The other day, my wise friend, Maggie, remarked on her joyous life, her beautiful growing family, adorable home in a fun location, and an extraordinary career.
Maggie smiled over the phone, “I’m very grateful for how lucky I am.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I exclaimed. “You’ve worked hard for this life–you chose to see the lessons in your difficulties, you chose gratitude–you chose to do self-work.”
Sure, sh*t happens–people get cancer, they lose their jobs, they get imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit–then they use those experiences to change the world. Some create tangible life-changers, i.e, exonerees, Antoine Day and Jarrett Adams, started the Life After Justice Center, a re-entry home for men wrongfully convicted of crimes. Some create change by smiling and brightening another person’s day.
It is your choice: how do you choose to process your experience?
Transforming your thoughts will transform your world. Your brain is a muscle. You can train it anyway you want. You can train it to think that all bad things happen to you. This is a victim mentality. Or, you can find the blessing in every experience.
“People tend to think that happiness is a stroke of luck, something that will descend like fine weather if you’re fortunate. But happiness is the result of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Habits are difficult to break. In any type of training, you must do the work to change the habits.
training tip #1: separate reality and your thoughts about it
- Some things you simply cannot control. For example, you cannot control the weather, the traffic, or whether your crush calls. These things are real–you can’t change them, but you can control your reactions.
- Be mindful of your reactions. Start small–how do you react when you drop the toothpaste, can’t find a parking spot, or your neighbor’s music is too loud?
- Do you feel tense, stressed, sad? Your body’s reactions are signs of untrue thoughts, i.e. “I should be able to find parking.” Really? Is that true? Or are you just projecting this idea onto reality?
- Having these thoughts is not a reason to shame yourself further and resist them. The idea is just to separate what is real from your thoughts about it. Bringing awareness to the thoughts, will show you where to begin your happiness training.
You’re not a victim of luck. Yes, bad things happen to good people everyday. How you react to such bad things will predict how you move forward. Believe that you can change your thoughts and change your life. You’re the master of your world.