One of the things I’ve had in the past few years is a variety of personal setbacks or struggles which most people are amazed at. (This is in context of being from a 1st world country and not having the hardships of war, extreme poverty, famine, etc.)
I’ve been excluded (for a year) from the country I called home where my entire life revolved.
I’ve moved to the biggest city in the U.S. without a job or place to live and found work within two days.
I’ve had more relationship difficulties than I would care to expound upon (people have said it would make a decent hollywood movie).
Despite all of this I’ve turned this into one of the most productive and creative periods in my life. I take setbacks relatively lightly and consider most of my struggles and difficulties ahead as a learning experience.
How have I managed all of this? Here are some things I keep in mind.
When you smile there are actual reactions which will improve your mood. Your body is wired in a particular way that when you smile you’ll often feel happier. So when they’re out of your favorite ice cream smile and try something else instead.
In my opinion even better than smiling. When the world hands me a downpour and I’m out for a walk I’ll probably laugh rather than cringe and run for cover. When my luggage doesn’t show up or my bicycle gets stolen I’ll often chuckle or laugh at the sheer nonsensical nature of things. It takes the weight of the situation off.
Appearance vs. Reality
Does it appear worse or feel worse than it actually is?
Taking a moment to step back and evaluate the consequences of the situation or why you are feeling the way you are will give you a bit of perspective. Losing your job can feel worse or appear worse than it actually is, perhaps it is just the catalyst you needed for you to change out of the boring 9 to 5 you’ve been enduring for the past four years (that’s what it was for me).
This is a recurring theme in literature, philosophy and is often the focus of a large body of humor.
When you always look at the end point you’re living in a mode of expectation rather than a mode of action. When things don’t necessarily work out like you had expected you are doubly hurt by the event itself and by your failure of expectations.
When you are focused on acting or doing the result is just another part of that process.
The worst experiences I’ve had with adversity are when I bury my reactions to them with distractions (work, alcohol, women, or dancing).
When I take the time by myself without distractions and understand that I’ve been hurt or disappointed I can come to terms with it. Being honest with myself and admitting my pain and understanding my part in the issues at hand help me take the weight of a situation off.
Always taking the easy route in life is a sure fire way to be exceptionally disappointed when you don’t succeed. Sometimes making the hard choice, whether it is painful or uncomfortable, is the better choice even if it means we admit to failure.
Failure is the key to learning and growth in a lot of ways.
The Buddhist in me advises me to live in a manner which lets me smile, laugh, focus, feel and fail.
This is living in a mode of nonattachment. Simply speaking, don’t attach your personal esteem to the things around you. When they are out of soy milk it is not a slight against your lactose-intolerant person, it’s just the way things are.