TRANSITIONING FROM UNMARRIED TO MARRIED WOMEN

Marriage is a turning point for most people in their lives. No matter the reasons for marrying, its an event that leaves a mark and becomes a starting point for many subsequent events. Religious texts and rituals all across the world have spent much time and thought dictating how and why two people should marry. Biological reasons aside, when two people come together, they are expected to think or and maintain each other as one joint unit. It encourages togetherness, tolerance, an adjustment that paves the way to cooperating and adjusting in society. Our societies do not appreciate individualism or staying alone and it’s the reason why parents trouble themselves over their single children to the extent that they are willing to sell or buy happiness for them in the name of marriage. No matter what you may name it – happiness, a financial cushion, or gifts, this practice is called the dowry system and it’s prevalent in every culture.

Historically though, only one gender has been geared up since infancy to make marriage their whole-sole occupation in life – Females.

Take any patriarchal society in the past or even in the modern world, every one of them has treated daughters as only a means of securing a connection with a ‘good family’. The prospect of shouldering the burden of a girl’s marriage is so bothersome that girls have been either aborted, murdered in infancy or married off while they were still too young. Things may have changed some but till she is married, collecting a girl child’s dowry becomes her parents’ sole occupation. She thus becomes a ‘burden’.

This burden dictates how the girl is brought up even in her own family. It robs her of identity because she is being brought up only to take on the identity of another. It robs her of agency, her claims, her voice and the right to choose because she must only belong, first to her father then to her husband. She has rights neither here nor there. Because after all, she is a burden that must be pitched onto another set of shoulders in the end.

The transition from an unmarried to a married woman becomes the only occupation of a girl’s life. She is constantly bombarded by reminders that she must soon be married off. From the cradle up, she is taught, mostly by members of her own gender, that she must learn to detach herself from her identity, her roots, her history and adopt that of another family without any backlash. A young woman aspiring to marry into a ‘good family’ is expected to excel at managing a household, being servile, anticipating the needs of others and repressing her own desires.

How many of you women were subjected to this while you were growing up? –

Don’t raise your voice.

Don’t mingle with boys.

Don’t disrespect or object to your elders.

That’s not for you to think/decide.

Stay quiet.

Don’t protest.

Society is not the only culprit of a woman. Pop culture, media and literature like Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Uttaran, Hum Aapke Hain Kaun, Hum Saath-Saath Hain, and many other examples exhorting the virtues of female sacrifice serve as reminders to young girls that their acceptance comes from their silence and sacrifice. Its what they are fed, morning, noon and night. Education and women empowerment have done little to efface these degrading practices because the idea of a woman being a slave to the family is deeply ingrained in our Indian ethos. Parvati, Sita, Kunti, Draupadi, Padmavati… there are too many examples to quote here of women who gave up their everything only to retain a place in history earned at the cost of self-effacement. This notion of a married woman being the epitome of self-sacrifice has become the ideal of the Indian Bahu. If she dares to want another identity than the one idolized by society, she is forced to change, shamed, shunned, divorced and called names.  

In the Indian context, the transition is defiantly skulking several centuries behind the present times. The most obvious change that comes in a woman’s life is changing her last name which is a practice observed worldwide. But in some communities in India, women are encouraged to change even their first names and it proves that our societies are not comfortable with the idea of a woman having her own identity.

The minute a girl is married she is required to bid adieu to her former way of living. Because for some reason it’s unacceptable for her new family to stomach the fact that she has a different way of dressing up, different ideas, her own preferences in food, movies, songs, clothing, ideals and philosophies. I wonder that if sameness is all that is expected out of a married woman, then why not practice inter-family marriages instead? That would ensure that the girls of the family remained and propelled the ideas and practices of the same family. There wouldn’t be an issue of painfully teaching the new bahu the ways of her new home. Right?

This isn’t an article approving incest or inter-family marriages. This is an article highlighting the unfair treatment of women who are forced to change their identities in the name of marriage.

I’m sure many women across the country have heard these barbs –

Your parents didn’t teach you even that?!

