Challenging Times: Riding Life’s Big Waves

I got an invoice from my lawyer a couple of days back – for what exactly I’m not sure, as what he’d done for me didn’t really match the bill! He explained that he was sending out invoices to a variety of people to “keep the wolf from the door in these challenging times”.

Challenging times they may well be. We face unprecedented economic circumstances currently, we’re constantly faced with the ups and downs of normal everyday relationships and we are frequently confronted by the trials and tribulations of business and work. However the only real challenge we face is the challenge within. “How am I to react when faced with so much negative stuff coming at me?” as one client asked me on a recent visit. “It’s damned difficult to stay centred in the midst of all that’s going on around me” said another. “How in God’s name am I meant to stay focused when my personal life is falling to pieces around me?” another client once asked.

These challenges are simply life’s “big waves”. Life is like the Volvo Round-the-World yacht race. If you’re one of the competitors, you know that there are going to be lots of big waves so you prepare yourself and make sure that you’re adequately equipped to handle them. As a result, you’re able to ride those big waves. It’s the same with life’s ups and downs. You are certain, because you see it all around you, that life is full of these big waves. So, just like the yachtsman, you need to be prepared to be sure that you’re appropriately equipped to ride those waves. However, I’m not talking about being prepared in some vague sense – I’m not just suggesting that you be on your guard. I’m talking about practical personal development – about developing the kind of clarity of mind and mental focus that will equip you to take real action in facing up to what life throws at us – rather than crawling back into the normal comfort zone of snap reactive behaviour that normally makes matters even worse than we think they already are.

And, bearing in mind that life is lived moment to moment, you’re going to have to be up to the task, moment to moment. That means that, before you set sail every morning, you need to focus your mind in the here and now – not focused on the day ahead, the day ahead will unfold one moment at a time. This means that whilst you’re drinking your breakfast coffee, that’s just what you’re doing – inhaling the aroma, tasting the bitterness, feeling the warmth of the mug in your hand, looking at the steam curl off the liquid’s surface, feeling the warmth run down your throat, listening to the sound as you swallow.

You need to turn yourself on each morning. Otherwise, you’ll end up participating in life’s yacht race in a rubber dinghy. If you get drowned, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

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