If you read last week’s blog, you know I was depressed when I wrote it. My efforts to change how I felt worked. Next day, I woke in a great mood. A week or so later, I’m still happy. Life is good. The sunlight in my living room is gorgeous.
My uplifted feelings exist despite this week’s events: mice invaded my kitchen, yesterday I had food poisoning, which was followed by…well, you get the idea—life strikes again. And again, often.
I’m not saying I’ve been blissed out all week. I’ve had my fair share of rants and down moments. Okay, I’ve had down hours. But I’ve been happy a lot, so much that it has me thinking about ways I find happiness during challenges. Here are three of those methods. Then, maybe you’ll share your techniques below.
1) Be proactive, if at all possible. When I came down with multiple sclerosis (that’s the closest we’ve gotten to a diagnosis, and it was tentative), I tried anything I could to improve my situation. Being proactive is not always easy. For example, at first, I’d get out of bed and finally manage to stand, then immediately become so dizzy that I would fall over; I would aim for the bed, hoping I would hit it instead of the floor. Luckily I always managed to get the bed.
I don’t mention my terrible vertigo in order to sound pathetic or heroic. My point is that vertigo was one of many severe, sudden physical problems that limited me; I had little physical or emotional wherewithal to get anything done. But I was as proactive as I could manage. Do what you can—no matter how little—to change your situation.
Besides, when you’re down, it really helps if you try to get up. LOL.
Yes, your efforts might fail. But your attempts in themselves have benefits. For example, a study shows that, during a traumatizing event in their life, people who actively seek ways to overcome the situation tend to experience less psychological damage.
2) Tell yourself that unseen factors can turn your negative situation into something wonderful. Tell yourself that you’re not seeing solutions but they’ll come. Assure yourself with these ideas, even if you don’t believe them; rough times can discourage us so much that our life view becomes needlessly hopeless.
Also, trusting a solution is possible creates a solution. That’s not New Age doublespeak. Once I think a solution exists, I automatically relax. I go about my business. Next thing I know, an amazing solution enters my mind. Had constant worried thoughts (“This is hopeless, hopeless, hopeless”) filled my conscious awareness, the creative outpourings of my subconscious would never have risen to consciousness. My brain would’ve been too full of misery to have room for new ideas, and lack the peace needed for an innovative thought to gently enter. *
Besides, repeatedly giving yourself messages like “What’s the use of trying!” heaps more misery on top of whatever you’re already going through! Life is painful enough, don’t make it worse by telling yourself things you’d recognize as injurious if someone else said them to you. In other words, if a person kept at you with remarks like “There’s nothing you can do to improve your life,” you’d think they were plain old mean ! Don’t be mean to you.
3) Help someone else.* My three tips are not necessarily easy to do. And there are times when the best way to help others is to take care of yourself. But when I can give a helping hand, I forget my problems. I get a break from both them and my fear about the future; I’m more comfortable in my skin for a while.
Focusing on someone else’s needs shows me we’re all in this together. Realizing that I’m not the only one with difficulties gives me perspective, destroys my self-pity (I am prone to the “Poor me, my troubles are worse than anyone else’s” syndrome), and helps eradicate a sense of isolation that often occurs when problems overwhelm us.
Think this article cheap talk on my part? If I can find joy despite my challenges, anyone can. But instead of a litany of proofs in my pudding, I’ll give one example: Illness has made me a shut-in for ten years.
Hard Times are just that: hard. But they’re part of life. Sometimes they last years, sometimes they come and go all day. Again, do what you can, even if it is tiny, and keep on with that as often as you can—it will eventually pan out.
Don’t wait until a crisis is over to look for happiness. It is waiting for you to find it. Look, right there, do you see it?
* For more ways to free up your subconscious’s creativity and informativeness: Share My Insanity, available on Amazon. The book also shows why being of service can heal your spirit in ways nothing else will.
Both of your suggestions for Julia just now are ones you have given to me in the past – perhaps different wording, but the same ideas. I have found both to be very helpful and I continue to incorporate them into my regular life maintenance.
Also, I did get your phone message about the class. I am not in a class-taking frame of mind right now, but I do really appreciate your thinking about me 🙂
I very much benefited from the Brigid global ritual and plan to continue showing up for that sort of offering whenever possible.
Thanks for all that you do!
Hiya, Ellen, I am always glad when you post here, thanks!! Also glad that you got a lot from the Brigid ritual. Heh, one of the things about leading it was that I got to hang out with great folks. Love ya!
whew, I needed this one today! I have to– HAVE to– follow Robyn’s suggestion of immersing my mind fully in a task sometimes. Since my primary form of suffering is anxiety/panic, it’s the quickest way to tame my monkey mind when it starts running away with itself. Meditation is a skill I’m learning (the traditional, sit-on-a-cushion kind) for this same purpose, which I think will also be useful for finding peacefulness in rough spots. on stronger days all I need is a view out the window, or a certain birdsong to lift my spirits. as always, thank you for your courage in being you! xoxo
Oh, Julia, you are the best. You just keeping walking the path, being good to the world, and facing down your demons. I was in tears of gratitude after teaching class tonight: my students are amazing, you are all extraordinarily committed to inner growth, joy, and service. I get to walk next to your beauty and your bravery. I may not have a lot of students, but I have the best! Hey, I am sorry to read about all the recent anxiety here and, was it on twitter, yr blog, where? I cannot remember. Anyway, since you are not taking a class with me right now during which I cld give you a few suggestions, and who knows when our equally busy schedules wil collide for a ph call, LOL, lemme share two ideas here: 1) I get a hit that right now you don’t need tools to grow, but tools to cope. Cushion sitting meditation Is perfect. 2) A suggestion, for what it is worth: try labeling the feelings something other than anxiety or panic, just for a day or two, and see if anything shifts. It might not work, and I’m not suggesting the words “anxiety” and “panic” are inaccurate or that you stop applying them to this forever, but just a day or so. See what happens. Thanks for the great post! Including supportively calling the above blog brave, i have gotten some odd reactions to it, so whew! Onward!
