Good Moods Require Good Goals

>> Thursday

During the Korean War, the Chinese government systematically tried to brainwash the U.S. POWs. Their methods included deprivation and torture, and the captives suffered tremendously. At one point, in one of the prison camps, three-fourths of the POWs had died. Things were incredibly bleak for the rest of them, and they were all feeling desperate and hopeless.

Then one man said to the others, "We've got to stay alive, we've got to let others know about the horrors of Communism. We've got to live to bring back the armies and fight these evil people. Communism must not win!"

This was a turning point for every man there because their meaningless struggle was transformed into a mission. Simply staying alive against the odds was their goal. Their despair was turned into resolve. Their hopelessness was turned into determination. And their death rate went way down.

Speaking of his experience in a concentration camp, Viktor Frankl wrote, "As we said before, any attempt to restore a man's inner strength in the camp had first to succeed in showing him some future goal...Woe to him who saw no more sense in his life, no aim, no purpose, and therefore no point in carrying on. He was soon lost."

That's not just true in a concentration camp. It's true for all of us. Researchers at New York State Psychiatric Institute asked an unusual question of suicidal people. Rather than asking what makes them want to die, the researchers asked what makes them want to live?

They studied eighty-four people suffering major depression trying to determine why thirty-nine of them had never attempted to kill themselves. The study revealed that age, sex, religious persuasion or education level did not predict who would attempt suicide. But not having a reason to live predicted it. The depressed patients who perceived life as more worth living were less likely to attempt to kill themselves. In other words, people with a reason to live were more likely to live. Sometimes it takes a scientific study to prove the obvious.

Having a goal is very important. It's not just a nice thing. It's vital. It's vital for survival in tough situations and it's vital if you simply want to be in a good mood more often.

So get yourself a "concrete assignment that demands fulfillment" (see A Good Cause Can Cause a Good Mood for more on that). Look for something that fires you up, that you think is needed, that you feel is important, and that you can do something about.

If someone has no purpose at all, a small goal is a big improvement. But as your level of mental health increases, there comes a time when a full-on mission is called for.

You can still watch movies. You can still spend time conversing with your spouse. Walk in the woods. Go on vacation. But your definite purpose, your concrete assignment, is always there to give you a sense of purpose and meaning to your existence. And that will improve your mood tremendously.

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

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Chale Chalo

>> Saturday

One way to improve your mood is to watch an uplifting movie. The video below is from an Indian movie about a remote village during the time of the British occupation. Each village was required to give a portion of their crops to the local raja. The portion was called the "lagaan."

A man from one of the local villages grew angry at the unfair practice of the raja of taking their crops during a drought and making them starve, but in his rashness, he wagered with the raja — the rash guy's village would play cricket against the British team. If the villagers won, they would not have to pay the lagaan. But if they lost, they had to pay double, which would mean famine. People would die.

The whole village turned against the rash guy. What had he done? He had seriously endangered them all.

And yet, if they had to pay even this year's lagaan, they would suffer and starve anyway. One by one the villagers joined the rash one in his quest to learn to play cricket so they could win their freedom from the lagaan. Eventually a team was formed, and they began physical conditioning to prepare themselves for the game.

The scene below takes place soon after the village has gotten behind Mr. Rash and preparation has begun in earnest. They sing a song in the clip and I think it's inspiring. The movie was inspiring too. It's called Lagaan - Once Upon a Time in India. I don't usually like watching movies with subtitles, but I loved this one. "Chale chalo" means "come on, let's go, get a move on."



Lyrics to the song, translated into English:

Say it again and again, speak, friend, yes!
May victory be ours, may defeat be theirs, yes!

Chorus:

May no one triumph over us!
Come, let's go, get a move on!
May those who oppose us be obliterated! Come on, let's go!

No matter whether darkness spreads over us;
let's go, get a move on!
Let no one stop along the road; come on, let's go!
The pointing finger of accusation broke and shattered
when our five fingers came together and made a fist!

May our unity only strengthen!
Come, let's go, get a move on!
No matter how much someone might distract you, come on, let's go!

Chorus:

No one will stop you now, no one will get in your way!
Break all the bonds that hold you back!
What have you gained by being weak? You tell me!
We'll never endure misfortune; we'll play
in such a way that the enemy will be defeated!

Take the road of courage, now!
We'll shake this earth, we'll show everyone
the difference between a king and a slave.
We'll overwhelm the earth; we'll tell you right now
what kind of people we are!

Say it again and again, speak, friend, yes!
May victory be ours, may defeat be theirs, yes!
May no fear enter our hearts now!
Come, let's go, get a move on!

May every fetter snap apart now; come on, let's go!
Just keep marching, no panting, no shuddering;
you're on the path now, voyager!
Don't let the snake of exhaustion sink its fangs into you now!

He who is your ruler is a tyrant!
He has wrought destruction!
His home is in the west; he shall not settle here!
We'll shake this earth; we'll show everyone
the difference between a king and a slave
We'll overcome this earth; we'll tell you right now
what kind of people we are!

What must be, let it be, no matter! Come on, let's go!
May you never bow your head again! Come on, let's go!

Chorus:

Again and again, yes!
Say it, friend, yes!
May victory be ours,
may defeat be theirs, yes!
It broke and shattered,
the pointing finger of accusation!
When our five fingers came together,
they made a fist!

Adam Khan is the author of Antivirus For Your Mind: How to Strengthen Your Persistence and Determination and Feel Good More Often and co-author with Klassy Evans of Viewfinder: How to Change the Way You Look at Things.

Read more...

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