The social media has radically transformed our existential patterns. Today we are always staying connected to a vast network of information & news. Right information, on one hand enriches and enlightens us; on the other hand, inaccurate information misleads us. Illicit information can lead to confusion; both in our beliefs and practices. Planet solace with the assistance of our expert panel members will regale information through regular feature scientific articles, scientific journal updates and verifiable guidelines on health issues. There will be a special focus on mental health management. The overall goal is to serve people through correct knowledge and generate awareness.
“The meaning of life is not out there but in-between our ears
In many ways this makes us the lords of creation”
As rightly discovered by the great scientist Stephen Hawking, the meaning of life is not at all a concept that has some set rules or guidelines written and prescribed in books, accomplishment of which will lead to a perfect and successful life. Instead of that, this meaning is very much subjective in its nature and varies a lot from person to person and society to society. Besides, the meaning and understanding of life alter and get modulated along with our age and maturity. Certain things that seem important and meaningful to a teenager may be absolutely silly and ordinary for his or her parents and elders. Thereby meaning of life is a subjective and transient philosophical aspect. Different eminent thinkers from ancient and modern times discussed about this in their theories which commonly indicates some specific ways to answer this question that haunts each human being at some point or the other of their lives. To illustrate more on this topic, we can reflect upon their viewpoints and theoretical aspects along with general understanding of the concerned issue.
Meaning of something is what we have in our mind to signify that particular thing. Now there is a popular statement by Joseph Campbell that “The meaning of life is whatever you ascribe it to be”. But as observed by me through different life situations and encounters with people from different cultures;the meaning of life we commonly keep ascribing is dominated and regulated by a lot of prejudices and external forces. Had it been the same way as described by the great philosophers- valueless and universal, there would be no variation of this understanding in different regions and individuals. Often the meaning of our life is predetermined by the culture, society or even hereditary factors. Whatever is taught as meaningful by our elders and our surrounding environment seems perfect to us. Maybe for a person it is attaining religious salvation or pursuit of truth through philosophical enlightenment, for someone else it can be merely getting settled perfectly with a balanced personal and professional life. For some individuals, life may mean a journey through success and failures towards ultimate knowledge. For others it may be merely living and taking breath.
According to me, the meaning of life, as mentioned in the introductory notes, may change from one phase of life to another due to personal development, experience and self-realization. As I grew up from a child to a teenager and now in a way towards the next phase of my life, the values and relative importance of things have changed. As a newborn baby, meaning of life is lying and playing on the lap of his or her mother. Without her existence, they understand nothing. As we grow elder and enter the school life, the meaning of life gets a new aspect. School is the place where we come to know about the concepts called friends, teachers, group work and so on. Thereby the notion towards life changes a bit. Maybe as a school kid, my meaning of life was having best friends with whom I could share my thoughts and attaining full marks in all exams to be the perfect student in class. But towards the end of school life and at the outset of our teenage all of these conceptions and understandings get changed. We have encounters with a lot of new kind of relationships and their respective complexities. Through all these hurdles, we become more mature and we finally enter the world of reality. The meaning of life in the world of reality is completely different from that of the secured world of childhood. In this matured world, we have to consider our career, relationships and social responsibility while ascribing meaning to our life. Life of an adult person is only meaningful when he can understand and deal with the complex equations and win over all odds. This is the age when we determine our priorities and this prioritization has a lot to do with the meaning of life. As mentioned earlier, this can be different. For me may be at this age, building the career is of utmost priority and my life will only be a meaningful one when I feel that I am working towards that. But that is not the same for a girl who gets married at this very age due to her socio-cultural background. For her maybe meaning of life is having a peaceful household as taught by her circumstances. In this way, there is an alteration in the meaning of life as we grow older and step into different life situations and environments.
