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Towards sustainable living

  • Published at 06:00 pm November 24th, 2019
Mental Health
Photo: BIGSTOCK

Are we ready for a healthier way of life?

The GDP growth rate for Bangladesh is at 7.9%, an all-time high. From a poor country, we are growing faster and getting stronger as an economy. Great news. Stronger economy ensures survival and paves the path for excellence.

But the question is: Are we ready to excel yet? Is Bangladesh ready yet for healthy living?

An example 

A few weeks ago, there was some controversy regarding some private photos of an actress which was made public. I went through social media posts and noticed the comments. Some said how she is a valedictorian, how she is the head of a certain organization, and this is the sole reason why we should respect her.

On the other hand, the counter arguments were how she had broken the rules of religion, society, and culture of Bangladesh. How this relationship was unjustified with regards to marital law. Nobody is asking why we are even talking about it. If she is actually a gem in our eyes, shouldn’t we try to protect her privacy more, rather than sharing and gossiping about it?

Let’s say a lot of people do not like her. That’s why they were vilifying her, sharing her photos. But what’s the point of hating somebody we don’t even know? Valedictorian, sure. Head of this and that, sure. Social service, sure. Photos outside norms, sure. But nobody knows what her life is about, how she grew up, and what she thinks about life. 

We don’t know her views about the world. It is something that she is unable to show with posts, videos, or photos. It’s the same for you too.

We have so much information now, that we have become experts at fantasy series, video games, sports, celebrity news  --  totally unaware that none of these things will teach us anything about how to listen to our friends, how to become self-disciplined, and what to do with anger or grief.

Almost 20 million Bangladeshis are suffering from mental health issues. As I check the world happiness report 2019, we are still at 125 out of 156 countries. In the sustainable society index, our human well-being actually has decreased, although our economic well-being has gone up.

Why the contradictory data? It’s because we confuse getting better at stuff, we confuse earning with learning how to live and how to be a good person.

At the end of our time on this planet, what expertise is going to be more valuable? Will it be our understanding of matters of how to live and die with satisfaction, or our assumed knowledge of a celebrity who might or might not be having an affair? 

Forget about acing tests, climbing the career ladder, or learning everything about the digital economy -- what’s the point of winning at those things but losing in the game of being a good friend, father, mother, brother, or sister? 

There is definitely time and space for learning skills, but not at the cost of improving as a person. So many things are happening around us at the same time. Life is too complex to even judge our own mother, let alone others. The only way to be mentally stable is to be grateful for what others do for us.

Lets not envy the colleagues who shine bright at the office, as their success comes at the cost of life. The father who puts in 80 hours a week might be a hero at work, but he probably neglects his wife, children, and health. Let’s not waste our time sharing, debating, and gossiping about other’s lives, when there are so many things in our lives we have to deal with and get better at. Let’s get better at what matters: A healthy living. Let’s learn how to deal with depressive thoughts, how to be good listeners, how to stay calm in the face of adversity, how to become a good spouse, parent, and friend. 

Lets’ learn technology, but not at the expense of another life. Education without technology can suffice, but technology without education is a disaster.

Let’s focus on our inward transformation that nobody knows about. Who we truly are inwardly is way more important than who people believe us to be. Let’s focus on the actress’s acting, because that is what she is most interested to share with us.

Let’s pause for a while, and really think this through. Are we ready to move upwards?

Our most valuable asset is our character. Let’s guide ourselves to healthy living.

Touhid Kamal uses anthropology to learn more on micro-cultures and human behaviour, and is a UX researcher and team culture builder. He can be reached at [email protected]

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