By | Abhijit Bhaduri |Keynote speaker, Author and Columnist
Who is happier: Someone who has had a terrible accident that has left him/ her a paraplegic or quadriplegic or someone who won the lottery? Most of us would choose to be the lottery winner. It sounds the key to happiness. Being in an accident seems devastating.
It turns out that people are really bad at predicting their future state of feelings. Most lottery winners end up being broke or unhappy. Lottery winners commit suicide, go broke, many lose friends and get divorced.
The accident victims, on the other hand, are not nearly as unhappy as might have been expected. In both cases think of it like a temporary blip (high or low) before it returns to the baseline.
Both groups were asked to rate the amount of pleasure they got from everyday activities: small but enjoyable things like chatting with a friend, watching TV, eating breakfast, laughing at a joke, or receiving a compliment. Recent accident victims reported gaining more happiness from these everyday pleasures than the lottery winners.
Looking back at 2020
What will you feel about 2020? Will you look at it as opportunity lost or focus on the unexpected positives that it offered? Probably neither of the extremes. The pain and joyful moments will blend away into a haze. The overall positive or negative effect of a single positive or negative event should not be overestimated.
Studies done on Olympic medal winners shows that the silver medal winners are sad because they missed the gold. The bronze medal winners are thrilled because they compare themselves with the competitor who came fourth. 2020 was a mixed bag for everyone. There were some bright moments and some sad ones. It is no different from any other year. Look at the previous year-end issues of magazines.
We experience grief as a response not just to the death of a loved one, but the loss anything familiar. We grieve when we leave behind anything familiar, a job, an opportunity, the city we grew up in etc. Being able to acknowledge the grief and telling someone about it helps us to move ahead.
Some years back, I lost both parents within a gap of twelve days. I was devastated. Being able to talk about my grief to my loved ones and friends helped me acknowledge and accept my loss. Eventually I reconstructed my grief. I looked at my loss from the point of view of my parents. They did not have to live without each other even in death.
Scientific research has shown that acceptance alone doesn’t bring an end to grieving. To truly move on, an individual must find a way to create personal meaning from the loss.
We can choose to feel happy, sad or delighted
When the sun rises and declares the beginning of a new year tomorrow, we have a choice. You can feel like the silver medal winner and grieve about the lost opportunity. Or think like a bronze medal winner and compare ourselves with the one we left behind in the 4th spot. But wait, there is one more medal we forgot – the gold.
We could choose to feel like the gold medal winner as we look at the sunrise declaring the start of 2021.
Look at the photo and ask yourself if you are seeing the picture of a sunrise or sunset. It is hard to say. If you have not given up hope, you will see the sunrise. That is my wish for you for 2021. Stay curious, stay connected and look at the possibilities that lie ahead.