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Last Updated on April 22, 2020

How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

How to Persevere (And Get Ahead!) When the Going Gets Tough

I have been discouraged and defeated many times in my life. I have had life deliver blows that have literally knocked me to the ground. The feelings of hopelessness and despair have consumed my life for many months. I wondered if I would ever survive these catastrophic events or if I would ever live a life where I felt happy and safe.

The good news is that slowly over time, my life got better and I got stronger. When I look back on my life I now realize that these “bad life events”, though painful at the time, were the catalysts for me to change my life.

“People who soar are those who refuse to sit back, sigh and wish things would change. They neither complain of their lot nor passively dream of some distant ship coming in. Rather, they visualize in their minds that they are not quitters they will not allow life’s circumstances to push them down and hold them under” – Charles Swindoll

The only way for us to live our lives to the fullest is to learn how to persevere and deal with the challenges that life throws at us. I like to call these challenges “the curveballs of life”. Surviving these curveballs and perservering through adversity, pain, the feelings of hopelessness and despair are part of the journey for us to learn about whom we are. There is no other way to learn how to be resilient, courageous, hopeful and optimisitc about life and our future.

Everyone feels discouraged and defeated at some point of on his or her life journey. Some of us find ourselves at this place of despair and we do not know what to do and so we stop growing and thriving in life. We end up living our lives through regret, fear, pain, disillusionment and sadness This is not how we are meant to live our lives.

When you are feeling discouraged and despair and life seems so tough, don’t give up. Use these 7 strategies to help you grow your courage and build your resilience so that you can step up, face the curveballs and embrace the joy of living a life you love.

1. Accept and Anticipate Change on a Daily Basis

In today’s world of constant change, it is hard to hold on to who you are and manage the complexity and unpredictability of life. The one constant thing in our lives today – is change.

Instead of fighting the inevitability of change, learn how to accept it. Embrace change and know that by doing this, your life can only get better. Resisting change will fuel the negative energy that keeps you feeling broken and discouraged about life.

There is no way you can live your life to the fullest without experiencing change. Never stop learning about you, how you interact with others and the world that surrounds you.

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“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

Learn how to be agile in your thinking. Ask lots of questions and look for solutions, don’t just focus on the problem that you are facing. It is a lot harder to solve a problem when you are immersed within the problem itself.

Become a solution seeker because as the Dhali Larma said:

“If a problem can be solved it will be. If it cannot be solved there is no use worrying about it.”

2. Use Your Power of Choice to Liberate You, Not Imprison You

The only thing you have total control over is your power of choice. No one else can take that away from you.

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain …. To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life and not to deny my humanity but embrace it” – Kevyn Aucion

When life gets tough and you don’t know what to do next, you still have the power to choose. It is the choices that you make that determines how you react to the tough times in life you are facing. You can choose to do nothing, hide away, allow yourself to be distracted from the issue you need to face, or you can choose to take action and face your problem.

In my experience, the easiest option is to choose to do nothing but it always comes back and bites you big time – in the words of psychologist Carl Jung “what you resist will persist”. Choose to make choices that will enable you to move forward not backwards or around in circles going nowhere.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. A person who chooses to be a solution seeker is a resilient person who is self-aware and will actively seek support, advice and encouragement from other when times are tough.

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Solution seekers value the input of others because it is their wisdom and positive energy that helps solution seekers overcome adversity and keep moving forward in life.

Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

4. Be Positive and Laugh Lots

For me, this is my secret weapon that helps me to keep going when life gets tough. Having a positive attitude enables us to use our power of choice wisely. It also means that we are hopeful and optimistic about finding a solution or working through the challenges we are facing.

A positive attitude opens up your mind to explore possibilities whereas a pessimistic attitude closes your mind down and encourages you to withdraw yourself from finding your way through the challenges you are facing. With a pessimistic attitude, there is no growth and no learning – there is stagnation in life. A positive attitude is all about learning, growing and thriving in life.

When facing tough times in my life, I will choose to maintain a positive attitude because I know I will end up being stronger, more resilient and more courageous.

