We all struggle. We all suffer on the inside. Every day…
We feel overwhelmed.
We feel angry.
We feel lonely.
We don’t feel good enough.
We wish we were more fit.
We wish we had more money.
We wish our jobs were different.
We wish our relationships were different.
We think post-COVID life should be ‘back to normal’ again.
And yet, every one of these struggles is self-created. They are real, but they are only real because we have created them in our minds. We have attached ourselves to certain ideals and fantasies about how life has to be right now in order to be good enough for us.
We worry because things might not turn out how we expect. We procrastinate because we fear discomfort and failure. We feel overwhelmed because we think we should be further along than we are. We feel angry because life should not be this way. And so it goes.
But again, it’s in our heads.
And it doesn’t have to be this way. At least not for YOU.
You can think better… you can live better. This is a choice you can make.
Take a deep breath right now, and let all that thinking and ruminating go. Just bring your attention to the present moment. Focus on what’s here with you now – the light, the sounds, your body, the ground under your feet, the objects or people moving and resting around you. Don’t judge these things against what they should be – just accept what they actually are. Because once you accept reality, you can improve it.
See life as it is, without all the ideals and fantasies you’ve been preoccupied with. Let go of all of those stressful distractions, and just experience this moment.
This moment is good enough as it is. Be here.
You can go back to fretting about everything else in a minute.
But before you do, now would also be an opportune time to remind yourself of some key truths we tend to deny when we’re stuck too deep in our own heads…
- There’s a lot about our lives we absolutely can’t control. – You cannot control everything that happens in life, but you can control how you respond. In your response is your greatest power.
- Our expectations often make us utterly unhappy. – 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.
- We will always be incredibly imperfect. – If you wait until you’re “perfect” before you share your stories, ideas, talents, and gifts with the world, no one will ever hear from you.
- A moment spent worrying is a moment wasted. – Worrying will never change the outcome. Do more, worry less. Train your mind to see the lesson in every situation, and then make the best of it.
- The best lessons often come from the hardest days. – Stand strong. Sometimes you have to experience a low point in life to learn a good lesson you couldn’t have learned any other way. (Read On Fire.)
- Success easily gets to our heads, and failure easily gets to our hearts. – Our character is often revealed at our highs and lows. Be humble at the mountaintops. Be steadfast in the valleys. Be faithful in between.
- We confuse being busy with being productive. – What you pay attention to grows. So focus on what truly matters and let go of what does not.
- More money left unmanaged just creates more problems. – Yes, we need money to live. Earn it. Save it. Invest it. But avoid spending money you haven’t earned, to buy things you don’t need, to impress folks you don’t even know. Manage your money so it doesn’t end up managing you.
- Most of us don’t need more to be happy – we need less. – When things aren’t adding up in your life, begin subtracting. Life gets a lot simpler when you clear the clutter (mental and physical) that makes it complicated. (Angel and I discuss this further in the “Simplicity” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Our fancy gadgets often get in our way and dehumanize us. – We all need to learn to be more human again. Don’t avoid eye contact. Don’t hide behind gadgets. Smile often. Ask about people’s stories. Listen.
- As a society, we are utterly infatuated with outer beauty. – If the whole world suddenly went blind, how many folks would still be able to see your beauty? Focus within. Be beautiful on the inside too. And always do your best to see beauty in others.
- Most of the arguments we have with one another are pointless. – Be selective in your battles. Oftentimes peace is better than being right. You simply don’t need to attend every argument you’re invited to.
- We default to judging others by their actions and ourselves by our ideals. – Be the type of person you want to meet and be around. Be the type of person whose actions, words, and values always agree with one another.
- We don’t always get what we give. – 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.
- None of us know anyone worth continually blaming. – Steal your power back. Free yourself to step forward on your own two legs. The best part of your life will start on the day you decide your life is your own, with no one to endlessly lean on, rely on, or blame.
- It’s easier to hold on to the way things are than it is to let go and grow. – Letting go and moving forward means coming to the realization that some things are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.
- If we want the benefits of something in life, we have to also want the costs. – Most people dream of the rewards without the risks. The triumph without the trials. Don’t be one of them. Life doesn’t work that way. When you find something you want, start by asking yourself: What am I willing to give up to get it?
