Life is full of challenges. We are continually faced with tests of our strength and character. It's the universe reminding us we are still alive. The way I see it, we have two choices. We can run and hide from these challenges within the warmth and safety of our comfort zones, or we can step outside and face our challenges head on, using them as a way to further evolve and grow. 

This past year has been one of the hardest I've experienced. Someone very close to me is fighting cancer. And while he is winning, it still is a hard thing to endure. Watching this person I love get sick, lose weight, struggle to eat, lose his hair, begin to feel better, then have to go through it all over again a couple of weeks later when he goes back in for chemo is excruciating. Yet he maintains the most incredible, positive spirit. "Cancer can suck it" is his motto. And suck it, it will! 

To know someone so intimately who is battling something as big as cancer and see him maintain a positive outlook is truly inspirational. This experience has forced me to take a deeper look within myself  and find my own path to greatness. I have learned that the "little things" in life are just that. Little things. They can't get me down. I find that I don't take things, or people for granted anymore. Somewhere along the way I learned quickly how to be a solid, positive foundation for him and found ways to maintain this attitude and outlook, even when it has been tough. He has taught me to "love the struggle" as he says, to use this experience as a time to grow and become better individuals, and together an even more solid couple. Here I will share with you some simple ways to keep calm and carry on when everything else seems to be falling apart.

#1 - Don't Over Think

We tend to dramatize situations or over think things, making them seem worse than they really are. Look at the problem you are faced with head on, maybe even write it down plain and simple on a piece of paper and read it back to yourself. The imagination is a powerful thing and when something isn't going right, we tend to jump straight to the worst case scenario, letting our imagination get the best of us. By not allowing ourselves to dramatize a situation or let it consume our minds, we are already taking the necessary steps to keep calm, and carry on. 

#2 - Stay Positive

Thoughts and words have a vibration to them. When we think or say negative things those words vibrate at a negative frequency, therefore creating more negative energy within us. When you're feeling down and out and those negative emotions begin to flow, take a moment to think of the positive aspects of your life. Your loved ones, your dog, your home, hobbies you enjoy, and so forth. Try writing down three positive things that happened to you during your day before you go to bed every night. This will leave you with positive images in your mind when you fall asleep. 

#3 - Exercise

Yes, exercise. Getting adequate exercise, even if its just a brisk walk down the street and back releases powerful endorphins such as serotonin that make you feel happy! Getting regular exercise will not only make you feel better emotionally, but also physically. Try it. I dare you. "That run I went for this morning sure made me feel fat and cranky" - said no one ever.

#4 - Take Your Power Back

Only you can control your emotions. People, things, and events can trigger different emotions and thoughts within us, but when you give into these people and/or things and let them affect you negatively, you are giving away your power. Well, its time to take it back! Once you learn that you are truly the only person that has control over how you feel, and that you alone have the power to just say to yourself, "I am not going to let that bother me today" you will be amazed at how much easier it is to just let things roll off your back. If my man can keep cancer from taking his power, you can sure keep yours, too. 

#5 - Just Breathe

Sounds cliche, right? Well be that as it may, breathing works to calm the body and quiet the mind. It's not just a cliche yogi term, its also scientifically proven. When we breathe slowly and mindfully, neurohormones in our brain are sent out that inhibit stress and anxiety producing hormones, therefore causing a calming effect. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, upset, angry, anxious, and the like, stop what you are doing, sit down comfortably, close your eyes, let your hands settle into your lap, and breathe. Deeply. Focus on your breath and your heartbeat. Take a minute to feel gratitude for your body at work. Feel your heart beating to keep your blood circulating, your lungs filling with air. Hone in on your breath. Maybe even count while you breathe in and when you exhale. Just take a few moments to relax, breathe, and let it all go. 

#6 - Practice Compassion

Best said by the Dalai Lama, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." Open your heart and mind to others. Don't just mindlessly listen when people are talking to you, really hear them. Compassion means feeling for others, and truly caring about them and what they are going through. You never know what someone's journey might be like, or what they have endured. So be kind. It will come back around, and in the interim you will feel better for having showed others compassion. So get out of your head, and into your big, beautiful, open heart.


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