Importance of Being Socially Active

(Sreenath H S)

Grey Matters

Issues of interest to senior people

The senior population in India is steadily rising. Unlike in the west, where the state takes responsibility for the welfare of the elderly people, the elderly in India have to fend for themselves. Of course, the traditional Indian joint family system and, to some extent, traditional Indian social values do come to the aid of these people in India and make up for total lack of support from Government.

But a host of factors such as nuclear families, rising affluence of senior citizens, the desire among the elderly for independence and personal space have, of late, prompted senior people to opt for specialized senior communes, where their needs are taken care of by dedicated service providers.  These communes also, at the same time, provide them with the much-needed companionship that is sadly lacking in regular residential developments. This blog discusses various issues that matter to and affect senior people. The author of this blog Sreenath H S is the promoter of Sree Senior Homes that develop luxury retirement communes in Karnataka, and promote senior communities in India and provide senior care.

Sreenath H S is also a published author and a public speaker. His published works include Sir. M Visvesvaraya – His Economic Contribution and Thought, Partition and other Divisive Issues, Secularism and National Identity and a numerous essays on topics ranging from literature to litterateurs, law and architecture.

Importance of Being Socially Active  

Humans are gregarious animals. Snice the dawn of civilization, they have lived in clusters called villages, towns and cities. They like to be surrounded by other people. They have a pathological need to be heard and to hear. But to stay in touch with their fellow beings is not an easy thing in modern times. Hectic pace of life, individualism, increasing disparities in wealth and social status have all led to the isolation of man that loneliness has become a feature of our times.

But deep down, every human being craves for the companionship of their fellow beings, and when this primordial need is not met, isolated individuals feel neglected, unwanted and uncared, and they slip into depression. Depression is thus a modern mental condition, and only antidote to this condition is socialization.

Isolation and its twin sister loneliness are causes of many debilitating physical as well as psychological conditions. Together they can cause a range of issues from acute headaches to dementia. It is now medically proven that socially active people are less prone to depression, and its consequences, including heart related issues, arthritis, and even cancer. The reason is not far to seek. Emotions play an important role in health. The ones who are emotionally well connected are less likely to feel isolated and lonely, stay more physically and mentally active.  They, as a result, reap the benefits of an active life style.

But given the years of grand isolation, it may not be easy for socially awkward or egotistical person to mix readily with others. But as the advantages of a socially active life style are huge, such people should do everything in their power to overcome their inhibitions to actively engage with their peer group.  Here are some of the reasons that lead to social isolation.

High sense of Self Importance

Some people, especially the ones who have achieved a measure of success in their careers or businesses, can readily fool themselves into believing that they are too good to mix with all and sundry, and become snobbish and condescending. This kind of mentality is not only immature, but also harmful. Such people, as a rule, tend to be sarcastic and arrogant, and use these traits as a sort of shield to cover up their own sense of insecurity which stems from their knowledge of the fact that they are no better than people they look down upon, and they owe their apparent success to fortuitous circumstances, rather than to some hidden greatness in them. Recently, I happened to be at a literary event, with Justice M N Venkatachaliah, the former Chief Justice of India. Before the function began, the organizers of the event had arranged a tea, for the invited guests, who had been seated in an anteroom, adjacent to the stage. It was a small group, the Justice Venkatachaliah was explaining some constitutional issue, with his characteristic erudition and lucidity. Even as he was explaining, a lady walked in to serve tea. After serving tea, she stood there to listen him, as there were no vacant chairs in the room. Noticing this, Justice Venkatachaliah, who is close to 90, instinctively stood up and offered his chair to her. It was an unconscious act on his part, as he was in the middle of a serious discussion. So truly accomplished people do not waste their energy or time, trying to convince the rest of the world how important or accomplished they are. Humility and complete lack of the awareness of their accomplishments make them accessible and open to friendships. Such people can never be lonely.

Self-Pity

Some people are always sorry for themselves. They are convinced that life has handed them a raw deal. They are constantly seeking the attention and sympathy from people around them. Needless to say, people find them tiresome and, at times, even irksome and try to avoid them. such people are, thereore, lonely. No one in this world has unalloyed happiness. Everyone has their share of joys and miseries. We all must learn to count our blessings and put our miseries and pains behind. This attitude helps us develop a healthy outlook on life and make us welcome members of the community.

Feeling of Inadequacy

A few people specialize in self-flagellation. They are convinced that they matter so little that they balk at the very idea of socialization. No human being is so perfect that they are impeccable. Everyone has their strong points as well weak ones, and only has to accept this reality and learn to feel comfortable under one’s skin. Persons who think little of themselves, send a clear message to others that they do not matter and can be treated shabbily. It is, therefore, not a surprise that such people get treated shabbily. Instead of feeling they do not count, such people should play to their strengths and make themselves active members of the community. Once they become involved members of the community, they will be presently surprised to lean how easy it is to win the acceptance and even the admiration of the community, and feel good about themselves.

Pretense

The sense of inadequacy can manifest itself in an entirely different avatar. To make up for their own sense of inadequacy, some people are forever bragging and showing off. They speak of their important contacts, they tell you how they are so close to many celebrities, how they are often consulted by people in positions of power and so on. Such people are often the butt of ridicule and derision. The importance we feel by claiming we know such and such a celebrity only goes to show we are ourselves of little consequence. It is, therefore, advisable that we stop pretending to be anything we are not, to claim our rightful place under the blessed sun. Once we accept our own true worth, a worth not linked to someone else’s importance, the sense of liberation and consequent joy will be entirely ours.

Celebrated scientist Richard Fenman named his autography Who Cares What the World Thinks of Me. Not to bother about what the world thinks of us is courage, but to know that the world does not even care to think of us is wisdom.

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