The blunt truth is, as much as we try, sometimes in life shit will hit the fan so hard and it becomes almost impossible to remain optimistic. In whatever form it may present itself, be it a failure in ambition, the retreat of a relationship, the diminishing of a dream, or even simply one of those days where nothing is going quite right, there are moments when no amount of life quotes can make you feel any better.
Although feeling down and out is inevitable at times, there are certainly things that we could do to self-help ourselves in healthily moving past it or see things in a more constructive light. Instead of sending ourselves to the insane asylum or popping a Valium or worse, crying at a corner of the room naked while hugging our knees (I’ve never done this, I swear), here are some things that we can do instead to entice some positivity back into our lives.
List is established through my personal experiences, and from others around me.
It doesn’t matter where you go, really. It could be someplace far, a weekend at the beach or even just balik kampung. The point is to get out of your usual routines, because routines have a profound ability to remind us of the unfortunate event, which usually occurs while we are living our normal day-to-day lives. Being someplace new, witnessing the larger beautiful world or looking at other people living different lives than ours is a good distraction from a temporary hurdle (newsflash: all hurdles are temporary. All.)
2. Do Charity
We’re a bunch of whiners. We really are. When bad news occur we tend to hone in onto them and forget about all the other good things that we still have in our lives. Being physically involved in charity shifts our eyes to see others who are not as ‘privileged’ than us in many sense of the word. Going to the homeless shelter, for example, lets us see people who could only dream about having even a portion of the good fortunes we already own. I find that doing this will immediately shut me up from whining like an ungrateful twat, and helps me to look past my mostly mundane life problems.
3. Seek to Understand or be Understood
In a recent post, I mentioned how every single person has a reason for being who they are. There are things that happened to us that shape us. Understanding people and why they could’ve done the things they did can significantly reduce ill thoughts and expedite love and forgiveness. It is hard to hate or be angry at things we understand, and vice versa. At the same time, good things can come from letting yourself be understood by others. Talking to someone who might understand how you feel is an amazing remedy. It is wonderful to be loved, but it is profound to be understood.
4. Start the Day Off Positively
I once read in a self-help book that much of what happens during the day is significantly affected by how be begin it. There is truth to why the happiest people in the world begin the day doing something positive – some people find early enlightenment through meditating, reading, praying, Yoga, or even just having a quiet moment with their own thoughts before venturing into other things for the rest of the day. It’s worth discovering what your own happy wake up routine is and investing a little time in them in the morning.
5. Find Humour
Did you ever realise that most of your happiest relationships have a lot of humour in them? My family have a thing we like to do whenever we are going through a rough patch. We sit around together, whether it’s in a car, at the dinner table or just watching TV, and we joke around and have a good laugh. There is always humour in everything. Always. No matter the differences, the tension or strain life challenges can cause, having a bit of humour with it will a make a world of difference in our emotional state.
There is no such thing as smiling too much. In fact, we don’t smile enough. It’s the whole ‘fake it till you make it’ notion. Smiling attracts positivity. The best part is, smiling is actually the easiest way to positively contribute to society. Just a small act can make a stranger’s life better. One time, I was chatting to a waitress and she told me how sometimes, after long hours of hard work at a minimum wage, the only thing that makes her day were customers who smiled at her and acknowledged her as a person. I’ve never forgotten to smile and my serving waiter/waitress ever since.
7. Latch Onto Positive Things/People
For God’s sake, if you find something or someone who gives your soul positive happiness, hold on to them. Sometimes, they are the only few things that could help us cope with bad times. If there is someone in your life who’s positive and has the ability to elevate you, keep them. If there is a hobby, passion, or even a favourite TV sitcom that can make you smile, indulge in them. Encounters with people or a new discovery in life are never without reason, and best believe that some of them were meant to pop into our lives to make our days much, much better.
On the second day of my little weekend getaway, I was finally doing what I had been daydreaming of doing for weeks now – I sat in my comfy knitwear for hours to read a book, enjoy a pretty view and gorgeous weather, drink some tea and stab a voodoo doll (okay kidding). It was the best, serene feeling of doing nothing, and my mind was now free to revisit some of the things I had thought of reflecting on, but had no time to do so. I have an imaginary shelf in my head where I would store thoughts ‘to be revisited’ when the time and space allows me to. So far the top 3 things are; ‘do babies cry in the womb?’, ‘foreign exchange policies’(snore fest) and ‘forgiveness’.
Forgiveness is an even more daunting task than apologizing. Apologizing requires surpassing one’s ego to do it, but forgiveness requires surpassing one’s ego to do it AND choosing to see a person in a positive light AND giving others the benefit of the doubt. But newsflash; it is made even harder when the person you are trying to forgive is yourself.
Like a lot of other people, I am perhaps my own worst critic. When something does not happen the way I had hoped or planned, I am quick to turn the blame on myself first. Perhaps it is due to the opinion that although I can’t control situations, I can certainly control me. Why did I act out of anger? Why did I say that? Why did I do that? Why would I make that bad decision? Sometimes there are words I expressed that I wished I had not said, circumstances I wished I had handled better, or even things I wished I had fought harder for. It is true that the heart is the mind’s braver sibling, but sometimes it deludes us to make hasty emotional decisions and reactions we later regret.
In circumstances such as these, it is helpful to perpetually remember this – there is always a reason for why people are the way they are. Understanding this makes anger more irrelevant and forgiveness more prominent. Perhaps a person did that because they have fears, just like we all do sometimes. Perhaps we ourselves acted a certain way fuelled by our disappointments of an expectation, and isn’t that natural? I realised that the twenties is a crucial time to experiment with the concept of empathy, and the balance between heart and head (in between the raging hormones, the self-searching and the quarter-life crisis. How exciting.).
As a conclusion, I once came across a beautiful saying, which have evidently helped me through countless times. It says, “How many times should you forgive yourself and others? As many times as you would like God to forgive you”. I find that it speeds up my own forgiving process, even that one time a mean boy came up to me when I was 15 and called my face ugly. I still despise you, you punk.