Climb Your Way to Happiness

Climb Your Way to Happiness

I must have pushed past the rock climbing wall at the YMCA a few hundred times, but not till yesterday did I notice a group of climbers hauling themselves up.

I stopped my car and stood outside watching with great curiosity how the climbers were trying to reach for the artificial stones to find the right protrusion to sustain their hands and feet. The moment they found something that they could keep up on to, they hauled the rope over and pulled themselves up to the next higher point.

I stood there awestruck at the grace and agility with which these climbers were moving from one stone to another. When I saw the huge straight wall I wondered why do people subject themselves to such pain and anguish in the name of sport. Vicarious pleasure was good enough for me. I had no intention of trying it for myself!

Ten minutes later I was back in my car driving to the club to catch up with a friend and a cool glass of wine.

As we were sitting at the bar, my friend told me that her husband had lost his job and they would have to move out of their house to smaller house and she may have to change the children’s school.

She was upset and really scared that her husband was going into a state of depression. He was starting to blame himself for not seeing it coming and berating himself at not being the ideal husband/father. He was being extremely hard on himself.

She however was trying to be optimistic and encouraging him to look at the various options. already though she was upset, she was handling it quite well. Being a student of Vedanta and Positive Psychology had given her the inner strength to cope with external turmoil.

Her husband however had spent all his time building up his career and the lifestyle. His self worth was totally dependent on his net worth. The very thought of not being able to sustain his family in the manner they had gotten used to was making him extremely nervous and all he could focus was on the without that was apparent.

We chatted for a while and then I shared with her my observation of the rock climbing wall.

When one is standing at ground level and staring at the wall/huge rock, the odds of climbing seem insurmountable. All one needs to do is take the first step, find that first footing and haul him/her- self up to the next safe point. You need to let go of the past protrusion to safely hang on to the next. You cannot continue to keep up on to the first and hope to reach the top. Only when you let go can you find the next safe footing.

She understood the analogy and we agreed that I would meet with her husband and proportion some thoughts and see if we could help him with the change to a new life.

This is how the dialogue went. Let’s call him Jack.

“Hi Jack”,
“Hey Shveita, what’s up, All well?”
“Yup all wonderful, but hey I am sorry to hear about the job”.
“Yes that was a bit of a bummer, I sort of expected it, but never really thought it would happen. Those bas….. have no idea who they have let go. They will regret it to the hilt.”

(This was good. His sadness was now turning into anger. On a vibrational extent* anger is better than guilt and shame. )

He went on to use some expletives to describe his employer and how he had been wronged and how he would get already.

Underneath this complete macho charade I could however see the pain and sadness in his eyes. He was very afraid and very insecure.

I ordered us two glasses of red wine, already though alcohol is a depressant and not really recommended during therapy, in this case it seemed appropriate (we were not in therapy…we were in a bar) as it really helped Jack lower his inhibitions and really come forth with his pain and fear of survival.

It’s quite interesting how the male and female brain is wired. The Human male is generally more left brained while the female tends to adopt a more right brain approach.

Left Brain
Looks at parts

Right Brain
Looks at wholes

Jack’s logical, sequential, rational, objective brain could not see the big picture. All he could focus on was the loss of the job that would rule to a loss of life style. He felt worthless and started to visualize scenarios where he felt unwanted and useless. Suddenly all his accomplishments meant nothing. He started to focus on all the things that could go wrong with this one event. Suddenly he transformed into a psychic and started seeing his ‘self produced’ very bleak future.

However at this stage the only thing that he had lost was his job and that too with 6 month pay intact. He had bonuses and stock options with his company that he could cash in and live extremely comfortably for many years to come.

But his ‘part focused’ brain refused to see and concede that this was in some strange way the opportunity that he had been waiting for. He would finally get to use time with his family, indulge in his various passions, cooking being the main one and finally take that trip to Tibet.

If one changes the color of the glasses the whole picture changes.

Like the rock climber who focuses only on one step at a time, one need’s to keep in sight only the things that can help pull oneself out of the quagmire.

The glass of wine had helped us both. Before I got ready to order another one Jack and I did an exercise.

I asked him to right down on a piece of paper all the things that were going well in his life. As he started writing and his list became longer and longer he realized that he had a lot going for him and his job was such a minor part of his life. It really was not the job that he missed; it was the meaning that he had given to the job. Now he had to find that meaning in his life.

What really is the meaning of life?

Now that’s a whole new chapter

Shveita Sethi Sharma

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