Life, lived well, is not the avoidance of problems or the absence of adversity. Problems and challenges are going to occur, that’s the very nature of life.
The key is it’s how we perceive problems when they do show up that matters, the vantage point that we choose to take.
A life lived well, a fulfilled life all boils down to this single most important factor. How will you overcome the problems that come your way so that you can serve the world with your talents.
Ask yourself this question, how do you perceive a problem when it occurs? Do you retreat into victim mode or start to doubt and question your own capabilities or worse your worth?
Or alternatively are you able to whether the storm when things don’t go your way or get tough?
Are you able to keep on going, to be fully present, fully yourself, not getting caught up in a swathe of powerful emotions that are looking to take over like anger, frustration, belittlement or engage in bitterness, gossip and negative thinking?
Strength in the face of adversity comes from the ability to remain calm, composed, cool and collected. In this state you are in control of your emotions, thoughts, and mindset and exist in a state of clarity when problems arise. You learn to see challenges as a gift and an opportunity to learn problem solving skills. As former monk and wisdom sensation Jay Shetty says "there is always light!"
The journey of life is not about trying to avoid problems or achieve some preconceived idea of ‘the perfect life’ devoid of problems, far from it.
To live fully you must be focused on building up your resilience to continue on in spite of hurdles.
We’ve all been there, bad days, weeks or even months happen, we don’t get the job we wanted, we miss the bus making us late for work, our boss is in a foul mood and takes it out on us, we drop our phone down the toilet, wash our whites with a pink sock the list goes on.
But it’s this resilience building muscle that is the key to turn adversity into success, resilience is built on the foundation of a strong mind.
A strong mind is especially important when we are surprised and blind sided by setbacks or wrong turns that hijack our plans of how we thought something would go. By mastering your mindset and allowing only empowering thoughts to fuel your focus and feeling safe in the knowledge that everything will be fine, you are capable, you have come this far you can be happy as it allows you to rise up and deal with challenges.
This is the transition from the victim to courageous leader that we need to make. This is a true sign of leadership. When you have mastered your mindset you will succeed, you will attract more wins, opportunities to serve, successes and love.
“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”
― Nelson Mandela
I have heard, read and seen these positive uplifting quotes a million times, but I never really got it, I read it, I understood what the words meant, but until today I didn’t fully get how it would feel to embrace those words.
The biggest change for me was understanding how my behaviour would change in the face of adversity and how my outlook and perception of life would shift when I viewed problems, challenges and setbacks from this resilient mindset.
People talk about being a rock, When you are a rock, you are resilient, you keep a clear mind, a stress-free mind, a light mind, an anger free mind in the face of problems, issues and challenges and this allows you the necessary clarity to conquer these challenges to come fourth.
Having clarity is important because it means you can make better decisions, but it also shows that you aren’t afraid of problems occurring, being a rock is about being able to tackle problems not go into self-destruct mode and start complaining about how everything is going wrong in your life and getting frustrated and annoyed it's happened.
If problems can provoke you, then your mindset is weak, you need to be able to remain unflustered, unperturbed and unhindered, this path leads to freedom which allows you to keep doing your work.
It’s about continuing on regardless. When you feel hopeless you’ve engaged with the victim mindset, when you can’t be disturbed or be flexible enough to entertain problems or deviations that will naturally occur then you’ll likely break due to your own rigidity.
When you’re resilient you’re flexible, nibble, tough, strong, sturdy, you can take the battle, whether the storm and stand tall in the midst of chaos, without getting caught up in the drama and the negative possibilities, you can think and act with confidence and decisiveness. Which is so important when facing adversity. It’s ten times better than acting from a place driven by emotions, in a reckless, frantic, anxiety driven behaviours.
“She stood in the storm and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.”
― Elizabeth Edwards
The penny drop is in the mind. It has to do with how you view problems. It’s changing the thought process. You may have experienced this yourself, you get drawn into a fictitious world of comparison with you others, where you feel like life is picking on you, where it’s all unfair, when this happens you need to stop and checking with reality, is that really the truth?
Maybe luck isn’t going your way and you’ve had a bad run, but how can you make it better, how can you get skilled at handling undesirable changes, how can you manoeuvre the uncertain into opportunity? It comes down one thing, your perception of what it means what it means to have problems come your way.
If viewing them from the victim, then you’ll naturally tend to think that you’re being picked on and question ‘why can’t I catch a break’!?
However, if you view problems from the vantage point of a resilient mindset you’ll understand that problems happen, things go wrong, setbacks happen, that’s part of life and being alive but it’s how you stand up and face them without getting scared and acting out of fear. You’ll have the discipline not to let your emotions rule the roost, control over your decisions and ability not to let things rile you.
