Have you ever had this happen to you – something happy or exciting happens to you, and the song that is playing in your head becomes your “happy song”. And the other way round – when something not-so-happy happens to you, the song that is playing in your head becomes your “sad song”. I have. And I remember creating more “sad songs” than “happy songs”.

At one point in time, when the world around me seemed to be crumbling, I created several “sad songs”. In the years to come, whenever one of these songs used to play, my mood used to go down immediately, and I would feel miserable. Now, this was a real problem – what if I was listening to the radio when others were present, or go to a party where these songs were played? I was putting the key to my mood in the pockets of a factor that was outside my control. I had to do something about it. 

I took one “sad song” and decided to work at it. I played that song. My mood plummeted. I artificially tried to make myself happy, and played the song again. I repeated this cycle a few times that day. Over the course of several days, I kept playing this song repeatedly. I would go for a walk and listen to this song. I would run on the treadmill and listen to this song. Eventually, I found that my mood was no longer going down when listening to this song. In retrospect, when I analyze what I happened, I suspect I had broken the link between this song and the bad event that happened. Miracles of miracles, this song eventually had no power to envelop me into sadness.

I knew that I had really succeeded in my effort when the following happened. One day, I was in a low mood. My wife wanted to cheer me up. “I know what will cheer you up, I will play your favorite song”, and played the said song! When my “sad song” had morphed into my “happy song”, my effort indeed was successful. This is one of my proudest ever achievements. 

My takeaway from this exercise is that there are several lateral solutions available to tackle even the most impossible looking problem where we seem to apparently lack control. We have to identify a solution, try out it out, and be persistent in our attempt.

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Prahalad Rajkumar

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