Bad days, bad moments, and unexpected illnesses. They all happen. It takes a toll on you, and you feel like you’ll never overcome it. That you are “cursed” with bad luck. But there’s also the belief that the only way to experience true joy is to first experience darkness.
This week was hard and scary, as my father suffered some heart issues late Monday night. Two nights in the hospital with doctors giving us different answers, and nurses giving us a thousand different possibilities. It is during those moments when you are drained, panicked and beyond worried about the future that you have to try your best to focus on something good…and that is a ridiculously tough thing to do.
Especially when your 9 year old sister is wondering why “bad things like this happen”. How do you tell her to be brave, and to find the best in the situation? Yet, these emotions and experiences from opposite ends of the spectrum work hand in hand to give you real appreciation of the positive side of life. But, just how does one overcome these bad, unexpected moments and replace it with joy when the hard times seem unrelenting?
You try to find a moment to laugh.
You try to focus on the family that is surrounding you.
You take it a moment at a time.
I told my sister that we were lucky. That this small “bad thing” was a chance for us to focus on his health, and that we were now aware of some issues surrounding his heart that could have become much worse in the future. That this small attack happened so that we could find the medicine that would keep his heart pumping away.
But, it is not easy. By no means is it ever easy to find something good in these moments.
Especially when you are exhausted, your nerves are frayed, and you are scared.
You have to dig deep.
Trust me. I have had a lifetime of bad moments, from unexpected illnesses to the loss of loved ones. There is never a set plan on how to get through these times. You can’t put a schedule on grief, or the mental toll that these type of upheavals take on you. You have to have patience. You have to have a little set of tools in your arsenal to help you find your footing again.
The key is to identify other things that bring you joy and peace, and infiltrate your dark space with these things.
- Consume yourself with a new activity. Look into something that would be calming. My sister and I broke out some plain paper and doodled. It was simple, but it got her mind (and mine) off of the surrounding chaos. Sometimes doing something new is what you need to take your mind off the negative situation you’re dealing and find joy in something unexpected.
- Try your hand at an activity that’s time-consuming and enjoyable. I know that it seems counterproductive to be doing something “joyful”, but by taking these moments to refocus your energy on something pleasurable you will be able to have the strength to get through the next hump.
- Don’t consume yourself with technology. Turn off your phone, and give yourself some quiet reading time. Find a book that would encourage you, comfort you, or simply distract you. Even 15 min of reading can give you a momentary mental boost.
- Enjoy the company of others. Spending time with family and friends is another great way to rehabilitate your state of mind when life seems unbearable. Remember, they love you unconditionally and can offer as much support as you need. During these “bad moments” is when you will truly see the best in people. Hang out with them more than normal; you’ll start to experience healing from all that positive energy around you. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable and asking for help during these difficult times can truly help you to find your peace again.
- Hold firm to your faith. It’s very likely that your faith is what has brought you through the difficulty thus far. Your faith in yourself, or your spirituality to sustain you should not be overlooked. Take it a day at a time. Meditate. Listen to music. Focus on the moment, and not on the uncertain future.
- Rest. Take care of yourself and rely on naps to get you through long days. You cannot help anyone else if you are mentally and physically exhausted. Find a quiet spot (even if you have to go to your car…I do this all the time) and put aside 20 min to close your eyes. I promise you this will give you more strength than you realize.
Think with your mind, not your emotions.
Make a conscious effort to separate thinking and reasoning from feeling. Otherwise, you’re likely to start believing that nothing can ever work out.
- Apply reasoning to the circumstances and use the same reasoning to get you to a brighter place.
- It’s not always going to be an easy road, but you’ll be able to travel it if you commit to allowing outside influences to help turn things around for you.
“Maybe it’s not about having a beautiful day, but about finding beautiful moments. Maybe a whole day is just too much to ask. I could choose to believe that in every day, in all things, no matter how dark and ugly, there are shards of beauty if I look for them.”
― Anna White,