You are capable of dealing with whatever you face right now. Hard times create harder people. A ship, they say, is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for. We need to know how to overcome hard times when we face them.
My objective with this post to help you find ways to deal with what you may be going through. So, please read the post completely and hopefully, at some point, you will find hope.
I woke up feeling quite groggy this morning and had some negative thoughts running in my mind. The year 2020 has been one of the toughest years in the history of the world and all of us are dealing with it in our own ways.
I am not a guru here. I am your friend trying to figure out how to deal with the difficulty of the times we face, especially at an emotional level.
So, what can we do to deal with tough times in our lives? The below follows a set of thoughts that may help you go through the difficult times you face.
1. You are way tougher than the hard times you face
If life is tough, you can be tougher. Do not let it break you. Work hard on your body. Work hard on your mind. There is nothing you can’t take. Our ability to bear physical and emotional pain is immense and we can go through it, if we believe we can.
The great Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison at one go. He had spent time in prison eve earlier in his life at multiple intervals, but he was 44 when he was imprisoned for a sustained duration of time and he was 71 when he walked out. He lived to see the end of apartheid.
Nick Vujicic was born without limbs and he has inspired people around the world with his work. Just google him and listen to him talking. Watch his standing up without any support. The man is a legend.
Helen Keller was 19 months old when she contracted a fever that left her blind, deaf and mute. She lived the rest of her life without three of her senses. Her life story will always be an inspiration for generations to come.
So, what did you say your problems were?
2. Your problems are temporary
The good news about hard times is that they don’t last permanently. In quite likelihood, unlike the examples cited above, your problems are temporary. COVID will eventually go away or a cure will be found. Your business that has been crushed by the virus will emerge again. If it doesn’t, you can find something else to do.
If your partner has left you, you can find another partner. You don’t even have to find another partner. You can live by yourself.
Your problems are temporary and they will either die or they will mutate into something else. Change is the law of nature and nothing stays like it is.
Please have patience.
3. Comparison will only bring you pain
In good times or bad, if you continue to compare your life with others, it will only bring you pain. Just think about it. Nature doesn’t design lives similarly. Even identical twins do not have similar fingerprints.
Nature intended your life to be different than those of your school, college, office, neighborhood, industry and whoever the fuck you compare your life to.
Your life is different and it was meant to be different. Also, you have no idea about their life and just because you assume they are happier than you, doesn’t mean they are. May be they are, and there is nothing you do can do about it.
You can only focus on the state of your life, and see where you can find some happiness. Stop focusing on the grass on the other side. The grass on your side is getting stale because you are not giving it any attention.
4. Count your blessings especially during hard times
Think about it. What did Helen Keller have to be grateful about? Most of you have all five of your senses working. She had only touch and taste working. Would you give away three of your senses for a million dollars? If you will, this post shouldn’t mean anything for you.
Count your blessings. Be happy with what you have. One of the greatest tragedies of the human existence is losing the happiness it has for what it doesn’t have.
5. When times change, you need to change as well
At one point in time, Nokia was a great mobile phone company. Then, however, technology changed and Nokia failed to catch up. It is one of the classic corporate tales of recent history. Google bought Android, Apple launched the iPhone and the industry wasn’t the same again. Nokia lost because it didn’t change.
Similarly, in our lives, we need to accept what’s changed for good. Sometimes, hard times change us completely as people, and for good.
The corona virus in 2020 forced a lot of businesses to either pivot or go down. The pivot was towards an online world where physical gatherings can be avoided. This would go on till the virus was active and there was no way we can escape this reality, we like it or not.
6. Build your positive thinking muscles to deal with hard times
I believe that thinking positive doesn’t just come by itself. It’s a habit that needs to be learned and nurtured.
I always cite the metaphor of a profit and loss statement. If you consider the fact that life is profit since you didn’t earn it, and it was rather a profitable grant from nature, than no matter what happens in your life, there won’t be a net loss on the profit and loss statement of your life.
There may be losses like financial failures, career setbacks, emotional setbacks, but you also have your education, food, family and countless days where there has been no calamity of sorts.
