How To Find Joy Even When You're At Rock Bottom
Are you confronting a divorce? A lay-off from your job? An IRS tax audit and the loss of a loved one? All in the same week? Is your life as you know it crumbling in front of your eyes?
If so, I know the feeling. About four years ago, I confronted divorce, heartbreak, and the loss of a house and a business all at the same time. The world as I knew it came to a standstill.
I know that most of us have felt the feeling of "rock bottom," regardless of our particular circumstances; sometimes, it just seems like all the possible crappy things that could happen to you all come crashing down at once.
When I was in this place, I hardly knew how to get out of bed in the morning. But each morning, despite feeling crushed, I knew I had to find a way to start my day. So I would look for small moments of joy to find lightness, stability and hope during this rocky period in my life.
If you can relate, here are six ways to help you tap into your well of joy, even when you feel like you’re at rock bottom.
1. Focus on the moment at hand, at each and every moment.
What you’re going through may be soul-crushing and the worst experience you’ve had. You may be miserable about what already happened and anxious about what will happen next.
But instead of really confronting the gravity of the situation, cup your hands for a minute. Pretend that all you have is this tiny moment in front of you, which life is placing into the palms of your hands. In this second, in this minute, in this very moment, your world isn’t falling apart. Yes, it did yesterday and it can tomorrow, but in this second, everything is fine. Then allow yourself to practice these small moments to find windows of happiness throughout the day
2. Find gratitude for the smallest of things.
How do you find gratitude when you’re upset about everything going on in your life? It’s nearly impossible.
That's why you have to leave the big things alone. Don’t focus on the entirety of your relationship, career or life. Once again, go for the smallest of things. What can you truly appreciate now? Can you be grateful for having supportive people in your life? Can you be grateful for having food and a place to live? Can you be grateful for having the Internet and online resources to help? Look for the smallest of things to be grateful for. Once you start a list of things you’re grateful for, you’ll notice that the list quickly starts growing.
3. Ask, "How will this situation serve me in the future?"
While it may make no sense right now to think about how your misery might provide a beneficial life lesson, try forcing yourself. I know, this sounds unappealing, but it pays off. For a moment, try entertaining the ways that this low point in your life may come to serve you in the future ...
What are the lessons your life’s detour is teaching you? What is it teaching you about yourself, about other people and about the world in general? How will surviving this experience be of service to others in the future? If you get through this experience now, how will you be stronger and more resilient in the future because of it? Look for the messages, teaching and inspiration of your hardship.
4. Ditch the need for control.
Are you trying hard to control the outcome of your situation? Are you doing everything you can every day to turn things around? Is your mind obsessed with the circumstances you’re facing? I guarantee you that you are, on some level. This is natural: when we experience tremendous upheaval, we want to make sense of it, and to try and fix it. It's evolutionary.
But emotional duress doesn't actually threaten us the same way a giant lion does. That's why now is the time to let go and surrender to the tough situation, as you might not be able to do anything about it.
When facing divorce or disease, foreclosure or a financial crisis, take the steps you need to take, but at the end of the day, let go.
As much as you want to control and shape every situation, there are moments when you have to just tap into your hope. Remember: letting go doesn’t require any work, and that's ironically why it's so difficult. But give it a try. Experiment.
5. Put your expectations aside.
Often in life, we take action with a desired outcome. We set goals. We have dreams and we spend our lives going after them. We expect things to turn out a certain way. And when they don’t, we face profound disappointment. While this, too, is a natural outcome, it's also a good idea to get in the habit of accepting that you can't always expect everything you do to turn out the way you desire.
Life will work on its own to bring you what is better for you, but it will be hard to tell that at first glance. Stop expecting someone to change or for the situation to turn out as you please. Permit life to flow like a stream, at its own pace and flow.
6. Get in touch with your truth, even if it scares you.
The easiest way to find happiness in the moment is to be true to yourself. Of course, that might sound easier said than done. So what do I mean?
Well, first of all, stop showing up in the world to please people and/or to compare yourself to others. Staying true to yourself means getting clear on your values, identifying your priorities and living your life according to what’s important to you, not to someone else. When you stop comparing yourself to others and trying to fit in to please other people, life becomes lighter and more carefree.
7. Do something that makes you feel good.
This one is simple, but very important! Don’t be surprised at how happy a massage, a yoga class or lunch with a friend can make you feel. Indulge in small moments of happiness and do the things you would do to care for yourself. Don’t deny yourself the simple pleasures of life simply because all the big things in life are falling apart
Above all, remember the importance of perspective. It may feel like your world is collapsing, but small wins of happiness will culminate in more peace and joy in your life.