Just this week I learned some life lessons that have had an amazing effect on me. I also realized that if I had learned those lessons long ago I never would be in my current situation.
So what is the “it” I refer to in this title? “It” is peace and eventually happiness. When we are in crisis or watching a crisis rush toward us we tend to put off moments of peace and happiness to fight the battle. People facing foreclosure might tell themselves that they need to focus on fixing the problem and then they can experience peace and happiness. But it never comes. Life is full of crises and stress. Regardless of our circumstances at the moment we must find moments of peace and happiness now, and at all times.
The lessons I am learning are age old. Some version or another are found in most religious, spiritual and philosophical texts. Slightly altered versions are heard from therapists, motivational speakers and sappy inspirational posters. The words have always had meaning, but I didn’t know I wasn’t applying them, so I blew past them.
Taking control of how you view things in your life is much easier than it sounds. Negative thoughts race through our minds when we face a crisis. Those thoughts multiply and gain momentum. If you struggle with biological issues like depression and anxiety as I do those negative thoughts can take you to a very dark place.
So how do we stop thinking about negative thoughts and look forward and see the good in life at all times?
In looking at people who handle adversity well you might notice that they find ways to put things behind them, look forward and enjoy moments of peace and happiness, even if those moments are brief. I want that and I intend to find out how to do it.
For me, it started with something my friend Nina said after I hit a wall of crises, my husband was gone, I was sick, alone and I was inconsolable and terrified. She said “the core of all of your problems is gone.” It took a few days for that to sink in, but it did. My husband was gone and he could no longer cause me harm. Yes, I am left with a mess and no broom to clean it all up, but everything I do is a step toward a stable life without drama and deception. And it is in my control, not his.
If I would have taken moments to appreciate my accomplishments before I found myself in my predicament I might have avoided it or at least I wouldn’t have been so devastated. If I had learned long ago to stop and enjoy life I would have remained a strong, productive person. I have a long way to become a strong, productive person again, but I won’t get there if I don’t try to find some satisfaction and enjoyment in life today.
To anyone who is reading this please stop your worries and concerns for a minute and think about a goal that you have. Think about why you are struggling. Is it to make a good life for your children? If so, are you hugging and playing with your children today or just struggling, worrying and working for their future?
If you have lost your job are you focusing on how you will pay the bills next month and the month after that? Or are you trying to do the best you can then putting the worry aside to enjoy your time off?
Perhaps you are losing your home and all that you have worked hard to achieve. If so, where is your focus? Are you focusing on working harder to try to keep it from slipping away or are you enjoying your house, keeping it neat and tidy and using it to live your life well so long as you have it. Perhaps you should stop trying so hard to hang on to it and begin looking at ways to live life more simply so you can enjoy yourself today.
Negative thoughts don’t change themselves. They just get worse. The only way to rid your mind of negative thoughts is to force them out. They are forced out by imposing positive spins and thoughts on yourself every chance you get. You may not believe those positive thoughts, and at first they will probably be faked but they eventually take hold if you are persistent enough.
Turn yourself into an irritating Pollyana for awhile and you will feel the effects. “Always look on the bright side of life,” sounds like a useless, pithy little phrase when you are struggling and feeling helpless, but those who follow it are happier than those who don’t.
Happiness does not occur because you are financially stable, although it is certainly much easier. Happiness and peace occur because you invite them in and seek them out, notice those moments and embrace them.
Start reading those pity quotes and apply them to your life. Here are a few that have meaning to me:
“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future.”
“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” — Albert Einstein
“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.” – Buddha (Siddhartha Gautama)