Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you’ve ever been to stand up taller than you ever were before. Sometimes your eyes need to be washed by your tears so you can see the possibilities in front of you with a clear vision again.
Last night I had a long conversation with my wise, 71-year-old dad about living and growing through adversity. One of the last things he said before we got off the phone resonated with me so much, I wrote it down:
“It’s been my experience that most people aren’t truly happy until they’ve had many reasons to be sad. I believe this is because it takes all of those bad days and hardships to teach us how to truly appreciate what we have. It builds our resilience.”
Honestly, I don’t think it gets any closer to the truth than that.
Not every day is good, but there is something good about every day. It takes a strong person to see the positive on down days. The key, I have learned, lies in letting go. It’s about realizing that, except for your own thoughts, there’s nothing that’s absolutely in your power. Knowing and accepting this gives you the ability to cope effectively with life’s constant stream of little tragedies – an aptitude we call resilience.
Ultimately, you can fight life, you can do nothing but complain about what you’re missing, or you can accept everything you have and put it together to create something worth smiling about.
So with this in mind, here are some good things to keep in mind when you’re having a bad day:
- The right attitude is the one thing you need right now. – What you focus on changes everything. Don’t look back when you know you shouldn’t. Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Don’t stress over unimportant things. Be positive. Seriously, the most underrated trait of all successful people I’ve ever met is positivity. Your attitude directly determines how well you live your life. You simply can’t live a positive life with a negative attitude. Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free. Confront your negativity and turn the mental blocks into building blocks.
- You can’t be truly happy unless you’re unhappy sometimes too. – If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Feelings, good and bad, always come and go. The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.
- You still have many blessings that you can make count. – Yes, always count your blessings, but don’t forget to make your blessings count too. There’s no good reason why you must settle for anything less than the very best life has to offer. Start now by sincerely appreciating the things you have and making the most of them. Happiness and success in life are not the byproducts of limitless resources. Happiness and success stem from stretching the limits of the available resources.
- You can learn something important from any situation, if you want to. – Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you. Take everything as a lesson learned. You are the books you read, the films you watch, the people you meet, the dreams you have, and the conversations you engage in. You are a combination of what you take from these. You are the sound of thunder, the breath of fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner. You embody every experience you have had in your life. You are every single day, even the bad ones. So drown yourself in a sea of knowledge. Let the experiences run through your veins, and let the lessons grow your mind.
- Your best bet is to take a chance on the present moment. – Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. Be thankful to start from where you are now. Wishing for a different past will only waste your energy. If you’re feeling down right now, each second that passes is another moment to turn it all around. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- You are not a victim. – You have an interesting life and it is magnificent, even during the toughest times. Keep this in mind, and live it accordingly. You are in control. Change your thoughts. As long as you think that the cause of your problem is “out there” somewhere else – as long as you think that someone or something else is responsible for your suffering – your situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the victim role, that you’re suffering even in paradise. Don’t do this to yourself. Be your hero, not your victim.
- You are not who you once were, but who you believe you can become. – You ultimately become what you believe yourself to be. If you keep on saying to yourself that you are incapable of doing a certain thing, it’s likely that you will end up becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if you have the belief that you can do it, despite your struggles and frustrations, you will likely acquire the capacity to do it, even if you can’t do it right now.
- You CAN move forward from here. – Even the darkest night will eventually end and the sun will rise. Remember this. If you take another step, and another, you’ll be surprised to know how far you can go from the point you thought was the end. So say this to yourself, and mean it with all your heart: “I just need you to never give up on me, no matter how hard things get.”
- The best way to move forward is one tiny step at a time. – You can’t lift 1,000 pounds all at once. But you can easily lift one pound 1,000 times. In repetition, your little actions have great power.
- What others think about your situation is not important right now. – If you really want to be happy again, then stop being afraid of being yourself, and stop thinking about what others think of you every second.
- In relationships, agreeing to disagree is sometimes the best solution. – Be selective in your battles. Sometimes peace is better than being right. You simply don’t need to attend every argument you are invited to.
- It’s OK to give yourself some space to breathe and regroup. – Sometimes a short break is the best step. Sometimes you need to pause so you can move forward – you need to turn away from something for a while so you can see why you fell in love in the first place. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- There’s so much you can let go of in life, without losing a thing. – It’s called growth. Letting go of the old, makes way for the new. Letting go of what isn’t working, makes way for what will. So remember, when the pain of holding on is worse than the pain of letting go, it’s time to let go and grow.
- There’s no shame in starting over again, and changing things up. – When things aren’t adding up in your life, it’s time to start subtracting… the habits, routines, and circumstances that are holding you back. Sometimes you’ve got to create what you want to be a part of from the ground up – you’ve got to work harder than ever before to get more than you ever dreamed of. Be a dreamer. Be a doer. Know what is truly important to you and why. Then act on it with all your might.
- The struggle isn’t found on the path, it is the path… to greatness. – There will be big mistakes and heartbreaking surprises along the way. Learn from them, adapt and grow. If you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want a fit body, you also have to want the sweat, the sore muscles, the early mornings at the gym, and the low-fat meals. If you want a successful business, you have to also want the long days, the late nights, the risky business decisions and deals, and the possibility of failing fifty times to learn what you need to know to succeed.
- A little extra effort always pays off in the end. – Even when things aren’t going your way, don’t slack off. Never skimp on that extra effort, that additional few minutes, that soft word of praise or thanks, that delivery of the very best that you can do. It doesn’t matter what others think, it is of prime importance, however, what you think about yourself. You can never do your best, which should always be your trademark quality, if you are cutting corners and ducking responsibilities. You are special. Act like it. Never neglect the little things.
- Be a little kinder to yourself than you have to. – Yes, be extra kind to yourself today. Accept who you are, and revel in it. Treat yourself with love and respect. The better you feel about YOU, the more value you can create for your world. If you can’t do a lot for yourself right now, do a little. These small moments of joy will add up. They will keep you pointed in a positive direction. (Read The How of Happiness.)
- Because of today’s pain, you can feel the tenderness, beauty and freedom of healing. – Pain feels like a fast stab wound directly to the heart sometimes. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air. As humans, we may not have wings like a bird, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that soothing sensation of wind against our faces.
At some point, you will come to realize that living the good life involves some amount of necessary pain, and that there are more flavors of pain than ice cream and coffee combined…
There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind ‒ graduating, taking the next step, walking out of a familiar, safe situation and into the excitement of the unknown. There’s the giant, whirling pain of life upsetting all of your big plans and expectations. There’s the little sharp pains of making a mistake, and the more obscure aches of success, when it doesn’t make you feel as good as you thought it would. There are the vicious, backstabbing pains of betrayal. The sweet little pains of finding others who are worthy of your time, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life as they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend or lover and help them face their problems.
And on the best of days, there are the subtle, tingling pains you feel throughout your body when you realize that you’re standing in a moment of sweet perfection, an instant of great achievement, or happiness, or laughter, which at the same time cannot possibly last ‒ and yet will remain with you for the rest of your life.
Everyone is down on pain, and when we experience it we usually say we’re having a bad day, because we forget something important about what we’re going through: Pain is for the living – for those of us who still have the chance of a lifetime. Only the dead don’t feel it, because their time is already up.
The floor is yours…
What else would you add to the list? What’s something positive you try to keep in mind when you’re struggling or having a bad day? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Photo by: RK Photos