Everyone faces times when life presents challenges:
- Maybe, you are starting a new job or ending an old one
- Maybe a relationship you’ve depended on feels strained
- Maybe some health issues are cropping up and you are worried
- Maybe a family member is so emotional you don’t know what to do
- Or it could be the daily things – like stuck in traffic, lost phone, a friend cancels
What do these all have in common?
You are expecting a certain result, and it’s not happening the way you want it to be. And you are annoyed, disappointed or just plain sad. Who has said to themselves: “This shouldn’t be happening. I shouldn’t be having this experience. Life isn’t fair.”
Your heart hurts. Ok, everyone feels that way sometimes – so what can you do?
In Byron Katie’s book called Loving What Is, she says, “Placing the blame or judgment on someone else leaves you powerless to change your experience; taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.”
1. What am I recognizing, what am I denying?
Ask yourself: What am I expecting, what am I trying to control? And see if you can simply BE with what is. Byron Katie puts it really simply: “I am a lover of what is, not because I'm a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.”
Which leads us to the magic word – ACCEPTANCE. Yes, it’s hard, but that’s part of the journey – Be compassionate with yourself. No human being can be “winning” ALL the time. If you are, you’re playing it safe; you’re playing it small. We now know that failure is not the opposite of success – its part of success. We need to accept all the seasons of life. And from acceptance comes growth.
Give me one word that describes an aspect of yourself you want to bring out. Some people may say fearless, or compassionate, or perspective, confidence, connection – what is it for you?
2. What supports me?
Rick Hanson states “Difficulties are what gives life its flavor. Not all fulfilling experiences are grounded in some difficulty, but many are. Honor yourself for the hard things you’re dealing with. And be aware of the things that are not difficult in your life, including the things that do support you.”
What are some of the things that support you through tough times? It could be a self-care practice, meditation, walking, cuddling, volunteering, cooking, or gardening.
3. How is life happening not TO me, but FOR me – how am I getting stronger?
Consider the saying: “Life doesn’t happen to me, it happens FOR me.” Think back to a time when you had to face something really tough, and you did not perish, you came out on the other side, probably with new insights about your self and a new perspective on your world. Witnessing illness can teach you to value the preciousness of life. Conflict can lead you to value peace. If you have been bullied you might say, I’ll take a stand so others don’t experience the same. You can turn your pain into purpose, maybe you’ve already started. If you can accept that every challenge is teaching you something about yourself, then there is ALWAYS something to be gained.
Randy Taran is the Founder and CEO of the global organization, Project Happiness. With a loyal following of 2.5 million people, she has been covered in O magazine, NPR, and The Huffington Post. As the producer of an award-winning documentary on the nature of happiness, she facilitated interviews with George Lucas, Richard Gere, and neuroscientist Richard Davidson. Her best-selling book on happiness became the basis for curriculum in over 120 countries worldwide. She has worked with First Ladies, Ministers of Education, and major thought leaders, for nearly a decade has served as a board member of the Dalai Lama Foundation and is on the board of the United Nations-sanctioned International Day of Happiness. Randy, a master in NLP, is a sought-after international speaker on the topics of happiness habits, preventative wellness, and emotional resilience. Order a copy of Randy's latest book: Emotional Advantage!