It’s about being strong enough to stay cool, calm and collected so you can act from a place of intelligence, resourcefulness and grit.
The truth is problems aren’t picking on you. Life hasn’t singled you out to be unkind to you. Shit happens to everyone. It’s how you are able to turn the situation around and come out the other side with the lessons, the strength, the growth the confidence of knowing you can tackle problems and overcome them and move forward, staying the course rather than feeling defeated at the first sign of a problem.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
― Maya Angelou
7 Ways to cultivate a resilient mindset
1. Practice staying calm. When problems arise, focus on how calm you can respond, remember to breathe, take your time and really think through how you’ll react to the situation rather than acting out of emotion. If you need to, go for a walk, give yourself time to reduce the habitual automatic emotion response and return to the problem when you have returned to a state of clarity and calmness. When your keys get locked in your car, or your pay check is delayed, the washing machine floods the kitchen ruining your favourite rug, the dog runs away, the kids smear paint all over the walls – challenge yourself to remain calm, decompress and deal with the situation, don’t give into your desires to flip out, or rage, vent, or go down that slippery victims path.
2. Find the lesson and find the light, focus on the positive, when problems arise (as they will) switch your attention to find the positives, they will be there, you just have to look for them. You have the power to choose what you give your attention to, this can either be the problem and the drama that creates in your life or it could be the lesson you have learned by experiencing this challenge and overcoming it. Make sure you don’t miss out on the lesson, if you do you are bound to run into more problems that necessary because you aren’t developing the muscle and the strength to conquer them head on. Treat problems as a girt and see how your life changes. It makes you sharper, more aware, overcoming challenges will give you more self-belief, remember, diamonds are created under pressure. This might sound like a simple one and you may have come across this mantra frequently as I had, but the key is look deeper into the message, just because it seems simple and is well documented doesn’t mean that we apply it when we really need it. When the shit hits the fan, what do you naturally lean towards, seeking to understand the positive in a dark situation? Or more commonly default to anger, sadness and a deflated sense of self? Notice these patterns of behaviour and make a commitment to change them.
3. Expect great things to happen to you. What you focus on you create more of. Why not start noticing all the brilliant and amazing things that are happening around you on a daily basis. Being alive, in itself is a miracle, bring able to breathe, walk in nature, drink clean water, these are all factors we take for granted. It could be spending more time with your family, or getting a half day off work, simple things that often go unnoticed but make a big difference. Shift your focus and you’ll be amazed at how your life becomes filled with goodness.
4. Celebrate the small wins, after all small wins lead to big wins. Take the time to focus on the small wins. This habit if practiced over a few weeks will boost your outlook on life and establish a habit that reinforces just how well you’re doing. People often skip this stage because they’re too busy going after the really big goals. The problem is, these big goals take years to come to fruition, or never happen, the result is people spend their lives chasing success rather than experiencing it.
5. Express Gratitude – each night before you turn off the light and go bed make sure that you write down 3 things that you are grateful for that day. Another simple regime that will see you primed for success by allowing you to witness and recognise all the good that is around you. By connecting in this way you’ll stay more present, engaged in positive, uplifting and empowering thoughts and you default response to problems will change. Naturally are as quickly as two weeks you’ll see a boost to your wellbeing, mindset and general feeling about life. This in turn is hugely beneficial as it leads to have increased confidence in your ability to deal with problems when they arise.
6. Have a mindset of Giving – doing good for others, promotes your ability to add value. As Tony Robbins says “the secret to living is giving”. Helping others in need is a fantastic way to give back and keep your mindset in check. Often we get caught up in our own drama and it’s only when we step out of our world for a second we see that our problems aren’t so bad. Ways to give are abundant, from coaching, educating, mentoring, helping your neighbour move house, picking up a sandwich for a time poor co-worker, opening the door for a stranger who looks like they’re having a bad day. Giving transitions you view the world differently.
7. Gain awareness of negative thoughts – you may be on auto pilot, running through life not realising the negative thoughts or outlook that’s leaving a destructive path in its wake and shutting down all manner of opportunities whilst not even being aware. To combat this and also build resilience awareness is imperative, not only will it enable you to catch and reframe your automatic negative thoughts when they occur, but self-awareness will enable you to make a lasting change.
If you’re keen to find out more building resilience and shifting your mindset to one of positivity, resourcefulness and fulfilment then check out this The Art of Manliness Podcast #478: Mastering Mindset to Improve Happiness, Health, and Longevity