As someone who is at the tail-end of the millennial generation (as per Nielsen Media Research), I’ve seen my share of colleagues, friends, family and acquaintances succumb to mental illness and/or deaths of despair. And, more often than not, it has to do with this nebulous pursuit of this concept called happiness.
Throughout my life, happiness was always defined with a smile or a laugh. But no one spoke of the demons lurking underneath such cheerfulness. Such were the times that I grew up in that happiness was defined as relief — relief that you didn’t die during an LTTE-inspired bomb blast or a JVP-instigated machete attack.
Happiness was being with family and having enough food to eat. It meant there was a secure household, a roof over your head, and an education that could possibly be a one-way ticket to the West. Why the West? Because the basic necessities were not even present then where I lived. Today, thanks to globalization, more people are dying of obesity than war.
Yet the context has changed today. In the 80s and 90s, we found respite in the arms of the church, and the promise of a better tomorrow, along with the chance that one day Jesus will come, and rapture us to walk on streets of gold. Today, the definition of happiness is one which resides within yourself. Happiness is a biological event, and just like hacking your hormones to ensure productivity, we can hack it with a smile or a Prozac or two.
My conclusion is this — Happiness is a Decision. You see, sometimes we are the authors of our own destruction. We give the devil too much credit for our own mistakes. Don’t listen to, or rather, don’t believe the tyrant in your head. He/she is a false god. For someone who lived a very epicurean life, lived through a war, joblessness, bare minimum in terms of food, there is a certain joy present in the mundane.
Some Definitions of Happiness
I suggest you listen to this great podcast by Dr. Laurie Santos about work and job crafting. Humanity has moved from one context to another. We lived through the agricultural revolution and are now in the technological revolution where our lives are all about swiping right. Today, we are trying to find our life’s meaning in a world inundated with pixels and data bombs. We are searching to fulfill our Self-Actualization Needs.
Growing up in my generation, the only two types of needs that were satiated were the Safety and Physiological aspects. They were only partly satisfied what with the issue concerning the social-political upheaval of the time.
Ikigai makes sense to me, and while we were taught that Happiness is equal to your Passion, there is more to the whole idea as well. Carl Jung simplifies the whole concept of happiness, which is shown below, and his list has a great degree of similarity with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Ikigai as well.
Good physical and mental health.
Good personal and intimate relationships, such as those of marriage, the family, and friendships.
The faculty for perceiving beauty in art and nature.
Reasonable standards of living and satisfactory work.
A philosophic or religious point of view capable of coping successfully with the vicissitudes of life.
Following most of the narratives throughout the decades, we were compelled to aim to achieve happiness. Happiness was defined as the perfect marriage, the perfect job, and, it was aligned to success. But, as Jordan Peterson states happiness is rare and rather we should aim to have a meaningful life, and be resilient in the process.
The Stoics and the Greeks all had their definitions when it comes to this concept called happiness. Here is mine — My perspective is that happiness is a decision, but it’s an ambitious state of being. Rather what we should aim for is a state that is far easier to achieve, and that is Contentment with a dose of Peace of Mind. And, you will realize that achieving such a level of bliss is usually just a simple thought that needs to be entertained over a fragrant cuppa Joe.
Art is a gift, which needs to be generously shared with the world, irrespective of accolades or compensation. Make something that’s worth reading or deciphering so that it’s an idea that spreads. I wrote Crimson Spaces: Art as a Medium of Connectedness which offers an insightful look into what art actually can become. As you would have gleaned from the latter article — Art is carved by the agency of human emotion.
Why Art Matters?
Art, in my opinion, is the exploration of the human condition; and, the human condition is about overcoming adversity. And that’s beautiful since adversity has this dark way of introducing a man to himself. Art is doing that brave thing which is original and human to change someone for the better.
For instance, art can reflect the zeitgeist of a certain time, like, Britain and the Pre-Raphaelites where art was used to counter the effects of brutal industrialization. Periodically, art has violated the canons of current literary taste during that time to evolve into something else.
Still, art does have some other uses: art keeps us hopeful, art makes us less lonely, art rebalances us, art helps us to appreciate stuff, and art is propaganda for what really matters. Suffice to say art with its tumultuous imagery bivouacs in our brains for quite a long period of time.
What Does History Say?
Christian art dominated Europe for a very generous 1000 years by making the whole monotheistic doctrine resonanting, emotionally attractive and incredibly appealing.
