We’ve all been through tough times. And we’ve all got through them. It’s neverthless a fact that some people are better at coping with life’s challenges than others. So what’s their secret? Dr. Carol Morgan, a university lecturer and motivational speaker, believes it all depends on our attitude to what’s going on around us. She offers 13 pieces of advice worth bearing in mind for when the going gets tough.
1. What is, is
There’s a well-known Buddhist saying: ’Your resistance to “what is” lies at the root of your suffering.’ Think about this for a minute. It means that we suffer only if we refuse to accept how things are. If you can change something, do it. But if there’s nothing to be done, then you really have just two options: accept the situation and let go of your negative feelings, or indulge in a great deal of suffering, possibly for a very long time.
2. A problem is only a problem when you think it is
We often become our own worst enemies. Being happy really is a question of perspective. If you turn something into a problem, you’ll be full of negative emotions and thoughts. But if you think instead about the lessons you could learn from the situation you’re in, suddenly it will no longer seem like there’s a problem at all.
3. If you want to change things, start by changing yourself
The world you face on the outside often reflects your feelings and attitudes on the inside. You probably know people whose lives appear to be full of chaos and stress. Do you really think that happened completely by accident? We like to think that it’s changing circumstances which have an effect on us. In fact, it’s the other way round — when we make changes in ourselves, then our circumstances change.
4. There’s no such thing as failure. Everything that happens offers you an opportunity to learn something new
It’s time to strike the word ’failure’ from your lexicon. Throughout history, those who achieved great things came up against misfortune again and again before they enjoyed success. Thomas Edison is said to have once remarked: ’I never experienced failure when I was trying to invent the light bulb. I just found 99 different ways it didn’t work.’ Learn something from your so-called failures. That way, you’ll find out how to do it better next time.
5. If you didn’t get what you wanted, it means something better’s already on the way
I know this can sometimes seem difficult to believe. But it’s true. If you look back over any period of your life, you’ll probably be able to see that the good things happened only after something didn’t go as planned. Maybe, the job you didn’t get allowed you to stay with your family. Maybe it was something else — but it’s always the same pattern. Just believe that everything happens for a reason.
6. Appreciate the present
Every moment of your life is precious, and you’ll never get another chance to experience it again. So don’t let it pass you by. Eventually, all you’ll have left are your memories. Maybe one day you’ll even feel nostalgic for those moments which at the time didn’t seem fun at all.
7. Let go of your desires
Most people live day to day in a mental state which psychologists refer to as an ’attached mind’. This means that they attach great significance to achieving their desires, and when they don’t get what they want, negative thoughts take over. It’s much better to have a ’detached mind’. This is the ability to be happy regardless of whether you get what you want or not. In this case, a person’s emotional state is either neutral or positive — but never negative.
8. Comprehend your fears, and be grateful for them
Fear can be a wonderful teacher. Overcoming your fears often helps bring you closer to victory. When I was in college, for example, I was terrified of public speaking. That’s why I find it amusing that today I not only talk in front of large groups of people every day in my job as a lecturer, but also teach other people how to be better public speakers themselves. To overcome your fears, all you need is practice. Fear is an illusion.
9. Allow yourself to experience joy
Believe it or not, I know far too many people who never let themselves have fun. They don’t even know how to be happy. Some of them are so fixated on their own problems and controlled by the chaotic thought processes in their own heads that they have no idea who they really are without these things. Try to let yourself have a good time once in a while. Maybe it won’t be for very long, but it’s very important to concentrate your attention on joy rather than hardship.
10. Don’t compare yourself to others
If you have to compare yourself to someone, then it should only be people who are worse off than you. Out of work? Then be grateful that you have something to live on in the mean time. Most people in the world have absolutely nothing. Depressed about your looks? Most people aren’t supermodels either. And chances are you’re probably more attractive than plenty of others. Focus on that instead.
11. You are not a victim
You’re only the victim of your own thoughts, words and actions. No one’s out to get you; you’re responsible for your own experiences. Take some personal responsibility and understand that you can overcome any difficulties you come up against. Start by adjusting your thoughts and the way you act. Cast off the victim mentality, and become a victor.
12. Everything can — and will — change
’This too shall pass’ is one of my favourite adages. When we’re stuck in a bad situation, it seems like there’s no way out. It seems like nothing will ever change. But you know what? Nothing lasts forever! So lose the habit of thinking that you’re stuck in a rut, because you’re not. But —and this is equally important — you do have to take some kind of action in order to change the situation; it won’t magically resolve itself.
13. Anything is possible
Miracles happen every day. Sadly, I can’t describe all the wonderful things which have happened to various people I know over the years, from overcoming fourth-stage cancer to stumbling across the love of their life. This kind of thing has happened not only in my circle of friends, of course; it’s happening all the time. It might be hard to believe if it’s not happening to you, but there are so many positive things happening to completely ordinary people out there — people who are just like you. One day, when you realise the truth of this, you’ll be able to win your own battles.
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