- Even with all our advancements, progress still requires old-fashioned work. – In a culture that seeks quick and easy results, we must learn the beauty of effort, patience, and perseverance. Be strong, be present, and build positive daily rituals that get you there. (Angel and I build positive, life-changing rituals with our students in the “Goals and Growth” module of the Getting Back to Happy Course.)
- We never feel 100% ready when good opportunities arise. – Most great opportunities in life force us to grow emotionally and intellectually. They force us to stretch ourselves and our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first. And when we don’t feel comfortable, we don’t feel ready.
- Many of us will have our lives cut short. – One way or another, none of us live forever. And it’s much harder to change the length of your life than it is to change the depth of it. So, how deep will you go today? That’s something you should reflect on. Because how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
Again, life is tough sometimes. There’s so much you simply can’t control, but you have to let your resistance to this GO. Do not let what is out of your control interfere with everything you can control. Be mindful. Be present. Focus on the small steps you CAN take today, and take them! No regrets. No looking back.
We have no way of knowing exactly what lies over the horizon, but that’s what makes every day’s journey interesting and exciting – that’s what makes today so powerful. Anything is possible!
Which of the points mentioned above do you sometimes struggle with? How have you coped? What other truths have you learned and accepted that have helped you live well in recent times?
Leave a reply below and share your thoughts and insights.
Also, the full HD recording of our most recent Think Better, Live Better conference is 50% off today. You can get the full recording of Think Better, Live Better here, or get it for free today when you join our course (offers end tomorrow).
This post is a priceless reminder! No doubt, when we aren’t mentally present and properly focused, our lives get away from us.
Building the tiny, positive daily rituals you mentioned in #18 has been one of my biggest struggles and greatest success points in recent times. I used to be one of those people who procrastinate until it’s almost too late, and then try to do everything all at once to no avail. But ever since I joined your course and coaching and built a few much-needed daily rituals for myself, I’ve been gradually making progress in several key areas of my life… For one, my relationships with my husband and children have been better. And second, I finally made some progress with paying off debt.
Thank you for the continued guidance and inspiration.
Just came out of a terrible relationship with a narcissist that nearly sent me into madness. But I believed in myself and had the strength in my soul to get out. I am lucky. And I am grateful for the reminders regularly shared here.
Marc Chernoff says
Cheers to new beginnings. 🙂
Hey there trooper, I’m so sorry for your recent traumatic experience with a narcissist, but if you practice mindful meditation and daily affirmations, it will, in two years time give or take, return to you your beauty, car, savings, self trust etc
Marc Chernoff says
Rachel, it’s inspiring to hear about the progress you’ve made through our course. Thank you for being a part of our community, and let us know how we can assist you further.
Excellent article! It’s such a great refresher for me. Your words arrive in my email inbox right on time, every time. Thanks for being so consistent. Oh, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about your next live conference – I’d really like to attend.
Melissa Bells says
Marc, I think the intro to this post along with the first two points accurately summarizes the struggles I’ve been correcting in my life in the past couple years. My expectations have always led to a severe lack of presence and gratitude in my life. I’ve typically allowed my disappointments to blind me to my biggest opportunities. Your blog’s emails and your 1,000 things book have been tremendously helpful in refocusing my attention and energy. Keep doing your thing! It’s making my world better!
Marc Chernoff says
It’s a long-term practice, Michelle. Presence is a practice. And it’s great to hear you’re making progress. 🙂
Thank you for supporting our work too.
Marc and Angel, I have been reading your blog for only a month or so. I love it and I love your photos. I found it while researching for a blog my hubby and I started foreversandd.com. I used a quote from you on my yesterday’s post. Thank you so much for the perfect words at the right moment. I hope you don’t mind. Of course I gave you credit for it. I look forward to your next blog entry as I have been. I can’t wish Scott and I were more like you guys when we were younger. It’s too late for that, but it is amazing how the two of you and your son inspire so many. Thank you, thank you. Donna
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for the extra kindness, Donna. And well done on stating your new blog!
Jacque J says
This is such a well written piece. Thank you for sharing it was really right on time. As a child I was told ” don’t let nobody live in your head rent free”, that still rings true today after all my 40 something years.. life is hard enough but when we realize we can’t contol the messed up things folk may do to us but only how we respond to it the better off we will be.
