Sunday, March 21, 2010

Happiness through others pain

Wow, can I be that heartless? You mean the path to personal happiness actually lies in the road of someone else’s misfortune? The answer is a resounding ‘ Yes’, and a diminutive ‘No’ – all at the same time. Follow closely so I can explain.

First, I assume you are seeking happiness as the PRIMARY motivator for your own benefit as opposed to causing problems against others for personal gain. The latter already has a name and it is "VOODOO". While I do not know what a VOO is, I do know what DOO is and personally, like me, you should probably take it with a grain of salt or avoid it altogether. Second, if you have clinical depression, bipolarism or some medically significant form of chronic stress, then seek real medical assistance as opposed to my new age ‘hippie’ blog-talk.

But, if you are in the last group of stressed, occasionally unhappy or the emotionally insane (but only temporary), then this remedy is just for you NORMAL people! Try to put into perspective your true place in society, if it helps. For some folks, performance anxiety can be almost crippling when all the attention is directed towards you. In those times, remember, you are but a speck of dust upon the REAL dust in the world. There is ALWAYS someone better than you true enough, BUT there are always dozens, if not thousands, who are far worse too so stop stressing.

This is where the idea of getting in touch with your own ‘good fortune’ (no matter how bad it feels) by comparing it to someone else, suffering far worse conditions comes in. At times I have to do something physically challenging or do it on a particularly hot day. When I start to lean towards complaint, I try to put myself in the boots of the overseas troops. Yes I may be dogging a lawnmower up the side of a hill and hating it but compared to the work of a soldier – it’s a breeze! I mean imagine the constant feeling of torment and lack of personal fortune, trudging a 100 pound backpack while an occasional bullet pops off from sources unknown. I HAVE to be luckier than that guy right?

There is the ironic thing and the mushy mixed up ‘yes and no’ reality of this whole concept that I spoke of in the beginning. Even though you and I feel very lucky to be at home mowing rather than soldiering in foreign lands, that SAME soldier may feel fortunate to be in his reality over say being stuck in a 7 by 7 ‘Dilbert-esque’ cubicle back in the States. Yes our soldier example suffers occasional discomfort, but in reality he KNOWS he is the lucky one and becomes MORE APPRECIATIVE of his circumstance, regardless the toil.

Yes I guess there is an element of some ‘hippie’ philosophy when you consider the true Power of Positive Thinking *. However the “a-Peale” to this comparative therapy, is that everyone can learn to appreciate not only what THEY have, but what OTHERS give up as well. All in all, that should be enough to jump-start you off your self-loathing rutted road of pain and back onto the fresh paved highway of happiness.

* from the classic inspirational best seller “The Power of Positive Thinking”, by Norman Vincent Peale, Ballintine Books, 1996 ISBN-10: 0449911470

No comments:

Post a Comment