You need to do hard things to be happy, healthy and successful. Because the hard things ultimately build you up and change your life.
If you already feel like you’re at the end your rope today with little slack left to hold on to, realize your mind is lying to you. It has imprisoned you by reciting self-defeating stories in your head—stories about your mistakes and what you should have done differently. And you’ve begun to believe that you’re really stuck.
But you’re NOT.
You are alive in an immense world with infinite destinations. Take a moment to remind yourself of this fact. Go outside. Look up at the sky and the clouds or the stars. THIS is the world in which you really live. Breathe it in. Then look at your current situation again.
Remember that adversity—doing and dealing with the hard things in life—is the first path to truth. Your defeats often serve as well as your victories to shake your spirit and light your way. You just have to hold on tight, embrace the daily pain, and burn it as fuel for your journey.
Easier said than done, of course. Which is why you need to continually remind yourself…
1. Every day you are growing stronger from your struggles.
Life can be a struggle. It will break you sometimes. Nobody can protect you from that. And hiding alone in a cave somewhere won’t either, for prolonged solitude will also break you with an endless thirst for connection. You must dare to love. You must dare to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth.
You are here to sacrifice your time and risk your heart. You are here to be bruised by life. And when it happens that you are hurt, or betrayed, or rejected, let yourself sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all the good times you had, and all the sweetness you tasted, and everything you learned. Tell yourself how amazing it was to live, and then open your eyes and live some more.
To never struggle would be to never have been blessed with life. It is within the depths of darkness that you discover within you an inextinguishable light, and it is this light that illuminates the way forward. (This process is something Angel and I discuss in the Adversity chapter of the NEW volume of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. The hardest days shine a light on what’s truly important, and what isn’t.
Adversity is like walking in to a turbulent windstorm. As you fight to push through it, you not only gain strength, but it tears away from you all but the essential parts of you that cannot be torn. Once you come out of the storm you see yourself as you really are in raw form, still holding the passions and ideas that move you, and little else.
Ultimately, there is only what you want and what happens. When you don’t get what you want, there is only grabbing on and holding tight to the passions and ideas that move you. These are the lusts that matter—the love that defines you. It is this kind of love that drives you forward and even when the going gets tough. It is this kind of love that should never be overlooked.
3. Stress can be a healthy guidepost for making positive changes.
Sometimes when the going gets really tough, the world seems like it’s spinning too fast and you feel completely out of control. It seems like you’re losing your mind and going crazy, but you’re not. You need to pause and take a deep breath.
Just about every emotional issue imaginable, from fear to anxiety to the onset of depression, is triggered by a mounting build-up of stress. Stress impedes your ability to think straight and see the world as it is—a world that is not spinning too fast or burning to the ground.
Being extremely stressed-out and feeling overwhelmed is not a sign that you are psychotic or “going crazy.” It’s just that stressful experiences make it harder to think clearly and can make you think you’re more out of control than you actually are. The craziness you feel is stress. It’s not time to give up, it’s time to regroup and hold tight to your sanity. The more you relax, the saner you will feel.
- Am I working too much with not enough downtime?
- Am I getting enough sleep?
- Am I eating healthy balanced meals?
- Am I spending enough time with those I care about?
- Am I involved in relationships that cause me excessive stress?
- Am I drinking too much alcohol or relying on other (non-prescribed) drugs?
- Am I constantly worried about some other time and place?
If you are experiencing any of the above issues, you know what you need to address to reduce your stress. The vast majority of us never go crazy; the vast majority of us simply fear, at some point, that we may go crazy based on stress factors we allow to reside in our present life situations.
So let your stress guide you—make sure you fill your time with meaningful activity, get enough sleep, eat well and manage your stress so it doesn’t mange you. (Note: Angel and I customize and implement this process with our students in the Getting Back to Happy Course & Coaching.)
4. You have something special to offer the world.
You are only destined to become one person—the person you decide to be. Do not let your own negativity walk all over you with it’s dirty feet.
You feel a unique gift burning inside you that you want to offer to the world, to help move it in the right direction. It may be covered up by days and weeks of waiting, doubting and defeat, but it’s present and as bright as ever. If you look deeply enough, you’ll find it. There is a capable person inside you that wants to soar, to create, to build, to love, to inspire, to do far more than just exist.
Your everyday chores and difficult tasks can be a prison or a pathway. It all depends on you. No matter how far down you think you’ve traveled, there is always a road leading to higher ground. There are always great possibilities in front of you, because you are always able to take a small step forward.
Stay true to yourself. Hold on to your values and passions. Never be ashamed of doing what feels right. Decide what you think is right and gradually step in that direction.
Now is the time…
There’s no shame in feeling overwhelmed. You are not a robot; and even if you were, you’d still need to stop for maintenance once in a while. There is no shame in admitting to yourself that you feel tired, doubtful, and low today. This is a natural part of being human. The simple fact that you are aware of this means you are able to turn things around, one day at a time, starting now.