Bahus don’t laugh and cheer like that.

Change the way you dress up. Change the way you eat. Change your habits.

Change your company and don’t interact too much with your own family.

You can’t work after marriage. You’ll have to shift to our city/area. If you want to work, ensure that your chores are done before you go.

Why should we? What are you there for?

Who do you think you are without this family? Who do you think you are?

I’ve had to listen to ALL of the above. These are ALL my personal experiences. Surprised that an educated, forward-thinking, independent woman like me went through it? Like I mentioned above, education has done little to change the perception of women in this society. Education has become only an embellishment desired in an ideal bride. Often its women themselves who propagate the idea of being a slave to the married home and while out there, they might light candles and rave about unfair treatment of women, at home, they still want ideal bahus.

Some may argue that if women are trained for this transition since infancy, it should be easy to adapt to the married household. I’ll counter with a question –

“Can a plant from the tropics thrive in the tundra? Sure, it may survive; it must, because its being given the essentials to survive – earth, water, sun…but will it thrive?”

We’re kinder to the foliage we import from their exotic homelands. We create greenhouses, spend on keeping them moist and warm. We invest in the right potting mixes, worry about the soil being the right pH level. We’re kinder to the pets we adopt from other countries. The pet-food should be right, the water should have enough oxygen for the fish… the list goes on. And yet for a newly married woman, no one creates a greenhouse of her past life to ease her transition into the new one. The pag-phera ceremony, where a Hindu newly married girl goes back to her previous family, lasts only a day, after which she must come back to her new family. I did the same and did not see my family again for more than a year after that. Even when I did go back, I was told that I shouldn’t make the stay too long. I went only for ten days. So much for easing my transition!

I’ll pose a searing question to the families of the husbands now –

“When she came home, how long did you tolerate her ways of living before you or someone in your family told her to change them? Or did you do a barter – change this aspect of you and I’ll give you such and such thing or do so and so? Or did you allow her to keep her ways?”

This question will ruffle feathers. Some may even counter – we adopted her ways instead, or that, we gave her enough freedom. First of all, who are you to give someone their freedom or allow them to do something? That right must remain in their own hands. But I feel Democracy doesn’t apply to married Indian women. Some may have been generous in accepting their bahus’ ways, but I bet most didn’t. I wasn’t given much choice in whether I wanted to follow the customs of my husband’s family. I had to engage in practices I didn’t approve of. I had to teach myself to change or be quiet so I wouldn’t fan any fires. This isn’t an adjustment. This is coercion.

It is true that things have changed a lot for women. We have the vote now, a voice, we can dress up beyond ghoonghats and burkas. We can make choices in partners. We can choose to divorce, to work, to raise our children our way. But it is also true that while we can do all of the above, in many cases the choice is not in our hands. Or let me just put it this way, the circumstances surrounding us enable us to either make or drop the choice of making independent decisions. Often the choice is made for us and we are only to submit. If we assert independence, it’s not without resentment. Like I was asked, “who allowed you to study after marriage?” when I independently chose to pursue LLM post-marriage.

The message is clear – a woman’s choice shouldn’t be in her hands.

When I recall my own experiences, I am left with nothing but anger at how I was expected to change to fit into the lifestyle of my husband’s family. Subtle changes like changing when I used to wake-up or go to sleep, the kind of shows I must watch, the way I talked or laughed, how I dressed, preferring the company of certain type of people, chipped away at my own personality so much so that after a while, people I knew from my past life wondered why I had changed so much. The change may not have been expected overnight but it was definitely expected and while I did earn a lot of love and respect from my husband’s family, I often wonder if I received those only in barter for my willingness to change. I am left with a lifetime of bitter experiences that I wouldn’t want for my own or for anyone’s little girl.

While marriage is a transition that impacts both genders, it must be said that it impacts a woman more than it does a man. Would it be too hard on the ego of a husband’s family to let a woman be her own self while she becomes a loving, caring member for her new family? Would it be too hard to accept her family as part of your own? Why is it unconscionable for a woman to stick to her own ideas and philosophies in life, or to carve out her own path, or to be part of major decisions in a family, or to wear the pants in the family? Afterall, she is equally responsible for the well-being of the husband’s family, if not more.

