Thought Catalog
August 22, 2013

11 Life Hacks For The Emotionally Struggling 20-Something

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What is the issue?

Everybody I know is either in or needs to be in therapy. The common theme among them is that they self-sabotage, and I think we all do, it’s just that not all of us have the discipline to address it. I’m not one to pass judgment on this because I am guilty of it probably more than anyone, but I was able to figure some things out on the journey back from that place. I don’t know your situation. I don’t know what will help you. All I know is that these are the things I learned to hone in on every day and of which have brought me unprecedented happiness. By this I do not mean a sustained state of joy. I mean contentment; the ability to flow through emotions and the ins-and-outs and disappointments and numbing routines of everyday life; how to transcend them. How to garner your mindset to focus on a greater purpose, and to be able to have unfailing and even reckless faith and trust that the universe knows better than you do. Of course, getting to this place is a journey. I believe here is where you start.

1. You will not feel better tomorrow if you don’t figure out what’s wrong today. Tomorrow, and all the wonders the future can bring, is an illusion that is rooted in your mind’s capability of deceiving itself into the idea that after a cycle of the earth’s rotation things will be different. Less literally, if you can’t enjoy what you have now, you are not in the right mindset to enjoy anything else. I’m sure you can attest to this in your own life as you see how the things you once lusted after, that are now yours, somehow seem ordinary and routine. It is because you received them without knowing how to enjoy them. If you want to break the cycle, start putting your energy toward reaching a nirvana state and embracing what is, and loving it for that. What’s even greater about this is that the more you do so, the more you will see coming to you.

Check out “The Truth About Everything” here.

2. It’s difficult to say goodbye in the digital age. You can’t keep sending all of your time and energy into the black hole that is the unresolved and unwilling. More than that, with the rise of social media, it’s increasingly difficult to not compare your life to other people’s. Unfortunately, on these platforms, people are always presenting the bits and pieces of their lives that are incredibly fortunate and great. It makes that person feel better, and either annoys or makes everybody else feel substandard. It’s a ruthless cycle, and you have to pluck yourself out of it.

3. You have to not only infuse your life with the little things that will make you enjoy your day, but also learn to free yourself from your thoughts that keep you in confines from enjoying said things. The major, overarching aspects of your life will always retreat to the background, and become the platform for your day. They will not be the things that capture your wonder and attention, this is reserved for the small miracles, and yes, they are miracles. It’s the cliches, even, the cup of coffee and a book in bed on a Sunday morning, meeting an old friend for lunch, receiving a text or email from someone you love. Being able to touch someone’s day and go home knowing you did something for this world. This is what life is about because your life could end in the next hour and these are the things you will have cherished.

4. Your life won’t change in a day. Mindfully incorporate “healthy” practices into your life until they become routine. Please note, that by saying “healthy” I’m not trying to preach that you should run a half marathon every three months and only eat Paleo. I mean learn to breathe deeply. Learn to recognize the difference between your physical body and the person who inhabits it. The latter is who you really are. Drink water, you need it. Move and use the senses you were given: walk, read, speak, stretch. You won’t always be able to.

5. Re-teach yourself how to feel. You’re often too molded by your past experiences to go forth in the best way possible. Fighting those things is what gives them their power. So you’re sad today. It will pass. Appreciate why you’re sad. It means you care enough about something to feel badly about it. Don’t devalue or write off your emotions, they only have to be felt to be valid. It doesn’t matter how “silly” it is or inconsequential whatever you are upset over is. Learn to apply this mindset to other people as well. Stop belittling people for what they do and don’t feel. Realize that even though experiences are different, what we feel pertaining to them usually aren’t. It’s when we become numb that we really have a problem.

6. When you reach the point that you can appreciate the wonder in every one of your feelings, you will start realizing that there is more to life than just “happiness.” Every part of it has it’s wonders. What’s better than “happiness” is fascination, and interest, and commitment to maintaining light and love within yourself. Every situation is dimensional, and when you start realizing the possibility in any given situation, you will start understanding what it means to be alive.

7. I think that when people say “be grateful” and “appreciate what you have” they are entirely neglecting the fact that doing so is incredibly difficult when you’re not in the mindset that appreciates anything whatsoever. In my experience, it’s best to focus on one thing at a time. Be mindful of what your life would be like if you didn’t have that thing. Your eyesight, a home, etc. I think it’s far more effective to consider what life would be like without something than to just acknowledge that not everybody is privileged in that way. You have to go deeper.

8. Vulnerability may be the most underestimated human experience. Don’t be afraid to say you messed up, people will always be more understanding of those who admit their faults than of those who pretend as though they don’t have any. There’s an unprecedented opportunity for connection when people unapologetically admit to their human condition.

9. Although people’s opinions shouldn’t matter, they do, and may always, so it’s better to figure out a way that you can filter what people are saying, try to see if they have anything of value to offer, but always be grounded in your own beliefs. Always. We will probably always be at the whim of our innate need for the love and acceptance of others. Instead of fighting that fact and pressing the idea that nobody else’s ideas matter, we’re better off figuring out how we feel first, and then trying to understand where someone is coming from if they say something that is less-than-pleasing to hear. The truth is, it’s usually rooted in their own dissatisfaction.

10. Know that this path will not be easy. Nothing worthwhile, genuinely changing or in the human experience ever is. That’s okay. It all serves a purpose far greater than your immediate satisfaction. We live in a culture that has built it’s foundations on the concept of instant gratification in the physical, material sense. Following and subscribing to this philosophy only pulls us farther and farther from our natural states. It’s difficult, yes, because it surrounds us. But you will continue in your cycle of discontentment until you learn otherwise. Often, the catalyst of this becoming is something traumatic, and what is produced in the aftermath shows us why our lives are infused with just the right amount of “misfortune.” In a more beautiful phrasing than I could ever write:

“I think that we are like stars. Something happens to burst us open; but when we burst open and think we are dying; we’re actually turning into a supernova. And then when we look at ourselves again, we see that we’re suddenly more beautiful than we ever were before.” ― C. JoyBell C.

11. Sometimes you will be overcome with emotion, so much so that you feel as though you are panicking and you can’t move on. Sometimes you don’t even know why you feel the way you do, or you can’t understand why something so mundane would evoke such a reaction. It is because when it comes to our feelings, there is always more than what meets the surface. This is not so with our thoughts, and that is where the confusion comes in. There are two things that everybody has to learn in this regard and it’s how to let them infiltrate, overcome you, and then gently pass, and how, afterwards, to dig into what it is that you are really upset about. Deal with that issue. It may be as simple as changing your mindset or as complicated as changing your lifestyle. TC mark

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image – tylahr