It’s inevitable: sometimes, life just doesn’t go your way. Your schedule gets all messed up. You fail to follow your exercise plan. Someone is mean to you. You feel like quitting something. You want to curl into a little ball and cry.
Life deals out its blows and leaves us discouraged, angry, frustrated, depressed, and drained. Once we’re in that bad place — in a mood where we just don’t care about anything — it’s pretty hard to get out of it. But here’s a little secret to happiness and self-improvement: all that stuff? It’s just in your head.
Yeah, it sure doesn’t seem like it. It seems that the slings and arrows of life are all coming at us. It feels like we’re a failure. But it’s true. It’s all in your mind.
Is it right to trivialize horrible things that happen to you by making them seem like simple mental problems? Well, that’s what it is, and once you realize that, you are liberated — you have the power to change your circumstances!
It’s not an easy task. It’s incredibly, monumentally hard. Changing your mind and changing your life is a mental hurdle worthy of the Titans. But it can be done. All it takes is a few mental tricks, and a lot of energy and willingness to keep an open mind.
1-Rely on the power of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones.
When you fail to see the point of something any longer or you’re fed up with suffering through trying to quit a bad habit, it can be easy to just want to sink into deep negativity. It can be a comfortable, albeit unhelpful, habit to think the worst. Nobody is suggesting you sugarcoat reality but you can definitely recognize negativity for what it is:
- Acknowledge that it is just negative thinking; it is not who you are or what is destined for you. It is simply a set of bad thoughts.
- Acknowledge the bad thoughts directly. Say hello to them almost, as in “Hi fear of not doing this well enough; I see you’ve decided to drop by again”. This isn’t trivializing; it’s recognizing and naming what your emotions and feelings are creating in your mind.
- Replace those negative thoughts with the opposite, positive thought. For example, when you’re busy telling yourself that you can’t do something, say “STOP!”, then say “I can do this!”.
- Stopping the flow of negativity thinking and replacing it with more upbeat thoughts is a habit too. Learning it takes a little time but is worth the trouble.
2- Accept and embrace the cliché that failure is a stepping stone to success.
It’s a cliché because it’s true in the majority of instances. You would be hard pressed to find a person who hasn’t failed at one time or another, although it’s fairly easy to find many a person who covers up the fact! Everyone experiences a fall, slip up or a miss of the mark now and then, no matter how expert, experienced or clever they may be. The secret is to stop treating failure as a reason for giving up or for telling yourself that you’ll never make it. The secret is to get up, dust yourself off, perhaps insert a little humor into what has happened and to start all over again (with tweaks refined by what your failure has taught you shouldn’t be repeated).
- Failure highlights obstacles, errors in thinking and what doesn’t work. Bravo for failure showing us the way!
- Failure is a teacher without remorse. You will learn how to shift those obstacles, improve your thinking and cease to bang your head against the proverbial brick wall.
- Failure teaches you what winning means to you personally. Winning in life is never as “cut-and-dried” as winning a sports race. Winning in life is about feeling satisfied, fulfilled and contented. Only you can be the judge of being in these states. Failure helps you to tell the difference.
3- Practice patience.
When you get frustrated, when someone is difficult, when you begin to lose your patience, practice patience right when it feels the hardest thing to do. Let off some healthy steam about whatever you’re going through by talking to a friend, a spouse or a counselor. Avoid letting out anger; anger is a side effect of frustration but it’s not something to be indulged because it simply makes things worse. Patience is the art of waiting, waiting for bad and difficult moments in your life to resolve both with and without your input. Recognizing that sometimes the best thing you can do is to stand back and let the way of the world work out things is just as beneficial as knowing when to actively apply yourself to a solution. Patience gives you the space to recognize the best approach forward.
- Write poems to yourself, about your life.
- Keep a journal and explore your feelings in it. Take out any negative emotions on paper, not on other people.
- 4- Treat the messed up, overturned karmic experience as a lesson that goes beyond the moment and reveals our character.