Why must acceptance come at the cost of changing herself only for a woman?

If marriage is the merging of two families, let both families change to a better way of living, accept each other’s flaws and work around the differences to reach a consensus. While adjustment is a must in all relationships, setting limits on a human being is nothing but a form of slavery.

Coercion brings only a temporary change,

but it sows the seeds for a lifetime of resentment and hate.

Should that be the foundation of the family?

You decide.

THE SELF – A BARRIER IN EXPRESSING AND EXPERIENCING LOVE

Love, being an intrinsic human attribute and need, cannot be effectively caged behind bars. It always yearns for expression. However, love cannot always be expressed and/ or experienced sans roadblocks. Though love faces many barriers in its way, I will talk about one major hiccup to expressing and/ or experiencing love.

The fly in the ointment is none other than SELF.

A few examples –

Joy could never love his wife, no matter how hard she tried to please him. Joy knew this was injustice for his wife, but he did not want to deal with it. The emotional baggage that he was carrying was proving hazardous for his marriage. His mother had deserted him and his father when he was a child. His devoted father had raised him up single-handedly. He had often heard his father lament about his wife of few years whom he had loved a lot. When Joy got married, he decided not to love his wife so that if she deserted him (as his mother had done), he would not whine away the remaining years of his life. Joy erected HIMSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. In his desire not to get hurt by his wife, he was hurting himself and his wife and was leading a lovelorn life.

Koyna never wanted to enter into a relationship with a man. She saw her friends in stable relationships, but spurned all proposals that came her way. She had grown up seeing her mother at the mercy of her abusive father and had decided in childhood itself that she would never be with a man. There were times in which she felt lonely and in desperate need for the arm of a comforting man around her. But, she had determined that it is better to be safe than sorry. Nightmares of her childhood haunted her all the while. Koyna had erected HERSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. She chose to stay away from smelling flowers, lest she ended up being stung by a bee.

Shikha had an avoidant attitude towards all her colleagues. No one’s hospitality could prompt her to socialise with others. She sat alone during lunch hours, never went for staff picnics, never attended official parties and never spoke beyond work with anyone whenever she spoke at all. She was fighting an emotionally draining legal battle with her estranged husband. Her health had begun to slide downhill. Her colleagues knew it all and few of them showed genuine concern and love. But, Shikha had erected HERSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. Her aloofness was killing her from within and from without as she refused to admit entry to genuine care.

Robin was a chain-smoker. No attempts by his devout parents to make him quit smoking were ever successful. He had screwed up his academics and had no fear of God or man. His younger sister had fallen off the terrace to her death when he was six years old. He had never been able to come to terms with it. Initially, he had held God responsible for not saving his sister. Later, he went on to proclaim himself as an atheist, going out of his ways to defy the existence of God and condemn anyone who spoke of God. He held his parents responsible for having built no parapets on the terrace of their new house which led to his sister’s death. Robin had erected HIMSELF as a barrier between expressing and experiencing love. He could not experience God’s love. He was bitter within and venomous without as he rejected the healing that love provides.

The names mentioned in the above examples are fictional, but the stories are not. When we hoist ourselves as barriers in the way of love, the natural inflow and outflow of love is hindered. A build up of plaque in the arteries reduces blood flow to the heart which can eventually cause a heart attack. A blockage in the pulmonary vein obstructs blood from flowing out of the heart and similarly leads to heart failure. It is only when the obstruction or the blockage is treated and removed that smooth inflow and outflow of blood to and from the heart is resumed and the person gets better gradually.

Life events are not always fair. We do not have answers to all the ‘whys’ of life. There are episodes which are within our control and some which are out of our control that leave us shattered. When we carry the baggages of these events and obstruct the expressing and experiencing of love, we start stifling ourselves towards a death of our souls.

