I’ve been volunteering as a counselor for underprivileged kids for the better part of my adulthood. One of the very first kids I worked with, nearly 17 years ago, was a boy who came to see me on an afternoon when he was extremely upset. After sitting with him and listening to his story, I drew him a sketch of a superhero on the front of an index card and wrote a note beside the sketch about how he is a superhero and that superheroes always rise up and win in the end. Then on the back of the index card, in the simplest words I could think of, I listed seven timeless strategies that would help him regroup and activate his super powers when he needed them most.
I randomly ran into this same boy again this morning as I walked past the local fire station. He’s now a 28-year-old fire fighter. He recognized me and ran up to me to say hello. We chatted for a half hour about everything under the sun, and then before we parted ways he took his wallet out of his pocket and pulled out the superhero index card I made for him when he was a kid. He held it up so I could see it, smiled from ear to ear and said, “Thank you.”
Today, in slightly more mature words, I want to revisit the seven strategies I wrote down on the back of that index card. Because these are healthy reminders, for all of us:
NOTE: The 7 points in this article have been updated and moved to HERE:
Choose Yourself Today: 7 Hard Choices that Will Make You Happier
Photo by: Nathalia
Beautiful story and points.
Always a pleasure to read your articles. Thanks you so much!
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for the extra kindness, and for continuing to support our work, J.J. — YOU are appreciated.
Thank you for such a good article and your continuous effort works as a balm for suffering souls
Spot on advice! Thank you.
Emily Edwards says
Thank you for continuing to share and inspire.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for supporting our work, Emily.
Indeed, I can’t agree more. There is too much stress on wanting to be happy all the time. You have to quickly move on. You have to quickly let go. It’s really OK to be not OK for some time. Peace.
Thank you so much for the 7 strategies, they make so much sense, and I found them quite comforting.
Kevin Keyes says
“Focus on what you do want, not what you don’t want.”
Every negative or traumatic experience has something to teach us. I try to concentrate on that rather than allowing myself to dwell on what might have been.
This blog certainly was an answer to a roaring lion inside of me this morning. I’ve come to the realization that it’s never too late to change? The mind is a powerful tool that certainly controls what lies beneath it? I think the Lord each day for your inspirations.
Marc Chernoff says
You got it, Anna. Today is the beginning again.
LOVE this post!! Love it!! I’m definitely going to share it. All points we already know but need to be reminded of. Got my Monday off to a great start… Thank you!!!
Just awesome. I especially appreciated the reminders about being present and accepting what IS. Thanks for another great post as always, Marc.
Carla Kavinta says
Love this post, Marc – especially #3. It’s easy to forget that sometimes it takes only a small step or a minor adjustment to bring about big change in our lives.
I’d also recommend the book The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday for those struggling to find inner strength.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for the recommendation, Carla.
David Rapp says
The only thing that is permanent is your choice to create change.
If you are not learning from a difficult situation, walk away. The repercussions from leaving are often less than staying.
You are losing tomorrows and gaining yesterdays, one day at a time. Create what you can from today.
Love your e-mails, they have inspired me so much. I have been through very tough struggles for 2 years now.
Thank you Marc and Angel.
Your posts seem to arrive at the perfect time, and your words are so true. Thank you for all the help and support you provide. This post is wonderful and rings with so much wisdom. God bless you.
Danny M Reed says
Being OK with NOT Being OK is a matter of Relative Degrees. If my Beliefs and Values are threatened or my Basic Survival is endangered or that of my Family, Friends, and Community, I will be compelled to act. If I PERCEIVE that these are threatened, I will act similarily also. Most of these are Passive changes of Mind: Social Engineering to put people back inside themselves. Like a Black Belt Karate expert learned when she was actually attacked on the Street in Real Life: ALL her training consisted of controlled studio scenarios. It was the Real World situation that threw her off completely and she “forgot” ALL that she had learned and was as helpless as the rest of us.
I love this post.
I just told my daughter recently, “most things in life worth doing will be challenging, and anything worth doing is worth doing your best.”
I think people shouldn’t shy away from inevitable effort.
Thanks Marc and Angel.
“6. Make sure you’re only seeking support from the right sources.” This one really resonates with me because through life’s experience and growing into middle age, I’ve realized not everyone in my life has my best interest at heart all the time. I’ve learned to only take to heart the sentiments that support my my goals. Sometimes those closest to us – parents, spouses – cannot feed us or encourage us in the way we need for a tough day, situation or goal. This has been the hardest to recognize and work around. When my spouse’s ideas are contrary to my needs/goals, I seek out supportive friends/co-workers/community groups. Doing this has strengthened me immensely and I’ve grown leaps and bounds over the years with the experiences and new opportunities. However, my spouse feels undermined, rejected and left out. I used to feel bad about this, but realized it’s not my job to subjugate growth in my business aspirations/spiritual/community volunteer life to anyone’s ideas of who I should be or what I should be doing.
On mornings like this, it seems you are looking directly at my life and sending the perfect email just for me. I needed this desperately today and once again I have found strength from your words.
You two are awesome! I just want to say thank you.
Items 2 and 4 are things I need to especially work on. Every time I feel I finally have past experiences with family members under control and I’m feeling good about myself, something seems to happen to bring out the old feelings again. I understand I can’t change the past, but it still makes me very angry. Yesterday a friend asked me a question about my family that I tried to avoid answering, but when he persisted, I exploded at him and felt bad about it for the rest of the evening. I thought I had finally moved on, but I guess not. Thanks for today’s message. I can see I still have a lot of work to do, and this list gave me something to focus on so I can get myself back on track again.