- Remember that it is well known that how we react under pressure reveals our true self; this is quite contrary to people who say “I wasn’t myself because of the stress”. You are your ultimate self under pressure, so learn the lessons that the pressured you reveals and deal with aspects of your coping that seem to be letting you down.
- Apply what you’re experiencing and how you’re coping to your life’s events in general. Figure out what went wrong and why. How did you contribute to it?
- How might you change what you did so that when a similar thing happens, you will react differently? Character tests are good and healthy for you. They motivate you to step up to another level, to see if you can meet the challenge. Any time you go through a trying time — see it as a challenge, and try to meet that challenge. And when you do, you’ll feel great about yourself.
- Do you need help with any specific issues such as anger, inability to hold back frustration or a tendency to act impetuously? Getting help is a sign of strength and getting such monkeys off your back will improve your karma dramatically.
- If you see learning as a wonderful thing, then you can see every mistake as a blessing.
- 5-Take strength from bad karma happenings.
- Bad experiences strengthen you. They strengthen your resolve to improve your approach to an issue or person, they strengthen your ability to bounce back and they strengthen your knowledge––but only if you let them. You could choose to see bad karma moments as being a case of the world out to get you or thinking that other people are always crossing you badly but in doing so, you shift responsibility for caring for yourself onto others and stop taking responsibility for courageous, healthy responsiveness to people and your community.
- Difficult moments change us for the better when we tackle them with courage and forbearance. We feel less out of control, less at the mercy of life’s events when we do something positive to help ourselves bounce back.
- 6- Stay unruffled and turn away from thoughts of revenge.
- If someone said to you that they punched a stapler because it stapled them, you’d wonder where their head was at. However, the pettiness and stupidity of such an act is no different when hurting another in our anger, whether it be verbally, emotionally or even physically. We have no right to lose our temper and take it out on other beings; in doing so, we lose all self-respect and continue a cycle of harm. If someone else has hurt you, do not return the hurt. Instead:
- Be more cautious about their motivations and attitude toward you but do not seek to harm them. They will meet their own karma through their continued negative actions but even that is not for you to decide or worry about.
- Make an effort to quash desires for revenge. As with other negative thoughts, acknowledge them as they appear in your mind but release them as soon as acknowledged.
- Seek the intervention of an appropriate authority if what someone else has done to you is illegal or immoral. There are always safe and prudent ways to deal with someone who is harming others to this extent and you must not play victim or enable them.
- Some people will simply try to wear you down through criticism, name-calling and suggestions that whatever you try, it’ll fail. Listen to the message underneath what they’re saying––it’s usually “I wanted to be just like you/doing what you’re doing but I’m too afraid. So I’d like to stop you from achieving it too and so I think it’s okay to scare you away.” In other words, learn to hear the real message and feel compassion for their loss rather than frustration at their attempt to place obstacles before you. Try thanking them for their concern, letting them know you’ll take on board whatever they’ve said and leave it at that. As for name-calling, you can find humorous ways to turn even that around, by acknowledging that perhaps you are a little “pig-headed” or “lazy” but that you have your own clever workarounds to fix this!
- Avoid using force against another. To this say, “Where does it end?” And also remember that you are merely stooping to their level. Rise above the pettiness of others, and become a better human being.
- 7- Love your enemy.
- This is one of life’s greatest challenges. When you harbor anger, hatred or condescension toward another human being, try to swap out the negative projections for love instead. If you succeed, to any degree whatsoever, you will rejoice in this success. Love is a miraculous thing; the one thing that will restore your karma endlessly.
- 8- Meditate.
- Meditation clears out the negativity around you, which will in turn help clear bad karma. In addition meditating will help you stay calm and peaceful as you get spiritually connected with the vibrations of the Universe.
Be reassured that “positive thinking” is not a simple case of clothing yourself in the mantle of “happiness”. Happiness is a state of being which comes upon us, often without our say-so. Positive thinking is a conscious act of recognizing bad thoughts, calming our ourselves, being more mindful and deliberately replacing the negative thoughts with ones that allow us to be restored to an active, functioning and level-headed state. Along with being gentle on yourself and accepting that life is messy at times, focusing more on positive thoughts can increase your sense of well-being.