By Shannon Kaiser
Even though life is sometimes messy and unpredictable there is one constant -- opportunities will always come and go. When we are open to new things and eager to branch out of our safe and cozy comfort zone, we can open up a world of new possibilities. It all starts with one easy step. Play the game and get on the court. Landmark Forum's self-improvement course teaches people how to build their best life and the power of getting on the court in life vs. sitting in the stands.
Think about a sporting event. Spectators cheer from the stands but never put themselves at risk. They are not the ones making anything happen. Rather they sit, watch, judge, and wait, while the players are full of life. They are the doers making the game happen and work with them. They see an opportunity and go for it. They take risks and play hard. Of the two types of people which would you rather be?
More often than not I have been a spectator in my own life. I let life happen to me and fell into deep, moldy holes. The only way to pull me out of each episode of depression was to take responsibility for my own life and start making calls, literally getting my butt up out of Self-pity Ville and taking action to guide me in a better direction. It started by taking one single step forward, by getting on the court of my own life.
These tips helped pulled me out of depression and reach a happy state.
1. Seize the day as if it were your last. If you look at your lives as a best-selling book, or blockbuster movie, how is yours playing out? What kind of picture are you in? Is it full of depression, mistakes, regrets, and secrets? Or are you the hero in your own starring role? Are you in a role that challenges and excites you?
Do you seize the day and make the moment matter? The opportunity here is to dream of possibilities beyond the traditional confines of cultural and social acceptability. Whenever there is an area of our lives that we are unhappy with, there is one of two things we do, the human tendency is to ignore it and simply act as if it is not an issue; out of sight out of mind. Or we focus so intently on it, it becomes a giant life-sucking issue pulling us to depression-ville. What if there was another choice, to enjoy ever aspect of your life. It is possible with a little effort and tender love and self care.
2. Avoid being the victim of the harassment of your life. Maybe you are unhappy with your job. I was the queen of bitter job certainty. I lived the "this is how things are" card to its death, meaning I was a victim of the negative perceptions of my job. I worked with people who didn't understand me or respect my contributions. No matter what city the job was in, this was the way I perceived my job.
I'd quit one company and start working at completely different companies, sometimes even different industries, and would always find myself crying in the bathroom on lunch break. I would tell myself it was normal to cry at work and this is just how life is supposed to be. I would come home and complain to whoever would listen about how bad my job was, how lame the people I worked with were, and how I wasn't getting what I deserved. That's a lot of "me, me, and me" talk if you ask me. I was pretty self-consumed and exhausting the victim role. I kept playing out my same reality over and over. Where are you playing out your same patterns.
3. Be accountable. One day I was talking to a friend, I was complaining about my new boss and the work I was doing, when she gently said, "Sounds like your last two jobs." I realized then and there that the only thing all these nasty, toxic environments had in common was me. I was the connecting thread to all of these mishaps in the drama-filled workplace. I took mental stock and realized I was accountable for everything in my life. All of these patterns that kept surfacing were a common thread of my life, not theirs. I asked myself, "What have I been doing to create this reality?"
Quite simply, I hadn't been getting on the court or playing a starring role in my own blockbuster. I had been letting life happen to me vs. co‑creating with life and being accountable for my own actions and patterns. These patterns were really an inner cry for help. I kept living the same reality of moving between jobs, states and countries to get away and start fresh, but I wasn't able to look at the big picture. No matter where I went, these patterns would keep recurring until I learned to recognize each situation as an opportunity to learn something new. Each new job was a lesson, and the lesson would keep coming up until I recognized it and greeted it full-heartedly.
4. Select your thoughts. We can teach ourselves how to be happy in every single moment. It starts with choosing our thoughts, which we can do the same way we choose what route to take on our way to a destination. We can choose the frustrating way, with construction, stoplights and traffic, or we can choose the peaceful, beautiful fun, joyful ride. The choice is always ours. We can cultivate the awareness to select our thoughts the same way we plan a road trip; it takes dedication, courage and focus. We cannot control what happens in our life, but we can control our reaction and perception of it. The power to control your happiness and live your full potential starts in your mind and it starts in this moment.
Is there a situation in your life that is causing you frustration? Challenge yourself to look at the situation with fresh eyes and ask yourself, "What is this situation trying to teach me? What can I learn from this?"