March 27, 2015
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There is a proverb that has been imprinted on my brain since I was a child. Very loosely translated from Bengali, it is

“However much you laugh is how much you’ll cry.”

The phrase sounds beautiful in Bengali but has always struck me as such an odd thing to say. When I was growing up, it was sometimes used by my mother as a warning.

Even if I employ my rational brain and think about Newton’s 3rd law – every action has an equal and opposite reaction – I still don’t understand why we would be told not to have too much fun. In case something bad happens? That seems fearful.

This got me thinking about the things we are told and the weight of a belief. Beliefs can empower or decimate instantly, often in quite a surreptitious way. For example, my family is huge and, for the most part, very traditional. Whilst there was great love in our home, there was not a lot of praise. It was frowned upon, the belief was that it would breed arrogance. Humility was the way to go, and whilst I agree that it is a wonderful quality, the things that people say (and how they say them) can stay with you forever. When I was a teenager I was told quite forcefully once that I was a failure. The whys and wherefores aren’t relevant here, but it has stayed with me forever.

There are always people in our lives, often those closest to us, whose words matter, whose beliefs we take as gospel. This is wonderful if the beliefs raise us up, not if they put you down. For many people, beliefs are linked to religion, which, combined with tradition and culture, was heavily intertwined in the way I was brought up. Despite my relationship with God being very up and down, I respect all religions and faith (as long as they do no harm). I do believe there is something more than flesh and bone. I believe in the soul and inexplicable connections. I believe there is more.

And I have to say: I don’t believe that “God” or any kind of higher order that would want us to have a detrimental effect on people or to put a negative spin on happiness and laughter.

I have always been accepting of life’s ups and downs, I am prepared to take the rough spots if I can have the moments of euphoria. In fact I believe that the way we deal with low points and challenges in life is what defines us. So I’m going to keep laughing and being happy, and if that has to be balanced with sadness then I am prepared to shed the odd tear.

How about you? What do you believe? Do your beliefs empower you, or are building yourself up after falling prey to unfounded beliefs?

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