It is an odd time to celebrate the ‘International Day of Happiness’. Coronavirus, global warming, social and political issues, to name a few reasons why. The future seems bleak and preaching hope sounds distant and impractical. So, should we just skip celebrating this time then?
Happiness feels like a fantasy in today’s world. While happiness seems more like a utopian ideal today, one cannot deny that we need to believe in the idea of happiness to move forward. Hope is central to happiness; it is what drives us from the past to tomorrow. But is there hope at happiness at all? My views on happiness are skeptical to say the least. When someone does present themselves to be happy, more specifically, social media happy, it feels artificial and manufactured.
If writing for mental health awareness is not a dead giveaway that I too have gone (going) through mental health issues, I am not sure what is. When hope was given to me, it felt like a lie and the person I was talking to felt more distant. I never would wrap my head around the fact that things would get better. But as the years went by, I found that just as much as the circumstances made it difficult for me to heal, my attitude was just as big a hurdle to happiness. Yes, things are bad and against me, but after taking a few blows, I began to realize that not even I was on my side. If the world was against me (it was so, in my head), I was right there with them, upholding their views, beating myself up more than they ever could and turning down help. I realized that my thoughts of never being happy… I was the one making them a reality.
While it takes very little to be a critique, a debby-downer or a sad boy confined to the prison of his mind, it takes great courage and tenacity, to stand up to the challenge and do something about it. Now, not every cheery message might get to you or is it possible to suddenly wake up to be grateful and happy everyday. But if we keep an open mind to change and to happiness, it can do wonders. I am forever in awe of people who live their truth, who are hopeful in the face of struggles and who put others happiness before their own. There is a story there far greater than I could perceive, of one much deeper than the one of struggle, it is rarer, for it is one of hope and overcoming adversity.
Cliched as it may sound, if I can change my attitude towards happiness, so can you. Some things that have enabled me to embark on the road to happiness are patience, practicality and pity. I have never been patient, not even with my recovery, and I tend to get ‘distracted’ by all the awful news out there. It helps me to stick to a program, keeping a schedule to adhere to. Here’s a coping calendar that helps you do one thing a day for a month to deal with the current crisis.
Keeping your cool and taking wise decisions that are good for your mental health has been far more difficult than I presumed. For even taking a mental health day off or cutting toxic people, I have had to justify my actions repeatedly to myself. Ironically, being practical and not letting emotions cloud my judgement has been the best tool to take care of my emotional well-being. Finally, compassion may be the single most unexplainable and yet crucial quality in an individual seeking happiness. I can attest to the fact that we indeed become happier as we help and provide for others. So, as the slogan for International Day of Happiness goes, ‘Keep Calm, Stay Wise, Be Kind’, we too can become happier by being patient, practical and pitying.