The past few months haven’t been kind to Sri Lanka. People are still talking about rape and sexual harassment and in general, the country’s people have been in conflict. The year began with a presidential election that changed the country and since then there have been many issues that have been discussed and dealt with.
However, it cannot be denied that often, it was the negatives that were talked about. People seem to whine and complain a lot. It’s almost a hobby for some. It could be the weather, traffic, incompetence of sales people or the government’s reluctance to take action against certain individuals; however minor the issue is people will complain.
And yet, isn’t Sri Lanka much more than slow internet connections, terrible bus music and heavy traffic? Isn’t Sri Lanka more than the pavements covered in spit or crow poop? Isn’t Sri Lanka more than the slow trains or too fast buses?
Why is it that we always look at the negatives? If you are describing Sri Lanka to a foreigner, would you describe it as a wretched place to live or as a paradise island?
There are the negatives, there is no denying that. Sexual harassment continues to plague the country and ethnic conflict continues. However, there are also the positives and maybe it is time we focused on them.
For instance, sure, the trains are sometimes slow. However, don’t they cut short a sometimes two hour journey to one hour? Further, they don’t constantly keep stopping like buses do. They are also cheaper. And the view is never disappointing.
It’s not too difficult to looking at the positives instead of the negatives. Whenever you feel annoyed about something, especially if it’s something minor, make a list of the negatives and positives of the situation. There may be more negatives, but few as they are, the positives are more important.
Living in Sri Lanka, we tend to focus on the negatives. However, there are the many positives too and these can make us appreciate everything we have.
Sachin Bhandary is from India and is traveling to 12 countries in 12 months for 12 challenges. Third on his list was Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan challenge was called #LankaPositive. Sachin’s challenge for Sri Lanka was based on all the negative reports on Sri Lanka. In fact, Sri Lanka is often seen as a country of armed conflict and bloodshed. For many of us, our entire lives have been about the armed conflict.
While we say it is high time people stopped wearing the armed conflict like a medal and that the constant reminders should stop, don’t we ourselves add the armed conflict to the definition of Sri Lanka? When foreigners visit the island, aren’t we quick to take them to the North and not only show them the rich history and culture of the North but how the conflict turned the North into crumbling buildings and abandoned villages?
During recent times, a new label has been tacked on to Sri Lanka and that is of tourism. Sri Lanka is often advertised as a perfect holiday destination, what with its good food, beaches and climate. When reading such posts, as a Sri Lanka, one may feel there is something missing. This missing important element is the ‘Sri Lankanness’ of our island. The posts sort of romanticize ordinary Sri Lanka. And this hides what can be called the real Sri Lanka, the one that is simple, full of small pleasures and is beautiful not because of its beaches, mountains or sunsets but because of how ordinary it is.
Think of a rainy day. You are on the road without an umbrella. You stand inside a shop, waiting for the rain to cease. You will most probably spend this time cursing the weather and the Sri Lankan roads that are flooded easily. However, if you erase the negative thoughts from your mind, you may notice the little kids who are jumping into water puddles or the teenagers making paper boats and watching them sail away. You will notice things that will make you happy.
When talking about the positives of the country, you shouldn’t think exaggeration is necessary. Sri Lankans are good at exaggerating. For instance, a medical student, even before sitting for a single exam, will be called a doctor. Thus we shouldn’t be painting an only positive picture of Sri Lanka. The world should be aware of the real situation of the country. However, focusing on the positives might help us, as Sri Lankans, appreciate what we have instead of letting what we don’t have consume us and thus make life less enjoyable.
We like to think we have no control of our lives. We believe it’s all decided by a higher power. However, we can change the way life is simply by changing our attitude. If we look at the negatives and constantly whine and complain, life will be gloomy and we will be grumpy. However, if we look at the positives life won’t be that bad.
From theoddtraveller.in, where Sachin Bhandary blogs about his travels
“The 12 Project is built with contribution from people. I would like to invite Sri Lankans to tweet with #LankaPositive and share positive stories about their country. I will collate them and put them on my blog. Hopefully, we can share this with the world and showcase the positivity of Sri Lanka.”
“My experience in the last few days has been overwhelmingly positive. As expected Sri Lankans are a great people with an enviable culture. Also, the citizens of this country are generous beyond expectation.”
“These are the stories the world ought to hear. And together we can be that voice.”