The question of the purpose of art is a modern dilemma, one that didn’t exist in bourgeois society in history. Modern art tried to escape bourgeois society. Ironic that it ended up alienated from the general public and only enlightened millionaires can understand the complexity and mystery of an urinal or senseless colors splashed in a canvas.
Why do artists offer part of themselves on such a prolific level? It is to connect with others. This generosity gives credence to an artist, and helps him or her to connect and garner a following.
What I Think Art Means
I take on the position of Théophile Gautier who in 1833 stated — l’art pour l’art or art for art’s sake yet I sympathize with a different definition as well. Art had been an excellent tool for a myriad of intentions, but this is probably something that needs to be done away with. On the other hand, we hear of Marcel Duchamp who desires that art stands to be enigmatic, provocative and reeking of mystery.
With capitalism being in the forefront of the world in 2020, artists today have become defenders of unfettered free enterprise, and, rightfully so. From reflecting on poverty and its issues, art today has become a veritable tour de force where it is the hobby of the super rich. From the Venice Biennale to art by Banksy, the investment in art is magnanimous. But let’s not forget the real meaning of art, one that Gautier would disagree with, which is to help us understand and appreciate the human condition.
TL;DR: How I lost over 15 kgs is all about a lifestyle change. Don’t entertain dogma: always question. Try out a ketogenic diet. Be disciplined. Consider the art of dry fasting. Ensure that you do some form of exercise, and choose these exercises based on your goals. For me, walking burns the most amount of fat while for most people, resistance training leads to muscle retention and muscle gain. Manage your stress. Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep. Optimize your nutrition: special attention should be paid to the consumption of vitamins and minerals.
You know it’s true — When you are fat, the jokes then write themselves. And, you will realize that those jokes become an albatross around your mental well-being — It becomes an active state of roiling pain. I decided to write how I lost over 15 kgs simply because the act of losing weight isn’t a complicated task, and almost anyone can do it.
Losing fat is a conservative pursuit. Your investment in diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep, is an extension of your well-being. There’s a reason this particular article is long; after all, it took a few months and a great deal of knowledge-based actions to help me lose close to 16 kgs.
From a personal viewpoint, it should be noted that there’s so much that needs to be looked into before starting your fat loss journey. Also, you should realize that we function differently, and what works for you may not work for me.
I’ve done it all, and some of these ways didn’t work, and, in fact, made my health worse. One such cultish route I took was going vegan: it truly was one of the worst decisions of my life. We are surrounded by so much dogma (one person’s truth is another person’s lie, you see), and that serves to gently prod you down the wrong route time and time again.
Just like how religious leaders have the ability to loosen your purse strings with eloquence and hands well-oiled to massage insecurity, the proponents of one dietary route have used the beauty of the English Language to cajole. Don’t entertain dogma, and always question what you hear. Not being a slave to dogma was central to how I lost over 15 kgs.
First, Some Background, Before I Tell You How I Lost Over 15 kgs
I’ve been relatively athletic in my 20s; I was a huge fan of Kyokushin karate, Kandyan dancing, tap dancing, swimming, tennis, badminton and was a regular at gym. I used to be a trim and slim guy with a 30 inch waist carrying around a weight of 70 kgs.
There was only one philosophy to follow in that era; it was worshipped time and time again — No Pain No Gain. Delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) was what gym bros (myself included) aspired to believe — albeit wrongly — that it was thispain that led to muscle gain.
The early 20s were great in terms of working out. Then the corporate world happened. Late nights, stress, beer and a dysfunctional work culture led to weight gain and led me towards a destructive downward spiral.
I ballooned to 110 kgs with a waist of 45 inches in mylate 20s. This wasn’t good. The mirror coupled with my brain had this habit of making the situation appear not too serious. It was serious. For someone who used to get up at 4 am to jog everyday, I could barely walk for 5 minutes without heart palpitations knocking an exotic beat in my chest.
That’s me in 2008 on the left in the above picture. Then me in 2010/11 on the right. Like I said, I tried everything from veganism to paleo to fat burners to some pretty hardcore workouts. Yet, it was the Atkins Diet that worked.
Surrounding yourself with the right people matter, but I ended up with a coterie of foodies. All sense of scale becomes redundant when you start consuming sugar: it’s all largely thanks to that oh-so-desired dopamine release and nefarious insulin response. Sugar and alcohol will gift pack you a heavy dose of mutually assured destruction.
