“The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life has a funny way of knocking you flat on your face from time to time. Just when you think things are on the up and up, seemingly out of nowhere, whack, you get hit with a massive setback or failure. When that happens, it’s hard to see the proverbial forest through the trees.
Yet, we all know that tough times don’t last. And the truth is that in every difficulty you will find opportunity. No matter how hard it might seem to you right now, there is a purpose for it. There is a rhyme. A reason. You can’t see it today. But in time it will reveal itself.
If you’re reading this, you’re still here. And there’s a reason for that. Life is going to knock you down and sometimes keep you there. But it’s not about how many times you get knocked down. it’s about how many times you can get back up after you’ve been knocked down.
Things happen. We face difficulties. We go through hardships. It happens to the best of us. Nothing can prevent bad things from happening to good people. But life is not about what happens to you. It’s about how you respond to what happens to you.
This past year was a stark reminder to me about how things can change in the blink of an eye. How difficulty could turn into opportunity and how opportunity could quickly turn back into difficulty. You’re never quite prepared for it. Even when you can predict it well in advance.
From building a thriving, cutting-edge startup, to seeing it come crashing down in failure, things can most certainly change fast. Life can be flipped upside down on its head in the blink of an eye. Sometimes, nothing can prepare us for that.
Yet, being agile and resilient are key characteristics of some of the world’s most famous people who failed. You can’t expect to live a life barren of problems. Problems will happen. Your plans will get disrupted. You just have to understand how to respond when it happens to you.
Your Perspective Is Your Reality
You see, life works both ways. In this thing we call the human experience, we don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But what we do get to choose is how we respond to what happens to us. It’s easy to be bitter and resentful. To cast blame. But far harder to be grateful.
Gratitude and appreciation for things you do have rather than the things you don’t can help combat any negative emotion, and ultimately bounce back. Sure, when you’re in the wake of failure, it doesn’t feel good. That much is obvious. But the question is, how do you turn it around?
How do you take that negative self-talk in your mind and flip the so-called script? You see, it all starts and ends in the mind because thoughts are things. Thoughts shape who we are, and ultimately shape the quality of our lives.
When you allow negative thoughts to take root in your mind, they down-regulate genes, releasing stress hormones like cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline into your system. And they create all sorts of havoc. Literally, your thoughts can make you sick.
I’m not saying that you’ll never have a negative thought. But instead of allowing them to nest in your mind, watch them come and pass very much like birds flocking in the sky or waves crashing on the shore. It’s a matter of training your brain to overcome those internal fears and hangups.
You Can’t Connect The Dots Looking Forward
Steve Jobs once said that you can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can’t see into the future. Sure, looking back is easy. It’s easy to see where you made the mistakes. When you hired the wrong person or made the wrong call doing something. Anything.
That much is obvious. But the best way to push forward with life is to simply understand that we can’t always control the outcome of what happens. We can only control how we respond to it. The truth and the beauty of life depends entirely on that response.
Two people can walk way from the same situation with a dramatically different experience. One could learn from it. Another could lament about it for ages. Living in the past and dwelling on failure is not something you want to do. It will only lead to a negative outcome.
Sometimes, even when it hurts so badly, you have to change the way you look at things. When you feel sorry for yourself, it never helps. You simply wallow away in a slew of negative emotions. Rather, there are things you can do to overcome even the most dire situations.
1. Use meditation to understand and appreciate what’s truly important in life
It’s easy to get caught up in the difficulties that life throws at us. It’s harder to appreciate the grander design. But when you focus on what’s truly important in life, you can make a powerful mental shift. This is not just wishful thinking. Meditation really does work.
By meditating, you’re unlocking the quantum field where infinite possibilities reside. Rather than focusing on the worst possible outcome, which is what us humans tend to do best, meditation helps you to unlock and imagine your true infinite potential, unlocking real abundance in life.
This might sound like some new-age science or wishful thinking. But it works. When was the last time you really meditated and stepped outside your present reality into the infinite quantum field? Meditation truly does blend the real with the ethereal.
2. Realize that time is not on your side and truly seize the day to live in the moment
We get caught up in situational drama. Both externally and internally in our minds. Not just based on the people or things occurring around us. But also based on the negative self-talk going on in our heads. It’s hard to appreciate life for what it is when you’re dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.
Rather, understand that your time here is limited. It’s finite. It’s fleeting. Every single day, you’re losing precious moments that you’ll never get back. Once you can appreciate and understand that, it’s easy to see the silver-lining in things.
When you’re faced with a difficulty, it means you shouldn’t wallow away in self-pity. It means that you should search for the opportunity that it might present. If you waste your time on negative emotions, you’ll never overcome the bad things that might have happened to you.
3. Focus on gratitude because it will unlock the gates to true success and happiness in life
There are so many scientific studies that point to the positive benefits of gratitude. The truth is that it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and feel that you’re lacking things in life. Especially when you see others share about their lives so openly on social media.
But there’s this magic that happens through gratitude. But not only when you learn to appreciate what you have. When you also appreciate what’s to come, that’s when your life truly makes monumental shifts. You see, the subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between what is real and what is imagined.
This is based on brain scans and a slew of other scientific data. Meaning, whatever you’re telling yourself, whatever stories you’re replaying, the subconscious mind will work beyond your awareness to make that a reality. In other words, your thoughts are self-fulfilling prophecies.
If you tell yourself that you’re useless and no good and that you always fail or bad things always happen to you, that will become your reality. The subconscious simply doesn’t know the difference between what you think (i.e. imagine) and what’s actually part of your reality. This truly does bring the saying that thoughts are things full circle.
Here’s the real danger in this. So much of us are focused on what we don’t want in life that we end up moving towards that. Whatever you focus on, you’ll get more of. So be careful of what you think and where you spend most of your time in your mind.
4. Set goals every single day and take incremental actions towards their attainment
How much time do you spend on your goals? Do you set them and forget them? In other words, do you have New Year’s Eve Syndrome? Meaning, do you only set goals on New Year’s Eve only to later forget about those goals? Studies have shown that only 8% of people who set goals on New Year’s actually achieve them.
That’s a very alarming statistic. Meaning, if you’re only setting your goals once per year, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Instead, you have to set goals every single day. Those daily goals should move you towards your bigger and more loftier goals.
5. Follow your passion and do what you love and it will never feel like you’re working a day in your life
It’s easy to feel disappointed when things don’t go your way. When you fail or experience a major setback, it certainly hurts. Sometimes, it hurts so bad that it stops us dead in our tracks. Especially when it’s something that you’ve poured your heart and soul into, it can be very difficult to overcome.
Of course, it’s harder to actually see things for what they are. Life is filled with obstacles and setbacks. Not everything will go your way. But when you’re doing something you love, it will never feel like work. Meaning, if you follow your passion, no setback or failure will defeat your dreams.
You’ll turn every difficulty into opportunity because you’ll be doing what you love. When you refuse to give up that is.