Often times, whether it be through a mid-life crisis or an unanticipated life event, people question how satisfied they are with the quality of their life. “What am I doing with my life?” “Why don’t I have enough money?” “When will my health problems get better?” Sometimes weaving your way through these questions to find the answer can bring you down, especially in the face of adversity. Maybe you’re stuck in a job that you hate. Perhaps you’re dealing with a sickness in the family. Or maybe you simply feel vulnerable. Whatever it may be, sometimes it’s hard to maintain a positive demeanor and smile at every stranger who passes you by. Though I don’t have a degree in psychology, I do believe in a couple of strategies that I’ve used in my life to stay lifted and forward-looking. I’ve shared them below.
1) Come to terms with the situation you’re facing.
No matter the situation, breathe it in, let it run its course, shake yourself off, and figure out how to resolve it. Ignoring the issue or refusing to admit that it is bothering you is like trying to heal a broken arm with a bandage. For one thing, it doesn’t work. Secondly, you may not see the wound from the outside, but you sure will feel it on the inside. The most important part about this tip is that you need to devise a solution – there is no problem that can’t be solve with a thoughtfully constructed plan.
2) Create a list of things you love and do it.
When I feel myself becoming complacent or depressed at any level, I create a list of things I enjoy doing: cycling, watching comedy shows, trying new recipes, etc. Then I take that list and turn it into a schedule and make sure I follow through. Often times we take on battles we don’t anticipate and we forget that there are certain things in life that we can control. Take control of your life – book a trip to Iceland, quit your demanding job, ask your crush out on a date.
3) Find laughter or comfort in the company of new and old friends.
I believe in a thing called “social health”, which is a branch off from mental health. Regardless of whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, being with other people is an inherent necessity for human beings. Through others, you share heartwarming stories, embrace each other in laughter or in tears, feel empathy, question life, and solve complex problems. With each other, you remember that others are also accompanying you on this thing called “life”.
4) Spend more time outside.
Humans are the only species who build homes that are completely closed off from the outdoors. Artificial lighting replaces the sun. Air conditioning systems fixate temperature changes. Gyms and fitness centers replace activities outdoors. Spending more time outside helps you recharge on natural energy sources, which have both positive physical and mental impacts.
5) Fake it until you make it.
This last one may be a little bit controversial because some people don’t believe in being “fake”. However, this is not so much about being fake as it is about being forward-looking. Smile even though you’re sad because you’re going to make tomorrow better. Tell others you’re doing great because you have a plan to make yourself great again. And most importantly for me: instead of bringing others down with you, seek out someone who can lift you up with them. The only thing worse than a Debbie Downer, is two Debbie Downers…
Again, I don’t claim to be a psychologist or therapist and acknowledge that there are mental issues that require more than a 5-step guide to overcome. My hope is to share life lessons that have resonated with me and to help at least one person get over a difficult day.