Laughter is life’s best way to thrive and flourish in life. To get through the tough times in life, surround yourself with people who make you laugh and like laughing with you. Laughter is contagious and you will soon find that when you are laughing lots you are feeling more alive and hopeful about your future.

5. Embrace the Unpredictability of Life, Don’t Run from Life

Life is a strange and amazing journey, many painful experiences and lots of beauty and joy. Running away from the challenges life presents to us is not the answer to dealing with life. When you run away, the only place you go is nowhere. The pain, the discomfort and challenges of life will follow you wherever you go.

It is okay to fall apart, make mistakes, fail, be disappointed and regretful but you can only stay in this not so great place for a short time.

Resilient people expect to fail and be disappointed. They know that to be strong, one has to overcome the adversity and challenges they face in life. Courageous people choose to “bounce forward” in life and to keep going toward living a happy fulfilled life. There is no other option for resilient people.

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Commit to becoming that courageous resilient person you were born to be.

6. Remember to Focus on the Things in Your Life That Bring You Joy

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain” – Joseph Campbell

When you are feeling despair, frustrated and hopeless, it is easy to forget the good things in your life. If you allow yourself to be consumed by negativity, you will start to believe that there is nothing good in your life. Before you know it, that will become your reality.

If you are having these thoughts, stop immediately and write a list of all the good things that you have experienced and all the things that have brought you joy. The more you focus on the good in your life, the more hopeful you will become.

Showing appreciation to others and expressing gratitude are two actions that will bring joy back into your life. The people who support you and love you are your treasure chest. The more you show appreciation and express gratitude to others (even strangers), the more joyous your life will be.

These two actions are very simple to do and if you repeat on a continuous basis, your life will change – for the better.

7. Don’t Let the Past Rule Your Present Life

Your past is your opportunity to learn the lessons you need to deal with your present life. However, if you don’t let go of your regrets in life and make peace with your past, it is very hard to move forward in your life.

Look for opportunities for self-discovery and learn how to trust and believe in you. When you are facing tough times in your life, ask yourself this question:

“What is the one thing I can do right now to take me one step closer to moving forward?”

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All you have to remember is to take one step forward and keep repeating that one step. You will soon discover that you closer to finding a solution.

Don’t let all your past mistakes and fears cloud your judgement and diminish your courage. You are not defined by what happened in your past you are who you choose to be now and in the future. Become the courageous empowered resilient person you were born to be.

Final Thoughts

It is understandable that when you are facing the tough times in life, you can become overwhelmed and lost. It is very hard to be hopeful and optimistic about your future when you are consumed by pain and frustration about your life.

However memorize this quote from Abraham Lincolns:

“The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.”

And use the 7 strategies when facing the tough times in your life and I guarantee you will survive and thrive through the toughest times of your life.

More Motivational Tips

Featured photo credit: Jared Erondu via unsplash.com

More by this author

Kathryn Sandford

Career Resilience Coach passionate about supporting others to grow and thrive in a complex world.

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Last Updated on August 10, 2020

What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life

What Is Life About? 9 Ways to Find Your Meaning in Life

What is life about? What is the meaning of life? Why do we exist?

Everyone, from ancient Greek Stoics all the way to modern lifestyle gurus, have answered these kinds of questions in an endless variety of ways. And yet, we still search for a satisfying answer.

Neither this article, nor any other one, can deliver a tangible solution to the curious case of life. And that’s okay!

The truth is, part of what makes the meaning of life so alluring is its engrossing diversity, mystery, and intangibility. However, it’s important to point out that the lack of a solid answer doesn’t mean it’s not worth looking for one. The search for what life is about is a journey that each individual person must embark on for themselves. Each person must look for their own, uniquely fulfilling answer to the question.

Fortunately, there are many different behaviors, ideals, and actions that humans have found over the centuries that can be excellent methods to draw us towards that final, inner conclusion of why we exist. Here are a handful of ways to kickstart the adventure of finding out just what life is really about.

