Monday, January 16, 2012

In pursuit of happiness

(This post was written by me for Critical Thinkers)

To go by the words of Abraham Lincoln, "most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." 

These words find support in what the famous psychologist Richard Lazarus explained in his Cognitive Mediational Theory (1991). In this theory, Lazarus proposed that the most important aspect of any emotional experience is how the person interprets, or appraises the stimulus that causes the emotional reaction. in simple terms, the happy man is he, who thinks he is.

Nobody’s life is hunky-dory all the time.
Every person has to face trials and tribulations, go through difficult times. He indeed, is wise, who chooses to put on the glasses of optimism and faith and interprets the events of his life as positively as humanely possible.

Life, if you look at it this way, is not a race.
It is a hurdle race. You can’t question the presence of hurdles. They will be there, for that’s the nature of the sport.
If you bang your head on the hurdles and try to remove them out of your path, you going against the flow, attempting the illogical and the fruitless. Not just that,you are not putting your heart and soul to win the race, for your focus has actually slipped into some other territory. There is no way you are going to win in this manner.
If you lose your strength at the sight of a hurdle, and ask “why such things happen to me all the time, WHY ME?”, you yourself are delaying your victory.
Again, if you just sit there, waiting for the hurdle to disappear, you are only deceiving yourself.
Not just the best, but the only option you have is to jump over the hurdles, as and when they come, without creating any fuss.

It often helps if you are a person deeply connected to nature.
Feeling low? Well then go smell the flowers, let the breeze kiss your hair, leave your slippers on the porch and let your feet feel the moist grass, savour the delightful courtship dance of the butterflies, go out in the sun and let the blameless blue of the winter sky be your confidante, let the zephyr carry your message to that distant companion. Go, fall in love with nature.

Learn to appreciate the beauty that the mundane things of everyday life have to offer.
Just imagine life without the things you take the most for granted. You will know their value then.
Maintain a gratitude journal. list all those things, people and moments in it that had made you smile someday and that make your everyday life worth living. It can be your coffee mug, or a compliment your teacher paid you that fine day, anything. When you are low in spirits, just flip through its pages, and you will have a hundred and one things to be happy about.

It is often seen that people find it easy to forgive, but not to forget.
What we don’t understand is, forgiveness is incomplete in such a scenario. By repeating emotional episodes over and over in our mind, we inadvertently etch them in our memory. So, the key is to let go, to not think at all about anything unpleasant that we have been through.

Equally important is to first know ourselves.
It is always desirable to keep the doors of improvement open, but we also need to learn to distinguish between comments that are credible and that are not. If you have put on a white dress and a friend of yours with black sunglasses comes and tell you that the black dress you have worn does not look good on you, and on top of that, you get upset on hearing that…..well, to say the least, nothing can be more ridiculous.

Not to forget, nothing succeeds like success and the high one gets out of achievement is just unmatched.

Have a clearly defined goal, make sure it is challenging enough but realistic and put in every possible effort to achieve it.
If you are able to achieve it, well and fine. If not, you did not lose either, in the actual sense of the term, for in the process, you actually grew as a person and learnt things you not have, had you not been in pursuit of the goal. At least you will not be amongst those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

Last, but not the least, cultivate a taste for literature, for poetry.
It will be with you when nobody else is.

Go, live your days of happiness!!!!


  1. lovely post !
    really felt good after reading :)

    1. Hey am really glad to know that this article made u feel good :)

  2. Happiness is what makes a person complete and succesful at the end of the day. It was good going through your lovely post and every word and line you have penned here is very true.

    1. very well said...indeed happiness is that which makes a person complete and successful at the end of the day. and thanks for liking the post :)

  3. I believe that when life throws no real challenges or hardship in your direction, only then is it possible to hold such positive stances..

    1. Really? I beg to differ. The true test of such tips is whether they work in times of distress or not. And from my personal experience i can tell u that "when life throws real challenges or hardships in your direction", these are the stances that will keep u sane and going. In any case, it is not what happens to us that matters more but rather our opinion f what happens to us. U may not agree but just for fun try these tips wen u feel u r down in the dumps.
      I believe it is with good reason that i can hope dat u ll nt b disappointed :)

    2. Yeah I agree that the true test of such tips is to see if they work in times of distress..and I guess it all depends on what you classify as distress or hardship. So I ask you..what's the biggest issue you have faced then?? Being unable to achieve the highest mark in your class?? Perhaps failing to get the attention of a certain guy?? Or even maybe living away from your loved ones?? In these instances, yeah I agree your tips will help you overcome that personal hurdle. It's not that I disagree with you completely. I just think you have a very naive viewpoint which is kind of understandable considering your age :-) and perhaps you haven't yet endured what I consider to be difficulties...sometimes its easy to have a rosy view of things and hold these utopian views...being positive is good...learning to overcome whatever life throws at you is good....but when you see your life collapse into tiny amount of positivity helps you to put it back together...despair forces you into darkness ...for me the light in this darkness is my is the shining beacon that guides me back and helps me make sense of what happened... helps me resolve the issues I face...provides the satisfactory reasons that I'm seeking...and even if the reasons are unclear...u learn to live with the fact that in life things happen for a reason even if that reason is incomprehensible at that time....

