Go on, live a little
It’s time we let go of our fears and enjoyed what life has to offer
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 on to airplanes in case they fall out of the sky; we are terrified of becoming old and decrepit.
We are scared of getting fat, getting wrinkles, or getting cellulite. 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. And 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 and full-fat cheese.
Well, you know what? We don’t need to live like this. In fact, if we keep the big picture in mind, none of this should matter very much – and very little should matter at all.
It shouldn’t matter if our homes 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 above our ideal weight.
It shouldn’t matter if your neighbours have a nicer car, a bigger house, or even better-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 Jaipur. Or even that they serve vintage champagne when they entertain while you can only afford rum punch.
Even if all or any of the above is true, you don’t have to live in fear of being judged. You don’t need to be terrified of being perceived as inadequate. And you certainly shouldn’t be scared that you can never measure up.
It’s more important to enjoy what life has to offer than to torment yourself with what it has withheld from you. It’s much more empowering to live for the moment than live in fear of what the future may bring.
And it’s certainly much more fun to indulge yourself than suffer a life of eternal self-deprivation.
Okay, so it’s not a prescription for a perfect life. But it will certainly be a happier one if you just learn 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 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. And there is a real danger that a 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 regimen rule your life. Don’t spend all your free time on the treadmill. And don’t become one of those bores who claims to have a wheat/dairy/gluten 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, snuggle up to your spouse or your kids, have a leisurely breakfast. It’s probably better for your heart than that all-bran cereal or all that aerobic exercise.
• Slow down and savour the moment. That first sip of your cappuccino; the smell of freshly-cut glass on the lawn; the smile on your mother’s face when you remember her birthday; your daughter’s delight at her first pair of high heels. It’s the small things that make the biggest difference.
• It doesn’t hurt to get down and dirty once in a while. Tuck into those golguppas and papdi chaat at the neighbourhood market. Eat some aloo parathas from the dhaba down the road. Tuck into some jalebis from that roadside vendor. Such occasional – and otherwise forbidden – treats are the best way to build up immunity to all those super-bugs going around.
• Give yourself permission to be less that perfect. There is a reason Demi Moore and Madonna look the way they do, even into their 40s and 50s. They invest a small fortune in cosmetic surgery, they spend hours every day in the gym, and have personal trainers and live-in chefs to keep them toned and trim. You can’t achieve that look of honed perfection unless you’re some sort of genetic freak. So, don’t kill yourself trying.
• And yes, go ahead and order dessert the next time you’re out for dinner. You know you want to.