06 May Can a timeless musical teach you to be happy? (Hint: yes, indeed!)
I grew up in India and Burma – now Myanmar.
It was a cloistered existence in largely closed societies.
We had no Television. No theater. No clubs. No discos.
Reading was my escape and I devoured books. P G Wodehouse was a favorite and thriller writers like Edgar Wallace and Sapper provided both satisfying chills and a window into the outside world.
One day my English teacher, an Oxonian named Christopher James Stocks, decided to take our entire class to a screening of My Fair Lady.
This was HUGE. My school in West Bengal did not encourage such outings. I have no doubt that he had to engage in all kinds of placating the powers that be to make this happen. He succeeded.
I was enthralled. It was screened in 70 mm and the vibrant colors and stereophonic sound created an experience that still lives.
Covent Garden came alive and I am unable to separate Rex Harrison from Professor Henry Higgins and Audrey Hepburn from Eliza Doolittle.
There are many deep lessons in that musical. I will touch on one of them here.
Life-Changing Wisdom from ‘My Fair Lady’
A timeless musical teaches you to be happy
Eliza has performed splendidly at the Royal Ball and Higgins and Col. Pickering strut around congratulating themselves on the superb job they did in engineering the metamorphosis of a flower girl into a lady.
Eliza leaves and holes up with Higgin’s mother. He misses her and calls on his mother for help and finds her there.
And then there is that unforgettable song, Without You
In particular, I remember the lyrics:
There’ll be Spring every year without you
England still will be here without you
And that rain down in Spain
Which stays mostly in the plain
Even THAT will remain without you.
There you have it all. Henry Higgins lived in a world where the world revolved around him.
He viewed all events in terms of their impact on him. How dare Eliza leave him like this? What about his breakfast and bringing him his slippers.
This was the start of his transformation though this was not explored in depth. It was merely hinted at.
You may not be as extreme as Higgins, but are no different in essence.
You, also, look at the world in general and the people in your life, in particular, as accoutrements to your existence.
Does your partner get a great job offer?
You think immediately of how this will affect your relationship.
Try something different.
Try taking yourself out of the picture and focus entirely on being of service to someone.
Create a micro-experience of joy for them. Do this several times each day.
A micro-experience of joy is brief moment when a person feels genuinely happy and at peace.
And there are many ways in which you can create this for persons in your life or who briefly impinge on your life.
You can sincerely tell the man in the line behind you what a wonderful tie he is wearing.
You can tell your daughter that she leaves you wonderstruck at the thought that you, somehow, had a hand in creating her.
Very often a simple, heartfelt compliment will do the trick. But you can, and should, also do stuff. Like give gifts and presents and do your share – or more – of chores and distasteful tasks.
Your imagination is your only limit.
This is one of the exercises in my program Creativity and Personal Mastery.
And many say that the very act of thinking of others and how to make their day, makes their day.
And that is how you can find happiness and fulfillment in your life.