Seasons of Happiness, Seasons of Suffering

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We all want to be happy. There’s no doubt about it. Just eavesdrop on any conversation (it’s not nice but I just want to prove my point 🙂 ) and you’ll hear people talking about that car that so and so bought; that trophy wife that your new neighbour has; or that recent promotion that came with numerous bonuses and benefits.

And there’s that clamour for people to want to match what their friends or rivals have achieved (in truth, it’s more about exceeding their successes). He bought a new Mercedes; I’ll buy a new BMW. She gets her hair done every week; I’ll be going to the salon every 3 days. People just want to keep up with the Joneses. 

People want to be successful because they equate success with happiness. You can even argue that people who steal are not really greedy and selfish, just that they want to be happy. Stealing is VERY WRONG but people will take extraordinary steps to ensure their happiness. No evil is evil enough and no deed is unethical or immoral if it will help them reach their goal. You read stories that corruption is rampant in Europe. When you dig deeper you discover that people who engage in corruption have one goal in mind: To be happy. They may be trying to live a life that is beyond their means but they believe having money will make them happy. You see it happening all the time even amongst your friends or loved ones. Someone will do something that will make you wonder whether they are the same person you knew. Where is the integrity, sense of responsibility, fidelity to the law, accountability to the community? We all want to be happy and how people achieve their happiness will differ widely.

But then, life doesn’t work the way we want it to. Things fall apart unexpectedly. One day you feel like a king/queen, and the next, you are nothing but a pauper. One day you feel like you are full of life, even your friends tell you that you have a youthful look about you, and the next thing, your doctor is saying you are actually very ill and have a few weeks to live. You’ve heard the statement, “The rich also cry”. Apparently no one can escape the vicissitude of life.

The truth is we will all go through seasons of happiness and seasons of suffering at some points in our lives. A lady from season 5 episode 8 of the series Royal Pains, put it aptly as she spoke to one of the main characters, Divya Katdare (played by Reshma Shetty). She said: “Life…ebbs and flows, like the perennials in my garden. Sometimes they’re in bloom, sometimes they’re not. But they’re always alive. Things change…unexpected things happen.”

source: usa network series image

source: usa network series image

But the real message that has been popping up recently is this: happiness is not something to pursue, it is a state of being. You can actually CHOOSE to be happy. It doesn’t have to be that something is making you happy. You find that place inside of you where you are grateful for your existence. You discover that you can change your mood instantly by just changing your attitude and thoughts.

Unfortunately, this ‘choice’ does not apply to all people. There are those with mental health issues that are silently suffering in our midst. While depressed people can find a way out of their state of perpetual suffering to a point of happiness, the same cannot be said of those who are mentally ill. That is a problem they will face personally and with people who love them. There will be moments of happiness, and there will be greater struggles that will cause a lot of suffering. It is the nature of our world.

I do believe we can give of ourselves to others. There is a Tibetan proverb I once encountered that said, “As I helped him up the mountain, lo, I found myself at the top”. I think we can all enhance our chances of being happy by helping the collective get to a point where they are happy to be alive.

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I heard another man say, “Our greatest wealth is our health”. I know many people will agree with this. If we could all be healthy, I think it would be a great step toward being happy. Mental health issues affect not only those suffering from it, but their families and friends. You feel helpless. What can you do to alleviate their pain? Why does life make us suffer?

There will be seasons of happiness and seasons of suffering. The human spirit is resilient. Every time I recite the words of Invictus, I know I have faced and will face any challenge head on. Not everyone is like this. Even as we marked World Suicide Day, there were many people we had lost. People we cared about took their own lives. Random people across the globe committed suicide. Everybody is suffering; some just know how to reach their point of happiness, while others are beset by mental health weaknesses that overwhelm them.

There is a quote from Wendy Maas that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”. Try to make other people happy. Happiness is contagious. You always seek out those people who make you laugh. Those people who are the life of the party always draw crowds to themselves. It’s all about being happy. But it is more important that your happiness comes from within you. If you view the world from a point of happiness, from a point of gratitude, you will gain strength even in times of suffering.

Be strong. It is part of everyone’s journey.

Be available. It is part of your calling to help others.

I don’t know where you are or what you are going through. But I want you to be happy. I hope that your seasons of happiness stay in bloom longer than your seasons of suffering.

Dying to Live

I know this is something that can resonate with many people. It is a song by Edgar Winter but the words seem to transcend time. It talks about the contrasts between the struggle to live and the struggle with death. I feel it captures some of the thoughts that people have when they are depressed. Why fight to live when it is easier to die? That is the question. The answer can only be found within yourself. There is something inside you that wants you to succeed. Something that wants you to live.

Here are the lyrics.

