Tuesday, April 16, 2024

TONI THORNE: Coping with life’s challenges


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ONE OF THE greatest things about life is the opportunity for each of us to make ourselves happy. In my years on this earth, the recurring point is that happiness does not come without sacrifice. Happiness is not a straight, smooth road. Perhaps that is the good thing about the trials and tribulations we experience on this journey we call life. Something positive always comes from our negative experiences.

We may not see these positives in the midst of our teary eyes and snotty noses. In retrospect, we are able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and thank God for having placed us in such difficult positions.

When I think of happiness, I think of a young couple who tried at least four times with in vitro fertilisation for their little angel. Each time the process failed it took a toll on their marriage and their faith in God. The wife grew frustrated and constantly depressed, especially after having miscarriages in previous relationships. She felt like a failure. The husband felt hopeless seeing his wife’s depression in a situation that was beyond their control. My pastor, Carlos Brathwaite, always says something that resonates with me. It is simply two words: “BUT GOD”.

Today, this couple could not be happier. Their bond is stronger than ever because the strength of their marriage and faith was tested. I am sure people love their pictures on social media and comment that they are the picture-perfect family. However, everyone has a story and a struggle to happiness.

When I think of happiness, I think of those of us who are resilient in the pursuit of our dreams. We hear the word “no” often and our proposals get turned down faster than an ugly girl on a dating site. In our moments of fear and frustration, other than God, we seek comfort in a pillow. Those of us who have been scoffed at by family and friends for pursuing things which “will never come to light” and as a result we will “never be taken seriously” can relate to the aforementioned.

I recall years ago my mother stood in Abed’s just after Barbados scholarships had been announced and a former schoolmate (who was also an Exhibition winner) told her that I would never be successful. I also recall a close friend announcing to me that her father thought I was going nowhere in life and as a result instructed her never to hang out with me again. Today, I am far from successful. However, I am happy and continue to make decisions that will make me happy whilst walking to the beat of my own drum.

When I think of happiness my mind wanders to Liz Thompson, who just launched her book Make Yourself Happy. We see people and assume that their roles and titles exclude them from disappointments and enrolments into “The School of Hard Knocks”.

Liz will continue to enjoy some of life’s greatest blessings. She held the fourth highest role in the UN and is on the brink of another successful career chapter in her life. While reading through a draft copy of her book a few weeks ago, I asked her some very pertinent and private questions on how she has managed to make herself happy. The person who stood before me explained how failed relationships, being fired from Parliament and the perils and joys of Barbadian public life have shaped who she is today – a strong, confident, intelligent woman. I was guilty of doing what many people do to me. I assumed that someone like Liz had a surfboard through life. Boy, was I wrong!

I recently watched a video with Vice-President Joe Biden who lost a wife and child in a car accident and later in life lost his son Beau Biden to brain cancer. Tears rolled down my cheeks as Joe recalled understanding the desire for one to commit suicide. At the end of the video it became very clear to me that we all have our bad days and horrible experiences. The character of a man is seen in how we use these bad days to live our best lives and, in turn, truly make ourselves happy. Happy Sunday.

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: Tonithorne@hotmail.com


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