1. Love People

Like life, love is one of the most commonly discussed yet, elusive things that humans encounter. Is it a behavior? A lifestyle? A person or object? A relationship with God? It’s used in all of these ways, depending on the context.

However, one thing that always remains is that love is a powerful force for good. Many of the most meaningful things in life are borne out of love — whether we’re loving things, others, or even ourselves.

One of the best ways to find the meaning of life through love is to practice connecting with our families. From parents and siblings to a spouse and children, loving our family is a powerful way to grow in our knowledge and appreciation of what life has to offer.

A spouse, children, friends, life partners, and strong platonic relationships provide a unique and powerful feeling that is difficult to find anywhere else. This is largely because they’re intimately connected to the eye-opening, natural desire to reproduce and leave our mark on the world through posterity.

2. Detox from Technology and Gain Perspective

Next up, we have the extremely important need to detox from time to time. Modern life is fraught with dangerously addicting distractions like social media, that can take up gobs of time without our ever even realizing it. And the effects can go beyond simply frittering away time. In fact, one study suggested that perhaps as much as a staggering 30% of divorces originate with Facebook interactions.[1]

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Life doesn’t simply happen in a vacuum, though. Once you’ve managed to disconnect from those devices and social profiles, it’s important to take that time and energy and redirect it towards a healthier mindset.

Spend time meditating, praying, and even simply dwelling on an attitude of gratefulness. Find things that you’re thankful for and make an effort to express appreciation for what you have on a regular basis (you know, rather than envying others as we scroll through our Facebook feeds).

One of the keystones to life that numerous wise men throughout history always hearken back to is the simple appreciation, gratefulness, and thanks that come with a good perspective.

3. Look for Meaningful Ways to Give Back

Donations and charities aren’t lacking these days. In fact, the phenomenon of charitable giving is at an all-time high. Awareness has skyrocketed in the age of information, and Americans gave a record-breaking $410.02 billion to charity in 2017 alone.[2]

But just because we know how to give doesn’t mean we’re really, truly invested in giving back to others. Real, honest giving doesn’t come out of personal abundance and overflow, nor does it typically take the form of a crisp dollar bill. It comes out of a desire to help others — a desire that can be huge in helping to get a healthy perspective of life.

If you want to find out more about life, consider genuinely giving back to the world around you. Don’t just scrounge up your extra cash and give it to a cause someone else is passionate about.

Find out where your own passions are. What needs and hurts in the world get your heart racing and your mind searching for a solution? Find those, then invest yourself. Give until it hurts. The results are exhilarating. This article can help you: How to Find Your Passion and Live a Fulfilling Life

4. Try a Hobby

While we’ve already talked about what we can do for others, that doesn’t mean a little self-care isn’t needed once in a while too. We’re not talking about indulging those shallow, fleeting desires like a bowl of ice-cream or a trip to the spa, though.

Small treats are perfectly fine, but they don’t go very far in helping us truly appreciate life itself. Instead, try looking for a new challenge.

A challenge can be the perfect formula for helping to open our eyes to the beauty of the world around us. They provide value without the perpetual responsibility and financial concerns that come with our careers and professional lives.

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Find a hobby that indulges your interests and simultaneously challenges your skills. Dive into a pursuit that has always intrigued or fascinated you, but you’ve never had the time to explore on your own. Practice a new instrument, go fly fishing, try painting, learn a language — the world’s your oyster! This list of 50 low-cost hobbies will inspire you.

If you’re thoughtful in your selection, you may even be able to pursue an interest that can inadvertently develop your life skills and possibly even add to your resume.[3]

5. Overcome Insecurities

Let’s circle back around to the personal, inner thoughts and behaviors. One of the critical elements to a life well lived — and thus better understood — is overcoming insecurities.

Let’s start by stating the obvious: Everyone has insecurities.

Sometimes those insecurities are a bit difficult to pin down and see for what they truly are. One of the best ways to rise above the fears and anxieties of life is to work on your insecurities. Try to practice mindfulness, look for thought patterns, analyze your behavior, and identify when you’re being influenced by insecurities.

