The end, a new beginning


The end, a new beginning

When optimism is a way of life, the setbacks and disappointments always have a silver lining. So, let the regrets of 2014 not hold you back from the promise of 2015, proposes Suja Natarajan

Timon: Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase!
Pumbaa: Hakuna Matata, ain’t no passing craze!
Timon: It means no worries, for the rest of your days
Timon and Pumbaa: It’s our problem-free philosophy
Simba: Hakuna Matata?
Pumbaa: Yeah, it’s our motto.
Simba: What’s a motto?
Pumbaa: You know kid, these two words will solve all your problems!

Wise words, indeed! For those who haven’t watched the Disney movie Lion King, this is the song that Timon and Pumbaa sing to little Simba to help him forget the past – all those bad things that he could do nothing about.

If only we could do the same; not mull over the past or worry about the future! As much as we may want to do our best, there are times when our dreams or best-laid plans are crushed by things that are beyond our control. What do we do then? Stop dreaming?
While the glass looks half-full to some people, the power of pessimism makes most of us see the glass as half-empty always.

When we fill our mind with negative self-talk all through the day, it’s only natural that most of us have a pessimistic outlook towards life. As a new year beckons, let’s make a pledge to give optimism a chance. Look at that glass with new eyes.

Most of us don’t realise that the human brain is capable of being altered by consistent thought patterns. Mahalakshmi Navin, a Bengaluru-based consulting psychologist, says that our negative thought patterns are so deeply ingrained that we are often unaware of them.

“When our brain is rewired with negative thoughts and emotions, it causes
prolonged stress and irreversible damage to the brain cells. Being optimistic predisposes you to take on life and its challenges with a ‘can-do’ attitude, which is a prerequisite for both, happiness and success,” she maintains.

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, believes Virali Modi. As a person who has overcame several hurdles in her life, including a neck down paralysis at a young age, she feels that being positive has certainly made her a better person.

“Initially, I went into depression when I thought that the world was unfair to me. But with tremendous support and motivation from my parents, especially my mom, I gradually realised that things are bound to happen for some reason. The outcome may not be what I expect, but it might make me a stronger person. My positive attitude has made me stronger mentally, and it is reflected in my overall health…it’s motivational for me if my positivity helps others in some way,” says the actress, model and writer.

Your attitude can make you a winner or a loser. If you keep playing the victim time and again, chances are that life will just pass you by, without letting you in on any of her pleasures.

Bhawna Agrawal, a writer and blogger, has come to realise that it is possible to have fulfilling relationships only when you have an affable attitude towards others. “When I got married, it was initially tough for me to cope with a new person and a new
atmosphere, as I was judgmental about a lot of things.

I later realised that it is not fair to expect either my husband or myself to change. I changed my perception and gave my unconditional support to the relationship, which has now turned stronger. We have built a beautiful and sustained relationship,” she shares.

Life has this uncanny ability to knock us down just when we think we can’t fall any lower. The strongest and most successful people are likely to have experienced their share of ups and downs before becoming incredibly stronger and better people. It’s your choice to beat an adverse situation with a positive attitude, says Virali.

“My mom lost her memory when she suffered from a stroke. She couldn’t recognise any of us. We used that opportunity to refresh her memory only with positive experiences. She has recovered and doesn’t remember any of her bad experiences. As a family, it was a
terrible situation we had to deal with, which we turned into a better one with a positive attitude,” she explains.

Just like everything has its flip side, too much of optimism can also be a bad thing. “Positive thinking may not work, if that is the only strategy you employ. A healthy approach is when you counterbalance positive thinking with a healthy dose of reality checks followed with action.

For example, if you believe that you can ace an exam that you need to appear for, you may not prepare enough for it. If you are too optimistic about your health, you may ignore the health risks, thinking that nothing will go wrong,” says Mahalakshmi.

While it is important to develop a positive outlook for better results in life, it is equally important to keep it realistic. And spread the positivity with the people around you. Here’s the way to do it right:

Choose well

The foremost step is to increase awareness of your negative thoughts and reactions to situations. Identify the situations that you are negative about and imagine that situation if you were to be positive. When such a situation presents itself, replace the negative with a positive attitude. Like any habit, practice makes perfect.

Optimism is a choice, and it’s up to you to find the good in any situation and choose to be happy.

Go with the flow

Positive people learn to go with the flow of life instead of evading it. Accept that life is imperfect, and you don’t have control on its outcomes. Acceptance helps to view challenges as opportunities for personal growth.

Mind the company

It’s difficult to remain positive if you are in the company of negative people. The people with whom you spend most of the time influence your happiness, success and even your future.

Positive people will give you all the encouragement to do something, while negative people will give reasons as to why you can’t. Your life is too important to waste it in negativity.

Say your thanks

Research in positive psychology suggests that gratitude makes people more positive, comfortable about life and its challenges. Grateful people are more agreeable, forgiving and have greater satisfaction with life.

Laugh more

One of the main strengths of positive people is their ability to smile, laugh and find humour in everyday life. Laughter lightens your perspective and makes a challenge look more positive. It helps you feel better in the face of disappointments, loss or adverse situations.

Be prepared

When you prepare for the worst and hope for the best, you can actually handle any situation, no matter how formidable.

Spot the good

At this moment, there is something, which is going great. No matter how small it is, savour the positivity. Determine to spot the good things around you – the smile of your child, the fresh flowers in your garden, the cuddle of your pet or even your ability to get out of bed every morning.

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