It doesn’t have to be so hard all the time. You are not required to struggle, toil and stress your way through life. Culture teaches us otherwise. We are taught that in order to live a happy and full life, in order to be successful and achieve what we want to achieve in life, we must grit our teeth and bear the drudgery that is ‘life’, in the feeble hope that one day, we might actually be happy. Stressful, hard work becomes a badge of honour. Sleep deprivation comes with bragging rights. Working for the weekend becomes the norm.
No, No, and NO.
This precious life you’ve been given is absolutely not meant to be an empty, downtrodden half-existence with little slivers of happiness sprinkled sporadically throughout the years. You are not meant to jump from one year to the next, living the same twelve months over and over again and calling that a life. You are meant to have more, do more, be more. You are meant to share your light with the world. And you can’t do that if you’re stuck inside the walls of monotony, awaiting your next 7 day and 6 night escape to a Mexican beach resort. You are meant for greater things. Much, much greater!
Pay attention to the messages you tell yourself. “That’s just the way it is.”, “Life’s tough.”, “Life’s a struggle.”. etc. Do you honestly believe that? Do you really, truly think that the world is betting against you? If you do, ask yourself: “Who told me that?”. Where did you get that message from? If you’re like many, you got plenty of negative, pessimistic programming from a very young age. Perhaps even before you learned to speak. Between parents, relatives, friends parents, teachers, school mates, and television, film and other media; by age 8 you probably had a pretty good idea of ‘how the world is’. But here’s the thing, the world is exactly what you believe it to be. Meaning, when you shift your perspective, you can and will radically change your relationship with the entire world. When you look out your window do you think “Damn, it’s miserable outside!”, or do you think “Oh good, the forests and flowers have been needing a good watering!”. This might sound a bit airy, but honestly try it. Notice the stream of dialogue that perpetually flows through your mind. Would you say it’s consistently negative or pessimistic? Do you unconsciously notice all the bad/frustrating/irritating/wrong things that surround you? Really tune in. Notice your thoughts. There’s a lot of power that comes when we notice our stream of internal dialogue. Pay attention.
Check you thoughts. When you wake up in the morning, do you automatically curse the alarm clock and dread getting up to go to work? Do you virtually eye-roll your way through your morning? If you choose (yes, it's a choice) to begin your day by picking out and responding to all the seemingly negative things around you, how on earth do you expect to have a fun, productive day? You have the ability to filter the thoughts that go through your mind, and pay attention only to the positive ones, and those that are reasonable. You are not required to listen to and believe every single negative thing that whirrs through your brain. You can choose to focus on the positive.
“But Daphne, sometimes life is really, sincerely hard!”.
Yes, I’m not saying that every moment of every day is going to be filled with rainbows and sunshine and unicorns. Temporary difficulties will arise. Challenges will come your way. But it’s up to you to decide how you will navigate them. Do not let your temporary struggle turn into your permanent mindset. Pay attention to your thoughts and safeguard your optimism. Learn from difficult situations. Grow from the hard stuff that comes your way. Add it to your toolbox of skills and knowledge so that the next time something mega-challenging comes along, you already have the positive perspective, and the determination to work through it, and get the heck out of there as fast as you can. Move beyond the situations that test your grit, and move on to the happier times ahead. Do not get stuck in the pit of despair. If you’re stuck there now, I suggest reaching out to the most upbeat person in your life. I can almost guarantee they’ve navigated that terrain and have trained themselves to stay away from that old habit of falling in, again and again. They can likely give you some insight and support, to help you begin climbing out again, back to the green grass and sunshine.
"Despair is a spiritual condition. It's the belief that tomorrow will be just like today." ~Rob Bell
A very important key here is to pay close attention to the people you surround yourself with. Notice how you feel when you’re around them. If someone is constantly negative, grumbling, or just plain pessimistic, it might be time to reconsider your relationship with that person. In a similar vein, if you notice someone who constantly has cautionary tales and insists on sharing them with you, notice how much this saturates your mind with fear and anxiety. Subtle negativity disguised as concern is incredibly poisonous. Often, these people genuinely think they are helping you, but be aware of how your energy drops when you’re around them. Do you want to feel low, sad, anxious, and worried? Or do you want to feel optimistic, expansive, cheerful and driven? Choose your friends and relationships accordingly.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” ~ Jim Rohn
The core message here is this: You get to choose your life. You cannot control all the things that happen to you, but you absolutely can control how you react to them. Make it a habit to react with a positive perspective. This changes everything! You are also in charge of choosing who you spend time with and surround yourself with. Only you. Surround yourself with people who elevate you and will not let you play small or be sucked into your own old habits. Forge relationships with those who encourage you to be the best parts of yourself.
Your life is your masterpiece. What will you create?