Pain and Pleasure — Laughing Away One’s Blues

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 28 Oct 2019

Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

Humankind has several emotions — not only pain, pleasure, but sorrow, greed, kindness, happiness, attachment, love, anger and several others. Perhaps the most common emotions are happiness or bliss and sorrow, or depression, sadness.

Generally people want to be happy and not have the negative feelings listed above. So they take suitable action to remain happy in order not to feel sad or depressed. Various means are adopted depending on the differences in people. Of course children will remain happy by means other than those of adults. Children generally like sports, games, running around and occasionally breaking things, etc.

Adults have many and varied kinds of means to remain happy and cheerful. These include cultural activities — dance, music, painting, theatre, reading and writing stories, watching cinema, TV, horse races and so many other avenues of keeping engaged. We should not forget the lure of shopping especially for women. Temples, churches, mosques — religious discourses are again quite popular all over the world. Yoga is also becoming popular and 21 June has been declared as the UN International Day of Yoga.

Many people like politics and subsequently become professional politicians and may rise to the level of ministers or governors. People also like games and sports not just the ones that children enjoy, but so many others — hockey, football, cricket, baseball, swimming, betting, etc. They like to go on vacations,  next door or on expensive locations on cruise ships. Some enjoy learning how to fly and glide. Countless other means to remain happy and satisfied, depending on one’s age or economic status and suitable opportunities.

But despite all these avenues of enjoyment and contentment, I have come to know of some other tricks to banish or reduce sorrow and become cheerful.

There is a common saying ‘Laugh away your blues’.  In fact many believe that laughter is the best medicine to overcome sorrow and depression. After doing Yoga asanas, many people laugh heartily, in fact sometimes it appears that some of the people may burst out laughing. While a person laughs loudly and heartily, the muscles expand and one intakes a lot of fresh air — something beneficial for the body. This type of yogic laughter should be undertaken irrespective of how sad or depressed a person feels. A passerby of this Yoga also feels amused and may start laughing herself.

Listening to a merry laughter of someone is joyful. A popular Indian film actress, Madhubala (1933-1969), had such a musical, merry laughter that one could not but feel amused, delighted. Her laughter can still be heard over TV when old Hindi films are played.

Another method of feeling better is by deep breathing. For a person who is sad or sorrowful, this exercise of deep breathing is helpful both emotionally and from the health point of view, just as heavy laughter is.

Poverty is endemic in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. One can see slums, beggars, haggard faces of poor people all over. On such occasions doling out some money or food or warm clothing lightens one’s own depression especially if the beggar smiles in gratitude. Gandhi believed in Anthodia which meant uplifting the lowest section of society.  Charity won’t lift this section from poverty and deprivation, but at least a person who donates something with a pure heart would feel blessed.

As they say, charity begins at home. This means that children also learn the benefits of charity. At first they may show charity and love for their pets, but this develops into being good for your neighbours and poor people. This attitude if performed sincerely without any ulterior motive, also gives a sense of satisfaction, peace, goodwill.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi. ravipbhatia@gmail.com


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Oct 2019.

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