It’s fairly easy to be happy when life is treating you well. But what about when the s**t is hitting the fan, you feel like you have no control and nothing is going your way?
Why how you think and feel about it all is your choice.
You can choose to throw your hands in the air, be a victim and forever proclaim the world to be a bad place, out to get people.
Or you can choose to ask what lessons the Universe is sending your way. What lessons have you missed in past experiences that the Universe is now slamming you over the head with? What lessons do you need to learn?
You can also ask, “What’s great about this?”
You can make a focused attempt to see the silver lining.
The Power of Choosing Your Attitude
My recent airport adventure is a perfect example. By a freaky turn of events, I missed both of my flights to my destination by about 30 seconds, despite being at the airport in plenty of time. This resulted in me spending almost eight hours at the airport between flights.
At first I was angry, in disbelief that this could “happen to me.” I was mad about having to “waste” so much of my precious time at the airport while having to cancel many plans with friends for that day.
After a few deep breaths, I knew that this thinking would only further damage my trip and my attitude.
I took responsibility for my part in missing the flights which quelled much of my anger (smart phone distractions be damned!).
My next thought was, “At least I’ll get some writing done.” Because of (self-imposed) pressures of my job, I had written precious little the previous couple of months.
I lucked into finding a quiet desk with plugs away from the crazy airport activity and settled in.
I called home to let my husband know what was going on and proceeded to have a deep, very meaningful conversation that we had been too busy for at home.
I had the time to savor a delicious cup of coffee and some fresh juice.
I wrote almost an entire article in peace.
Then I calmly went to my gate, caught my flight and met my friend on the other end. We had an awesome time reconnecting that evening.
All was well and I had so much more to be grateful for because of the whole experience.
What About When Things Get Really Bad?
The story above may seem trivial in the grand scheme of things that can go wrong. But the principles are the same, regardless of the situation.
I’ve used the principles below when facing divorce, job loss, major financial difficulties, loss of relationships with close family members and other significant crises.
The dramas play out over longer periods of time and are more challenging when other people are involved.
The principles are always the same:
1. You’re not a victim. Take responsibility for your life.
If “these things” keep happening to you or you keep attracting the same kind of negative people, stop being the kind of person that attracts those kinds of people and circumstances.
Find people who seem to be immune to these things, spend time with them, study them. Emulate them.
Take responsibility for your part in the situation. This does not mean being the martyr and assuming responsibility for everything. You’re only taking responsibility for your actions.
2. You can’t control other people or your environment. Stop trying to control
If other people let you down or don’t do what you expect of them, ask if your expectations are realistic. If you were the other person, would you appreciate someone writing a script for you and getting mad when you don’t follow it?
The only thing you can control 100% is you – your thoughts, feelings and actions. Focus on that and let the rest go.
You can’t control the results or outcome. You can only do your best and let the Universe handle the rest.
3. Find the joy in the journey
What’s great about what’s happening?
What are you learning?
How are you better because of what happened?
4. Smile – even when, or especially when, things aren’t going how you would like
Whenever I’m feeling down, the first thing I do is smile a great, big smile for thirty seconds. It’s hard to feel bad when you’re smiling. If it only helps a little, rinse and repeat as often as it takes.
If you’re doing something that seems difficult (mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually), smile and relax your jaw. The task will become much easier.
5. Don’t take anything personally.
Whatever people say and do is all about them. They’re trying to satisfy their own agenda.
If they’re upset with you, it’s because you’re not following the script they wrote for you (and forgot to tell you about).
If they blame things on you, it’s because they’re not willing to take responsibility for themselves.
If they can’t accept you as you are, it’s because of their own limiting beliefs.
6. Decide to be happy, no matter what.
This doesn’t mean that you should be blissfully happy all the time. How boring.
You need up’s and down’s to keep life exciting. Without challenges, how would you learn and grow? Without negatives, the positives wouldn’t feel as good.
Your attitude toward life has everything to do with your feelings about life. If you have a positive attitude that things will eventually work out for the best and you act on that belief, you can feel good about the situation.
You can choose to be happy, regardless of what’s happening around you.
Putting Principles into Practice
I realize that these principles are simple but not always easy to implement. They take practice.
In order to fully implement them in your life in a way that results in more happiness, you’ll need to become more mindful, more aware of what’s happening in the moment, without reacting according to your old scripts.
You’ll need to pause in the midst of chaos to take a deep breath and become aware of those old scripts and consciously change them. At first this might mean simply doing nothing – not reacting, being silent, reflecting in the moment. With practice, you’ll develop alternative responses. Sometimes these will help and sometimes they won’t. Learn from the experience and continue to experiment.
There will never be a point where you’ll always know the perfect thing to say or do that will quickly lead to bliss. There will always be too many new variables with which you’ll contend.
But, with practice, the process of resolving issues and moving away from chaos will become easier. These principles will guide the way.
About the author: Paige Burkes inspires her community at Simple Mindfulness to see the world in a new light through mindfulness. Download her FREE Mindful Living Guide to discover the simple steps you can take to create more joy, peace and happiness in your life.