The Silver Lining

Apr 24

It is easy to pick out the good part in any situation when you care to spot it. Call it the silver lining of the dark cloud.
We experienced the hottest day in Bangalore history yesterday, with a whopping 37 degrees Centigrade. Some may laugh at this. Why, even I would laugh – because have I not worked in the awesome heat of Andhra Pradesh where the temperature can go up to 48 degrees? Each day, when I returned home from work, my Mom would be very amused, because she would see tan marks that made it easy to guess what footwear I had worn, the shape of my neckline and the length of my sleeves.  And if it was very different the next day, it would be hilarious. Imagine an arm in varying skin shades! I thought of that when I saw a band of white on Vidur’s wrist – where he wears his watch.  It is so very amusing to compare tan marks.The good part? We have a refrigerator, we have fans, we have electricity (not sure when the power cuts will start, but until then…), we have a sense of humor, most of all.

My friend phoned me the other day, as usual and as always, it was a laughter riot from start to finish for about an hour. Naturally we discussed the weather, and talked about how our long hair never has a chance to be dry – it is always wet with sweat – the only difference being clean sweat and smelly sweat. Clean, when we’ve just washed our hair and…oh, imagine the rest. Of course we wash our hair every day, if only to feel the coolness of the water. But again, that’s something we have to do before 9 am because the water in the tank becomes very very hot and we end up sterilizing ourselves every time we open the tap. Nice to do the washing up – but even that can be a little too much if we do it around 2 pm. The water starts cooling only around 5 or 6 pm depending on how hot the day was.

The good part? I’ve got everything sparkling in my kitchen and it so much easier to clean and wash when the water is hot. I’ve got friends who will be there when I want them.I realized I was allowing myself to be overwhelmed by all that I had to do. My son is a pretty good fella to talk to. Each day, after he returns from school, we sit down and enjoy a glass of chilled juice.  It is one of my favorite moments of the day. We discuss life, share things that upset us. Then he tells me about the fun stuff that happened in school.  Then he goes off to bathe after we decide what to have for lunch, which we have together, watching Tom and Jerry.

The good part? I am a work at home Mom who has the pleasure of spending time with my son and I enjoy creative cooking. I have a wonderful son who is turning out to be a wise friend and who sounds just like my Mom sometimes.
Of late, I’ve been freaking out over my to-do list. Sometimes I think it is the weather that makes me lethargic. I often feel drowsy through the day. Especially when there’s a power cut. The moment the fan goes off, the sweat instantly starts pouring off me. One might think we live in Chennai or Mumbai because Bangalore is reputed for its “gorgeous” weather. Not anymore. Not with all the construction going on and the trees being felled. Added to that, there’s the Metro construction all over the place – and am dreading the monsoons. The roads will be an awful mess.The good part? I work freelance and can actually choose to take time off from whatever doesn’t work at the moment and focus my energy on other things. I have a husband who tells me there’s no need to do remunerative work. He says just do what you enjoy. And of course, I enjoy my freelance writing work. Am I lucky or what?

    “The time is always right to do what is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Image credited

Happiness does not cost much when you take it up as a D.I.Y. project.

And that’s the truth. Here are some ten-minute ways that work for me, when I feel a bit low. I set the timer at ten minutes and choose things that keep me away from the computer screen:

  • Quickly make a list of all that things that make me happy. Good things in my life. My gratitude list. I swear, by the time the ten minutes are up, my mood has escalated.
  • Pull out a few old photo albums and enjoy looking at them. I have hundreds of digital albums – but the problem with that is the time limit. I can never stick to ten minutes with those. With the physical albums, though, it is easier. Moreover I am yet to scan all my physical albums. This one is guaranteed to lift my spirits.
  • Take a sheet of paper and write a letter to myself/my friend/my Mom
  • Write a short story, 55 fiction or haiku. This one works for me and sends my mind on overdrive
  • Organize a shelf that I’ve been putting off for some time.
You know what I mean. Make a list of what works for you.

