It is as simple as that. We hear this adage from a young age. The first time we make a bad grade. The first time we fall down and sprain our ankle. When our grandparents die, or we go through a breakup. When we don’t make the team, or we get rejected from this or that program. They tell us “life happens”. But no one ever really teaches us what to do about it when things suddenly go horribly wrong.
Do we drink our worries away? Make ourselves numb? Do drugs? Watch TV mindlessly? Put our feelings in a box and never face them? Pretend like everything is ok?
But what if the pain is too much?
Many of us never learn how to cope with this pain. We spend our lives desperately searching for the answer. Is it in a relationship? Do we need to cultivate this perfect life, with the perfect body, the perfect partner, the job, the home, the kids, the dog, etc.? Do we need the luxury car and the nice clothes? The sushi dinners? The apartment with the brick wall?
I think you get my point.
So life happens and we think that we have no control over the outcome. We spend our time numbing the pain by drinking or seeking the affection of others. We smoke cigarettes (or vapes I guess?), create drama, don’t sleep, eat bad food, work the shitty job, cheat, lie, gossip.
But what if we became more aware of our actions? What if there was a simple way to guide ourselves back into the light?
I remember sitting outside with my friend from college one night seven years ago. We were talking about my dad’s death that had happened three years prior. At the age of 20, I felt SO heavy from the pain of his loss and the pressure of having to be strong for everyone around me. I knew that I couldn’t keep going with the weight of his death and everything that followed. I was so young. How could I live to an old age feeling this way when more bad things were bound to happen? Then, my friend told me one of the most profound things I have ever heard:
She said, “GIVE IT UP TO GOD” (or the Universe, Being, whatever you believe in).
That night, I laid in my bed in the dark. I decided that nothing was worse than how I felt at that moment. So I followed her advice and said a silent prayer:
“Universe… I know that there is absolutely nothing I can do about my situation, so I am giving it up to you to take away. I don’t need this pain anymore, so I give it up to God.”
Almost instantly, I felt a shift.
I couldn’t believe that it actually worked. I genuinely gave the pain up and felt it leave my body. This technique might not work for everyone, but at this moment my life began to change. I began to fight for my mental health and inner happiness. And when things became too heavy, I learned how to give up the pain. I developed the skill to worry less about things that were completely outside of my control. This skill carries into my life today as I continue to face the ups and downs of simply living with purpose.
The hardest decision of my life.
Two months ago, I decided to end my relationship. I canceled the wedding and had to say goodbye to my best friend. I knew in my heart that it was the right decision, but I am still going through the “shit”.
My point is that bad things happen. Sometimes we create the bad in order to make room for the good, and sometimes the bad just happens with no explanation. We need to have a toolbox that we can access to always bring ourselves back to love. Learning how to “give it up to God” allowed me to instantly feel lighter. This activity instantly brings me back to myself and my purpose.
I don’t know what will happen in my life. I am twenty-seven years old, in my second year of veterinary school, in debt, and suddenly alone. But I am happy. I am free. I am making room for growth and mistakes, opportunities and failures, freedom and rejection. It was time for me to move on and I have never been more proud of myself.
To get through the shit, you just have to go through it. Head on. No looking away. No turning back. No FEAR. You do have control of your mind. No more “life happens, get over it” mentality. Live in love. Love yourself. Give yourself grace for your mistakes. Have a grateful heart and stay firm in the desire to never settle for less than what you deserve.
BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH IT.
There, I said it. We are all SO worth it. We only inhabit this planet for a short time, and WE DESERVE TO FEEL JOY EVERY SECOND OF IT. Not the fleeting happiness when you get a new car, or make an A on the test, or get a promotion – but the inner joy that comes from living in love.
So get out there. Spread the love and not the fear. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes because you will. No one is perfect. Just promise that at the end of the day, you will return to love. For every day we wake up is a blessing.
Remember that without the mud, there could be no lotus flower. Without the dark, there could be no light. Without pain, there could be no joy.
Don’t look away.
“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering