I did a talk the other day in Bahrain about how to manage projects in hostile environments.
Afterwards, a guy asked me about how to live life to the fullest despite setbacks and difficulties. I had to really think about that as it is quite a deep topic. This is turn inspired me to write about it from my perspective.
Living life can be challenging especially if you don’t find a proper direction. People come and go, we all deal with loss and problematic times that can make living life a troublesome process! It is hard to stand back up after a fall, but falls are a part of life. These falls must not prevent you from living your life in any way. Always, always get back up!
Life is a complex mix of peace, love, life, falls, ups and downs. However, the downs should never hold you back from living your life.
There are a lot of things that can bring us down, as we deal with life. Broken relationships, challenging times, financial difficulties amongst other things, can be key factors. If we are talking about life and some of the main issues that bring us down, let’s not forget the main three of the reasons that might prevent us from living life the way we want:
1. Not Being Able To Focus- Procrastination
Procrastination is the name of the game for many. They forget and don’t find the zeal to be able to work and stop working on things that are important. The key here to realize is that there are so many times that things are important for us but we are unable to focus on these things and instead, try procrastinating about literally everything. This not only stops us from achieving our goals but it also makes us lazy and pushes us to develop an attitude where we don’t necessarily live life but drag our feet through it.
As I mentioned earlier, things can become challenging but it is not the end of the world. We can always try to come out of our shells and make sure that we not procrastinate and push ourselves to our highest to achieve bigger and better things. Procrastination is one of the main things that stop us from achieving so it is better to let go of procrastination and focus our attitude towards achieving things as it is one of the keys to living life.
2. Low Motivation, Low Self Esteem
People are easily stricken into depression these days. We find bullies every here and there and, guess what, there are people who try their best to bring us down. There are even times that some of us have to struggle with having a low self-esteem, low motivation and depression which prevents us from getting on with a happy life. Having low self-esteem is one of the major pitfalls and one of the major loopholes in our personality that crosses our path every so often, bit is something that must be dealt with effectively.
You cannot survive or get through life happily if you have low self-esteem because people with low self-esteem don’t get too far. Therefore, it is always better and best to work on yourself and try to make sure that you muster up the courage to be who you are, be ahead of your game and try your best to have a good level of motivation so that you can outweigh and out challenge others around you and believe in yourself. As the famous saying by Theodore Roosevelt goes, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there”. Self-belief, therefore, is crucial and an integral element of achieving and getting the best out of life.
3. Broken Relationships
We all fall in love. Whether it is with our parents or a special someone, there is always someone very near and dear to us. However, not all the time things go well in relationships. There are times when we may face serious problems and have to deal with broken relationships and troublesome times. This may become very challenging for some people and in the face of adversity, they may even want to stop living life.
Relationships come and go but it is always important to remember when to let go of a person who is not treating you in a certain way. It is often better to let go of the past and move on. Not only with people, but with jobs. It is not easy, it doesn’t come to us naturally but at times, that is the best course of action that one can take when faced with challenging relationships that no longer serve you.
So what can we do?
While there are always setbacks in life, there are always ways of dealing with them effectively too. If times have become challenging, know and realize that some tips can always help you overcome these and bring the best out of you. My top three would be:
When you are spiritual, you learn to let go of what was, accept what is and deal with everything that comes your way in a much mature and advanced level. Being spiritual gives a reason to your being. It is something that pushes you to become your best self and your highest self. In fact, the truth is that being spiritual pushes you towards great heights and helps you overcome any challenge.
Therefore, improving your spirituality and getting in touch with God or any higher power might be some of the best ways to deal with life. This has most certainly happened to me. There were times on my row across the Indian Ocean, or when I was losing a loved one like the passing of my parents, that I really turned to a higher force to guide and support me. It is something that I try to do more often now, without waiting for a drama…
Live In The Moment
A lot of times, we are all bound by what happened to us and are always and mostly focused on what could have been if not what has been. In the moment, we fail to understand the importance of living in the moment. Living in the moment helps us get rid of the past and any negativity in it. It is one of the most crucial things to living life and loving life because it frees us from a lot of things and helps us to push through life in the best and most sensible way possible.
