Happytude: Cheerful from the Inside Out

by Pramod Chandrasekhar

"Hellooo Aunty", I said, with exaggerated mirth, but I was filled inside with suspense and tension. For the past four days I couldn’t reach the landline or the cell phone. All I could do was helplessly stare at the relentless stream of pictures on TV, images of flood water inundating the entire city of Chennai and causing unimaginable human misery. With every snippet of news I grew more anxious.

My aunt’s voice at the other end was chirpy like a bird, in complete contrast to my tension. Not only did her calmy fears but her positive attitude in the face of hardship, actually set me thinking for a long while after I hung up.

Some people have an indefatigable optimism that equips them to face tough situations head-on. Some others specialise in sucking the joy out of life by being pessimistic without any rhyme or reason. With no electricity, no drinking water supply and no newspaper, my uncle and aunt still talked excitedly about how they marshalled their resources and a memorable time of neighbourhood camaraderie. It reminded me of the legendary Thomas Alva Edison, whose laboratory was up in flames, his entire life’s effort destroyed. While the smoke was billowing out, Edison was delirious with excitement pointing out the beautiful pyrotechnic display to his friends saying that they may never get to watch a burning lab in their lives.It was undoubtedly this positive attitude that helped him rebuild and reach greater heights in his research as the most prolific inventor in history.

It is plain common sense that a negative attitude actually makes life more difficult. We know this truth so well and yet we try so hard to trudge up the mountain with loads of unnecessary baggage packed with gloomy negative attitude. All we need to do is to examine the trends of our own thoughts. Clearly there are some thoughts that weigh us down and others that lend us wings. We need to shed the damaging burdens from our lives and grab the wings of positive thoughts that help us soar to the skies.

Victor Frankl is a classic illustration. His life is one loaded with meaning just like his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. As a popular psychiatrist in Vienna, Austria, he diverted thousands of people from the path of suicide. His entire approach revolved around influencing their inner attitude. “When we are no longer able to change the situation”, he said, “the challenge is that we need to change ourselves”. Unexpectedly he was imprisoned and was hurled into the deadliest Nazi concentration camps. He saw this as an extreme opportunity to practise his psychology of success. Through the worst torture imaginable, Victor maintained an incredibly positive attitude. “Everything can be taken from man”, he said, “except for one thing, the last of human freedoms, the ability to choose our attitude…”

Victor’s life forces us to think deeply. How easily we become prisoners of circumstances and how predictably our mood vacillates with the minor bumps on the road. How tamely we surrender to stress and its debilitating demands on our health and happiness.

Isn’t it time to re-look at our attitude? A little smile, a few positive thoughts, a bit of attention to our dreams and suddenly the clouds clear up to let in the sunshine. The greatest positive thought that can transform our attitude - the feeling that God, our loving, caring, friendly God is firmly in control. Cheer up!
[The writer is a Leadership Trainer and Coach based in Hyderabad, India. He can be reached at pramodchandrasekhar@hotmail.com]

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