We must remain optimistic

We must remain optimistic

A few weeks ago I learned that one of my old friends from way back in high school was hospitalised for depression and anxiety.
I then realised just how much of a serious issue mental health is and that now more than ever, it should be put under the spotlight.
Living in a country like ours where the societal challenges are overwhelming, many people from all walks of life are bound to be living under tremendous stress. The long term effects of this problem are cause for concern.

Once again, young people are more likely to bear the brunt of these effects mainly due to the country’s inability to absorb them into the labour market whether in the public or private sectors.  People are stagnant, they have huge debt and marriage related problems that are enough to make a normal person go crazy.

The political climate does not ease the situation either. We are living in tough times where we continue to wait for the right leadership that will take us out of these painful circumstances and move our state towards economic stability.  It might be a long wait but we have to remain optimistic.

Apart from our politics, social media plays a huge role in our worsening mental health.
Focusing on different images on our screens for long hours each day contributes to low concentration span and a deeper sense of worthlessness because our minds process the images and simultaneously compare our own realities with those that we see on our screens.
The effects of poor mental health go beyond depression and anxiety, but also result in more narcissistic personalities. All of these are not conducive to a healthy workforce.

Depression and anxiety have been reported to cost companies millions in revenue due to low productivity.
On the other hand, narcissism is problematic because the victim cares greatly about themselves to the detriment of others.
It is reported that many people in politics suffer from this disorder, with the likes of Donald Trump being informally diagnosed by many.
Sadly this is not only prevalent in politics. People are increasingly interested in themselves and being in the spotlight more than they are in delivering quality work that truly changes people’s lives.

Philanthropists are often guilty of this where they report about their recipients and how much they give away. They ensure that photographs of themselves performing charitable acts are taken to show just how giving they are. On a smaller scale, narcissists prefer not to collaborate with others or refuse to assist other people because they believe that they are better and therefore the only ones deserving of good fortune.

They do everything in their power to ensure that no one, or only a few belonging to an exclusive elite group gets to taste the piece of the good pie. They do this by closing in opportunities for others.  Further, they always want to be the center of attention and honestly believe that they have much more to offer than anyone else can. These are the kinds of people we have become as a nation.

Not so long ago I listened to an interview of a famous actor. One of the profound things he said was that when he gets on stage (and here he was referring to theatre performance) that’s when he feels closest to God.
How many of us can say that about the work that we do, whether it’s an office job or not, do you find pleasure in doing your bit in delivering services to people?
I’m also asking this in the context of our politics. How many people get into politics to genuinely play their role in helping people rather than using it as a means to further their own interests, to the detriment of the country’s progression?
People just want to get rich and don’t care how they attain that goal. I have always maintained that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting economic freedom.
However, with such a huge unemployment rate which causes all kinds of pressure, the methods of gaining that wealth can be unscrupulous. That is why people justify killing other people merely for the attainment of wealth.
This reminds me of a famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr. It says: “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry.

He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause and say ‘here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”
In other words, love and work are synonymous. Deviation from that principle is what has led us to this point.
For those who are interested in living a better life amid all the noise and clutter of everyday life but can’t afford to go on a retreat, here are two tips according to research that you can apply.

Firstly, avoid grabbing your cellphone first thing in the morning when you wake up. Use that time to gather your thoughts, pray, stretch or meditate and keep calm before the day starts.  Processing any kind of information outside of your own self will contribute towards negative thoughts.
Secondly, try to write in a journal. This might seem far fetched or like a waste of time but researchers indicate that our brains are wired to create more than to receive information.

This is in stark contrast to the kind of life we live in this day and age. Therefore when you write early in the morning before your day starts or right before you go to bed, you are able to focus your mind on the important things and remove unnecessary distractions.
I must confess that I am yet to try these but I hope they work for you as we all strive towards attaining some level of inner peace.

l Contact Thato for business writing, contracts and speaking at business events on 58419117 or t_mokhothu@yahoo.com

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