The more you become aware of your own insecurities, the more you’ll be able to rise above them, prevent selfish behavior, and enable yourself to do things that would have been impossible before.

If you’ve been trapped in a job you don’t like, for instance, due to insecurities about financial failure or peer pressure, overcoming those insecurities at their roots will enable you to move on somewhere else, to ask for that promotion you’ve been eyeing, or even simply move horizontally within the company in order to find better work that better satisfies your personality and talents. [4]

6. Never Stop Learning

Twelve years of structured school (not to mention a mini-career arc through college after that) can leave many of us feeling like we’re done with academics, school, and learning in general.

But the truth is, learning should be a lifelong process. Healthy humans are always in a state of learning. They see what’s around them and want to learn more, understand more, and see why everything is the way it is.

This doesn’t mean you need to manufacture a desire to start reading textbooks on calculus in order to see what life is about. It’s simply an encouragement to start to take an interest in the world around you. Investigate, probe, and learn more about things that catch your interest, and your passion for learning will start to grow on its own before long.

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For instance, even if you pushed yourself all the way through a masters degree already, don’t close the book on your academic career quite yet. Consider going back to school (no matter your age) in order to get a post-master certificate. [5] This won’t just give you an edge in the professional arena; it will also serve as a way to satisfy that inherent desire to learn.

While that’s just one example out of many, the point is, it’s important to find ways to continue learning and growing on a regular basis.

7. Go Minimalist

It’s easy to hear about concepts like “minimalism” and think about extreme lifestyles, like Buddhist monks living in barren temples up in the mountains. But the truth is, minimalism is an easy lifestyle to adapt even in the cluttered, materialistic West.

If you take small steps like avoiding purchasing unnecessary new things, storing seasonal items, and generally decluttering, you can ease into a minimalist mindset without much trouble.[6]

This doesn’t just help with finances and your cleaning schedule, either. A life with less clutter often leads to a clearer, more grateful mindset. And a grateful mindset can be a key part of gaining deeper insight into what this life stuff is really about in the first place.

8. Travel

You saw this one coming, right? Those that seriously travel tend to gain a deeper perspective of life as a whole. The trick is, though, you can’t go into your travels as a fanny pack-touting tourist that’s only interested in “seeing the sights” and hitting up the pristine beaches.

Here’s a good litmus test for you: if you expect everyone to talk to you in your native language as you travel, you’re not in the right headspace.

If you take the time to travel, make sure to do so with the specific purpose of seeing the world outside of your own comfort zone. How are other cultures different from your own? How do other geographic areas affect how people live? What does a developing or war-torn country truly look like?

If you set out with this perspective, you’re much more likely to have your heart and mind opened in ways you never could have expected.

9. Try to Be More Aware

Finally, we have one last, gigantic call to action: be more aware.

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If a person can truly foster the ability to pay attention to everything around them, they develop the ability to break free from the self-centered mindset that all humans naturally slip into when we’re not paying attention.

Just to clarify, this isn’t a call not to pay attention to your own thoughts and needs. They’re important too. In fact, the Dalai Lama said,

“One must be compassionate to one’s self before external compassion.”

Whether it’s ourselves at first or others afterward, truly developing the ability to be aware of and empathize with the life that goes on in and around us is a critical part of understanding just why we’re all alive in the first place.

So, What Exactly Is Life About?

Hopefully, by this point, you don’t really expect an absolute answer to that question. On the other hand, you may not feel it’s a hopeless inquiry, either.

Remember, the reason we don’t have a good answer about what life is about is that it’s too complex to fit into words in the first place!

The complexities and nuances of a “good life” are so profound that they take an entire lifetime of exploration — both of ourselves and the world around us — to even begin to formulate an answer. And even then, we’ve typically only scratched the surface.

When you break it down, the meaning of life is so deep and valuable, it’s worth chasing, even if the end goal is only to catch a glimpse of the glory that keeps us all moving forward day after day.

More About the Meaning of Life

Featured photo credit: Emma Dau via unsplash.com

Reference

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