     “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, 
and what you do are in harmony.” Mahatma Gandhi
An interesting exercise:In an older post, “Reaching for my cookie jar” I wrote about an easy exercise. This one is similar:

  • Take three empty boxes
  • On a sheet of paper, make a list of things you have been putting off for want of time. Just free your mind. Who knows, this could become your goals list.
  • The list must have fun things that you enjoy, help you relax and leave you feeling happier
  • Against each item on the list, jot down the time you need to do it
  • Take another sheet of paper and divide it into small sized notes
  • On each note, write down one item from your to-do list with the time
  • In one box, put all the notes with activities that take less than an hour
  • In the second box, put notes with activities that take more than an hour
  • Label the boxes accordingly
  • Each time you finish an activity, put the note in the third box and label it “Mission Accomplished”
I tell you, this works. A variation of this is my “Happiness Project” where I have a “Happiness Jar” on my shelf where I can see it all the time. It has a big smiley on it. Whenever Sury, Vidur and I are happy about something, we write it on a chit of paper and drop it in the jar. Once a month, we shuffle the jar and pick out random notes and read. The joy is tremendous. Try it.I have learned that it is so important to focus on the present. Dwelling on past hurts or regrets can really drain our precious energy. There’s really no point worrying about the future. It makes more sense to live in the here and now as it is the right place from which to tackle life’s situations.  Because we are free to make choices!

Image credited
Most of all, it is the power of beliefthat keeps me going.There will be lemons, folks! But remember there’s also lemonade and tequila.

UPDATE on May 1, 2012
I would like to highlight Marien’s valuable comment to this post here as she shares an idea. Here is what she says:

I also love the idea of using jars. I once used them for saving money. I know, money does not necessarily give us happiness, but for me it certainly helps. Here is the way it works:

1- think about what you’d like to save for. Things you are excited about – no “must do’s” here! This could be a holiday, a course, or getting your website up and running.

2- make a label for each “saving project” and stick each label on a jar

3- place the jars where you can easily see them

4- each time you pass you’ll feel compelled to contribute to your jars. Maybe you can do without the cappuchino on the corner shop today, or skip the cinema and invite a few friends to watch some YouTube videos… be creative!

Great post,
Marien

Isn’t that a great idea? Thank you, Marien!

Thank you for subscribing to my blog! Do consider leaving a comment – or just reply to this email! I’d love to know what you think.Cheers!

Vidya

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32 comments

  1. Another uplifting, informative and amazing post from you, my dear friend. You have the knack for making me smile even when I’m determined not to. Your advice is always sound and much appreciated! And the “lemon and tequila”? I’ll have two please. One for each hand.
    Stay cool, if you can. XOXOs

    • Thank you so much Terri. I felt the need to write it you know. I am so happy it made you smile. I hope we’ll have that tequila together some day! Love you!

  2. Oh, I love this post. I love the Happiness Project. I am going to adopt it for our house!

  3. Happiness as a DIY project…that is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Really. Sometimes we do have to work at it don’t we?
    xoxo
    Ps. Your snips of wisdom rock my face off.

    • Hey Kim! :D I was secretly all worked up about April 26. Yes, happiness IS a DIY project. Only we can do it for ourselves. At least most of the time. Hugs. :D Glad you enjoy my stuff. I love yours. Giggle!

  4. I love finding the good part.

  5. Vidya,

    I love this idea of 10-minute happiness breaks! Of course, my mind is thinking of all the clutter I could clear in those breaks, so I will need to lean into some of the other excellent ideas too. :) This is so do-able!

    I loved the way you model intersecting the challenging circumstances with the positive thoughts in this article. You give so much in your writing! I am amazed.

    • Sandra, I am like that sometimes. Thinking of clearing the clutter. In fact, breaking it up into ten minute slots really works – and is very gratifying. Thank you so much for coming by! Hugs!

  6. That is a quote I am going to remember for a LONG TIME!!!

    ∞ © tanvii.com ∞

  7. Hi Vidya! I love the optimism! Love the optimism very much. You’re right. No matter how the conditions may be, if we are looking for ways to be happy, you’ll ALWAYS find it. :)

    • It gives everything a whole new perspective, doesn’t it, Bryan? Thank you so much for visiting. I love it!

  8. I loved the happiness jar concept. The page wouldn’t open though :( My father always used to say, ‘it could have been worse,’ and make me mad sometimes thinking what could possibly be wrong with a big cut on your arm or 50% marks in maths? Then if I thought about it I would realise that I could have had a broken bone, failed in the subject. But of course, all the realisation came long after I grew up :) Looking for the better things in a bad situation is how I face the world too.

    • Oh yes, I know all about the “it could have been worse” Zephyr. My Uncle said that to me all the time and I did not always find it consoling. :D Yep – it takes growing up and experience to realize many things. Nice that the people who care plant the seeds for us to nurture. Love!

