Belfast Telegraph

Why Frank had right attitude to life's trials

By Robert McNeill

Now they - and you know who I mean - are telling us to be resilient. They used to tell us to be happy. But that turned out to be wrong.

Top experts now say the pursuit of happiness creates the very problems it's supposed to solve. So, where do we go from here?

Well, if you've a decent pub nearby, that's one option. Or you could just go back to bed. Or - pause for parp of trumpets - you could learn to be resilient.

The latest brain-bending advice comes from psychologists and psychiatrists and that sort of person.

I'm unclear what's brought them together, other than an article in the Daily Mail, an institution - I use the word advisedly - that has caused more unhappiness than all the other newspapers, politicians, criminals and lawyers in the world combined.

It uses studies by various loonologists to warn parents against "mollycoddling" their children. The Daily Mail would prefer you to birch them.

Still, it's at least uncharacteristically correct to cite a study by Yale University boffins who found that advice in magazines about how to be happy made the lieges feel worse.

It's because that stuff never works, and the subsequent disappointment causes depression.

However, put down that phone and spare the Samaritans your dulcet tones. For another top psychobobulator from King's College, Londonshire, has cartwheeled into the fray to say that what we must do is learn to deal with adversity. Fair point.

What is life? I'm glad you asked that. It's the thing that pokes you in the eye. It particularly likes doing so just when you think everything's tickety-boo.

Five minutes after you're born and everyone's finished slapping you on the butt, you look around and think: "Well, a smacked butt is one thing, but I've no intention of being poked in the eye during my tenure in this dump." But in the eye you will be poked. The key to your contentment lies in how you deal with the poking. Prof Michael Rutter of the equally aforementioned King's says exposure to stress strengthens you, by firming up your nervous and hormonal systems.

It's a variation on the philosophy of Humphrey Nietzsche, who took out his dentures and announced: "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."

You'll recall from these columns that Nietzsche received influential backing recently from Kim Kardashian, the reality TV star with the controversial buttocks.

All airy-fairy flimflam you'd think, until you hear that resilience teaching is now on the curriculum at 46 schools in yonder Hertfordshire. It's supposed to help the kids with bullying and similar character-building aspects of this other Eden.

Even politicians are catching up, with Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham declaring: "Resilience is the bottom line." It's all bottoms with these people, isn't it?

Scraping the same barrel-wise, the Daily Mail claims resilience is the new 'buzz-word'. Tempting to say buzz off.

The trouble is that life pokes some people in the eye more than others.

You can be resilient the first time, and even the eighth. But, on the ninth, you burst into tears.

Still, maybe it is time to man up. "Each time that I find myself flat on my face/I pick myself up and get back in the race." Frank Sinatra sang that in 1966.

Just taken the psycho-babblers 46 years to join in the chorus.


From Belfast Telegraph