“Life is 10 percent what happens to us and 90 percent how we respond to it.”
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
Like most people, I’ve tried to control many aspects of my life, and this hasn’t always worked in my favor. Just when I thought I had it all under control, life has inconveniently shown me many, many times that I was getting a little too cocky.
You name it, I’ve tried to control it—from my schedule and time (hello, Type A personality) to forgoing random opportunities because my mind was made up on going a certain direction. I even tried calorie counting at the height of my exercising routine because I wanted ultimate control of what I put in my body.
Now, none of these are necessarily bad. Planning your time leads to efficiency, forgoing things because you are on a mission means you might be on the path to your purpose, and calorie counting could help you get the body you’ve always dreamed of. But when you do these things day in and day out, all at the same time… well, let’s just say the process can be stressful.
But I tried anyway because I figured I might as well try to control what I could since life was going to be random no matter what. It also gave me satisfaction, almost a somewhat false sense of accomplishment, that I was shaping my own destiny.
I think most of us fall into this way of thinking, because we all want to foresee things before they can potentially happen in order to feel safe. But ironically, when try to control life, we end up missing out on possibilities that may have come our way if only we’d let go and allowed life to happen.
It’s hard to say what exactly I’ve missed out on because of my former desire to control most aspects of my life. I won’t worry myself too much about it, because it’s a pointless exercise. But I can think of a couple big areas, one of them being a complete career shift that could have happened much earlier on in my life had I not resisted so much.
Instead, I was rigid and decided that I wanted to stick to a career that I didn’t enjoy because it was my college degree and I was making great money. I did end up switching careers eventually, just not in the area I had a unique opportunity in at that time.
The Three Golden Rules
Try as we may, we can’t always control life, and sometimes painful things happen that we couldn’t possibly predict or prevent.
Recently I lost a job that I was excelling at and actually enjoyed. My performance was on fire, I got along great with all my coworkers, and then one day, out of the blue, I got called into the CEO’s office and told that, due to ongoing strategy changes at the company, my time was up.
Talk about knocking the wind out of my sails. I had just gotten back from a work conference and was slated to lead a new project before receiving the bad news.
Has this been easy since it happened? No way. I still struggle with it daily. But somewhere, deep down, I know that life happens for me, not to me. And that this has created an opportunity for something bigger and better.
What is that something? If I could predict the future, then I’d probably be playing the lottery knowing I’m picking the right numbers. But I can’t foresee what’s coming down the road. I can only choose my attitude when I hit roadblocks along the journey, which ultimately shapes my choices.
What helps me maintain an optimistic attitude and cope when thing go wrong? Three very important ideas:
1. Life happens for you, not to you.
2. This too shall pass.
3. Be with what is.
When life doesn’t go to plan, we must embrace the change and realize that our lives are comprised of chapters; one has ended, and another one is about to begin. But we can’t move on to the next chapter if we continually re-read old ones. We have to willingly accept that life goes on, and that we have a chance to create something bigger and better.
I lost my job, but I don’t want to play the victim card. Yes, life has forced my hand, but that doesn’t mean I need to feel sorry for myself. This just means I have a better opportunity coming my way, whatever that may be.
I also realize that time plays a crucial factor in our lives. Our time is limited, and it consistently passes at the same speed, with no bias. This means that, with time, the inner turmoil I am currently dealing with will, without a doubt, pass.
Last but not least, I know that I must be with what is. In other words, stop resisting. Fighting the fact I lost a job won’t suddenly bring it back. Fighting the fact your relationship ended won’t necessarily have them running back into your arms.
Before we can move on, we must accept what is happening in the present moment. Then and only then can we proceed forward with calmness and clarity.
But There Is No Golden Formula
I understand this may not be easy to digest when you’re hurting, especially in situations that involve a loved one. Grieving is a natural part of this process, and I am not discrediting it in the least. It’s part of the human experience, and it’s okay to take as long as you need as you internalize.
I lost my father over five years ago. The death of a loved one is probably the hardest loss to deal with. How are you supposed to see the space that has been created from such a tragic event? I understand if you don’t, because I fully admit it’s been hard, even five years later.
But at the same time, I trust that life is working for me somehow. I just have to stop resisting. I have to understand that the feelings of loneliness, desperation, fear, and loss will pass. I have to stay in the moment and fully accept all that is happening to me.
