Have you noticed how all of us seem to live in fear all the time these days? We are scared of getting swine flu, we are frightened of getting into aeroplanes in case they fall into the oceans or crash, we are terrified of becoming old and decrepit. We are scared of becoming fat; getting wrinkles, or putting on too much weight if we eat desserts or sweets. We are terrified of failing at our jobs, at our relationships, or at our diets. We are frightened to death of being judged by those around us and found wanting. We are petrified of failing to meet our own-self imposed standards of perfection.
Hell, it's got so bad that we live in fear of everything you can think of: all the way from carbon emissions and UV ray exposure to carbohydrates or full-fat cheese. Well, you know what? We don't need to be like this. In fact, if we keep the big picture in mind, none of this should actually matter very much--and very little should matter at all.
It shouldn't matter of our homes are not spick and span or if they are not in the prescribed five shades of beige. Or that our clothes would never pass the scrutiny of the fashion police or even that we are at least five kilos overweight than our ideal weight. It shouldn't matter if our neighbours have a better car, a bigger house, or even well-behaved children. Or that they go off on vacation twice a year to various luxury hot-spots while you can barely manage a trip to Athirapally. Or even that they serve vintage champegne when they entertain while you can only afford rum punch.
Even if all or any of the above is true, you don't live in the fear of being judged. You don't need to be terrified of being perceived as inadequate. You certainly should not be scared that you can never measure up. It's more important to enjoy what life has to offer than to torment yourself with a size-zero body or a eight-pack abs or what it has withheld from you. It's much more empowering to live for the moment than live in the fear of what the future may bring. It's certainly much more fun to indulge yourself than a suffer a life of eternal self-deprivation.
So it's not a prescription for a perfect life. It will certainly be a happier one if one just learns to let go and live a little. In case you're game, here are some suggestions that might come in useful.
* Embrace your ordinariness instead of always hankering for being regarded as someone or something special. It doesn't matter if your drawing room sofa is a bit tatty and the carpet a little worse for wear. It doesn't matter if you can't afford to serve a three-course sit-down meal. You can still have your friends over for an earthy biryani washed down with Diet Coke (and some Baskin Robbins ice-cream to follow).
* Learn to accept failure just as you celebrate success. One is an inextricable part of the other and neither can exist in isolation. There is a real danger that fear of failure will prevent you from ever risking success.
* Don't let healthy living become a fetish. It's a good idea to watch the calories and put in some exercise to stay fit, but don't let your fitness regime rule your life. Don't spend all your time on the treadmill in the fear of becoming fat. Understand the fact that not everyone is blessed with a bikini-fit body.. Don't become one of those classical bores who claim to have a wheat/dairy/glutten allergy and sticks to eating nuts at the office party.
* Keep a sense of perspective. Don't slip on your sneakers first thing in the morning and head out for a run. Just for once, linger in bed for a little bit, have a leisurely breakfast. It's probably better for your heart than that all-bran cereal breakfast or all that aerobic exercise.
* Slow down and savour the moment. That first sip of cappuccino, the smell of freshly-cut grass in the lawn, the smile on your mother's face when you remember her birthday, your sister's delight at her first pair of high heels. It's the small and tiny things that make the biggest difference.
* It doesn't hurt to get down and dirty once in a while. Tuck into those panipuris and papdi chaat at the neighbourhood market. Eat some aloo parathas with generous dollops of butter from the dhaba down the road. Savour the jalebis from the roadside vendor. Such occasional--and otherwise forbidden treats are the best way to build up immunity to all those super-bugs going around these days.
* Give yourself permission to be less that perfect. There is a reason why Demi Moore and Madonna look the way they do, even into their forties and fifties. They invest in a small fortune in cosmetic surgery, they spend hours everyday in the gym, and have personal trainers and live-in chefs to keep them trim and toned. You can't achieve a bikini-fit body or pump iron to achieve an eight-pack abs look. Understand the fact that not everyone is blessed with a metabolism that can work for six years continously. You cannot achieve that look of honed perfection unless you're some sort of genetic freak. So, don't kill yourself by trying to achieve a bikini-fit body.
* The next time you go out to a restaurant, go ahead shamelessly and order dessert without the fear of putting on weight. You know you want to.