My focus is to forget the pain of life. Forget the pain, mock the pain, reduce it. And laugh.
Jim Carrey

We all go through tough times in our lives. But there are some tricks available to help us get through these times, and they include gratitude and broadening our perspective. In this article I share a bit about a tough period of my life and the tools that helped me, and can help you, to feel better.

For a long time I was pretty unhappy. My Mum, and later my Dad, were unwell for a long time, about 14 years in total, and I allowed this to affect me. Badly. I was often grumpy, sarcastic, angry (although I didn’t show it), sad, and I focussed on the negative. I was at times difficult to be around, and I found it was hard being me.

One of the key things about my mental state during this difficult period was that I had a very narrow focus. My focus was on my mother, and later, my father, when they were unwell. I frequently failed to notice during this period all those great things that were going on in my life. I generally had good jobs. I had some great friends, and a brother and sister who loved me, despite me.

So what advice would I have for anyone going through a difficult period in their life, be that a relationship break-up, the loss of someone in the family, or everyday stressors which can build up and harm our outlook on life?

Well there are a lot of things we can do during such times, but widening our view and being grateful are among the keys to finding some happiness. Because if we widen our view, we will undoubtedly notice all manner of wonderful things that are happening in our lives, and most importantly, the lives of others. For instance:

  • Perhaps you have a nice little flat to be grateful for?
  • Perhaps your friend just got married?
  • Maybe you had a great cup of coffee this morning?
  • Or maybe you have just booked a nice holiday!

You see, our modern lives have so many aspects to them, and generally our lives and the lives of our friends and families have some parts which are working for us, and some parts which aren’t. So you just have to ask yourself, where are you going to maintain your gaze?

If you’re really still struggling, you can go even further than your immediate friends and family. Think about great things happening in your community. Perhaps there is a new shop or café opening soon? Maybe a local sporting team is having some success? Or perhaps there’s a festival coming up?

So my advice is as much as possible, stop thinking about and talking about what’s going wrong, and create a new habit of looking wider, and finding the things we can be grateful for, which are happening to us, our friends and family, and our community. Because if we look around wide enough, there’s always some good things going on for us to be happy about. And that’s bound to make us feel better.

All the best,

Ivan