• 13 Aug
    Richa S Karthikeyan

    Buddhism and Psychology

    Buddhism is one of the major global religions with an interesting history and philosophy of life. Many believe that Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains evident injustice and inequality in the world, and it provides a way of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness. Buddha has taught and written many scriptures, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be presented by the Four Noble Truths.

    Buddha idol in a peaceful environment

    The four noble truths told by Buddha are:

    1. Suffering exists

    The viewpoint is that life consists of suffering and dissatisfaction. This suffering is called dukkha. Humans are imperfect, as is the world we live in. During our lifetime, we inevitably have to endure physical suffering such as pain, sickness, injury, tiredness, old age, and eventually death. This means you are never able to keep permanently what you strive for. Happy moments pass by, and soon we all will too.

    2. Suffering arises from attachment to desires

    The cause of suffering is called samudaya or tanha. It is the desire to have and control things, such as craving for sensual pleasures. For example, if you desire money or fame, you will surely suffer disappointment and perhaps even cause suffering for others. 

    Attachment to material things creates suffering because attachments are fleeting and loss is inevitable. Thus suffering will necessarily follow.

    3. Suffering ceases when attachment to desire ceases

    The end to suffering is called nirodha. It is achieving Nirvana or liberation, which is the final freedom from suffering. The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation, and non-attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving. It is to attain dispassion.

    Nirvana means freedom from all worries, troubles, and ideas. It is difficult for all of us to comprehend, who have not attained it.

    4. Eightfold path

    There are eight attitudes or paths you must follow to find freedom from suffering. These are the "right" or correct things to do in your life:

    1. Right view
    2. Right intention
    3. Right speech
    4. Right action
    5. Right livelihood
    6. Right effort
    7. Right mindfulness
    8. Right concentration

    This is the way to reach Nirvana.

    Buddha’s diagnosis of suffering or dukkha, that is part of life and human existence rings absolutely true to me, some people might have a different view of it.
    They may present few arguments to support their own point. Here I am explaining a reasonable perspective of these teachings.

    As given by the first two noble truths suffering is an inevitable part of our lives. As we are on earth, we are bound to face challenges and problems.

    The reasons are:

    • I agree with the first and second Noble Truths that our sufferings are inevitable in human life and are due to our attachment or clinginess to the things and the people. For example, if my child has to appear in an exam, I would have an expectation that her result should come as in a certain way. And for that expectation, I would have some anxiety. Here, As I am expecting a kind of result, I am already attached to that result even before it has actually happened. If my child's result comes as I expected then I would be happy, but if the result is not as expected then I might have the feeling like, “why that happened?” or I may cling to this feeling and blame myself or my child. Then, further, if I keep on clinging to this feeling, it might result in low confidence and apprehensions in mind of my child or myself about her performance, which can become the reason for my sufferings or Dhukkha.
    • Buddha's teaching also tells us about the way of eliminating these sufferings. If we detach ourselves from the output or results of our actions, then we can lessen these sufferings. It does not say that we should not work or do not seek pleasure, in fact in Buddhism, our Karma(our ideas and actions), is our  Dharma, means our foremost duty. But we can choose to avoid or handle any negative emotion effectively with right view, right action and right effort (eightfold path).
    • If we go back to the example, looking mindfully (as per the Buddha's teachings) to the whole situation like Socratic thinking, which is used in many psychotherapies, we can acknowledge that the situation can be handled effectively to learn the lesson from the mistakes and improving further. In the example, as we can see, I am not realizing at that time, the impermanence of the situation and may keep suffering due to it. I am not realizing that this result is just a small part of her life and even its effect can be as I choose it to be. One option can be that I keep brooding over it again and again, and keep suffering or another option can be that I learn a lesson from our mistakes and try to improve, in short making this small failure ladder for future successes.

     

    Also, in my opinion, Buddha’s teachings are not a rebellion of science and reason, but they run parallel to it and beyond. To support this, two more reasons from my side are:

    • Buddha's teachings came into the time when humans were not hunters but were already settled into modern civilizations in cities and villages. At that time our e The Buddha taught many things, but the basic concepts in Buddhism can be summed up by the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. evolutionary emotions like rage and anxiety, did not serve the same purpose as in the forest or hunters' groups. To manage such emotions in those times and after that, humans needed some guidance to handle these feelings. So, that they should not become the cause of our own sufferings. These teachings are necessary to guide us more as the technology is advancing. In this era of the virtual world, spirituality can only give us an anchor to hold our emotions steady.
    • Buddha’s teachings not only guided us in our daily life but also had a purpose of liberating or enlightening us. Which was never on evolution’s agenda. This enlightenment can provide us with absolute happiness, not in this birth but in every all rebirths and ultimately we can achieve liberation.

