When you stop doing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch up with you.
I met a friend at a local coffee shop this morning. She brought her work laptop along so she could show me some of her latest digital art designs. As we chatted and scrolled through her artwork, the laptop suddenly started making an unhealthy buzzing noise, then the screen flickered on and off and finally cut off completely. And as we both stared at one another in disbelief, the funky aroma of fried computer circuits filled our nostrils.
I quickly grabbed the laptop off the counter to inspect it and the problem instantly revealed itself. The bottom of the laptop was soaking wet and an empty, spilt water cup rested against the side of her purse just behind where the laptop was sitting. In the midst of us chatting and shifting the laptop’s 17-inch screen back and forth, we somehow spilt a cup of water the barista had inadvertently placed on the counter behind the screen, which was out of our view.
When life throws us nasty curveballs like this, it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs. But how does this help our dilemma? Obviously, it doesn’t.
My friend threw her hands up in the air and, to my surprise, cracked a half smile. “That’s exactly why I backed up my files this morning, and why I have full insurance on my laptop,” she said.
I was truly impressed with her response. Many people I know have had meltdowns over much smaller inconveniences.
How about YOU?
How often do your responses, or emotional reactions, to life work against you?
If you’re anything like the rest of us, the answer is likely: more often than you realize.
So realize this now!
When life doesn’t go as planned, it is what it is. Accept it, learn from it and grow. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done; what truly matters is what you do from here.
Let my friend be your inspiration today. Let her calm and collected response inspire you to make some positive shifts in various areas of your life. It’s time to think better and live better!
Which means it’s time to…
1. Stop letting every little problem get the best of you.
Inner peace begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.
In other words, the greater part of your happiness or misery in the long run depends heavily on your attitude, not your circumstances. If you’re stressed out by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your interpretation of it; and this is something you have the power to change. It’s not easy, but it is entirely possible with practice.
It all starts with establishing a baseline level of positive thinking in your daily life. Make it a habit! You need to train your mind to see the good in everything, even when things don’t go as planned. Life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles. Notice them. Notice again and again how fortunate you are. The evidence is all around you, and it’s beautiful, and well worth gathering into your awareness.
And keep in mind that it takes roughly 66 days to form a new habit like this. So for the next nine weeks, wake up every morning and look at the bright side of your life, and you will begin to rewire your brain.
2. Stop expecting an easy journey to all your goals.
Be patient, but don’t just sit there expecting everything to be easy. Good things don’t come to those who wait for the “easy” way. And patience in life is not about waiting around; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard for what you believe in.
Decades from now when you’re resting on your deathbed, you will not remember the days that were easy, you will cherish the moments when you rose above your difficulties and conquered goals of magnitude. You will dream of the strength you found within yourself that allowed you to achieve what once seemed impossible.
So don’t do what’s easy, do what you’re capable of today. Astound yourself with your own resilience.
And remember, one of the most important moments on any journey is the moment you finally find the courage to let go of what can’t be changed. Because, when you are no longer able to change the obstacles in front of you, you are challenged to change yourself from within—to grow beyond the unchangeable obstacles. And that changes absolutely everything.
3. Stop resisting your imperfections.
Every one of us is a perfectionist about something. Learn to sense when your desire to make something perfect is preventing you from getting it done well. Realize that the idea of perfection is not only unachievable, it can destroy your otherwise productive mindset. It will keep you running in place, feeling insane for your entire life.
If you feel like you’re running in place right now, take a break and reflect. Think about the difference between diligent effort and perfectionism, and figure out what is triggering you. Because whatever triggers you also reveals what you need to heal.
Do your best to bring conscious awareness to what’s going through your worried mind when you’re not feeling good enough. Why do you feel this way? Who are you with this train of thought? Who would you be, and what else would you see, if you removed it?
Know when enough is enough! Say it out loud if you must: “Get lost perfectionism! Without you I am brilliant!” (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
4. Stop looking past the moment you’re living in.
Isn’t it strange how life works? You want something and you work for it and wait for it and work for it and wait for it, and you feel like it’s taking forever to arrive. Then it happens and it’s over and all you want to do is curl back up in that moment before things changed.
So, how can you avoid these feelings of loss and confusion?
By being more present every step of the way.
Pursue your goals and dreams while at the same time enjoying the journey of getting there. Embrace the step you’re taking, even when you feel like you’ve lost your footing. Sometimes the road gets bumpy. Every step doesn’t have to be comfortable or perfectly placed.
By letting go of what “should” happen or what “could” happen every step of the way, you free up your life to various little surprises and joys. You may not lead the exact life you want, but you will lead a meaningful, miraculous existence, guaranteed. Life is sometimes difficult, but it’s not a chore. Make it an adventure. Make it fun. Make a choice to feel good about yourself, about your world, about your possibilities and the step you’re taking right now.
5. Stop disempowering yourself with weak language.
Confident people use words with intention. YOU can be one of them!
Consider the difference between these two aspiring bloggers (two course students of ours) I recently spoke with:
One says: “Yes, I am a blogger. You like meditation and yoga too? Excellent! We need to connect on this subject—check out my new mindfulness guide I just posted at…”
And the other says: “Well, I’m trying to blog but am not sure I’m doing it right (nervous giggle). I wish I had started sooner… blah, blah.”
Which one do you think gets the most views, comments and social shares on their blog posts?
Bottom line: If you’re trying to build something or become something, own it and speak like you mean it. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the Motivation chapter of our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs.)
6. Stop expecting everyone to be as kind, courteous, or caring as you are.
You will end up sadly disappointed if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.
Be kind anyway!
And remember, being kind to someone you dislike doesn’t mean you’re fake. It means you’re mature enough to control your emotions. So be kinder than necessary today. What goes around comes around in the long run. No one has ever made themselves strong by showing how small someone else is.
7. Stop being so rigid (or so “mature”) about letting loose and having fun.
Sometimes we put too much weight into trying to control every tiny aspect of our lives. Switch gears, relax and ride the path that life takes you sometimes. Try something new, be a bit daring, and explore your curiosity.
Letting go a little lets you experience more of the unexpected. And the greatest joys in life are often the unexpected surprises that you never intended to happen. If you want to get really good at something—personally or professionally—let go of your expectations and replace them with the notion of endless playful exploration.
We don’t stop dreaming and exploring because we grow old; we grow old because we stop dreaming and exploring. So don’t stop! 😉
Now, it’s your turn…
In light of everything you’ve just read, I have a challenge for you:
Pick one of the points above and start consciously working on it. Make doing so a positive daily ritual in your life.
And do your best not to fall back into your old patterns. Toxic habits and behaviors always try to sneak back in when you’re doing better. Stay focused and positive about what’s to come, by being consistent with what you know in your heart is right.
(Note: Angel and I customize and implement the aforementioned points with our students in the Getting Back to Happy Course & Coaching.)
. . .
And before you go, I’d love to hear from YOU in the comments section below.
Which point above resonates with you the most? (Which one do you need to STOP doing to yourself?)
Please share your thoughts.
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