Mental Health Matters: What Gandhi’s Rules of Life can Teach Us
Gandhi’s 12 rules for life are truly transformational. Here’s how you can incorporate them in your life.
Gandhi’s 12 rules for life are truly transformational. Here’s how you can incorporate them in your life.
He played a pivotal role in India’s independence. His words have left an indelible mark in the minds of people for years to come. His simplicity - the loincloth, and a shawl have been a reminder for all things “swadeshi” (of one’s own country). His name needs no introduction. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and his non-violent campaign against British rule have many lessons to teach us including the art of “Simple Living, High Thinking.” Gandhi’s rules for life are truly transformational even today.
His two cardinal principles always revolved around truth and non-violence. We, at Tava-Mitram, have deeply studied the Gandhian philosophies to realize how it correlates to Mental Health. By understanding, practicing, and emulating these in daily life, a person can bring a massive change to their thinking, feeling, and action. We aim to build emotions, strengthen people. And, Gandhiji has just shown us the path that leads us on our journey.
The truth here represents the ultimate reality and one’s moral codes and ethics.
Non-violence here represents the need to use the emotion of Love to express one’s disagreement in a non-violent manner. This act of love for him was a peaceful way to protest against wrongdoing.
Service is equally important which encompasses one’s service towards all in society while holding kindness and compassion.
Swaraj translates into self-rule which Gandhi believed every human should practice as a means of governing the self and building a stronger community.
On similar lines, we firmly believe a self-governance of thoughts leads to a highly aware individual. Stronger communities lead to an empowered nation. So, why is mental health important? Let’s discover more about mental health awareness by using Gandhi’s 12 rules for life.
“Be the change you wish to see in this world.”
So, often, we look to our external environment seeking a change. We find dissatisfaction in our lives which leads to depression, or loss of hope. What Gandhiji teaches us is to initiate a change within. Why is this important? For e.g., even if your external environment changes, you may still feel dissatisfied with the situation. Let’s say, you may finally get the job you’ve always wanted, but you feel discontented about something. Initiating a change within is about being your best version to acclimatize to every situation without having a conflict within. You also learn to work on thought patterns that do more harm, remove anger, and other negative emotions by actually being the change that you wish to see in this world.
Tip: Be the #ChangeMaker within
“I cannot conceive of a greater loss than the loss of one’s self-respect.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Have you ever paused to wonder if you are in control of your life? It may not hold true for you when your phone buzzes with notifications, your kitchen sink lies mismanaged, there’s a grocery list you have to attend to, and you need to get ready for an online meeting. (What’s ruling you here?) You may choose to react by getting hassled. Or, you can be conscious of your thoughts and be in control to notice how you react to the chaos around you. This chaos is in your mind. And, when you work on thought control, you learn to grow emotionally strong while being aware of everything around you and choosing responses that add value to your life. In this case, you would work on priorities while tackling one problem at a time for improved mental health awareness.
The act of forgiving was an important part of Gandhian philosophy. He fought the British without using the same methods as sought by them. He believed strong people have the power to forgive and completely embodied his thought process. Why is forgiveness important for mental health issues? We all have regrets, grudges, anger, or hate stored in our hearts. These act as strong cords that hold us from being our true selves. With time, the weight of this pulls us down and we end up hating ourselves. When you forgive someone, you set the person free along with freeing up space in your mind. You completely detach yourself from the person or situation. Forgiveness does not mean you allow the same unpleasant experience again and again. But, you are now mindful of your choices for mental health awareness.
Tip: #LessonYourLoad for a better life
Gandhi’s philosophy highlighted action as an important part to initiate change. For e.g., we might find ourselves planning to improve our fitness levels by studying numerous videos online. But, the result of the effort will only show if you take action in the direction that supports your dreams and aspirations. So, if you aim to be healthy, what is the first action you need to do? Exercise! Learning and adding to one’s knowledge is an important part of life. Implementing knowledge that you learn through your actions is the next step, one that Gandhi emphasized in his teachings which are important for mental health awareness.
Tip: #MakeTheMove Now!
It’s a competitive world out there. You notice someone has posted a photo with a luxury car on a social networking site. You instantly feel deprived and make up your mind to purchase this soon. Sadly, we live in times where there is a need to constantly chase wealth. While it’s important to be financially strong, the extent of human greed is for all to see in this world today. Gandhi’s 12 rules for life also mentioned simplicity. He practiced the same in life. For, no matter how many resources we have on Earth, if human greed lies uncontrolled, we may not have enough for human needs.
