My yoga practice has taught me many things about my body. First, that I’m far more capable than I dreamed. Secondly, that my mind has much more control over my body than I sometimes wish it did; and lastly, that we have the ability to change our circumstances. For me, these realizations have carried over to truths in other areas of life.
I’m well aware that some things in life have far too much of an emotional impact to maintain complete control. However, the way that we react to a situation—no matter how out of control the situation is from our hands—is often our choice and, more importantly, we have options over our reactions. This variable gives us some semblance of control over uncontrollable situations—and it helps hold us accountable for our actions.
Ever heard the saying that you can’t control someone else’s attitude but you can control your own? So true, yet it’s sometimes extremely difficult to remain in control during challenging ups and downs. So here are six tips to help you make the right decisions when you need to.
1. Be flexible. Having a plan in life and for life is just good judgment. Still, when life throws you a curveball, you’re much better off rolling with the punches than lamenting the change in course. John Lennon was right—life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. So take a tip from your yoga practice and stay flexible.
2. Breathe. And don’t forget to take another cue from yoga—breath. When you know that you are about to say the wrong thing—or that you shouldn’t say anything at all—take a few breaths before speaking. Or acting. Trust me.
3. Do something physical. I won’t bombard you with all the evidence that physically active people are happier, but I will throw out another suggestion. I think physical activity leads to better decision making. I know that when I’m moping around and I take a walk or hop on my mat, my entire being feels better afterward. I also know that I’m more likely to do or think the right thing when I feel better. So do something physical.
4. Follow examples. If you know someone who’s been in a similar situation, take a moment to asses how their reactions affected it. Were they helpful or harmful? Learn from the mistakes of others. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.
5. But stay true to yourself. Having said the above, the most important thing is to check in with yourself. Honestly, practicing yoga helps me get to this place of the deeper “me,” but do whatever works for you. I think generally people don’t trust their instincts enough and we also have a propensity to take the easy way out—even if we know it’s not our best maneuver. Remember that you have a head and a heart, so take time to listen to both.
6. Forgive. Let go of anguish, guilt, or any other harmful emotion if you do end up making the wrong decision. It happens—to all of us. Make your situation as right as you can and then move on. Just make sure to learn from it and you’ll be a better person the next time around.
Life is, at times, an obstacle course, and how we choose to deal with these hurdles makes up a lot of our success. I think that perhaps the most important aspect of my yoga practice that I carry with me off of my mat is to simply show up and do the best that I can—every time.