You know I’ve heard it said there’s beauty in distortion
By some people who’ve withdrawn to find their heads
Now they say that there is humor in misfortune
You know I wonder if they’ll laugh when I am dead

Why am I fighting to live if I ‘m just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see when there ain’t nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live if I’m just living to die?

Hey, you know some people say that values are subjective,
But they’re just speaking words that someone else has said.
And so they live and fight and kill with no objective
Sometimes it’s hard to tell the living from the dead

Why am I fighting to live if I ‘m just living to fight?
Why am I trying to see when there ain’t nothing in sight?
Why am I trying to give when no one gives me a try?
Why am I dying to live if I’m just living to die?

Yeah, you know I used to weave my words into confusion
And so I hope you’ll understand me when I ‘m through
You know I used to live my life as an illusion,
But reality will make my dreams come true

So I’ll keep fighting to live till there’s no reason to fight
And I’ll keep trying to see until the end is in sight
You know I’m trying to give so someone give me a try
You know I’m dying to live until I’m ready
’til I’m ready
’til I’m ready
’til I’m ready to die

How does this make you feel?

Hello!

There are some days you come across something nice yet different. Something that fosters feelings of sadness yet elicits moments of joy. I came across something like that recently. I wasn’t sure what to feel.

All I know is that I liked it.

So I thought I would post it here. I felt it would mean something to you. It’s a poem written by Nicole H.

Poem by Nicole

The poem is called: Do Not Weep for Me

In my silence I’m withering,
Dying.
Reaching out as far as I can
Stretch,
Grasping to hold on to what’s
Left,
But I find there is nothing
There,
No happiness to nourish my
Heart,
No love to quench my
Thirst.
It is time for me to let
Go.
Perhaps, I think, maybe, just
Maybe…
Maybe I have made an
Impression,
That I’ve left something behind for
Someone
A glimpse of hope, a vision of
Beauty,
A memory that may never
Fade.
Do not weep for me, do not
Mourn,
For my time with you is
Up.
Continue on, live your
Life,
Move ahead and don’t look
Back,
Inside your soul carry a piece of
Me.
The winter is harsh, brutally
Cold
Be strong my dear, you’ll make it
Through.
Listen to me, heed my
Words,
And remember, I’ll always love
You.

So tell me, how does this make you feel?

Note: Thanks Nicole for letting me use this poem.

My favourite poem on Life

Life can be brutal. Like you, I have experienced many highs and many lows. It’s strange, though, that the lows always seem to leave a mark. I’d rather remember the good times; the Happiness. But I realize it must be a conscious choice. You must choose to remember the good times and the happiness.

dullness around life

Darkness lurks in the void waiting for your most vulnerable moments to remind you that you are not good enough, you are not strong enough, you are not beautiful enough, you are not smart enough, you will always be fat and so on.

So here, I’m posting my favourite poem. It is the best I have ever read (that I felt it was speaking to me). It was penned by William Ernest Henley in his book “Book of Verses”. The title “Invictus”. The word is derived from Latin and it translates as “Unconquered/unconquerable”.

Like you, I have faced numerous trials in my life, and sadly, I will continue coming up against new battles for the remainder of my time here on earth. But I believe sincerely in my heart that there is no problem that is placed before me that I have not been equipped to handle. Those problems may batter me mentally, drain me emotionally and wither my body. But I choose to be positive. All the scars may never heal, but with time, I will make peace with my mind. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “To live is to suffer; to survive, is to find some form of meaning in the suffering”. I will survive. You will survive.

Here is the poem:

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

This is great penmanship. The author captured the spirit of an embattled man who realized he had a sense of control over his life. When people start wondering whether other people care about them, they give away their power; their sense of control. Love has to come from within, not sought from without. You have to choose the attitude you will have in that negative situation and try to search for the meaning or the lesson you have to learn. Unfortunately, it is always painful.

But that is life. We must not lose hope.

Life will continue battering you with different kinds of problems. I believe we can face anything if we realize we control our attitude, feelings and our choices. You are the master of your fate, the captain of your soul!

Interesting Quotes on Mental Health

As one of you pointed out recently when I posted the quotes on life and suicide, I did not mention mental health and highlight its importance. Many people are suffering silently in our world. The major stresses such as work, relationships, and access to basic needs, have pushed many into depression. But there is a more sinister threat, though, one that is rarely mentioned when people turn to suicide to alleviate their suffering: Mental health.

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Here are some quotes on mental health:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

World Health Organization

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, but stigma and bias shame us all.”

Bill Clinton

The problem with the stigma around mental health is really about the stories that we tell ourselves as a society. What is normal? That’s just a story that we tell ourselves.

Matthew Quick

Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.

Adam Ant

Self-esteem is as important to our well-being as legs are to a table. It is essential for physical and mental health and for happiness.

Louise Hart

If you look at suicides, most of them are connected to depression. And the mental health system just fails them. It’s so sad. We know what to do. We just don’t do it.

Rosalynn Carter

We take our kids for physical vaccinations, dental exams, eye checkups. When do we think to take our – our son or daughter for a mental health check-up?

Gordon Smith

Mental health is often missing from public health debates even though it’s critical to wellbeing.

Diane Abbott

I was one of those people who put too much emphasis on work and career and material possessions, and it took its toll on all my relationships, on my physical health, my emotional and mental health.

Tony Shalhoub

There are so many clichés associated with mental health – such as the ‘fine line between lunacy and genius’ – which are, on the whole, a load of rubbish.

Jo Brand

“About a third of my cases are suffering from no clinically definable neurosis, but from the senselessness and emptiness of their lives. This can be defined as the general neurosis of our times.”
C.G. Jung

Here is an unlikely one from Shakespeare’s book:

“Macbeth: How does your patient, doctor?

Doctor: Not so sick, my lord, as she is troubled with thick-coming fancies that keep her from rest.
Macbeth: Cure her of that! Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased, pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow, raze out the written troubles of the brain, and with some sweet oblivious antidote cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon her heart.
Doctor: Therein the patient must minister to himself.”
William Shakespeare, Macbeth

“What does your anxiety do? It does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength. It does not make you escape the evil; it makes you unfit to cope with it if it comes.”

Raymond Cramer

I have long recognized a link between fitness and mental health and I think we need to encourage young people to take part in sports and team activities because we know it has such positive results.

Tipper Gore

The last two quotes give a call to action and highlight what role we can play (very important):

“It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.”

Steve Maraboli

I’m convinced that we can shape a different future for this country as it relates to mental health and as it relates to suicide.

David Satcher

Feel free to add any quote on mental health that has touched you in some way. And please don’t shy away from asking someone close to you whether they are okay and if there is anything you can do to help. Sometimes people feel like nobody cares and they have no one to share their problems with. Be that person. A few minutes may help someone get the help they need. It may be a word of encouragement that changes their lives for the better. Or they may really need to go to the hospital to see a specialist. Trust me, getting all the money in the world will not feel as rewarding as saving someone’s life.

You are all welcome to comment on and share this post.

Sources

https://www.brainyquote.com

https://www.goodreads.com

http://www.quotegarden.com/

http://www.searchquotes.com/

http://www.changingthepresent.org/mental_health/quotes

Suicide: When is it the Right Moment to Die?

Whenever someone dies, we often hear people say, “He’s gone too soon” or “She died unexpectedly”.  With so many people considering suicide, is there a particular time when it would be considered the ‘right moment’ to die?

Websites such as www.death-clock.org and www.deathclock.com use a variety of factors such as lifestyle, weight (BMI), age and gender, date of birth, alcohol consumption, and smoking habits, to make a prediction on an individual’s life expectancy. According to these websites, I’m expected to die about 36 years from now. Is this even possible? Can we make predictions on the fate of our lives? Do we have control over the exact moment when we die? Can we even trust ourselves to know the right moment to die?

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People from the ancient past used to try out a variety of options in their quest for immortality. Some of them dedicated their entire lives to search for the elusive ‘elixir of life’. On the other hand, some people believe that immortality is a concept that focuses more on spiritual living as opposed to extending the life of the physical body. In our time, though, no one expects to live forever. Yet, no one expects to die either. It always comes as a surprise even when people die after living long and fulfilled lives, well beyond the life expectancy rate.

So when is the right moment to die? Those people going through various struggles in their lives would say that committing suicide would solve all their problems. For them, that is the right moment to die. That is their justification. Those suffering debilitating illnesses can choose to die instead of living in pain. In their minds, they would believe it is the right thing to do.

But perhaps we are looking at this the wrong way. Maybe it’s not about choosing the right moment to die. Possibly, it’s about being ready for the moment death comes calling. When patients are informed by their doctors that they have a few months to live, they set out to get their affairs in order, in readiness for that expected day. Though the dying patients are sad to leave their loved ones behind, their moment of death is expected. It is a moment that is not accepted but will occur nonetheless. It is this insight that we should focus on.

In a pivotal scene in the movie “The Last Samurai”, actor Tom Cruise was asked by the Emperor to describe how the Samurai leader had died. He took a pause, and then responded by saying, “I will tell you how he lived”. That’s what is important: Living.

Ask anyone how the great heroes of the past like Einstein or Galileo died and most people won’t have the answer. Ask them how these heroes lived, though, and their achievements will be listed with a degree of excitement. Death is an uncomfortable topic, filled with memories of those we have lost and the anxiety of our expected end. We must all face that day eventually.

Chief Tecumseh once said, “Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home”.

Perhaps it’s not the right moment to die that is important. Rather, it is right way we live that counts.