No, it will not be easy, and it isn’t meant to be.
Trust The Process
You’ve probably heard the proverb “If live gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Our lives are a lot happier when we strive to make the most of what life gives us, but the step before it is equally important: trust the process and embrace the change, whatever it is. Only then, once you stop fighting it, can you go about making your lemonade.
We’ve all been faced with situations in our lives that force our hand. And we likely will be faced with these kinds of situations again in the future. In these moments, it’s important to hold onto the notion that life could be creating space for you to do something differently.
If you lost your job and didn’t enjoy the work, life is potentially giving you a hint to pursue something further aligned with your passions and purpose. If you went through a breakup, life is potentially giving you a hint that you deserve and can do better.
When I look back on my past, I realize that every loss has taught my beautiful, valuable lessons that now help me in the present. The same is likely true for you. In these moments of inner turmoil, or let’s just call it life turmoil, you are taking mental notes. Mental notes that will help you grow and help you in the future when dealing with whatever else life throws your way.
You’ve made it through loss and hardship before, what makes you think you can’t now? You can. You just need to remember three things: life happens for your benefit not against it, everything heals with enough time, and it’s pointless to keep resisting.
With these ideas in mind, it should be exciting to think about the potential you have in your life.
The next chapter could be even more amazing than the previous one. And you may even have chosen to start that chapter eventually. Your schedule just got moved up a bit.
How I Stopped Chasing Highs and Self-Destructing
“Problems cannot be solved with the same mind set that created them.”
In our culture, it’s pretty common to think of rock ‘n’ roll hedonism a little wistfully. From Keith Richards to Hunter S. Thompson, the wild nights and strung-out days of the world’s most iconic party animals are seen as integral to their sparkling creativity, rebellious nature, and untouchable glamour.
So many people, especially if they want to make it in the creative industries, idealize and inevitably attempt to mimic these lifestyles. Whether they want to be a “work hard, play hard” music producer, channel Hemingway as a bar-frequenting writer, or fulfill the image of free-spirited artist, artificial highs come with the territory.
When I was in my twenties, I fell for this concept hook, line, and sinker. I was working in the music industry and quickly cemented my image as the consummate party boy. Up for any new experience and the person you came to for a good night out, to an outside observer, it would seem that I was having the time of my life.
However, after the months turned into years of living this way, it became clear that all those hard-drinking, pill-popping creatives have produced their canon of work in spite of their lifestyles, not because of them.
When you hear the amazing tales of fun and debauchery, you don’t see the crashing hangover the next day, or the sense of hopelessness and despair that comes with being trapped in yet another comedown, while life refuses to move forward.
I was relying on various kinds of chemical highs to hide the fact that in every other part of my life, I was stressed and strained to breaking point.
Plagued by chronic insomnia, I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep for years. But within my industry, this pleasure-seeking and self-destructive behavior felt normalized, because that’s how most people behaved.
Instead of living the dream, I felt trapped in an endless cycle of stress and anxiety. Letting my hair down one too many times a week was a shortcut to feeling okay—at least for one evening.
The fact is that this kind of hedonism doesn’t make us feel better in any meaningful long-term sense. It’s a distraction. It’s a way for us to temporarily feel good, and potentially open us up to interesting experiences—but the highs never last. In fact, I spent much of my twenties feeling utterly drained, with no time or inclination to nurture anything truly worthwhile.
There’s an idea that all this “stay up all night, work all day” overindulgence is fine, or even laudable. That’s until the day when we step over the shadowy and undefined line into addiction, and our behavior is suddenly viewed as embarrassing and shameful.
I never came close to this point; in fact, to some of my peers and colleagues, it would have been far weirder and more uncomfortable socially if I were teetotal. But my lifestyle was still undeniably self-destructive.
My own health and well-being fell behind every other consideration, especially my career. Whether it was taking a second job and running myself into the ground in order to keep it all going, or staying up all night at events before getting up for another day of work, it simply didn’t end.
It was when I found myself completely exhausted, yet entirely unable to sleep at 2am on my ex-girlfriend’s couch—thinking of nothing but how my life was going nowhere, and convinced that there was no point left—that I realized things had to change.
