“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein
“This morning, nearly five years after my husband’s passing, a beautiful couple and their three kids knocked on my front door. The man smiled and said,“Your husband was my heart donor. He saved my life. Not a single day has gone by that I don’t pray for him and think of you. Thank you!”
This is the opening paragraph right out of an email I received today from a reader named, Colleen. She goes on to admit that she couldn’t see any positive sides of her husband’s death, until she was staring at them on her door step. “It doesn’t necessarily make things easier, but it certainly changed the way I think. I feel like a small piece of my broken heart has healed.”
And the truth is, it happens just like that. Although Colleen’s experience is unique, and somewhat extreme, at some point life slaps all of us with a good reminder that shifts our perspective. Personally, I have been slapped with several of these reminders over the years. And today, I want to pass a few of them along to you…
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- Everything that happens helps you grow, even if it’s hard to see right now. – Circumstances will direct you, correct you, and perfect you over time. Sometimes these circumstances knock you down, hard. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best. Because our most significant opportunities are often found in times of great difficulty. Thus, you will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.
- The way you feel about people and situations will shift, and that’s OK. – Things will seem totally different to you at some point in the future, just as you feel different now than you did in the past. So remember, just because you liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean you’ll always like it, or that you have to go on liking it at all points in the future as an act of loyalty to who you are as a person, based solely on who you once were as a person. To be loyal to yourself is to allow yourself to grow and change, and challenge who you once were and what you once thought. The only thing you ever have to be for sure is unsure, and this means you’re growing, and not stagnant or shrinking. (Read The Untethered Soul.)
- There will always be more tough changes to make. – Growth is painful. Change is painful. But in the end, nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you do not belong. Again, you’re not the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or a week ago. You’re always growing. Experiences don’t stop. That’s life. It takes a great deal of courage to admit that something needs to change, and a lot more courage still, to accept the responsibility for making the change happen. But doing so is worth every bit of effort you can muster.
- Those who complain the most, accomplish the least. – It’s always better to attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed. It’s not over if you’ve lost; it’s over when you do nothing but complain about it. If you believe in something, keep trying. Don’t let the shadows of the past darken the doorstep of your future. Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter. Take action instead. And regardless of what happens in the long run, remember that true happiness begins to arrive only when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
- The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts. – The mind is your battleground. It’s the place where the greatest conflict resides. It’s where half of the things you thought were going to happen, never did happen. But if you allow these thoughts to dwell in your mind, they will succeed in robbing you of peace, joy, and ultimately your life. You will think yourself into a nervous breakdown, into depression, and into defeat. You are what you think. You can’t change anything if you can’t change your thinking. A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset. When you wake up, take a second to think about what a privilege it is to simply be alive and healthy. Breathe onto the bathroom mirror, just to see how amazing your breath looks. The moment you start acting like life is a blessing, I assure you it will start to feel like one. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Happiness” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- You were born with the ability to change someone’s life. – Don’t ever waste it. Be kind. Be present. Be someone who makes a difference. In a gentle way, you can shake the world. Truth be told, the purpose of life is not just to be happy in your own little bubble; it is to be helpful, to be honorable, to be compassionate and kind, to have your life make some kind of difference that you have lived and lived well. Go ahead; leave the world a little better than you found it.
- You can best serve yourself and others by giving yourself what YOU need. – That’s right, your needs matter more than you can imagine. Don’t ignore them. Sometimes you have to do exactly what’s best for you and your life, not just what seems best on the surface for everyone else. Decide this very minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself. Today, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.” Because the truth is, when we practice self-love and self-respect, we give ourselves the opportunity to be happy. And when we are happy, we become better friends, better family members, and better lovers. (Read Loving What Is.)
- Everyone you meet serves a purpose in your life. – We meet no ordinary people in our lives. If you give them a chance, everyone has something amazing to offer. They may not be what you expected or wanted, but their presence is important. Some people will test you, some will teach you, and some will bring out the very best in you. So be thankful for everyone in your life. Yes EVERYONE! It’ll be hard sometimes, but do your best to be grateful for the rude, difficult people too. They serve as great reminders of how NOT to be.
- You are not alone in feeling weird and alone. – I used to think I was the strangest person in the world, but then I thought about how there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels weird and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine him or her, and imagine that he or she must be out there thinking of me too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and reading this, you now know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you. I often feel and think and struggle much like you do. I care about many of the things you care about, just in my own way. And although some people do not understand us, we understand each other. YOU are not weird and alone!
I hope you will have a wonderful day today, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make something that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this crazy world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
The floor is yours…
What else would you add to the list? What’s one good reminder you try to keep in mind to keep yourself on track? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
I don’t know where i’m going, but i’m on my way. ~ Carl Sagan