From school (particularly middle school), I vividly remember the expressions on my classmates’ faces just before the teacher would distribute exam results. Tensed, excited,nervous – one could see it all over our faces. Each time someone went to collect their paper from the teacher, the others would look at her in anticipation, and wait for her to declare her score. Each declared score determined the current highest scorer, and made the others even more restless. Now I feel that one should judge themselves by how much they have improved from the last time, and learn from their mistakes. But, I suppose we were too young to understand this back then. Strangely, someone scoring a 97 would be ecstatic, but only until she found out that someone else had scored a 98. Yes, happiness was short-lived for the person who came 2nd, for she would sulk about how she just missed it.
After the London Olympics 2012, BBC published an article online stating this exact observation among the Silver Medal winners. A study conducted after the 1992 Olympics found out that people who won the Silver Medal were less happier than those who won the Bronze or even those who didn’t win anything at all. Puzzled? So was I . But, the fact remains that people tend to think about how things could have been different and what they could have achieved – termed by psychologists as ‘counterfactual thinking’. This kind of thinking is more associated with the Silver Medal winners, for they feel that they were so close to the Gold and they just missed it. On the other hand, the Bronze medallists feel relatively happier thinking that they at least made it to the top 3 and did not lose out on their chances completely.
So now I know that this behaviour does not only pertain to a group of teenagers from a Convent School, but is in fact common with a lot of people all over the world. On many occasions, you might have cursed that one moment which could have been different, that one step you could have taken, or on another note, maybe that one sentence you could have said to someone. But, do not be overwhelmed by regret or sorrow. You cannot do anything about what could have been, though you can certainly be thankful for what you have and prepare yourself to do better next time.
As BBC rightly puts it, “We’re all haunted by things we could have done, or shouldn’t have done. What’s the point in dwelling on such matters, we may ask, when we can’t change the past?”
When you meet someone for the first time and hit it off instantly?When you instantly discover a huge overlap of interests with someone and realize you have unending things to talk about? When you both are on the same wavelength and everything they say makes sense?
Infact, maybe sometimes you feel that they radiate this huge energy which refreshes you and leaves you with a whole lot of ideas bouncing in your head.Maybe the things they say inspire you to think critically and be more productive at your work. Maybe it is one of those boring and tiring days at work, and meeting this person for a few minutes leaves you fully energized and happy.
On the other hand, you might have come across some people who greet you with their whines and say nothing except all the apparently horrible things that have happened around them. Maybe your cheerful mood goes down the drain and fear succumbs you when you hear them talk. Maybe you feel your energy draining out when you are talking to them, and all you do after getting back is.. whine about it all to someone else. There! You might have just been responsible for spreading negative energy all around you!
Think about it. Would you rather be around people who are cheerful, happy and radiate positive vibes, or around those who are perpetually unhappy and whiny? There is nothing worse than landing in a new place and hearing words of discouragement from someone staying there for long. True, that person might have had some genuine problems/difficulties. Maybe the whiny person is your good friend too, and you would definitely try to encourage them to make things better. But, what if this never stops? What if they always find a reason to whine about/talk ill of others/ talk ill of your surroundings? What if pessimism fills the air all around them?
All you can do is, shield yourself from the negative energy, and spread only positive vibes. Do NOT let yourself be affected by the negative things they say. Just because it happened to them, doesn’t mean you will face the same too.If you realize that talking to someone fills you with positivity, keep doing so! If you are happy, people around you will feel it too. You may not realize how someone else
might have been impacted by you.;how those few minutes of an energetic conversation with someone might have been the best thing in their day; how your simple encouragement might have given them the much-needed motivation. Or how your negative feedback might have just ruined their day; how your whines might have just dampened their mood or worse, how your discouragement might have given them the push to do something terrible with their lives…