days and sleeplessness in your nights.
They say it is the richest people in the world who need the most medicine. It will only be the wisest and sagacious who will be able to see beyond the façade of modern-day progress and the evils and worries that it brings with it.
Happiness and balance of existence can only come from internal reflection and it is only after finding inner balance and joy, that a human being can have a sense of the blessing that comes with having a life and an existence.
The evils of the world are emanations of imbalance. And that imbalance comes from greed, hatred, fear and confusion.
While the modern day maxim is, “ignorance is bliss”, it is the ignorance of knowing true happiness that is the ultimate tragedy.
—The writer is Chairman, Jinnah Rafi Foundation, based in Lahore.