Experiences don’t stop. That’s life. And the very experiences that seem so hard when you’re going through them are the ones you’ll look back on with gratitude for how far you’ve come.
We know you’re reading this (probably from home right now). And we want you to know we’re writing this for you. Others will be confused. They will think we’re writing this for them. But we’re not.
This one’s for YOU.
We want you to know that life is not easy for any of us right now. Every day is an unpredictable challenge. Some days it can be difficult simply to get out of bed in the morning. To face the reality of COVID-19 and put on that smile.
But we want you to know, your smile has kept us going on more days than we can count. Yes, as a reader of this little blog, YOUR SMILE—your willingness to read and empower yourself—helps us through.
Never forget that, even through the toughest of times, you are incredible. You really are.
So smile more often. You have so many reasons to. Time and again, our reason is you.
You won’t always be perfect or act perfect. Neither will we. Because nobody is perfect, and nobody deserves to be perfect. Nobody has it easy, everybody has issues. You will never know exactly what we’re going through. And we will never know exactly what you’re going through. We are all fighting our own unique war right now.
But we are fighting through it simultaneously, together.
Remember, our courage doesn’t always roar aloud. Sometimes it’s the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, “I will try my best again tomorrow.” So stand strong. Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
And we are committed to making the best of it along with you.
Tuning Out the Noise
As we acclimate to a world with COVID-19, let’s not just think outside the box.
Let’s think like there is no box at all.
Let’s ease our worried minds by tuning out the excess noise in our heads for a little while every day. It’s a perfect time to slow down after all. There’s no reason not to take our minds off (the wrong) things and find some much-needed inner peace.
You know how we typically turn down the volume on the radio or TV when we need to a moment to think clearly?
The same is true for all aspects of our lives in general. The noise we need to cut out first? That’s the mental noise we hear all too often—the worried thoughts screaming over our collective sanity.
Turning down the radio or TV volume refocuses our minds and offers us a moment of peace and clarity when we need it most. We don’t really think about how or why this makes such a huge difference, we just know it does.
So, now it’s time to apply this same strategy to all the other noise in our present lives, starting with the noise in our collective consciousness. And although it’s not quite as easy as spinning the radio’s or TV’s volume dial, the good news is we can quiet our minds and train ourselves to think more peacefully and rationally simply by reminding ourselves to do so every day.
The best tool for the job while we’re distancing ourselves inside our homes?
It’s just a simple practice of self-reflection that can keep us on track by keeping peaceful, productive thoughts at the top of our minds, even as we cope with all the COVID-19 related noise and chaos surrounding us. Consider this short excerpt from our newest volume of 1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently:
“When you want to get somewhere in life, you need a map, and your journal is that map. You can write down what you did today, what you tried to accomplish, where you made mistakes, and so much more. It’s a place to reflect. It’s a place to capture important thoughts and eliminate the rest. It’s a place to sort out where you’ve been and where you intend to go. And it’s one of the most underused, yet incredibly effective tools available to the masses.”
If you’re interested in journaling with Angel and me, as we distance ourselves from COVID-19 over the next few weeks, I’ve listed 21 journal prompts below that we are personally using to take our minds off things and nudge ourselves into a calmer state of being. We’ve used similar prompts in the past, so we can assure you that they will bring a healthy dose of awareness and help filter out some of the excess noise and chaos.
Challenge yourself to follow along with us starting today as we read and write on each prompt for at least five minutes every day for the next three weeks (21 days). Let’s see how doing so gradually changes how we think, feel and behave at this unprecedented time…
The goal is not to get rid of all your negative thoughts, feelings, and present life circumstances. Doing so is impossible. The goal is to change your response to them.
What’s something specific about your present circumstances that’s been stressing you out? What can you do to improve your response today?
The most powerful moments in life often come when you find the courage to let go of what can’t be changed. Because when you are no longer able to change a situation, you are challenged to change yourself—to grow beyond the unchangeable. And that changes everything.
What’s one unchangeable reality you’ve been resisting? What can you do right now to ease your mind into the acceptance of this reality?
Love what you do, until you can do what you love. Love where you are, until you can be where you love. Love the people you are with, until you can be with the rest of the people you love. This is the way we find happiness, opportunity, and peace.
What do you love about your present life situation (despite the challenges that exist)? Who do you love today (despite the quirks they have)?
Peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no chaos, trouble, or hard realities to deal with. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still remain mentally, emotionally, and physically centered.
What’s something small that always brings you peace when you think about it? Why?
Too often we say “life is not fair” while we’re eating our food, sipping a drink, and reading the news on our smartphones. Think twice and be thankful. Right now, before you think of anything else, breathe deeply, appreciate where you are, and see the value in what you have.
What’s one privilege you have right now that you are taking for granted?
Happiness is letting go of what you assume your life is supposed to be like right now and sincerely appreciating it for everything that it is. At the end of this day, before you close your eyes, smile and be at peace with where you’ve been and grateful for what you have. Life isn’t easy right now, but there is some good.
What do you appreciate most about your present life situation? Why?
