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Cultivate Joy; Not Misery

When my wife underwent a small surgery and was recuperating at home, I got a call from one of my very close friends who wanted to visit my house to ask about her welfare. To his dismay, I refused. Rather I told him to visit over tea or dinner some other time. This is generally against the social conventions. People visit their friends who are not well or are in the recovery phase. During such welfare seeking visits, many times the talks hover around the disease or examples of different patients with different case histories. It is really not a very comforting experience for the patient. This friend of mine otherwise hardly comes over for dinner or tea but since he is a very well-meaning person he wanted to show solidarity with us by paying a visit in that hour.

Let’s understand the philosophy behind it. Whenever a child falls sick and we give special attention or extra nice treatment to her, the hidden message the young mind catches is — you get attention when you are ill. And, if there is a sibling present in the house the damage is doubled as the other one observes the special treatment meted out to the ill sibling. The message for them is — no incentive for staying healthy. It creates a negative cycle of inviting and enjoying the misery as one gets more attention and care. This also creates the habit of noticing and remembering negative incidents around us.

My wife and I have been practicing this for many years now with our daughter. Whenever she falls sick, we would not extend any special benefits to her; no extra TV, no favourite dishes, though we would take good care of her.

Same emotion perhaps, governs the people who throng hospital when someone close is admitted. I never make such courtesy calls to the hospital as it not only creates pressure on the hospital infrastructure but increases the risk of infection. My standing offer to my friends is to give me a call 24x7 if they need money or blood or some helping hand.

It is very important to break this paradigm of misery. Don’t delve too much into misery, don’t give it too much attention, rather increase focus on positive side of life; cultivate joy. This doesn’t mean that unpleasant things would vanish from our life but their impact can surely be lessened. Whatever we give our attention, time and energy to, grows in our life. So, if we want to be happy and peaceful, we need to focus more on joy and of course, treat the problem symptomatically as and when required but should stop reminiscing about it. No need of chewing it over and over again. Focus on the blessings we have. It is simply a matter of changing the paradigm.

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