SEEK HELP REMOVE THE BLOCKAGE

It is injustice to self, to wallow in the bitterness of life events when help is available to deal with those emotional baggages. At times, the issues are ongoing ones and a one-time cure is not sufficient. At times multiple surgeries are required to remove blockages completely. Seek constant help from the source available to you (it may be from a friend, a colleague, parents, Counselor or any mature understanding confidante) so that the blockage is removed and the barrier-less inflow and outflow of love is resumed.

HELP REMOVE THE BLOCKAGE IN OTHERS

We may undoubtedly have people around us who have erected themselves as barriers to expressing and experiencing love. Sensible sensitivity on our part would help them come out of their self-made cocoons. A hurting person would not instantly welcome your intervention or accept your suggestion for seeking professional intervention. What helps make the way in such cases is prayer. There is no barrier that is impossible for God to remove. Fervent intercession on behalf of such people would gradually make them open to work towards demolishing the impenetrable SELF that has stood tall long enough to make their lives loveless.

There are many barriers to love, but a conscious erection of the SELF as a roadblock mostly goes unnoticed or is often ascribed to other more obvious causes.

UNGRATEFULLY GRATEFUL

Is 9 equal to -(-9)?

Yes, of course, you got that right. 

Is being not ungrateful, equal to being grateful? 

Let me help you by sharing what happened with my neighbour

My neighbours are an elderly couple with a son and daughter. Her son Sushrut and daughter Sunitha. Sushrut is married and lives along with his wife in a different city. Sunitha moved to the US on an assignment 5 years back and continued to live there ever since. 

My neighbour aunty passed away two years back. Sunitha was abroad when her mother passed away. She flew for the rituals and returned to the US a month after her mother passed away, leaving her father along with her brother. Sunitha thought her father would be well taken care of as long as he is with her brother. On the contrary, Sushrut and his wife tortured him for the property. When Sunitha got to know about this, she left her job in the US, returned to India so that she could take care of her father. Sunitha’s brother and sister-in-law threatened her that they won’t let her father live elsewhere. Sunitha’s father was determined to give his property equally shared between his daughter and son. Sunitha’s brother was not agreeing to this, so, Sunitha had to file a police complaint against her brother. After the police intervened, Sunitha’s brother let her father go along with Sunitha. 

Sunitha’s brother continued to have arguments with their father for the property. Every other week Sushrut would visit his father only to ask for more and more money. This continued for six more weeks and that is when the pandemic struck. Due to the lockdown restrictions in India, her brother could not drive down to where Sunitha lived anymore. One thing Sunitha said hit me harder, “After my mother passed away, it was already difficult for my father. On top of that, arguments with my brother aggravated his anger. I will always be grateful to Covid, Modi ji and the police who never let my brother cross the border. My father lived in peace for the last two months of his life“.  Uncle passed away before the lockdown ended in India.

Taking things for granted which are considered “normal” is a human tendency. When things go wrong in life, often people start to wonder, what are those things they have been ungrateful for. I have also realised how lucid my life is only after Covid.

If not for Corona and the lockdown, I would not have realised 

  • How important is human interaction even if that’s just a smile? 
  • How unthankful I have been for all those tea break conversations at work
  • How much I took me being healthy for granted. 
  • How important survival is and what is needed to survive. 
  • How much online banking, remote payments and internet at large have comforted us.
  • How apart from family, no one can really be “there” for you. (Only family members were allowed to travel due to restrictions)
  • Waking up every morning. 

I remember telling my parents several times, “If I live in Bangalore I can take a flight to be home in less than few hours. The same would be difficult if I move overseas“. I still feel this is true, but the lockdown meant, this was not possible anymore. I should never undermine the chances I get today to be with friends and family. I  am ungratefully grateful to Corona to have taught me the best lessons of life which otherwise would have taken decades to learn. It is unfortunate, the lessons came with a cost though.  

HOW GRATITUDE CAN BE THE CATALYST FOR HAPPINESS?

I was wondering about how gratitude can be the catalyst for happiness since Rajnandini said so.

I decided I will do a thorough screening of Gratitude.

