By eM Life teacher Mike Engle
Bumps in the Road of Life
Life always has something to throw at you and there isn’t really any way around it. Sometimes we get hit with small hiccups in the road (my toddler just peed his pants in the car, I can’t get this freaking toaster to work) and sometimes we’re hit with things that knock us hard off our feet. Losing your job, finding out someone you trust is taking advantage of you – life can and will throw many curve balls at us. Not only that, but our world is changing so rapidly that we have to constantly adapt to it. Entire industries are disappearing as technology advances, and even industries that don’t disappear change so much that if we’re not continuously growing and evolving we won’t be able to keep pace. With so many challenges popping up, it’s useful to have a few ways to keep our minds resilient. So, what does it mean to build resilience? Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties in life, to adapt well in the face of adversity. Here’s three ways we can develop mental resilience to recover from the big (and small) hiccups of life.
1. Keep in mind your big goals
When we hit bumps in the road, it always helps to widen our perspective and remember the big goals that we set in the first place. We typically set a big goal and try to achieve a lot of smaller goals on the way there, so when we’ve become derailed from some of these smaller goals it helps to ask if we’re also derailed from the big picture. As long as we keep some flexibility with the smaller goals we can rework our circumstances and figure out new ways to achieve the big picture. When we can step back and remember what it is that we really want we can be creative and flexible about how to get there.
2. Reconnect with your intention
It’s so important for us to remember why we’re doing things – what is the purpose and point we’re seeking to achieve? Often when we start a project, we have clear reasons why we’re doing it and we try to live our lives accordingly. But sometimes we get bogged down in the details and mayhem of life and we begin to forget where we’re going and why we’re going there. We lose sight of why we work the way we do, why we relate to our friends and family the way we do, why we spend our time the way we do, and we end up constantly reacting to life without having the space to remember our intention. When we reconnect with our intention we remember what it is that we really want. We don’t get stuck with the instances in life that go awry but instead we let the changes of life happen. Even if those changes seem like setbacks, as long as our intention is strong we can still move in the right direction.
3. Adopting a growth mindset
People have different mindsets when it comes to failure or facing obstacles. A fixed mindset believes that we are inherently the way we are, that we are as smart as we are and as talented as we are and that’s it. With a fixed mindset we constantly evaluate our worth in relation to our success and failure, always searching for approval and fearing rejection. On the other hand, a growth mindset acknowledges the plasticity of the brain and the truth that we are evolving throughout life, both physically and mentally. Through hard work we can learn new talents and overcome challenges. We are a work in progress, and in this light failure is redefined as learning. The bumps in the road that we encounter are in fact the very opportunities to shape us into magnificent people. We’re able to acknowledge and embrace our imperfections, see challenges as opportunities, and feel confidence as we engage in the process of life. Many of us don’t even realize that our minds are moldable, that our brains are constantly changing and growing and that we play a powerful role in shaping how our minds work.
Trusts in your ability to constantly learn and grow through life’s setbacks.
In the end its our minds that help us to overcome the challenges in life. It’s that flexibility and resilience in our minds that allow us to be dynamic and adapt to our ever-changing circumstances. Without knowing how our minds work and how to work with our minds we continuously look outside for solutions to our problems. We fail to recognize that just by changing our paradigms, beliefs, and ways of relating to the world we can change everything in our lives. This is where our mindfulness practice starts to shift everything. We are not doing a mindfulness practice just to be more calm or relaxed, but we’re doing it to reconnect with our innate ability to be aware of the present moment. We’re remembering how to be present to our senses, our thoughts and emotions, and our lives without buying into our stories and beliefs about what we perceive all the time. With practice we begin to give ourselves the space and presence needed to develop a growth mindset, to set our intentions, and set goals for ourselves in the dynamic way that our lives call for. It’s so simple, yet so many of us have never been taught how to do it. This is where it all begins, with awareness, seeing how we truly are and taking that first step to surrender to the flow of life, letting go of habits and patterns that trap us and easing into a resilient mind.
Practicing Mindfulness to Help Build your Resilience
Life happens whether we’re ready for it or not. Know that eM Life is here to help you get through the bumps that occur throughout your journey. Log in to eM Life and discover a new point of you.
About the author
Mike has been passionate about training his mind since he was first exposed to mindfulness at the age of 16. Since then, his desire to understand and work with his mind has led him to earn degrees in Psychology and Philosophy, to research attention training in monastic education in Nepal, and to sit four and a half years in intensive solitary retreat. After finishing his retreat Mike began to teach mindfulness to others, and after starting his own family he became interested in bringing the benefits of mindfulness to parents, children, and families. He’s worked as a mindfulness instructor for eM Life since 2017 and currently lives in Barcelona with his wife and sons where he spends his time teaching mindfulness, coaching, and working in the field of Tibetan translation.
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Also published on Medium.