I didn’t realize till much later in life the value of what I had learned from my grandmother when I was young. I saw first-hand her approach to two crisis situations that are etched fresh in my memory even today.
Old Pamban Bridge, destroyed in cyclone [Source]
The first was a telegram delivered one rainy morning carrying the news that my grandfather was a passenger in the train that had derailed and fell into the sea a couple of days earlier at Pamban bridge, a few hundred miles way from where we were living. There was no further news about my grandfather for the next few grueling days till finally the news came that he was in a hospital, wounded and recovering.
The second was a taxi that brought my uncle one late morning with blood all over his chest. A buffalo had jumped at him and tore his chest while he was riding his motor-cycle to work.
The strength of my grand mother’s mental resilience came through in how she handled both the situations. As wife and mother, she was devastated, worried, anxious. But she didn’t let that affect her conduct and approach to life. She spoke kindly and consolingly to assuage me, went about her chores of tending to our large family, all the time saying her prayers calmly and quietly. She exhibited an unshakeable faith. She didn’t advertise it, just held on to it in a natural, matter-of-fact manner. She had the unshakeable faith that things would turn out alright. I’m grateful to her for teaching me this attitude.
Later , I came across this “things will turn out alright” attitude in the western movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Here is a video clip that says it better than I can!
“Things will turn out alright” is a good crutch to hold on to in life. But positive attitude is more than that. Successes and failures, achievements and disappointments, hopes and fears have nothing to do with it. It is not something that develops on its own. It comes about only as a result of developing a contented outlook in life.
Positive attitude comes from contentment [Source]
Contentment comes only in the company of the indweller, in the sweetness of one’s own self.
As the nectar to the fluttering bird, the indweller is to the restless mind [Source]
Peace and contentment come instantly in the company of the indweller
aatmavaisyaih vidheyaatmaa prasaadam adhigachchati | [Bhagavad Gita 2.64]
Positive attitude facilitates constructive thoughts, speaks consoling words and does compassionate actions. It shows up not as a boisterous laughter but a as a cheerful smile, not as a gale but as a gentle breeze, not as a flash in the pan but as an enduring light.
Genuine respect for truth promotes positive attitude. When I train myself not to find the faults in others that I myself have, that helps my attitude. When I stop expecting others to a standard that I myself have not climbed to yet, that promotes my positive attitude too. I’m then watchful of lying, of violent acts and of the shadow of ego in my actions. Positive attitude does all these good things in my life.
Positive attitude is part and parcel of living. Very much like breathing. In fact, it is the real joy of life. I see this joy in the earthworm crossing the road after the rains, in the falling of a leaf, in the shining of the distant star, in the comfort of the rising mountain and in the lapping of the ocean waves at my feet.
Positive attitude is more than hope and optimism. It is faith itself. Faith in self, faith in the wonder that life is, faith in what makes everything tick.
Positive attitude is reverence born out of this faith. It is reverence to the divinity in all things.