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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Being happy makes living through tough times easier

How do you celebrate Life when nothing’s working out, the chips are down and you simply don’t see a way out!? Simple – focus on what you have, instead of agonizing over what you don’t have, and learn to live with your reality!

Depression over things not working out the way you had planned them to be can be very crippling. You may find it even cruel that someone can suggest that you “celebrate Life” at such a time. Let me tell you that I too have been there – I have been through depression, have protested against “motherhood concepts” like “celebrating Life” – and yet, now, totally believe that the only way to live is to keep on celebrating the Life you have!

First, understand that to be depressed is not a crime. It is a natural, human response to situations that have arrived in your Life despite your efforts or desire to keep them away. So, when you feel depressive, accept it as yet another emotion that you have to deal with. Examine what is causing the depression. For instance, if you are looking for a job and are meeting with no success, your depression can be stemming from any of these questions that you may be struggling with – “Am I worthless? Is my career over? Is everyone scheming or conspiring against me? What if this jobless state prolongs, how will I provide for the family and pay my bills?” There could be more questions. But the point here is that all these questions are based on your perceptions, your apprehensions, your fears. Very rarely are such thoughts backed by evidence. And even if you have data, or see a pattern, if you examine your reality – and your depression – closely, you will realize there is nothing much you can do about it.

I remember, some years back, in 2007, we submitted 500 proposals for projects from our consulting business. Now, if you have reached the proposal stage with 500 prospective clients in 12 months, it means you would have met several hundred more prospects, some of whom may not have wanted to engage with you. However, despite such a brilliant sales and marketing effort, we got no business that year. Not even a day’s engagement in 365 days!!! It was very depressing. Very humiliating. The data on hand told me that we were being rejected. But I refused to look at it that way. Because none of the business leaders we had met got back saying we were not the right fit or that they couldn’t afford us. They all had internal reasons not to engage with us. And in fact, none of them engaged with another similar partner either. Now, when I re-examined my depression, I realized that I did not have any control over the outcome of my efforts. Just because I did not get the result I had envisaged, it didn’t necessarily mean something was wrong with me or my effort. Yes, one could definitely make a better effort going forward, but being depressed, I discovered, doesn’t solve anything.

Over five years later, since 2012, pretty much the same situation has prevailed on the work front for me – no assignments and therefore, no money. But this time, I did not feel depressed or insecure or scared. Actually, I decided to focus on what I had, than what I didn’t have. I realized, for one, that I had a whole lot of time on my hand. I decided to put that time to good use than simply mourn a reality that I had no power to immediately change. Definitely not with sulking and being bitter or by feeling insecure. That’s really how my first book “Fall Like A Rose Petal – A father’s lessons on how to be happy and content while living without money” came about. It is being published by Westland and is due for release in three weeks. So, while it may seem incredible that during a phase of acute, often numbing, cashlessness, and severe, crippling emotional pain, a book that celebrates Life got written – the truth is that’s how it really happened!

Celebrating Life doesn’t mean jumping up and down and screaming from rooftops. It simply means cherishing and valuing what you have and valuing what you cherish. It is knowing that no matter what the evidence may be pointing to, every dark, depressive phase in Life will pass. It may take longer than you wished it took, but it will pass, for sure! Until then, intelligent living calls for the understanding that there’s no point being depressed. Being happy, instead, makes living through tough times that much more easier!

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