The socio-economic environment at that time was of no help when it came to keeping me honest, so a whole basket of reasons (foodie friends, night outs, comfort food, late work nights, stress eating, stress drinking etc.) led me to lose track and balloon again.
The second-time assault on my love handles was more structured and I was better prepared. There’s a plethora of information out there that you can try and use for your own benefit.
How bad do you want it? There’s nothing glamorous about being fat, and I refuse to subscribe to the lie that being fat is okay. It’s not. Go Google all the data on obesity and mortality rates.
But let’s talk about my situation, and why I hated being fat: I hated the joint pain; the task of finding clothes to fit; the terrible feelings of fatigue; the lack of purpose; the uptick in insulin followed by the mindless eating and the resultant crashes; the cognitive decline; brain fog; mood swings; and, the physical unattractiveness that belonged to just me.
I wanted a trim waistline and a lean physique, and I HATED feeling and thinking like I was 70 when I was at the cusp of just 40. And so I researched every single day until I was convinced with the information I had to make a change.
Why Ketosis Is Key
Having read so much with regard to Peter Attia’s journey into a ketogenic lifestyle, I decided to jump into his teachings wholeheartedly. No fitness guru has quite the cachet of Peter Attia. As much as I wanted to believe that my body was 100% healthy, it wasn’t.
When it came to working out in my 20s, I subscribed to the whole religion of No Pain No Gain at gym, and had only a world of hurt to show. I used to think that pain at the gym and the resulting DOMS was key to building muscle and looking good.
I didn’t know about the role played by Cortisol, Growth Hormone, Insulin, Leptin and Ghrelin, and the importance of rest and recuperation. For someone who used to jog daily followed by hours of karate, I can categorically say that my metabolism was on the road to dysfunction.
I have to thank Breakthrough Studio, and Ashanthi Mirchandani for helping me kick my butt into shape. Fat loss is directly helped by physical inefficiency. For example, the more difficult a workout is, the more fat you will burn. While being in a state of Ketosis helped me lose weight, I was sorely lacking muscle tone.
Dry Fasting Works And It Was Central To How I Lost Over 15 Kgs
Contrary to most popular beliefs out there, you don’t die when fasting. I tried intermittent fasting where I ate only one ketogenic meal for the whole day at dinner. Your body doesn’t need a constant source of food. We are overloading our digestive system when we eat constantly.
Another piece of dogma that has been religiously fed to us is that we need three meals a day — we don’t. You do realize that when animals fall sick they fast. Us humans on the other hand increase our food intake.
I decided to see what else I could do besides fasting. I decided to try my luck with dry fasting for one day, two days, and three days, respectively. This was when I saw the craziest amount of fat loss, and it was unbelievable to see the fat just melt off.
The human body is super strong, and knows how to manage itself. In order to create water, the body taps into its fat stores thereby generating water and leading to a depletion of fat.
It’s Not Just Fat, Carbs And Protein
Trace minerals and vitamins are of utmost importance, and where I learned most of what I know is thanks to Dr. Berg and his YouTube channel. It didn’t take much detective work to realize that I was lacking in selenium, magnesium, zinc, boron, and Vitamins A, B, C, and D.
This is where I started introducing liver, asparagus, beetroot leaves, gotukola, lime, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, moringa and seaweed into my diet. And let me tell you — I’m so much better for it.
Dial In Your Sleep
Late nights in the corporate world is the worst thing you can do to harm your progress when it comes to fat loss. There is research to show that sleep helps drain amyloid plaques in your brain and gives your entire system a good rest. You’ll need it if you want your fat loss to be sustainable.
Deal With Stress
Life is short, and stress makes it shorter. There are many sources of stress that we are faced with. You’d know what stresses you out. Dealing with stress on a daily basis is key, and maybe tips like using mindfulness, gratefulness, stoicism, and meditation to deal with life might help you, too.
One huge area of stress for many is keeping up with the Joneses; this is fine as long as you choose the Joneses you want to keep up with. One of the main factors creating stress is social media. Read The Social Dilemma is Why I Left Social Media to understand more. Cultivate those other relationships. We put 90% of our energy into our dysfunctional relationships and only 10% to those who have our backs. Flip that.
What I Was In The Beginning Of 2019 And What I Am Today
I was fat. The corporate world and a cycle of working crazy late, drinking, stress, and breaking rest helped in offering a confluence of dysfunction.
I started the whole process of intermittent fasting, water fasting, and dry fasting.
It was a drastic lifestyle that led me to piling on the pounds. And I knew I needed a different drastic lifestyle to get myself back on track.
