There are basically three ways we can respond to a given situation.
- Resist it.
- Accept it.
- Feel grateful for it.
The path we choose can completely change our internal state.
So when we’re in the mode of resistance, we tend to suffer a lot. (“Why me?!?”) And when we Accept a given situation, the resistance goes to zero. As does our suffering. (“I’m okay with this.”) But when we feel Grateful for a situation, we’re the inverse of resisting it. We feel joy and expansion instead of negativity and contraction. (“Thank you for this!”) It’s easy to feel grateful for life’s events when things are going according to plan. And it’s a next-level challenge to feel gratitude when life throws us unexpected changes. Yet it’s entirely possible. It’s more difficult, yes. But it’s 100% possible. And it’s a very worthwhile pursuit.
The way that the we view stress and challenges can dramatically change our life.
- When we see stress and challenges as “Bad” things, we resist them.
- When we see stress and challenges as “Good” things, we lean into them, learn from them, and use everything as fuel for our growth.
Radical Gratitude isn’t always easy to practice. But it’s undoubtedly easier when you’ve just got one thing in your life that changes unexpectedly. (e.g. Your Energy and Work are business-as-usual, but you experience a Love/relationship challenge.) In that situation, you can stand on the stable grounds of the other areas of your life while you bring attention to regaining your center in the other. But what do we do when life throws many unexpected curveballs at once? How do we respond when we’re feeling off-balance in Energy, Work, AND Love?
This is the position many of us are operating in today:
- Our Energy feels like a bigger challenge when our favorite exercise class is canceled, or we recognize our immune system is more susceptible than others, or…
- Our Work feels like a bigger challenge when we’re shifting from in-person to virtual, meetings may be canceled, clients may be canceling projects, customers may be less keen on purchasing, and our investments may have less value than they did before…
- Our Love feels like a bigger challenge when events are canceled, gathering places shut down, and caution is advised around getting together with others…
So…what to do about all of this? How do we maintain our equanimity, and show up at our best to life’s challenges in this sea of change?
I don’t claim to have all the answers. And I’m still figuring this out in my own life. But there are a few things I know for certain, that we’d be wise to practice:
Getting even more committed to our practice. The more well-resourced we are, the better we are at rising to life’s challenges. In times of change, we’d be wise to be even more proactive about getting great sleep, exercising regularly, eating well, breathing well, meditating, and having meaningful conversations with others. This sets us up with a greater likelihood of navigating said challenges at our best.
Remembering that our obstacles make us stronger. And that leaning into our challenges in life gives us new fuel to learn, grow, and expand.
Remembering that we already have what it takes to overcome challenges, and feel grateful for them. We’ve all done this a number of times in life. Some challenge shows up. Maybe we were thrown off by it at first. But then we leaned into it and came out the other side stronger than before.
Recognizing that we aren’t facing one giant obstacle, but a number of different ones. We aren’t facing a single challenge at a scale we’ve never faced before. But we might be facing a number of challenges simultaneously that we aren’t accustomed to. Instead of trying to fix everything at once (which is super overwhelming!) we want to isolate the individual challenges we’re facing and knock them down one by one. We bring stability to the system by isolating the individual unstable pieces and returning them to balance. (WOOP is a helpful tool for this.)
Exploring new pathways to similar destinations. When one door closes, we can look for other doors to open. The more we recognize that there are many pathways to every destination, the more hopeful we’ll feel about our ability to get where we want to go. (e.g. If your gym class is canceled, get some exercise by going for a walk outside, or by purchasing some weights for a home gym setup, or…)
Playing the Equanimity Game. Life isn’t a game of “how can I stay perfectly grounded and centered at all times?” We have to KNOW we’re going to be knocked off-balance. And when we recognize that, taking the actions we know help us re-ground (see #1) as quickly as we can.
When we’re doing the above, we’re putting ourselves in a good position to stay grounded and conquer life’s obstacles, even when there are a lot of them.
Peace and Love, Jim