When dealing with difficult situations in life, the famous quote “change, accept or suffer” lays out the options we have for coping. But what happens what you can’t change where you are? How do you choose accepting over suffering?
Many people are scared of change, but I have always embraced it. In fact, I actually become anxious and demotivated in life when I don’t get enough change. This can make it extra hard for me to cope with less than ideal situations. I found one activity that helps though. It is to actively give gratitude for the exact thing you wish you could change.
Yes, it sounds hard: being grateful for the thing that’s making you miserable, sad or crazy. But once you get going, the tokens of gratitude start flowing and it actually does make you feel better. Trust me.
For example, when I was working jobs I hated, I tried to force myself to see the good in my situation. Although I could barely breathe working towards things I had no connection to, I hadn’t gotten to a space financially, mentally or emotionally to move on. I didn’t know what else I’d do, I didn’t have many people supporting me, and I had bills that needed to be paid. Change from this career type was out of the question for a short while. That left me with acceptance or suffering. Obviously no one wants to suffer. (I chose suffering a ton). So I would once a week write down a list of things I was grateful for at this job. It would look something like this:
- Money for travel
- Ability to pay my bills
- Opportunities to see new places (I traveled for business all the time)
- Opportunities to meet new people
- Not having to worry about a pay check
- Ability to save money
- I’m learning new things
Reminding myself as to why I was doing this and all of the positive things it was brining into my life truly helped me cope with going into work everyday. The power of the mind is so strong, but it is our responsibility to use it properly. Changing your perspective in all situations and seeing the gifts life has to offer is the secret to happiness, success and fulfillment. Once you start acknowledging good things in your life, you may begin to even feel silly that you chose suffering in the first place. Is there anything bothering you in life right now? A relationship, job or task you don’t want to complete? Try to think of positive things in the situation. Seeing the good in your hardship is key to moving on to greener pastures. If you truly can’t find an ounce of positivity in something, you will suffer constantly. If you’re having trouble thinking of things to be grateful for, just think of how your situation could be worse. Then give thanks that it isn’t. No matter what it is, we can put some type of positive spin on it. I spoke about the power of doing this recently – I planned to move to an island and three days before it was destroyed in a hurricane. Instead of suffering through the consequences, I chose to see the move on with gratitude.
Depending on the severity situation, you may need to do this multiple times a day to keep the momentum of a positive mind, but if you can avoid suffering for just half of the day, you will feel better than not trying at all. Accepting your current situation also opens your mind to more opportunity. It tends to be easier to progress when you’re happy and comfortable than when you’re feeling hopeless or stuck. Going through things we don’t want to in life is inevitable, but suffering through them doesn’t have to be.