There’s nothing more fantastic than getting into clothes you thought you could never wear.
What’s even more fantastic is seeing your packs, and trimming your waist down to 29 inches.
What You Should Take Away From This Blog Post
How I lost over 15 kgs is not just a quick fix. It is a change in thinking and lifestyle. I will conclude by saying that you should accustom yourself to new ideas, and erase off the comfort of dogma.
There are many fitness and health gurus who are on the opposite sides of this issue. The plausible deniability zone is something that even doctors and fitness professionals practice (not just politicians). You are seduced into listening, and you believe in the lie that appeals.
Be careful of the lies perpetuated by the health industry; believe and act on them, and they have a way of catching up with you. Knowledge is power, and research is what’ll help you in the long term. I hope this post encourages you to start your weight loss journey.
Do you know why this post has a title that states — The Social Dilemma is Why I Left Social Media? Read on to understand why. Whether it’s eloquently stated by Tristan Harris, Yuval Noah Harari or Cal Newport, the evils of social media are well-documented. It’s true online toxicity is real, and so too is suicide. Ironic then how I went from being a Social Media Manager at a Digital Marketing Company in Sri Lanka to someone who left social media twice. That said I will state that social media has its place in any content strategy, but that is a different topic for a different day.
Have you noticed the lack of civil discourse, the misinformation present, fake news, and the division within relationships present on social media? The Social Dilemma attempts to raise awareness around important issues like design ethics and data privacy (like the Cambridge Analytica data breach), and succeeds.
Tristan Harris reminds us that — If the product is free, you’re the product. That realization never dawned on me until much later. The first time I left social media was in 2014 when the whole process of posting how fantastic life was just plain tiresome.
The second time was in 2020, and the social media landscape seemed more dysfunctional than the first time. Tristan Harris speaks of how Facebook is a social persuasion machine and is excellent at monetizing your attention. And with all the brands I handled working for the above-mentioned digital agency that was exactly what I was doing.
We hear of how social media companies use attention engineers to make these social media entities as addictive as possible. Profit can be maximised thanks to you giving attention and handing your data over. The University of Stanford talks of the Magic of Maybe, where we really do care about what others think of us — think Likes, Comments and Reactions. This is all a reference to the shot of dopamine you get. Some sources say that this shot of dopamine is equivalent to the levels experienced when consuming cocaine. Additionally there are ethical implications of data extraction even with the new products of Facebook.
Social Comparison Theory
Showiness is often mistaken for reality. What you can gather from this is that more often than not, social media perpetuates that endless cycle of being fake. And I’m not talking about political fake news. Social Comparison Theory is something that is pertinent at this juncture. We have a proclivity to compare ourselves to people who have similar characteristics to us. This can boost or destroy our confidence.
Leon Festinger has a theory, which suggests that there are two types of social comparison — Upwards and Downwards. Upwards is where we compare ourselves to someone who is less than or inferior to ourselves. Downwards is where we compare ourselves to someone who is superior or better than us.
The theory basically states that individuals determine their own social and personal worth based on how they stack up against others they perceive as somehow faring better or worse. No surprise then that so many suffer from what is known as Facebook Depression, which leads to less life satisfaction and more sadness.
The Antidote To Social Media Is Deep Work
Seth Godin makes a mention of how — one should not become a wandering generality, be a meaningful specific. That’s a pertinent thought for any individual or company. Social media is a waste of time, unless you’re a brand. It does have its place in crafting out a brand’s journey. And if you’re career-minded, it can assist unless you commit yourself to that heinous dopamine-driven feedback loop, which affects your cognitive function.
Cal Newport mentions how our attention is being fragmented to such an extent we cannot concentrate. The solution is deep work that’ll help you focus on rewarding work minus the distractions. We are all part of the attention economy, and social media companies are competing for your attention. But with social media morphing into more of a business than just a social interaction tool, it became an entity that could be best described as being nefarious.
All the moral panics are real. The Trauma Floor showcases the issues faced by Facebook moderators, and it is harrowing. More so are the issues with your supply of attention, which focus on your short to midterm goals being decimated. Chamath Pahaliyapitiya said it best — If you feed the beast, it will destroy you. And so, this is my conclusion, especially if social media doesn’t benefit you in a way that’ll help you becoming a meaningful specific (like an author): Unsubscribe.
