The Six Secrets Of Well-Being In Difficult Times

A few decades ago, ‘Corona’ referred to a shoe company. I am talking of the days when TV had not yet come to India and hence the only powerful medium of advertising was the radio. Whether it was All India Radio or Radio Ceylon or Vividh Bharati, the ‘Corona’ shoe advertisement blasted like this in Hindi – ‘Corona Ke Jootey, Jo Ghiss Toh Saktey Hain, Lekin Fatt Nahi Sakte’, meaning, Corona shoes may get worn out, but will never tear.

Today, the word ‘Corona’, has a completely different connotation. It’s the proper-noun of a virus which hits like a flu but is much more deadly. The TV and social-media spread it emotionally into everyone’s psyche and so many people panic, “Arrey! Everyone will get it! There’s no escape!!”

But not everyone gets it. If you’ve noticed, some people catch every bug in town while others never seem to fall ill. It’s partly the luck of the genetic draw and partly a matter of good habits and diets. But doctors are paying more attention to ways in which your attitude can improve your resistance.

Although its common knowledge that stress affects your body’s ability to fight illness, new studies suggest that the way you handle stress is more important. Indeed, medical evidence points to six emotional traits that may help protect you, not only from minor ailments like the cold, the flu and harmless viruses but even from major ones like cancer and heart diseases.

The First Secret – The Unsinkable Spirit: Having the determination to rise to a challenge helps in the fight against sickness. It’s what Dr. Kenneth Pelletier calls the “hardiness factor”. In his book, ‘Sound Mind, Sound Body’, Dr. Pelletier interviewed 50 successful and healthy people to find the common threads in their life. In addition to good habits like not smoking, good diet and exercise, they all treated any stress as a challenge, rather than a negative event. For eg., say, if you lose your job, you can treat it as a disaster or a chance to refocus your career. Conversely, depression makes it more difficult to recover from illness. You know how and when you are down and low on energy. Well, your body’s defence mechanisms react in much the same way!

The Second Secret – Taking Charge: A fighting spirit may provide the necessary motivation, but what is called ‘active coping’ puts the spirit into action. Think of a situation such as major staff cutbacks in your office. One person may think it is an outrage but choose to do nothing, while another will actively look for cost-cutting measures. This take-charge attitude has been linked to better chances of beating disease. Studies of breast-cancer and melanoma patients found that active copers had better survival rates. Your active coping means you believe you can take control.

The Third Secret – Knowing Your Exact Feelings. Being out of touch with your feelings is no better than harbouring angry ones. According to psychologists, people seem to be at a greater risk of disease when they are unable to express themselves in emotional terms and instead express themselves in terms like, “I have got a knot in my tummy” or “I am upset”.

The Second Secret – A Sense of Humour: Your anxiety or anger will dissolve in the face of a good laugh. In fact, it is a very good stress-buster! Being able to laugh at yourself as well as ridiculing other people is definitely health-enhancing. See comedy films and TV shows or read a joke book. Without the ability to laugh at ourselves, we might be destroyed by our family conflicts, our lame deceptions and our own stupid mistakes. Seeing comedy in most situations in life tells you that you can forgive yourself and one another for inadequacies. Be simple like children, they’re always laughing!

The Fifth Secret – Absence of Malice: This is a crucial requirement. Studies show that people who carry a lot of hostility are highly susceptible to heart disease.  People who are hostile only harm themselves. It serves no purpose!

The Sixth and Last Secret – ‘Altruism’: Altruistic behaviour has a beneficial effect on both mental and physical health and is correlated to having a longer lifespan. By transcending our needs to help others, we boost our happiness to another level. Use whatever resources you have to make others happy and you’ll be walking on clouds. Being selfish and so-called upwardly mobile has unfortunate side-effects like fragmenting communities. A lifetime spent in just chasing money is a waste unless you have enjoyed some of it with family and friends and also done a bit of charity.

We have created most of our unhappiness by harbouring and nurturing wrong-thinking. Take a mental about-turn and keep moving forward, seeing new sights and new experiences in new ways! That way, you’ll enjoy the journey of life, Corona or no Corona!

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