“Look harder,” says Rafiki from Lion King (1994)

You are just an echo of another’s music.

Imagine your Facebook account is a symphony orchestra. Your newsfeed is a concert hall. How will your music unfold?

I’ll tell you what I would hear. It would be loud, vain and repeated. The chords would have little harmony but somehow they’d manage to achieve a clamorous unison of many trumpets braying upon a few notes.

Maybe I am assuming the worst. Some of the tunes would be deep and beautiful, slow and blended with immeasurable power and profundity. Others would be soft and sweet, a mere rippling of delicate melodies.

However, the fanfare of trumpets would essay to drown all other music by the violence of its voice, until the rest begin to attune their music to its own. And in the end, all I would be able to discern is a sea of turbulent sound that cannot be quenched.

What a cacophony.

Enough with the musical metaphor. What am I actually talking about?

Every damn time we open a social networking app on our phones, we see the newsfeed being flooded with shares that preach ways to achieve more happiness, personal growth and healthy relationships. Or some other hackneyed inspiring shit.

The thing is we do actually get inspired by them, and of course, that is the reason why we share them in the first place. We want to announce to the world that we agree that a certain something would be a good mindset to adopt and that we are going to start practicing it. This is especially prevalent immediately before, during and after New Year when the whole globe is enveloped in a shroud of reflective mood. It should come to us as no surprise that it is only in January the word ‘resolution’ peaks in Google searches and after a couple of days, it plunges to a negligible number until it surges again 12 months later.

There is nothing wrong in this. However, a problem lies with the sheer number and variations of inspiring posts on our newsfeed. There are too many changes that would be fantastic to employ in our attitude or daily lifestyle. And many of them (if we actually do succeed in remembering to apply that many of them) are short lived. Extremely.

Why so, though?

Because we talk about it.

According to an article I’ve read a while ago, people who talk about their intentions (via sharing, again, leading to a cascading effect of amplification) are less likely to make them happen. That is because when it is acknowledged by others, it gives them a premature sense of completion, that is, a false sense of accomplishing. It makes total sense, doesn’t it? Maybe we should all do our best to keep our plans private until they actually take fruit. Perhaps share the inspiring post only after you have benefitted from it yourself.

There is another reason.

A friend of mine told me to check out an article by Mark Manson which explains it perfectly. In the article, Manson tells you that every individual, including the successful, has a huge psychological inertia within him, that is, it takes a tremendous amount of time and mental stamina to redesign his attitude in things in life. Because that is what humans are; we are made up of a set of habits, not just physical but mental and emotional as well, and we tend to fall back on them if we do not expend any conscious effort to stop what comes naturally to us. Can you imagine? This is tantamount to analysing every thought that comes to our head before performing every action. Needless to say, it is very difficult. But let’s be positive. “Difficult, not impossible,” like how Jake Gyllenhaal (I had to Google the spelling) says it in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Wait a minute. I spoke about the problem of sharing and immediately after, I ‘shared’ an article with you. How hypocritical of me.

Which brings me to my next point. It would be incredibly stupid of me to criticise the notion of sharing because it is brilliant how one can positively inspire someone whom he had never met by an effortless chain of sharing. Anyway, it would also be impossible to stem the flow of a raging river (here it is actually impossible, not difficult). Sharing is second nature to us in the virtual world and we cannot stop it even if we wish it so.

My point is that as there is too much of sharing going about, and most of it quite pointless because of its limited feasibility in application, we need to learn to distinguish the better ones from the good ones. And share only them in turn. Before the good ones or the lousy ones cannibalise the effect of the better ones.

So what makes a better post?

A better post would not preach you to do this or that. A better post would challenge your preconceived beliefs, assumptions and other mental habits, and stimulate you to rethink your attitude in life. It would not inspire you to consider a perspective. It would pave a train of thought for you to explore and discover that perspective on your own. In other words, it is the teacher that teaches you how to fish. It could be a simple question, similar to how Padme points out to Anakin, “Have you ever considered that we may be on the wrong side?” or a lengthy article like Manson’s. Or mine. Hehe.

But you’ve got it all in you already.

However, I believe the best way to improve one’s self is through self-discovery. Nothing creates a bigger impact than personal experience, pleasant or unfavourable, though usually, the latter is harsher but more effective. Or better, instead of reacting to incidents in your life that set you thinking, you could set time aside for yourself to think, just think, and surprise yourself with your own brilliance.

One might argue that inspiration is of spontaneous nature and that you might need the help of the universe for you to come across it by coincidence. In that case, a conversation with a friend of similar wavelength may catalyse that chance of effective collision and help you stumble upon gold mines of precious insights. I can vouch for that.

But at least, you would have arrived there on your own (with or without some help). And a music of one’s own composition, though possibly discordant, is original. It is not an echo of someone else’s music. You would think your natural thoughts, and burn with your natural passions. Your virtues would be real to you.

To my own music, I will sit by the hearth and hearken, and be glad that through my thoughts great beauty has been wakened into song.

Like what you read? Give Aruna Anantha Sayanam a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.