Wellness In An Obsessive World
Source: Open Talk Magazine 27/12/2010 23:19:00
This is not a piece of psychobabble or ramblings of a neurotic, but a statement of fact—We live in a world full of obsessions. Some are obsessed with power (a certain ‘revolutionary’ living on an island quite close to American homeland comes to mind). Others are obsessed with sex (the list is really long, which includes a certain golfer). Many are obsessed with money; others with health and some are obsessed with the idea of ‘being good’ and ‘doing good’.
Each one of these obsessions has become an industry in itself. Take for example the wellness industry. Human obsession with feeling good, a preoccupation of mostly the rich and the developed countries (the others are too busy fighting for survival) has spawned a huge industry that peddles everything from exotic (and erotic) massages, colon clearance treatments (some of the Hollywood stars swear by it), hyperbaric chambers, meditation, chanting, anti-ageing creams, Botox, electro-sensory stimulation, dietary fads—the list is long and endless and good for the wallets of the wellness ‘spinmeisters’.
However, none of these promised rejuvenations really work. Each becomes an obsession, which when not delivering the result, is replaced with another obsession. Any good psychologist will tell you that obsessions of any sort can only be harmful in the long run. So will a well-off psychologically damaged, spiritually bereft moneyed person get to real wellness?
That is a million dollar question which is yet to be answered. Maybe humans do not require these artificial accoutrements to nirvana. Maybe the answer lays in ‘deobssessifying’ our lives. A look at the past could provide all the answers. Was an American family happier in the 1920s or was the Great Depression such a big psychological blow? Was the traditional American family of living three generations under the same roof happier and felt more well being than today’s super rich, super mobile unitary familial models?
Is there a yardstick to judge the past with the present to decide otherwise? Perhaps yes! One country actually measures its index of happiness—Bhutan which has made Gross National Happiness (GNH), a catchword. The upshot is that people of Bhutan who have very modest worldly possessions seem to be the happiest in the world. Bhutan’s per capita income is $1880 as against America’s $46, 381. So obviously money is not the criteria and the Bhutanese have proved the adage that ‘money can’t buy you happiness’.
So what is their magic formula? It is simple living and balancing modernity with traditions. Bhutanese families live together; grandfather to grand children et al, have very few cars, T.Vs and consumerism is almost negligible. In fact, the whole country can be equated to a giant spa where wellness is not artificial induced but is lived. America too went through that phase after the Second World War; in the fifties and the sixties but along the way, capitalism became an obsession and with that came the rest of the obsessions.
To find wellness in this obsessive world may not be to find another new obsession, but to take a step back; a whiff of introspection and go ‘back to the future’ where feeling good was as natural as walking in the park.