Saturday, September 17, 2011

Choose to be happy

Updated on 1-6-15
I am sure, like me, you too must have come across three types of people,broadly speaking.There are those who are vibrant,ever joyous,friendly,outgoing,uncomplaining,helpful & cooperative.Then there are those who are friendly & social,though not as exuberant as the former. They are slightly reserved,but ready to mingle when tingled.Lastly,we have the third kind who smile seldom,shun company,& appear to be oppressed by many sorrows.

To an extent these differences in individual levels of happiness are justifiable.Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouths while  there are those who have to wage a bitter battle for mere survival.In between are those who have a modicum of good luck interspersed with bad times;smooth sailing interrupted by glitches & obstacles.But even the first kind have to endure their own share of sorrows & tragedies.It is a mixed bag for all of us,although the preponderance of one element may be glaringly visible in some lives.

But one fact stands head & shoulders above these variables,which is--that some people smile even through thickest clouds of sorrow,whereas at the other end we have those who look for a dark lining in silver clouds. Why do people vary so much in their attitudes,outlook and behavior?Let us suppose for example,ten persons face an identical situation.The reactions of all ten will be different in nature and intensity.

What is it that determines an individual's behavior in times of distress?His/her nature,personality and past experiences.And what molds the personality?A mixture of genes,and upbringing I would say.Well genes can't be altered any more than rearing and past can be erased.But our personality can be altered to synchronize with our life situations to grant us maximum happiness.

It is here that the question of choice comes in.There is no doubt that certain losses are hard to overcome,but the will to do so should be there.Suppose three persons lose their spouse.A, after a brief mourning, will take stock of the situation,tend to important issues which had been relegated to the background,& immerse himself in activities which will help him  forget his sorrow.B may spend some time in solitude, tell himself that he is not the first one to be hit thus & slowly return to normalcy.But C?He is likely to ask himself"Why me?"He would probably take out his memorabilia,view it again & again,shed tears,listen to soulful music,go through her belongings,shed some more tears & take refuge in a couple of drinks or maybe sleeping pills.Whereas A&B would have packed up her belongings or given them in charity,C would ruffle through them again & again & mourn his loss.

Now tell me,is it not in our hands to choose happiness over unhappiness?

Take another case-we may suddenly find that we are out of a job.Now what do we do?Should we lash out at our employer,complain about this injustice to all & sundry,moan about our bad luck,envy all those who are prospering around us,go into depression,shun company & vent our frustration in unseemly ways?Or maybe we can just go back to our boss for advice, recapitulate the circumstances that led to our dismissal,avoid those pit-falls next time,cut down our expenses forthwith,look for new ways to earn some side money till we get a job & discuss this matter with our close confidantes.Who do you think will be the happier person & more likely to land a good job after the dismissal?

Here is a true life happening which i observe every day.One chap comes to a park right in front of my home for his morning walk.He brings a pouch of bird-feed with him every day.He will first clean a ledge with a piece of cloth he keeps there.Then he will carefully spread the grains all along the ledge.After this he will take up a water container which is kept there(i suspect he only has kept it there),and water some plants,I have even seen him planting a few saplings.One day he was arranging some stones lying around to make a semblance of a seat.All this takes place alongside his exercise routine,& he is not at all ashamed to be seen tending to a public park ;as many of us would be.Now why does he take all this trouble?Obviously he is very fond of gardening but has no space for it in his own home;so he finds his fulfillment in this park.

This shows that it is not circumstances alone which bring on misery--our responses & our solutions determine whether we will be happy or woebegone.There is a difference between reacting & responding.The former may give initial satisfaction but it is crude,impulsive & damaging in the long run.On the other hand a response is well thought out,logical,fair, fruitful ,pragmatic & progressive.The former creates tensions & complications,while the latter perpetuates harmony & adjustment.

The ability to respond constructively comes in handy when we are confronted with people who-for their own selfish interests,or out of sheer malice,harm,malign or swindle us.It is difficult to pardon them,even essential to tick them off.But after that WHAT?Are we to keep our anger at boiling point & lose our tranquility & self control?It would be much more beneficial to take refuge in old wisdom.Say to yourself"As he sows,so he shall reap","Ah well,he shall meet his match one day","It takes all kinds to make the world","I should have been more cautious,but i am not going to stoop to his level".Such self-talk has a magical effect upon the turmoil going on inside.

There is no doubt that life for some, can be more stressful than others.It is all the more essential for them to think what works best for them when they are distressed.Here are some suggestions to this end--

1) First of all check your body language.Look into the mirror.Do you appear happy & confident, or aggrieved,miserable & restless?Take whatever steps are necessary to change your looks.The way you look will change the way you feel.

