I’ve written before about having a positive mental attitude (with all disclaimers for those who suffer with clinical depression/hormonal imbalance, etc.), and it’s a subject I regularly come back to. I think it’s even more important in times of adversity: when ‘bad’ things happen (things which you wouldn’t have chosen, or things which were completely out of your control) it’s important to remember that you have it in you to regroup and find the silver lining.
I recently went on Amazon Prime Video and I wanted to find a movie to watch which would fit my mood. It occurred to me that some of my favourite movies are ones which inspire me in some way, or convey a really universal truth about how to find happiness in life. Groundhog Day is a perfect example – not only is it a really funny film (Bill Murray’s best performance in my opinion) but it provides the ultimate message: that until you stop expecting good things to happen no matter what you’re like, or what you do, or how you treat others, you cannot move forwards towards real fulfilment – you have to make a change in yourself.
I also like Eat Pray Love and I’m currently reading the book which the film was based on – similarly it has that inspirational message that you can lose everything but exploring – both physically (the world) and mentally (yourself) – is just another beginning – all of our lives might be sub-divided into ‘chapters’ and life is full of peaks and troughs.
I decided to Google for movie recommendations and found a blog with a list of potentially inspirational options, including honest reviews by the author. On her list was the Jim Carrey film Yes Man, the Adam Sandler movie Click, but there was also a film called The Secret which is apparently a very well-known introduction to a theory called ‘The Law of Attraction’ claiming that positive thinking can create life-changing results such as increased happiness, health and wealth.
Fascinated by the idea, I looked a bit further into the subject but a lot of the rhetoric about ‘visualisation’ seems a bit like mumbo-jumbo to me. Apparently The Secret (both book and film) attracted a lot of controversy and criticism for it’s claims when it was released just over a decade ago.
What I ultimately get from this theory is that it makes a difference to re-focus – not to just ‘think positive’ and positive will come into your life, but to accept that the negative will happen (it’s black and white, yin and yang – you can’t have one without the other), but brush over the negative mentally and put all your mental energy into celebrating the best bits of what you have – being thankful, being mindful and putting your good karma out into the world.
It feels hard to say this – in a public way – when I have not experienced the suffering that a lot of people have had to go through in their lives, but just recently one of my old school friends posted this clip from Channel 4 News called ‘an algorithm of happiness’ which shows a guy called Mo Gawdat talking about his theory on moving forwards towards happiness after a tragic event (his son died suddenly).
In essence it’s pretty damn simple – some bad things can’t be undone but the way you choose to move forwards as a survivor is critical. I like his explanation of re-setting yourself from zero. Take yourself back to factory settings.
So I’m off to make a list of things I’m grateful for in my life right now. I will allow myself to enjoy the little pleasures without guilt. I will think about what makes me happy now and what will make me happy in the future but I won’t dwell on the past.