“I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have my bladder tumor removed. I’m just evaluating my life up until now. I’m a 72-year-old man who smoked and drank most of his life. Also, I never really cared about healthy habits until recently. However, over the past days in this hospital, I had watched dozens of patients going through cancer surgery. The majority of them are half of my age, and this made me realize how blessed I am. And the truth is for most of us; we don’t really “get it” until we almost have our life taken away.”
That’s a memory from my dad’s journal. This memory became a reminder for me that there are always people in a worse situation than me. And that no matter how good or bad I have it; I must wake up each day grateful for my life because someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.
So, here I am in bed reading this note and reflecting on my life. I just had a bad day, and it felt like it would never end.
It started with getting fired from my biggest client because the economy in South America is awful. As a consequence, he had to cut down his expenses.
After that, I got fined because of my nosey neighbor who can’t find anything better to do, except interfering with other people’s lives. And because things can always get worse, I had a big gastritis crisis caused by all the stress. That means I finished my day in a lot of pain.
The only thing on my mind was that I wanted to go to bed and make this terrible day to end.
Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. It’s during these times that people are truly tested, their willpower pushed to the limits. Moments like these require as much focus as possible.
So, I had to figure out on my own how to deal with this situation and make sure the next time this happens, I will handle in a better way.
Here are the steps that helped me move forward and I want to share with you.
1. Let it out.
Allow yourself to feel the disappointment and anger inside. Let it out. Whatever you are feeling is OK. Take some time to just sit with your emotion and experience it without moving to fix or change it.
However, don’t spend too much time on this, because worrying and complaining changes nothing. So don’t take more than an hour. And after that sixty minutes are up, it’s time to move on.
The truth is that it’s very difficult to get a clear picture of the situation–any situation–when you’re standing in the middle of it.
Find something to get your mind out. We know that is not easy, but you have to relax to get ready for the next step.
A great exercise is to sit quietly by yourself, set your timer for five minutes and start taking deep breaths. The longer you do this, the longer you will trigger your body’s natural calm response, and you will move through fear with greater ease.
Another option is to go for a quick walk or do some yoga exercises. Even so, once this step is done; it’s time to hit life with the right attitude. Don’t confuse meditation for submission.
3. Brainstorm time.
I know you are worried because you know there is a problem that needs to be solved. The most important thing is figuring out what you should be doing instead.
So, in the next day, wake up, have a great breakfast and work on the solutions. Make a list with all the possible solutions. Start to work on and do whatever is in your power to do. Plan and then attack. Moping isn’t allowed.
4. Ask help from others.
Most people feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness; implicit in the request is a lack of knowledge, skill, or experience.
The good news is successful people are secure enough to admit a weakness. So they often ask others for help, they get a second opinion and then a third and fourth.
We need to ask people for help if we want to get solutions faster. Additionally, you might be surprised how people will be happy to help you solve your situation.
At the end of the day, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. And take this lesson from me–a person who grew up in a family that was scared to show people their struggles, because they taught me that people will think less of us. Learning that I could ask for help set me free.
5. Keep going and be grateful.
To get things done, you need to take action. Don’t wait for the ideal time to make a move toward your goals. Act on every good opportunity that appears. You never know what will lead you to your solution. Trust in yourself is the key. It’s important to remind ourselves of how great our lives are.
Let’s get back to my dad’s story, after reading that note, I remembered everything he went through with his cancer. He is still fighting every day because there’s a chance that cancer might come back. Even so, he is trying to enjoy life as much as he can. Living in the present moment like never before.
”Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” -Oprah Winfrey
I see in his eyes how grateful he is for every moment that we spend together. And for every little win that I have, it makes my heart almost explode and then everything makes sense in life.
So, this is my dad’s biggest lesson about life, and I’ll be eternally grateful for that. Now, every day I’m trying to live in a spirit of thankfulness, realizing all I have right now is a gift and a miracle in itself. Life can be changed in a heartbeat.
That said, next time when everything goes wrong, I want you to apply these steps to help you handle life in a better way. I want you to become a stronger person, to become a warrior who does not fear what is next.
That’s what I’m focused on now, to become mentally tough and ready for the challenges in life. At the end of the day, we are all humans trying to do the right thing and find joy in life. Follow these steps and I promise you you’ll get stronger and more capable of handling anything that comes your way.
I would love to know what is the first thing that you do when you have a bad day?
Photo: Flickr/ Martin Schüller