What is common between an Abdul Kalam, a Kartiki Patel, a Tendulkar, a Malvika Iyer, a Viktor Frankl or a Laxmi Agarwal?
They have nothing in common as far as professional success or educational backgrounds are concerned, yet, they make one paraphrase Gabbar Singh, "Kaunsi chakki ki aata, kathe hai ye log?"
They have been validating the statement made by American psychologist William James, "The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes." All of them managed to carve a niche for themselves with their head firmly on their shoulder, while keeping their feet confidently rooted, and above all, making a dent in the sea of humanity.
Attitude, according to the dictionary, is "a feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving". Let us look at the ways in which we can make our attitude work for us.
The Zen approach
Viktor Frankl, who was imprisoned by the Germans during World War II, remarked, "The one thing you can't take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me."
He developed what one would call a Zen attitude. Life has a funny way of doling out to you various shades of grey besides the white and black. It can bring success and adulation at a very young age, a setback to your health, or throw challenges in your path every other day. It takes a lot of strength and courage to view every setback as a lesson to be learnt and make every moment worth living. Developing this attitude will make us think of life not as something that's happening to us, but as something that's happening for us.
Victim to creator mode
It was Malvika Iyer's spirit that made her rise above being a mere bilateral amputee to become a name to be reckoned with. Despite being hospitalised for 18 months, she managed to secure a state rank among the private candidates using a scribe, thus getting an invitation to Rashtrapathi Bhavan from none other than Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. There has been no looking back for this young achiever. She is today an international motivational speaker, a disability rights activist, a model for accessible fashion and a research scholar. She refused to play the victim card and became a creator of her own life.
We often blame our parents, our surroundings or our circumstances for our inability to make a mark in various aspects of our life. Borrowing from Rowling, "there's an expiry date to blame our parents," and this holds true for most things in our life.
Norman Cousins said, "The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live." This attitude is what has baffled many doctors in cases where there has been complete cure despite dire prognosis. It is this very attitude that enables a patient, who is predicted to be on a slab, live to tell the tale! Taking responsibility for our health, among other things, is one of the first steps for building a positive attitude.
Kartiki Patel, an accident victim has taken up swimming, badminton, basketball, cycling, scuba diving all from the vantage position of a wheelchair. She has been selected as a captain of the Indian women's basketball team for the Asian Para Games qualifiers in Bangkok. "I have a lot of sports to play," she said in her recent interview.
A purposeful life can serve as a powerful stimulant for dopamine to be produced in our body. When we connect with people on a deep, human level, happy hormones are released. Helping others without any expectations is a sure-shot remedy to create a sense of well-being within us.
Laxmi Agarwal was a victim of acid attack when she was just 15. She rose like a phoenix to become the director of Chhanv Foundation, an NGO dedicated to helping acid attacks survivors in India, and has won accolades in the national and international platforms.
Maintain a gratitude journal
Does success mean only financial health? It is very individualistic. I can look at the moon and wish for a bigger, brighter one or look at the moon and enjoy the crescent too.
Counting your blessings, naming them one by one is something one has to practice constantly. Professor N Natarajan, a retd. engineering and management professional says, "Contentment and peace of mind go hand in hand. Selfish skewed pursuit of one's own happiness and limitless success without regard for others' needs eventually causes restlessness and discontent in our own lives."
Apart from playing havoc on our looks, dissatisfaction and discontentment also repel opportunities and good things from coming our way. A gratitude journal will help us to consciously look around for all things good, thus paving the way for positive energy.
Happiness can be a habit
A true example of this kind of thinking is Dr Rajdeep Manwani, a co-ordinator at the department of Commerce at Jain University. A motivational speaker and quizmaster, he has not allowed his loss of vision to impede his life in any way. He says, "My zest for life comes from the fact that I take what I do seriously, but I never take myself seriously. I simply love life and the way it takes me up and down the rollercoaster of experiences."
It is a fallacy when many believe that a setback in life is what is required for developing a positive attitude.
Abdul Kalam can be termed a poster child for having the 'right positive attitude' towards life. He was modest, passionate, a great human being and hence was loved and revered by all and died while doing what he loved best at a ripe old age of 83. "Kalam did not seek office; the office sought him." He walked the talk and never let success to get to his head.
Sachin Tendulkar, the legend of Indian cricket, is himself a book on having the right attitude. Tendulkar made his debut when he was just 16 and grew to become a star, yet remain delightfully grounded. He proved time and again that a right attitude is needed for success and most successful men continue to be modest. There have been innumerable examples of early success being squandered away because one does not have the ability to handle the success with Ã©lan.
Psychiatrist Dr Asha Sidd sums it up beautifully, "The courage to ride the sea of life with neither a compass nor a captain, guided by the sheer grit in your heart, a smile from deep within, a faith that brings with it hope for a sun filled tomorrow. It is not how much you have achieved, worked, how much wealth you have amassed, but the way you have behaved and been in this journey called life."