Jane ireland says
I could echo what Jacque J. said. I’ve accomplished most of the thoughts on this list, but recently discovered that I need to ignore the messed up things that people do to our head…and I let a man do this to me. The good thing was that I realized I can have deep feelings again…but I need to trust and love the the right person. Trust has been difficult for some time.
Paridhi Sharma says
i always love the articles presented. they are helping me a lot to cope up with my difficult thoughts and depression and helping me to remove the feelings of worthlessness and loneliness. thank you and keep up the amazing work
Chuck Schwartz says
# 17….I am going through a COVID-related life transition (job/career change – including the opportunity to start and create a new business) and this was a great reminder of the ‘work’ involved in making ‘great’ change…’great’ change has costs involved, and the learning, growing, and ‘changing’ is often priceless…if we allow it in…
A wonderful article – and I’d love to riff on the wording in one point: Number 3. I think we are ALWAYS perfect the way that we are in any moment – and never “finished”, but continuously on a journey to another level of perfection. Maybe this is worth considering? It has become one of my favorite mantras: I am always perfect and never finished.
Mark Phelan says
Excellent reminders. This post reminds me of one of my favorite lessons: Nothing refreshes more than honesty. 😉
I loved this article and it really rang true for me today. The point that stuck out for me the most is #20 – “It’s much harder to change the length of your life than it is to change the depth of it.” What a powerful message! There have been a lot of deaths in my family and I’m constantly trying to help my 84 year old mother cope with it – she’s stuck on the idea that everyone is “gone” and “why did this happen to us?” I keep trying to refocus her on appreciating the fact that we HAD these wonderful family members in our lives, that life’s length is unpredictable so we have to focus on the quality of how we live our lives TODAY! It’s a good reminder for me as well, as I often get caught up in worrying about outcomes of things rather than being present and creating today’s moments. Anyway, this article was an amazing reminder – thank you!
“Be humble at the mountaintops. Be steadfast in the valleys. Be faithful in between.” Loved this.
Great article! Thanks
Robin via says
I agree. What a true way to put ur thoughts in such a graceful and clear design.
I love #17 “If we want the benefits of something in life, we have to also want the costs.”
In my office we had a saying, “Everyone wants to get to Heaven, but nobody’s willing to die.” As a society we have an entitlement complex. Since our parents had what we want, but very few of us are willing (or able) to see that they already worked hard for what they had for decades, we think we should have the same without putting in the time/work/sacrifice.
Thanks for the truthful thoughts. The point about not always getting what you give is important to keep in mind. Eye opening!
Eileen G says
I am a very loyal person, and I expect everyone I deal with to mirror my loyalty, but it does not always happen, so consequentially I am often disappointed. Anyone have any advice on how can I get beyond this?
Yes, if you help someone or have a relationship where you’ve given something of yourself, it may be your “expectation” that something good will be returned to you that is the hangup. I have been mystified about this absence of the “good” return as well. If it is friends or customers that are the issue, continue to expand that universe, then cherry pick the best and forget the rest….it is not worth the time and energy on waiting for good Karma to be returned with some people. If the loyalty deficit is with a relationship, communication AND correction is required….if they want that union with YOU, it must be clear what loyalty means to THEM. Otherwise, it may be time for saying goodbye and finding someone who is capable of loyalty.
Luke Zitterkopf says
I also struggle with expecting loyalty from people. Eventually I realized that loyalty is a rare quality that has mostly been abandoned by modern culture. A close cousin to loyalty that is hard to find anymore is honor.
Don’t despair. When you meet people that DO have loyalty and honor it feels more precious. Kind of like the salt of the earth. Also, people that do have these qualities make for the best long term friends and business associates.
Clark Morgan says
This post was a great reminder today – it’s what I needed to read to bring me back to life… both the post itself and the comments have allowed me to go outside and look for the “Sun” again, and I can’t wait until tonight to look for the “moon.”
No. 7,15 ,18 points are quite deep. Although all points are good, #7 tells me not to waste time in doing useless jobs and that’s what I needed to hear right now.
Thanks and may the Almighty shower his blessings on you and your family.
#20 really hit home for me, as I just found out about a potential health problem I am facing today. It’s non-covid but surely covid complicates matters.
Thank you for the time and effort to write these inspiring posts.
I’m so glad I’ve found your blog right at that particular moment of my life. I cannot agree more with what was said here. And usually I know all of it, but still need someone to remind me about looking forward and making the most of what I have.
