The other day I was asked, “Since you write books about balance, you must be happy and balanced all the time, right?” I paused and replied, “You’d think so, wouldn’t you?”
The person looked bewildered. I continued, “Let me just say this: we all have good days and ‘not so good’ days. I just focus on appreciating the good days, and then try my hardest to pay attention to what the not-so-good days are teaching me. In the long run, that feels more natural—more balanced.”
That, in its essence, is what I consider what’s really happening. We are all going about our lives day-to-day and navigating through the sea of life with its waves, lulls, and uncharted waters. We all have good days, and we all have challenging ones. Sometimes we’re right on course; sometimes we’re headed for an iceberg. Other times we just need to take our eyes of the map for a moment and allow the winds of change to point us in a new direction. Either way, the voyage continues.
Here are a few tips for those challenging days:
- Re-frame Problems as Opportunities. Yup, sounds cliché, but it’s true. Our challenges are just great moments to test our stamina and challenge our creative spirits. Besides, you wouldn’t be learning if everything always turned out your way.
- Stop Trying to Figure It Out. I know this sounds counter intuitive, but when you ‘try’ to think yourself through a challenging situation, you actually add more resistance. Think like water: be flexible, malleable, and flow with, around, and through your challenges. Use them as opportunities to grow.
- Listen, Don’t Speak. If you’re feeling frustrated, hand over the microphone to someone else. Stop talking and start listening. Try to suspend your need to respond and listen completely to someone, allowing them to complete their thought. You might learn something you didn’t hear before.
- Now Breathe. Sometimes we just need to take a nice, long deep breath and release the need to control what’s happening around us… because most of what we experience is actually out of our control… so let it be. We can control our responses, and breathing allows us to let go and be present.
Is life perfect? Absolutely not. Life wasn’t mean to be perfect, but it was meant to be purposeful. Each experience has a place. From our most challenging moments can come wonderful moments of clarity, meaning, and purpose. These become the moments to focus on and keep in mind when we’re having a bad day.
What are you choosing to focus on? What are some ways in which you help yourself to maintain better balance each day? And what is helping you to maintain your equilibrium on the challenging days?
Stay the course and ride the waves, my friends—remembering that our challenging days are often teaching us the most about ourselves, and that these waves, too, will pass.
Michael Thomas Sunnarborg
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Image from my photo library: Angkor Wat, Cambodia