     

    Thus, I completely find this diagnosis of suffering and liberation given by four noble truths as true. The concepts put forward by Buddha are not Religiously aimed. Following them would just make us a better person, leading a peaceful life in this world of chaos.

     

  • 13 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    How to Handle Teenage Attraction Positively?

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    Certain characteristics are common in the lives of teenagers be it physically or socially. They experience physical changes alongside academic pressures for carving good careers for themselves. Also at this age, the need for belongingness increases. A teenager attempts to become part of a particular group and ends up modelling the group's behaviour as well. This also leads to increase in a drift with their parents as peers become more important.

    Apart from these, there is one more point which is frequently associated with a teenager. Teenagers may become enamoured with a film star or a rock star on TV or on the internet or they may encounter a person of the opposite gender in the neighbourhood who is good-looking or a classmate in school or tuition or someone they saw at a market place. Then for the whole day, the mind of that teenager revolves around their ‘new crush,’ and being with them forever. When they tell their friends about their newly found crush, some of them would be like “Wow!” while others may use the revelation as an opportunity for bullying and teasing. Even when they go on to explain their newly-found excitement to their parents, their parents may not express and reciprocate the teenager's excitement. They may bash them by saying that such things are no good and they should focus on their studies. Bang! This can further develop rifts between the child and their parents.

    This raises a question- Is teenage attraction that bad? But it is not a choice, after all. It happens because of sexual hormones which instigate attraction. It may not last for a very long period of time but this sudden rush of feelings can make a teenager wonder- Why did it happen? And how to act when it has happened?

    These teenagers should be guided that the sudden rush of feelings is NOT romantic love. It is ‘infatuation.’ Love happens at a gradual scale, it is selfless and it often involves a commitment to partners. Whereas infatuation, unlike romantic love, is based on the physical appearance and the infatuated person desires the reciprocation of their attraction at any cost. It can also happen that the infatuation gets over as the teenager gets to know about the disposition of their crush object.

    Coming to the point of parents not accepting their ‘newly found love’. Teenagers then resort to media like movies and porn in order to understand the concept of love and sex. It has been seen that media knowingly or unknowingly promote things like stalking, playing with someone’s feelings etc. Moreover, the idealistic form of love wherein the lovers even after some rifts and struggle live happily ever after. Teenagers should be made to realise that love is not just about expressing their emotions to one another. It is much more than ‘I love you,’and ‘I love you too.’ It is a strong emotion which is felt from the bottom of the heart and which may require work.

     What can parents do towards explaining their kids about their current feelings?

    • Understanding that such feelings are normal: Parents should have a heart-to-heart conversation related to attraction and love. They should not make their child feel that whatever their child is going through is utterly wrong. Admonishing and taunts are the last things they should use at that point in time.
    • Nature of the attraction: The feeling of attraction in an adolescent/teenager is as serious as the marriage of their parents. They should create an environment in order to ensure honest and open communication so that the child feels assured to confide in their parents about their attraction.
    • Is it Love or Infatuation: Teenagers should be made to understand the difference between Love and Infatuation which I had mentioned earlier.
    • Commitment in Relationship: Parents should make their child understand the importance of commitment in relationships. They should encourage their child to think as to whether they are prepared to take such a big step in life; understanding each other and compromising for each other’s needs and wants etc.Teenagers should also be told about financial stability which is one pre-requisite towards being independent. It is when they should think of taking a firm decision as to whether they are prepared for taking the relationship ahead.

     

    To the teenagers who are struggling with the sudden rush of unreasonable romantic feelings- it is normal. It can be remarked as good because studies have stated that having such attractions are a sign of maturity. Do not take decisions related to the relationship in a hurry. You need to trust someone amongst your family and friends who can help you take the right decision. Yes, you can have a normal interaction with your crush (provided he/she is not a celebrity) and express as to how much you ‘like’ their company. Such attractions usually do not last for long and you will scoffingly laugh at it as you reach college or take up a job.

  • 13 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    Would you mind a Female Boss?

     

    female boss

    Gender stereotypes are quite common, but in the recent times, the notion of the male being the breadwinner and the housewife being the homemaker has undergone a change. Women have begun to contribute towards the financial aspects of their households. All thanks to modernization where women are getting educated and are gaining awareness about how the world works. And now, we see that women are not just leading companies but also their respective nations. A question arises, which is also the intent of this article. Have the office employees imbibed the spirit of modernization well enough, so much so that they accept a woman heading them? Or are they stuck with the notion that women cannot be at par with their male counterparts? Are women ideal for such jobs?

