Dear Mishu Advice Columnist: Live Life Free, Happy, and Bold

I always have #problems, what should I do? Jo asks, Mishu answers

Dear Mishu:

I feel like I always have problems, and I don’t know what to do. What advice do you have for me?

Dear Jo:

You can’t prevent problems, but you can control what they mean…. My problem is that I can’t ever catch a squirrel. I could think “I’m a failure, I never catch a squirrel” or I could think “Every day I get to chase squirrels, which I love, and take on the ultimate challenge!” …Which way would you rather live? #DeepThoughts

The Inside Story

Life is full of ups and downs and if we view it as our job, or even our right, to live without any problems, we’re going to be disappointed. Expecting ourselves to be happy and problem free all the time isn’t realistic. And it’s exhausting.

But there are lots of ways you can take control of your life and the stress that comes with problems.

What Problems?

One of the best ways to feel better about a problem is to work on how you think about the problem itself.

You can control what your problems mean based on how you choose to think about them #DearMishu Click To Tweet

For example: You have to work at a boring summer job to have spending money for the school year. Your friends spend the whole summer on vacation and get spending money from their parents. Sucks? Probably. But the self-sufficiency, discipline, and work ethic you have will take you far in life. If you can focus on that, or on the interesting people you meet in your job,  or on the boost to your resume, you might start seeing the job as an advantage.

Remember You’re Not Alone

Of course it’s not easy, because our instinct when we have problems is often to look around and assume that we’re the only ones that do, or that everyone else has it easier.

But the truth is that if you really look around, most people you see are carrying some burden or another — whether it be a health issue, relationship trouble, financial stress, addiction, or something else. Sometimes you see their struggle expressed in a short temper or a general weariness, but sometimes you don’t notice it at all (possibly because you’re focusing so much on your own problems).

Paying attention to other people and their experiences is a good way to stop obsessing over your problems Click To Tweet

Practice Gratitude

Finally, practicing gratitude is a proven method for feeling better in the face of real problems. Even when things are tough, if you make an effort to notice beautiful things such as a flower or the colorful fall leaves, or appreciate a good friend, your days will be a little easier to get through. If it’s hard to remember this as you go about your day, you might want to create a gratitude journal and develop a practice of writing down three things you’re grateful for when you first wake up in the morning or before you go to bed at night.

No Judgement

All of this advice is not to say that you shouldn’t be upset. When things suck, they suck, and it’s fine and even important to be angry, sad, or whatever emotion you feel. And if some days you cannot manage to feel gratitude, see the advantages in your situation, or put your own problems in perspective, that’s okay too.

The last thing you should do is judge yourself for your feelings. Give yourself sympathy instead #NoJudgement Click To Tweet

Don’t make things worse by piling on and adding self-criticism to your burdens. If it was your friend who was upset about going through a hard time, you wouldn’t scold your friend for being upset, you would offer sympathy. Give yourself the sympathy you would give a good friend.

It’s Up to You

No judgement doesn’t mean that you don’t make an effort. Problems are a part of life and it is up to you to control how you approach a problem. Instead of it controlling you, decide on what meaning you want it to have in your life, and how it fits into your story of you. Finally, try to think about how you can take these problems you are having, and use them to create the future you want.

Related posts:

Mishu on dealing with family problems

Mishu on making friends in a new city

Mishu on coping when family members are sick

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