While Gandhiji had his religious beliefs rooted in Hinduism, he maintained respect for all religions. He believed Truth (Satya) and non-violence (ahimsa) as the core subject of all religions. Similarly, if we hold equality in our minds towards the perception of others, we would find that we can excel in life. Our mental map would no longer be construed with false ideas and beliefs about others. We would be in a position to forge better relationships around while improving our emotions as well.
Tip: #EqualSpace for an equal world.
As Gandhiji’s first principle mentions thought control, one thing you don’t have control over is the result of the future. The future is yet to come. The worries may be incessant and may stop you from living in the present. An obsession over negative thoughts or a fear of the unknown may bind you from taking action. It’s here in this moment, where your power lies. A focused mind at the moment that lays an active plan for the future without the worrying gives the power back to you. We emphasize the practice of Mindfulness to be highly focused at the moment and enjoy the journey of life. Mindfulness is beneficial for all types of mental health issues.
In a hectic pace of life, we’ve forgotten we’re humans. We’ve automated everything with the help of technology. We take more than we can manage. Our mind is thus overloaded with multiple things with less time to care for mental health. When we make a mistake in our perfect world, we chide ourselves and turn self-critical. We may expect things from others and be disappointed as well. The bottom line is - we’re all humans. And, when it comes to forgiveness, remember to forgive yourself for your mistakes first. Clarity of thought will happen when you stop the comparison to others and embrace yourself for who you truly are.
A person’s journey often differs from another. Yet, during this course of life, we tend to compare our chapter with another person’s winning chapter. If we find ourselves behind our goals, we give up! Sometimes, we are closer to our goal but we wouldn’t know. Gandhiji was highly persistent in his mission to drive India towards freedom. He persisted by adhering to his principles despite resistance. He built his strength and mental resilience through his thought processes. That is the thought process many need to adopt to build their mental health. Success in our endeavors may take a little longer than expected. It’s the mental strength that will get you through the most uncertain times in life.
Tip: #KeepGoing without fear
We all have faults or areas of improvement. A person who is constantly critical of others ends up being dissatisfied with themself. This even leads to thoughts of anger or hatred within. The result? Mental health takes a downturn when you are unable to find the good in others. Not surprisingly, you may also find yourself alone making it difficult to maintain personal and professional relationships. Gandhi himself believed in choosing to focus on the good of others. His teachings highlight that when you observe the goodness in others, you can be of help to others. When it comes to mental health issues, we know the importance of helping others and the wonderful effect it has on our emotional wellbeing. This creates a stronger mental framework while erasing the hatred or a dislike we may hold within.
An ounce of practice is worth a thousand words. - Mahatma Gandhi
If you are what you say, and act in accordance, your life will flow in complete harmony. Gandhiji highlighted the importance of being in connection with our true self, and our thoughts should be visible in the way we speak or the actions we carry out. In today’s world, for instance, social media is one such example where a person may put up a happy facade and share powerful thoughts for the world to see. Deep down, he may have internal turmoils nobody has heard about. Authenticity in communication creates improved relationships with self and others. You no longer create an image that is not aligned to your true self. You can relate better with yourself while feeling good in life.
Gandhiji spoke about being in a constant developmental stage in life. This means, one is open for self-growth and views themselves from a new lens every time. In today’s times, we may feel we are comfortable in one position owing to the success we’ve achieved. But, growth needs to be constant, for every person needs to evolve from who they were to who they aim to be. Even if you feel stuck in one place right now, take one small step. That one step ahead makes a whole lot of difference towards mental health awareness.
You may not always find yourself adhering to all the principles for life. There are days where you may feel a disconnection with self. Working on mental health awareness is a step-by-step process. Consistency is the key here. It’s being there for yourself every day, showing up, and believing in yourself that you matter. Do try incorporating Gandhi’s 12 rules for life - write it on a board, pin it on a piece of paper, do whatever it takes to set these reminders.
If you still feel a disconnection, write to us at [email protected]. We offer free Group Coaching sessions and also have a free certification titled, “*My Mental Health, My Priority” which is designed to share knowledge on understanding personality, human behavior, and learning ways to overcome the internal conflicts using sound techniques. All you need to do is sign up for free and begin the learning process for mental health awareness and issues!
*(Registrations open for company or individuals.)