How To Feel Less Shit When Life Sucks

Oct 05, 2016

Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows will fall behind you
{Maori Proverb}

I truly believe that happiness and positivity is a choice.

A hard choice for some, but a choice none the less.

How can we feel less shit about things when our life feels like it sucks a bit?

What’s stopping us from having the dream career, the dream family and the dream lifestyle?

No matter how far we are from having everything we’ve always wanted, we have to accept that we are all in control of getting up off that lounge, turning off the TV, stretching, walking to the door and grounding ourselves barefoot in the earth as we turn our faces towards the sun and let our shadows fall behind us.

It’s clear to me that we are all in complete control of how we wish to view our lives despite our challenges or circumstances. So if happiness is a choice, and we are all capable of making choices no matter what our circumstance; then why are some of us still willing to live in a downward spiral of negativity?

Let’s talk quickly about negativity. Every light must have a dark side. In the same way that sleep induces sleep for babies; for adults, negativity induces negativity.

Negativity around our thoughts, our excuses, our inactions and the people we choose to surround ourselves with. The thing about negativity is that it is like a drug.

The more you take, the more you take. So is positivity. Except that it’s not as contagious.

Back to facing the sun…

Everybody has access to the sun. There’s enough sun for everyone to share. But I argue that even the most positive people I know are still not completely facing the sun. I’m still not completely facing the sun. But we all have access to it.

So how do we inch closer and closer? How can we become more positive?

Hang around positive people

Take a look at your current crowd. How do they speak about their lives? Chances are if you’re around negative people that you too are partaking in negativity and that shit my friend, is contagious. We are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. So it’s time to mark the roll. Who is in attendance and who isn’t? To be clear, this isn’t about getting new friends, it’s about making a shift in the company in which you regularly keep, and this company can be in person or online. Make space for positive people in your life. Don’t drown yourself in them, just spend some time with them.

Respond, rather than react

In practising mindfulness, we must be open to being aware of how we feel in every moment. When something we perceive as bad, bad luck or a problem occurs, we have two choices in that moment. We can either react, or respond. Most negative people will simply react. They’ll shout back, swear, post an angry or nasty status update on social media in REACTION to what has happened. Mindful, positive people may feel an urge to do this too, however the art of mindfulness means recognising this surging reaction and then implementing the STOP technique.

S – Stop before you react
T – Take deep breaths
O – Observe your feelings and thoughts
P – Proceed and respond when ready

Once you put your words out there and once you react, you have to own those words. You have to own how you’ve made someone else feel and you have to own the damage it does to your own mindset. Reacting to someone or something quickly and thoughtlessly in a negative way shows people who you really are; as does responding thoughtfully.

Practice daily gratitude

You can’t be grateful AND against the world at the same time. Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to create a little spark of positivity in your life. People who speak regularly of their gratitude, speak less about their misfortune. With time, practising daily gratitude will shift your mindset from negative to positive and with each grateful statement you make, you are subconsciously turning to face the sun, inch by inch without even realising. There is so much power in the act of gratitude.

Develop curiosity

When was the last time you stood in the sunlight and looked around? Are you curious by what you see? Are you curious about all of those possibilities? I am.  Sometimes it’s a fleeting thought, an idea or a concept. Once I tug on a thread, I’m committed to following it. Sometimes it leads me somewhere fantastic, sometimes it ends in a frayed mess. But the point is that I follow it just to see. Your passion is waiting for you to arrive at the end of your curiosity.

Celebrate Yourself

There are two types of people who celebrate in two complete completely different ways.

Firstly, there’s the ‘commiserators’ – those that focus on what went wrong or what didn’t work. They then spend their time complaining to themselves and to others about what didn’t work or how they plan to completely give up. These are the same people who party so hard when something amazing happens that they completely overdo it, leaving them coming down off a massive high and hitting the ground with a THUMP. Commiserators are unable to sustain positivity for lengthy periods of time.

Secondly, there’s the ‘celebrators’. Those who are resilient to failure or as I like to call failure, ‘an unexpected redirection’. These people celebrate all of the little wins. For example, as I write this post right now, I celebrate the shitty words I wrote earlier.

Two hours ago, this post wasn’t going so well. It was doomed to ‘fail’ and get sent to the recycle bin. I was frustrated and I made a conscious decision to walk away from it temporarily and come back. Can you tell where the join is? Probably not because I jump between writing the middle, the end and the beginning all at once. But the point is that I sat back here at the computer, grateful and celebrating the fact that I indeed put SOME words on the page to begin with. It is such a blessing because without those initial words, I would not have this post to be able to publish today.

Celebration. Wine in hand to prove it!

No matter how small or insignificant the wins are; count them as wins. Celebrate them. Acknowledge them. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating constantly and is there nothing more positive than that?

Pass Less Judgement

Seek to Understand, THEN to be understood – Stephen Covey

Have empathy for others. Before criticising someone for something they’ve done, created or said, seek first to understand them and their circumstance. How can you be doing your best work or taking steps out towards the sun if you’re passing judgement on others? By blocking others’ path to the sun, you have to turn YOUR head (to the side, to behind you or even in some cases, further ahead than where you are). This means that you’re not turning to face the sun. It takes you off-track.

Blocking others’ path to the sunlight does not make your sun glow any brighter.

Start Doing what You Love

Become eerily quiet. Limit your consumption. Turn off the TV and social media. Put the books and magazines down. Switch off the radio. Stop consuming and start creating. Write a letter to someone. Paint, draw, write. Do some gardening. Fold the washing. Take photos. Go for a walk. Do something that requires output. When your hands, heart and mind are busy on output rather than input, you are on track to creating something amazing for yourself and therefore you become a contributor, not a consumer. Do something that you love. Do something that lights you up inside.
Want to go bigger? Apply for your dream job. Start a side-hustle business. Travel on the weekends. Create a vision board. Book a holiday.

Do something that you love and you will instinctively turn to the face the sun. And when you do, step forward, be grateful and STOP. Your shadows WILL fall behind you.

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