Would I have laughed over all these jokes and incidents 20 years ago? I would have. So, perhaps, it’s nothing to do with my age after all, but something else altogether? Like Jennifer now, I too had run my home, brought up children and held down a job. There had been other economic crises and the fright of a life-threatening illness in our lives but never a day completely devoid of at least one smileful moment. Stress and threat there had been a plenty, but cause for thankfulness and harmless amusement as well. So, could I put down the silver lining to every cloud that darkened my horizon to my mindset, then?
What exactly is “mindset”, though? A product of heredity and environment, as the psychologists put it? Perhaps it is. It runs in our family, this penchant for amusement. We huddle together and laugh over things big and small. “Too much laughter isn’t good for you,” our grandma used to warn us.
WHAT EXACTLY IS
“It often ends in tears” – as it often did: tears of laughter. But if you’ll excuse my cheek, did you know that laughter is now thought to improve your chances of a longer, healthier life? It has often saved me from exploding in rage or dissolving in tears. And this “mindset” I’ve inherited has, fortunately, fitted me out with a pair of wonder specs that can often spot something special in some of the most mundane or absurd situations and fill me with either a sense of wonder or incredulous amusement, as the case may be.
“Lucky you!” I can almost hear my grandmother say, that frosty smile on her face that could nip in the bud any vanity in us, her grandchildren. But I’m not showing off, just being
grateful, you know: grateful that I had the chance to grow up in a culture that taught us to be happy with what would now be probably dismissed as trivial. We also learnt to face with hope and faith uncertain futures fraught with dangers of job losses and financial insecurity without the luxury of the dole from the State or health-care programmes these first World countries enjoy.
It was our environment that taught us all that, our way of life, in which the only safety net we had was the family, which we knew would never ever let us down. I am deeply grateful that it taught us first-hand that the greatest wealth one could have was the sum total of warm human relationships, without which you were so lonely that you found nothing to smile at for days on end.
HOLDING ON TO
Am I preaching? Well… maybe that’s the impression some would get even if it’s not my intention to do so. I’m just a little concerned. As my country gradually proceeds to relative prosperity (yes, I ‘m aware we have miles to go yet), I can’t help noticing that people are beginning to lose the values that have always helped us find our way through the worst disasters we have had to face through time.
I do most sincerely hope that we’ll never forget that no amount of material prosperity can make up for a scarcity in human warmth and concern that guarantees a sense of well-being and provides at least one smile a day, no matter how hard the realities are that we face. And, yes, if you asked for my advice, I would strongly recommend trying to recall at bedtime that one moment in your day that made you happy – whether it was because of something you saw, heard, realised, received from or gave to the world around you – and you will fall asleep a more contented person. I personally think it is more than an act of naivete. If it is anything, it is an expression of thanks, a kind of prayer.