Live with challenging situations

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

When you lose a loved one it may feel like life keeps hurling challenging situations at you. It will feel overwhelming, but there is a way to manage it.

The snowball of events following a loss

It may be that you’ve lost a partner, and then have to deal with the loss of income, having to manage all the housework and all the paperwork, and then having to attend a huge family event where the one you love is sorely missed.

Life keeps pounding you – again and again and again. You feel worse and worse, with your head clouded, and the weight of the world on your shoulders.

You may cry and cower and plead for someone, or God, to take this situation away from you.

But the situation is certainly still there, because that’s how life is. However hard it may be to believe, all that we experience in life is caused by what we have done in the past. There’s no getting away from it – the only way to resolve it is to dealt with. Somehow….

So what do you do?

How to live with challenging situations

When things get really tough, it may feel like there is no clear resolution. But actually, there are an abundance of options available to help you through it.

Better still, they can largely be grouped into three key areas.

1. Dodge it

Dodging the situation means to move away from it. To pick yourself out of the situation and place yourself elsewhere.

Sometimes the situation hurts just a little too much and all you want to do is run. That’s ok – it’s one option.

  • If you feel claustrophic being in the house where your loved one was, you may choose to take a holiday in a different country, away from everything back home.

  • If you are struggling to make polite conversation with that annoyingly nosy neighbour who is approaching you, you may just cross the road when you see them coming.

  • If you feel suffocated when surrounded by family at a large event, you may take a walk outside on your own or with someone you can comfortably talk with. Or perhaps briefly sit alone in the spare room with your eyes closed.

To dodge the situation means to somehow duck from it, to avoid it, to shelter yourself from it. In certain circumstances, it perfectly ok to do – but dodging it doesn’t always free you from it. Instead, it just keeps it at bay, temporarily.

2. Change it

An alternative to dodging the situation is to change it.

Changing a situation means to do something about it. To take action with the intent to change it’s form into something else.

  • If a year after the loss you feel that a large house is too much to maintain and manage financially, then you may choose to sell your house and move into a smaller cosier place.
  • If the loss has shifted your priorities in life and it feels like your job has become unfulfilling, you may choose to apply for a job elsewhere or perhaps take up voluntary work.

  • If your son or daughter is getting married and planning the wedding feels overwhelming, then you could list out all the areas and tasks and consider who in your circle of family and friends you could delegate it all out to.

To change the situation means to do whatever’s in your power to make the situation different from what it is.

But sometimes, you’ll find that it’s just not possible to run from the situation or to change it…

3. Accept it

When dodging the situation or changing it is not an option in your case, you’ll want to find a way to accept it.

Accepting a situation means to see it for what it is, without getting emotionally caught up with it. It means to rise above the situation and observe it, like a witness, without judgement.

Close your eyes, observe where the feeling of burden resides and gradually let it pass. Then place your focus on something that will empower you to move forward in life.

  • If you are the only one who is in a position to arrange the funeral and other related events, then you will want to take a deep breath, make a list of all that needs to be done, and systematically make arrangements.
  • If you are left with an almost empty bank account, you will want to understand what you need to live, you will want to take stock of what you do have and then explore ways to take care of your financial needs.

  • If you are left as the sole parent to a pair of toddlers, you will need to accept the situation for what it is, giving them the support they need to live bravely with love in their hearts.

To accept a situation means to be ok with the discomfort, to welcome it warmly into your life and to let it pass naturally when it’s ready. Over time, it gets easier to manage. With that brings lightness, calmness, and purpose.

Live with challenging situations – your way

A place I personally would like to get to when dealing with challenging situations in my own life is to first accept it, then respond to it appropriately (without the emotional ups and downs and the damage that leads to), and rarely to dodge it.

But that’s work in progress.

There is no right or wrong way to deal with the struggles of day-to-day life following the loss of a loved one. It certainly doesn’t have to be in the order shared so far.

Do what feels right to you and let me know how you’re getting on.

Lead an optimal way of life

Alice Herz-Sommer cheerfully optimistic

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

What if you were to lead your life with an underlying feeling that all situations you encounter are optimal?

It turns out that every single thing you face in life, no matter how demanding it may be, is actually conducive to you leading a calm and purposeful life.

