NELSON MANDELA & HOW TO KEEP YOUR HOPES ALIVE
Are you Feeling Depressed and Disappointed? Like there is no hope and it’s never going to end? Like there’s no light in the tunnel for miles?
For one thing you’re not alone. Second, I think there is someone who can help us get out of this pessimistic hell. Just stay with me for the next three minutes and that friend of ours will prove to us, that we have every reason to think that the future can be as bright and shiny as a fine spring morning. Now let us first hear the story of our friend.
Imagine (Don’t Panic, we’re just imagining) you are in a small prison cell that only has a Sleeping mat, an iron sanitary bucket and “YOU”. And it’s not a one day Educational/Awareness trip organized by a Human rights organization to acquaint you with the plight of inmates, you have to stay there for the next 22 years. Your daily routine here is to wake up at 5:30 in the morning with a yelling voice of a warder, clean up your cell, eat mealie pap porridge in the breakfast that has been spun through the bars of your cell and then start hammering stones out in the open till noon.
At noon, you get a lousy lunch and then start hammering stones again till 4. At 4, a whistle blows, and then the warder yells at you to go back to your cell. Here you have to lie alone till 5.30 the next morning to start the cycle of suffering again. Just imagine you have been in this depressing, psychologically humiliating routine for 5 years and someone approaches you and asks “Do you have any hope left in life? From what I know about us common people we would probably start crying immediately or try to kill that person for asking such a stupid question. Don’t you see dumb guy what I am going through? Do you have any idea what I am enduring and probably many more things. Because that’s how we are.
One of the most depressing and harmful traits of the human mind is our tendency to lose all hope and become A-Grade pessimists when we happen to face hardship in life, and the situation is worsened if it’s prolonged. Over time, what we start to believe is that this is permanent. That’s me for the rest of my life. It’s never going to change and I am going to die “a loser”. No matter who you are and where you are, you must have felt this at one time or the other in your life? Well, I will prove in this article that no matter how tough things are in your life, you have every reason to be hopeful that the future can do miracles for you.
Now let’s come back to our friend. Guess who had that prison routine for 22 years. O yeah Nelson Mandela. The modern prophet of racial equality. The crusader against apartheid and the recipient of a Nobel peace prize. Do you know what happened after 1988? He came out of the Prison and “YES” he became the “PRESIDENT” of South Africa. How on earth…….?
Now just imagine you are Mandela and you are in the 5th year of your prison term. Just put yourself in the shoes of that inmate for a moment. Each day you are going through that depressing , nerve wrecking , routine of yours where all day long you are hammering stones and listening to the humiliating yelling of the warders, and sleeping alone in the dark in your cube. Can you even imagine how embarrassing and psychologically deadly can be the experience of being yelled at everyday like an animal, especially for a noble person like Nelson Mandel? How hard is it to maintain a sense of decency and conscience in these circumstances? Would you have had any remnant of hope left? Would you have had any idea that any good could happen to you in the future? Could you even imagine that you will become the president of South Africa one day? Of course not. But it’s an irrefutable fact of modern history that it actually happened. Mandela indeed became the president of RSA.
The point I am trying to make here is that it’s very natural to go throw rough times. We all do. That’s just how life works. It can be as simple as getting bad grades at school to throwing your Resume at hundreds of doors and not getting any calls. Now what happens is that if such situations persist for some time, we inevitably start to believe that it will not end. We’ve all experienced it. So is it the right way to think? Of course no. Why? First, because it’s just not good for your mental health and your hormonal balance and second it just sucks away all your fighting energy. So what on earth to do?
What You Need to Do?
You have to do two things. The first and most important is to keep your hope and spirit alive and second, “STAY IN THE GAME”. How to keep your hopes alive and high?
The Counter Evidence from History
The reason you are feeling hopeless is because evidence in your life and your circumstances are suggesting you to believe so. Evidence cannot be refuted only with words of consolation, it can only be encountered by evidence. Where can you find the evidence that contradicts your present plight? Yes, you guessed right, “In History”. You must make it a habit to study about great people in history, and without exception you’ll notice they went through long periods of hardship and suffering, just to come out stronger, better and more successful, just as we talked about Mandela. This historical evidence is a fact, it’s irrefutable and it can be extremely therapeutic and uplifting for you if you use it properly.
You can even devise exercises for yourself depending upon your favorite personality in history that you look up to as an example. For example, you can recall the name of your hero, in this case Mandela and while saying it, you recollect in your mind the story of Mandela. Remember his 22 years prison term and routine. Try to enter his shoes and what he went through. How he must have felt all that despair and hopelessness and then how tables turned. Then go on to picture him taking the “PRESIDENTIAL OATH” clad in a fine suit. Then tell yourself, “If Mandela could become the President after such a debilitating prison episode then I can’t be right in thinking of this present situation as everlasting. If anybody had a reason to become a pessimist it was him. If anybody had a reason to give up it was him. If anyone had a reason to commit suicide it was him. But he didn’t. He kept his hopes and spirit alive, and most importantly stayed in the game. If such an impossible turn of events could happen, what can’t? I mean from “PRISON TO PRESIDENCY”. Isn’t it amazing? You don’t even want to become a president. For you, it might be going “from being jobless to a job” or “From a D grade to an A”. So no matter what you have to keep your spirits high and your hopes alive.
I’d like to conclude it with a little story that Sidney Sheldon wrote in his autobiography. He says that when he was a teenager, he got so depressed with his life that he decided to end it. Just when he was about to take the pills, his father showed up and stopped him. His father said to him that it’s ok if you want to take your life but before that, let’s take a last walk together. Sidney agreed. While they were walking, His father asked him “Sidney, when you are reading a novel, why you keep turning pages? Because I am surprised and want to know what happens next, Sidney replied. His father asked, don’t you think if a writer could create so much suspense in his story, how much suspense and surprise would be in the story that God writes, which is your life? Don’t you think each day is like a new page in the novel and you don’t know what can happen? Life, he said, is worth living even if you are depressed, just because it’s full of suspense and the fact that you don’t know what awesome things are awaiting you.