The irrefutable need to stay relevant!

The need to stay relevant drives us all through life — the day you lose all relevance, you cease to exist! Or, do you?

The lifelong struggle to stay relevant keeps us all engaged. In fact once basic survival is taken care of, the struggle for relevance is the only struggle that concerns us all through life. We care about only those who are relevant to us, and are cared for by only those to whom we stay relevant. The day you are not relevant to anyone or anything, you are no good to the world and cease to exist.

You are relevant to those who depend on you for their happiness, security, success or even entertainment. You are also relevant to those who rely on you for their income, their well-being or upbringing. When you fulfill another person’s emotional needs, you are supremely relevant to them. Give someone the feeling that you understand him or her more than anyone, and you instantly become indispensable! As a guide and master who shows people a path towards well-being and success, you become very pertinent too. Love is the universal way of staying relevant; we are of importance to all those who love us, and to those we love as well. We are most relevant to those we help make feel significant themselves!

The fear of becoming redundant is a great driving force. The more relevant or useful you are to an increasing number of people, the more successful and popular you become. The need to feel needed is irrefutable. And let us be clear — you are relevant only when you fulfill the needs of others. There is no use beating about the bush over this, however selfish it may sound. You automatically tune out of people you cannot connect to in any way, or who are of no use to you. Sometimes someone important at one time, loses relevance along the way.

Put like that it may sound bald and selfish, but it is a universal truth known to all. Had a nanny whom you clung to as a kid and relied on for all your needs? What happens when you meet her as an adult? At best she becomes a case of charity for most. What about the school teacher you admired and obsessed over? Or, your best friend from school? The good old times serve as a link for a while, but no matter how hard you try, there is little to connect you besides that. That is the way of life!

At the Times Literature Festival Kolkata, I attempted to define success with Shobhaa De and Mimi Chakraborty as we discussed ‘Is happiness the price we pay for success?’ Access to relevant platforms that enable one to make a difference to the lives of others emerged as one definitive indication of success. Mimi as an actor and a Member of Parliament finds enough avenues to achieve this and is relevant both as an entertainer and as a politician. Shobhaa De as a writer and social commentator finds power and relevance in her ability to shape opinions.

Meaning in life is a critical factor for our psychological well-being. Research has shown that this is inversely related to depression and directly to the ability to cope with medical challenges. The more relevant and purposeful we feel, the better our mental and psychological state is.

So, how can one ensure one stays relevant? Families and the connect and love we feel for each other helps us feel meaningful. Feeling cherished and cared for is a significant factor in feeling relevant. People who work ceaselessly towards the happiness, security and well-being of others create a respectable niche for themselves.

However, above all, the strength and power of our minds and spirits in keeping us relevant and meaningful must be stressed. Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl talks of the “intensification of inner life” that helped prisoners stay alive in concentration camps, and talks about the transcendental power of love. Those who can transcend the need to stay relevant to others, and align themselves to the purpose of staying relevant to the very purpose of life and to their own spiritual evolution, feel and stay relevant under all circumstances. They stay connected to similar or higher minds and to their existential queries and findings, and beyond all to the power of love that surrounds us…

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DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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