The pessimistic path of loss

When you lose someone close, it can feel like your own life energy has been sucked out of you.

Suddenly it feels as though the world is collapsing around you and you’re falling apart along with it.

Wherever you look, all you notice is pain, hardship, struggle, darkness.

All you can see is negativity, which somehow makes sense to you so you hold onto it with all your strength. Down this path, slowly but surely, you take on the life of a pessimist.

And then you go downhill. You lose interest in your work, you push away others who love you so dearly, and your health suffers.

Embracing optimism

But the life of an optimist – well that’s a whole different way of living.

The definition of optimism is:

“Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimised), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended, the present moment is in an optimum state.”

Embracing optimism brings about:

  • Better relationships – focusing on fulfilling our duty towards those close to us.

  • Purposeful work – doing the daily work that matters the most, bringing about fulfilment and joy.

  • Great health – the vitality to do the work we need to do, for the people who we need to care for.

  • Peace of mind – being content in the moment and enjoying the serenity that this contentment brings.

Even when some of these may come up a little short (because life is not necessarily plain sailing and there will be hiccups along the way), you will find yourself able to calmly endure whatever life throws your way by seeing the opportunity in the circumstance.

Leading an optimal life

So what does it take to lead a life of optimism?

  1. Look at the bright side of life: By taking your boundless inner energy and shining it onto all that you perceive, you will be able to see the opportunity in a previously gloomy situation. Acting on that opportunity can transform your entire life. Looking at the brighter side means you’re leading an optimistic life.
  2. Live with equanimity: All situations that happen in your life, take place because they were meant to. Such is the nature of the world within which we live. All things that come will eventually inevitably go. Such is the way of this world. So to be able to understand that that’s how life is, to calmly accept the reality of our world, is a way to let go of the emotional ups and downs that often arise from witnessing change. Living with equanimity means you’re leading an optimistic life.

  3. Look for the beauty in life: The 109 year old Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer was asked in an interview about the secret to feeling good. Her response was: “Optimism… and looking for the good. Life is beautiful. You have to be thankful that we are living… Wherever you look is beauty.” Looking for beauty means you’re leading an optimistic life.

  4. Live with awareness: Life isn’t rosy (a phrase often used by pessimists!), but life is real. Go about life with your eyes wide open. Stay vigilant, prepare for your adventures and protect yourself from harm. As the interview came to a close, Alice uttered “I know about the bad things, but I look for the good things.” You don’t need to actively go out looking for trouble or negativity – just be aware that this is a life of struggle and you will face many challenges, but within it is also an opportunity for greatness. Seek out the greatness of what life has to offer. Living with awareness means you’re leading an optimistic life.

I urge you to watch this extract of Alice’s interview (1m22s video) so you can hear the congruency in her voice and see the radiance on her face. You’ll agree that she is a true model for leading an optimal life.

A special mention for my friend Menka whose reason for optimism is that every experience is an opportunity to build awareness. Thank you, Menka, for transforming my mundane cliché’d understanding of “optimism” into an empowering way of life.

True independence

Written by Suraj Shah. Inspired by greatness.

Fourth of July, globally known and celebrated across the USA as a day of independence. A day of freedom, a new start, a fresh beginning. The notion of freedom translated into happiness. Yet, amongst this outer independence, we are still bound, still dependent, still largely unhappy. So how do we get true independence?

Still dependent

From a young age we have been dependent on our parents and those around us for the shelter of a roof over our heads and food in our stomach. We have sought the approval of others to make us feel good and the moment someone doesn’t love us the way we expect, we feel sad.

Our lives are dictated by the actions of others or the situations in the world around us. Our mood is governed by the temporary nature of the mundane objects in this mundane world. Our calm and peace is jeopardised by the fleeting nature of the relationships that we hold so dearly.

The whole of our existence is in constant fluctuation of ups and downs, like a roller-coaster that goes through twists and turns but never comes out of its loop.

We look for happiness in the world around us, but true happiness resides within.

The pursuit of happiness

Its time now to ditch the dependence and look within. The pursuit of happiness is about discovering that inner stability, regardless of the incessant mayhem of this world.

I urge you to find your path to true happiness. Pursue it, like your life depends on it.

It does.

Wishing you a calm and purposeful day, with an inner state independent of the outer situations or good opinion of other people.

Happy independence day.