Be negative. Yes, I mean it! There is nothing more or nothing less to it. I have been saying this for quite some time now. Since the beginning of the year to be precise. And I have been called a pessimist, a cynic; depressed even. I may be a bit of everything and given the current situation, it should be okay to be all that. But that is not the reason I want people to be negative. I am a hedonist and that makes me a bit of a cynic where I believe all actions are an outcome of people’s selfish motives (even the altruistic acts). Also, I seek pleasure in everything and everywhere. In no way would I inflict any kind of pain upon myself. Self-preservation comes first. Knowing this, it will be easier to understand me when I say everyone is a hedonist to some extent whether they accept it or not. Take the current situation for example. Aren’t we all feeling a bit deprived of certain pleasures in this lockdown? So what do we do? Find simple pleasures; be grateful for what we have.
There are enough ads and campaigns and apps and even the sheer number of people getting infected each day to explain that. Yet people continuing their pleasure-seeking habits.
Some, have changed their definition of pleasure. People with maids and cooks now find pleasure in cooking and serving their family. People who couldn’t spend time with their families now find pleasure in being with them. Home workouts, self-care, meditation, praying, donating everything right now is for self-preservation and happiness or pleasure. These being socially acceptable ways of seeking pleasure right now, there is also a segment of the population being adventurous with their pleasurable habits. The secret hedonists that we are, we all have our own rights and wrongs. Like someone ate a bat and it wasn’t wrong until that someone got the novel coronavirus and brought doom on all of us. Now that Mr. Corona is here our rights and wrongs have changed. Breaking certain rules, which we did not consider to be wrong once, is now looked down upon (should have always been the case, but that doesn’t bother us so why waste time on it right?) But now, every incident where someone breaks law and regulations bothers us. Just how can people sneak out of their homes? Hide their travel history? Hide their symptoms? Not wear masks and gloves and shake hands? Spit on the road?
I have had these same questions asked and held the same discussions with so many different people, so much so that I feel my energy sucked by them and have found more reasons to cherish the lockdown (kidding). The reason here is simple. It is their way of seeking pleasure. Is it wrong now? Criminal even? Yes. Why? Because coronavirus is contagious and we all know how it spreads and how deadly it is. There are enough ads and campaigns and apps and even the sheer number of people getting infected each day to explain that. Yet people continuing their pleasure-seeking habits. Where is the self-preservation then? Why are they endangering themselves and their loved ones? This is where optimism comes into picture.
Extreme positive thinking to the point of being delusional. Examples of such thinking: “It won’t happen to me. I am immune that way”. Then there are people with religious or spiritual delusions: “I haven’t wronged anyone, so it won’t affect me”, “I have prayed for the whole world to heal. God is listening”, “Coronavirus cannot harm people into prayers or meditation. So group prayers and meditation are all fine”. There are also carefree ones, “We have to die someday, so why not live today?”, “I am not a coward to get scared of some small virus”, “The death rate is low, and I will survive.” These people are basically seeking pleasure. Their optimism is what is putting them and in turn all of us in danger.
Also people are easily bored and imagine- why even imagine, we know it- that we cannot do much about it. We are struggling to get even the essentials to survive, when we were once not concerned about how and what we bought and where we travelled to. So even a slightest ray of hope, that things are going to be okay can make us do crazy things like meeting up with our friends or visiting someone’s house (After all, we have been practicing social distancing for more than a month now). If the shops open up, there is hope and we will be tempted to buy a little more than our basic necessities; stepping into luxuries. If the trains function, we will be tempted to travel and god forbid if the airlines open up some of us may even have their travel plans ready. We are conditioned to seek pleasure. Just that all of us have different pleasures and different ways of seeking it.
So any ray of hope or any positive sign can make us test our self-preserving nature and give in to the adventurous pleasure seeking behavior. That is why I say be negative! I don’t mean lose hope, just be negative. Accept the situation as it is (which is currently negative). It may or may not change in the future. If we believe it will improve in the future, we will make plans. Our plans will make us impatient and we may go wrong. One mistake can cost many lives including those of our loved ones. So do not plan, do not overthink, stay in the moment, accept the situation and seek pleasure in acceptable ways for now. I do not know if the ‘now’ will ever end. I will not give any hopes not even while ending this article. So Be Negative and help yourself!
Picture Credit: Hindustan Times
Shraddha is a Psychologist by qualification and a very happy stay at home mother by choice. The views expressed are the author’s own.