Life can get ugly sometimes.
We all have obstacles and problems that pop up from time to time that leave us thinking and feeling like we got a bit of a raw deal.
But does it have to be that way?
Or are there ways of seeing the sunshine behind the clouds?
Having studied many inspiring and iconic people over the years I believe that there is a way to overcome obstacles and challenges so you can turn a hard life into a happy life. It’s a simple method, one that can leave you feeling empowered instead of helpless.
A word of warning though – it does require effort. Like most things in this life, your output is directly correlated to your input. In other words, you get out what you put in.
I’ve been reading Wayne Dyers book ‘The Power of Intention’ which I’d highly recommend and I will go into more detail about this book in other posts because it’s filled with insight.
In ‘The Power of Intention’, Wayne recounts a really powerful story from the book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. If you’re unaware of this book, Viktor was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor and his book recounts how his mental attitude ensured his ultimate survival after many years held captive in concentration camps.
Viktor recalls a very poignant memory of being served a bowl of filthy water with a fish head floating in it and how he trained himself to see the beauty in this meal instead of the horror.
Just contemplate these circumstances for a moment. You’re held captive in a concentration camp. You have no idea if you will live or die yet you somehow are able to consciously decide to see the beauty in a filthy bowl of water with a fish head floating in it. It’s quite an astounding feat if you ask me.
Viktor insightfully observed that if you focus on the ugliness of situations then your mind tends to spiral into negativity and you end up experiencing more and more ugly situations. Whereas if you somehow look for the beauty in situations – your mind does the opposite and you are able to better cope with life’s challenges.
And so I myself have decided to see the beauty or to at least ‘look’ for the beauty in everyday situations that might usually appear at first sight to be ugly. And so far, it’s working. You’d be surprised how easy it is to find those slithers of beauty amongst such ugly situations. And so this is the simple method. It’s not mine, but Viktor’s:
Look for the beauty in life instead of the ugly.
What I love about this method is that by being ‘beautiful’ something does not necessarily have to be ‘easy’. This is not about putting rose tinted glasses on and ‘pretending’ that ‘hard’ situations are ‘easy’ – but about choosing to find a positive perception hidden amongst a negative situation and deciding to focus on the ‘beautiful’ part – not the ‘ugly’ part.
So start today by looking at the photo of the old lady at the top of this post. What signs of beauty can you see amongst the lines & wrinkles on her face?
Remember that life and all of its’ challenges are full of beauty – you just have to start looking for it in the right places.
Simple Life Strategy: Looking for the beauty in life
Practice the following steps each day. Don’t beat yourself up if some days you forget. Instead simply continue to practice changing the way you view ‘ugly’ situations. It’s not likely you’ll star seeing beauty in everything overnight – but in time it will become habitual.
1. Next time you face an ugly situation, become aware that maybe you are just focussing on the ‘ugly’ bits.
2. Search for a slither of beauty amongst the situation – what lessons are there to learn? Is there a part of the situation that you can view as ‘beautiful’?
3. Decide to focus on this newfound beauty instead of the ugliness of the situation and notice how your perception changes and your mood lifts. For example, as I write this on vacation on the tiny Indonesian island Gili Trawangan, I was told today that there is no water (hot or cold) to have a shower or even wash my hands (in an incredibly hot & humid environment). Instead of seeing the ugliness of the situation I decided to see the beauty in it: this gave me a window of time to go outside and practice an hour of yoga. As the Dalai Lama once said: “Sometimes not getting what we want is an incredible stroke of luck”.
4. If you’re having trouble, remember Viktor’s story – if he can find beauty in a bowl of filthy water with a fish head in it, while being held captive in a concentration camp, surely you too can find beauty in your situation.
5. Take this approach to life in general. Expect beauty instead of ugliness and notice how you start to experience a happier and more beautiful life instead of a challenging, ugly one.
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Image Source: Sukanto Debnath