Moving Away from Hedonism
I walked for hours that night, feeling like I was at the bottom of a pit full of regret, fear, and bitterness. But the simple action of getting up, getting out, and allowing myself to feel these emotions rather than mask them with my busy non-stop lifestyle was one of the first positive actions I’d taken for months.
It was a dark time, and I still used partying to numb myself to the realities of my life, but a chink of light had been let in. My friends could see I was in trouble, and after they whisked me away for the week, I decided to remove myself from the life I’d created and go to South America for a few months.
I got lucky in the fact that a big record deal finally paid me enough to extricate myself from the music business, but it was a shift in thinking that made me want to do this in the first place.
I learned that when something isn’t working, we can’t be afraid to let it go. Being a success in the music industry was my dream, but I had to acknowledge that this wasn’t a healthy or enjoyable part of my life anymore.
The realization had landed that we need something more meaningful and fulfilling to enjoy our lives than a series of fleeting and artificial highs.
It became ever clearer that success didn’t equate to working all hours and pursuing a unsustainable lifestyle in order to make a broken and inadequate “Plan A” work. I had to figure out why exactly I had chosen to pursue such self-destructive behaviours, and get to the root cause.
Seeing Clearly and Moving Forward
With far less hedonism and hard work to hide my issues, solving my anxiety-induced chronic insomnia became a priority. However, like many people I found myself focusing on the symptoms of my problems, completely unaware of and failing to tackle their hidden source.
I tried herbal sleeping tablets, but was instinctively reluctant to try anything pharmaceutical (which was interesting, considering I’d been so willing to take any number of illegal substances in order to have a good time).
Ear plugs and eye masks made no difference, and it was apparent that, as with my hedonistic life choices, I was simply skimming along the surface of things rather than looking deeper. It was as if there was a patch missing from the roof of my house, and instead of going up and fixing it, I was putting up a leaky umbrella each time it rained.
It was only the chance recommendation from a friend of a friend that led me to Vedic meditation—the technique that changed my life. After my first lesson I slept soundly for the first time in years, and within a few weeks my insomnia had eased entirely.
It was through meditation that I learned about a different kind of hedonism. Years later, I have left my partying days far behind, but live a far more vibrant, creative, and enjoyable life. By swapping late nights for bird song and record deals for teaching, I moved away from self-destruction, and toward self-growth.
Of course, this took a long road of self-discovery (which isn’t over yet!). But I feel there are some pointers which can help people if they’ve found themselves trapped into a similar situation to mine.
Here are three ways to move on from self-destructive behavior.
1. Allow yourself to learn from the lows.
It’s all too easy, after enduring the depths of a hangover all through Sunday and a drawn-out week at work, to get to Friday night and think the answer to all that sadness and frustration is another night of overindulgence.
I’m not saying this is easy, but instead of relying on your usual route to a good time, make yourself sit with your feelings. Without the (ultimately counterproductive) balm of alcohol and other such substances, you will start to see things as they really are, and work out if there’s anything that needs to change.
2. Switch up your routine and break the cycle.
Getting away from my life in London was a key part of breaking the bad habits that had me repeatedly making bad choices, which did nothing but make me feel worse (as the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result).
It could be something as simple as suggesting to your usual drinking buddies that you try a different, sober activity on a Sunday night, or catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a while rather than sticking with the same crowd.
The important thing is to show yourself the possibility of a different kind of lifestyle, and to build confidence in the fact that you can manage without your usual self-destructive coping mechanisms.
3. Think about what’s driving your behavior and address the root cause.
Hopefully, by taking a step back, you’ll be able to see what compels you to work too hard, party too hard, or indulge in your particular vice (for some people, this could even be over-exercising and obsessing about health).
Perhaps you are a high achiever and have worried yourself into chronic stress and anxiety. Maybe you have low self-esteem, and don’t believe you are worth looking after. Whatever it is, once you are aware of your motivations it is much easier to address them.
For me, the key to becoming a much happier person was meditation, and I thoroughly recommend it in all its various forms. But you may find that it is therapy which helps you most, or simply practicing gratitude. Even the most basic act of keeping a journal each day could make the difference.
Whichever proves to be the most beneficial thing for you, the important thing is dedicating some time to your own self-care. By acknowledging your problems, you give yourself the best chance to fix them.