      How can you say "it is not what happens to us that matters more but rather our opinion of what happens to us??" The way I see it, we have an opinion because it matters to us what happens to us...Only we know our dreams, hopes, desires and when we are let down ...only we will know the pain we feel..

      And as for trying these tips...well if you've not already guessed...I'm going through a rather low phase and the beauty of nature is not helping me at my best friend...chocolate

      I may not be making sense as I'm rambling

      But you knw what?? It is nice that you are that positive to their own eh?? :-)

      Apologies if I said something out of order...emotions can sometimes cloud my judgement.. ;-)

    3. true..i haven't faced much n so i guess it was naive of me. n m glad it is ur faith that lets u c the light at the end of the tunnel and extract meaning. this post was written a long time back, b4 i came across "Man's search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl, and now i understand what will be the shining beacon in my life- the meaning i know my life is suppose to have.

      but yeah, i still hold on to "it is not what happens to us that matters more but rather our opinion of what happens to us".
      2 people miss their train. one goes on to think there must b some reason behind it, probably he was supposed to learn some lesson out of it, and then does his best to still get to the destination, by some other means. This man will be at peace.
      The other man frets and whines and blames others and himself and in the midst of all this, his priority of getting to the destination vanishes. The first one didn't allow the SITUATION to hold any power over him. The second one did, and suffered the consequences.

      Another example. A workaholic woman broke a leg and a hand. Confined to bed. Either she can get mad at the thought of wasting all her time for over 2 months or be ecstatic at the realisation that she can now spend, in fact she HAS TO now spend time with her neglected daughter and that her confinement will actually strengthen the mother-daughter relationship. Perception matters, perspective matters.

      more importantly, now i know 2 things about you- u r quite older than me and u love chocolates. Good progress at figuring out WHO U R :D

      I wish u get rid of that low phase of urs soon :)

  4. Wow! Amazing progress :-D Who I am is not important...I'm just a blog reader who enjoys your posts. I'm actually surprised you're still trying to figure out who I am quite simply one mystery that you will never solve ;-)

  5. A wonderful piece of writing. It would be an understatement to say that you've hit the nail on its head.
    I agree with your analogy of life with a hurdle race. You're right, it is so.
    I've been through some tough times in the past and have realised this that if you're not strong from inside out, life and its tragedies can get the better of you.
    Keep up the good work. You've certainly got the flare.

    1. Thanks Spikey. M glad u could connect with what I tried to convey :)

  6. You have landed in the perfect area of study my dear, psychology. Amazing.

    I totally agree with your take on this topic. My uncle always keeps me telling this. He's a man who is an example for our whole family and many others in his field. He rose from an impoverished family and is presently an adviser in the advisory panel of IMF (International Monetary Fund) to emerging economies. All his life he's stuck to the exact principle that you've discussed here. He often preaches them to me. Part of the reason why it felt so good to read this post of yours.

    Therefore its wrong to say that you or your theory is naive. In fact it transcends the highest form of maturity that one can practice. What 'Jannat' missed is the fact that if one believes and practices the theory of "it is not what happens to us that matters more but rather our opinion of what happens to us", it is not necessary that he'll not find light in the darkness. In fact this is one way of holding onto your faith, though a latent one. But I agree with Jannat when he / she says " is the shining beacon that guides me back and helps me make sense of what happened... helps me resolve the issues I face...provides the satisfactory reasons that I'm seeking...and even if the reasons are unclear...u learn to live with the fact that in life things happen for a reason even if that reason is incomprehensible at that time....".

    I say that from my experience.

    Anyways, Well done Sudha.



    1. Your first observation couldn't b more correct. I have, indeed, landed in the perfect area of study.
      I am flattered that a blogger like u took time out to read my work n comment. I don't write very often, but love to read. What I mean is my writing is actually a byproduct of my reading. If, however, somebody like u could appreciate a post of mine, I certainly do hav the right to do a littl jig! :D

    2. Now about the issue. I am pleased to learn about your uncle and his optimism being his all weather companion. There is this one thing that I have noticed in all men who hav made it big: the ability to interpret every event of life in a positive manner. Perhaps that's the secret behind their perseverance. If somebody like Helen Keller could say "I am filled to the brim with happiness", then it is certainly not very tough to find happiness in little little things of life.
      And thanks for showing us a new angle frm which to dissolve the differences b/w my and Jannat's views :D


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