You are not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago then, or even yesterday. You always grow … stronger!
Sometimes life melts us in the gut, he takes us in such a devastating blow that it literally takes our breath away.
A pandemic hit, a loved one gets sick, we lose a good winning job, someone we know dies, money gets cramped, feelings of depression and despair overwhelm our better judgment … everything just seems to go wrong.
So, what can we do when the world around us is bursting and we can't seem to pick up the pieces?
The times when things fall apart are precisely the best times to practice attendance and attention. These are the times we always prepare for in a way when we pray, meditate, reflect on ourselves and generally invest in our personal growth during the good times.
Truth be told, when the world seems to be crumbling, there are tremendous opportunities. But we must be willing to do some tough things. We must be willing to change our perspective and our response.
First, let's lay a solid foundation …
Be patient with the pain you feel. Don't hide from it, don't hurry to cover it or fix it immediately. Just start by acknowledging its presence and meeting it with courage.
Then challenge yourself to sit quietly with what you feel for a whole minute, with compassion and gentleness. Be at peace with the source of your pain – find the courage to just sit with the one you would do with a close friend who hurts. Practice this a few times a day as you feel the pulse of your pain growing. And notice when your mind wants to run, hide or rebel. When this happens, take a deep breath, center yourself again and start again.
Eventually you will see clearly that what you feel is just a feeling and that you can stay with what you feel without the world ending. You will see that you are in control of your emotions and not the other way around. And you will start to take them less seriously, hold them lightly and give them some much needed space in your troubled brain.
When the world breaks, it's time to practice.
Right now is tough
Of course, I really do not diminish the true nature of our current circumstances with COVID-19. The virus is still spreading around the world right now, and we are all facing a very difficult reality. These are not "good times." I am not suggesting that we should rejoice in living about this depressing and painful life experience. But it is definitely wise to think about the impact this event has on our collective behavior.
So let's build the foundation we just sat above. Let's look at some tough yet necessary things we can do for ourselves right now to relieve our pain and experience some more happiness in the days and weeks ahead …
1. Be fully present at every moment.
Life does not live in any remote, imagined country a day where everything is perfect. It is lived here and now, with reality the way it is. Yes, by all means you can hope for and work towards an idealized tomorrow. But to do that, you have to successfully manage the world as it is today.
Sometimes we avoid experiencing exactly where we are because we have developed a belief, based on past experience, that this is not where we should be or want to be. But the truth is where you are is exactly where you need to be to get where you want to go tomorrow. So practice estimating where you are.
Your family members are too beautiful to ignore. Call them. SMS them. Take a moment to remember how happy you are to breathe. Look around, with eyes seriously open to the possibilities. Much of what you fear is not in the space around you. Much of what you love is closer than you realize. You are just a brief thought away from understanding the blessing that is your life.
Remind yourself that happiness is a way of thinking that can only be shaped into the present. It is not a point in the future or a moment from the past, and yet this misconception hurts the masses more often than we realize. So many young people seem to believe that all happiness awaits them in the coming years, while so many older people believe that their best moments are behind them. COVID-19 only exacerbates this type of thinking right now. Don't let it be the best of you.
2nd Include gratitude and passion in the little things.
Over the years, Angel and I have guided hundreds of friends, course students and Think Better, Live Better participants through a process of finding sincere gratitude and passion during tough times – a process of moving forward gracefully, regardless what …
A few years ago, on the very last day of her life, a friend of mine, who I coached daily, told me that she only regrets that she didn't appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose she had during the last two years of her life, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. "I've accomplished so much recently – so much internal growth – and really appreciated every moment of it," she said. "If only I had known about it, I would start sooner."
Her words made me cry and smile at the same time. What was truly miraculous was seeing the genuine gratitude in her eyes at that moment. She was extremely grateful that she could actually achieve the little things she had accomplished during the last two years. And her feeling has always stayed with me and sits at the top of my mind right now. While I agree that dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is debilitating and that it can be very painful and debilitating for some people, the pain for most of us can still be conveyed by a sense of gratitude and passion for living. Because we still have a chance to do the little things that bring us joy. Because you still have a life worth living, from moment to precious moment.
Honestly, you do it right when you have so much to cry and complain about, but you prefer to breathe deeply and appreciate your life instead. For there is always, always, always something to be grateful for and any reason to take another step forward. Just invest your heart and soul into what is right in front of you. Bring gratitude and passion into otherwise ordinary moments …
What if you woke up tomorrow with just the little things you were grateful for and passionate about today?
3rd Be consistent with healthy daily rituals.
About a decade ago, when I was intensely focused on weightlifting and physical strength training, I gradually learned that you cannot really be engaged in something that is valuable if you have a weak mind that is unwilling to do tough things. To combat this, I wrote two simple questions about two different post-it notes and stuck one on my bathroom mirror and the other inside my gym compartment:
- How many daily workouts have you missed to your mind, not your body, told you did you think you were too tired?
- How many daily exercise reps have you skipped because your mind, not your body, said: "Nine reps are enough. Don't worry about the tenth?"
To this day, the answer to both questions is surely hundreds for most , including myself. The weakness of the mind can easily become the best of us, especially when it is tough. And the only way to fix this weakness is daily practice.
Too often we believe that inner strength is about how we react to extremely difficult circumstances, such as actively managing Covid-19: Can we keep our lives together even after suffering from a serious illness, or lose our livelihood?
There is no doubt that extremely difficult circumstances test our courage , determination and inner strength, but what about less unpleasant, everyday circumstances? Maybe only passively handle Covid-19 at a distance when it does not directly and personally weaken us.
[1 9459013] What we need to remember is that the mind must be exercised to gain strength. It must be worked consistently in healthy ways to become strong. If you refuse to push yourself a little every day, you will naturally feel completely stuck when it gets tough.
But you don't have to feel like this right now …
Choose to sit-up in your bedroom every morning when it would be easier to sleep in. Choose to make the ten ropes when it would be easier to stop nine o'clock. Choose to create something special (like a new diary entry, drawing or family highlights video) when it would be easier to consume something mediocre on TikTok or Instagram. Choose to send loving texts to family and friends when it would be easier to watch another show on Netflix. Prove to yourself, in dozens of small ways over the next few weeks, that you have the discipline to get into the ring and wrestle with life.
Internal strength is always built through lots of small, daily victories. It is the individual choices we make day by day that build our "inner strength muscles." We all want this kind of strength, especially in tough times, but we simply can't imagine the way to it. If you want it, you have to do something about it ritually. It is your positive daily rituals that prove your mental strength and move you in a positive direction.
The summary is that as times get tougher in the coming weeks, many will find something easy to do — They will find a simple distraction. But when things get tougher for you, you can join Angel and me and find a way to keep you on track with your healthy daily rituals. 🙂 ( Note: Angel and I are building positive, life-changing rituals with our students in the "Goals and Growth" module of the Getting Back to Happy course.)
Now, it's yours lucky …
If you feel like it, we would love to hear from YOU.
Which point discussed above resonates most to you today?
Anything else to share?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
If you haven't already, make sure you sign up for our free newsletter to get new articles like this in your inbox every week.