Firstly, Gratitude is effected because of three elements –

  1. The Giver – A person who gifts
  2. The Gift – In the form of a good or a service or an action
  3. The Receiver – A receiver of the gifts/services usually expresses gratitude to the giver

Secondly, Gratitude confirms satisfaction for both the giver and the receiver of the gifts or services. The receiver of the gifts expresses Gratitude when he or she is satisfied with what he or she receives. And the giver of the gifts feels satisfied when he or she was expressed Gratitude for what he or she gave/gifted.

Thirdly, Gratitude deepens the bond between both the giver and receiver of the gifts as well as Gratitude.

So from the above screening of the word Gratitude, we clearly understand how Gratitude can be the catalyst for happiness between two people who are bonded in some manner.

But there was another question raised within me, Will Gratitude be a catalyst for happiness between two enemies or two persons who don’t get along well with each other?

I have seen people coming closer to their enemies and saying, “Thank you for showing respect or doing this for me“. And they both come together in a friendship once more. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Gratitude enhances sensitivity and empathy in people toward others and helps decreasing the desire to seek revenge.

So what’s the final outcome of showcasing Gratitude? It is nothing but Happiness

In conclusion, I want to point out that Gratitude has a bigger attribute hidden inside it and that is – Acceptance. That is the secret behind how Gratitude is the catalyst for happiness. A grateful person always accepts everything and that is the reason why he or she stays happy.  

 

AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE – A PROPELLER TOWARDS HAPPINESS

Think of the last time someone expressed their gratitude towards you.

I’m sure you felt good, even if you might have modestly brushed it off your shoulders with your feet firmly implanted on the ground! To receive an acknowledgment or appreciation or recognition for something that you have done or said generates an inner pleasant feeling. This is to a great extent due to the constructive neurotransmitters secreted by the brain as a recognition of the expressed gratitude.

So you see, a Thank You does a whole lot more than is overtly evident!

If you take some time to recollect all those incidents in which you deserved gratitude, but they simply didn’t come your way, you would also remember the accompanying strong or faintly sinking feeling which was either momentary or long-lived.

Gratitude is an attitude of the heart. It can never be coercively eked out from anyone. At the same time, it can never be imposed on anyone. Not everyone has the attitude of being grateful. And, not everyone has the heart to graciously receive gratitude.

However, considering the lot of good that gratitude does to self and others, it is an attitude worth cultivating.

A couple of days back, as I walked past a particular lane in my vicinity, I saw heaps of bricks on one side. A house was being constructed nearby. My thoughts instinctively drifted off towards the poor workers at brick kilns in not-so-welcome environments, facing exploitation, bondage, deprivation, and abuse from their owners. And I thought, would the owner of the house that was being constructed ever think of the source of the bricks that are being used to erect his house?

An old Vietnamese proverb says –

“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”

In the fast-paced consumeristic world that we live in, we either don’t take the time to look back and be grateful or we make much ado out of the gratitude that we express or we flow with the tide of the formal exchanges of gratitude. The spontaneity of the heartfelt expression has become a rarity!

G.K. Chesterton says –

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

Gratitude sure is a catalyst for happiness. It gives happiness to the one who expresses and to the one who receives.

Family is one such social circle where gratitude is taken for granted. I have heard people say that there need not be such formalities within the informal environment of a family because it makes relationships appear distant. I choose to differ. Within a family are individuals whose need for appreciation, recognition, and acknowledgement is as profound as those of others we come across in the world outside. It sure would seem hypocritical to organize formal Thanksgiving ceremonies, while having a gratitude-starved dear one within the family!

Another significant area of starved gratitude is in the authority-subordinate equation. Words of gratitude are seldom heard from people in authority towards their subordinates on a day-to-day basis. The work done, targets met and tasks accomplished are taken for granted. A word of acknowledgement with a smile would surely do wonders for the boss as well!

How to cultivate the attitude of gratitude?

If gratitude doesn’t come to one spontaneously, it needs to be cultivated. Here is how you can work your way towards cultivating the attitude of gratitude:

First, reflect upon your life and acknowledge the things bestowed on you – by God, by family and friends.