Negative thinking is a habit that drains you.
Positive thinking is a habit that allows you to stay afloat in the toughest of circumstances.
7. Keep reminding yourself that you have been amazing
When we face difficult times, one of the things that gets hurt is self-esteem. You can’t let your self-esteem get hurt no matter what happens. Your self-esteem breaks-you break.
Just look at your life and keep reminding yourself that there were moments where you amazing. There were moments where people believed in you and you stood up to it.
Our life is a movie in our minds and it is up to us how we play it.
8. Read/watch the stories of outstanding people
Our mind needs references. It gets easier to do something when we see that somebody has done it before us. Before Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile barrier, everybody believed it couldn’t be done.
Find inspiration. It’s all over the place. There are people who have led far tougher lives than yours, and emerged as winners. Read about them and may be in the process, you will be inspired to deal with your problems too.
9. Exercise everyday to fight the hard times you face
I have said this over and over and will continue to say it. Exercise makes the blood in your body move. It doesn’t even need a lot of investment to exercise. If you can’t go to the gym, like right now, go and run. In fact, I wrote a post about having a great workout, which may help.
The way I look at exercise, I mean physical exercise. Our physical structure is made up of our mind and our body. We just don’t see the mind. It just is evident because it works. If I didn’t have a mind, I couldn’t be writing this post.
However, the mind is a noisy place and it needs poise and calm once in a while. Ideally, a few minutes a day is good when done consciously.
I would recommend it right after a strenuous physical workout. Your body is warm and active. Sit down in a quiet place and breathe. Watch your thoughts and let them flow. Observe your breathing and do not try to interrupt your thoughts.
By the end of a few minutes of meditation, your mind will feel lighter and sharper. Exercising and meditation are complimentary. I do feel that anyone who exercises and meditates on a regular (read daily) basis will let adversity pull them down for a sustained period.
11. Avoid negative people since they make hard times harder
You are already having a tough time dealing with whatever life has thrown at you, and if you waste your time dealing with negative people, it will exhaust you further emotionally.
Avoid negative people. If you have a few inside your house, do not pay attention to anything they say. They may be frustrated themselves and letting out their frustration on you.
Do whatever it takes to keep your mind in the green zone.
12. Learn to let go of control
One of the things that bothers us tremendously as human beings is the desire to have complete control over our lives. Then, life throws completely unpredictable challenges at us, and we have no idea how to deal with them.
No matter how hard you try, nature is way more powerful than you are. If you let go of your intense desire to control your life, you may do yourself a favor.
Acceptance is a highly underrated word.
13. Change the perspective
Think about it. What stops you from changing the perspective of any situation you face? There is nothing stopping you from looking at a negative situation and alter the paradigm.
The year 2020 and the virus has forced people to stay at home. The stresses of the corporate life and busyness hadn’t allowed thousands of people to spend time at home and be there with their family.
Take it as an opportunity for personal time which will never come back.
If you have lost your job and you had a keen desire to reorient your career, this is the opportunity to do so. Take the time to learn new about new technologies, alternative careers, starting a blog like this one.
Do something that you have yearned to do for years but haven’t had the time to do it. Just because everyone is crying, doesn’t mean that everyone has to cry. We are not sheep.
14. Keep yourself intellectually occupied
Whatever you do, keep your mind occupied. It is rightly said that an empty mind is a devil’s paradise. If you let your mind be idle, you will most likely run into negative thinking and self-destructive behavior, which will affect your present and future prospects of happiness.
Keep yourself creatively busy.
15. Keep looking for ideas and solutions
Keep working and looking for solutions. If you look for solutions to whatever problems you face, you will stay in the active mode and not the passive mode. There are always solutions out there, and we need to find them.
In most likelihood, someone has already done what you are trying to do. You just need to find a way and implement in your life. Just keep looking, till you find a way.
16. Seek help. You don’t have to fight the hard times alone
Look for help when you need it. It doesn’t hurt your ego. A lot of people don’t look for help because they think it will make them smaller. Ask for help from people who know something that you don’t. If there is a skill that you need to learn, ask someone who knows. Somebody may help you out of your current situation, and you will be glad that you asked.