Got yr tweet. (if u r a site visitor who does not follow Julia or me on Twitter, her twt said, “got yr reply to my comment on yr blog. spot on as always! TY!! renaming my experience “stress challenge” for now :)”
I love it! Thank you for your kind words. You and other folks tell me lately, “You seem to know what is in my brain.” Bwah hah hah! Even readers on Amazon say it about Share My Insanity. I am feeling immensely like Oh-Great-Shaman. Joking aside, it is an honor to be told that. I’ve been blessed with such gifts: my psychic ability to see what is going on inside someone to help them; my ability to have written a book expressing things that many readers felt they were all alone in thinking; and the appreciation and fellowship I get from amazing people, peers like you who honor me by studying with me. Now, the next step is to acknowledge how my head is getting swelled from all this, so that my false ego does not run away with my day! Also, i want it clear that my ability to “see” so many people does not imply you are in a category of “just another one of them,” whoever the heck “them” might imply to you. So I want to acknowledge that i am not the right teacher or author for everyone. You and i connect because we are who we are, you are no more a generic person and student than i am a generic teacher. And you and I have developed a special connection and friendship over years of classes and a shared spiritual journey. I teach a small number of folks who become very special to me, bc we belong together. Julia, i pray my relationship with you continues to grow and deepen. Love ya, darling!
Thanks, you know what, I appreciate the sympathy even if I’ve been happy despite the problems. BTW, some mice have finally fallen for the bait – whew! – so the mouse invasion may b quickly arrested.
The greatest virtue and at the same time downfall of artists is in perceiving details. Finding one thing beautiful amongst the whole mess can inspire you and finding one thing wrong in your inspired creation can bring you down. Often there are a hundred good things going on with people/situations/works and only one bad. The whole point of our thinking brain in seeing these mistakes is to fix them, if the mistake is outside the realm of things under my control then why do I worry about them? Why not just let stuff be? Perfection would be excruciating, there’d be no joy without having some pain at the same time. Rewarding and praising myself for the things I’ve done and acknowledging that I am human/sacred like everyone else helps me get over myself (my doubt) and take a step forward, the first step is the hardest.
Well said!! Thanks for adding that to the ongoing dialog on this site. Someday I’ll have to publish my poem about not looking for details to fix and instead just seeing beauty. It is a part of my oral traditional teachings but I feel good about publishing it. Heh, in my copious free time! I have a library of material I’ve written that cld be published so it is bit by bit. God’s will will decide. Thanks again!
Helping others has also hugely helped me – it puts everything in perspective. A bit like the saying: “If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back” (I think this is by Regina Brett). There are three other thinks that help me that I’d like to share:
1) “When has having a live started being a problem?” I don’t know where I read this, but it helps me understand that my life is right now, problems are a normal part of life and I really shouldn’t put off living until the situation has become better. Live right now, it makes everything better! We just think things become more bearable if we distance ourselves from them, but it’s not true.
2) “Nothing lasts for eternity” (Dunja Herrmann) or “However good or bad a situation is, it will change” (Regina Brett). This helps me to understand that even if I feel too weak to change anything or can’t even muster the energy to TRY, sometimes it is enough to just wait. Moods, problems and life’s challenges are like the weather, they come and go.
3) It helps me to start an activity that uses ALL my attention, like reading or stitching. Something that takes up so much of your mind’s space that there just is no space left for misery.
All the very best, I hope someone might find this helpful!
Robyn, you always touch the heart of things! Re waiting for life to start, that is something many of my clients and students have needed help with and, oddly enough, some of them were sure they were not a person waiting to start living! But there are subtle ways it happens, we cannot always see them in ourselves, and need someone to point them out, as well as to, hmm, let me see if I can make up a way to say this: we need someone to help us untangle all the subtle behavioral and thought knots. After that, we may also need help: step by step guidance as to how we, as a specific individual, can gently realign those threads so that our muscles and souls are healthy and aligned. I hope I expressed that well nuf. Anyway, luckily i love step by step helping someone untangle the knots in their spirit then realign themselves. Life is good when I am helping someone do that. Oh, not that I take anyone’s pain lightly, I just am happy to help relieve it and to do one of the things I was put on this earth for. Love you!
When I find myself in a difficult sitch, I take #2 even further. (This could be me just sharing my insanity. Wink wink.) Not only do I ‘know’ there is a solution, I ‘know’ that there is a gift in the happening. Dena once said, these things come up to be healed. I extrapolate from that that not everything is a one to one. Like, my current (hopefully soon to be former) health predicament wasn’t / isn’t really just about an auto immune condition but also a ‘lesson’ or ‘learning” that wants to come forward so… In a sense… A gift.
Amen, and so mote it be!