In my roller-coaster life journey of “ups and downs,” I’ve tried to scour for meaning and devised “10 things to remember when depressed by challenges and struggles.” They have served as my guideposts during rock-bottom moments, and I hope they would do the same for you.
1. The past cannot be changed, but we can in the present choose and act on our future. You don’t have to cry over a failed or unhappy past; it’s gone. Neither should you stress yourself about the future; it hasn’t arrived yet. What you can do is live in the present and make it beautiful.
The past can’t be altered, yes. But you can, at present, choose and start to act on what you desire for the future.
2. Everyone’s journey is different; if there’s a reason for your struggle, there’s also a reason not to give up. In moments of challenges, you don’t have to complain, “Why me?” Remember, each one’s journey is unique and different.
As there’s always a reason for everything, so it is for your struggle. Find “meaning” in your suffering and it will alleviate your pain.
There must also be a reason not to give up. It might be your loved ones—family or kin—who can be your inspiration to persist and persevere. Or even other people, who inspire you or are inspired by you. Or your magnificent dream or a purpose you have yet to achieve—that’s reason enough not to give up.
3. You can only fail when you quit, and mistakes aren’t completely mistakes. The only time you can fail is when you give up. The moment you say you can’t is the moment you stop being able to.
The biggest mistake some people can ever make is to be too afraid to make one. But mistakes are not completely mistakes; they, in fact, offer plenty of lessons.
4. Struggles and challenges are opportunities for growth. Pain and struggles are part and parcel of life; they are opportunities for learning, growth, and transformation. The safest path is not always the most convenient or the best. The more challenges, the more you learn and grow. The best thing you can gain from challenges is not the thing you want, but the “person” you become in the process.
5. Nothing is permanent, and things always get better with time. No matter how miserable and hateful your situation, it is not permanent; it will pass. And as life changes every second, things always get better with time—including you. You, too, can choose to change for the better.
6. Happiness is found within. As has often been said, don’t look for happiness in others’ successes. You have your own greatness and strengths. Happiness is not found in “possessions” or “positions.” It can’t be found outside; it can only spring from within you.
7. Positive thoughts create positive realities, and what goes around comes around. Negative thoughts inevitably engender negative results; positive thoughts create positive realities. You may not be capable of changing what is actually happening to you, but you can choose how to react positively from within to what is happening to you.
As the saying goes, “what goes around comes around” or “what you sow is what you reap.” So, think or do good, and you receive good.
8. Opinions don’t define reality, and judgments are a confession of character. If you’re scoffed at or derided by other people, worry not, for their opinions do not define who you are. Besides, people who are wont to make unfair judgments only speak of who they actually are. Don’t judge people by their “cover” for they are not a book.
9. Worrying can’t change anything, and overthinking leads to sadness. If there is anything that kills more people faster than any dreaded pandemic, it is worrying. You can’t change anything by worrying. In the same vein, thinking can only lead to more thinking or overthinking and, therefore, to more questions. More often than not, overthinking in moments of despair can only lead to sadness.
10. Always P.R.A.Y. (Pull back, Reflect, Act, Yield to God’s grace) and nurture an “attitude of gratitude.” Prayer is the best antidote to any problem. And, as has been often said, the highest form of prayer is giving thanks, so always be grateful for what you have. Count your blessings.
What St. Teresa of Avila said is truly spot on: “Let nothing worry you. Let nothing distract you. Whoever has God will lack for nothing. Only God suffices.”
Bob Acebedo writes a column in the weekly OpinYon (https://opinyon.net). —Ed.
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