Psalm 51:8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
When we confess and repent of sins that we have committed or sins of omission, we seek to have our joy restored and gladness regained in our lives, but even with repentance, there will still be consequences.
Maybe God will not physically break bones, but He will enact some form of punishment and even in the punishment we should be happy that God sees us worthy of instruction through punishment.
God desires that even by His wrath and punishment His people learn about themselves and about Him, bring us closer in our relationship.
It is through God’s instruction that we learn all things and gain knowledge and wisdom.
We are all sinners, so let’s strive to live a repentant life seeking the will of God, rejoicing in all that God does for us whether it is blessings or reproof, both of which are meant for our good
“The ability to apologize sincerely and express regret for the unskillful things we say or do is an art. A true apology can relieve a great deal of suffering in the other person.”
My life has been full of apologies. I’ve been on both the receiving and giving end of the good, the bad, and the ugly apology. Just recently a dear friend who I hadn’t connected with in a long time reached out and asked if we could meet for coffee. I sort of backhandedly blew her off and told her I would try to meet her later that same day. I had already made plans to run with another friend, but I chose not to share this.
After my run, I invited my running buddy to coffee and ran into my other friend. It was awkward. We hung out and all had coffee together, but there was an uncomfortable vibe between us the entire time.
Later that day I texted my friend, apologized, and told her I should’ve been honest about my reason for rejecting her invitation.
Yes, you read that correctly—I texted my apology! Owning our mistakes is hard, and I’m working on getting better in this area. On the other hand, I’m learning there’s a difference between apologizing for a mistake and apologizing for being human.
Recently there has been a social media meme outlining the power of shifting our word choice from “I’m sorry” to “thank you.” For example, instead of saying “I’m sorry for being such a mess,” say “Thank you for loving me unconditionally.” This type of apology suggests that our word choice is powerful and that we can choose words that empower rather than degrade.
Apologies are hard.
By definition an apology is an acknowledgement of an offense, failure, or disappointment. Anytime we are faced with having to apologize we either must acknowledge our own offense or step into holding space for another person’s disappointment. In our culture, we aren’t taught to do either of those very well.
On the other hand, apologies can be incredibly powerful healing tool connecting us to our own human experience, as well as other people.
An apology gives us the opportunity to practice humility and step into vulnerability and out of shame. So, the question becomes: How can we master the art of the apology in an effort to heal ourselves, our relationships, and the global community? Below I offer simple, actionable ways we can embrace this art.
The “It’s Not Me, It’s You” Apology
No one wants to feel like they’ve been a schmuck, and as a result, we often try to turn the fault or blame back on to someone else so that we don’t feel the shame often associated with owning our mistake.
Mistakes and subsequent apologies are hallowed ground for so much learning, grace, and humility. When we shy away from these places, we
Recently I had an exchange with a friend after we had awkward conversation between us. My friend seemed upset and distant, but I didn’t know what had happened. After asking her what was up, she replied that yes, she was upset. She went on to explain what had happened to upset her and apologized for her bad behavior.
After hearing this I felt genuinely saddened about what she was feeling and began to understand why she had taken such a caustic tone with me.
Unfortunately, as quickly as she apologized she tossed it back onto me and said that it was my fault she had acted that way, and if it weren’t for me she wouldn’t have been so mean.
She used the “I’m sorry, but you…” apology style. Rather than create a space of mutual understanding and an opportunity for healing, she continued with the same caustic tone and pushed the responsibility for the situation back on to me. Naturally, I felt awful that, in her view, I was 100 percent responsible for her angst.
This posturing left very little room for any reconciliation without getting into a back and forth exchange of grievances. Not liking the options of taking full responsibility or continuing to engage in a ping-pong of blame, I thanked her for letting me know how she felt and moved on.
We are not required to engage in or accept a blame-based apology. We can simply, and in love, move on. On the other hand, if you find yourself using the “But, you… apology,” realize that you could be damaging a relationship by staying stuck in your own ego’s need to be blameless.
When an apology is followed by a “but” and an explanation it negates the apology and doesn’t feel genuine or as if the individual is invested in seeing the opportunity to resolve, Rather, it seems they’re trying to shun any responsibility they have in the situation.