I am currently losing almost everything to a bankruptcy and this has helped put a bit of perspective into my life, but I still feel overwhelmed.
Thank you for caring about your fellow humans and giving me a slight bit of relief and perspective in this moment.
You guys keep reinforcing this so beautifully and it has done a world of good to me ever since i started reading your blogs and emails…
#3,13,16,17 and 19 rocked me back on my heels just now. Thanks for working so hard to come up with these insights that are pared down to their absolute essence, they cut straight to the heart of things.
You’re spot on!
Above all, fear plays a big role in trying to be in control of everything or everyone.
We have this fixed idea on how life should be and if it’s not that way we try to control or manipulate it.
Expectations gets me every time. I had to learn that every one is different and people don’t always have to live up to my expectations.
Most of the time I don’t live up to them myself.
Like you said focus on what matters and what matters is regardless what we’re going in life really it isn’t that bad.
Thanks Marc and Angel for your inspirational posts! They always help me better understand the true meaning of life and my role in it.
Thank you for this post. I find it very inspirational, as do I all the rest of your posts. Thanks for shining such a bright light on the world!
Matthew Chidi says
Great thoughtful article, putting them to practice is my next line of action
Nutty Hiker says
Great article! I try to remember most of this on a daily basis and it has helped a TON! I also remember the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. The things that are insignificant, I am no in the habit of not letting it bother me. The things I cannot control, I also don’t let bother me. And when it comes to teenagers, I have learned to pick my battles lol =).
Anne Efi says
This article is just amazing. The introduction made to abandon everything else to focus on this for an hour. I was blown away by the first point which made me realized how wrong I was about some stuff. Thanks so much for this article. It helps a lot.
This is article is not only timely but it rings true in so many ways. I’m going to control what I can, accept things for how they are. I’ve been missing life trying to make it more ‘perfect’ ever since covid hit.
CC RiCohen says
I’m 38 and got a Stage 3 cancer diagnosis in October 2020. I was misdiagnosed for 6 months as having benign uterine fibroids because I wasn’t able to get in to see a doctor due to covid. I could be angry and sad and upset that this happened to me BUT, I’ve decided to make the most of it. I’m currently doing chemotherapy and, by the grace of God, will beat this. Things happen that suck but it’s REALLY about how we handle it and react to it. Love the article. Good perspective.
Marc Chernoff says
Hi CC. Angel and I are sending you our prayers. We truly are. I just wanted to drop you a quick line and let you know.
Z Artist says
Thank you for these reminders! Excellent!! Still working on getting through your course. Enjoying and appreciating the present moment is of the utmost importance. Learning that others don’t have my heart, so will often not reciprocate my expectations, has been a process to learn along the way, for sure!
Marc Chernoff says
Hi Z. Thank you, again, for investing in yourself through the Getting Back to Happy course. We are grateful to be on the journey with you. And of course, please let us know how we can further assist you. 🙂
Wow, powerful article. #6 & #20 really hit home. Thank you for sharing. I send these out to my friends and family too because we all need encouragement.
Marc Chernoff says
Thank you for sharing our work with your friends and family. Much appreciated, Green. 🙂
I’ve been losing sleep and in tremendous stress and anxiety because of too much worrying about my future and job security. What I realized today after finally telling myself I’m so tired with all of these and I cannot live like this anymore, is to start changing my mindset – that I cannot control the future but I can arm myself with knowledge and learning that I can use to face it. Another thing is, I’ve been planning too hard on my future that contributes to my worries and anxieties, that I forgot to realize that, mentioned in #20, my life could be cut short, today, tomorrow, the next day, etc, and all these pointless worrying and sleepless nights planning are not worth it, since we don’t even know if we are still going to be alive to see that ‘worry-some’ future. So from now on, live in the present.
“We all need to learn to be more human again”
Sadly, this is very much the opposite in the society: we are unlearning our humanity. Once I was standing in a queue in the bank. The long hold up was unaccounted for, and soon enough everyone channeled the woes and joys of their world to…their mobile phones. This was in a place full of breathing human beings, but it was graver than a medieval library. And that is because we learnt to live our lives on phones like robots. It robs us of an aspect that used to blaze so brightly in such gatherings.
It is very thoughtful of you to include this in the list.