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The Pursuit of Happyness

- by ​Anupa Mehta


The story of Viktor Frankl and his well-regarded book, Man's Search for Meaning, is a reminder of the human spirit’s inherent ability to rise against all odds, even in the face of harsh adversity.

In India, as ​elsewhere​ in the world, COVID 19 and the novel Coronavirus, which has cast an additional pall of gloom on many people’s lives, also illustrates people’s ability to respond to what Deepak Chopra, in his meditation series, refers to as ‘opportunity in the obstacle’. While some people raked in monies by seizing the chance to sell food items and sanitation products at high profit points, others mobilized resources to raise funds for the less privileged.

There are some amongst us though who do succumb to pressures, both internal and external, such as anxiety, depression, worry and fear, in the face of sobering realities of illness and wage loss.

Would it be useful then​ to clean the windshields of our lives and re-calibrate our happyness monitors daily, to locate the silver lining which resides within every dark cloud?

Consider this: we are exposed to, possibly, a thousand points of view on a daily basis. These ​come to us from all directions, including from print and e-media, social media, conversations with friends, films and books. This post too ​is ​a point of view, as ​are ​columns in newspapers.

What we ​choose​ to consume then is a choice that we make daily, almost at every moment.

Some of us, like my friend Raj, chose to focus on life’s sunny side. ​Raj's​ bent of mind may be a result of years of reviewing what works ​versus​ what doesn’t. As well as from other

motivations that inspire him to be happy and stay cheerful. Which is not to say that individuals like Raj do not feel sad –​ they do. However, it could ​just ​be that their resilience is higher, and they are able to ride the waves without tumbling​. They may have also honed their skills to turn skillfully, and quickly, on ​the uneven and unexpected bends and curves of life.

As a society we​ are told ​to maintain a positive mindset, practice creative visualization, use self-hypnosis and guided manifestation, ​among myriad ways of re-jigging one’s outlook to “be happy” and ​"​feel good​"​. Different strokes for different folks – whatever works, for no one formula fits.

Personally, I find that telling the stories of ​our lives​ in ways that make​ us​ stronger​, allow​s​ people ​to go past their ‘stuck-in-the-past’ stories. ​Narrative Therapy, a form of psychotherapy, ​can assist in re-authoring ​personal narrative​s​ from a ​perspective of ​hope and ​strength. The choice to move ​past ​problem saturated personal and professional stories is always with you. For, as Michael White, the father of Narrative therapy maintained, “You are the expert of your own life.” And happyness is a choice.

Anupa Mehta is a practicing Narrative therapist based in Mumbai. She holds group workshops and offers individual consulting, both online and offline. Her website is www.anupamehta.com. She can be reached via House of Cheer. For a complimentary 20 minute phone call, ring her on 9892331257.

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