Have you ever noticed how when something negative happens in life… it kind of infects all the other aspects of your life as well. And before you know it, the tiny negative entity, snowballs and musters up enough force to crush your spirit. Let’s just call it the Snowball effect of emotions.
Say, you wake up in the morning, there is no coffee powder, you forgot to buy it. Now you have to go without your daily intake of caffeine, which puts you in an irritable mood. You head out to work, and the traffic has created a havoc. You curse everyone, the people, the government, the stupidity around. Then when you’re at work, that person you are not really fond of makes a snide comment, which pricks your self inflated ego. And now you hate the entire day and sulk about, without getting anything done. You see how a single thing- coffee, can decide how your entire day is shaped.
How do you handle this effect? Let me tell you, it’s not so easy. I have seen many people having their dreams buried under the weight of the snowball.
Recently, I had been through what could be called as the lowest point in my life. Things had hit rock bottom in my personal life and professional space was just stagnant water. There was just so much misery and pain, I wondered if the dark ages were back. But the darkness was inside me. And the most surprising part was that I chose to dwell in it. I found the darkness somehow more comforting than the bright light of life. It did not take effort to dwell here. Hey! It was even comfortable. I could simply rot away and no one would care. It’s easy.
But wait, what is life but a struggle!
The way a seed struggles out of its coat into a sprout…
The struggle of a bird to fly…
The daily struggle of living beings to obtain the things that are necessary for survival…
Struggle is beautiful. It is what defines life.
But in those days of pain, I chose to dwell in darkness. It’s easy to get lost there. And once you’re there in that abyss, it’s really hard to find your way back out.
Requires tremendous amount of effort.
Good thing about me- I fucking work hard. At everything.
So here’s how I surfaced my rock bottom:
Do small positive things everyday:
Like the negative things in life, even the positive ones have similar growing effect. Do a single positive thing a day and look at how it can grow into a huge hot air balloon of positivity that can carry you across all your problems. So what I would do everyday is:
a. Learn something new on coursera or udemy
b. Work out and feel the endorphins create instant happiness
c. Say positive affirmations to myself like ‘I’m smart, I’m powerful etc..’
d. Create something- even if it is just a simple tweet
f. Read books that actually have something relevant to teach
Every small positive thing I did, created more confidence and positivity in me.
Remember all the great things that have made you into what you are today:
As we grow in life, we tend to forget what got us to the point where we are currently standing. Think about it. Do you actually think you have done bad for yourself? Your answer mostly will be NO. Because you haven’t. Unless you really hold yourself very low (in which case, you need to work on your self esteem first).
I did an exercise to feel better, where I remembered how I helped a friend of mine, I thought about how my friends have confessed about my motivating effect in their lives, thought about my solo travels, thought about my choices in life… Thinking about all the good things that make me awesome fills me with pride and confidence. You know how some people have trophies or medals hung on table… The sole purpose of having that is to remind you of how good you are.
Being grateful is a virtue to be developed. Thinking about all the things in life you are grateful for attracts other good things. It’s like when you are being a real appreciative person to one friend, other people will want to be your friends too. And imagine what good feeling that can be.
I often go into self analysis mode where I think about all the great people I met, all the wonderful experiences that have molded me into the way I am, the lessons I have learnt, the betrayals I have faced. And you know what, I’m grateful to all of them. They carved me into what I am today. And I am proud of myself now.
I suggest everyone make a ‘Gratitude list’. You will only need a pen, a paper and 5 minutes of your time and my God! What an interesting activity it is to do. Think about all the good things you should be grateful about: like having a job, being independent, being confident, having wonderful family, an amazing dog… (okay, I’m just saying things from my life now, find the ones from your life) the list can be looong. In fact, the longer the better. Keep the list with you and take a look at it anytime you feel insignificant.
Do not mind people
You will be judged all the time. People will say good things and bad things regardless of what you are doing in life. Stop giving a fuck. I don’t.
Dean Jackson wrote in a poem, “When she transformed into a butterfly, the caterpillars spoke not of her beauty, but of her weirdness. They wanted her to change back into what she has always been. But she had wings,”
Convert all negative thoughts to positive ones:
Every time you try to sit peacefully, there are like a swarm of thoughts buzzing around your head. And just before you sleep or when you’re going through a stressful situation, the negative thought-bees flock around you in millions. Most of them sting, mighty hard. Wonder how easily the negative thoughts come by. But the positive ones… the ever evasive assholes… they need effort. They are like the rare butterflies. Your mind needs to be a beautiful garden to attract positive thoughts. Your sense of self-efficacy can determine how much you can outperform.
Every time I think “God! I’m just a worthless piece of dump, there are millions like me”, I put conscious effort in either drowning that thought with some constructive work or replacing it with a thought like, “There may be millions like me… But how can I try to distinguish myself from them?”
The answer to that question though has always been- “Work harder, Bitch!”
Study, learn, contribute
I just do not get tired of emphasizing the importance of education. Not a formal one… But the daily ongoing education through easy sources like books, e learning portals, webinars, documentaries, Ted talks, podcasts and really smart friends. Learning is not enough. You’ve got to apply it too. Try applying the knowledge as soon as you learn, because then it will stick with you longer.
And then contribute selflessly. Help as many people as you can. Your value increases with the number of people you are impacting. Contribute more and you will not even have to worry about your pay-scale. With every passing week, I think to myself have I increased my reach of value in contribution? If not, how can I do so?
Do not do anything unless you are willing to invest a lot of love and passion:
If there is anything that is irreplaceable it’s your love and passion. Your tasks, activities, words, speech, articles etc… they can all be replaced. But can you make another person be as passionate and loving as you are? That’s not easy. For example; Steve Jobs is known for his passion towards his products. Has that been replaced yet? Obvious No.
It’s easy to figure the difference between someone who does things with a lot of love and passion from the one who is doing something for the heck of it. If you are unable to invest your love and passion then move on. Find something you can love doing
Imagine good things happening to you:
This can be a difficult thing because, by nature we are all pessimistic. And especially when we are going through bad phase in life, it’s just not possible to think that good things are going to pop out of nowhere.
When I was not having a good personal relationship with a friend of mine… it was easier for me to think that I am a bad person than thinking logically that it’s not reasonable for me to expect to be loved by everyone. This is where I had a lot of trouble. It was hard to get out of the pessimism.
But, since I kind of have an optimistic nature, it became relatively easier for me to see the good side of that situation. I imagined I already do have friends and can make new ones who will accept me for the way I am and not undermine me. Constantly imagining good things happening to you will make it a reality.