3 Powerful Mindset Shifts That Can Make You Unshakable By Life’s Storms
How to become grounded and firm as a rock.
Call me a brick-head, but we can all learn a lot from one of the most underrated teachers residing on our earth: rocks.
No matter if the weather’s good or bad, they’re always there, unfazed by everything the world throws at them. They don’t randomly explode or run off with a tree they met on holiday. We could all use a little more rockiness in our lives.
Unforeseen events often pull the carpet from under your feet. One second, you’re all jolly and joyful, whistling to the tune of life. The next, you argue with your spouse, your boss tells you that the new budget cuts your job, or yesterday’s takeaway wants to Usain Bolt out of your stomach the same way it came in. There are many ways your day can go from sweet to sour.
In such situations, it’s easy to lose your nerves and get worked up about it. This pours gasoline on the fire — arguments turn into fights, minor inconveniences into major struggles, and you panic-sell your investments right instead of waiting for them to recover. Worry only makes things worse.
But what would your life look like if you could stay grounded in any situation and nothing could get you off track? You’d make better decisions, stress less, and keep your cool. You’d be able to act instead of react.
You don’t need to be a Zen master to stay firm as a rock in life’s storms.
As hitchhiking around the globe, a toxic relationship with a stripper, and quitting my studies to build my own business have taught me, you just need to shift your mindset.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
— Wayne Dyer
Nothing Is Good or Bad Unless You Make It So
Your mind has the almost compulsive tendency to categorize events as good or bad. While this helps you navigate the world, it couldn’t be further from the truth, as a famous fable by Alan Watts shows.
Once upon a time there was a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away. That evening, all of his neighbors came around to commiserate. They said, “We are so sorry to hear your horse has run away. This is most unfortunate.”
The farmer said, “Maybe.”
The next day the horse came back bringing seven wild horses with it, and in the evening everybody came back and said, “Oh, isn’t that lucky. What a great turn of events. You now have eight horses!”
The farmer again said, “Maybe.”
The following day his son tried to break one of the horses, and while riding it, he was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors then said, “Oh dear, that’s too bad,” and the farmer responded, “Maybe.”
The next day the conscription officers came around to draft people into the army, and they rejected his son because he had a broken leg. Again all the neighbors came around and said, “Isn’t that great!”
Again, the farmer said, “Maybe.”
You don’t breed horses or have army officers taking your children, but there are plenty of things you label as good or bad only to be proven wrong further down the road.
What about the job you hated in the beginning but opened the door for another great opportunity?
What about the broken bone or sickness that brought you pain first but then taught you to appreciate your good health?
And what about the perfect partner you fell for heads over heels but who later made you miserable and caused a painful heartbreak?
Nothing in itself is good or bad — things just are.
If you aren’t conscious of this, your mind will get tangled in life’s ups and downs like a sea turtle in an old fishing net. Good news will have you flying high, bad ones will crush you into the ground like the Wright Brother’s first plane. But if you take a step back and realize this is only your current interpretation, you become unshakable by what happens.
The next time you view something as bad, realize it just is — and even though your mind wants to label it, you have no way of predicting how it will play out in the future.
Accept things as they are because that’s all they are.
“The whole process of nature is an integrated process of immense complexity, and it’s really impossible to tell whether anything that happens in it is good or bad — because you never know what will be the consequence of the misfortune; or, you never know what will be the consequences of good fortune.”
— Alan Watts
Everything Will Be Gone in the Blink of an Eye
We are often so absorbed in our little bubble that we mistake it for the whole world.
Planet Earth is about 4.6 billion years old, while your life is likely to last about 80. If Earth’s life was a 24 hour day, yours would be 0.0015 seconds — less than the blink of an eye.
Yet, you’re often so absorbed in your daily struggles that you assume your miseries to last forever. You attach much more importance to your problems than you should. How many times have you thought of your day, week, or month as ruined, then forgot about it a little later?
Once you realize how small an impact a missed bus, getting soaked in the rain, or a bad date have on your life, your problems begin to pale. Think of the unimaginable dimensions of the whole cosmos and you’ll wonder whether your problems are worth the worries at all.
Whatever happens, it’s not the end of the world. Everything will pass.
However, it would be foolish to lean back and wait for all your problems to solve themselves. They will, but only once you’re pushing daisies.
Don’t despair because things aren’t as they should be. When you know that nothing lasts forever, your struggles become much easier to bear. Eventually, everything will pass.
“Anyone can carry their burden no matter how hard until nightfall.”
— Robert Stevenson
Some Things Are Worth Your Attention
What throws you off track isn’t an event itself, but that it violates your expectations.
It happens all the time. You’re excited about a date but it goes south. You go to a restaurant but the food tastes like concrete looks. You want to sleep in on the weekend but your neighbor decides to turn his walls into swiss cheese at 8 am, so you consider shoving dog shit into his mailbox. These situations suck, but there’s a simple way to turn them around.
Replace your expectations with appreciation.
Last Sunday, I sat on the window board to soak up the sun, when my phone slipped out of my pocket. I watched it spiral down three stories like a drunk, one-winged seagull. Right after the slapping sound an expensive piece of technology makes when it hits concrete, my Bluetooth speaker gave off a little beep, indicating it had lost its connection but found joy in my misery.
Within seconds, a myriad of thoughts flooded my brain like the Atlantic Ocean the body of the RMS Titanic in 1912. This is going to be expensive. I can’t listen to music. It’s going to be so much stress setting up a new phone. I had expected a calm and enjoyable Sunday, but within two seconds, it became about as relaxing as a medieval age witch hunt interrogation.
But instead of dwelling in the misery, I practiced gratitude — and it completely changed my point of view.
I was grateful because the phone still worked despite a completely shattered screen, it wasn’t me who fell out the window, and I had an old backup phone around I could use until I got the living proof for gravity repaired.
When life throws you a curveball, the last thing you want to do is being grateful — but it’s exactly what you need. Your mind can only focus on one thing. If you put gratitude at the center of your attention, the spotlight doesn’t shine on your worries.
A breakup sucks, but you can be grateful for the awesome time you had together.
Losing money in the stock market isn’t a reason to celebrate, but you can be grateful for the lessons learned.
Having an accident isn’t fun, but you can be grateful for the fact you aren’t dead.
There’s always something to be grateful for — you just have to look for it.
Wrap-up to Become Unshakable
Becoming a grounded, unshakable rock isn’t about suppressing your emotions or denying reality. It means making a conscious decision about how you deal with adversity. These three mindset shifts will help you become unfazed by life’s storms.
- There is no good or bad — things just are.
- Nothing lasts forever — everything will pass.
- Replace expectations with appreciation.
You’re the master of your mind — use it right, and you become unshakable.
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