Second, recognize the inner need for gratitude in yourself and others.

Third, consciously decide to express gratitude. An unexpressed feeling of gratitude can be more stifling than no gratitude at all.

Fourth, think of ways to express. It can be by way of spoken or written words, by small or big acts of recognition, or by any gestures that convey the meaning.

Fifth, defeat your ego or coyness as may be the case. Put your guard down.

Finally, just go ahead and express it!

As you make this a habitual pattern, you will sense the spontaneity of the overflow of gratitude in your heart. The more you express gratitude, the more you will notice things that you need to be grateful for.

One of the best personal practices is to be thankful to God each morning and at the end of each day, for the world runs along by His might and grace alone, though we keep chugging on with our share of responsibilities.

The wise Psalmist writes –

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

In Candles Online, we have dedicated this month to explore different facets of Gratitude. This week our writers would continue with writing on the impact of gratitude on happiness. Enjoy reading!

WHAT DO I WANT TO LEAVE BEHIND BEFORE 2021 WINKS AT ME?

I used to think accepting or adopting something new or alien is difficult but now I feel that leaving something behind or quitting or getting rid of things is much more difficult. We are aware of the fact that how difficult it is for an addictive person to get rid of his/her addictions. Recently, I was so challenged to quit something that was necessary for my life but it was difficult for me to decide it. 

One thing that you want to leave behind this year in 2020?” I asked this question to 35 or 40 odd relatives and friends of mine and I got the following answers: 

One young girl responded – my makeup products. I know many girls get addicted and busy beautifying themselves but at the end of the day, they feel guilty about spending a lot on it. That was an honest answer. 

Another brother said, “Controlling my tongue. At times, my words are too rude to tolerate“. That is quite a confession. In the time we are in now, we really don’t care what we do, what we say, or how we express ourselves to others. We are so irresponsible about our behaviors but the attempt to leave behind that attitude is truly commendable. I applaud it.   

Another woman said, “The partiality of relationship, gender, and love. My house has a lot of it”.  Sibling rivalry, partiality in the families are very common but these are more prevalent these days so it is a constant struggle for all of us to stay positive and sane in a sinful world and be the change agent we are called for. I think the one who poured it out to me knows that she has to deal with it with love, care, and a lot of responsibilities.  All the best, my sis.

 

It was shocking for me when I heard this from her, “Relationship“. But as she didn’t explain what kind of relationship it is not wise for me to speculate it much. It is true, living in a toxic relationship is a big pain in life these days. I struggle thinking about how to really find a way for people who are going through such problems in their marriages or families. 

 

My niece replied, “A bad habit of complaining.” No, I am not going to say which niece of mine said this. But jokes apart, I know a few people who constantly complain about every other thing or people they come across. Though, my niece expressed all her complaints to God only. I was really happy that she kept it limited only to God because only He can really bring any changes to all the things that worry her or disturb her. But if we have a complaining habit or attitude, it is necessary to get rid of it for our good only.

 

Two people replied with the words like, “None” and “Nothing“. They are probably happy with whatever is happening within and around them or they are ready to accept everything that comes in their ways depending on God’s divine strength.  

 

Another niece responded and said, “Maybe I could be a little less lazy I guess…, and by that I mean a little less sleeping.” So she wants to leave behind her excessive sleeping disorder ( it is just her habit though). That is like leaving behind a blessing in today’s context. I struggle to sleep for long hours these days because of stress and Netflix. See, I was honest. 😛

All the best sweetheart, try hard not to be lazy and sleep a little lesser.  

 

One of my oldest friends who is lean and thin replied, “I want to avoid sweets as I have put on weight… But I know I can not.” I joked when I read her answer and she wanted to prove that she has really put on weight recently. But she also confessed that she can’t leave behind that habit of having sweets. It is good for her not to leave it behind. 🙂

 

One of my eldest sisters whom I respect a lot said, “Indisciplined schedule.” That was shocking again from a person like her. But I had asked to be honest so she did and that is commendable. I have always struggled in this area of having a disciplined and organized way of living, rather than following a very laid-back lifestyle. 

