What I Do When I Feel Like Giving Up
I am struggling today. If you’ve ever struggled to be consistent with something you care about, maybe my struggle will resonate with you too.
It has been 939 days since November 12, 2012. That’s the date when I first published an article on JamesClear.com and it’s almost 2 years and 7 months ago. During these 939 mostly glorious, sometimes frustrating days, I have written a new post every Monday and Thursday. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.
Today, I Feel Like Giving Up
But today? Well, today I am struggling. Today, I don’t feel like writing. Today, I don’t feel like sticking to the routine. Today, I don’t feel like I have any great ideas and I don’t feel like I have enough time to make the good ideas great. Today, I feel like giving up. Research from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that grit is the characteristic linked most closely to success. I could use some grit today.
Here’s what I try to remind myself of when I feel like giving up…
Your Mind is a Suggestion Engine
Consider every thought you have as a suggestion, not an order. Right now, my mind is suggesting that I feel tired. It is suggesting that I give up. It is suggesting that I take an easier path.
If I pause for a moment, however, I can discover new suggestions. My mind is also suggesting that I will feel very good about accomplishing this work once it is done. It is suggesting that I will respect the identity I am building when I stick to the schedule. It is suggesting that I have the ability to finish this task, even when I don’t feel like.
Remember, none of these suggestions are orders. They are merely options. I have the power to choose which option I follow.
Discomfort Is Temporary
Relative to the time in your normal day or week, nearly any habit you perform is over quickly. Your workout will be finished in an hour or two. Your report will be typed to completion by tomorrow morning. This article will be finished in just a moment.
Life is easier now than it has ever been. 300 years ago, if you didn’t kill your own food and build your own house, you would die. Today, we whine about forgetting our iPhone charger.
Maintain perspective. Your life is good and your discomfort is temporary. Step into this moment of discomfort and let it strengthen you.
You Will Never Regret Good Work Once It is Done
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” So often it seems that we want to work easily at work worth doing. We want our work to be helpful and respected, but we do not want to struggle through our work. We want our stomachs to be flat and our arms to be strong, but we do not want to grind through another workout. We want the final result, but not the failed attempts that precede it. We want the gold, but not the grind.
Anyone can want a gold medal. Few people want to train like an Olympian.
And yet, despite our resistance to it, I have never found myself feeling worse after the hard work was done. There have been days when it was damn hard to start, but it was always worth finishing. Sometimes, the simple act of showing up and having the courage to do the work, even in an average manner, is a victory worth celebrating.
This Is Life
Life is a constant balance between giving into the ease of distraction or overcoming the pain of discipline. It is not an exaggeration to say that our lives and our identities are defined in this delicate balance. What is life, if not the sum of a hundred thousand daily battles and tiny decisions to either gut it out or give it up?
This moment when you don’t feel like doing the work? This is not a moment to be thrown away. This is not a dress rehearsal. This moment is your life as much as any other moment. Spend it in a way that will make you proud.
Let the World Decide
So, what do I do when I feel like giving up? I show up. Do I show up at my best? I doubt it. But my job isn’t to judge how good or how bad I am.
How to Be Happy When
Everything Goes Wrong
In the summer of 2010, Rachelle Friedman was preparing for one of the best periods of her life. She was recently engaged, surrounded by her best friends, and enjoying her bachelorette party.
Friedman and her friends were spending the day at the pool when one of them playfully pushed her into the shallow end of the water. Friedman floated slowly to the top of the pool until her face emerged. It was immediately obvious that something was wrong. “This isn’t a joke,” she said.
Her head had struck the bottom of the pool and shattered two vertebrae. In particular, the fracture of her C6 vertebra severed her spinal cord and left her permanently paralyzed from the chest down. She would never walk again.
“We are just so happy…”
One year later, Rachelle Friedman became Rachelle Chapman as she married her new husband. She decided to share some of her own thoughts on the whole experience during an online question-and-answer session in 2013.
She started by discussing some of the challenges you might expect. It was hard to find a job that could accommodate her physical disabilities. It could be frustrating and uncomfortable to deal with the nerve pain.
But she also shared a variety of surprisingly positive answers. For example, when asked if things changed for the worse she said, “Well things did change, but I can't say in a bad way at all.” Then, when asked about her relationship with her husband she said, “I think we are just so happy because my injury could have been worse.”
How is it possible to be happy when everything in life seems to go wrong? As it turns out, Rachelle’s situation can reveal a lot about how our brains respond to traumatic events and what actually makes us happy.
The Surprising Truth About Happiness
There is a social psychologist at Harvard University by the name of Dan Gilbert. Gilbert's best-selling book, Stumbling on Happiness, discusses the many ways in which we miscalculate how situations will make us happy or sad, and reveals some counterintuitive insights about how to be happy.