Famous Greek Philosopher Socrates used to believe that an unexamined life is a meaningless one. This is one principle one must always remember and follow. Because this is the principle that motivates us to gain more knowledge and explore the world. Basically, as indicated by him, the main meaning of life should be thirst of knowledge and life becomes meaningful by quenching that thirst. This stands true even in our contemporary world. The more a person is eager to attain knowledge the more success and achievement he gets in the long run. Hence, according to me meaning of life is to know as much as I can and apply that knowledge in the realistic world to handle upcoming life situations. Knowledge also builds up confidence within us which plays significant role in identifying our own true self and withoutknowing the soul, meaning of life can never be understood.
In addition to acquiring knowledge, I believe, there should be some factors which is common to understand the meaning of life and attain a meaningful life. These are certain virtues such as truthfulness, helping others, following the path that doesn’t harm others and so on. The Greek PhilosopherPlato questioned the fact that always happiness and satisfaction in life are linked with success. He stated that life is not merely living it or getting wealth and success. The meaningful life is when we can make wisest and perfect utilization of such resources and gains with our own intellect and virtue. Therefore, as rightly mentioned by Plato, the meaning of life is to do good to others and attain ultimate knowledge so that we can live an admirable, enviable and happy life.
In this very context, Aristotle, student of Plato also argued and discussed about the happiness and satisfaction. He talked about three kinds of lives- the life of mere survival, the life of pleasure and the life of virtue and reflection. The first one indicates the vegetative life without any variation or charms as lived by plants. The second form of life is the life of getting mere pleasures and happiness without gaining proper knowledge and virtues in the character. We all tend to follow the life of pleasure where we think the meaning of life is merely succeeding and achieving our own goals and attaining a settled life where all our needs will be satisfied. But I strongly believe, we should broaden our mindset and think from the greater perspective. Getting the life of a human being is not something ordinary. We must spend the limited time given to us by the almighty doing something productive. That’s when the true meaning of life will be fulfilled. But in today’s world everybody is driven by competition and capitalism including me. I can’t consider myself as an exception. We all are concerned about our own pleasures and needs. We don’t even have enough time to question our soul about the meaning of life or decode the ways to lead the life of virtue. Hence, we should follow the Golden mean principle as postulated by Aristotle. In this he stated that for the ultimate peace we should practice the virtues to a limited extent. Otherwise it would create chaos in the society. So, I sincerely try to follow a mid-way in every situation so that it neither harms another person nor affects my own desires.
Thereby, to conclude it can be stated that after experiencing certain situations and more importantly linking them with the theories and views of the learned thinkers, my understanding of the meaning of life has got more clarity. For me, the meaning of life is to gain peace and satisfaction and which is only possible when we learn to control our material needs because material needs are endless. I believe, to gain knowledge and spend the journey called life with utmost happiness and cheerfulness is the meaning of life. Life is like an empty sheet; we can paint whatever we wish to. But we should keep in mind that this is such a painting which can’t be erased once done. So, we should fill it with good memories and noble works instead of narrow mentality and harmful desires. If we can do so, our lives will definitely be meaningful ones.
Pandemic and Positive Psychology – What’s with the 3Ps?
By Priyanka Poddar |
Oct 30 2021
We are living in an era of uncertainty, sudden emergency situations, lockdown, mandatory physical distancing, online schooling, travel restrictions and constantly taking safety measures against COVID-19.
Pandemic and Positive Psychology – What’s with the 3Ps?
We are living in an era of uncertainty, sudden emergency situations, lockdown, mandatory physical distancing, online schooling, travel restrictions and constantly taking safety measures against COVID-19. This has been taxing and draining for most of us, bringing forth both physical and psychological alterations and disturbances. This calls for adaptive coping strategies to help us survive these trying times. Talking of coping, it is basically our strengths that help us thrive. This is exactly what Positive psychology talks about. It helps us to understand our characteristics and qualities that can make our lives more meaningful and enriching. So, how to make it work in the pandemic?
