Do you sometimes feel that events have conspired against you? That whatever evil force running amok in the Universe keeps shooting arrows into your back?
When just everything seems to go wrong. The car has a flat. The dishwasher breaks. The washer overflows. Why does this all happen at once?
Or, one big thing goes categorically south. You know, that dream you’ve been pursuing just trotted further out of reach. Or you get a good view of what’s ahead and it seems like one mountain peak forms behind another and another and . . .
During those times, even the idea of how to find happiness seems out of reach. So what’s a conscious person to do?
* First off, don’t deny it.
Yep, that sack of coal got dumped right on your doorstep. Despite all of your best efforts (or not!), things just turned to coal dust right before your eyes.
That’s the reality of it. And facing it is often half the battle.
Running away from any problem just increases the distance to the solution.
* Second, dissect the issues—one at a time.
If this concerns one big failing, then compartmentalizing it isn’t difficult. It’s staring you in the face all the time anyway.
But when dealing with a list of problems, how easy it can be for them all to entangle into one big rubber-band blob. And leaving it thus without disentangling the mess makes it almost impossible to sort out.
Even if the subjects do intertwine, they each have separate parts, tentacles that can be untangled, piece by blessed piece. And even if they glom back together like magnets seeking each other once you’re done dealing with them, next time you’ll have an easier time separating those out.
Spend a set amount of time with each one. Pull out all the tools—writing out the problems and possible solutions to the different pieces of the issue. Identifying peeps to help. Using the tools you already have gets you started quickly.
* Third, figure out one action you can take today. Or right now.
Something you can do to help the situation, even if it’s tiny. Just the act of doing a constructive action will ease your mind.
Not busy work to make you think you’re affecting a change, but an action that actually will help.
It may seem that 3 and 4 should be switched, but acting, however, no matter in how small a way, causes feel-good hormones to at least trickle in, and you see things differently. As Dale Carnegie said:
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Because then you can more clearly:
* Fourth, make a plan.
Issues can be tackled. From getting the plumber out to finding a new job. And it all starts with a solid plan.
* Finally, pat yourself on the back.
How often we blame and shame ourselves for our foibles. I know so many folks (and I was once one of them!) who are simply fabulous at self-flagellation. But they forget to tell themselves “good job” for what they did right.
By giving yourself credit for the good steps, you can more easily forgive your transgressions. Or someone else’s. Or the world’s. Forgiving yourself and others starts with acknowledging what worked.
Now that you’ve faced the problems, dissected them, taken a good, solid action, have made a plan for tomorrow, forgiven yourself, how to find happiness has seeped into your day. It always does. And now you can feel gratitude for finding your way out of whatever jungle you’ve found yourself lost in.
I’m always reminded of author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s admonition of:
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Now, that makes me smile. Which causes happiness to return.
How do you deal with bad times?
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.