Does your life suck right now?
The hard fact of life is that we are all going to experience tragedy at one point or another. Some might experience just a single tragedy; others might experience great tragedies regularly.
But regardless of how terrible your tragedy might be in relation to those around you, a tragedy is always going to be difficult in relation to the self.
Sometimes, life is just going to suck.
But what can do to pull ourselves back up? Renowned Buddhist Pema Chodron once said, “It isn’t what happens to us that causes us to suffer; it’s what we say to ourselves about what happens.”
In simpler terms, Chodron is trying to get at the same idea referred to when we say, “Life is what you make it.”
Your reality is primarily shaped by the way you view life and the way you absorb events that happen to you.
Think about it like this: when you were a child, you might have thought that losing your favorite toy would be the worst thing in the world, enough to cry endlessly over.
These days, you might be able to lose a precious smartphone and barely have a reaction. This is just one example of how the immensity of a tragedy is limited to the size we let it become.
The simple fact is that it’s all in your head. You might go through the worst things in the world—losing a loved one, moving away from home against your will, having your heart broken—but at some point after your mourning period, the tragedy will only be as big as you let it become.
It’s all about forcing yourself to make life stop sucking, and here are 5 helpful things you can do to make that happen:
1) Don’t Let the Negativity Take Over
The first reaction to any tragedy will be negative emotions. Fear, anger, despair, distress, depression—they will wash over you like oil, sticking to you no matter how much you try to scrub them out.
It’s so easy to succumb to these emotions and let ourselves be defined by then. First our thoughts, then our words, then our actions; one by one our personalities and lives become shaped by the negativity until we turn into nothing more than vessels of negativity.
This isn’t to say that you have to deny yourself your negative feelings. You have to let them in; just don’t let them take over.
But how exactly do you avoid falling to your negative emotions? Just pretend. Mask it over with confidence and happiness, and eventually that confidence will become real. The one thing to remember is this—fake it till you make it.
2) Become Grateful
The hardest time to feel grateful for the life you have is when you are experiencing something terrible. But these are the times when it is most important to practice gratitude in your life.
Think about how your tragedy could have been worse. If you have a loved one who has recently fallen ill or experienced an accident, think about how the issue might be more devastating.
If you lost a job or a large sum of money, be thankful that you still have the people around you and your good health.
There’s always a silver lining, and it’s important to lean on these silver linings during your toughest moments.
3) Move Forward
It’s natural to fall into a cycle of pitying yourself and mourning your dire situation when you experience something terrible.
But after some time, it’s crucial that you snap out of it before you let it ruin your life. Instead of asking, “How could this happen to me?” you need to start asking, “What can I do to move forward?”
It might not be easy and it might not even be something you want to do, but moving forward is like ripping the band-aid off a wound—it’s something that has to be done, and something you will thank yourself for later.
4) Stop Blaming
In a tough situation, our kneejerk reaction is to always assign blame.
Blame your boss, your company, a schedule, a virus, a faulty car, anything; anything that might be related to the tragedy that struck you and your family, you will figure out a way to blame it. And that’s understandable—we want to make sense out of the tragedy.
But here’s the thing—sometimes there’s no explanation. Sometimes there’s no reason and no one to blame, and you have to learn to be okay with that.
The sooner you can accept the fact that sometimes the universe is just random, the sooner you can learn to live with your new reality.
5) Stand Up
You know the famous line: every time you fall down, you have to stand back up. As long as you always stand back up one more time than you fall down, then you are going to be fine.
No matter how tough it might be, you have to be tougher. It doesn’t have to be an immediate response—it’s okay to have a period to grieve—but as long as it’s a response you make eventually, then you can conquer anything life throws at you.
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Do you want to live your life with purpose and meaning, but you struggle to figure out how to do this without needing to completely change your life in the process?
Most modern day approaches to living with purpose and meaning involve trying to visualize a different life for yourself.
The problem is that doing this distracts you from the life you're already living right now.
In this free salon, Ideapod founder Justin Brown shares a very different approach to aligning with your purpose and creating meaning in your life, without needing to drastically change your life.
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