One of the primary discoveries from researchers like Gilbert is that extreme inescapable situations often trigger a response from our brain that increases positivity and happiness.
For example, imagine your house is destroyed in an earthquake or you suffer a serious injury in a car accident and lose the use of your legs. When asked to describe the impact of such an event most people talk about how devastating it would be. Some people even say they would rather be dead than never be able to walk again.
But what researchers find is that when people actually suffer a traumatic event like living through an earthquake or becoming a paraplegic their happiness levels are nearly identical six months after the event as they were the day before the event.
How can this be?
The Impact Bias
Traumatic events tend to trigger what Gilbert refers to as our “psychological immune systems.” Our psychological immune systems promote our brain’s ability to deliver a positive outlook and happiness from an inescapable situation. This is the opposite of what we would expect when we imagine such an event. As Gilbert says, “People are not aware of the fact that their defenses are more likely to be triggered by intense rather than mild suffering. Thus, they mis-predict their own emotional reactions to misfortunes of different sizes.”
This effect works in a similar way for extremely positive events. For example, consider how it would feel to win the lottery. Many people assume that winning the lottery would immediately deliver long-lasting happiness, but research has found the opposite.
In a very famous study published by researchers at Northwestern University in 1978 it was discovered that the happiness levels of paraplegics and lottery winners were essentially the same within a year after the event occurred.
You read that correctly. One person won a life-changing sum of money and another person lost the use of their limbs and within one year the two people were equally happy.
It is important to note this particular study has not been replicated in the years since it came out, but the general trend has been supported again and again. We have a strong tendency to overestimate the impact that extreme events will have on our lives. Extreme positive and extreme negative events don’t actually influence our long-term levels of happiness nearly as much as we think they would.
Researchers refer to this as The Impact Bias because we tend to overestimate the length or intensity of happiness that major events will create. The Impact Bias is one example of affective forecasting, which is a social psychology phenomenon that refers to our generally terrible ability as humans to predict our future emotional states.
How to Be Happy: Where to Go From Here
There are two primary takeaways from The Impact Bias about how to be happy.
First, we have a tendency to focus on the thing that changes and forget about the things that don’t change. When thinking about winning the lottery, we imagine that event and all of the money that it will bring in. But we forget about the other 99 percent of life and how it will remain more or less the same.
We’ll still feel grumpy if we don’t get enough sleep. We still have to wait in rush hour traffic. We still have to work out if we want to stay in shape. We still have to send in our taxes each year.
It will still hurt when we lose a loved one. It will still feel nice to relax on the porch and watch the sunset. We imagine the change, but we forget the things that stay the same.
Second, a challenge is an impediment to a particular thing, not to you as a person. In the words of Greek philosopher Epictetus, “Going lame is an impediment to your leg, but not to your will.”
We overestimate how much negative events will harm our lives for precisely the same reason that we overvalue how much positive events will help our lives. We focus on the thing that occurs (like losing a leg), but forget about all of the other experiences of life.
Mobility issues represent but a small fraction of the experiences available to you. Negative events can create task-specific challenges, but the human experience is broad and varied.
There is plenty of room for happiness in a life that may seem very foreign or undesirable to your current imagination.
10 Important Life Lessons to Learn Early on in Life
Updated on March 11, 2020, Royale Scuderi
There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.
Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:
1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems
Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.
There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.
Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.
2. Pace Yourself
Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.
Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit. Try these 7 Ways To Train Yourself To Be More Mindful.
Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.
3. You Can’t Please Everyone
“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.
You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.
Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values. This is What You Need to Do to Stop Being a People Pleaser.
4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset
Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.
We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.
Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.
5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon
No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.
We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.
6. It’s Not All About You
You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?
It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.
7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing
No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.
We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.
Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.
8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice
That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.
Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.
Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.
9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing
Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.
The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.
10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted
We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.
When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.
Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.
This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all:
Life can change in an instant.
Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.
8 Inspirational Movie Quotes That Will Teach You The Most Valuable Life Lessons
lifehack.org , Anna Chui
1. Be determined. Instead of intending to just try, do it.
2. Learn to let go and be clear of where you really want to head for.
3. Your past experiences are valuable lessons to you now, learn from them.
4. Just be yourself because you’re unique and you’ll shine.
5. Life’s too short to miss out anything, try to take it slowly.
6. You should love and take care of yourself because after all, it’s your own life.
7. You deserve what you want when you’re trying your best to fight for it, no one can take that right from you.
8. Stop trying to please everyone because it’s impossible. Do what makes you comfortable.
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