Tuesday, February 25, 2014

YOLO: You Only Live Once!

Do you believe in Carpe Diem? Live every day as if it were your last? Charter into unknown territory even if it's fraught with risks so that you get to learn something new? Then you are in a state of YOLO, the acronym for 'You Only Live Once'. Over the past couple of years, this word has gained momentum in the daily rhetoric of teens, young adults and social media junkies. But today, it has earned a place in pop-culture lexicons and our daily lives. Take this: Since 2010, the hashtag #YOLO has been used more than 20 million times on Twitter alone! YOLO was also one of the contenders for the Oxford American Dictionary's 2012 'Word of the Year'.

The followers of this philosophy believe in the noble idea of living life to the fullest and through their actions, convey that one should take risks in life because you probably won't get another chance to do it. This motto pushes people to try something new, make spur-of-the-moment mistakes and live every day, like it's their last.

A research by University of Missouri, US, revealed when people realise that life is scarce, they focus more on positive things and appreciate everything around them. More importantly, they challenge their fears. Mandip Singh Soin, founder of an adventure travel company agrees, "My friend General Tindy Sharma, a YOLO follower, went parachute jumping at the age of 80! Even I live life on the edge. I have climbed Mount Toubkal, the highest peak in North Africa. The YOLO philosophy is all about collecting great experiences, even if it means moving out of your comfort zone." Entrepreneur Anu Chadha believes it is best to live life in the moment, by breaking a few rules. "I live by YOLO. Every year, I learn a new skill - be it music, language etc. While choosing my wardrobe, I am not afraid to experiment. I do everything I like, without worrying about its consequences or what people will think." Despite the impulsive decision-making YOLO involves, it teaches us to stop fretting over little things. "We nurture many wishful desires, which we don't fulfill most of the time, but this philosophy helps us to break our guardedness and fulfill those desires without giving it much thought. It makes us question: what's the worst that can happen, if I do this?" says social commentator Santosh Desai. That's what David Luks, the founder of a beverage company did. He discovered YOLO, when he was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and it motivated him to set up his own company. "I told myself that you only live once. I wanted to experience what it was like being an entrepreneur, so I went ahead and did it. Something I wouldn't have attempted otherwise."

From eating habits to sartorial choices, YOLO has crept into many spheres of life. Strict dieters are opting for cheat meals that are good for the soul. Known as YOLO meals, these are traditionally unhealthy but indulgent foods that you can dig into, every once in a while. Those who are too shy to experiment with unconventional sartorial trends, can adopt YOLO fashion by wearing heavily-embellished jacket or neon shoes, even if they are not trendy! In fitness, you have YOLO yoga, which focusses on awakening to the present moment and letting go of self-judgment and doubt.

To keep YOLO in check, a counter-philosophy called YODO (You Only Die Once) is also making its presence felt. It means just like you live once, you also die once, so stop living precariously. Sociologist Shiv Visvanathan comments, "YOLO is like bungee jumping. It only gives you a temporary high. Unlike other risks that you take in life, decisions taken under this philosophy are not calculated risks; it's more like let's party all night, because you live only once! This cultural epidemic may help you gratify your short-term goals but won't benefit you in the long run." One needs to remember that while life is short, in the quest to enjoy it to the fullest, one shouldn't hurt oneself or others, physically, emotionally and mentally.

Last year, during census time in New Zealand, many citizens started a campaign to make this philosophy a religion, by filling out YOLO under the 'religion' section in their forms!

To keep YOLO in check, a counterphilosophy called YODO (You Only Die Once) is making its presence felt. It means just like you live once, you also die once, so stop living precariously

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