You are not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even yesterday. You are always growing… stronger!
Sometimes life slams us in the gut, dealing us such a devastating blow it literally takes our breath away.
A pandemic hits, a loved one gets ill, we lose a breadwinning job, someone we know dies, money gets tight, feelings of depression and despondency overwhelm our better judgment… everything just seems to be going wrong.
So, what can we do when the world around us shatters, and we can’t seem to pick up the pieces?
The times when things are falling apart are precisely the best times to practice presence and mindfulness. These are the times we’re always preparing for, in a way, when we pray, meditate, self-reflect, and generally invest in our personal growth during the good times.
Truth be told, when the world seems to be crumbling, there is immense opportunity. But we must be willing to do some tough things. We must be willing to change our perspective and our response.
First, let’s practice laying a solid foundation…
Be patient with the pain you feel. Don’t hide from it, don’t rush to cover it up or fix it immediately. Just start by acknowledging its presence and facing it with courage.
Then, challenge yourself to sit quietly with what you are feeling for a full minute, with compassion and gentleness. Be at peace with the source of your pain—find the braveness to just sit with it like you would with a close friend who’s hurting. Practice this a few times a day, whenever you feel the pulse of your pain surging. And notice when your mind wants to run, hide or rebel. When this happens, take a deep breath, re-center yourself, and begin again.
Eventually, you will see clearly that what you feel is just a feeling, and that you can stay with what you feel without the world ending. You will see that you are in control of your feelings, and not the other way around. And you will begin to take them less seriously, hold them lightly, and give them some much-needed space in your worried brain.
When the world is shattering, this is the time to practice.
Practicing Right Now is Tough
Of course, I’m certainly not downplaying the real nature of our present circumstances with COVID-19. The virus is still spreading around the world right now, and we are all facing a very difficult reality. These are not “good times.” I’m not suggesting we should rejoice at living though this disappointing and painful life experience. But it is absolutely prudent to consider the impact this event is having on our collective behavior.
So, let’s build off the foundation we just set above. Let’s look at some tough yet necessary things we can do for ourselves right now to ease our pain and experience a little more happiness in the days and weeks ahead…
1. Be fully present in each moment.
Life is not lived in some distant, imagined land of someday where everything is perfect. It is lived here and now, with the reality of the way things are. Yes, by all means you can hope for and work toward an idealized tomorrow. Yet to do so, you must successfully deal with the world as it is today.
Sometimes we avoid experiencing exactly where we are because we have developed a belief, based on past experiences, that it is not where we should be or want to be. But the truth is, where you are now is exactly where you need to be to get to where you want to go tomorrow. So practice appreciating where you are.
Your family members are too beautiful to ignore. Call them. Text them. Take a moment to remember how fortunate you are to be breathing. Take a look around, with your eyes earnestly open to the possibilities. Much of what you fear does not exist in the space around you. Much of what you love is closer than you realize. You are just one brief thought away from understanding the blessing that is your life.
Remind yourself that happiness is a mindset that can only be designed into the present. It’s not a point in the…