Added to this ‘now’ feeling, we can also be optimistic about what the future will bring. There is always the next minute, the next hour, the next day to be looking forward to. So, go on, look forward simply because none of us has any understanding what even the next second will bring!
Believe In Yourself
No force can bring you down and stop you to live and love life if you believe in yourself. Having self-belief is a strong element of spirituality and one of the key things to have in your personality if you want to achieve great heights and success in life.
Living life can be challenging but as the famous saying by Martin Luther King Jr. goes: “the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience but as to where he is standing during challenging and controversial times” - pain, hurt and loss are all part of the process and they shape you in becoming who you are today.
Again, we have the ability to make a choice about how we live our lives. So lets go and live them to the full!
“Miracles happen everyday, change your perception of what a miracle is and you'll see them all around you”.
Jon Bon Jovi
Misery and Miracles – which is the more likely to occur for you?
I imagine you are shouting back at me right now saying ‘Mike, of course misery outscores miracles!’ But, I say back, is that altogether true, and if it is, what can we do ourselves to change that perception?
First of all, what is misery and are we all affected by it? And, more importantly by how much?
Misery is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as an ‘unhappy feeling’ or ‘great unhappiness’. You will have heard the expression, “oh stop being such an old misery guts” or, “so and so made his life a misery”…
The thing is we are in control of that so called misery – even when external forces take us by the hand into that perception. And that's exactly what it is. Perception.
What about miracles then?
The Oxford Dictionary defines these as: “An extraordinary and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore attributed to a divine agency”
So even though this definition claims that miracles are not explicable by natural or scientific laws, my view is that miracles are defined by human law – again our perception.
A few years ago, I was part of a group of like minded folk who were following an eclipse of the sun – a major event. In order to see this eclipse at its maximum glory we needed to travel to a remote island in the Aleutian belt off the coast of Alaska - the island of Adak.
Awakening on the actual great day of the eclipse saw heavy clouds with little or no sign of the sun, other than we could gauge roughly where it was as that being the lightest area of cloud!
As the clock ticked down to the moment of maximum eclipse, an incredible ‘thing’ happened. For a brief 2-3 minutes or so, exactly above us where we stood in a remote part of the island in a remote part of the planet, the clouds parted and we witnessed one of the most incredible sights that man can see. A full eclipse! Minutes later the clouds rolled across again and the sun disappeared from view. To all of us there we could say that was a miracle.
For some a miracle is an amazing experience that, in the grand scheme of things, seems impossible.
Sometimes we all feel the need of a miracle.
It doesn’t have to be a big one…a little one would be just fine.
I’m particularly fond of Marianne Williamson’s definition:
A miracle is as simple as a shift in perception. That fits in nicely with Jon Bon Jovi’s quote don't you think?
No outside forces at work, no angels with trumpets raising us out of any misery we’re currently experiencing. Just a shift in perception. We can do that can’t we?
And as with miracles, the shifts don’t have to be huge, earth shattering, bear hugging shifts…subtle shifts can create radical change.
We need a little miracle to change our misery of could have, can’t do, can’t change, because we get locked into our misery thinking and attract more thoughts and things to feel miserable about. Whoever said misery loves company definitely got that right.
Here are four simple steps to help shift from misery to miracles, be willing, let go, and aim high.
The energy that makes it happen
Being willing is an amazing energy that opens the floodgates to the whole power of the Universe, bringing with it teachers, guides and resources or whatever we need to guide us on our new our path. And being willing is a wonderful relief. Take a minute and feel it now.
Be willing and breathe and relax.
Feels good…I know because I just did it.
Simple affirmations work well and are part of the reprogramming of our current experiences that have led to whatever is making us miserable. Here are some you may like to try:
“I am willing to shift my perspective”.
“I am willing to love more”.
“I am willing to see miracles all around me”.
What to let go of
Be willing to let go of the old in order to experience the new. Let go of old beliefs that no longer serve you, beliefs you hold on to as though they were the crown jewels. Let go of old behaviour, old reactions, old ways of viewing the world.
As we let go we are moving back into the place of who we are, the original unconditioned spiritual us. I could ask you to define yourself and you might say, I am a man or a woman, I am a parent, I am lost, I am unhappy, I am joyful, I am fat, I am thin, I am rich, I am beautiful.
