Sunday May 27, 2012
Half-full, half-empty or no cup
By SOO EWE JIN
LIFE, as we know it, is not a bed of roses. A rose, beautiful though it may be as a flower, also comes with thorns.
But I have always been amazed by people who refuse to let the thorns get in the way. They navigate through trials and tribulations be it a medical ailment, a broken relationship or a lost job and emerge stronger.
Sometimes, we simply have to live with an uncomfortable situation, like a perpetual thorn in the side, and we have to choose between being miserable or being content.
Some people just do not know how to be happy. In fact, they love to be miserable.
It is not just about seeing the cup as half-full or half-empty, but simply not seeing the cup at all.
I read recently a satirical post by Jonathan L. Huie entitled, “Make yourself miserable!”
He gave 10 tips, and the first is “Be Envious”.
“Always be on the lookout for people who have high-paying jobs, or have inherited money or won the lottery, or who appear to have easy access to desirable romantic partners, or who are especially physically fit. Then focus your attention on what you are lacking. Be very careful never to compare your own life with the life of anyone who has less than you do,” Huie wrote.
His second tip, almost similar, is “Be Jealous”.
“Jealousy goes beyond envy. Envy is merely wanting desperately to have what someone else has. Jealousy adds the element of resentment. So, not only focus on wanting what others have, but constantly reaffirm your belief that others don't deserve what they have. Have the self-talk with yourself that, if you were simply more powerful, you would take what others have for yourself, and see to it that they suffer. After all, you deserve' the good stuff' and no one else does.”
I shall not belabour this point because I know the readers of this column, judging from the encouraging email they sent me, do not believe in being miserable.
Last Thursday, a friend wrote to share the good news about a problem she was trying to resolve since October last year.
She wrote, “I have great news. After months of correspondence with the officials, I am happy to inform you that the department head himself made a personal visit to meet my parents and gave my mother what she needed. Am truly grateful.”
My role in this matter was simply to connect her to the right people in the civil service. All these months, she never complained about how long the process took, or if there was any hope at all to get this problem fixed.
She did not choose to be miserable, and when the solution came, she rejoiced.
I know of people who, upon receiving good news, respond with remarks like: “Too late!” or “You should look at what Mr So-and-so got.”
So if they win a trip to Bali, they whine about how their best friends are heading to London to watch the Olympics.
The constant desire to compare upwards, rather than downwards, is what being miserable is all about.
When we get passed over for a promotion, or are banished to some place in Siberia because we fell out of favour with the bosses, we can choose to wallow in misery or take on the new challenges that these positions may offer. And while there, we can also reflect on the many who are jobless and wondering where the next meal will come from.
Life indeed is imperfect. But we can still choose to celebrate life in full.
> Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin acknowledges that in such a materialistic-driven world, it is not easy to be content in whatever circumstances. But it is still a good thing to learn to be content.