Changing perceptions can be done

RECENTLY, I joined a pretty hardcore bodybuilders' gym. Most people think I am big, but everybody there is bigger than me! During my second session there, as I was about to leave, a boy far bigger than me with bulging muscles yelled to my coach, saying in Malay, "I have gained weight!"

The boy was so happy and I was stunned. I discovered later that practically everyone in that gym is on the road to gaining more weight, even though all of them were far bigger and most likely heavier than me. In my line of work, I am so used to people coming up to me wanting to lose weight that having somebody wanting to gain weight was a total paradigm shift for me.

That got me thinking: How many things in our perspective may not be true. Being a bit of a rebel, I am already against the notion that shirts and trousers are a necessary work attire; that you need to get married and have children to have a happy life; that you must have a nine to five (isn't it six or later nowadays?) job to be able to have a productive career, and so on. But there are so many norms in our lives that I wonder what could change, whether it actually makes a difference or makes life better?

My parents broke many norms during their time when they got married. An interracial marriage that was, I think, highlighted in one of our local newspapers. This is not to say they were the only ones who married outside of their race, but the occurrence was few and far between. Nowadays, it happens all the time to the point that being mixed is hardly a problem anymore, except when one has to indicate one's ethnicity for "official purposes".

The problem is that people resist change. I know I do. There is comfort and security knowing that certain things are the way they are, and shouldn't be changed at all, because who knows what anarchy or criminal behaviour could arise from change. This kind of philosophy is ingrained in us from a young age, if you think about it.

So when you are young, your parents ingrain in you that getting good grades is a must, probably foregoing all kinds of activities and pastimes in order to obtain those good grades. This is channelled into our working lives later on. We forego all kinds of activities and pastimes in order to further our career, chasing paper and promotions, in the hope that one day we can retire comfortably and then only do the things we want to do and "enjoy life". By that time though, we would be lucky to have our health and enough money to support ourselves, let alone go out and do the things we always wanted to do.

So many perspectives and perceptions could be scrubbed out from our lives that could make ourselves and those around us experience life in a better way. Could we be more patient with ourselves, our loved ones and those around us? Could we be more compassionate to the plight of animals and the environment? Is money really that important and why? Do we spend any time even reflecting on this? Could things be done in a better way or are we doing things because that's the way it has always been done?

Perspectives are hard to change, sometimes taking hundreds of years. Within ourselves, if we find that something needs to be changed, it requires strength of will. Sometimes it is so much easier to fall back into our set patterns. There is comfort there, we know how the outcome will be. Some are daunted with the thought that they may fail, and never embark on something that could make them so much greater.

The good news is within ourselves, I believe we have the strength. And as a society, if something needs to be changed, I too believe it can be done. We just need patience and strength of will.

Daniel has a passion for health, fitness, sleep and travel. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com