About 25 years ago, my philosophy in life was that “life was meant to be a struggle.” From the moment of birth we all experience difficulties, who doesn’t? In this earth school, we get a right amount of confusion to live and learn. If we don’t learn, we don’t live long. But is life meant to be a struggle? Or, is it said to be an opportunity to learn and live long? Maybe it’s a bit of both, and we are just doing the best that we can when we can remember.
A flood of emotional ups and downs in life can exhaust us. Challenges such as illness, a death of a loved one, divorce, job loss or any other difficulty can be disorienting at best and debilitating at worst. Many of us, who are aware of the struggle, seek help from doctors, therapists, support groups or self-help books or websites (like mine). They get pills, helpers, and advice to guide them towards peace. But the story does not change, and the search for meaning leaves them empty. We all face problems, every day that consistently demand our attention. If we are not in our “right mind’, we cannot think our way out of a problem, and solve life’s problems, like a plumber, builder or electrician. Indeed, challenges to inspire us to take action and motivate us to fix what is wrong. If we pay too much attention or fixate on problems, we get more problems. Ruminating on difficulties can result in:
- Limited focus.
- Lower state of consciousness
- Less creativity
- We cannot solve our problems effectively
- Attention Deficient
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein
An essential step to addressing the challenges you face is by clearing your mind and grounding yourself in presence, calming challenges and focusing on the moment-by-moment breath. By getting mindful, we can flip the negative and “back away from the vehicle” to see another road to travel, recognize and make choices. Mindfulness helps us to navigate life’s twists and turns, to go down new paths towards broader horizons. We gain a broader perspective, choosing to tackle situations differently.
When faced with challenges, it is easy to blame, hate or judge. We can get down what they, others, or we did wrong and get stuck. What mindfulness requires us to do is get intimate with experiences-the good, bad, and the ugly. It has two wings: Self-compassion and self-awareness. Therefore, incorporating it into our routine makes us aware of the constant negative inner chatter and to make sure we treat ourselves with kindness.
Mindfulness practice will also help in letting go of unhelpful thoughts. The mind wanders a lot, and this is because it is always curious. With mindfulness, we realize that those thoughts are useless. We might think of the challenges from the past. Memories regularly appear in our minds and drain us. It is liberating to be aware of the thoughts and allow them to pass. We certainly can spend less time in past and with future anxiety-producing thoughts and more time in the present moment.
The ability to accept changes and challenges helps us bounce back from life’s challenges. The most challenging part of overcoming a stressful situation is to recognize that it is unchangeable. Mindfulness will help us to acknowledge pain or the difficulty and accept that everything will not always go as planned. We can change our attitudes towards problems and find a solution where possible.
Mindfulness gives us perspective. It allows us to take a step back from activities and view things objectively without judgment. In times of crisis, adopting a different attitude can help you find peace and gratitude.
The Bottom Line
Mindfulness is a way of living. When we practice it during challenging times, it helps us to respond rather than react to problems.
If you are used to emotionally reacting to problems, it might seem like the natural thing to deal with issues. But as you frequently practice mindfulness, stay in the present moment and respond with intentions, it will become part of you. The ultimate goal is to experience, accept and engage in the present moment.
Challenges are inevitable, but suffering is optional!