 

Another buddy replied, “My loneliness… Want to move in with my hubby…“. I feel for her. Sometimes our professional requirements and adjustments of today’s world ask a big cost to pay in life. So if she is thinking of leaving behind this lifestyle and live together with her spouse then it will be the best thing that can happen in 2021 for them. Please do consider it and be successful in leaving it behind in the coming year, Buddy. 

 

A co-writer and close friend says, “The worst me… I want to leave and get a better me.” A good attempt but it is very difficult to act upon something which is not specific but very broad.  

 

One of my sisters-in-law says, “Bad sleeping habit😬.” Stop watching Netflix and Prime. That much I can say to her… 😛 But yeah, on a serious note, having a good night’s sleep really helps to take most of the wisest decisions.   

 

One of my (adaptive 🙂 ) sisters said, “The tension and constant struggle I have with my Mother in Law.” I can understand how bad it can be when there are constant struggles between the two most important members of a family. They were supposed to be making a house HOME and the struggles between them are difficult to create that atmosphere in the family. If one of them is quiet and tolerating just for the sake of peace in the family then how painful it will be for her to go through it. I can’t really imagine. She had shared her heart with me before and I feel for her. But it is a tough thing to get rid of. Take care sis, and think well before acting on it.

 

I am an overthinker and a control freak…. this year has been especially bad on this front… if I could I would love to dial back on this anxiety of mine.” I love you, my sis for such an honest response to my query. I quite relate to this too and I believe most of us struggle with this attitude. 

Even another sweetest girl says, “For me, it’s overthinking.” Thinking is really good, but overthinking is useless and sucks a lot of our energy. So it is a good decision to get rid of it before stepping into a new year. 

 

Taking things and people for granted is the worst thing and habit. Because taking for granted is kind of misjudging or miscalculating things or people which is really dangerous. One of my co-writers replied honestly, “I want to leave behind my habit of taking things for granted at times.” Good job girl, fight it out and get rid of it. 

 

During this pandemic time, many suffered financially and there were many suicide cases. But those who stayed strong holding onto their grounds are to be applauded and worthy of everyone’s praises.  One of my closest friends writes back, “The stress of not having financial security for my family…“. You can fight it out, buddy. Do get rid of this and you will be victorious. 

Another close friend writes, “I want to leave procrastination and self-pity.” Oh, let me tell you, my friend, we all relate to this. Postponing is so fun but I really want to get rid of it myself as well. 😛

The last response was – “The original answer is a few family members… But the real answer is my bitterness… I became too bitter this year…I don’t like this version of me…I wanna go back to being the sweet, gullible ignorant fool. I was much happier that way… Now it feels like I have no well-wishers. Like everyone is there for a selfish purpose. It was easier when I only saw things at face value and didn’t judge people. But some people’s true faces made me lose all my trust. I actually mourn for old me.” Someone very close to my heart responded to me when I asked her the question. She has been struggling a lot in her life. She has talents that people can only dream of but her present state of mind worries her as well as worries me. And I will be praying unceasingly as she tries her best to get rid of her present self and get back to her old good self. 

Ending my long compilation of what different people want to leave behind or get rid of, I want to share my One Thing that I want to leave behind before moving forward in the new year 2021. Only two people dared to ask me back, “What is that you want to leave behind”

I really want to leave behind my dependency on people instead of doing things on my own depending on my God, the sustainer of my life. Let me give you the lowliest example of my dependency on people… During this lockdown period when I was unable to go anywhere, was secluded from all, and suffered because of my health conditions for months, I literally looked for people to talk to or chat with me. And I hated the feeling of being denied of their availability to entertain me. I am good at creating things for my own entertainment but instead of working on them, I was too laid back to rely on people. I truly, want to get rid of that attitude and move into the new year with my God-given creativity and full dependency on my Saviour. 

In the end, I can quote a Bible verse and hold onto the same –

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…”

I will press on towards my goal, leaving behind my dependency on people as you all will be trying your best to leave behind what you wanted to. 

