Path to Happiness- How to get over bad experiences

What is Resilience?

It is in simple terms, the capacity one possess to recover from an adverse situation in life or in other words, the ability to bounce back to normalcy from a negative experience in life.

Why be Resilient?

Imagine that you are walking towards your office to get there on time. In the process you slip and fall. What would you do? Obviously, you would get up and walk even faster to catch up with the lost time. Similarly, resilience is of paramount importance for all of us to ensure that we   make maximum use of time and do not waste our time on planet earth, which is limited and uncontrollable by design and default. Just because you sit and mope or mull over an adversity which you are faced with, life will not give you extra time to live. Hence, the time that you wallow in self-pity is time lost forever, never to be recovered again. Therefore, if you are a rational individual who believes in and abides by   the quote by the greatest martial arts teacher of all time, Bruce Lee who said “Do not squander time as the time is the stuff that life is made  out of” you will never waste time to regret.

Examples of Resilience​

The Kid with a Tab

Let me start with a minor example. We bought a Tab for my six-year-old son when he was five, on his insistence. Ever since then he has been a you tube addict..   In fact, it came to a stage where he would even take it to the wash room and browse internet whilst sitting on the toilet seat. As time went by he refused to do his school homework and instead he spent his time glued to this device. One night my wife decided to hide the Tab. We told our son that we gave it to a poor child who was much older to him and had a dire need for it to study for his examinations. Our son cried for a few hours and threw all his temper tantrums, which we ignored successfully. Believe me!, within 24 hours he totally recovered from his addiction and settle down to be his happy usual self. Now occasionally, we hand our mobile phones over to him to browse YouTube when he has completed all his school homework for the day. Fortunately, he never complained about not having his tab returned to him. As you can see, children are the greatest teachers of RESILIENCE.

House burnt, but still I smile!

Let me quote another example of resilience from my life. Many years ago, I was employed as the Finance Manager of a NGO.I had a sleek office with modern furniture. There were two middle-aged women hired from a cleaning company who used to clean the office on alternate days. One of them was glum-faced and did a slip-shod job at cleaning whilst the other cleaned the office spotless and always wore a smile as she discharged her duties. Her name was Arushan.

Arushan hailed from a low-income family below the poverty line. Her monthly wage was less than what I would earn in a day. But her spirit was always vibrant . One day as she was cleaning the room humming a tune softly, I asked her if she does not feel bored and sad. “I rarely feel sad sir. Ever since my child hood I have trained my mind to look at the positive side of life “.Everything  happens for a reason and like they say, every cloud has a silver lining”. “Besides, by feeling sad you are only depriving yourself look for other ways to make your life better”. “They say that in life when one door closes on you another door will open”. I was startled and dumbfounded. These were pure words of wisdom coming from a relatively uneducated poor woman who struggled to earn her day to day living with hand to mouth existence.

One Monday morning Arushan did not turn up at work. When Inquired as to why, the story which I heard made my heart sink. Due to a short-circuit in the power lines in the area her house together with a few others have been burnt down to the ground. Fortunately, the inmates of the houses had escaped in a timely manner. The damage to property had been immense and irreparable. I visited the scene of devastation expecting to see Arushan   disturbed. Instead there she was, her usual self with a smile. “Are you not disturbed by what has happened?”. I inquired from her. ”Well sir, I was for a short while, but what is the point?. The damage is done, but life still goes on and I have to be strong for the sake of my husband and my son” said she courageously. Her husband 14 years her senior, has been without a job for more than a year now and the son was not her own but an adopted street child and both of them are financially dependent on her. Arushan’s story was a classic example of sheer resilience and courage.

Fanus Nothnagel - Youngest CEO of Coca Cola

Yet to give you another example Fanus Nothnagel, the youngest CEO of Coca Cola SABCO, when he was asked as to how he rose to the pinnacle of success, he said, when he is confronted with any situation in life, he quickly identifies, what is within his control and what is not. Then he lets go of what is not and ,focuses on what he can control to do his best and to win over.

The Cancer Survivor who did it with mind power

In another instance, the famous Buddhist priest Ajahn Brahm shared a story of how a cancer patient cured himself through mind control. Instead of focusing on his illness which was limited to a few cancer cells in his body at the very early stages, he focused firmly on other parts of the body which were healthy and told himself that rest of his body is healthy. By doing so, he minimized the magnitude of his illness to such an extent that the illness faded away over time.

How can you train yourself to be resilient?

Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain

In his best seller book “Technique of Living” Leonard Bullen says in a nutshell, “Life is a mixture of pleasure and pain. An average individual experiences 50% of each. If you are to experience more pleasure than pain   you are in the minority of fortunate people.” If you ponder over this statement for a while and look back on your own life, you will soon realize that it is the gospel truth.

Stress is the gap between expectation and reality

On the wall of our IT department there is a colorful plaque on which it is written in bold letters, a piece of advice that I will never forget. It says, ”Stress is the gap between expectation and reality. Therefore, if you desire to be healthy and happy learn to expect nothing and accept everything in life”. It is self-explanatory.

Nothing lasts forever

When you are faced with a negative situation in life, no matter how grueling your circumstances are ,you should remind yourself that everything will lasts only for a short period and nothing good or bad lasts forever. In the Indian folklore there is a story about a young emperor, who used to rejoice triumphantly in times of happiness and be down in the doldrums in times of despair. As the king was still immature, those near and dear to him gave him a ring for his birthday. On it was written “This too will pass”, meaning anything good or bad will pass away with time.

FAIL = First Attempt In Learning

A very powerful quote from Abdul Kalaam, says the letters FAIL is the mnemonic for First attempt in It means that, one should consider every positive experience as a well-earned bonus or a blessing and every negative situation as a learning experience.

Life is not a bed of roses

When growing up , I have often heard that my elders saying that one should not expect “life to be a bed of roses”. Every now and then, there could be thorns that will prick you. In life when all our affairs are going well ,we may forget our woes,  but tragedies strike you at the most unexpected times. Therefore, it is nothing but wise to expect life to be a little less than perfect if not imperfect so that you are not caught unawares. On a positive note, we need to remember that “life is like a gemstone. The more you rub it (against a rough surface) the more it shines”.

Do not cry over the split milk

Sometimes in life a loss such as the loss of a loved one, cannot be resurrected. If you are to mourn eternally, it will serve no purpose. I have often heard the wise say that one should not cry over spilt milk as milk once spilt cannot be put back into its container or to its original form.

Time and tide waits for no man

All of us are here on planet earth only for a limited period of time. Life does not grant you extensions, Hence, the famous proverb” Time and tide waits for no man”. Therefore, it is up to the liver (the person) to realize that every minute counts. The time spent on regret and resentment can never be reversed. You just cannot turn back the clock. Hence, a wise man will not allocate too much of time to mull and to mope over adversities.

I would like to conclude my article with a very powerful quote by the martial arts great of all time Bruce Lee.” You should learn to be like WATER that can fit into any shape or size” as then you will be able to fit into any circumstance without resentment.

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