Here’s Why I Switched to Android isn’t a tale about how bad iOS is. Rather it is a tale of boredom. Tolstoy defined boredom best — a desire for desires. Boredom does lead to terrible things like: starting a relationship, whoring around, busting up the last few thousand rupees on your credit card, or drinking a bottle of arrack while gurgling a melody in some ditch.
Boredom: This is the Reason
Boredom can also lead to wonderful things like the start of something new like this blog. It’s fitting then that this is my first post. I would suppose it would be prudent to Thank God for modern capitalism, which has multiplied amusements and consumables. And, capitalism probably is the reasoning behind the statement — Here’s Why I Switched to Android.
I popped my smartphone cherry with a flagship phone (back when virginity was a thing). The first Android smartphone I had was a Galaxy Note 2 that ran on Kit Kat. One inebriated night, I slipped and the Amoled screen fell flat on its face and became a mosaic of shards. Despite a list of fancy vanity specs, there were hiccups like S Pen Notes crashing while typing important articles etc.
Then I bought an iPhone 5S. This led to a 6S Plus, and finally an iPhone 7. There’s a reason I stuck with Apple products including a Macbook Air, which I bought in 2017. Everything was just better. And predictable. Any writer worth his salt will fall in love with Apple’s catchy terminology. The Apple Watch Sport’s glass is actually Gorilla Glass that had been used by many electronics for so many years.
But trust Apple to serve up such plainess with a description promising goosebumps: “We used an alumina-silicate glass that’s especially resistant to scratches and impact. It’s fortified at the molecular level through ion exchange, with smaller ions being replaced by larger ones to create a surface layer far tougher than ordinary glass.”
So, what was the final deciding factor? It was cost. I trundled over to One Galle Face, checked out the iPhone 11, gave it a grunt and a look of derision (similar to one deployed by a Colombo 7 aunty from behind her Gucci spectacles), and went towards Samsung Lanka.
The iPhone 7 cost me north of LKR 130,000 three years ago. The Galaxy Note Lite was just over LKR 100,000 with a JBL speaker thrown in; this purchase was made in August of 2020. When you have passed the 40 year old mark, you tend to be more pragmatic and conservative. The zeal to be cool is something that you resist (this is mainly because you are guaranteed to fail). It is this desire for pragmatism that leads you to research any future purchase with manic fervor.
There are a few things that I miss about iOS like the buttery smoothness of the transition from app to app. I miss the privacy features and the industry-leading security that iOS offers. Apple Music is something that I use a lot, and this app crashed twice on the Note while playing Muse, which destroyed my sweaty rhythm on the treadmill.
2 Reasons Why
Forgiveness can be extended to all these gremlins since the Note 10 Lite is a completely different beast powered by Android 10. Two important factors are key for me:
The incredible battery life thanks to a 4500 mAh battery and a 25W fast charger, which lasts close to 1.5 days with heavy usage, and
The ginormous screen at a price that the iPhone cannot beat. I’ve actually moved onto using the Lite for all my article writing much to the chagrin (I suspect) of my MacBook Air.
I could go on about the camera, which is on par with the camera setup on the iPhone 11, but this is a redundant subtopic. Gone are the Instagram (ahem, foodstagram) days, and now functionality is what I’m after. I don’t hate iOS by any stretch, and I enjoyed how incredibly reliable it was/is. But, for now, the Lite as a midrange smartphone has got my vote. Speaking of midrange phones, the Lite behaves like a flagship, and I do think, at present, that midrange phones are the new flagships.
Things have changed drastically in the smartphone world, even more so with our individual desires and requirements being all over the place. The best takeaway I can offer you today is that there’s a phone for everyone whatever the budget, and that Android and iOS are on par when it comes to most things.
Stuck wondering what to choose? Maybe a quote in Paco Underhill’s book, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping may offer an idea; an idea that you could unbox like your next smartphone — “How you present your ideas and information is just as – or more – important as the ideas themselves.”
I’ll Conclude by Saying…
It is after all the idea that you are subscribing to, which you buy. Both operating systems are great like the devices they support themselves. Android, for me, is all about flexibility, functionality, and freedom of choice — it’s the perfect mix of ingredients to keep the spectre of boredom at bay.
iOS, on the other hand, changes people into an audience that has good taste in digital products. If you do decide to transition, remember that there’s a great deal to love in both ecosystems. The level of difficulty adjusting is all based on how long you’ve spent in the comfort of one operating system.
And on a final note, remember that a smartphone (whether it runs on Android or iOS) is merely a tool to access your content that is happily residing on the cloud.