So tell me:
What helps you push forward when times get hard?
Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
(Finally, if you haven’t done so already, be sure to sign-up for our free newsletter to receive new articles like this in your inbox each week.)
If you’ve ever done any kind of internal work – call it meditation, spiritual, energy, searching, etc – you know what this article is talking about.
Sometimes there comes a point during this work when you think “I can’t do this any more”, “I can’t be sad” or “face these demons”, “these hardships” any more. I can’t go through the heat or the pressure of it all.
I know I’ve been there – recently lol. But guess what happens ALWAYS after the rain? Yup. You guessed it, Sunshine!
In business, love and in life, just when you think you can’t go on any further or you think maybe it’s time to change direction or switch gears, the clouds begin to part and you see the sun shine through.
Believe it or not, with each struggle we grow. The more monumental the struggle, the more exponential the growth. If you aren’t struggling at some point you aren’t growing – period.
Whether it’s struggling to understand a new subject from an educational perspective, struggling to find common ground with a love interest, or grow a business endeavour, diamonds are only formed at high temperatures and great pressure and depth.
The key in these high temperature, high pressure situations is to remember what is happening.
Remember that you are growing and healing.
Remember to hang on – that just around the corner, your diamond is waiting to be discovered, the sun ready to shine through.
This is what has worked for me and the points in your article have further helped to reinforce this.
For that, I thank you.
PS. I finally finished watching the recording of your most recent Think Live Better conference. Simply wonderful! I look forward to attending in San Diego next year.
Lee, your words ring true for me and I can connect with what you are saying. This is what I needed to read today. I feel buoyed to continue to work through the challenging period I am going through, following the breakup of a relationship, with a man I loved very much. There are times when the feeling of being alone, shakes my core. I am, Day by day, rebuilding my self-confidence and doing the things I want to avoid. I am moving in the right direction, but it is sometimes very scary.
Thank you so much for your wise and kind words and insights.
So true!! I get overwhelmed!
Vese Lina says
I agree with Lee. Your emails and articles never disappoint.
“You are here to sacrifice your time and risk your heart. You are here to be bruised by life. And when it happens that you are hurt, or betrayed, or rejected, let yourself sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all the good times you had, and all the sweetness you tasted, and everything you learned.”
I really liked that part of this post. It reminds me of a dear friend, who once told me “At the end you’ll remember only the good stuff.” We’ve been through so much sh** together that I thought I’ll never forget the bad moments and the bitterness, but now when I look back I don’t regret a second of them. And I smile every time when I remember all those amazing moments we’ve had together. I think one smile like this worth all the sacrifices and the pain we go trough in life.
The people we let in our lives, every struggle we have and every joy shapes us. Everything leaves a mark in our soul and we have to cherish those scars, because they’ve led us to where we are now.
casey danes says
This post reminds me of why I loved both your books. So real and honest! Personally, I think what helps me the most is remembering that situations and emotions are temporary. While it may be or may feel like this is the worst moment of your life, the world keeps moving and so do we. Eventually hurt will dissipate. Its important to embrace your current emotional state and allow yourself to feel your emotions, then your body and mind will allow you to move on. If you constantly ignore what your body is telling you, you are making things worse for yourself. It is our successes and failures that shape us; its our happiness and our pain that shapes us. Every experience is a learning experience. I just try to remember that even being hurt means I’m connected to something. And I’d rather experience that than be withdrawn.
Your post asked what ways each of us use to break through these moments of self-doubt/self-defeat, and it seems like the ideas from everyone are very similar. I probably subscribe to much the same, all stemming from the most stressful time of my life when my husband/high school love/soul-mate (yikes, mushy but true) was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer. He was only ill for 6 months before he died, and I was thankful it was short; he was living a hell no one should, and I was doing my best to get through it all with him. The experience convinced me I am superwoman with the strength/brains/ability to do ANYTHING I WANT TO DO. But, I forget these things, too. It seems that the little things can really get to me when the big things are raining down on me, like not finding a job after 17 months of looking! So, as I always tell myself, take one step at a time. Here are some steps:
1) Decide it is time to make a list of steps you can take. To make the list, start from what is, not from what is not, in very concrete terms.
2) Find the right friend to help you through the time, then through the list. This should be a great friend whose only care is your happiness; it may be a family member. But remember, give and take, and don’t do all the taking.
3) Report back about the success or actions you have taken on the list. To do this, break down each item and see if there are baby steps with that item. Keep breaking it down to manageable sized steps.
4) Celebrate the steps being accomplished – even if the celebration is crossing the item off the list!
5) Work hard on the list 4 1/2 days a week, Monday – Friday at 12, say, and then give yourself “me” time. During that time, do something that makes you feel terrific. I garden, even though it is necessary as well as relaxing for me. I love to fish, and since I had to sell our vacation home in the mountains in 2012 when I was laid off I haven’t gone fishing. My list includes finding a place near me to fish, relax, and enjoy the outdoors.
