For many of us life involves making a lot of effort to achieve certain things and for some being challenged by the notion of personal responsibility. Yes, there are things we can do that may have apositive impact on our health wealth or happiness BUT we must also contend with that thing we call life.
By life I mean the unexpected things that we sometimes feel we must battle against. People letting us down or not living up to our expectations, challenges to health, accidents caused by carelessness or stupidity or even our own actions, and things no-one can have any control over, natural disasters, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then there are the ‘practical’ more mundane issues that can cause some upset, not getting what we wanted, things breaking, people being rude and hundreds of other things. As I’ve discussed in articles before we acknowledge we have no control over many of these things and all we are left with is managing our responses to them.
But there is another truth that we really need to get hold of, especially if you were raised on a diet of fairy tales. The fact is that for most of us a rescue party isn’t helpfully stationed on the horizon. Yes, that’s right, the fairy Godmother, dashing prince or cavalry are probably not going to sweep in sweep us and make everything better.
Let’s just take a moment to let that sink in! The implication therefore is that it is very definitely up to us. Some of us might be lucky enough to have people around us who can help, and perhaps protect us from the worst of life’s storms, but we haven’t really got much of a choice other than to get on with it.
So, whatever you perceive the problems in your life to be YOU can be certain that the best person to sort them out. People say to me they’d be happy …..if. Life would be easier …..if. Success would be easy ………if.
It is up to you so forget the ‘if’ and instead think about what YOU can do – what steps YOU can take, because it actually is all up to YOU.
Get the basics right
I know, it gets boring but there is lots of research to suggest that getting enough sleep, regular exercise and a good diet actually helps us stay well, and can add to our wellbeing, happiness and success.
Soldiers get tough because they train, people can run marathons or scale mountains or lots of other things because they train. Training may be specific for some things butalways involves being exposed to challenges, whether that challenge is physical, mental or emotional. The good news is that by design or through life we can learn to get tougher.We are all able to make positive choices to ‘train’ and become more resilient in particular areas, more able to cope with the situations we have to face. Of course we might not know exactly what is ahead (or presumably we would definitely prepare – like if we know we need to run a marathon) but we can safely assume life will present us with challenges, so identifying the areas where we don’t feel too strong can help us decide the particular training regime that may suit us best. Learning to manage our stress levels for example.
Make the right choices
Whether it feels like it or not there is, in every situation an element of choice, even if that is just in our response. It is easy to assume we can do noting about things that happen which are difficult and that we didn’t want and often we can’t choose for them NOT to happen but we can choose our thoughts about them our responses to them, how we behave, what we do in the light of them. Choices have a cumulative impact. We may decide to have a healthier diet but every mealtime we must make that choice a reality. Only then will we gain the benefits of a healthier eating regime.
You are tougher than you think.
I listened to a very helpful podcast recently from ‘The Happiness Lab’ by Dr Laurie Santos. In the episode I listened to, the concept of ‘hedonic adaptation’ was discussed. This is the tendency of humans to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events. What that means, and it is backed up by several scientific studies, is that the things we think are likely to make us happy often don’t, or at least only do so for a short time. But the good news is that things we thought would make us unhappy also don’t impact us as much as we might predict they would. What we can all work on however is our general level of happiness, whichis of course related to our wellbeing.