When I was younger, life was hard, a struggle – but it was ingrained in me that when I got through this tough part, everything would be simple. Like a jigsaw, everything would fall into place. Everything would be the way that it should be. Just so.
Like a fairy tale, I grew up believing this. I was my own cheerleader – let’s get through this. So what if we have no money? We’ll get through it. Exams? We’ll get through this. Need to get a job? I’ll do it. Perform well? Push harder? I’ll do it. Get a house. I’ll do it. Find someone nice to settle down with? I’ll get to do it, I’ll do it…..
Now I’m older, I’ve realised that this doesn’t stop. There are very few times that you can sit back and think – yes, I’ve nailed this – because the next target or challenge or trial to deal with is just around the corner. What I’ve also learnt is that we have the inner strength to deal with everything. That’s because life is a line graph. Peaks and troughs. Peaks and troughs. Some steady parts – but then back to peaks and troughs.
It’s the low points that are probably the most valuable. Because when you overcome them – and you do, you do overcome the challenges in your life; what an exhilarating feeling that is! It’s the tough points in life that you show you, and the rest of the world what you are made from. If it wasn’t for the low points in our line graphs, how would we learn the lessons that we need to learn? How would we become kinder, wiser, more tolerant human beings? How would we be able to empathise with and sympathise with others?
A friend of mine has a motto in life, and no matter what she has gone through, or continues to go through, her saying is, ‘This too shall pass’. Four of the most powerful words that I have heard in my life. In the Bhagavad Gita, when Krishna is explaining the truth of life to Arjun, He tells him – everything is temporary.
This too shall pass.
Now, when I face circumstances that are challenging, or am in situations that are tricky – I take deep breaths and remind myself – ‘This too shall pass’.
I remember so vividly, even in my twenties, being in so many situations, where I thought ‘This is the end of the world!’; I couldn’t see how things were going to ever get better. I’d try to retreat back into myself; run away; bury my head in the sand; hope that things would get better of their own accord. Well of course, those things bring temporary relief, but they don’t solve anything. They don’t make life better. Positive thinking; positive actions and positive choices do.
When I was 31 years old, I was visiting my mum, we were going to go out for a shopping trip and she was getting herself ready. I was flicking through channels on the TV and came across Oprah. I hadn’t seen Oprah Winfrey in years on the television, so I put the remote down and watched. She had seven guests on. Each person was an expert, or a success in a different field. They all had two things in common. Firstly, they all had hit rock bottom before becoming successful. Secondly, they had overcome they had pulled themselves up from adversity and become people to be reckoned with. They were all on the show to inspire others, and give advice.
Well, I had time to kill and this seemed quite interesting to me, so I continued watching. When I say that these guests had hit rock bottom, I’m not exaggerating. Some of these people had lost everything of value in their lives. Some had been addicted to drugs, lost their homes, had their children taken away from them, and turned to prostitution to fund their habit. Others had been morbidly obese and had a choice, lose weight or die. One woman had been a victim of domestic violence and had been in a terrible state. I began to realise, as each guest told their story – that they been in the gutter at some point in their life.
So Oprah asked – how did your life get better? How did you turn your life around? I must admit, I was also intrigued – how did these seven individuals climb up and change their lives so dramatically?
One of them spoke up – she was the lady who had been a victim of domestic violence for years, and she gave a simple analogy which has stayed with me for years…
“Oprah,” she said, “When you go to a restaurant, you look at the menu and you order a meal, may be a starter, then the mains and later you ask for dessert. Then you wait and you talk for a while but you know the meal is coming. After a few minutes, the waiter will bring out your plate and serve your food. But if you get a plate of food that you didn’t order, what do you do?”
“Send it back,” Oprah replied.
“Yes, that’s right, you send it back because that’s not what you ordered. And you tell the waiter to bring you what you had ordered.”
I sat there listening – wondering in all honesty, where the heck was all this restaurant talk going? If nothing else, it was making me hungry and think about ordering food right there and then. I was intrigued though so I continued to listen.
“Life is just like being at a restaurant,” the lady continued, “You get what you order. So for example, my girlfriends sometimes tell me – I always go for the bad boys in life. I always fall for the bad boys – and that’s the kind of men they end up with. Bad boys. Because that’s what they’re ordering. Another girlfriend might say, I’ve always got so much drama in my life – and that’s what they end up – more drama.”
“So are you saying that if you ‘order’ good things in your life, the universe will bring good things to you?” Oprah asked.
“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” the lady replied, “You order good things in life and the universe will deliver. And if you receive things that you don’t want in your life, then you send them back, you didn’t want those things, keep thinking about what you did want – and that’s what you will get.”
I’m not exaggerating. That random television programme changed my life. Oprah changed my life. The fact that my mum had not got ready and I was waiting for her before we could go shopping, that whole incident changed my outlook on life.
You are in a trough at the moment and you want to change your life? Focus on what it is that you want out of life. Focus, act and you will achieve it. Order only what you want. Reject what you don’t want. And believe that you deserve good things to happen in your life. Just like, when you’re in a restaurant, you’re a paying customer, you place an order and you expect to get what you ordered. This is how you should approach things in your life.
But don’t be an ass about it.
There are peaks and troughs. Everything is temporary. But you deserve good things. Order and think positively – and watch your life change for the better.