But these are just ways in which you’ve conditioned your being. You might very well see yourself as all these things, but beneath it all is YOU. The real you. The magnificent creator of your dreams, the higher you. And we all get to replace our old, outdated conditioning with something new and more in keeping with the true being that we are.
How to aim high
It doesn’t take any more effort to aim high, to demand abundance and joy and peace and yes, miracles. Tune into a higher way of thinking.
You have a partner always willing and available to you:
Your subconscious mind.
Enlist it’s aid because it will work tirelessly on your behalf night and day. It never sleeps. Never rests. We can imprint on our subconscious mind whatever beliefs we choose through the repetition of thoughts connected to feelings.
Have an aim of the day to focus on…it might be a good thing to begin with affirming that your subconscious mind is your partner in your success.
Or your aim might be I am super successful in everything I do.
Then begin to listen to that quiet inner voice as it brings you new ideas, new concepts and inspiration.
And don’t forget to follow them.
Shift Your Thinking
We all need practices to help shift our energy and move from misery to miracles. If we don’t shift our energy we can pretty well predict our results.
Imagine you’re tuned into a radio station and you really don’t like it. It’s filled with music or talk that just isn’t your cup of tea. What do you do? Stick with it and complain how awful it is? I don’t think so. You’re going to change that station within seconds.
That’s what we need to do with the misery station. No point in complaining about what’s going on, let’s get that station switched to a positive one.
Maybe a meditation practice would work for you. I personally find mediating a little difficult but I do like it. I particularly like it since I’ve heard that those who meditate can access higher thinking and come up with ideas not often available to those who don’t meditate. Sounds good to me.
So are you ready to take that first tiny shift from misery (unhappy thoughts) to miracles?
Are you ready to see miracles? What are you willing to let go of?
One last thing. Please share in the comments; your comment could make all the difference to someone else.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
I was facilitating a leadership class in Bahrain today, and we were discussing the subject of work and life based stresses. This seemed to be a big subject for many of the participants, so I decided to write something about it.
Back in the classroom, I walked around the room with a glass of water. I think everyone expected that they would be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on my face, I inquired: ”How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
So I went on to say that the absolute weight didn't really matter. It all depended on how long I could hold it for.
If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.
So I then went onto to explain that our stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.
Stress. A word frequently used in our daily vocabulary, and one which – ironically – seems to carry less weight with every use. Whether being “stressed out” is the premise of a popular music track, or a phrase you tend to pitch towards others multiple times a day; the phenomenon of stress is not a notion unknown to many.
Indeed, every age group, social demographic, and field of life carries ample amounts of stress-induced anxiety and fatigue. As such, the very concept of stress has often been whittled down to nothing more than a usual, everyday occurrence for the common individual in our contemporary society.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK during 2014/15, 440,000 people in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill. That's 40% of all work-related illness.
However, the reality of intense bouts of stress – and their disastrous repercussions – is often not treated as severely as they should be. Stress can prove to be a gateway, leading one’s mind and body towards a plethora of damaging psychological and physiological issues.
Alternatively, stress might prove to be quite helpful for the average student or office worker; if you happen to be particularly experienced with procrastination, you will soon come to realize that stress-induced panic is what often pushes an individual to delve into a formidable pile of work. If you happen to finish your assigned tasks with time to spare, you might still fall prey to frequent bursts of stress, and this ultimately pushes you to execute a given task. An existence without stress might possibly stand as one without motivation; individuals might lack the incentive or drive to finish crucial work, and meet looming deadlines.
Allow yourself to take a step back and decipher why exactly you might experience frequent stress and anxiety.
Is it due to your earnest will to succeed, avoid an issue or obtain that promotion? Or perhaps you are driven by a diagnosable psychological disorder which prompts you to stress over minute details?
Primarily, we stress in order to avoid a possible outcome of failure. In the simplest of terms, it is your mind and body’s natural response towards particularly difficult situations, and the overwhelming need to greet this scenario head-on.
It is at this point where a classic “flight or fight” response comes into play.
Fight or Flight?
This phenomenon is often termed as a “stress response”. Once individuals come across situations, which might be challenging, harmful, or threatening, their physical and psychological responses kick into gear.
