Of Happiness and Positive Thinking

Looking back, I realize that I’ve always been one of life’s whiners.  The kind to whom you ask, “So how are you today?” only to get two earfuls of gripe about how the head has been hurting occasionally, only slightly better than the stomach that keeps cramping, with the corn on the left foot acting up, and the neighbours’ dogs/kids driving him/her crazy.  And after all that, as an afterthought, smile bravely and ask the asker, “And how’ve you been?”

I was born, and have subsequently grown up, as one of those people who follow the school of thought that being happy for long periods at a stretch is akin to risking one’s future, and that it’s one’s bounden duty to self to be negative and pessimistic at all costs. (I might be stretching it here – but that’s the line of thought, if you know what I mean.) I think I’m one of those people who have carried the concept of duality in life a bit too far.  Just as day is followed by night, happiness is always followed by sorrow.  And somewhere along the way, I must have decided that if I stop allowing – or admitting to – happiness in my life, the sorrows would also stop coming in.

The irony, however, is that due to some fault in my wiring, I’m as quick to laugh as I am to cry.  And this has resulted in a lifelong, constant, internal conflict that has its repercussions in my life.  In college, I remember the times when I used to burst out laughing at somebody’s silly joke, only to abruptly stop the laughter and remind myself that I would have to pay for today’s laughter with tomorrow’s tears. A good friend did try to advise me on this – he told me that maybe I should *vice-versa the thought a bit and tell myself that today’s laughter was the payment for yesterday’s tears.  I did try, I still do, but there’s only so much one can do to correct congenital flaws…

I’ve been hearing and reading so much these days about the importance of positive thinking and being happy.  They say that in this case, like attracts like, so the long face I pull thinking that I’m preventing further unhappiness is actually bringing in more reasons for the face to be longer, instead of preventing it.  And I know that it is true.  I have seen the miracles that positive thinking works.  I owe it to me, I owe it to my family to be happy. If I’m honest, I would admit that there’s so much in life that I have to be thankful for, to be happy about.  My wise, almost twelve-year-old told me the other day: Amma, if you and Achan are happy, I’m automatically happy, you know… I’m only too aware that it is so wrong to deprive him of that ‘automatic’ happiness.  

So I keep trying.  I tell myself all the time to let go, let go of darkness that dwells deep inside me, to bring in light and good cheer, to just revel in my existence.  At a superficial level, I have managed to do it, but there’s still a very long way to go.  Panic lurks just under the surface, and the moment it smells blood, it still attacks.  And then, it’s back to square one – I have to pick up pieces of myself and start all over again.  But I’m not giving up.  I’ll fight to the very end.  Then, even if I am unable to finally conquer it, I’ll at least know that I tried.

*If Shakespeare could use nouns as verbs, his humble and loyal fan too can, right? So my vice-versa is a verb here. Who knows?  Maybe two hundred years later, somebody will rave over the innovations I’ve made in the field of English vocabulary…

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6 thoughts on “Of Happiness and Positive Thinking

  1. latha.

    I think you are on the right path Mini.Nothing works like positive thinking.I am sure art of living will aid you in this! Finally …who doesn’t have problems?As the age old saying goes ‘count your blessings”…..

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    1. True, Lechechi. I’m learning to do just that. Learning to look at problems as something placed there to change one for the better, and not to defeat.

      And I must say this – you are one of those blessings… 🙂 Thank you for being such a rock.

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  2. Sudeesh Yezhuvath

    A good read, Mini. I could identify with your comment about being afraid to be happy :-). Defence mechanisms, defence mechanisms!

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  3. aishwaria

    Yes, there was a time when our elders used to tell us…don’t laugh like this you will have to pay for it ! But now we should all be happy that we can laugh to the fullest without the fear of tomorrow !
    We have not brought anything and we are not going to take anything. So lets be happy!

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