    Characteristics of a Female Boss

    Confidence: Confidence does not come from pretty or a smart dressing sense but it comes from a demeanour. This demeanour comes as they fear no one. They have seen gender bias all around them but they don’t care. For them, it is they and their viewpoints that matter. After years of suppression, when they are leading a group the urge to change it acts as a positive influence in bringing confidence in work.

    Outspoken: They believe in speaking their mind whether it is a flowery praise or a harsh truth, no matter what their colleagues think of their personality. Every human has a right to assert their viewpoint but the problem is their colleagues do not realise the importance of their thought. Rather, they begin to think of their leader as someone who has an aggressive and dominant approach which is obviously not right.

    Assertive: They know how to express their concerns. It is that, in the past, they were never provided with an opportunity to exhibit their potentials. Whenever they try to make their group members do certain jobs they are assigned to, they are termed as excessively dominant, rather than understanding that they are performing their roles just as is expected of a leader.

    Sense of self: They know who they are and what they should be doing instead of people reminding them. Again, it is misunderstood by people as arrogance and excessive pride. It is pathetic to see how the stereotype is still stuck in people’s heads for their female boss- be it a man or a woman.

    Hard-working: Women leaders have a sense of passion in them which drives them to make people do their job ensuring that there is no delay or procrastination in the employees towards performing their duties. They have a set of goals which they are driven to accomplish and have similar expectations from their co-workers.

    Aggressiveness: Women leaders have constructive and emotional components in them which they use it for persuading their employees to do well in their duties thereby doggedly working towards the ultimate goal. Also, they know it well to defend themselves and ensure that no one takes advantage of their gender and work against them.

    It can be seen that the qualities for a female leader are those which can be expected of any leader be irrespective of gender - having confidence in oneself, having a set goal and working hard towards pursuing the goals.

     

    Pros of having a female leader

    Women are empathetic: Women understand what a person might be going through at that particular state. For instance, in the case of providing with maternity leave or some situation related to family or life-related situations, women understand these problems patiently and are more likely to grant leave under such circumstances.

    Women are Good Communicators: Women have been seen as better communicators than men as they are more understanding and cooperative towards their employees which perhaps comes from their own experience of being excessively controlled. Due to their empathetic nature and their good listening skills, they are able to understand their employees’ concerns better.

    Women are Good Collaborators: Women are seen as better in terms of developing networking abilities thereby helping towards collaborating well with different departments in the office. It is because of the fact that women know their ability better than men do and this leads to a better understanding of others.

    Women are Good Mentors: Women have that nurturing spirit in them. This has led to an observation that women are good in guiding their subordinates towards doing the job at the best level and gain satisfaction with their work. It is also because women themselves do not get mentors easily so they have that understanding of a mentor’s importance. 

     

    Cons of having a Woman Leader

    “Queen Bee” Myth: It is a belief that when women become leaders they may begin to see themselves as superior and have critical outlook about others in the office. Research shows it depends more upon the personality trait of that particular individual.

    Jealousy and Backbiting: women are initially seen as being friendly with them but as the counterparts become successful they show hostile feelings towards them. Also, it has been observed by studies that women also resort to actions which lead to the growth of their position in the company.

    Emotional Disturbances: It has been a popular stereotype that women undergo mood swings due to hormonal imbalances and stressors, however, it has been proven true for both the sexes. But from an overall perspective, it has been found out that women are more likely to undergo more emotional disturbances than men. This can hamper their work performance of self and others.

    Self-Branding: It has been observed that women remain modest and silent about their achievement as compared to men who are quite better in doing so because they are very much aware of their strengths. This also helps towards building a rapport with the employees and working towards accomplishing the targets of the company.

     

    Male Boss or Female: Employees’ Perspective

    It is true that most employees whether male or female, they prefer a male to be their head. After having analysed the various pros and cons of having a boss of both the genders, there are two factors justifying this preference - one is the approach towards working with the employees and the other is gender stereotyping. 

    According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the approach towards management by a female consists more of “mentoring and coaching” but in the case of a male it is more of “command and control.” APA claims that the former’s style may help the organisation in the long run. However, there is a contradiction- this very tendency of women to be caring and mentoring is only towards the female employees, as per the male employees. Even their male ego comes at threat when they see a woman holding a position of power.

    Moreover, the existence of stereotyping is undeniable. The belief that males are better than females somewhere resides in the subconscious. For instance, If a male boss takes his time for reaching to a decision he is believed as being thoughtful whereas if a woman indulges in such thought, they will term it as over-thinking or over-analysing on their part. When the male head tries to be approachable to every employee, he has the quality of a good leader but if a female does so, she has no other work and if she does not do so, she is bossy.