Eliminate the Explanation
The “explanation apology” is similar to the “it’s you, not me apology,” but rather than shifting the blame to another person, we offer excuses or try to explain all the reasons our apology is good enough. It often comes from a place of feeling ashamed of our humanness.
For example, I think most of us can relate to saying things we don’t mean when we’ve been drinking. Many years ago, when my husband and I were just dating, we got into a booze-infused argument, and I called him a nasty name I typically reserve for my ex-husband. Even in my tipsy state I could see the hurt in his eyes. I felt so ashamed, but at the moment couldn’t bring myself to apologize.
The next day I apologized and let him know that’s not how I felt about him. It would have been easy to explain why I had said something hurtful by blaming the booze or a variety of other things that would take the spotlight off my own careless words. I decided instead to own my bad behavior, and it was humbling, but owning it planted the seed for a healthy relationship to grow.
Mistakes are part of the human condition. Noticing when we are defaulting to feelings of shame for our humanness by either excusing or avoiding saying sorry can help us grow into more compassionate people. It can become a beautiful opportunity to reclaim our right to be human and make slipups.
If you do feel compelled to add something to your apology, perhaps a statement that affirms the other person would be a kinder choice.
When It’s Not Necessary to Say Sorry
Earlier I mentioned the popular social media meme going around suggesting we trade our “sorry’s” for “thank you’s.” This enables us to shift from guilt to gratitude in situations where we’ve done nothing wrong.
I have been a yoga teacher for many years, and it’s industry practice to reach out to another teacher and ask them to sub your class. One time a fellow teacher called to ask if I could sub for her. Unfortunately, I wasn’t available, so I apologized and began listing off all the reasons I couldn’t help. I felt guilty and thought I needed to defend my answer.
In retrospect, I realize I could have simply said, “Thank you for thinking of me. I’m flattered! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to teach for you this time, but hopefully I’ll be able to next time!”
Noticing what you’re apologizing for and when is a beautiful way to bring mindfulness to our everyday conversations. It also helps us keep apologies for the things we do that genuinely require regret.
At the same time, it gives us permission to give ourselves a break. It can be easy to get in the habit of beating yourself up and apologizing for everything. Intentionally setting the tone of a situation to be one of grace and kindness can elevate the consciousness of the individuals and allow both parties a breath of relief in acknowledging the imperfect perfection of any moment.
I was having this discussion with the female inmates I teach yoga to once a week, and they recognized how empowering it felt not to own things that result in them immediately feeling dis-empowered, the victim, or bad person of a situation. They could see how insignificant apologies were keeping them oppressed.
Keep It Simple – I’m Sorry. Period.
When we find ourselves in the position where an apology is the best choice, there is no replacement for the two simple words: I’m sorry.
Stopping at these two simple words prevents us from coming from a place of pride and ego, and it gives the other person permission to simply feel whatever it is they are feeling without us trying to soothe it or fix it.
Instead of being shamed by apologies or letting your ego get in the way of an opportunity for growth, I encourage you to see these as sacred opportunities to embrace the human condition and help heal yourself and others.
Logically what Paul says here does not make sense to us; how can death be better than life?Paul is expressing what we will gain when we are called home. We will have new perfect bodies with no pain or suffering. We will not want for anything. We will be at peace and have overwhelming joy. And most of all, we will be in the presence of God.For a Christian, as it was with Paul, the choice between life and death is difficult because while we are here, we are to carry on Jesus’ mission and help bring as many souls as possible to know Jesus, but in heaven, our job is done, and we can enjoy the rewards for our faithfulness.Do not hasten your passing; God we call you when you have completed your purpose here.
Sometimes you find yourself waiting; waiting for your time, your victory, your success, your change. You wait patiently, and quietly. You follow the rules and take responsibility for your actions. You speak truth, and show love. But you're still waiting.
Today, it's time; time to shout for your victory. It's time to declare your success. Its time to anticipate your change. It's time for those walls to fall. It's time to praise God before the storm, because during the storm, you'll be relaxing and letting Jesus speak to the storm.
It's time to thank the Lord for a skilled sailor in your boat. And it's time to stop marching around your walls, and shout those walls down in praise. The wait is over. Every storm has a calm, and every wall eventually falls. So today, praise God and anticipate your turnaround, and have a conquering Monday.