I believe it is impossible to NOT succeed if one puts these things into action, with sincerity and effort. It doesn’t mean right away necessarily, but no one can work this hard at something and not make things happen. But here is another list to keep in mind:
1) What you start as a goal may shift over the time during your efforts to get there. BE OPEN to the shifts, as they may be more important than the original goal.
2) Go outside of yourself, as scary as it may be, to make it happen. Example: if you read an article about something or someone that seems to fit what you are trying to do, find out how to contact that person mentioned, or that organization, and as to meet to talk about it. This can be another item on the other list, a small step to get there. The important thing is to say I CAN, by making the effort to contact.
Lea Bullen says
Stress is typically a good indicator that it’s time to take stock. It’s like your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right. That’s why you shouldn’t just relieve the stress but also reflect on what’s doing on and determine if a change needs to be made. This is something I learned the hard way, but I’m glad you’re sharing this info.
Thank you. Your blog and books help get me through.
Adrian King says
I just went through losing many people, friends in my life, my choice,their choice. As devastating this was my younger brother told me he no longer wants me as his sister. We had a huge blowout, and he has festered so much anger and resentment towards me.
My heart is broken but saying that I felt relief and strength. After reading ur articles and people comments I realized I can get thru this. Take time to grieve and heal. Baby steps.
I have to remind myself that for every problem I may encounter there is a lesson and solution.
I plan to strengthen my relationships with existing family members.
I feel it will be my brothers lost but my gain.
Bayo Ogunmupe says
I enjoy coaching from Marc and Angel. The duo have become a beacon of enlightenment to most of us in the developing world. Thank you indeed and more grease to your elbows.
Prayer and Faith in God – these are what help me push forward when life gets tough. Keeping the right attitude when nothing is changing, easier said than done as you always mention. I agree with that. And I also strongly agree that our mind is our battleground. Having a positive mindset everyday, being grateful for what we have, knowing and believing everytime that there is a God who are fighting our battles for us. It takes constant practice to be able to apply all of these in my life. I am thankful for people like you who have helped me overcome my struggles big or small thru your blogs, I know that God is using you, Marc and Angel to deliver His great message to all of us in need of encouragement and love when life doesn’t make sense. More Power to you and God Bless you more
Now a days I’m also going through too much stress,which has snatched my sleep so far..I feel like I’m collapsed and won’t move forward..and broken inside but only one thing keeps me living and to be positive is my trust in My Allah Almighty (Who loves me more than 70 mothers) HE will never let me down. In sha Allah ?
What do you do when you don’t have any passion? what do you hang on to?
What do you do when the things that are important are constantly crushed by the world we live in?
I needed this today, thank you. Just moved out of my home and relationship of four years after losing both my sons in two years to a rare condition. To say I feel low and lost is an understatement. If I can see my way to tomorrow and the next day I know things will get better.
That’s a really great question Aggie?! This life here on earth can be Extremely painful and difficult at times, and can leave us feeling hopeless and helpless. I have had my share of pain and disappointment like everyone else, and I’m actually going through a Really Hard season in my life right now. This past year has been the Most Difficult since my divorce which was 7 years ago. But to answer your question; what keeps me going is just as Liza said; A lot of prayer and placing my focus and my faith in God. There are times that’s it’s easier said than done, but God knows our humanness as well as our weaknesses. He has never let me down and he is ALWAYS there when I’m in need and he is Faithful.??
Hope that helps???
Faith in myself, GOD, I have a purpose which I may not see right now, everything is good and I will get through this. Self talk on a positive, loving note, manner. No matter what I go through my original nature is peace, love, joy, it is just that through my actions I have done something against the natural laws of the universe so it is time for change or returning to my true self. I hope this helps Aggie, I also listen to spiritual knowledge. Peace to All.
Thanks for writing this!
It’s a great reminder even for myself to always frame problems as challenges that I can learn and grow from when I overcome them.
Frances Frawley says
I have a web site which speaks about how art tells the story of
our life. One of the core statements is: a negative can turn into
a positive—when you fall down, getting up is a miracle”
Each of us are facing loss, or stressful times, maybe loss of direction, stuck at a crossroad. I’m no different. My life has taken me from a troubled early life filled with unexpected experiences I thought would kill me. Turned 61 yrs old this year, and have lived ,loved, cried and laughed. I am a repeat self offender, of troubled personal relationships that a good friend help me to realize this week. My mom had this selflessness about her but also remained in enabling relationships. It’s a good day to learn something new about myself.
Daniele Santos says
These are texts that make our morale rise and we have more strength and courage to face the challenges of everyday life, Thank you.
Learn to do it daily.
Learn to do it alone.
Learn to do it without a reason.
Nawa Sikwa Mukelabai says
Life is no straight and easy corridor along which we travel free and unhampered, but a maze of passages through which we must seek our way, lost and confused, now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith, a door will open for us, not one perhaps one that we ourselves would ever have thought of, but one that will ultimately protect each good for us. Just be steadfast, have faith, endure and trust in God.