“You need to spend time crawling alone through shadows to truly appreciate what it is to stand in the sun.” — Shaun Hick
Life’s hard. Life’s unfair. Life kicks you when you’re down. Life is also beautiful, whimsical, mysterious. But to get to the good times we sometimes have to ride through the bad ones; how do we do that when sometimes there’s no support to?
Here’s a few tips to help you get through that taxing job, troubling relationship, or unexpected curve-ball:
1. Figure Out What Makes You Happy
Open a notebook. Turn to a fresh, blank page. Then call to your mind all of the memories you have where you feel warm and fuzzy; call to mind the memories that remind you of heated log cabins in the dead of winter, the memories that remind you of the smell of petrichor and feel of rain on your skin, the memories that remind you of the bloom of affection in your chest when your puppy took its first step.
In short — write down everything that you know makes you happy. And when the stress starts to get too much, refer back to the list; refer back to a memory, or recreate one. Even if it’s as simple as a warm cup of tea and a good book. Do the little things that make you happy.
2. Teach Yourself Something New Every Day
Learning is growing. The two words should be synonymous, in fact. Whether its putting on an audio book instead of a playlist, or switching from Seinfeld reruns to a new documentary on the Roman empire, your brain will thank you. Not only will it enrich your mind but it’ll give you something to talk about, especially if, like me, you get anxious about looking interesting during social interactions.
Plus, you might find that it’s a lot of fun to be able to blurt out the capital of Malawi (Lilongwe) at the drop of a hat or knit your mom a scarf for her birthday.
3. Write Down Your Thoughts
Emotions are confusing. Sometimes at night I lay awake running through every situation I’ve been in recently and how I feel about it; sometimes it makes me feel better, sometimes it doesn’t. What always helps to thoroughly sort out how I feel is writing it down — the good, the bad, the ugly.
Seeing everything on paper clears my mind and allows me to fully evaluate any situation I’m facing. Plus, ranting on paper is better than spewing any negativity into the air — and you never regret what you said.
4. Focus On The Long-term
Whenever a challenge comes up, it’s hard to imagine what comes next. Do you need to get a summer job to pay tuition, but you absolutely hate your work? Did a relative pass on and life feels like it will never be the same? Whatever the case, it’s important to remember that there is always an after to whatever difficulty you face.
This sort of thinking will (hopefully) help you to realize that everything is temporary, good and bad. Take the little moments you can savor while the bad is happening, and know that you’ll be able to take a giant bite of the beauty that’s coming next.
5. Make Gratitude Your Attitude
This piggybacks off the last tip a bit; your perspective on your situation really determines a lot. If you can face the challenge head-on, knowing that it will pass and there is more in your life to focus on and be grateful for, you’ll be just fine. In truth, you’ll be just fine either way — but knowing you’ll be fine is more comforting than facing the unknown.