2) Make it a habit to utter positive statements only.Adopt gratitude instead of grumbling,appreciation instead of criticism, & acceptance instead of condemnation--whether of your own weaknesses or others'.

3)Remember this golden truth--nothing remains for ever.If the good days have receded,the bad ones too,shall pass.

4) Comparisons are odious.They give rise to jealousy & competition;both of which make us unpopular,in addition to causing heartache & discontent.A good recipe for unhappiness !!!!!

5) Happiness or unhappiness are the direct result of our moods.And what makes our moods?Our thoughts of course!If  we want to be happy we should harbor pleasant thoughts.In order to do this, let us focus upon what is good & benevolent--in our own self,in those we come across,in our society & the world in general.Erase sad memories &bring up the good ones.Envisage cheerful prospects for the future & slay all thoughts of doom & gloom.Avoid self-pity,it will only aggravate your suffering and pathos.

6) Appreciate your own talents & have faith in your abilities.Do not bother if others do not praise you or try to pull you down.Be self-reliant & self-confident.

7)Never indulge in negative self talk ,it spoils your present & ruins your future.If you committed a misdeed or a blunder,let it go,forgive yourself.Everybody has occasional lapses,that does not wash away your worth.

8)Lastly,have faith in a supreme being who tends to all of us-He shall bring about what is best for you.

To end with the words of Swami Yogananda Paramhansa--
"Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts,only you can change them.Therefore start now to think only those thoughts that bring you health & happiness."


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fifteen danger signals which indicate a cooling of affection

A strong,sincere & abiding romantic relationship is the dream & need of every adult.Those who have the support of such a relationship can easily overcome the various pitfalls & tragedies of life because it is like a cocoon into which they escape to get succor & recoup their energies. True love boosts a person's self-esteem & self-confidence. It is like a sounding board which gives caution & advice at appropriate times. But the exigencies of modern life are tailor-made to create havoc even in such relationships. Hectic schedules & cut-throat competition lead to physical & emotional burnout ;making couples irritating,irritable & insensitive. Add to this cauldron a pinch of selfishness, a dash of ego , a handful of ambition ; & you will soon be sparring with your spouse. Despite best intentions things can go out of hand & lead to a parting of ways, even if you both regret it later on. To avoid such an outcome we should be more mindful of our behavior with our partner & be on the lookout for warning signals which indicate that we are slowly drifting apart. Given below are ten such
                                               WARNING SIGNALS
1) Either of the two often begins to come home later than usual.
2) Even when they are home together ,they spend less time in each other's company.
3) Even if they are sitting together there is little conversation between them. If one starts a conversation the other ends it abruptly. 
4) They get angry when asked a simple question about their activities or whereabouts.
5) They avoid sharing their problems with each other.
6) They begin to criticize each other over minor issues which had hitherto been acceptable.
7) There is decreased concern for the other person's comfort & happiness.Selfishness rules.
8) Rather,there is contempt for the other person's feelings & beliefs.Disrespect too is often present.
9) Often ,a spouse is the last person to know of his/her partner's future plans & ambitions.
10)  Silence reigns & even squabbles become infrequent.
11) Important issues are swept under the carpet-there is marked disinterest in solving problems.
12) They are no longer keen on going together for outings,shopping sprees or holidays etc.
13) One of them becomes extraordinarily conscious of his/her appearance;or more moody & happy than usual.
14) If one partner probes the reason for the other's moodiness s/he gets a cryptic reply.
15) Last but not the least-physical intimacy has decreased substantially. 

It is not difficult to start a marriage on a pleasant footing-everybody does it .But in order to have a long lasting,sustaining & satisfying marriage ,one has to fire on all cylinders.The first requisite is to thrash out certain issues at the outset,so that friction later on, can be avoided.However,no matter how careful one is;after a few years of togetherness the newness of a relationship wears off.There is a decrease in the urge & urgency to please,impress & remain attractive in the partner's eyes.Both begin to take each other for granted.A rut sets in.At this point, if the couple recognizes the danger signals & takes steps to bridge the chasm, the relationship can be saved. We put in a lot of energy into building our careers & maintaining a network of working relationships, but when it comes to the home & hearth we tend to become negligent. But it is at home that real happiness lies. Truly has it been said that we hurt most, those we love most. It is therefore essential that a couple nurture their relationship & maintain a healthy work-life-balance because a stitch in time saves nine.The link given above tells us how to rejuvenate our marriage.It is a beautiful piece,therefore i have written nothing to that effect.

Here is to happy bonding & a supremely happy married life !!!!!!!!!