What to Do When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

There are two things taking place when we feel like our life is not going the way we hoped or wanted it to. The first thing is expectations — those pesky things created by society, our loved ones, and our own biased assumptions about how life should be. The second thing is a feeling of stuckness — that dull feeling, which lacks newness and excitement, that stems from repetitive and monotonous thoughts and behavior.

With expectations, it’s really best we get rid of them all together. When we drop a ball, we can expect it to fall. But why put pressure on the ball? How about we just let the ball do what the ball is going to do? Expectations, whether we put them on other people or on the universe, communicate that we are more important than the universe, that we know better, and that we have the clarity and foresight to know what’s best for everybody in the long run.

Ultimately, we may all be wrong about everything. There are pros and cons with both sides of every issue. Wise expectations can only come when we are certain, and certainty just doesn’t exist in this world. We may expect a promotion, but instead we get laid off. But that layoff can open doors to better positions at better companies. And conversely, what you may think is best, may be worse off in the end.

Whether it’s being rich or having a family or traveling the world, ideas of success are subjective and all that matters is living a life that makes you happy. Everyone gets to live however they wish, and you deserve no less. It’s your adventure. More in my podcast on how to find that free and infinite wellspring of joy and contentment in life that no object, circumstance, or amount of money will ever compare.

With feeling stuck, there are many things we can do to shake things up and add some variety to our lives — exploring new places, trying new foods, cycling instead of driving, etc… But before we go quitting our jobs and changing cities (more on this in my YouTube video), it’s important to ask ourselves if we are actually only trying to get away from that feeling inside of us.

Repetitive behavior doesn’t have to feel boring. Monotony doesn’t have to feel tedious. The fact is, it’s not the things we do that shape our experience. It’s the mental story we tell ourselves about our experiences. We can be a wealthy movie star and still feel stuck (just ask Jim Carey). Or, we can be a garbage man and derive immense joy from our family, friends, and even a day’s honest work. It’s all in the mental story we tell ourselves. (Sometimes we have to give meaning to our meaningless lives to make them interesting. Here’s how to find that meaning and purpose in life.)


Do This to Declutter Your Mind:

Every day we’re bombarded with millions of messages and inputs from other people and the media we consume. It’s enough to fill any mind with junk and clutter. These daily bombardments of negativity are enough to grind anyone down. That’s why it’s so important to take some time each day to reset and recharge, to process the inputs, to recenter oneself, and to digest all this mental junk food, including stress-inducing news stories, mindfully (here’s how I got over my own news addiction). It is essential to finding peace in a hyperactive world.

The way to do this can be as simple as spending more time in nature, or even just looking at a flower or plant for an extended period of time. It can be making art or playing music. And of course, there is no greater way to tune out all external stimuli than to sit in meditation, watch your breath, be present and conscious of the present moment, allow thoughts to come and go, and simply watch the thoughts without getting lost in thought. As you do this, you will notice that the external noise that fills up our internal world will get quieter and quieter until it is completely inaudible, peaceful and calm.

No matter where you are in life, appreciate how far you’ve come. No matter where you’ve been, be grateful for those experiences that made you who you are. No matter what you’re doing, give it your full attention. And may you find the wonder and adventure that lie within every moment.

PS: We all know meditation can make us more peaceful, patient, relaxed and joyful. We know it lowers stress, anxiety and blood pressure. But did you know meditation can lead to better decision-making? In this article, I’ll tell you how it works and show you how to use meditation for making smart choices.

The Art of Gratitude | Short Film

Gratitude is the most important human emotion because it alone determines the quality of our life. This film is a roadmap back to our grateful hearts.

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