If there’s one simple lesson I could download into hearts and minds of people everywhere, it’s this: Happiness and success depend on our ability to bounce back from set-backs, quickly and efficiently.
There are a few givens in life that no one can escape. We all will be tested, both by forces outside our control and by internal forces that break us before putting us back together. We all have to upgrade our mental operating systems now and then, just like computer software.
Trust that every breakdown will lead you to a breakthrough.
Ups & Downs are Inevitable
Whether your challenges are emotional or physical, life takes us all on a big roller coaster–it’s all part of the ride. The key to inner peace, is learning how to bounce back faster and more thoroughly each time you’re challenged.
Letting go of guilt, shame, worry, blame and judgments is a process that will set you free. It can also speed up your recovery when life decides you’re ready for another upgrade.
Every emotional state we experience is a passing phase, but the state-dependent nature of our memory tells us otherwise. No matter how real state-dependent memory feels, it’s just a trick of the mind. When you feel great, it’s hard to remember what the stomach flu is like. When you’re fighting with your spouse, it’s hard to remember all the love you feel for one another.
Instead of picturing your emotional body full of triggers for negative states, why not focus your attention on learning how to deliberately trigger positive states when you need them?
Identifying the limiting beliefs that keep you stuck in negative patterns is a big step to breaking free from them.
Life Pushes Us All Outside of Our Comfort Zone
Life challenges everyone on a regular basis. We all eventually have to face perfect storms of circumstances we didn’t think we would be strong enough to handle. Sometimes it’s like the emotional equivalent of working with a personal trainer. They’ll kick your butt, you will curse them, and then one day you’ll find yourself affectionately referring to them as the one who helped you master the “impossible.”
Here is the blessing in disguise: that which does not kill us makes us stronger. We are literally forced by our struggles to adapt and keep on getting better--stronger, faster, more adaptable to change. In nature, it’s called evolution. As seen through the filter of our daily lives however, it’s a total pain in the ass. We avoid intense growth experiences like death itself, when we forget that it’s about the rebirth.
Despite the human tendency to cling to familiar comforts, survival of the fittest means survival of those who are able to let go. In the pressure cooker of our daily lives, we either shift to fit our new reality, or else we die a little bit inside. It is always a choice, and we can shift again each time we need to.
Go With the Flow
You have to let go of what you most want, for it to happen on its own. Being too attached to a particular scenario puts you directly in your own way—not in the driver’s seat.
Living gracefully is about accepting even uncomfortable challenges as your next great learning experience. Be open to the lessons.
Always ask, when things feel like too much to bear, how you could use this to expand your capacity for joy.
One image I’ve found helpful is a monkey swinging through the trees. It has to let go of the branch it’s on, to grab hold of the next one. The Human Condition is full of hurdles, grief and occasional upset. But that doesn’t mean you have to struggle. When you get that it’s equally full of magical opportunities, it’s easier to let go and let it carry you.
Thank You, I Forgive You
Part of forgiveness is saying "Thank You" to a person or situation that hurt you. It may not be safe (or appropriate) to thank them personally, but letting go of grudges frees your soul.
What did you learn because of the situation? What were they trying to teach you?
When you say "Thank You, I forgive you" to old wounds and resentments, you instantly release their strangle-hold on you. Recognize them as teachings, not punishments. We are all in this big mystery together. Thanking life for growth experiences keeps you growing, more gracefully than ever.