1. Be where you are.
Sadly, only a tiny percentage of the people in this world will actually experience their lives today. So many of us will be stuck on another day, another time and place that troubled us and caused us to spiritually stumble, and thus we will miss out on life as we’re living it. Realize this. Do not allow your spirit to be softened or your happiness to be limited by a time and place you cannot get back to, or a day that does not yet exist.
Remember, no matter what, you can always fight the battles of just today. It’s only when you add the infinite battles of yesterday and tomorrow that life gets overly complicated.
Truth be told, before you know it you’ll be asking, “How did it get so late so soon?” So take time right now to figure yourself out. Take time to realize what you want and need in this moment. Take time to love, to laugh, to cry, to learn, to work, and to move your present self forward.
2. Look deep within.
Remember that there is a place within you that you can go to at any moment. It is calm and full of love. Forget about the noise of the world is reciting to you. Look within. Go there when you are sad. Go there when you are fearful or angry or troubled. Go there when you are alone in your car in hectic traffic, or when you are surrounded by people who intimidate you. And don’t forget to go there when you are happy too.
Remind yourself that you are not your body. You are not your past or future. You are not what others expect of you. The essence of your being is love and it is within you right now. Your spirit is simply waiting for you to remember this.
So, go to that quiet place in the center of you. Let the deep love and serenity swallow you whole. Everything is always okay, even when it’s not. Let go of the mind’s need to remind you of everything outside that weighs you down. You are none of that. You are at peace in this moment. Breathe. (Note: Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. Talk it out.
Ever feel totally out of your element? Like you’re due to be discovered for the “fraud” that you are? This is what psychologists call the “impostor syndrome” — where you constantly feel like everyone around you has their act together, but you don’t. And the more others recognize your achievements, the more you feel like a fake. Because as you enhance your knowledge — as you expand the scope of what you know — you’ll inevitably be exposed to more and more of what you don’t know, and thus you may begin to subconsciously discredit what you do know. It’s a bizarre cycle.
Again, “Impostorism” is, for many of us, a natural symptom of gaining expertise. Move up the ranks in life, and you’ll inevitably encounter more talented people to compare yourself negatively against. The cycle never stops, and we all get caught up in it in some way. For example. I’ve personally written over 1,000 self-improvement articles on marcandangel.com that have received millions of page views and social media shares, and praise from a dedicated community of readers and students, but each time I write a new post I think, “Oh boy, this time they’re going to find me out,” as if I’m some low-profile underachiever who doesn’t deserve to be writing or changing lives.
The solution is to talk it out with a trusted friend, partner, or coach. Talk about your insecurities more, and let them do the same. Admittedly, it’s a hard conversation to initiate, so in the mean time just remember that everyone feels like an impostor sometimes — it’s not just you. (Note: Angel and I talk it out with our Getting Back to Happy Course students, one at a time, with immense compassion, every single day. And we would be grateful to work with YOU, too.)
4. Relax the tension.
One of the hardest lessons in life is letting go. Whether it’s feelings of guilt, anger, disappointment, loss or betrayal. Change is never easy. We fight to hold and we fight to let go. But we must eventually let GO. There’s no point in stressing over what you can’t change. Stop over-thinking it. Let it be, and allow yourself to grow from the experience.
Perhaps you’re annoyed by someone, frustrated at work, overwhelmed by all your obligations, or just upset by some aspect of your life. And your tight mental grasp of the circumstance creates a tension in your body and unhappiness in your mind. Therefore, Angel and I often recommend this simple strategy to our course students who are struggling to relieve themselves of their stress and tension:
- Locate the tension in your body right now.
- Notice what you’re resisting and tensing up against — it might be a situation or person you’re dealing with or avoiding.
- Relax the tense area of your body — deep breath and a quick stretch often helps.
- Face the same situation or person, but with a relaxed body and mind.
Repeat this practice as often as needed. Face the day with less tension and more presence. Change your mode of being from one of struggle and grasping to one of peace and freedom.
5. Give yourself credit.
Your inner light is seen. Your heart is heard. Your spirit is treasured by more people than you imagine. If you knew how many others have been touched in profound ways by you, you would be astounded. If you knew how many people feel so much for you, you would be speechless. You are far more brilliant than you think you are.
Stop discrediting yourself for everything you aren’t, and start giving yourself credit for everything that you are. Behind you is infinite power, before you is endless possibility, around you is boundless opportunity.
Give yourself credit, for all of it…
- You’ve lived
- You’ve learned
- You’ve come a long way
- You’ve survived all your bad days
- You’re still growing
6. Give things space.
“If you want to control your animals, give them a larger pasture.” That’s a quote Angel and I heard at a meditation retreat recently in a group discussion focused on the power of changing your attitude about the things you can’t change or don’t need to change.
I see “the animals” and their “larger pasture” as a form of letting go and allowing things to be the way they are — instead of trying to tightly control something, you’re loosening up, giving it more space, a larger pasture. The animals will be happier — they will roam around and do what they naturally do. And yet your needs will be met too — you will have more space to be at peace with the way the animals are.
This same philosophy holds true for many aspects of life — stepping back and allowing certain things to happen means these things will take care of themselves, and your needs will also be met. You will have less stress (and less to do), and more time and energy to work on the things that truly matter — the things you actually can control — like your self-care, and your attitude about everything.
7. Change your response.
What can we do when someone close to us is being annoying, irritating, rude or just generally difficult? What can we do when their negativity brings us down?
Well, assuming we’re not in any sort of real danger and we don’t need to physically protect ourselves, the best choice is often a simple mindset shift. Rather than trying to change the other person, we change our response to them.
I know that suggestion can be frustrating for some people. Why should we have to make a change when it’s the other person who’s misbehaving?
The key, though, is to understand that with a few simple mindset shifts you can find a lot more peace around just about anyone. But if you try to shift the behavior of others, you’re only going to drive yourself crazy. This is well-illustrated by a metaphor Angel and I heard yesterday from an instructor in a group meditation class:
“Where could I find enough rubber to cover the rocky surface of the world? With just the rubber on the soles of my shoes. Think about it. It’s as if the whole world were covered as I walk. Likewise, I am unable to control external life situations, but I shall control my own mind. What need is there to control anyone or anything else?”
That simple metaphor conveys the truth: the surface of the Earth is rocky and hard to walk on in most places. So, we can try to find a covering for the whole world — which is obviously impossible — or we can simply cover our own feet with rubber-soled shoes, and then walk around peacefully wherever we please.
Similarly, we can either try to control the difficult people around us — another impossibility — or we can control our responses to them.
So, when you sense negativity coming at you, give it a small push back with a thought like, “That remark (or gesture, or whatever) is not really about me, it’s about you (or the world at large).”Remember that all people have emotional issues they’re dealing with (just like you), and it makes them rude and downright thoughtless sometimes. They are doing the best they can, or they’re not even aware of their issues.
In any case, you can learn not to interpret their behaviors as personal attacks, and instead see them as non-personal encounters (like the rocky ground under your feet) that you can either respond to effectively when necessary (by putting your figurative shoes on), or not respond to at all.