How many times have you left a self-development seminar feeling motivated and euphoric?
If you haven’t gone to a seminar, you’ve experienced it when you’ve read a motivational book or watched a powerful video on YouTube.
How long have those feelings lasted before you're back to the "old" you? (By the way, there is nothing wrong with being the "old" you).
If your experiences have been anything like mine, they don't last that long. A few days at best. Vague ideas and soundbites are thrown at you to get you pumped, yet you leave with no real takeaways other than a pair or rose coloured glasses to view the world with.
I’ve been dabbling in the self-help/self-improvement field since I was 19. I was gifted with two tickets to go to San Diego with my brother for a weekend to hear James Ray (one of the guys in The Secret). I guess that was sort of a stepping stone for the type of stuff I became interested in until now. I started to immerse myself in the subject since then.
Six years later, one would think that I should be as stress-free as a Buddhist monk. Funny enough, in the last year I've experienced more anxiety and low points than my motivating personal trainer persona would like to admit.
Last weekend a lot of those feelings dissolved for me. I got the chance to hear one of my childhood mentors, Dr. Nima, speak in Toronto. It's impossible to distill the 10-hour experience into 1000 words so here are two things that I want to share with you.
Delusional Thinking: Be Happy All The Time
"Get rid of negative thoughts and feelings and you’ll be happy." BULL. SHIT.
You know that person with the perma-smile who seems like he just got a 2 gallon coffee enema? Ever try to be him? It's pretty damn hard to maintain that fakeness for a long time. In due time you just burnout and end up writing a blog post about it.
See, you will never have a positive without a negative and a negative without a positive, simple as that.
You can never get rid of negative thinking. It's a part of us being human. The harder you try to suppress sadness and block it off without acknowledging it, the harder it comes at you.
Every magnet has a negative and positive pole. Try splitting that magnet in half. You don’t end up with separate negative and positive magnet. You've now got two magnets with a negative and positive pole. Disney’s movie Inside Out explains this well. Every emotion serves a purpose and so does sadness and anger. (If you haven’t watched it yet and you want to “Netflix and chill", let me know in the comments section).
The focus of our society is now on being happy ALL THE TIME and if you’re not happy, then you need to fix it ASAP. This whole chasing endless happiness is making us become more unhappy about being unhappy.
"Whatever you try to run away from you, will keep running into. Whatever you bury, buries you. Whatever you resist, persists." - Dr. John Demartini
In his book The Darkside To Your Upside, Todd Kashdan writes how we should strive to be a whole person instead of simply a happy person. "There is a not so hidden prejudice against negative states, and the consequence of avoiding these states is that you inadvertently stunt your growth, maturity, adventure, and meaning and purpose in life.” We’re human and we get to experience a ton of thoughts and feelings. Every emotion serves a purpose and helps us be who we are.
Acknowledge Perceptions and Values
“Your perspective is just YOUR perspective Everyone has a set of values and they’re going to judge you based on them." - Dr. Nima
Look at your life right now. What you’ve created is a manifestation of your highest values. Everything we experience is based on our values.
We get rejected when we challenge someone's values. We get high fives and compliments when we support someone's values. Everyone does this.
You will always be judging people based on your values and people will always judge you based on theirs. There is nothing wrong with that.
You judge or perceive any event as being positive or negative. Consider the examples above. Can you honestly say one is right or wrong? Or which one is a “better” view? Probably yes. You’ll support the statements that confirm and align with your values. But realize that the same event will never have everyone perceiving the same thing.
“Your values both cloud and colour your perceptions.” - Dr. Nima
Stop the compare and despair game by actually living. This causes low self-esteem. "I should have it his way rather than my way."
Dr. Nima says we constanty inject other people's values and beat ourselves up for not living lives that aren't ours when we should be instead be honoring what we are.
So it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to go through some tough and challenging times that push us outside of our comfort zone. That includes people challenging our values and rejecting us. That's how we grow.
No amount of success comes without failures and no amount of joy comes with it's share of sadness.
The sooner we embrace that and realize there's two sides to every coin, the sooner we'll get more out of life on this tiny spaceship we're on.
That's us. Just a tiny spec of stardust and we're not here for a long time. Might as well stop giving a shit and make this life magnificent.
"Dance like you don't care who's watching" - Dr. Nima
For more info on Dr. Nima, a.k.a. The Stress Doctor, and The Overview Experience click here