     

    The patriarchal notions and the misogyny operant in the society should be kept outside the workplace. Every employee is here to do their duty and gain money for their living. A female boss is in no way a step above or below a male counterpart. Break the old thoughts and get your views straight! It is 2017 for all that you know!

  • 17 Aug
    Sanjna Verma

    Are Introverts more prone to Anxiety, Depression and other mental illness than Extroverts ?

    Human beings are said to be social animals. The form of interaction, involvement and communication is different for all living beings. The classification based on the same was first given by psychologist Carl Jung, as introversion and extraversion:

    • Introversion: People high on this trait prefer spending time by themselves and this energises them. Sounds weird but true. They do not feel comfortable being around many people. For them, a happy time will be when they spend time binge-watching a web-series.
    • Extraversion:  People high on this trait prefer being around people to energise themselves to find their mental energy intact. To them, a happy day will be being around people and having a hearty laugh over their professor's accent.Another category has been developed which is known as that of Ambiverts. These people have a mix of both, introversion and extraversion personalities. For them social interaction is necessary but till a certain extent, they get discomforted in the presence of people.

    Extroverts are social and communicative, they are said to be stimulus hungry, which means that they need to interact with other people on a regular basis to maintain their energy levels and to be active. Introverts are quiet and reserved, they like to live in their confined space. This does not mean that they are boring or isolated, they tend to avoid crowds because they think that they have been over-stimulated. That's the reason why the society thinks that introverts are more prone to depression and other mental problems.


    Our society favours extroverts because they are outgoing, which becomes an appealing and ideal form of behaviour. People view the actions of an introvert through the lens of an extrovert that's why they think that being alone for an extended period of time is a symptom of depression. When extroverts are stressed or depressed they want their personal space and a bit of isolation, that's why they misunderstand the solitude of an introvert with depression because that's what they do when they are stressed.


    Depression can happen to anyone. If you see the behaviour pattern of an extrovert, they want others attention because regular interactions are basic to their nature. They do not hesitate to share their feelings and emotions with others. Consequently, if they are not able to fulfil their need of optimal interaction they may feel stressed and low. As they are high in the need for affiliation they may also develop feelings of unwantedness.

    Introverts may also feel depressed because they find it difficult to interact with others but this isolation cannot hamper them as much as it affects the extroverts. Introverts have a unique way of living and it should not be considered similar to isolation and aloofness. Introverts are less active however their interactions with people are more meaningful. They believe in real friendship and do not trust people easily. I agree that they interact and involve in fewer things but they put their heart and soul in doing that particular thing.
    Introverts are Awesome

    Life is full of challenges and people with different personality traits can develop depression when these challenges become difficult to cope up with. If we say and prove that introverts are prone to depression, then introverts may think that there is something wrong with them. Anyone can be a victim of depression and what matters is how effectively they deal with it.

    Coming to Anxiety, it is a general feeling of apprehension about any future event or danger. It is an emotional state that occurs when the threatening event comes closer. Such a feeling cannot be generalised to introversion or extroversion. Anxiety does not occur just because a person has a particular ability to mingle with their surroundings. When you have to submit a particular article in 2 days and you have not researched anything about it. How can this be dependent on the fact that we have a particular way of dealing with other people? It depends on our ability to cope with the situation and also, the amount of time we have for the task at hand. Now let us see what are the research evidence for the above-mentioned fact.

    Research and other Evidence

    Some studies have suggested a strong link between introversion and depression. This can be due to the fact that introverts are perfectionists by nature and more critical of their abilities. Despite performing to their best of abilities, they are not satisfied with their performance. This leads to mental and physical exhaustion. They worry a lot about what other people think about them which can become a causal factor for anxiety and stress. This can also develop into depression.

    In social situations as well, introverts undergo discomfort due to which they go through social anxiety. This also comes from the fact that introverts do not easily adapt to a different social environment. This also results in socially awkward behaviour. It is not that they are not comfortable with interacting but being around with people for a long period of time stresses them out.

    According to an article in Psychology Today, it has been found by scientists that introverts process more amount of information than others in a situation. This can help them in seeking an effective cure for mental health problems such as depression.

     

    This was about how introversion or extroversion can influence disorders but can your gender also play a role in it?

    A study published online in American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Abnormal Psychology stated that women are more likely to be diagnosed with mental disorders. They have found out that women are more likely to internalise or keep brooding over their emotions, thereby making them more vulnerable to anxiety and depressive disorders. The behaviour observed in women includes withdrawal, loneliness and depression. Past researches conducted on this theme indicate that women report more stressful life events than men do.

