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Life is a beautiful thing, filled with adventure, opportunity, and potentially blissful moments with the people we care about most.
But, unfortunately, life isn’t just those positive things. Life also has plenty of hardship, disappointment, turbulence, and stress in store, and no matter how carefully we manage our own lifestyles, it’s inevitable that we will have to find ways to push forward despite being disheartened and facing hardship, from time to time.
A key message to take from the example of the great thinkers and doers of history, however, is that the human spirit has what it takes to surpass those hardships and live well, as long as we keep our focus directed properly.
Here are a few tips for keeping your spirits up when times are tough.
Force yourself to go through the basic motions of taking care of yourself
Often, when times are tough, one of the first things that happens is that people neglect themselves aggressively – in a way that they could never justify doing to a loved one.
If you feel like your plans are falling apart around you, and everything is going wrong, one of the worst things you could do would be to completely give up on taking care of yourself.
If you feel that you’re compelled to throw your hands up in the air, stop cleaning your house, and just collapse into bed with the curtains drawn, it’s very important that you maintain positive momentum in the opposite direction, by forcing you to go through the basic motions of taking care of yourself.
If you have a hearing aid, for example, don’t neglect your hearing aid care routine. If you work from home and could easily spend three days in the same pair of clothes, force yourself to get dressed each morning.
Small lapses in self-care compound and can lead to real personal crises in a short space of time.
Look to a higher force or purpose
When times are tough, it often becomes painfully obvious to us that we are pretty vulnerable in a variety of ways.
One of the most essential keys to moving past these moments of hardship, and doing meaningful things with our lives, all the same, is to look to a higher force or purpose to direct our efforts.
If you’re religious, this would naturally be a deity. If you’re an agnostic, it could be “the universe” or “your ancestors.” If you’re an atheist, it could just be the potential future self that you’re working to do the best for.
Regardless of your beliefs, you could be motivated to look past your own problems in order to do the best for your loved ones.
Work on doing whatever you can each day to move things in a better direction, even if all you can manage are small steps
“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is how a famous quote from Lao Tzu runs, and there’s a very deep message contained in that excerpt.
When times are tough, it’s important not to project your vision too far into the future, and sabotage yourself as a result. Instead, narrow your time horizon, and focus on what you have to achieve this week, this day, or even this hour.
Work on doing whatever you can each day to move things in a better direction, even if all you can manage are small steps. Simply tidying up the house and washing the dishes is a lot better than nothing.