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Charlie Chaplin’s Guide to Picking Yourself Up When Life Knocks You Down

Have you watched a kid sliding down a water slide? I have watched my daughter doing just that. Frightened or not, she knows instinctively that she is going to hit the bottom. And when she hits the bottom, I always see a burst of a smile as she gets up. Isn’t life a little like a water slide?

Have you felt the fear of reality that has not yet been born? Have you surrendered your dreams when you felt cornered by the ghost of fear? We all have.

In the midst of the storms of your life, remember that the only problem you have to deal with is – choosing the right thoughts and facing the storm of adversity with a sense of adventure and laughter.

Who can better teach us how to dominate adversity by doing just that? Only one name comes to my mind — Charlie Chaplin

Born to an alcoholic father and a mother who suffered spells of madness, Charlie Chaplin was supposed to be written off by the society; and indeed most people were dismissive of him. However, the first ever-cinematic genius knew that the power of thoughts and laughter could overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges in life. History attests to his wisdom.

A star was born from an unhappy childhood to make three silent movies — The Gold Rush, Modern Times and City Lights that made it to the top of the American Film Institute’s 100 greatest films of all times. The secret of his greatness was in his power to be concerned about the problems he faced but not to worry about them and in his iron will to stay the course when he faced political scrutiny for some of the ideas portrayed in his films.

Concern means to be aware of the adversity and having the poise to overcome it. Worrying means spiraling down in the abyss of despair with a defeatist mindset.

You’ll never find rainbows if you’re looking down. — Charlie Chaplin

When we are conditioned by our past, we are holding the promise of our future hostage. Living in the past means going around in maddening, futile circles, with no sign of hope for a better future. I have learned to view the past as a blueprint to build a better tomorrow. Life is an experiment. Our past should act as a template to write lessons learned and the chief aim should be to improve the odds of achieving our highest dreams. Charlie Chaplin lived in homeless shelters while his father was dying due to alcohol addiction and his mother was hospitalized for her mental illness. He proves that greatness knows no barriers. The only barrier we face is the limitations we impose on our self-belief. Our past can go with us only as long as we allow it to go. Without our permission, our past lives only exist in the pages of history. If you view your past as the best result of a noble effort, you will embrace it with as much love as you cuddle your newborn child. Let’s always remember to learn from it but never forget that we have to look high if we want to see the rainbow.

Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. — Charlie Chaplin

The irony of life lies in the fact that misfortunes strike the most cautious planners and the luckiest of gamblers. I’ve had more failures than successes in my life. ‘Failure’ is a label that we use to surrender our dreams with the feebleness of a lamb. In my life, despite countless setbacks, I have found that there’s always a lifeline to latch on to and to pull myself up with better and exciting opportunities that never existed in the past. When I felt nostalgic and decided to go back to my home country, India, a friend of mine reminded the reason I left the country was to prove my self-worth. I have never looked back since then. If we persist in our efforts through tragic circumstances, we are destined to hear the laughter of success.

Nothing is permanent in this wicked world — not even our troubles. — Charlie Chaplin

When troubles come, we feel cornered by hopelessness but even the worst of trouble can’t last forever. Troubles trigger a tsunami of worries that can make even the most stolid person ill. We know instinctively that a picturesque, sunny day will be gone as day ends but we don’t stop enjoying the moment till the dusk sets in. Why can’t we use this same knowledge — that these seemingly endless troubles will end soon and opportunities will follow. One of cinema’s greatest comedians, Charlie Chaplin, spent most of his childhood in and out of the workhouses for homeless children. He proves that no matter how difficult our circumstances, we can succeed in the face of adversity. He shows that if we believe, our troubles can shape our character to have an iron will. Instead of asking yourself, “Why am I the only one to face these troubles?” ask, “How can I overcome these troubles?” The answer lies within you and that is a resounding “Yes!” because life always gets better if you have faith, patience and the iron will to accomplish whatever it is that you desire.

You have to believe in yourself, that’s the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. —- Charlie Chaplin

No one has the power to thrust self-doubt upon you without your permission. Charlie Chaplin learned early on in his life that you can’t be stepped on forever unless you agree to lie down willingly to let others step all over you. He didn’t cave in to the defeatist thoughts to surrender his staunch belief that he was the greatest actor in the world, even when he struggled to barely survive in his early life. It is easy to willingly be swept away in the storm of self-pity when adversity surrounds you, but it is equally important to remember that your thoughts can shield you from the worst of difficulties as long as you believe in yourself. Your self-worth is as high as your highest thoughts. When I started out in the hotel business I was told by countless friends that it was too risky and that I had no experience to manage a business- but I was determined to succeed no matter what it takes. I have never regretted my decision. Don’t allow others who have stayed at the shoreline to teach you how to swim across the ocean of life. Throughout my life when failures led me into darkness, my self-belief rescued me with new ideas and opportunities that never existed before.

Life is a beautiful magnificent thing, even to a jelly fish. … The trouble is you won’t fight. You’ve given up. But there’s something just as inevitable as death. And that’s life. Think of the power of the universe — turning the earth, growing the trees. That’s the same power within you — if you’ll only have the courage and the will to use it. — Charlie Chaplin

The antidote to adversity is the power to succeed. I was overwhelmed by the power of the universe when I held my daughter for the first time in my hands. I had an epiphany. Her beautiful face made me realize that we are all born complete with the power of universe that turns the earth and grows the trees. We have everything we need to achieve the loftiest of our dreams if we recognize the power that lies within. It was the realization that what happens to the world begins with you. Unfortunately, we decide to allow others to define who we are. If Charlie Chaplin had allowed the society to define his value, he would have been lost with the other countless homeless children who never rose to their utmost potential. Despite lacking most of the resources needed to sustain a healthy life, he never wanted to live a life of a jellyfish — a person lacking backbone or firmness. I was written off by many who considered me a jellyfish before I set my own course to chart my personal destiny. And I have proved that life can be a beautiful, magnificent thing to even a jellyfish.

Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of oneself. — Charlie Chaplin

We shy away from things that intrigue our mind and never even try as we consider the importance to avoid a failure more important than having courage to do what inspires us most. When we receive a result other than what we wanted , we label it as a failure and deny ourselves the power to think and act on our own behalf. Instead, we yield to others the ability to create our opinion of ourselves. We value failure itself higher than our courage to overcome it. Charlie Chaplin never ceased to portray ideas that he believed in even when he faced political scrutiny and eventual deportation from America. Why allow others to build or destroy our self-worth only to win their approval? Why give someone else an opportunity to drop an anchor over your shoulders and weigh you down? Why allow the words “I can’t” and “I wish I could” to squash your loftiest dreams?

Life is to be lived to the fullest. Why not find at least one positive outcome from the debris of adversity and focus on the positive to rebuild your dream? As hard as it seems, the power lies within you. Before you give up on swimming the ocean of life, remember that life is a beautiful thing even to a jellyfish.

             Laughter is the tonic, the relief, the surcease for pain. — Charlie Chaplin

How do you deal with adversity? Let’s have a conversation.

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