August 1, 2009
When you get good at not making big deals out of things, getting perspective, and having some fun along the way, you will find yourself easing through most of life’s troubles.
We All Have Troubles
“Life is trouble,” said Zorba the Greek. If you know the story of Zorba, you know that he was very positive and joyful about life, and did not worry about trouble. Sometimes people make themselves miserable by being surprised, offended, even outraged at some of the troubles they encounter. Most of our troubles—and stress—center around family, work, health, and money. That’s trouble from the outside.
But the trouble with trouble is that we make trouble out of trouble. That’s trouble from the inside. We tell ourselves how awful it is, how unfair the world is, and blame what and whomever we find as easy targets. In fact, most of our trouble lingers because of how we perceive it.
Not the End of the World
It can take much courage to deal with some injuries, illnesses, and personal losses. But most people’s troubles stem from life troubles of everyday and of every-so-often. In either case, certain principles apply, but here we focus on the troubles that are more frequent or occasional. When trouble starts to get to you, a crucial strategy is to decatastrophize; that is, not catastrophize as if it’s the end of the world. Tell yourself “It’s not the end of the world,” even if you don’t believe it 100%. Realize that worse things could have happened, that you will survive—and thrive.
So it’s not the end of the world if someone forgets to pick you up, treats you badly, doesn’t pay you, or even fires you. You will carry on. You have before, even when you ranted and raved. Why make it worse anymore?
Putting unpleasant experiences into perspective always shows itself as a hallmark of serenity and health. It is a top quality of leaders, saints, and happy people. Striving for perspective is worth every effort you exert every day. Here are some of the themes: “Other people are much worse off….I’ve dealt with the likes before….It could be a lot worse….This too shall pass.” Basically you are looking at a grander scheme, which takes the edge off a lot of trouble. Sure, this takes practice.
Have Some Fun
Fun is a healing medicine. There are countless healthy ways to make trouble less troubling, which you can use both during and after the trouble. You can have coffee with a friend, hug your child or pet, tell a joke, laugh, smile, or have sex. You can laugh at yourself, say something odd or creative (but not offensive or crazy out of bounds), take a nap, look at the sunset, play chess or basketball, or go on vacation. There is no limit to the ways you can create your fun.
Your fun needs to be responsible, timely, and considerate. There are times you need to postpone certain kinds of fun, while enjoying some other fun. Just use good judgment.
Some more important ways of shrinking troubles include: getting help and support, exercising, reading something comforting and inspiring, and helping others. One of the all-time ways to put trouble into a new light is to ask two big questions:
- “How can this benefit me?”
- “What lesson can I learn?”
Don’t just think about these questions. Journal your thoughts, and your mind will begin to generate peace and creativity. Results may astound you.
You can use some of these steps right away to transform a trouble you are having, or one that you are anticipating:
1st Decide to get good at making less trouble out of trouble, and having more fun. Make a 2-column list, one of things that trouble you, and one of how to counter these troubles.
2nd If you are especially troubled, find a way to practice two or more of the listed strategies—daily. Include one that is action, and one that is self-talk.
3rd Remember two effective ways to deal with trouble: Lighten up and learn a lesson. Your peace of mind—and your wisdom—will steadily grow. Other people will appreciate you.