Doubt your doubts before you doubt your hope.
That’s the super-short version of my advice for those moments when nothing seems to be going as planned in the days and weeks ahead—when everything you want seems out of reach.
Yes, just be right where you are, with an open mind.
Let go of what you think your life is supposed to look like and sincerely appreciate it for everything that it is.
Easier said than done of course, especially when tragedy strikes. And although Marc and I have coped and grown through our fair share of real tragedies (including the recent pandemic), let’s be honest about something: 98% of the time we create tragedy in our daily lives out of fairly minor incidents. Something doesn’t go exactly as planned, but rather than learn from the experience, we freak out about it and let stress become us.
My challenge for you today is to choose differently—don’t let the little things that are out of your control dominate you.
Truth be told, in the heat of the moment the biggest difference between peace and stress is attitude. It’s all about how you look at a situation and what you decide to do with it. It’s remembering that there are no certainties in life—you don’t know exactly what the future will bring. So your best strategy for living is to make the best and most positive use of the present moment, even when it disappoints you…
Especially when it disappoints you!
Your life, with all its ups and downs, with all its unexpected twists and turns, has strengthened you. It took each and every intricate and confusing situation you have encountered to bring you to right here, right now. And if you have the courage to admit that you’re a little scared, the ability to smile even as you cry, the nerve to ask for help when you need it, and the wisdom to take it when it’s offered, then you have everything you need.
You just have to believe it so you can take the next step.
Seriously, nothing is out of reach when you realize it’s all in your head.
Which is why it’s time to remind yourself…
- You don’t need baggage from yesterday clouding your vision of today’s blessings. The only thing stopping you 98% of the time is your mind and the thoughts you entertain. So take a deep breath and recenter yourself. You become a true master of your life when you learn how to master your focus—where your attention goes. Value what you give your energy to. Focus your limited energy on what matters most in the present.
- It’s truly powerful and beautiful when a person’s intentions are genuine. So remember to do things for the right reasons, even when things don’t work out as planned. Your “why” must be bigger than the disappointments and challenges you face. Seriously, as often as you can, remind yourself why! With a strong enough reason why, you’ll be able to do what’s required at any time and in any circumstance.
- Most people end up cheating on themselves and others, again and again, simply because they pay more attention to what they’re missing, rather than what they have. Meditate on this, so you don’t fall back into old, tired patterns. This one gets the best of even the best of us. Toxic habits and behaviors always try to sneak back in when we’re doing better. Stay focused.
- You will end up heartbroken if you expect people will always do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you. Forgive them! Yes, forgive them, not because they absolutely deserve forgiveness, but because you absolutely deserve peace of mind. Free yourself of the burden of being an eternal victim.
- If somebody is working on themselves and changing for the better, it’s unnecessary to keep bringing up their past. People can change and grow. Take this to heart, and show yourself the same courtesy too. Oftentimes you don’t even realize that you’re blocking your own present blessings by holding on to the past. Start letting go. Be here now.
- Calmness is a human superpower. The ability to not overreact or take things personally keeps your mind clear and your heart at peace. It’s never too late to change your attitude about something you can’t change. Just decide to make the best of it. Take life day by day and be grateful for the little things. No excuses. Let go of all the purposeless drama, aimless time-wasters, and mental clutter that keeps getting in your way. (Marc and I build life-changing, daily rituals for doing just that with our two-on-one coaching clients and our students in the “Goals & Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
- Mental strength is incredibly important. Take care of your mind and the way you speak to yourself. Don’t let negative self-talk weaken you. Talk like you are blessed. Walk like you are blessed. Think like you are blessed. Work like you are blessed. And you will be, one way or another.
- Everything gets a bit uncomfortable when it’s time to change (or when it’s time to recalibrate your expectations). That’s just a part of the growth process. Things will get better. Be patient, and remind yourself that you will never have to force anything that’s truly meant to be. Just do your best, then adopt a “whatever happens, happens” mindset. Don’t try to force things—let go and allow the right blessings to flow.
- The wrong choices can bring us to the right places. The biggest failures often carry the best lessons. When you fail to get what you want, consider that it just might be a blessing in disguise. Seriously, be grateful that certain connections and situations didn’t work out. If you didn’t let go and learn, you would be stuck with false promises. Celebrate your progress. (Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the “Adversity” chapter of our “1,000 Little Things” book.)
- 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. Eventually you’ll end up where you need to be, doing the right things, alongside the right people. Patience and persistence are the key. But don’t forget to pause on occasion and appreciate how far you’ve come too. You’ve been through a lot, and you’ve grown a lot. Give yourself credit for the steps you’ve taken, so you can step forward again with grace.
Afterthoughts… On Stepping Through a Day with Grace
All details aside, the goal in the year ahead is to grow so strong on the inside that nothing on the outside can affect your inner wellness without your conscious permission.
It’s about letting go of fantasies, accepting reality, having faith in your journey, and appreciating all the little things that are within your reach.
As you continue to progress forward, do your best to avoid letting anyone or anything clutter your peace of mind. Live a life that moves you and makes you smile every day. Because you don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow even, and realize that your life is merely a collection of stressful expectations and “somedays” and errands and receipts and empty promises.
You CAN choose differently!
You CAN step through each day with grace…
So, go ahead and sing out loud in the car with the windows down, and dance in your living room with your family, and stay up late laughing, and paint your walls any color you want, and enjoy some port wine and chocolate cake. Yes, go ahead and sleep in on clean white sheets, and throw spontaneous parties, and paint, and write poetry, and read books so good they make you lose track of time. And just keep living and making God glad that he gave life to someone who loves and appreciates the gift.
It’s your turn now…
If you’re feeling up to it, we would love to hear from YOU.
Which point mentioned above resonates with you the most today, and why?
Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
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Photo by: Ryan Holloway