  9. Cathy | Treatment Talk /

    Hi Vidya,

    I’ve been in Mexico and feeling the heat. It’s not as hot as Bangalore, but I can definitely feel it. You have a great list of ways to cope and I also love your 10 minute break ideas. I know I need to take breaks from the computer during the day. You sounds like you have a wonderful life, being able to spend quality time with your son and work conveniently. We can find something good out of most situations.

    • That’s true, Cathy. I am very lucky to be a stay at home Mom. I’d never exchange it for anything. Thank you for coming by! Hugs!

  10. I’m with zephyr–love that happiness jar idea. In fact, you are full of good ideas. I lived in Bangkok for three years–is the heat similar? It was so hot and humid, that I never wore make up because it just turned into goo on my face within 60 seconds of stepping out of the door! I was always drenched in sweat and I could never understand all the Thai women wearing long sleeves and never sweating! What was their secret?! But those were three of the most exciting years of my life. Every day was an adventure and I absolutely loved living there. Big silver lining!

    • Galen darling, actually it is not as bad as I made it sound. :-) The city I live in is supposed to have lovely weather and I felt a bit cheated :D So I ranted about it. I’ve lived in really hot places – humid as well as dry heat. By the way – I have also wondered how the muslim women wearing burquas stayed cool under those layers of clothes :-) They do have a secret.

      I am in love with my own Happiness Jar idea. :D It is such fun!

  11. My Inner Chick /

    –look under “INSPIRATION” in the dictionary, & we shall see Vidya’s photo!!!!!!!! XXX Love Love Love.

    • Kim, I am going to remember your words forever. So instantly uplifting! Hugs and thanks so much for making my day!

  12. It always between 36C – 39C here. The air-conditioner is always on, in the car, at the office, my room.. We pay a lot of electricity bills unfortunately. Good thing water doesn’t cost much. At least people like us (you & me) we bathe often. I lived in the UK before and got to know peeps who only bathe once a week, eeeuuuuw!!

    • Hehehe…I can imagine, MamaTim. I’ve heard of students who bathe once a month! Yes. Yuck. Thanks for visiting. :-) I appreciate it very much.

  13. What is 37 degrees centigrade in dog years? 37 sounds cold to me. Florida can get warm and humid, especially in the summer but I can tell you I prefer warm/hot over cold/ice……and that’s a fact Jack…..:).

    I’m glad we don’t have rolling power blackouts, that would be inconvenient. However, sounds like you have a good attitude.

    I think if you can look for humor in every day life events it helps put you in the right frame of mind and you can deal with the ‘opportunities’ much better.

    Life’s short; live large.

    • Bill, it is not the heat that freaks me out (I’ve seen far worse). It is the unscheduled power cuts we crib about. Very inconvenient indeed. :-) Especially when it is for hours at a time. I completely agree about finding the humor because I practice it on a daily basis. :-) I love it when you’re here.

  14. Hi Vidya, it’s super hot everyday here in Malaysia, so I understand what you’re going through. :) We can’t wish for a cooling winter here, so we might as well enjoy the sunshine! Just like you said, finding the good part in any situation, love it!

    • Right, Noel :-) Looking for the good parts almost guarantees we’ll find them. Thank you so much for visiting. I love your site and subscribed. I have a big thing for quotes.

  15. I love this post and your blog. I once spent 6 weeks working in Pune, India and I would love to come back. I loved India and especially the people. The ones I met were happy and joyful and loving and I miss them so much. I keep in touch with some on facebook and I promise myself one day I will go back.

    Blessings to you and your family and much joy.

    • Welcome, Debra! It is great to see you here. :-) I do hope you visit India again and this time, do include Bangalore in your itinerary! :-) Looking forward to seeing you here again!

  16. I also love the idea of using jars. I once used them for saving money. I know, money does not necessarily give us happiness, but for me it certainly helps. Here is the way it works:

    1- think about what you’d like to save for. Things you are excited about – no “must do’s” here! This could be a holiday, a course, or getting your website up and running.

    2- make a label for each “saving project” and stick each label on a jar

    3- place the jars where you can easily see them

    4- each time you pass you’ll feel compelled to contribute to your jars. Maybe you can do without the cappuchino on the corner shop today, or skip the cinema and invite a few friends to watch some YouTube videos… be creative!

    Great post,
    Marien

    • Welcome, Marien! I love that idea!

      In fact, I used to do just that back in the late 80’s when I was saving for my first TV, motorcycle and refrigerator. We were very far from holidays :-) I can guarantee it works because I realized I had totally stopped spending on things I did not “need”.

      I ought to teach my son to do this.

      I am adding your comment as an update to the post :-) Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your ideas! Love, Vidya