“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~Charles Swindoll
I’ve recently dealt with numerous challenges that range from the ridiculous to the life-threatening. I’ve had friends telling me they “can’t bear to hear any more” about illness, financial loss, and an array of physical and emotional accidents that have broken parts of me, but not all.
Every aspect of my life is changing: career, relationships, health, and beliefs. I have to make the most of every situation and so I’ve created my own set of rules to keep me focused and to remind me that all will be well.
If you’re also dealing with a challenging time, these guidelines may help you, too.
Rule #1: Assert your goals.
When everything seems to have fallen apart, realize you still have options, and then assert exactly what you want for yourself.
I want to live my life using my natural gifts. I want to create, write, teach, paint, and inspire, and to use my skills to generate the energy to live and love well. I’m working toward my goals, but I understand they might not all come to fruition. If things don’t pan out exactly as I hope, I know I can deal with it positively.
I’ll give myself a break, discuss it with a friend, and do whatever I need to do to get clarity, and then I’ll re-assess. The important thing is that I know my ambition has to make my heart soar and excite me.
Where are your instincts guiding you? Assert it to yourself, the people who support you, and the world. This is the first step in creating a life you’ll feel passionate about.
Rule #2: Focus on everything that’s working.
Don’t dwell on everything you think your life lacks. Instead, pay attention to what’s going right.
I have the life that I want: I write every day. I take risks. I seek opportunities to use my skills. I’m sowing the seeds. Other people might not recognize the abundance in my life because on the surface, I have challenges—but I recognize it.
I use my natural gifts and enable all that I have to grow, strengthen, and come in to light. Focusing on lack is not an option. Negativity is not constructive. The important thing is that I know what I want and I can make it happen.
There are few things in this life that are impossible and we always have a choice. We don’t have to live in the shadow of what could have been if we shine a light on what’s working to allow it to grow.
Rule #3: Take action.
“Do all that you can do in a day.” Simple and pro-active. I repeat this to myself during highs and lows.
This doesn’t mean setting unrealistic expectations about what you can accomplish in a day, and ultimately feeling dissatisfied. It means using the time you have well—and more effectively with each passing day.
I find it helps to start the day with a prioritized to-do list, and aim to complete at least five important tasks each day.
Rule #4: Create balance.
Do something for your mind, body, and soul every day. Read, solve a puzzle, or learn another language. Get air, light, and space; walk, run, dance, stretch. Meditate, listen to soothing music, and laugh with friends. Attend to all of yourself on a daily basis.
Take time to do things just for you, whether it’s going to a gallery or singing loudly. Make time to do things for people you love, like cooking an extravagant meal for a group of friends. And leave a little time to do something for the universe.
Greeting a stranger on the street is just as significant as donating possessions you no longer need to charity. Give and enjoy it. Remember in the times when we feel that we have very little, we can still give in some way. You’ll feel better for it, and more useful.
Rule #5: Embrace fear.
Do something you fear every day. It can be as small as phoning someone you don’t want to talk to or as big as speaking in front of a crowd. Let that fear become a positive energy that moves you forward.
Be bold. You are capable. You are brave. Don’t allow other people’s fear to bog you down, and if it does then find a way of letting it go. Write it out; burn words in a bowl; see the person you know will lift you. Don’t hold onto fear.
Rule #6: Release.
If you feel restricted then ask yourself in what way. Explore what you can do to change the situation, and see who or what might be able to aide you. Seek. Ask. Share. Sometimes letting go and redirecting your attention elsewhere can be the most useful action to take.
Rule #7: Practice Gratitude.
Look back on your day and highlight five things that made it brighter—people, treats, realizations. Remember to thank the people who have supported you.
If it’s been a testing day do a Gratitude A-Z. Write something for every letter and see how you feel after you look back on twenty-six things you’re grateful for.
Rule #8: Improve on yesterday.
Do something that will make today better than what’s come before. What do you feel you missed out on? Can you do something about that now? Yes? Do it!
Re-affirm verbally, physically, mentally, creatively, and socially all that you have and energize it so that it continues to develop. Present tense and positive communication leads to progress.
Rule #9: Don’t give up.
You might stumble but know that you’ll be okay as long as you learn, act, and remember that you already have all that you need.
Live in the now. View yourself as other positive people view you. Recognize what you’re doing well, instead of dwelling on what you wish you did better.
I know a lot of people may think I haven’t “reached” the place where I need to be yet. I’m not in denial, I need money, good health, and love, but I am optimistic, and I move forward and trust.
I have felt guilty, desperate and exhausted. We all do sometimes. But I know it’s getting better. I also know that my present experience will ultimately enrich my life.
Yours will enrich your life, too—the life that will be, and the life you have right now.
Photo by mrhayata
About Sandy East
Sandy East is a writer, artist, & teacher. She runs uppityupgoodnews.tumblr which focuses on sharing & creating #GoodNews stories everywhere (@Zzzzzandy). She also looks after The Old Curiosity Shop of Writing Tips, & collects people's favorite memories for What the Dickens? E-zine.