Everything gets a bit uncomfortable when it’s time to grow. That’s just a part of the growth process. Things will get better. Be patient and remind yourself: Life never gets easier, you just get stronger.
How has the discomfort you’ve felt in the past helped you grow? How can you better accept the discomfort you presently feel?
Forgive yourself for the bad decisions you made, for the times you lacked understanding, for the choices that hurt others and yourself. Forgive yourself, for being young and reckless. These are all vital lessons. And what matters most right now is your willingness to grow from them.
What specifically do you need to forgive yourself for? What have your error(s) in judgment taught you?
Inner peace begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow an external event to control your inner peace. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin again.
What ideals are you holding on to that are holding you down? What can you let go of right now (without losing a thing)?
We waste our time waiting for ideal paths to appear. But they never do. Because we forget that paths are made by walking, not waiting.
What’s one small step you’ve been thinking about taking, for far too long?
It’s funny how we outgrow what we once thought we couldn’t live without, and then we fall in love with what we didn’t even know we wanted. Life keeps leading us on journeys we would never go on if it were up to us. Don’t be afraid. Have faith. Find the lessons. Trust the journey.
What’s something you’ve moved on from that once meant the world to you? And, what’s something you love today that you never even knew you needed in your life?
Even when it seems personal, rarely do people do things because of you, they do things because of them. And while you may not be able control all the things people say and do to you, you can decide not to be reduced by them today.
What’s something you often take too personally even though, logically, you know better?
Don’t lower your standards, but do remember that removing your expectations of others is the best way to avoid being disappointed by them. 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.
How have your expectations of others gotten the best of you recently? How will you remind yourself to ease your expectations today?
Everybody you know is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something. Know this. Respect this. And be extra kind in these hard times. Take some extra time to really listen. Take some extra time to learn something new. Take some extra time time to say thank you, today.
What can you easily do to be a little kinder than usual today? And, who was the last person who was unexpectedly kind to you?
You won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you need to be a priority to yourself right now. Practice respecting yourself, taking care of yourself, and becoming your own support system in these unprecedented times. Your needs matter. Start meeting them. Don’t wait on others to choose you. Choose yourself!
How will you choose yourself today?
In the grand scheme of things, a relatively small part of your life is decided by uncontrollable circumstances (like COVID-19), while the vast majority of it is decided by your perspective regarding these circumstances. Let this sink in. Regardless of what’s going on around you, peace of mind arrives the moment you come to peace with what’s on your mind.
What is one specific part of your present reality you need to come to peace with? Why?
Stop resisting. Breathe. Be where you are. You’re where you’re supposed to be at this moment. There’s a time and place for everything, and every step is necessary. Just keep doing your best, and don’t force what’s not yet supposed to fit into your life. When it’s meant to be, it will be.
What is necessary and beneficial about where you are right now? How does it feel to embrace this present reality?
Just breathe, be, and pay attention to what it’s like to be YOU in this moment. Nothing to fix. Nothing to change. Nowhere to go. Just you, breathing, being, with presence, and without judgment. You are welcome here. You belong here. Here, you are enough.
What’s something specific about yourself that you need to embrace more openly and lovingly?
Give yourself the space to hear your own voice—your own soul. Too many of us listen to the noise of the world and get lost in it. Stand strong! Live by choice, not by chance. Choose to listen to your own inner wisdom today.
What has your inner wisdom been trying to tell you lately?
Don’t fall back into your old patterns of living just because they’re more comfortable and easier to access right now. Remember, you’ve left certain habits and situations behind for a reason: to improve your life. And right now, you can’t move forward if you keep going back.
What’s one old pattern of behavior that still tries to sneak up on you? What’s a better alternative today, and why?
There will come a time when you think it’s all over, everything is broken… you’ve reached the end of your figurative road. That’s the starting line. Be humble. Be teachable. The world is always bigger than your view of the world. And there’s always room for a new possibility, a new step, and a new beginning.
What does “a new beginning” mean to you right now?
Let’s be consistent for 3 weeks…
It is the compound effect of simple, seemingly ordinary actions over time that leads to life-altering, positive results. Consider this quick quote from our New York Times bestselling book:
“There is nothing immediately sensational about putting one foot in front of the other every day for weeks, but by doing so, many normal human beings have climbed over 29,000 feet to the top of the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.”
And, there is nothing immediately exciting about forcing yourself into self-reflection through journaling for a short time every day, but by doing so, Angel and I (and hundreds of course students and conference attendees Angel and I have personally worked with) have drastically better lives.
Remember, the mind needs to be trained to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. And that’s precisely what a daily ritual of journaling will gradually allow us to achieve over the next few weeks. (Note: Angel and I build more small, life-changing daily rituals like this with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
So, let’s start today, together! Angel and I are literally starting our 3-week journals the moment I hit publish on this post.
Will you join us?
Please leave us a comment below and let us know if you will.
Also, our podcast, THINK BETTER, LIVE BETTER (yes, it shares the title of our annual live event) can be used as a tool to keep your mindset grounded while you’re socially distancing, etc. You can listen to the whole first season—30 episodes—on your favorite podcast player right now (M&A on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts).