“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.” — Charles R. Swindoll
Let me ask you a question. How many times have you been faced with a situation where it totally rocked your world and you wondered how could this ever be happening to you? Maybe a spouse left you or maybe you lost a business or a friend or your health was jeopardized. Maybe it wasn’t something that traumatic, but it felt like the end of the world to you. How did that make you feel? Did you want to scream at the top of your lungs? Punch a wall? Or something worse, even?
I ask that question because, oftentimes in life, we’re faced with situations that are out of our control. We have no say in the matter because that’s just how life is at times. But life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. Why? Because no matter what the situation, no matter how bad or cataclysmic it might seem, if we equate our self-worth or happiness or our existence to another person, place or thing, we’ll crumble on the inside.
Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be sad or mad if something happens. However, life will continue to happen regardless of how you react to it. So why not react in a positive way? It might seem like a callous statement on the outside, but I assure you that it comes from a place of pure sincerity. Because, we all have that one friend or know that one person, who no matter what the situation, they always seem happy, right? So why is that? Don’t you think that person is ever faced with bad circumstances?
Life Is 10% What Happens To You
Life is not about what happens to you. It’s just not. Your happiness cannot be tied to a person or a possession or even a concept. It just can’t. First of all, money will not buy you happiness. Nor will another person. Your self-worth is more than that. As much as you feel that it might not be, it is. Because, we’ve seen it all the time. The perfect couple with the perfect marriage gets a divorce and you think to yourself, how could that happen? Or, a celebrity with all the money and fame commits suicide.
Why do bad things happen? It’s not because those people lacked success in one area or another. Not whatsoever. It’s because of something else far more deep-rooted. But the point is that you can’t allow other people or situations to dictate your happiness or your self-worth or self-esteem. You just can’t. Because, life isn’t about what happens to you, it’s about how you react to it. And how can you react positively when your entire self-worth is tied up into that other person, place or thing?
Look, I’m not trying to say that you can’t be sad or upset or even angry. Just don’t live in that place for too long. Give it to God or Allah or Buddha or whomever else you claim your divinity with. Just give it to the universe. We are all interconnected in this world. We all came from the same single source, no matter what you believe in. And life truly is temporary. We’re here for a moment then gone the next. So live it like it’s meant to be lived.
Life Is 90% How You React
Your reaction to a particular event is the key. So how do you react positively? How can you ensure that life becomes 10% what happens and 90% how you react? By instilling yourself with so much gratitude, that there’s just no other choice but to react positively. Because, when you’re filled with so much gratitude in life, that’s when extraordinary things begin to occur. But when you ignore gratitude, that’s when you’re swayed by events.
It doesn’t feel good to have a bad thing happen to you. I know. Believe me. I’ve struggled with failure and loss for many, many years. Just as much as the next person has, if not more. But, each and every single time, I’ve put myself back out there. I didn’t let it completely decimate me to the core. I picked myself back up again and kept pushing. All too often, we easily give up on things, and even on life as we know it, and we retreat like hermits back into our caves.
That’s not the way to live. That’s not what your life is meant to be. It’s just not. You can’t allow that bad situation to delimit you, but rather to define you for the next stages of life. Whatever it is, another person has also struggled with it. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last. You’re one of 8 billion souls on this planet who’s going about their lives, moving from one point to the next and things just happen as they will continue to happen for the rest of your life.
How To Shift Your Focus
In order to change how you react to something, you have to list out what you’re grateful for and make this a habit. This won’t just help you during times of loss, but also during the other times in your life when things are just okay. All you have to do is make a list of all the things you’re grateful for and recite it every single day. You have to do this two times. Once in the morning when you wake up and once in the evening before you go to sleep.
Think about all the things that you have right now in your life that you’re grateful for. They don’t have to be tied to other people or things. I’m talking about things like your ability to read or write. Maybe the ability to speak or reason logically. How about the fact that you’re six feet above ground. How about for the fact that you’re here on this earth and able to have life experiences and be present in the moment.
What about being grateful for the oceans or the winds or the sun? I know that we take so many things for granted, but what if you were to list out all the things that give you life on this earth? The fact that you’re here is such a small probability that it just bends the mind. Your birth and your existence tip the scale on impossible. So many things had to happen in the universe for all of us to exist. If you just stop and be grateful for everything, you won’t react poorly to things that are happening right now.
The truth is that we’re only here for a brief period. Life is temporary. It was given to us to be lived. And we have to enjoy it and appreciate it for what it is. Not by comparing our lives to others. We have to do something that adds value so that we had an impact and we weren’t just some blip on the radar. Because, when you think about mankind’s existence, it’s just a small and very infinitesimal in time.
Modern humans have been around for roughly 200,000 years, and if you compare that to the 14 billion-year timeline of the universe as we know it, it’s just nothing. Then, take your life of say 70 or 80 years, and that’s even smaller on the existence scale. I say that to you to put things in reference. And I also say that to you for solace and peace, so that you can be present in the here and now rather than worrying about tomorrow or feeling guilty about yesterday.
Changing Your Reaction To Things
Gratitude is not the only way you can amend your reaction. When we say that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react, it puts a serious onus on our reaction. So how do we change the way we react? If you’re an empath, like myself, then you probably struggle with your emotions. That’s because we’re very attuned to energy and the things that impact that energy all around us. That makes it hard for us to not react to things.
But whether you’re an empath or not, there are some ways, aside from the gratitude approach, to actually change your reaction to things. Now, that doesn’t mean you should never react or be emotional, ever. It just means that you’ll find your center. You’ll be at peace and at one with the universe and all things around you. I assure you that this is the best approach you can take to changing your life and how you view things.
1. Motion creates emotion
If you’re stuck in a rut, get active. If you want to react positively, get your blood pumping. There’s something about this that just never ceases to amaze me. It doesn’t matter how we’re feeling in the moment, if we get up and move or run or workout, or do anything else strenuous for that matter, we feel better. It oxygenates our blood and pumps through the happy endorphins into our brain and body and central nervous system. It just feels good.
2. Contribute to others
Find a way you can contribute and help someone else. It doesn’t matter how small that contribution is. And it doesn’t have to involve money. It can just involve your time. But there’s something that shifts inside of you when you help others. When you contribute instead of worrying about what you’ll get, a complete mindset transformation occurs. It’s an undeniable shift when you do this. And it will certainly help how you react to anything.
3. Find clarity by redefining your goals
When was the last time you set goals? No. I mean really set them. Where you wrote them down on paper? Has it been awhile now? Have you ever done that? You can’t get clarity in life if you don’t set meaningful goals. You have to figure out what you want and put a plan of action together if you really want your life to mean something. You can’t tie that meaning to another person or place or thing. It has to go deeper than that. There has to be real impact, not just income.
4. Shift your environment immediately
If you’re feeling down and out, change your environment. Go somewhere different. Get outdoors if you’re inside all the time. Find a body of water like a lake or a river or an ocean, and just go sit there (weather permitted). Or just get out into nature. Get on the move and break your patterns. Not only is this about getting outdoors, but this is about centering yourself. It’s an important step if you’re serious about changing your patterns of thinking.
5. Find a quiet place for meditation
Meditation is an art. It’s a discipline. It takes practice to get it right. But, the art of meditating has a profound impact on you. It allows you to be one with the universe, to center your body’s energy with the earth. It’s a remarkable way to shift how you’re feeling in any moment of time. However, you should find someone who can teach you how to meditate the right way. Because, this is something that really does require some practice.