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."



  1. Wow!!! feels like i just left a counselling session with a professional rock, dude..keep up the deep analysis stuff....

  2. I am truly very sorry Ganesh,i don't know how i failed to publish my reply to your fantastic comment-it is the best i have received so far;thanks once again.

  3. I so completely agree with Ganesh, but does he not know what you are? Arrey yaar we're lucky we have a counsellor amongst us offering valuable consultation free of charges:)
    Thank you Indu for a wonderful and informative article, which, though a bit lengthy, kept my eyes glued to the screen till the last word:)

    1. Believe me your comments boost my morale to up there!You are too kind.What i do gives me a lot of satisfaction.


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