“Happiness is not a destination. It is a way of life.”
I have been told that I live in a fairy tale, and that I don’t live in “reality.” Over the last few years I have found that it upsets others when I look for the best in situations and when I am overly positive.
I knew I was living in reality but overtime I have learned that reality is what you make it. Our perspectives and the way we choose to react in situations ultimately changes the way we live our lives and how we define reality.
I never felt like I lived in a fairy tale until I spent a week in the middle of nowhere.
I was staying on a beautiful twenty-two acres of bright green grass, on a farm where everything seemed to dazzle a little bit more than the norm.
Being around nature filled me with a sense of serenity that I was unaware I was capable of feeling.
The air was fresher then I had ever breathed before, and it felt as if I had never taken a breath of real fresh air before this. It was like being in the magical world of the animated movie, Ferngully.
When it was time to leave I felt refreshed, but worried that from this point on I would feel claustrophobic everywhere else.
About halfway into my journey back home, back to “reality” my car began to shake. It wasn’t a normal bumpy road causing the car to feel this way. I soon began to loose control of my car.
Luckily, it was the only moment during my drive that no cars were around me. I was able to pull over safely on the side of a usually busy highway.
My tire popped and I was really in the middle of nowhere, more so than before. I was seven miles away from the nearest exit, with two dogs, and all of a sudden I had to use the bathroom.
How was I going to get out of here? I had never changed a tire before, and my spare would not last long on my journey home. Also, I had recently spent a fortune on car repairs and four brand new tires.
Panic set in.
I tried to breath and call roadside assistance, while I began to see what looked like a dark cloud only above my vehicle. I suddenly felt that I was really in a movie and it was not a fairy tale.
All service drivers were busy. They would not be able to get to me before two or more hours.
I had never felt so stranded in my life. How could this happen after I just left from having one of the best week’s in my life? Maybe I had been living in a fairy tale.
I had difficulty finding the positive in this situation. It is so easy to do so when it’s not you that is having an issue, and it’s even easier when things are going your way. But I wondered how to find serenity in situations like this.
After hours of waiting as patiently as possible, I finally was back on the road. I started thinking to myself how silly I was getting so worked up after such a peaceful getaway, there are much worse things going on in the world.
I began to put it into perspective.
What a great feeling it was to be free again, to be able to go wherever I wanted. I reminded myself that sometimes things happen that are out of our control, and it’s okay. We have the ability to control our reactions and to stay optimistic in situations like this.
Suddenly, rain started pouring down like I had never experienced before. Everything seemed so dramatic, the beauty of the last place and now this journey home.
Again, I thought why me? I felt anxiety building up within.
And then I stopped myself.
We have the power to control our feelings, I told myself again. Negative phrases will not make things better; it will only drag you into a deeper negative state of mind.
I began repeating a mantra to myself over and over again, “You are safe. You are strong.” I started talking to myself, “The sky will get clear again, this is not the end of the world.”
And soon enough it stopped.
I did not think things could get any worse. It felt as if everything was completely out of my control. I felt like I was being tested to see how much longer I could keep a positive outlook.
Soon enough, I hit bumper-to-bumper-traffic.
I started to slow down and for some reason my engine started making an unusual noise. My car began jerking.
I realized that I could not slow down fast enough. Seconds before, I knew I was going to hit the car in front of me and there was no way to avoid it.
We are alive. Everyone is okay.
I began to break down.
Have you ever had a day that felt like the world was ending? One that you felt like couldn’t get much worse than this? Have you ever felt afraid about what could happen next? Have you ever felt completely out of control?
Reflecting on this experience left me with this…
In these situations we have two choices: to find our very own fairy tale state, finding optimism in situations like these, or we can let negative thoughts overtake us.
I now realized what people had said to be before was true. I choose to find my fairy tale state everyday, during good times and unpleasant times.
Here are a few ways to stay optimistic during unwanted and unexpected difficult situations:
1. Take a moment to put everything into perspective.
First and foremost, we are lucky to be alive. While we are living, we have the ability to get through any obstacle, whatever it may be.
Take a few moments to breathe. Focus on your breath and your thoughts. Think about what makes you happy and anything special to you in this life, even if it’s just a desire, something you don’t already have.
Put your situation into perspective and think about what you can do to make it better for you. Our minds are powerful and can help us remain in control when everything seems to be going against us.
2. Create and repeat your unique mantra.
Every situation is unique. What scares and upsets me will be different to what scares and upsets you. Our lives have thrown incomparable challenges our ways, so each mantra will be individual.
After taking a moment to put everything into perspective think about words you need to hear to help you get through your situation. These words may change in other circumstances, or you may find it helps you time and time again.
Repeat the words that you need to hear. Your personalized mantra will help you find serenity in all the chaos.
3. Set time aside for reflection.
During or after a big event and even in everyday life, it is important to put some time aside to reflect.
Reflect on your day and see if there was something you did that you felt went well, and be open to the idea that if there were any reactions you would like to change, you can next time.
Reflecting helps to better prepare us for future situations and subconsciously instills strength in us that will come out when we need it to.
Taking time to reflect also helps us decompress from any difficult times we may be facing. It’s better to think about it than to avoid, because it will contribute to moving forward in the direction of optimism.
Keep in mind that happiness is a way of life…
You have the ability to choose happiness and find optimism in any situation!