What to do if life doesn’t go the way you want?

What do you do if your life doesn’t go the way you want? You have 3 choices: 1) complain about it, suffer and make yourself miserable (probably in the way creating pain for others close to you), 2) acknowledge and accept the situation, or 3) if you can, do something about it.

I was talking yesterday by phone with Rocio, a very special soul, from Venezuela. Hearing how she takes life is inspirational. In the middle of a country that is passing through one of the toughest times I heard positive and laughter. I can see her smile shine in her face. Hearing her stories with her ex-husband and her attitude to not engage in discussion enforces in me the idea about avoiding fights that will not take anywhere.

Why do we like to complain and suffer?

When I was thinking about writing this blog earlier today, I heard two podcasts by Lewis Howes that helped me understand the root of the problem: 1) BioHacking with Dave Asprey, 2) Making the Equation for Happiness with Mo Gawdat.

Dave mentions three behaviors that every living thing needs to do to stay alive: run away from scary things, eat everything, and reproduce as much as possible. Suffering, as I see it, is a way to run away from reality, to run away to face the problem and not doing something about it.

Mo says that when our expectations are not met, the right brain signals disappointment and suffering is a response of that pain. Mo’s story about his approach to the death of his son is a great example of not getting stuck in the suffering but doing something positive about it. Mo wrote a book that is inspiring thousands and will probably inspire millions.

What can you do?

If you are disappointed about something, ask this question: Can I do something about it? If you can’t, then accept it and move on. If you can do something, then do something positive about it. Most of the times there is a lesson to be learned. Disappointments make us grow if we understand how to process the information.

In a bio-physical level, Dave provides hints about how to hack the mitochondria to make us better at responding to disappointments.  Some of them are: walk at least 20 minutes per day, get a cold few seconds shower, and push your body to the maximum at least once per week. Pushing the body might be interval sprinting or lifting weights. More about this in his book Head Strong.

In my conversation with Rocio, she told me that she was with my Mom when one of my aunts died. My Mom saw her family crying. She said: “please I don’t want anybody to cry when I die,  I want people to remember me happy and not be sad”. I like the idea of celebrating with good memories. Mo’s story is similar.  In the podcast he said his son’s funeral seemed more like a birthday celebration.

Today is also Easter Sunday, one of the happiest days for Christian followers. Suffering got converted into faith and joy. It has changed the life of billions. I just hope we can all learn to put the suffering on the past and decide to be happy.

The BELLS strategy to become great

Yesterday I attended church at the Seneca Creek Community Church. The message was very practical and resonated with lots of habits some great people I think already have in place. Mark, the pastor based his talk on Michael Frost’s book called the Five Habits of Highly Mission People. The whole point of the book was to provide strategies for living “questionable” lives to inspire others to find God. Here is my practical take on it, which is independent and doesn’t assume that you believe in God or not. For sure these habits will make us become better every day.

  1. Bless: confer prosperity or happiness by any of these:
    1. Complement others and encourage.
    2. Do acts of kindness helping others without expecting anything in return.
    3. Give. A gift is an act of thoughtfulness and love.
  2. Eat: Eat with others. It reminded me of the book by Keith Ferrari “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time“. Plan in advanced breakfast, lunches and dinners when traveling to meetings.  Go to places where you can meet with others. I have met people at a Whole Foods in San Francisco at lunch time when I go attend meetings at the Moscone Center. In busy meetings, this place is packed and you need to share a table. Is better to learn from others while you eat.
  3. Listen: Stop and Listen. The need for listening  is why mediation is so important. Ideas don’t come when we are busy thinking. Pray, think about a problem and sit in silence.
    1. Schedule it: The trick is to put in the calendar. I do it as soon as a wake up, maybe for 20-30 minutes. I need to go sleep around 10 the day before, so I can wake up between 5 or 6. This means cut TV or others distraction before going to bed.
    2. Channel it: I like the affirmations strategy by Jack Canfield. He tells that an  affirmation needs to be concrete.  For example: “God is my unlimited supply.  May large sums of money come to me quickly and easily under the grace of God, for the highest good of all concerned, I’m easily earning Y doing Job Z“. He also suggests adding “this or something better” at the end. Why? Jack says: because Our rational mind is useful for strategic planning, but quite often God’s plans are a lot better than our plans ever could be. We need to listen to align with the plan God has for us.
  4. Learn: The book talks about learning about Jesus, which will help us act better think better, forgive others faster, etc. We need to grow or perish in our different dimensions. A way to grow spiritually is learn about Jesus and other great people.
  5. Sent: I was not sure why this habit was called this way. Here are the two ideas form this section:
    1. Reconcile with others. Make peace with others.
    2. Invite people to enjoy the beauty of the world. A great podcast that resonated with this idea, was the interview with Tim Ferris and BJ Miller. BJ Miller, who woks at the Zen Hospice Project  shared his insights about the approach to mindfulness and how to look at art.

I hope this blog is useful and inspires you to become great! God Bless you!