How to brave the storms of life
The storms of life will always come, no matter how we plan, what we do, or how often we double-check we are on the right path. We will have seasons of drought, where life progresses smoothly, we ease into routines, and think we are finally in the clear. And we will have seasons where the storms will never stop, one will barely have ended before the next hits. These seasons are the character building, lesson learning opportunities to clean house and become who we are meant to be moments.
The important thing to remember is that without storms, rainbows and the beauty they bring would never come. As silly as it sounds, who would want to live in a world without pots of gold at the end of every rainbow? Or watching nature slowly come back out, adapt to the changes, or simply enjoy a dew-covered flower? A life without rainbows is not a life worth living.
The question becomes how do we weather the storms of life, how do we learn to adapt, grow, and change, without losing hope, or ourselves? The answer is actually quite easy and buried deep inside each of us, it’s hope. All we need is the smallest drop of hope to give us the strength needed to keep moving forward.
Learning to leverage our hope into a survival skill takes time, hard work, and dedication. Some call this resiliency, others tenacity, and some grit. Call it what you want, but know this skill is necessary to fully become who we are meant to become.
Hope is a deep, certain knowledge that all will work out as it is meant to. This means that sometimes things will work out in our favor and sometimes they won’t. When things end less than perfect, those with hope will ask themselves what they can learn from the experience, will take notes, and choose to grow. They understand that this setback, challenge, roadblock, whatever you would like to call it, can be overcome, and they will achieve their lesson. Those with even more hope will understand that maybe what they thought they wanted wasn’t what they wanted, and will choose to pivot and positively navigate the situation.
Those with no hope will stop, be defeated, and simply wait. They will blame everyone, declare themselves the victim, and state the grass is greener everywhere else. The grass is the greenest in your own garden because that is where you are meant to be.
Hope is a muscle, and through dedicated work, we can increase our hope daily. Increasing hope is a process, and even when all hope is lost, you can reignite the ember. Daily workouts are the best thing to help develop, grow and maintain hope.
Celebrate a victory every day, no matter how small. Celebrations are the fuel to keep hope going. It teaches us to focus on the positive, to know we will always achieve our dreams. Set celebration stops along your path, make sure you stop to enjoy what you have achieved, revel in the moment, and just live.
When you find yourself at a place of burnout, down in the dumps, or just plain old tired, eat a good meal, drink more water, take a nap, speak to a friend who always lifts your spirit, pet a dog, volunteer, or celebrate someone else’s victory. Recently I was speaking to a group of leaders and the topic of pandemic and burnout came up. I shared with them the day I was down in the dumps, feeling sorry for myself, and thinking I would never be successful. I was scrolling through social media when I came across a post of a friend chronicling her journey to success. That very day, her product was live on Lowe’s website. The journey had been hard, grueling, and started with the death of her father. Six years later, here she was. Reading her story, I felt inspired, motivated, and knew I could do it too. I looked at my dogs, told them we were throwing a celebration party for my friend, and let me tell you we partied hard. We got the dog treats out and played several vigorous rounds of fetch. We may have even sung and danced. By the end of the party, I was on fire and ready to conquer the world. When all else fails, when every door seems like it is closing, celebrate the victories of others. Borrowing their success will give you the hope to keep working on your own.
Start and end every day on a positive foot
Wake up grateful. Change your mindset to, “I woke up, it’s going to be a great day, and I get to work.” So many people who can’t work, but who want to work. Value the privilege of being able to work. Learn that we can learn and grow in every job, no matter how lowly it may seem.
Fall asleep being grateful for the day you lived. Reflect on what you did, who you met, and what you learned. Even if all you did was care for your family, you were able to invest in them, and make their day better.
Being positive is a sure-fire way to increase your hope. A positive outlook creates optimism, even in the face of the worst day. Rename your roadblocks to something that inspires you. I love to go on adventures, a friend renamed our roadblocks as our adventures. Every time another one would hit and I would feel defeated, she would remind me that we were on an adventure and my spirits would instantly lift.
Do one thing for yourself every day
Every day, dedicate a minimum of one hour to self-care. Trust me, you are not too busy for self-care. Workout, enjoy art, read a book, take a nap, do something, at least one thing daily, that you define as self-care. Investing in ourselves, caring for our bodies increases our hope. We can’t feel hopeless when we are investing in ourselves.
Learn something every day
Some days the lessons will fly at you, other days you will have to search for them. Understand you have the opportunity to learn something from every person you meet and each situation you find yourself in. Open yourself to these lessons. Never become so self-absorbed that you think you can’t learn something from a person, or that they are beneath you. No one is beneath you and everyone has something to give you, the packages are just sometimes wrapped a little differently than we expect.
Make your bed as soon as you get up
I thrive off of accomplishments. Some days, all I can say I accomplished was making my bed. This one-act, these 5-minutes in the morning, always set my day off on the right foot, and give me one positive accomplishment.
We also work better in chaos-free, organized rooms. Create organization and a clean atmosphere daily. Get up, make your bed, wash your face, get dressed, and be grateful you are alive. A made bed can come to symbolize the hope you have in the coming day.
Create routines and habits
Routines and habits are comforting and allow us to get mundane tasks done quickly. There is also a certain amount of comfort to be found in routines and habits. Group chores together, create routines to keep your house clean. Develop habits of saying affirmations as you get ready each morning, and acknowledge your gratitude for a good day each night. Create a habit of staying hydrated, eating healthy, and working out.
Habits and routines free our minds to focus on other things and create a sense of comfort and accomplishment. Knowing you have the mundane things in life, like laundry, and cleaning bathrooms, under control gives you a sense of pride and allows you to have the energy to tackle obstacles.
Developing hope will improve your mental, emotional and physical health. An optimistic outlook filled with hope does not mean you are naive or gullible. Rather they indicate that you have stared at the fires of life, braved the battles, have the scars to show, and are still not afraid to live. Work on developing hope, and watch doors and opportunities open.