“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Have you ever had a big financial expense knock you down?
I had one of those situations hit me many years ago. I had just gone through a tough breakup, was experiencing regrets about my career choice, and was also struggling to get on my feet financially.
I was feeling beat down and decided to try to lift myself up by getting my finances in better shape. I was able to cut some expenses and, over the next few months, was able to tuck away some extra money in a savings account.
I was starting to feel a little giddy about my newfound ability to save.
Then, my car broke down.
No! I can’t afford a major expense right now. Why can’t I catch a break?
I stood up on shaky legs, and that mean old universe kicked me right back down again, like I belonged there or something.
I started evaluating my options.
Could I fix my car myself? No.
Did I have a friend or family member that could help me fix it? No.
Could I leave the car broken? Yes, but this was not a great option given the distance I lived from work.
It looked like my best option was to pay a repair shop to fix it for me. I was sad and disappointed, as I saw my savings account balance plummet back down to almost nothing after paying for the repair.
I was struggling to get enthusiastic about continuing with my savings plan after the setback. Why bother?
Then, I happened to see a reference to a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, “The most important decision we make is whether we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
The universe sure seemed hostile to me at the time. The quote sparked my curiosity. Can we really make a decision about what type of universe we live in?
What if the universe wasn’t being mean but was being friendly?
I decided to test out this new way of thinking.
Instead of acting like everything was happening to hurt me, I shifted my attitude. What if this situation was happening for my benefit?
I started digging around in my mind, looking for any thoughts about what could be of benefit to me in the situation.
I was grateful that my car was working again and that I could travel to my job. I was grateful for the job, which was allowing me to pay for my living expenses. I was grateful that I had developed the ability to save.
I didn’t have to let this one financial setback define my future.
All of these new thoughts helped me go from thinking that the situation was unfair to something more empowering.
I now knew, without a doubt, from experience, that it was a good idea to save for a rainy day. This created a burning desire in me to keep saving for future unexpected expenses.
I resolved to overcome the situation with my depleted savings and try again.
I started all over with my savings plan. This time was a little different because I also stopped entertaining tempting thoughts about spending my emergency savings on something unnecessary like a wild shopping spree or an expensive trip.
Looking back, I notice how my view of the situation changed even though the situation itself didn’t change. No one arrived on the scene to rescue me. I still needed to drain my savings account to pay for the car repair.
What changed was my attitude about the situation.
Thinking about the universe being friendly helped me stop beating myself up and start treating myself like a friend with my thoughts.
The next time you feel like things are happening against you in your life, try the following:
1. Make friends with the situation.
My initial negative thoughts about my car repair situation were only serving to cause me to suffer.
Shifting my attitude and searching for more positive thoughts changed the meaning of the situation.
Instead of feeling stuck and hopeless, I started seeing opportunities to improve my situation that were within my control. This allowed me to become more optimistic about the permanence of the current situation and also about my future.
2. Explore gratitude.
Is there anything about the experience that you can be grateful for?
Exploring gratitude made me more aware of the things that were beneficial in my life that I was taking for granted. Appreciating what I had in my life helped me to feel more positive about my circumstances.
3. Look for the lesson.
When difficult things happen, look for the lesson you are learning and how you might be growing from the experience.
It has been many years since my experience with my car and savings account, and I realize now that I may have needed that little kick from the universe to help me grow and learn about the benefits of having funds set aside for emergencies.
One of the best lessons to learn is that it is possible to choose your attitude and shift your thoughts to a more positive track.
While it may not always be easy, if you treat the universe like it is your friend, you may just find that the universe mirrors your friendship right back to you.
Happy man image via Shutterstock