The social contagion of ‘Never Enough’ hypnotises you into utter helplessness.
The social contagion of ‘Never Enough’ hypnotises you into utter helplessness.

Breaking free from society's 'never enough' syndrome

A burning anxiety surfaces in your internal dialogue and leaves you with a profound sense of insufficiency.

This century’s most underrated disease is called, ‘Never Enough’. You feel never enough about your imperfect dental arrangement or a perfect mental derangement. Glitzy mass media keeps airbrushing physical imperfections. Schools make a feverish pitch for near perfect scores measured in Fahrenheit (98.6 degrees onwards) rather than Celsius. The sense of insufficiency runs deep in our society. It practically gallops through our social media.

Beaming from a huge billboard on the way to the Kempegowda airport in Bengaluru, I see the picture of a bestselling author. He is advertising his book that reads something like, ‘How to Think like a Monk and Live Like a Millionaire’. One need not read this book to envy the author’s perfect display of teeth and perked up hair painted on the board. You wonder how can one successfully drive a train with the double engines of a missionary and a mercenary pulling the compartments in opposite directions.

The roadside hair transplant clinic shapes your identity in subversive ways. It makes you feel that you do not have enough hair where it matters. Your identity is measured by your nonexistent hair. Here are coaching centres that promise to give you waterproof, fireproof and bulletproof confidence for acing job interviews. A burning anxiety surfaces in your internal dialogue and leaves you with a profound sense of insufficiency.

The social contagion of ‘Never Enough’ hypnotises you into utter helplessness. It tells you that you must live into a perpetual state of insecurity unless you are elected to the assembly of the fortunate few. A man hugging an electric pole shouts, ‘the pole is not leaving me.’ The reality is that he is not able to leave the pole. The neurotic builds a castle in the air. The psychotic lives in it. Psychiatrists collect the rentals. The wanting man is always in want.

Anxious generations have resorted to mass meditation. There is nothing wrong with shutting your eyes, bellowing breath through alternate nostrils and rubbing your withering nails to grow a stream of jet black hair. Just that these activities are diversions. Meditation is a way of seeing yourself as you are and recognising the world as it is. It has little to do with whether you live inside a cave or a castle.

‘I want financial independence, I want a job’, cries the unemployed man. There is no real independence here. You start depending on your job instead of your father’s pension. The poor feel inadequate because of lack of money. The rich feel inadequate because of lack of meaning. In the course of one life we take on many roles: of a manager, a spouse, a business partner or a social activist. We hope that these roles will fulfil us. Well, the roles do not fulfil us, we fulfil the roles.

Know that the perfect human exists only in farewell speeches and obituaries. Embrace your imperfections. Do not get bound in this misleading cause effect mental model. If I can get more marks, remarks or likes, then I will be happy. Happiness, like a fleeting butterfly will always elude you when pursued but will come to you when you learn to be still. Don’t try to keep up with the Khans and the Kardashians. Restore yourself to your level of self-sufficiency.

You are just enough!

Debashis Chatterjee

Author, Professor & Director, IIM Kozhikode

LinkedIn: debashischatterjee1

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com