How to stay happy when all those around you are miserable

How to stay happy when all those around you are miserable

There was a great scene in a great comedy series (“Yes Minister”) several years ago in which a group of public servants were struggling to resolve a number of complex issues related to the running of a large public hospital. I won”t replay all the details here, partly because they wouldn”t be nearly as funny in this written format, but in short they determined that the only way to really have the hospital running smoothly was to get rid of all the patients!

For many people, thinking about creating a happy life and staying happy would leads to similar conclusions; it would be relatively easyê¢__‘Ô_if only everyone around them got out of the way or did the right thing!

But all jokes aside, neither of these situations is ever really going to happen and even if they could be arranged, I suggest we wouldn”t really be quite as happy as we might assume we”d be. By definition, hospitals couldn”t exist without sick people and along the same lines, life wouldn”t be as interesting and as stimulating without other people (even, believe it or not, the difficult, miserable and negative ones).

I”m frequently asked how to stay happy despite adverse circumstances and in the presence of pessimistic people and I dedicate today’s column to this very common challenge.

First, don”t believe everything you hear and see. Presumably you don”t believe everything you see and hear in the papers and on TV; well similarly, there’s no reason to believe everything other people say (especially if what they say tends to be excessively negative). Similarly, you don”t have to pay attention to everything you see and hear; extending the previous metaphor, if you see something you don”t like on TV you can choose to change the channel. Along the same lines you can choose to whom and to what you attend to.

Second, without abandoning any friends who might need your love and attention to get through a difficult time, try spending less time with negative people who drain you and more with those who are positive and energising. Happy people have more and better quality relationships so work on improving not just the number of relationships you have but also the extent to which they”re positive and uplifting.

Third, keep things in perspective and don”t loose sight of what’s important to and for you. Shakespeare once wrote that “one swallow does not a summer make.” In the same vein, one negative person does not a negative world make; so don”t let the pessimists bring you down. Remember, that for everyone of the doomsayers there’s at least one, if not more, wonderful and inspiring people who work to make the world a better place and who appreciate the beauty and wonder in each and every one of us.

Finally, try to keep a sense of humour. Life’s too important to take every thing and every one too seriously!