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Sikhism and Optimism

In Sikhism, chardi kala is the Punjabi term for aspiring to maintain a mental state of eternal optimism. Sikhs are ideally expected to be in this positive state of mind as a sign of their contentment with the Will of God, even during times of adversity.

"Sikhs consider Chardi Kala as the central attitude on how one should live their life. Chardi Kala, also meaning “the positive attitude” is an equivalence of a mind that never despairs, never admits defeat and refuses to be crushed by adversities. It means “In High Spirits of the Lord”. All our Gurus repeatedly emphasized in their teaching, poems, songs and lectures that one should always work towards Chardi Kala, be joyous and playful mood even in the time of adversity and despair."

Simran Jeet Singh on Coronavirus

While I see the pandemic as a disruptive force, I also try to see it through the rose-colored prism of chardi kala, the Sikh teaching of ever-rising optimism. Sikh wisdom offers chardi kala as an antidote to suffering. We all encounter various difficulties in life, and we can’t control everything that comes our way. But we can always choose how we perceive these events — and it’s far more empowering and inspiring to find the silver linings in the difficulties we experience.

It’s not an easy practice, especially in times like these. But engaging chardi kala has helped me in a number of ways throughout my life: to see the humanity of those who hate people who look like me (or who look different at all), to find goodness in moments of darkness and to find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.

Employing the outlook of chardi kala, I have tried to view this moment as something more than a deadly and inconvenient disruption. And over the past week, I have come to see it as a helpful intervention.

Read "CoronaVirus: The Need for Optimism"

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