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Navigating through the rough and tumble of life, have you ever reached a spot so very dark that you feel defeated? Have you ever experienced that “end-of–the-tunnel” and that “back-against the-wall” feeling? Have you ever been in that dark, confusing phase in which relationships fall apart, misunderstandings crop up and nothing works out?

Neelam Kumar

Well, congratulations! It just means you are human. And, that you are alive!

While in the midst of that turmoil, did you pay heed to two distinct voices within you? The first one seducing you to slip into its abyss of gloom, anger, depression? The other cheering you on to kick the muck and rise into hope, freedom, joy?

I call the second voice “my sunshine voice of positivity.”

As for me, Life, with its myriad challenges has been a strict, uphill training ground. Born a scared, under-confident middling who was meant to be a baby boy, I had a mind that focused only on the negative. And true to the nature of the Universe, it was the negative that manifested for me.

It was amidst the din and soul-wrenching grief of suddenly losing my beloved husband that I had heard her voice. The crystal clear tinkling “sunshine voice of positivity”. She egged me on to take charge of the situation and create my own new reality—a new construct in which I would no longer be the victim but the victor.

I had a mind that focused only on the negative. And true to the nature of the Universe, it was the negative that manifested for me.

I think it was around those times that I made a promise to make positivity my life mantra. For there was no going back.

I have realized that though some are born with a positive attitude, others have to train themselves. Constantly. Being in the latter category, I would like to share with you three tips I have picked along the dusty road of life. They help me stay positive and afloat.

Reframe and Challenge Your Negative Thinking

Extensive studies show that being able to think positively is good for our health and well-being. So every time a negative thought crops up, reframe it and substitute it with a positive one. Example:

  • I’ll never make it. I’m enjoying this challenge!
  • My future is bleak. I will not give up until I succeed.
  •  He/She hates me. I am loved by my friends and peers.

Surround Yourself with Positive Friends and Co-workers.

We have turned R.N Podar school, where I work as Life Skills Coach and Counsellor into a “happy space.” Mrs Avnita Bir, Principal, and I consciously work at keeping negativity away. Along with our co-workers, we share, we giggle, we laugh. As a result, we feel revived, refreshed and supported. Yes, our mantra is that “a laugh a day keeps negativity away.”

“A laugh a day keeps negativity away.”

And who benefits from this? Our students, our work and each one of us, of course!

Develop a Sense of Humour and Smile

When the going gets tough, just sharpen your sense of humour. Smile! It alarms those who expect you to react otherwise.

A few years back, the news of my cancer diagnosis travelled faster than me to my office. My colleagues were at first confused when I sashayed in, wearing a big smile and my silk sari. Later, they told me how relieved they had felt that they could talk to me openly, as I seemed to have made peace with it.

When the going gets tough, just sharpen your sense of humor. Smile! It alarms those who expect you to react otherwise.

Life throwing bricks at you? Your hard work or your writing not being acknowledged? Smile, as I did recently and have been doing right through the pain of public humiliation.

It has taken a lot of hard work to do so, but my smile has now become my greatest weapon. Not only does it ease away the pain, it also unnerves the people who have been unjust and unfair towards you.

Joseph Campbell once said, “Find a place inside where there is joy and that joy will burn out the pain”. Positivity is a habit. An everyday, minute-to-minute habit. If you don’t work out your “positivity muscles,” they tend to get loose and unusable.

Having lived through the horror script of my life, I have trained my mind to remain positive in all situations. It has taken decades, but in the depths of my winters, I have looked for and found an invincible summer within me. So what should we do when nothing seems to be going the way we had expected it to?

It has taken decades, but in the depths of my winters, I have looked for and found an invincible summer within me.

Like the wise Joseph Campbell advised, “We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Neelam Kumar has authored nine books. Having battled cancer twice, she donned the mantle of Cancer Crusader and wrote India’s first joyous book on cancer,  “To Cancer With Love-My Journey of Joy”. Her latest book is Manisha Koirala’s “Healed”. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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