Wow are there some times when life sucks. And oh good lord are there times when life is boring. And don’t even get me started on the times when life is just too hard, too painful, or simply too much.
Recently my father passed away. That was one of those times when life sucked a hell of a lot. Before that I was broke. And I mean really broke, living off of whatever tinned crap I could afford from the dollar store. Before that I lost my cat to cancer.
There’s always something negative to focus on, right? And really, there always will be.
But interwoven among those crappy times are pure jewels, wondrous moments that make the heart sing.
Just today–as I find myself singing in my head the cheesy 1980s rock ballad “Here I go again on my own” by Whitesnake–I’m stuck on the road behind a dump truck which is blowing trash out of its bowels and onto my windscreen. I want to wind the window down and yell at the driver. I wont. His day may have sucked just as hard as mine.
I drive home and fight the urge to slam the door closed. Time to clean the house, make the dinner, and then I’ll have just a couple of hours to write.
But while all this trash is literally and figuratively blowing in the wind, while there are so many negative things going on, there are moments of pure gold, moments that create that burst of energy in the body, when it feels like tears might rise to the eyes because life is so beautiful.
The real problem isn’t that life sucks. No, the real problem most of us face in that there’s just too stark a contrast between dark and light. The darks are too dark and the lights too light, as though life were one of Gericault or Delacroix’s Romantic paintings. Negativity and positivity sometimes seem infinite. They stretch out of proportion, becoming unmanageable.
What’s needed is balance. When facing dark times, when life sucks, when life is boring, when life is just too much and too painful,we need to inject a little light into the proceedings.
Here’s seven ways I personally do just that.
The 7 things I do when life sucks too much
1. When life sucks I breathe into my heart space.
I roll my shoulders and stretch myself out. Then, I force myself to inhale deeply. While inhaling deeply I focus my mind on the sensation of my breath entering my body. I allow the oxygen to stir inside of me, and while I’m breathing deep I imagine all that negativity, all that trash emptying out of me, and positivity, fresh life, coming in.
2: When life sucks I sing like I mean it
I sing. But I don’t just half assedly hum along, no no. I sing like I really really mean it. I’ll be driving through town. They’ll be some guy revving his engine and blaring out heavy metal while scowling at everyone. That’s when I love to turn my stereo on and sing my heart out. And I also like to wave at the metal head guy. Because I want to see if I can make him laugh or smile. And sometimes I do. Sometimes I do. And that moment, that moment of seeing the grunge-loving man smiling like a little kid; that’s a moment I’ll never forget.
3: When life sucks I Laugh
Do you know how hard it is to stay unhappy while you’re laughing. Laughter shines a bright light inside and tears through the shadows like a katana through paper. Lughter is an expression of pure positivity. It dissolves negativity like salt under boiling water.
4:When life sucks I express gratitude
Even at the darkest of times there are plenty of leaves in the trees and birds singing all around. There is always something to be thankful for. At dark time I like to seek out the light interwoven among the shade, the positive among the negative, and having found it, I express thanks for it. If you think life sucks right now, it can only be because life has been better previously right?
Dark reveals light, and for that at least I can be thankful for the bad times, because they make the line shine that much brighter. If you need some ideas of things to be thankful for, try this list of 101 things to be grateful for.
5: When life sucks I creatively express the pain
There’s a pain at the heart of all creativity. The great artists are usually the tortured ones. Pain is like oil in the engine of the creative brain. Pain yearns to come out through art, whether it’s the tortured voice of Silvia Plath, the melancholy of Van Gogh, or the agonised spirit of Mozart’s final works, pain has long been at the heart of the world’s greatest artworks. When you feel the pain, allow it to come seeping through your pores and onto the page or screen. And for the full cathartic experience, indulge in some true art therapy.
6: When life sucks I Eat
Food. Yum. I have to admit I don’t mind comfort eating from time to time. I’m reasonably healthy, so why not indulge in yummy food occasionally? And I do find that cooking offers powerful purgation. There’s just something about being in the kitchen with a ton of different ingredients around, and then creatively working those ingredients into something vaguely resembling food. I call it my Zen Cooking Time.
7: When life sucks I snuggle cats and other pets
Animal therapy really is amazing. Researchers have scientifically proven that pets cure stress. To be honest I don’t know why they had to scientifically prove that. Cuddling cats is proof in itself, surely. I’ll also snuggle family and friends. If I’m upset and you’re around I quite probably will snuggle you, so there, you’ve been warned. Snuggling is one of life’s best comforts. Find someone you love and snug away.
And there we are. My seven ways to stop life from sucking. I’m fairly certain that this combination of cats, food, snuggles, singing, art, breathing, laughter, and gratitude is more powerful than any medication ever could be. What do you think?