The influence of negative thoughts and pessimistic people is so strong that many times they blow away the little optimism in some people. It is definitely not something that I like to see, however, it is a challenge to counter such influences.
During my stay in UK I had observed something about the teenagers. My office was near a station and there was a boulevard that was visible from the large glass windows in my office. What I observed fascinated me! There were many children, they looked to be between 10 to 17 years old, who were practicing roller-skating and skate-boarding. There were some stairs, some big stones, and such objects which were higher than the level of the ground in the boulevard. These teenagers made attempts to do some stunts with their skates and boards. They would flip the board as they would jump and then try to land on the board with wheels staying at the bottom. I observed that most of the times they failed in the stunt. They were amateurs, practicing. Sometimes they would have a hard fall. Really hard. I had once witnessed a kid fall so hard on his bums that he could not get up. His face showed that he was in pain. There were other kids around who had a little laugh, but they carried on with their practice. This kid was sitting there for sometime, and then slowly helped himself back on his feet. He did some stretching, as if to get rid of the pain, and then got back on the skate-board. He started practicing again, and attempted the same stunt after some practice. This time he succeeded.
During one full year that I was in that country I observed many such instances. I saw kids who were not afraid to try what they wanted to do. I have this habit of thinking, pondering over my experiences and observations. I try to learn the good things from all experiences, I try to imbibe them within me.
Why were they not afraid? Why are kids in my country afraid? Why was I afraid to try any such stunt when I was a kid? Is it the culture in the country? Is it the economic situation of the country? Is it our society? What is it that influences a person’s capability of taking risks without the fear of falling? What makes a person conquer these fears to get the results?
These questions helped me get an insight into the behaviour of these kids in UK, and kids in India. Please understand that these are views I have developed which help me in my endeavour to build a better country through what I do in my own profession. My inference from this experience in no way undermines any culture, or puts another on a higher pedestal. Learning is the key here.
I have observed that in India adults are very protective about their children. If a child runs around in the house she is scolded and stopped so that she does not hurt herself. A boy falls down and starts crying, and the adult consoles him by blaming it on the floor. Many don’t allow children to play and are forced to only study. If a child does not study he is scolded and told, “If you do not study you will FAIL!”
We can keep thinking of many such examples from our lives and from society in general. What I noticed was that these experiences built a fear psychology within us. We become afraid of trying anything that involves too much risk. We also do things because we are afraid of the negative consequences of not doing so. We keep playing “not to lose” because playing “to win” involves risk.
I was trying to think of a solution and could come out with a middle path to start with. As much as we want children to be safe, we also would want them to grow as a confident person. A certain level of risk taking helps. It helps us conquer the fear and understand the difference between analysing and managing risks on the one hand and fearing and running away on the other. In the long run this would be helpful for the society in general as we would have more confident people who can weigh situations, take risks and move ahead with an optimistic attitude.
Telling children about the advantages of studying instead of the failure if they don’t would be an approach than can help in this process. Playing to win makes us put in that effort that leads us to success. Not risking gives no great result. Too much of it without planning and preparation does not work either. Therefore the middle path.