17. Cry if you feel like
Hey, you and I are humans. We are tough, yes. But, we also have emotions. Sometimes, it is a good idea to let our emotions take over us and cry, if there is pain.
A 15.7 minutes session of crying out aloud makes the heart lighter. You feel that you have acknowledged your pain and you are not lying to yourself anymore.
It is okay to cry if you are a man. I am a man. I cry whenever I want to. It doesn’t make me a lesser man. It does make me more human though.
Why should girls have all the tears?
18. You are not your adversity
Keep reminding yourself that you are not your adversity. You took certain decisions in your past, expecting joy, but things turned out otherwise. It is not possible to foresee the future when you are taking a decision. You can only adapt to life’s changing situations.
If you have confidence over your abilities to deal with your adversity, nothing can totally break you.
19. Life is a roller coaster. Good times mostly follow hard times
Life is meant to be a rollercoaster. It goes up and it goes down. Some people stay high up in the air longer, and some people have a longer say at the bottom. But, all of us go up and down. That is the nature of life. When you down, know that you will go up. However, it depends a lot on your mind-set. Some of us need to work way harder to go up than the rest of us. It just is the way it is.
20. Laugh to make the hard times feel embarrassed
Imagine you are in a hole. You are trying feverishly to get out of the hole. However, you could cry in the hole or you could laugh for a minute at the ridiculousness of the entire situation.
Laughter doesn’t change things. But, it does add a bit of spice to life, even in extremely difficult situations. When you hear yourself laughing, you are reminded that you love life, and it is worth fighting for.
Watch stand-up comedy. It is a brilliant art form. I am also a comedian in other times. Here is a piece I wrote about it sometime back.
21. Stop thinking about your problems. Think about others
It helps to stop thinking about your problems and think about how you can help others. That’s how this blog started. That’s how most start-ups start. Think about what problems you can solve for a large number of people
I am writing this post because I think this concerns the life of millions of people around the world and reading this may give up hope, and courage.
22. Hope that things will get better
Here is the thing about hope. We do not know if what we hope for will come true. But, when we hope that things will be better than they are, our body and mind reacts positively.
Women, especially elder women have this tendency to say, ‘everything will be alright.’ Sometimes, I do not know where they get the source from. But, I do not ask them.
If they are saying everything will be alright, everything should be alright. You may like poem I wrote about hope.
23. Don’t let emotional breakdowns break you
It is okay, if you break down, once in a while. It is okay if you end up having a few days where you could do nothing. Accept it, and don’t feel guilty about it. Guilt is more harmful than tears.
24. Release the stress
If the stress gets overpowering, go into a quiet room, and scream the hell out. Stress that builds up over a period of time could severely affect your mental state and it needs to be let out. Find a way to let it out and then release.
25. Talk to a friend or a family member you trust
Men and women have different ways to dealing with tough times. Men tend to draw themselves to a shell, besides exceptions and women tend to talk it out.
Just do whatever works for you. When your heart is heavy, and you speak to someone you trust, who can say a few words of comfort, the conversation can really be uplifting.
However, be careful who you choose to speak to, when you are emotionally vulnerable.
26. Heal your wounds
When you are facing a tough situation, do not compound the problem by adding patterns of your past mistakes to it. Deal with the situation at hand only.
Each situation is and has nothing to do with what has happened before. You have changed since your past. Your thinking has changed and hence you need to forgive your past mistakes. Only then you can heal. If you were a different person yesterday, you would have behaved differently.
27. Pray, if you do, for faith during hard times
I personally do not believe in God. However, my mother does and so does many other members of my family. If faith gives you strength, please indulge in it. I have seen a lot of people spending years of their lives serving temples and churches. It gives them hope and keeps them alive.
If that’s something that helps you, please go out and do that.
Write a dairy, or a journal of a private blog if you do not want to make it public. Express how you feel and what’s going on right now in your mind.
Writing tends to clear your thoughts and see things more objectively than a clouded mind would.
29. Pain is the greatest teacher
Although it may be tough right now, there is a lesson is the pain. There is always a lesson in the pain.