    Men are more likely to externalise or vent out their emotions. This leads to behaviour such as aggression, impulsive, coercive and noncompliant behaviour, according to the study. Thereby, making them more vulnerable towards mental problems such as substance abuse or antisocial disorder.

    Anxiety, Depression or take any other mental illness or disorder. I believe these cannot just be restricted to any one personality trait or any gender. It depends on what kind of life changes an individual is going through, how much they can cope with along with the social support available to the person. One should not let any mental problem develop till it reaches the severity level. One should talk it out and seek effective treatment if required. 

  • 08 Aug
    Shruti Gupta Delhi

    Love, hate, and 'Bigg Boss'

     

    Bigg Boss - the name rings a bell, right?

    The show where celebrities live a life like our own, in a house that’s far far away from the world, metaphorically. Based on the Dutch show Big Brother, a number of chosen contestants are made to live in a house (as housemates) where they are isolated from the rest of the world. Since the use of technology and gadgets are not allowed, the contestants, are completely on their own. Each week the participants are commanded certain tasks by a voice addressed as ‘Bigg Boss’. The housemates are usually divided into teams and are required to finish the tasks in a given time. Their performances decide their budget for the week, and certain merits and demerits for those who win and lose, respectively.  Each in-house nominated member is evicted from the house through public votes. The contestants are therefore required to impress us, the mass audience, in order to survive and/or win the show.

    Needless to say, the urge to impress people brings with it various complexities which often leave us having a love-hate relationship with the show.

     

    bigg boss tamil

     

    The mass audience, people like you and I, love the idea of celebrities living our kind of lifestyle. We believe we are exposed to the ‘real’ life of our ‘reel’ celebrities, but is it really so? The curiosity to know how our stars would react in a normal lifestyle leaves us wanting for more gossips.

    The show has become immensely popular over time, mostly because of the controversies and scandals it has come to create. The situations are created in a manner that the contestants are often seen losing their temper in an instant. Speaking foul language and ridiculing others, now seems to be a part of the show, which is why it is also believed to be scripted. However, every task raises a controversy or gossip to be a conversation starter in people's life.

    One such incident took place in the first and the latest season of Bigg Boss (Tamil). Recently in an episode of the show, the contestants had been asked to act like those who are mentally ill. While half the housemates were to behave as doctors, the other half portrayed the mentally ill in a very offensive manner. Psychiatrists slammed the show, saying that the show sold harmful cliches on mental health through its contestants.

    One of the contestants, Oviya, an absolute favorite of the audience, is believed to be bipolar, and this episode only ignited people’s beliefs. Even though Oviya appears to be emotionally disturbed, there is no reason whatsoever to stigmatize her behavior. Television is considered to be a source of information which tends to influence people’s perception strongly. The show, therefore, must aim to remain neutral or at least normalize the stigmas and myths related to mental health. If this was an attempt to promote or normalize people seeking treatment for mental health, it went wrong in various ways because such a portrayal of mental illnesses can severely distort and damage the perception of the viewers.

    "We always think of mental illness in the extreme. We believe that these patients are dangerous or we make fun of them. This is how they are portrayed in the mainstream. We've been talking about mental health for the last 200 years. Nobody is immune to mental illnesses" - Dr. Sivabalan, psychiatrist

    The way the show portrayed mental health can make people create wrong ideas about the issue, further inflicting the stigma. This can lead to people refraining from seeking help, even if they wish to. Such insensitivity by the participants has largely been criticized by the audience, especially the psychiatrists and psychologists. When one is constantly being watched under surveillance, one must think about the influence their behavior can inflict on the masses.

    Then again, the more controversies it raises the more attention the channel gets. They say, there is nothing called as bad publicity. Even though some believe it is scripted, 'Bigg boss' has always become a topic of conversation for all age groups. The games test the control of the stars and break them open to find them react like a layman. Participants begin to lose their patience and end up showing who they really are, which often disgusts the audience and causes them to react emotionally. However, only the celebrities are not to blame.

    The last season of Bigg Boss (Hindi) had commoners as participants and it was exciting to watch because people wished to see how the celebrities behaved with the common people living under the same roof. Sadly, the audience of the show was not only let down but also disgusted to the very core due to the way a selected few portrayed us, the common people, in front of the celebrities. Priyanka Jagga and Swami Om stole the show but put the audience in utter dismay. They led us, and others to believe that the show is not worth watching, especially with people like them in it.

    Despite the controversies related to the show, its popularity has only grown. People share a love-hate relationship with ‘Bigg Boss’ across all culture and languages. That’s how it has always been, and that’s how it always will be. After all, fans will be fans!

     

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