Life isn’t always sunshine, big smiles, and happy living. It is a constant roller coaster of peaks and valleys as we move through stages and circumstance that come with aging. Some things we can avoid, others, come with the territory. Regardless, everyday we are presented obstacles, questions of doubt, and problems that must be solved in order for us to “level up.”
I speak so frequently of my personal hardships and times of doubt, but have never broken down exactly what I do during these times of transition, questioning, and problem solving. No, I am not on fire 365 days of the year. I too have days, weeks, and even months of living in a rut. Whether it be short term, a few months, or years worth of time, these are the 5 things that I feel make the biggest difference when you are in a “rut.”
5. “This too shall pass.” As with all things, whatever you are going through, whatever heartbreak or headache, it too shall pass. Literally say this phrase to yourself… take a few deep breaths in and say, “This too shall pass.” Believe it. Believe it because tough times don’t last, tough people do. The first step in getting out of a rut is having faith that the pain is only temporary and is setting you up for much more in the future. Everything that happens to you is because of you, it’s all part of the plan, the good and the bad. Keep the faith.
4. Focus on what you do have, not what you don’t have. It’s easy to get caught up in putting our attention on the things we wished we had instead of focusing more on the here and now. Especially in times of drought, the first thing I do is think of everything I have in my life that I am grateful for. Do you have a loving family? Supportive spouse? Roof over your head? Two legs, arms, hands, feet and a heartbeat? If so, you are so blessed. If not, what are the amazing things you do have? Switching your intention from lack to surplus puts the mind and body in an energy state that is capable of receiving. You cannot receive what you do not give. So, give thanks for all the things that are right in your life. Having an abundant mindset when you feel like you have nothing at all can be tough, but, if you spend 5 minutes I bet you can come up with 5 things you are grateful for that are irreplaceable.
3. Take control of the controllable. What can be controlled? Diet, exercise, living habits, friends, and what you do during your free time. Stress, sadness, depression, anxiety, and fear all can lead to bad habits in all areas. It’s easy to let your nutrition and physical appearance become unhealthy when you’re in a rut, but are also two very controllable variables that make the world of a difference in how you feel. Anytime I feel resistance, I triple down on what I eat and how I treat my body. Doing so improves mood by releasing endorphins that make you feel good. Even if temporary, feeling free from your situation for an hour or two workout is better than no time at all. Buckle down on your living habits. Have a routine. Being on a committed routine for sleep, diet, exercise, personal time, and free time will automatically put you in the best position to make better decisions. Also, be alert of who is around you during this time and what input they have on your situation. If they simply add to the problem, they are part of it, and the best solution is to let them on their way. You have zero time for those who are there to soak in your misery or add to it. And no, you do not have to have negative family around just because they are family.
2. Triple down on your passions. Whenever I’m asked what to do during ruts I ask back, “How much time have you been spending on your passions?” More times than not the answer is that very little time is being devoted in this area. Whenever life gets too busy, we get caught up and often the first things we put aside is what we do that provides the most pleasure. Kind of ironic really… We give up our passions for things that bring the opposite feelings. Instead of putting aside the activities that pull on your heart strings, triple down on participating in them. One of the toughest times in my life came a couple years ago and backpacking truly saved me. The outdoors are atop the list of my loves and I found myself spending 2,3,4 days and sometimes longer in the backcountry of a desolated landscape ruled by a different code of conduct. I found the backwoods to provide the utmost clarity in my life, so that’s what I did. And that’s what you should do too! Spend time doing what you love. Stop making excuses why you aren’t doing them and just do them.
1. You guessed it, smile. Can you notice a reoccurring theme whenever I offer my perspective? Smiling is so damn important. And not fake smiling, the real damn thing. I don’t care how shitty my life has been at times, there has always been space for smiles and laughter. If you can’t muster up the energy to smile, surround yourself with people and places that bring out the grin in you. If you find it hard to crack a smile, revert to numbers 5-2 and realize you are alive, breathing, and able to take control right now of your life and happiness. No matter what has happened in the past and no matter what others think, you have complete and utter control of your destiny.
It’s time to take the reigns. I know it gets tough at times. But, you’re tougher.