Finding the meaning in life can help us to strive. Physical distancing, isolation (while living with the virus), sudden loss and ensuing grief can be devastating, but one can keep swimming in these uncertain waters while looking for the meaning in life and finding meaning in loss, whether personal or vicarious. Waters et al. (2021) have talked about the three elements of meaning - coherence, significance and purpose. All of these have been thwarted in some way or the other due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has created chaos, disturbed our routine, forced us to be alert about safety protocols and grim news. This has in turn adversely affected our sense of predictability and sense of identity, thus, lessening coherence. To make things better, we can try to focus on an optimistic set of beliefs, establish the ‘new normal’ routine and take breaks when needed. This can increase coherence. COVID-19 has reduced our significance by making us feel helpless and powerless in front of its spread and fury, taken away our control over ‘outdoor’ relationships and activities that made our lives pleasurable and feel threatened about the prolonged after-effects of COVID-19. We can gain back control and increase significance by believing that having the safety measures in place can curb the spread, vaccines are doing their job and newer scientific developments in this field can make our lives more liveable and healthier. We can tend to our self-care by banking on our creative outlets, spending time with nature and eating, sleeping and working right. COVID-19 further threatens our purpose by creating uncertainties about future, draining our motivation and inviting sudden changes in our usual track of goals and aims in life.So, we need to focus more on what motivates us, our strengths and skills that pushes us forward in the face of crisis and seek guidance from our inner voice that says, “Hold onto the gear, yes, you can do it!”. We can also emphasize on being of service to the community as it fights the trauma of the pandemic.
Self-compassion can keep us going during the pandemic. One has to look beyond the popular idea of ‘love yourself’. It is about supporting oneself, fighting against the daily hassles and related anxiety that COVID-19 showers on us and maintaining the state of well-being. This can create a space for a sense of emotional safety that can help ward off the fear of being grappled by the curbs put forth by COVID-19. Research already demonstrated that people with more self-compassion reports to be less traumatized by COVID-19 (Jiménez et al., 2020 and Mohammadpour et al., 2020). Here’s an acronym to understand the art of self-compassion in a simple manner:
•B – Be kind to yourself
•R – Respect your body and mind
•E – Engage with the daily routine
•A – Allow your emotions to ebb and flow
•T – Take life one minute, hour, and day at a time
•H – Honor and connect with the memories and continued impact on the world
•E - No expectations about what grief ‘should be’ like and how to cope
We all know what is gratitude - being thankful to self and others, showing appreciation for good things in life and being in the state of being grateful. As per Waters et al. (2021), it can aid in recovery from loss and trauma related to COVID-19. We can reap the benefits of a grateful mindset and grateful orientation toward life in the face of the chaos of the current times. Gratitude can lead us to positive emotions (happiness, hopeful, joyful), this can help us to have a greater understanding of each day that we are alive, be thankful for the food, water, medical support and other basic needs. One can have a better sense of this by writing down in a journal regarding things that one feels gratitude for, whether to self or to others. This state of mind can help us notice positive life changes and personal growth even in the chaos of this crisis. It will definitely go a long way in the post-COVID world.
Further, banking on hope, our strengths, positive interpersonal relationships, practicing forgiveness, focusing on personal growth after facing any loss or trauma and focusing on the positive effects of the pandemic(like, enhancing medical and technological infrastructure of the nations, enabling us to stay mentally connected inspite of being physically distanced, learning new skills, honouring Mother Nature), can provide us with power to move ahead and look forward to life.
In a nutshell, imbibing the Positive Psychology approach might not provide us with all the answers we are seeking during the pandemic but it is a fruitful and enriching approach to live life as we pass through the pandemic.
