Free Press Journal

And they lived happily forever after…


It is important to have a balanced and truthful attitude towards life. Just as we get problems in our life, we also get many joys, says Dr SHRIRANG BAKHLE.

We all have read typical fairy tales that go like this: “And then, the prince slayed the dragon, married the princess and they lived happily ever after!” We actually believe in this type of story ending – even in our life!

We tell ourselves: “Let this problem in my life get solved and then I will live happily ever after!” The problem may be anything: an unhappy marriage and divorce process, some sickness in the family, a lousy boss and so on. We are very unhappy because of the problem and desperately wish to become happy again. So we tell ourselves: once this problem is over, I will be happy.

There are many fallacies of having this attitude. The first fallacy: this statement implies that we will notbe happy till the problem is solved. For example, consider a person who is stuck in a relatively poor job – as compared to his/her abilities or expectations. Now, this person cannot get a better job immediately. So s/he thinks: “How can I be happy when I am in this lousy job?”

This person has linked his/her happiness to an outside situation. This attitude leads to more trouble. It means that s/he is helpless. S/he has no control over his/her own emotions. The happiness or unhappiness in the mind is totally under the control of situations and other people! As long as the situation remains the same, s/he will continue to be unhappy.

This is not true. We all have seen people who are happy in spite of problems. We all know people who can laugh heartily in spite of physical disabilities or other problems like poor economic condition. So it is possible to be happy in the middle of problems.

Another catch in saying, “When the problem get solved, I will become happy”, is that if one problem gets solved, another may come. So then this person concludes that his/her life is a series of problems, so s/he can never be happy.

Then, is it really possible to become happy and live happily ever after? Or is it just a childhood myth? It is possible if you have the right attitude. So, what exactly is this attitude?

It is important to have a balanced and truthful attitude towards life. Just as we get problems in our life, we also get many joys. People with unhappy attitude selectively think about the problems in their lives – while ignoring all the small and big joys in the life. Sao the balanced view is: Yes, there are problems in my life but there are joys, too”.

But the most important attitude to have is to decide to be happy – in the middle of problems! First of all, we do not know if the current problem is going to be followed by another problem. So why wait to be happy. Be happy right now.

Secondly, if we look for joys, we can always find them. Then it is a matter of choosing whether you want to allow joys to dominate your mind or problems. We can choose to enjoy the pleasures – while acknowledging the problems in our life.

Being happy in spite of problems does not mean ignoring problems. It does not mean fooling oneself that there are no troubles in life. It means a rational attitude of accepting problems but choosing to focus more on the joys rather than the troubles.

Being happy in the middle of the problems also does not mean going ‘ha ha ha ha’ even if someone close is in trouble (such as serious sickness). It is important to remember that peace and calmness are shades of happiness, too. It is possible to be calm and peaceful even in the face of difficulties. In fact, it is desirable. A calm person can not only face problems better, s/he can tackle them better.

So, which person has a better chance of ‘living happily ever after’: the person who can remain happy (or calm, peaceful) in the middle of the problem situation or the person who is waiting for problem to get solved to become happy?

So we should change the fairy tale ending a little: “The prince was battling the dragon. But even when he was battling it, he was happy. The prince faced many big and small dragons in his life. But he had decided and chosen to be happy and at peace at all times. Then as a part of celebration of life and joy, the prince and princess got married and they lived happily ever after!