When a certain situation seems as bleak as it can be, sometimes there's nothing left to do but put on a brave face, flash your biggest smile and put your best foot forward. Some of us are, of course, better at doing this than others. And the serious illness of a loved one, for example, will surely prove the litmus test. Whether it is better to let the tears fall and hide nothing from the patient in question or valiantly control the quiver in your voice and act as if nothing in the world is wrong, leaves me all at sea.
It seems I'm not the only one who's a tad confused about the right response, for society is sending out mixed messages. At school, we're taught to maintain a stiff upper lip, keep our spirits up and press on regardless in the face of adversity, whereas girlie magazines would have us buy into the cathartic benefits of opening up, talking freely about our feelings and leaning on our nearest and dearest in our hour of need.
If I subscribe to any school of thought, it would probably be the Steven Covey approach to taking full responsibility for creating every aspect of our lives through a positive mental attitude and being highly proactive: having full awareness of the things we have the power to change and those we do not; understanding the difference and accepting it with good grace. Granted, this is far easier said than done, but that's what I'm striving for.
Luckily, life in the UAE is full of distractions and positivity as I see it, and even a simple trip to my local supermarket in Dubai Marina never fails to brighten my day when I'm met with the irrepressible happiness, kindness and good energy of the people working there. Constant sunshine and the glistening azure sea views from my office also contribute hugely to my buoyant mood. And let's face it, it's hard to be depressed when even an "average weekend" spent doing "nothing much" means hours whiled away at the beach having fun.
If all else fails and should the dark clouds form, I recommend a quick blast of Don't Stop Me Now by Queen. That song is not only a shape-shifter but one of the most effective mood-shifters known to man. Alternatively, why not take Ian Dury's advice by finding "something nice to study or phoning up a buddy"? Either, he promises, will give you Reasons to Be Cheerful.