Perceptions determine our thoughts, emotions, speech and actions. Let’s spend the next few minutes reading amazingly empowering stories and rediscovering the positivity all around us.
Positivity Weekly will appear on this blog around the weekend. I will bring the best of news from any and every source I can access. I will include my own personal experiences, if they fit. And if you have any apt stories, anecdotes or insights to share, I will put them here with pride. In the long run, your participation will determine the quality of this initiative. Do write in with your contributions and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you like this initiative, please share it widely.
Hello, my friend. You are amazing, aren’t you? Thanks to your initiative and enthusiasm, our previous two issues garnered close to a thousand hits. Translation: you not only love to smile, you also love to spread the smile around. And you have been so generous in sending me stories. That has made this volume richer. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
Which brings us to this point. We are on to our third volume. It will give you eight solid reasons to smile, grin, laugh and cheer. Let’s start right away.
News from the public domain
Moms change their perspectives
There’s a global trait amongst most mommies. They do a lot, but feel guilty about not doing enough. It is almost impossible to convince them that they are splendid parents. Unless… this statement comes from an unexpected source. When their own kids appreciate them, moms feel appreciated. Don’t believe me? Watch this video and then decide.
Which brings us to this question: who have you not appreciated enough? Can you think of someone? Your Mom maybe?
AAP redefines democracy
After its stellar performance in the Delhi Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has given us a lot to cheer about. Before and during the election campaign, AAP broke all the festering norms dictating Indian politics. It didn’t spend vulgar amounts of money, didn’t bribe the electorate, didn’t write an insincere Manifesto etc. Instead, it did grassroots work and research. It reached out to the common man. And took his opinion while drafting its vision. The outcome it achieved is unprecedented on a global scale. Today, aware Indians are feeling a lot less sceptical about politics and governance. That’s the true gift given to us by the AAP.
And the video that truly captures the spirit of democracy and inclusive governance, as espoused by the AAP, is this one. Please, I urge you, watch it. Whether it makes you smile or shed a tear, you will be left a little more positive about the future of a billion-strong nation.
Some endangered species are doing well now
Alright, we never were the kindest species around. We prefer lighted homes to starry forest canopies… etc etc. But there’s another way of looking at it. When we put our minds to it, we usher in good news for our endangered fellow living organisms. I prefer to be energized by this mixed report on our conservation efforts. What about you?
Teenage Football team shows heart
Teenagers are supposed to brash, heartless and self-absorbed, right? Not always. This American football team – the Eagles – decided to “make somebody’s day”. Watch this CBS report all the way to be really touched. This video was recommended by three of my friends. So rest assured: it’s thrice as good as you expect it to be.
Cities are filled with saviours
19-year-old Devansh Mehta is a serial fainter. He feigns dizziness in crowded locales, collapses in a heap and gauges whether the public will help him out. That’s his idea of a “social experiment”. Having conducted it in Mumbai, Bangalore and Kashmir, he concludes: ‘I have learnt that people are generally nice and genuine.’
Well, of course, Devansh. You will see that if you keep your eyes wide open too!!
For the full story, please read the coverage in the Bangalore Mirror.
Gurdwaras in the UK feed the hungry
The UK is known as much for its cosmopolitan fabric as for its random racial crimes. But in these uncertain economic times, we have proof that compassion is triumphing. Read this report in The Independent to see how unemployed folks and broke students flock to Gurdwaras to get a substantial meal, thanks to the langars that Sikhs organize in their places of worship. None of the “outsiders” are ever asked to convert to Sikhism. This is service at its very best. Is there a better way to bridge the divide between humans who are different only on the outside?
An airline that made Christmas special
Ever heard of WestJet? Well, after watching this video of exemplary Christmas spirit, you will find it difficult to forget this Canada-based airline. ‘Ask and ye shall be given,’ it is said. That’s what this video demonstrates. To sceptics who see a Brand-building gimmick behind this video, I ask this question: did you notice the effort, planning and execution behind this wonderful sequence of events? And did you notice the genuine expression of amazement and joy on the passengers’ faces?
How wonderful it is to receive when you least expect to! Maybe you’d like to pass on this gift to those you love.
As told to me
Oases in the desert
My friend Sujay has a rich, lyrical soul. Deep within, he seems to be whistling a melody that explains the mysteries of the universe. So when he was sent on assignment to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, he was bound to find poetry in the arid landscape. He did.
As luck would have it, he landed there during Ramadan. A time of fasting and austerity. So even the depleted resources of entertainment and social engagement dropped to near-zero. In Sujay’s own words, “fuel is cheap and there is nowhere to go, so everyone goes everywhere”. Usually at 240 kmph.
Thankfully, my noble friend was saved by a healthy pastime. He liked taking long evening walks. And he used this activity to bridge his temporary loneliness with evocative interactions. Here’s how:
1. On a Saturday evening, he flagged down a taxi and told the driver: ‘Take me someplace where I can spend some time.’ The taxi driver happened to be a Pakistani. He said: ‘Why don’t you join me and my friends for iftar (roza)? It’s almost time to break the fast.’ Being free-spirited, Sujay agreed. He went to the driver’s accommodation, waited as he and his fellow taxi drivers prayed, and then joined them for a communal meal. Of course, being a vegetarian, he restricted his diet to a succulent bunch of dates. Upon completion of the meal, Sujay conversed with his newfound brethren and then requested permission to leave. His taxi driver friend dropped him back at the hotel without charging a single Riyal!
2. On another evening, Sujay was strolling on the seabed of the Red Sea when he came across a 3-year-old girl, playing a short distance away from her family. Now, there’s something about Sujay and little girls. They seem to be drawn to his bald head and shiny soul. Not surprisingly, this girl rushed towards him and offered the bright lovely smile that adults are incapable of imitating. ‘I shouldn’t play with unfamiliar kids in Saudi Arabia. I’ve been warned about this,’ Sujay thought, shrinking back. A moment later, he thought: ‘That doesn’t mean I can’t smile and wave back.’ So he did that, much to the girl’s delight. And he returned to his small hotel room feeling that the day was well spent.
3. On yet another evening, a miniature kitten took a fancy to him and started following him. At first, Sujay tried to locate its mother. He couldn’t find her. So he walked on. The obstinate kitten followed suit. A few furlongs down the road, Sujay worried that the kitten would be lost or quashed against a car driving at Schumacher’s speed. So he retraced his steps. Upon reaching the original point of contact, the kitten lost interest in him. Perhaps it had smelled the proximity of its family. His job was done. Yet another dull day was salvaged by an interaction.
Back in the hotel room, another mini-miracle was taking place. He was supposed to get two half-litre bottles of complimentary water each day. But inevitably, he would get more. Sujay wondered why. The mystery was solved during the weekend, when he came face-to-face with the Nepali housekeeper. ‘You keep the room so clean. I wanted to show my appreciation. And I can’t offer anything more than extra water bottles,’ the man said.
Somebody had noticed a positive trait. And now, somebody had noticed somebody noticing a positive trait. That’s how it goes.
Empathy and connectedness came Sujay’s way from local Saudi men as well. One of them advised him on tricks to employ if he wanted to eat during fasting hours. Another shared a moment of rapt attention with him as they listened to a Lata Mangeshkar song.
Overall, a fortnight that could have been dry and desolate became a fountainhead of joy for Sujay.
I wonder whether the magic was in Jeddah or in Sujay. Or both?
Have you failed recently or in your distant past? Well, congratulations. Because Joseph Campbell has this to say:
‘It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.’
Chin up. Teeth out. Wide grin. That’s more like it. The world is a beautiful place. Hope you haven’t forgotten this basic fact!