Even the tough days of 2020 have taught us to value life and not take small things for granted. Even the things we took as part of our lives on a daily basis have been taken away from us this year. Let pain teach you to emerge even stronger this year.
30. No matter what you do, keep fighting
Life is not easy for many of us. We need to juggle money, relationships, passion, meaning and happiness on a daily basis. On the top of it, sometimes, everything is taken away from us and we are left wondering the meaning of it all.
In moments like these, remember to keep fighting and build your resilience. Do not give up, because giving up is not a solution.
31. There is always light at the end of the tunnel
We don’t know how long the tunnel is, but the longest tunnels come to an end. Keep looking for the light. Keep experimenting, when you see no signs of light.
Believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel and keep marching ahead.
32. Tell yourself that life is beautiful when hard times end
This is a period in your life which exists to teach you something and take your life in a new direction. When this ends, you will be able to do the things you loved, and be able to enjoy life again.
Look forward to those again and keep working on the present, while planning for the future.
33. Take one day at a time
Things can get quite overwhelming if you look at the entire future in front you and everything looks gloomy. Take life one day a time. Deal with the day doing some of the things outlined in this article, and if you feel better, move incrementally.
Life is easier and problems are solvable if we handle the one a time.
34. Allow yourself to be happy
Just because you are going through a rough time, doesn’t mean you can’t allow yourself to be happy for a moment. Yesterday, while I was walking outside my house, a street vendor randomly smiled at me and it made my day. If you find a moment or a few moments of happiness in the pain, do not let them slip away.
35. Eat healthy food
They saw all the time that we are what we eat. It is even true in hard times. We are what we eat. A lot of people tend to eat unhealthy because of the stress. Please take care that you do not stuff yourself with junk. It will affect your state of mind and body in a negative way and you do not want that to happen.
36. Sleep well
I know. When times are tough, it is quite difficult to sleep well. However, if you do what we have said in this post and keep yourself busy, you will tire yourself by the end of the day.
When you have time off since life is not usual, allow yourself to sleep more and rise well rested. Sleep can cure a lot of things, including a pattern of negative thoughts.
37. Do something that you enjoy
So what if times are hard, it doesn’t stop you from doing something you enjoy, does it? Make time every day to do something you enjoy. It will keep you focused on the blessing that life is, and that hard days will come to an end.
38. Invest in yourself
If you can, take up a new course or acquire a new skill that can benefit you professionally or personally. You could learn to cook, write code, pain, and write poetry, or anything that catches your fancy.
Consider the fact that most of us feel that life is short, and when we have idle time, we don’t know what to do with it.
39. Seek help, if you need
Regardless of what we do, sometimes, we lose control over our mind and feel that we are losing everything. In situations like those, please feel free to seek the help of medical professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists who may be able to help you from a medical perspective.
Do not worry about it and there is no stigma attached to it. Mental health is way more important than the value people attach to it.
40. Days will be bright again
Your life may change and you may have to work even harder than before, but tough days will be eventually over. You will be able to get back to life again. Everything will be alright, like they say.
No matter what happens, do not give up on life. You are way tougher than the times you face.
41. Keep going
Life is in continual motion and so are you. When you face difficult times, they leave you with lessons that you remember for the rest of your life. All of us are bound to face multiple periods of adversity in our lives and all of those periods teach us important truths about life, which make us better human beings.
Just remember that and keep going. Nothing can keep you down, if you won’t let it.
Well, that’s the end of a really long list. I hope this post will help you deal with the difficult times you face. All of us are capable of dealing with what life throws at us, only if we believe in our abilities and stand tall in times of crisis. I would leave you with an immortal quote by the great Helen Keller:
Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.
Thank you for reading.
The purpose of this blog to help you find your happiness. Please read the other posts on the blog, and follow so that you get updates when new posts are published. Please share any posts you like with your friends so that they can also find their happiness. If you have any feedback for me, please leave in the comments and I would be happy to work on it. If you would like to support my writing and this blog, you may please send a donation through PayPal here.
I appreciate the time you spent in reading the blog and wish you happiness.