We are all told not to be so hard on ourselves or on each other. Naturally, that applies only as long as we are living our best lives which means being productive all the time; eating right and eliminating sugar, red meat, dairy, maida, coffee, tea, alcohol or anything at all that might be a reason to live; working out at least six hours a day to flaunt an envy-inducing physique because everybody knows that all talk of body positivity is only for fatties with low self-esteem; married, preferably to a member of the opposite gender and same caste; raising the perfect family that includes son/sons with daughters being optional; making enough and more money that gives you the licence to be licentious and get away with all manner of excess; having over a million followers across social media and winning national and international awards for excellence every year to validate an entirely pointless existence.
We are told to slow down and take the time to smell the roses. Of course, anybody with a brain knows better than to slacken the pace because that would mean allowing one’s competitors, rivals and random fellow racers to get ahead in the game of life, leaving the slowpokes choking on their dust and the acrid taste of failure.
As for smelling the roses, unless there is a reel with the potential to go viral, to be made in the interest of keeping it real which is the credo the new breed of human bots aka Instagram influencers live by, it is an overrated pastime, that is unlikely to change your life in a significant way.
We are told that we ought to be happy and content with what we have without constantly striving for more of everything.
Now, it goes without saying that such a laidback, zen approach is the enemy of ambition and getting ahead in the rat race, unless you are a Godman who has successfully found a way to monetise the spouting of ideological, pseudo-religious claptrap.
And it is possible to be happy and content with what you have without forever hankering for more, just as long as you already have amassed everything worth having using fair means or foul.
We are told that there is no need to be perfect all the time. Or even the best. That it is okay to age gracefully or not have a plan. To trust, surrender and let it all go, allowing life to flow and unfold in a manner that might ensure that we receive all the things we ever wanted and more. Unfortunately, that is a fool's move which may just see you lose everything and get hit by a truck because you chose not to see it coming.
(The writer is an author and new age classicist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)