I know this might sound both simplistic and ludicrous, but don’t dismiss this article until you give it a read.
Positivity, an optimistic approach, focussing on the blessings.
All excellent advice, but we know how difficult they are in real life, when we’re faced with rising petrol prices
and sky-high inflation and the plunging value of the rupee. Would you rather I endorsed one of those philosophies? I thought not.
Instead, I put before you an ideology that has been proved a number of times by different people down the ages: Action determines emotion. We are told that physical activity has an ability to boost our moods and lift us out of the doldrums, because they release certain endorphins with names I can never remember, which have far reaching effects on our emotional reactions to the drudgery of the day.
Which is all fine and dandy, except for the fact that not many of us have the time or the intention to go to the gym, or to play a sport, after a gruelling workday. Even something like yoga or meditation is too much of a luxury when we’re being pulled in different directions to cope with family life, work pressure, and social one-upmanship.
Drumroll: it doesn’t have to be physical activity. Any action will make you feel better. You can flex your muscles. You can twitch. Or you could whistle or hum or sing your way through the day.
Think about it this way:
1. It’s innocuous. You might get some surprised glances (and some “Is this guy for real? How can he be happy!” stares) but you won’t be institutionalised. Whistling and humming passes as normal behaviour in most cities.
2. It’s definitely an action. It expends some energy, it requires conscious thought to keep at it, and it will provoke a reaction in the form of stares and /or smiles. (Every action has an equal reaction, they used to say?)
3. It’s effortless. There are very few forms of daily activity that you can’t whistle or hum while engaging in.
4. Everyone can do it, and it doesn’t matter whether or not you have a ear for music.
Okay, so you don’t think that singing or whistling is going to change anything. But would you agree that a vast majority of people watch television to take their minds off their problems? Do others visit bars for a similar reason: for a temporary release from the harsh glare of reality?
You’re telling me that there is something that counts as an action, and which liberates you from the world of tedious queues and monotonous paperwork and aggravating co-workers, and you won’t even try it? No, I know you’re smarter than that.
How does it work, you ask? Simple—if you can whistle, or can learn to, there’s nothing like it. We’re talking about whistling a tune, though, not catcalls. If you can’t whistle, hum. All day, everyday. Old tunes, newer tunes,catchy ones or slow songs, do it for yourself, and keep at it. Besides the lift in spirits that the music will bring you, you will develop a distinct carelessness towards the problems of life. You will shrug off cares, because just try whistling or humming, and frowning at the same time—it doesn’t happen. It’s not a non-reaction, though. It’s not bottling up your worries or pretending they don’t exist, it’s accepting that whatever will be, will be, and then moving on.
Besides, music is a natural mood enhancer. It works, trust me. The one year that I spent cultivating a tuneful whistle was the year I was voted the happiest student in college, I kid you not!
I leave you with one last thought. Have you listened to thesong ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’? What is it about the song that makes you smile? Give it a dekko on YouTube, and notice that the singer performed without accompaniment or background music. The interludes, which are quite lengthy, are whistled by the singer. I wish I could say, like Bobby McFerrin did in the song “I give you my phone number, when you worry call me, I make you happy…” If I whistle often enough, some day, maybe.