Overcoming the downs of life

Happy, optimistic young woman in a field of daisies

The suicide of the young, handsome, talented and intelligent Sushant Singh Rajput last month sent shock waves not only among his fans, but among all those who heard the sad news. It is alleged that he took this extreme step due to nepotism and favouritism in Bollywood which led to depression.

Depression is a “state of morbidity, excessive melancholy, mood of hopelessness and feelings of inadequacy often with physical symptoms.” A depressed person only focuses on the downs of life. Depression is all-pervasive. It starts from the individual’s waking hours until he/she goes to sleep. The person feels tired and listless. His/her physical health is also affected.

Depression is caused by our inability to deal with external factors. The human brain is a super efficient computer. It consists of thousands of brain cells called neurons. These neurons transmit messages through brain chemicals called neurotransmitters which, in turn, affect every facet of our lives. Depression also occurs when there is an imbalance in these chemicals.

Psychologists use “Talk Therapy” to deal with depression. This helps the patient to unearth suppressed feelings which are buried deep down in the subconscious and give the patient the mental tools to cope. No two patients are alike. A trained psychiatrist is an impartial observer who can gauge an individual’s requirements and give the appropriate treatment. There are also a number of helplines where counsellors listen to a person and help him/her regain peace of mind.

How to cope with “downs”?

Some psychologists aver that parents could be unwittingly causing a situation whereby their kids cannot cope with reality. Parents teach their kids how to compete, how to get on with others in order to reach our goals. They take good care of their children’s education, food and daily requirements. But they don’t teach them that life has its ups and downs and that it is important to stay afloat during life’s storms. What we need at these times is an Adversity Quotient.

Life is largely a matter of attitude. Cheerful, optimistic people are less likely to be depressed by the vicissitudes of life or failures. For them failures are stepping stones to success.

Adversity Quotient (AQ), also known as the Science of Resilience, was coined by Paul Stoltz in 1997 in his book Adversity Quotient: Turning Obstacles into Opportunities. Stoltz developed the Adversity Response Profile (ARP) in order to measure the A.Q. of an individual.

A person with high A.Q. is someone who can stick out in a job despite the going being tough. Our soldiers who defend our country’s borders are highly motivated and have received intensive training to cope with the cold, hilly terrain, difficult conditions and yet not give up.

People with high A.Q. are able to cope with drastic changes. Running a business during Covid times, according to my daughter Minal, who runs the family business, is no picnic. It involves managing to stay afloat with less profits, hurdles in terms of coping with bureaucracy, manpower shortage which in her case also means driving around by herself wherever necessary. People with high A.Q. firmly believe that “this too shall pass.”

The eminent psychologist, Dr Viktor Frankl, was held for several years in a Nazi concentration camp. He was separated from his family and was thrust into the camp where he had to do hard menial work on a starvation diet. In his popular book Man’s Search For Meaning, he says that what kept him going was the thought of being reunited with his wife, one day.

The movie Life Is Beautiful is an excellent example of a person exuding positivity in the most dismal circumstances. A Jewish Italian book keeper, the irrepressible Guido, was thrown into a concentration camp along with his young son Giosue. He kept his young son alive with a series of complicated games where the boy would score points by being quiet and hiding from the Nazis.

Life is largely a matter of attitude. Cheerful, optimistic people are less likely to be depressed by the vicissitudes of life or failures. For them failures are stepping stones to success. Some have an abiding faith in God. They have close friends, as well, with whom they can share their innermost thoughts. They also read inspirational books and magazines and keep themselves busy that they have no time to dwell on negative thoughts. Positive people try to help others, even when they are facing great difficulties.

However, anyone who is constantly feeling low even without a real reason needs to consult a qualified psychologist before it is too late.

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Monica Fernandes
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Monica Fernandes

Monica Fernandes is a freelance writer from Mumbai for whom writing is a satisfying hobby. She writes for several magazines including The Teenager Today. She has authored a book for teenagers entitled Towards A Fuller Life published by Better Yourself Books.