Jiménez, Ó., Sánchez-Sánchez, L. C., & García-Montes, J. M. (2020). Psychological impact of COVID-19 confinement and its relationship with meditation. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18), 6642. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186642
Lea Waters , Sara B. Algoe , Jane Dutton , Robert Emmons , Barbara L. Fredrickson , Emily Heaphy , Judith T. Moskowitz , Kristin Neff , Ryan Niemiec , Cynthia Pury& Michael Steger (2021). Positive psychology in a pandemic: buffering, bolstering, and building mental health, The Journal of Positive Psychology, DOI: 10.1080/17439760.2021.1871945
Mohammadpour, M., Ghorbani, V., Khoramnia, S., Ahmadi, S. M., Ghvami, M., &Maleki, M. (2020). Anxiety, self-compassion, gender differences and COVID-19: Predicting self-care behaviorsandfear of COVID-19 based on anxiety and self-compassion with an emphasis on gender differences. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry, 15(3), 213–219. https://doi.org/10.18502/ijps.v15i3.3813
Defiance of children and adolescents
By Saranya Banerjee |
Oct 30 2021
Defiance of children and adolescents have become a major issue of concern among parents. In many circumstances, it leads to unpleasant interaction pattern within the family context
Defiance of children and adolescents have become a major issue of concern among parents. In many circumstances, it leads to unpleasant interaction pattern within the family context, thereby further exacerbating the level of defiance among children and adolescents. It is pertinent to mention here that defiant behaviour can both be a part of the normal growing process, as well as a matter having serious implications. Differentiation between these two types of defiance is a very subtle and sensitive process and may require the supervision of experts.
Defiant behaviour may be considered to have serious implications if children have other associated symptoms like anger outbursts, getting easily annoyed, not willing to comply even to requests, deliberately annoying or irritating people and acting in a vindictive manner. All these features meet the criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder and may need immediate intervention. Defiance is also a characteristic of Conduct Disorder which is further characterised by hostile behaviour and violation of rules along with other above mentioned symptomatology. This too requires immediate attention and intervention.
These children undergo a lot of discrimination in different settings like school or in peer group because of their behavioural disturbances. However, this lack of acceptance only enhances their behavioural and emotional difficulties. Since their underlying emotional issues go unaddressed, these children realise that the only way they can prove their existence to the world is by disturbing and annoying others. If one delves a little more in trying to understand the origin of such defiant behaviour, the discriminatory behaviour will soon be replaced by feelings of relatedness and empathy.
As early as 1968, Erik Erikson, A German-American psychologist in his theory on Psychosocial Development suggested that as children grow, they are trying to acquire different skills like autonomy, initiative, industriousness and so on and acquisition of each of these skills leads to the development of a virtue in the child. Research suggests that parents unknowingly often impact children’s social and emotional development, hindering children’s acquisition of skills because of their own insecurities and anxieties and this eventually leading to low self esteem of children and also reduction of their positive emotions. I would like to give a very common example to substantiate my point. A child wishes to participate in a dancing programme but her parents do not allow her to participate fearing that her performance in academics may deteriorate. When this happens repeatedly, the child learns that the best way to deal with the situation is by defying what the parents are saying.
Nevertheless, Erikson also stated that during adolescence, children start developing their own identity, as a result of which they begin differentiating themselves from their parents, they explore their choices, interests and try and give meaning to their lives in their own way. During this stage also children engage in defiance. At this point, it is to be determined by parents whether the defiance is just an assertion of autonomy or whether the children are engaging in undesirable behaviour like substance use, law violation and indulging with wrong peer group.
Some suggestions for parents who are worried about their child’s defiance
●It is important to determine whether the defiance of the child is impacting his everyday functioning in a significant manner in any way.
●Do not compare what you did as a child to what your child is doing now
●Do not coerce your child to engage in any behaviour against his or her wish. This will never fetch any fruitful result.
●Child’s well -being should be more important to parents than his/her academic or co-curricular performance.
●Defiance is just the outward manifestation and maybe a result of underlying emotional difficulties which need to be addressed.
●When parents bring their children for therapy, it is important that parents themselves should also ready for introspection, if necessary.
●Even though the situation is very difficult for parents, they have to keep reinforcing the child’s positive behaviour.
●Parents have to follow the middle path while handling children with defiance; Neither should they be over-critical, nor should they give in to every request of the child
●It is important that parents keep maintaining their positive interaction with the child.
●Punishment rarely works with these children. On the contrary it increases their aggression.
Parents should maintain a consistency in their words and actions.