Stay Blessed!

 

 

IS CONSUMERISM A COMPLETELY FUTILE CONCEPT?

Demand and Supply run the dynamics of the modern-day world or simply put Economics. Modern-day politics, policies, relationships – be it at the micro or macro level are governed purely by economics. “Size of the market” influences the amount of leverage any nation gets. To influence consumers or say lure them to buy a product, widen the market share is an old practice. With the world becoming a global village, competition is cutthroat and marketing is a serious business. At the end of the day it is to make a consumer believe – BELIEVE US, BUY OUR PRODUCT, HAPPINESS GUARANTEED!! And this is called Consumerism, to make (attract) the consumers believe that their happiness quotient in life will be enhanced if they buy a certain product.

Is Consumerism Bad? From a purely economic point of view, it is not. The entire machinery of the economy runs and depends on aggregate demand; the percentage of income spent by the consumers against the percentage saved. It is the demand/expenditure that determines the GDP of the economy. The higher the previously mentioned factors higher will be the GDP, hence a better economy. Therefore the focus is on influencing the demand of the consumers.

How Exactly It Works? A petty example: A consumer is attracted or influenced to buy a pair of jeans from a particular brand of clothing and he purchases that. It is direct income to the brand. Let’s see the trickle-down effect of demand / anticipated demand – it creates income for the raw material supplier; for the workers working in the factory producing the final product; rent for the premise holder; salaries for the showroom workers; income for the marketing teams; income for the factories producing petty items like zips & buttons. One demand creates a multiple fold impact. And when the aggregate / collective figure is taken it is huge. And not to mention every time income is created it is again pumped into the economy by respective parties via spending.

How Good It Is For The Consumer :

1.With the advent of concepts like liberalization, globalization, free markets consumer is enabled to make choices from the plethora of goods available in the market. Which means more choice.

2. Monopoly doesn’t work anymore, consumers got a say indirectly in fixing the prices suitable to their pocket.

3. Providers have to eventually take care of the quality of the goods provided because sub-par products get replaced easily and their market share will be grabbed by their competitors.

4. Mass production helps reduction of costs of production. Reduced cost of production provides the makers with a scope to attract buyers with better offers.

To put it straight Consumer (customer) is the king.

The Flip Side of Consumerism: On a weekend I would rather beat my coffee than beat around the bush. Coming straight to the point Consumerism encourages unnecessary consumption that has no impact on the life of the consumer if omitted. Simply the attraction to the colorful advertisements, the urge to show off, inferiority complexes brewing inside, insane levels of idolizing the celebrities makes people purchase the things which they certainly don’t need. From a fairness cream to a hatchback everything is pushed down the consumers’ (unmindful ones, whose number is multiplying fast) throat, making them believe – this will change your life for good. And when such demand arises it has its own negative points, hard to neglect:

1. Increase in conspicuous consumption results in multiple fold production which means more stress on resources, more waste disposal, more pollution.

2. Purchases made to show off an elevated standard of living often leads to financial crunch situations. Easy availability of credit cards / online shopping methods inspiring more such conspicuous consumption.

3. The psychological impact to keep up with the hollow standards of beauty, fashion, lifestyle is pushing people to depression and anxiety.

Can there be a “better” Consumerism? Considering how the whole concept of consumerism works if the onus to promote “good” goods is taken up by the producers that can make a great impact. For example, if healthy eating habits can be promoted via bio/organic products, made available to every stratum of the society possible, that could mean something because after all health is wealth. If celebrities are conscious about the brands or products they are promoting they will be doing a great service indirectly to the people who follow them blindly.

Role of Consumers: With the information on every product thrown at our face available consumers should educate themselves and be well informed before making any expenditure. It’s a matter of health – be it physical or psychological and of course hard-earned money!!

Consumerism is all about consumers and how they are influenced to buy. And they buying run the economy of any nation. So why not scale-out the thorns and keep what’s good and beneficial. We as a society need to move from conspicuous to conscious consumption.