Learning to remain happy even when going through hard times

Misfortune hits al­most everyone to var­ying degrees at different times of their lives. No one ever gets a continuous spell of success and prosperity their entire life. Most of the time, such downturns occur at least once a decade if not more often, and when it hits, it sometimes takes a year or two for things to stabilize. But what I have seen is that when such misfortune strikes, a lot of the victims succumb to it and forget to smile and plummet into a state of depression. What is worse is that I have noticed that during such phases, others also expect them to remain depressed, and if they see the person being content, enjoying moments of happiness or treating him/her self to some bits of pleasure and entertainment, that many others in our society are quick to remind them of the difficulties they are in. And soon these poor souls fall into a mental trap where they start feeling guilty about being happy. And this is what this article is all about! How wrong all of this is!  

What I intend to do here in this article, is to tell my readers ( you ), that there is no alternative to finding happiness and contentment in one’s life, irrespective of the level of hardship that one is going through! To do that, I would begin by pointing out that even the biggest industrialists and tycoons, riding in the most expensive cars and living in fancy homes in the most expensive locations, owning factories and offices in multiple locations, and even villas in beautiful resort towns of the world, sometimes hits rock bottom, where they need to liquidate almost all or many of their assets and wealth to survive, or at least go through prolonged phases of distress, in which they have to shrink their spending down to a meager fraction of what it used to be. I want to point out how big political leaders who were once ministers and members of parliament get reduced down to the level of ordinary people who go and buy their own groceries from superstores, carrying their own shopping bags, and do no longer have hoards of people accompanying them everywhere, as they used to have at one time when they were at their peak of glory! So when bad luck strikes, the first thing we all have to tell ourselves is that – “it happens to everyone and we are not alone”! 

The second thing we have to tell ourselves is that – “No one can tell when bad luck will strike and how hard it will strike”. Sometimes it is hard enough to wipe out the strongest of the people who would feel adequately safeguarded with ample savings, assets etc. 

So if all that can happen to people who are such “very important people” and “commercially important people”, then everyone else who belong to the category of lower upper income group and middle income group people and lower, should all know that hiccups can happen in any of our lives, and if such things do happen, there is no reason to perceive it as something to be terribly ashamed of. Nor should anyone else view someone who has fallen into such a situation as a person to be looked down upon or be shown pity on or be derided. 

Such situations may arise very frequently for job holders who try and lead a good life with their salaries, often spending a bit beyond their means to travel and maintain a nice home, have a comfortable car and some niceties in their lives; to people who have spent their earnings and savings in taking care of family members in need, or paying for their education and weddings of offspring and siblings and hospital bills for self and family; people who are compelled to quit their jobs due to unfortunate circumstances in their offices or even people who have to retire before they are adequately prepared. Such calamitous situations also arise for small and medium entrepreneurs who sometimes get affected by political disturbances, natural disasters, sudden shift in buying behavior of clients, or any sudden new law or legislation that makes their prices go up or selling their product a difficult thing to do, or some theft of embezzlement or some crooked client withholding a payment, or a saw material becoming scarce, etc!  

When faced with such mishaps, the victim of such financial cataclysms, would to be practical, need to cut costs, sell some less useful assets, and maybe even need to take loans and borrow for crossing those harder times.  It would have to be treated as part of life and something that would have to be done! Anyone going through phases like that need not feel broken down, nor shattered, nor should hesitate to seek support or assistance where needed! There is no need to wonder about how it would damage their pride, prestige and social image to do any of these crisis combating measures as surviving and managing is more important than upholding any image. Specially, It has to be remembered that the people to whom, one may feel, the image has to be maintained, would never come to support or help when needed. Nor would these people pay for the unfortunate victim’s living expenses at any time. So why would the opinion of such people matter?

While life will have to be downsized and curtailed, when struck with misfortune, but at the same time, I would advise, to never let go of some of the habits or belongings which are truly very dear to you, as that would make you feel truly defeated and the gain from making that sentimental sacrifice, would not be comparatively that big anyway. But the frequency of it may have to be reduced. For instance, treating oneself to nice dinners outside, trips, good clothes etc, may have to be reduced, but even then, one needs to still allow some indulgences to celebrate small steps forward towards recovery. 

We all have to remember that often hard times last for months and sometimes years. So it does not mean one will stop living during that entire time. One has to find contentment in little things and be happy and enjoy and rejoice at small achievements and treat oneself to some good times too, no matter how bad the time may be that you may be going through.

Some people would advise you, that when going through a bad time, you should give up on everything,  and look devastated. But honestly that is one of the worst things one can do when in a prolonged crisis! Being sad would never get you out of your woes. If anything will, it is remaining hopeful, being positive, laughing, enjoying life in a reduced scale but above all...working very very hard side by side, in an intelligent way. 

If you make happiness your destination instead of your travel partner, you may never get any happiness in your life. So we all need to learn to remain happy no matter how hard the time is that we may be going through!!! And being happy is also one of the best ways to be grateful to the Almighty Creator as well.

Chowdhury Abd-Allah Quaseed author is a organizational development and growth consultant, corporate trainer, a life coach and TV program producer and host.