How many times have you thought about just giving up?
Whether it was giving up on your career, your relationship, your workout routine, your diet, or life itself, you’ve made it to this article–Consider yourself saved.
Alright, I felt a bit like I was the host of a late night infomercial or something. But, really, I think I have something to offer you.
When I wanted to give up
When I was working at UPS to pay for my college, I debated giving up almost every night. I didn’t start my shift until midnight or sometimes 1AM. The thoughts that would go through my head each night were those that “I would escape, I have to escape, I will escape, wait, I can’t escape!”. I had to pay for college right? Since college is the answer that everyone seems to push on you in your senior year of high school, they must know some secret that I didn’t know. College was the golden ticket to be successful in the real world. The “real world” seemed so distant and non-existant to me. It seemed like a place that would never pertain to me.
During my time in college, I realized that it definitely wasn’t for me, or Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Albert Einstein. There was something about the institution as a whole that just gave me a sort of dissonance. I knew in my heart that it wasn’t going to be sustainable in the long term and that it ultimately wouldn’t make me happy. How was I supposed to make a career? You’re telling me at age 18 you’re supposed to be able to pick your “dream career” for what you want to do for the rest of your life? Now all that’s left to do is to put in the work, study, take the tests, get your piece of paper and then you’d enter the magical world of your career.
I took a good look around at the adults, as I have for most of my life, and realized that most people are absolutely miserable. In fact, the CDC states that major depression will be the second most debilitating cause of disability next to heart disease in the next 6 years. The upcoming years are going to be arguably some of the hardest years that many people have ever experienced. I see why people are on the verge of just giving up. Looking back, I see how I was on the verge of giving up too.
I pushed through for a couple more years working nights and going to school all day. It was a learning experience. Now that it’s over with, I guess you could say it was worth it. The thing is, the education itself did not stick. The people, the stories and the incredible walks on campus with professors talking about the future of the planet were some of the most mind opening and inspiring experiences I’ve ever gone through.
Now that my story is out of the way, let’s talk about some things I’ve learned that can help you.
Let the dark cloud pass
The way I described my often incessant struggles with my moods while working third shift was like this:
It’s almost as if a dark cloud is out in the distance hiding behind the hills. Sometimes the dark cloud would drift down the hill and sneak through the valley undetected without leaving a trace. Other times the dark cloud emanates from the hillside forming an ominous mass that encapsulates my entire consciousness and stays stagnant directly above me for several minutes, hours and rarely for days. Sometimes a simple sprint in the woods can cause the clouds to break up, allowing the positive rays of sunshine to peek through and give me enough courage and strength to wait out the storm. Other times nothing in my power can disperse the strength of the clouds and I remain consciously powerless to the storm until it decides to pass.
I use these analogies because I spent a lot of time working in the woods. During that time I saw many thunderstorms, snowstorms, hailstorms and rain showers come and go. When the storm would approach, you’d get butterflies as if you were on the way to a first date. The storm would come in, your senses would light up like a firefly and you would become fully immersed into this unique experience. No two storms were the same. What was certain though is no matter how bad the storms got, they always passed.
When you are facing difficult times remember that nothing is stagnant. Times are always changing, people are always changing, we are always changing and you are definitely always changing. Minute by minute, experience by experience, we are shaped and molded by every moment in life. It’s what we can gain from these experiences that make us special. If you were to say that you’ve never learned from a mistake, you’re crazy. When you mess up, when you feel like giving up, or you feel like the dark cloud above your head just simply won’t go away, give it time. Take a walk by yourself with a pet or a loved one. Sit on a trail in the middle of the woods and weep if you have to. Crying has the effect of reducing the buildup of cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for creating so many flustered and tattered souls. Visit a music store and bang around on the drums and strum a guitar. Play around on the piano and synthesizers and find a tune that resonates with your current emotional state. Let it all out.
Grow from your struggles
Would you be a better person if you didn’t have to endure the hard chapters of life you’ve experienced? Would you take back the struggles in exchange for a life of convenience, pleasure and the abundance of anything and everything at your command? I’ve had many things given to me in the form of spiritual, emotional and physical things and while it’s always appreciated, the best things in life have come from the inside. Maybe you feel the same way. Have you had the experience where a certain song just allows you to truly feel alive? Have you climbed a hill or walked on a beach and had the sensation that everything in the universe is aligned exactly how it’s supposed to be? These moments are few and far between for most folks, but I have found a recipe for cultivating these experiences.
Reduce the amount of inputs
Many of us simply have too many things going on. We have to watch the morning TV show to get our information or entertainment. We then jump in the car to listen to the radio and catch up on the latest talk show or other broadcast. We get to work to check up on all the emails and notes that have popped up since we left yesterday. We listen to music and podcasts throughout the day in a conscious effort to pass the time. We are just waiting for “that time”. When will the right time for you to “truly start living” happen? We then come home to hear the news, the latest updates on celebrities and other people in the mass media. We lay down to go to sleep with the mental chatter equivalent to a school lunchroom in the middle of a food fight. We toss and turn until drifting off. We then wake to the sound of an alarm to jump start the day all over again. Is anyone surprised that most people aren’t happy?
By reducing the amounts of inputs into your life, you’ll find much more clarity in your thoughts. Clear thoughts will positively shape your actions. You may find that the “I don’t know what to do” attitude and thought process just disintegrates right before your eyes. You are now free to set your intent and direction. Use this opportunity to evaluate the direction you’ve been in and align your compass to the direction you want to head in. Any belief limiting thoughts are just that; they’re thoughts.
We all know that an object in motion stays in motion, right? So, in an effort to keep the pace up and prevent our ultimate and inevitable collapse, we keep running. We run from the things in life that suck. That’s natural. However, the best thing that we can do is rest and recover. Not only does sleeping help regulate many of our hormones and our immune systems, but it simply feels good. We are the only creatures that willingly and consciously deprive ourselves of sleep in an attempt to gain something. Wait, what are we going for again?
As Dr. Alan Christianson and I discussed, the mindset that we can endlessly and tirelessly work with no rest in between to achieve our goals will only kill us.
The ultimate takeaway is that a healthy mindset towards life itself is of upmost importance. As we talked about in that show, people who commit themselves to 50 years worth of hard, intensive work to attempt to relax and retire later on die short of their goals, literally.
Instead, we should recharge every weekend, or at least every month. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Many of us can drive in a certain direction for 20 minutes or so and discover a new piece of green space that we’ve never seen before. If we don’t have a car, we can walk until we find something that interests us. We can find a bench, sit down with a friend and a drink and just talk. These are the simple experiences and habits that we can use to manifest huge shifts in willpower, personal motivation and inspiration. Try it out for yourself!
What did this article make you think, realize or wonder? I hope that it has sparked a source of positivity to bloom inside of you, now is the time to act. Comment below.