How to Get Better at Handling Life’s Upsets
Day 23 of 31 Days of Action
Almost every self-improvement technique I’ve written about, I’ve already done for myself and benefited from it. But I’ll admit that the action I wrote about last Friday, Ask yourself, “what’s the best that can happen?”, was new to me. So Saturday, I told myself, “I think it’s possible that I’ll do something good for myself today, and that I won’t lose my patience while helping my ailing father-in-law.” And sure enough, I found time to lie on the couch and read a good book, and later I was patient while showing my father-in-law how to use his inhaler. I realize now that thinking up a good outcome somehow encouraged me to make it happen, or to see the things that I had to do as fulfilling the prediction. So I’m going to continue taking this action every day. It takes, what, a minute of my life?
Here’s today’s action on the 31 Days of Action calendar:
Day 23: Remember that all feelings and situations pass in time
Now this is at the same time one of the most profound and the most challenging facts about life itself; you can find some statement of it in every religious tradition. But I’m not going to get into the heavy psychological and philosophical aspects of this fact. Instead, I’m going to talk about how you can use it to add resilience to your daily life.
We spend a lot of time having bad feelings, and we generalize from the feeling to some sweeping statement about the rest of our life. For example, “I’m feeling sad” becomes “I’ll never be happy again.” This is obviously false, but in the moment it feels deeply and absolutely true. But you know (though, I admit, it gives no comfort) that feelings don’t last forever. They’re like the weather, which is always present but never stays the sam. Today’s cloudy day will be something else today or tomorrow, and even winter goes away eventually.
The same is true of situations. Yes, you may be in a bad situation right now, but eventually it will change because continual change is what life is. True, a bad situation can get worse, but sometimes it doesn’t — you get over that nasty cold, and your bad boss quits and the next one is better. Even when things don’t get better on their own, you always have the power to think and then to take action to change your situation.
It’s very human to be absolutely certain that the bad stuff going on right now is going to continue forever. When that happens to you, the most powerful thing you can do is to:
- Tell yourself that what you’re experiencing now will eventually go away
- Ask yourself, “Is there anything I can do to make things change any sooner?”
Why not try this out right now?
What’s happening to you right now that you’d rather be rid of? Tell yourself that whatever it is, it won’t last forever and that with time it will pass you by. You’ll probably notice your mood shifting just a bit.
You can do this in under a minute. Do this once a day, every day, and I guarantee you that everyday bumps in the road will bother you a lot less.