THE HARDEST THING YOU NEED TO REMEMBER WHEN EVERYTHING GOES WRONG
In our office, there’s a framed entry from Marc’s grandmother’s journal, dated September 16, 1977. It reads:
“Today I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way, I feel like the lucky one. Until now I have had no health problems. I’m a sixty-nine-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than seventeen.”
This journal entry is displayed in our office because it continues to remind us that there is always, always something to be thankful for. And that no matter how good or bad we have it, we must wake up each day thankful for our lives, because someone, somewhere is desperately fighting for theirs.
Marc and I recently attended a birthday party to celebrate the thirty-fifth birthday of my childhood best friend, Janet. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer—devastating news for anyone, and especially for someone so young. Thankfully, she’s now in remission and has been cancer free for the past two years. When we were at lunch, she told us, “I am loving my thirties so much more than my twenties. I’m more confident, I know what I want out of life, I know what my capabilities are. I know that life is limited, and that I only get this one life, and I’m doing my best to make the best of each and every day.”
Hearing Janet say those words was remarkable, because we saw how her perspective on the situation allowed her to view a horribly difficult time as an opportunity to understand what she wanted out of life. Her example reminded us that happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to use them as opportunities to change your perspective for the better. Think about your own life. What joy and opportunities might you see more clearly if your mind weren’t holding on so tightly to your struggles and disappointments? Remember, it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.
In our New York Times bestselling book, Getting Back to Happy: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Reality, and Turn Your Trials into Triumphs, Marc and I guide readers through this process of perspective change—and breathing mindfully through life’s twists and turns.
Truth be told, inner peace begins the moment you take a new breath and choose not to allow an uncontrollable event to dominate you in the long-term. You are not what happened to you. You are what you choose to become in this moment. Let go, breathe, and begin again…
Also, if you haven’t done so already, watch our recent 2018 interview on the Today Show where we discuss our personal journey of letting go … to move our lives forward through grief and hardship:
Honestly, that interview was a pleasure. The feedback from people, near and far, has been nothing short of inspiring. We are sincerely humbled and grateful. 🙂
Truth be told, you won’t always be a priority to others, and that’s why you need to be a priority to yourself. Learn to respect yourself, take care of yourself, and become your own support system. Your needs matter. Start meeting them. Don’t wait on others to choose you. Choose yourself today… and let Getting Back to Happy be your guide.
Will it always be easy? Not likely. No journey is. But I promise it will be worth every bit of effort you can muster.
Seriously, if you are struggling in some way right now, do you best to keep in mind that although it might not seem so, better days are coming. The test always comes before the merit. The struggle always proceeds the strength. You have to endure breakdowns to break through them. Take it one day at a time, and trust the journey. It will make sense soon.
And as you struggle forward in the near-term, remember that it’s far better to be exhausted from lots of effort and learning, than to be tired of doing absolutely nothing. Effort is never wasted, even when it takes time to see positive results. For it always makes you stronger, more educated, and more experienced than you ever would have been otherwise.