Marc- By far one of the best posts you have placed on here. When we boil it all down, it’s just this moment in life to deal with and as you say, just taking small steps in the direction of where you want to be, is ultimately going to allow you reach your dreams and goals…and sometimes (if not more often than not), those small steps will reveal new perspectives that can change your whole path in the most positive way.
I’m printing this one out and putting it on my wall in my office. Thank you again for providing simple, yet powerful words that make all the difference on this journey called life, that we are all on!
So very true, especially #6! I woke up this morning thinking, “A sane person wouldn’t hug and hold a porcupine against themselves! So why hold on to situations and people that are constantly bent on sending hurtful barbs your way?”
Such truth in your posts, always. Thank you!
Just what I needed today.
Dan Erickson says
Good stuff. I’m always impressed with your straight-ahead approach. I often discuss some of the same concepts and ideas over at my blog, Hip Diggs. I especially like #1. I think we often expect too much from ourselves. Let’s give ourselves a break once in awhile.
keep on doing the good work . i have been reading your blogs for the past 3 months and it really helped me to change my mindset about things,i am happy that the change is constructive .
Siw Brown says
I go to the beach early in the morning to run and swim. I climb out on the rocks in the ocean and sit there and reflect. I pray to God out loud, becoming restored and refreshed and ready to take on another week. Thank you for your articles and for pointing out the obvious in life that makes it easier to live happy and healthy!
Liz Miller says
Thank you for this timely article. Love them all, but this one was what I needed today. My sister and best friend died last Friday of cancer. My heart has such a painful hole in it. People say, oh, she is a better place, time will heal. That does not help now, and I to feel the sadness. It’s OK…..
Liz, I understand where you are coming from, having lost my sister to cancer 15 years ago. Yes, feel everything you need to feel. People are so uncomfortable with death and struggle with the right thing to say. They wrongly, seem to think that those phrases will comfort you. Really we are just looking for people comfortable enough to let us feel what we feel, think what we think and be how we are in any one moment. Be kind to yourself and know it’s okay to ask for help.
Grief is different for everyone. Don’t let anyone tell you get over it. You never will. You can feel anyway you like nobody else is you and they will never understand. Some people don’t want to hear you when you need them. Read what (fb) people should never say to you after a death.everyone offers things but never there when you need them. The best thing you need is solitude and someone to listen when you are upset. Thank God for those kind of people. You will learn who they are as time goes along. One thing I like to do is go away by myself. Change of scenery helps me. And I journal.write to your sister, write when you are sad or any time you want to. My husband died 17 months ago. Some days are easier than others. Today mine wasn’t. I wish I had better advice. But I do read a lot of inspiration stuff online and save them and read them when I need to. So grieve any way you want. Don’t worry about what everyone thinks. Talk to her,scream, talk about her to others get mad at her make fun of her.today I told people it was his fault because I have to pay these income taxes. I try to do things I like now because I know I will die too. Peace to your heart and soul.
#1 and #7 almost made me cry. I have such a hard time accepting that not being OK is OK. And I have such a hard time choosing how I feel about all the crap I am going through. Always such great lessons, thanks so much for always delivering a great message just when I need it. Thanks.
Inner strength? Experience I suppose. Knowing that asking for and receiving help are signs of strength, not weakness.
Thank you Marc n Angel. Every single point you made I need to use. I struggle to not take things personal, and with staying in the moment… and the advice about always being able to choose your attitude no matter the circumstances… God bless you guys
Thank you for such inspiring words. It’s just what I needed to hear. May God bless you!
About number one….. For how long is it ok to not be completely ok? I’ve been divorced for about eight months. I have moments of clarity, but in general I don’t feel that I’m making progress. I’ve read several times, and in several places, to let myself feel whatever I’m feeling. To be “ok with not being ok”. Is it normal after an eleven year marriage to take so long to let go of all the negative feelings I have? I want to wake up each day with energy and purpose, but it rarely happens.
Suzanne aladjem says
I’m going through a difficult time now loss of a mother, a father who also has onset dementia, a loss of a four year relationship, that my lack of strength and vulnerability contributed for him walking away. Why I’m writing this is because your daily articles, having clarified many issues and pain, you give me assurances, and your latest email it’s OK not to be OK really resonated with me thank you
Counsel Timna says
Wow!!!… thanks Marc and angel, this is probably the best article ever. You always inspire me. Indeed in life you need the right attitude to face all life challenges. Keep inspiring us. Be blessed.
Realizing one tiny step is all it takes, and then you’re shown kindness and patience by someone instantly who has the obvious choice not to, has recently made me reflect on the kindness I’ve been shown past and present. That has given me strength for the future and motivated me to be better with each passing day to all regardless of my personal feelings. Those selfless acts have made me find beauty in people that crowds out the negativity that can so easily crowd our minds. And then it begins to trickle into so many other parts of your life. Thank you for this article. It literally pulled me out of bed today and made me want to find the next opportunity to show kindness.
I’ve been following your blog and it really inspires me. Thank you!
It’s always ok to be not OK. This is something I learned from my dad. He has been such a motivational force behind me. Good you mentioned that.