Whether you happen to face a madman wielding an axe, or you sink underneath folds of internal stress: a specific section of your brain – namely the hypothalamus – will enable a number of chemicals to be released into your body, and for your nerves to become primed. In short, your body will be tensed and prepared to either fight, or begin sprinting in the opposite direction.
During a typical such encounter, your heart will begin to pump faster, delivering more oxygen around your body and quickening your breathing; the pupils might dilate, allowing more light to filter in and sharpen your vision; the muscles will begin to tense themselves for a run. This natural response is instinctive, though it might do little for you when stress-induced toxins filter into your body.
Fortunately (or unfortunately) humans do not inhabit mostly a deadly planet, and might not require such drastic reactions in order to ensure their survival. If tax returns must be filed, and egregious amounts of work must be dealt with, an individual cannot realistically abandon ship. This is where the “fight or flight” response is suppressed, and we curb natural instinct in order to survive in the modern era.
If this situation is prolonged, one may begin to suffer from instances of high-blood pressure; with nerves continually standing on end; and with a body and mind utterly exhausted from being on constant alert. Health begins to diminish, energy levels skirt low, and motivation tanks.
What to do?
However, there are innumerable tips and tricks ready for one to internalize and abide by in order to quell stress, and break the cycle of nerves and exhaustion. Here are 7 top tips:
Exercise has been listed by the American Psychological Association as a solid means through which one can conquer stress. A brisk run or swim would calm the nerves considerably, and allow one to offer their exhausted brain a break, and approach the task with a fresher perspective. Moreover, any form of physical activity stimulates the release of endorphins; these chemicals are responsible for curbing pain, and ensuring a good night of sleep. You do not need to exercise for long – just 5-10 minutes per day will greatly enhance your physical (and mental) wellbeing.
Remove junk food and nicotine from your diet, and allow the body a genuine chance to function healthily. Research has discovered that 40% of people are prone to stress-eating junk food, or drinking alcohol and cigarettes. These harmful habits, in turn, make room for lung diseases and heart disorders to enter these individuals’ lives. In fact, stress and anxiety-related consumption might increase one’s chance of a stroke or heart attack by nearly 50%.
Take control of the situation, and avoid prolonging the period of stress. For instance, if you are assigned a month to complete a given task, set about to finish it as soon as you possibly can to cut back on how much time you would needlessly spend mulling over the thought of it.
Taking control would also imply that one should actively figure out the root cause of persistent
stress: could it possibly be a specific subject, or does a particular co-worker induce the most
stress? If it helps, maintain a journal listing the situation, work, and how much stress each instance produced.
Reaching out for help might translate into a number of options. You might reach out to a co-worker or team of friends to help plough through a challenging assignment; you might opt to visit a therapist, and objectively assess whether your condition calls for heavy medication, or several spa-days a week. If you cannot make sense of your taxes, hire an accountant or friend to help you sift through the work. Remember – 75% of Americans (according to search published by the APA) suffer from intense stress and up to 52% of Western Europeans. You should not suffer alone, and call for help – or even provide help! – whenever you truly need it. Competition should not always define your goals.
Think about yourself and promise yourself a therapeutic day every few weeks. Alternatively, set aside an hour or two per day when you focus on no one but yourself, and engage in an activity that calms you. Give your mind and body the chance to catch a much-needed break. Whether this means going out for lunch with friends, or sitting at home to watch a sitcom – figure out your needs, and cater to them as frequently as possible.
Laugh and smile. Ok, I agree, its difficult to laugh and smile when you feel the world is on your shoulders and everything looks bleak. However, it is scientifically proven to help your overall health by:
Sleep better. Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse with time. As adults we should aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier, dim the lights, and give yourself time to relax before going to bed. Good sleep will mean a healthier lifestyle all round. And, of course you will wake up more refreshed and able to deal with the day that is coming. This is specifically important, since a recent survey concluded that 44% of all stress-inflicted individuals do not sleep well. A rested mind and body is one which can tackle any task with ease.
Stress can be a disability as well as a spur into action. There's no quick-fix cure for stress, and no single method will work for everyone. However, if you at least try and incorporate some if not all the tips above then potential stressors might just melt away into the night!