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You’re listening to the live happier longer podcast, episode 65.
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Welcome to the live happier longer podcast. This podcast is equal parts, information, inspiration, education and motivation, all dedicated to increase longevity and improving overall quality of life. I’m your host, Molly Watts and I’m here to help you build the habits of a happier longer life. Let’s get started.
Speaker 1: (00:37)
Well, hello everyone. Welcome back to the live happier longer podcast. It is the second week of February and there is hope here in Oregon that uh, we may be enjoying a few days, like literally, uh, three with no rain. Uh, there’s a lovely blue sky. The sun is shining and it’s just kind of, ah, relief. And as I mentioned before, it somehow makes it seem easier to feel happy even though I know it has. If you’ve listened to this show at all, that, uh, the weather is just a circumstance and not responsible for my feelings. It’s my thoughts about the weather that lead to those feelings of not so great. But, um, regardless, it’s a sunny time here in Oregon. We’re going to take it after that rainy January. And, uh, anyways, here we go. So I spent a lot of time talking on the podcast about how habits are formed, how they might get broken and you know, or how you might break a bad habit and how specific habits are part of creating a happier, longer life.
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That happier part, specifically move, learn, share, give and let go. All of these habits have been proven scientifically to increase longevity and improve overall happiness. And when it comes to talking about improving happiness or quality of life, we’re really talking about how these habits help your overall mindset, which is really just another way of describing having better thoughts. I’ve mentioned this, the model many times and how thoughts create our feelings and our feelings drive our actions and our actions get the results in our life, right? So having a positive or an optimistic outlook or a positive mindset is really just talking about having better thoughts, improving your mindset equals choosing better thoughts. So I want to be clear about that because it’s also a part of overall mindset. I think that you need to understand ahead of time that life is going to be 50 50 you know it’s like an a top out at 50 50 meaning that 50% of the time you’re going to have things that are challenging and hard and 50% of the time you’re going to have awesome, right?
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So if you kind of set your expectations appropriately in terms of that doesn’t mean you’re not going to have, you know that the 50 50 life is a fantastic life. It can be a fantastic life, but you can’t go around hoping that you’re just happy all the time because then or expecting to be happy and joyful and everything all the time because then when stuff happens, you know you’re, you’re, you’re not prepared to deal with it and you can’t escape the fact that you will have your fair number of circumstances that for lack of a better word, just suck. That’s the title of this podcast when things suck and that’s really this week’s podcast was going to be what happens when motivation fails you and how do you handle it when you know you don’t have the motivation you used to have to reach your goals.
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But I’ve had a few friends who have reached out and have shared things with me in the last week or two and those things have just literally taken my breath away. These are true and real crises. And I got to thinking about how managing your mind works during crises because there are times when the circumstances in your life suck and you aren’t just having negative thoughts about the world that are you know, hard because hard and painful challenging things can and do happen. And are you supposed to just put a smile on when you receive a cancer diagnosis, when someone you love is in an accident, how is that anything but awful? What I want you to understand is that it is awful and that is where understanding that awful things are going to happen is actually part of a happier mindset. Did you catch chat? So expecting terrible things actually helps you be happier.
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I realize it sounds counterintuitive but it is a critical piece of managing your thoughts and then, I mean it’s kind of a base layer throughout your life, right? Kind of accepting and expecting things to not always be fantastic that things hard things are going to happen. The next piece of the puzzle is how to manage your thoughts through these crises. And if you can do that successfully, that is where you really, you know, can be your best self and where you’re really going to grow in life. So that’s where I decided to head with this week’s podcast because I wanted to, you know, help my friends and I also wanted to remind myself how thought work works, how thought work works when we are facing circumstances that suck. I actually listened to another podcast on this subject and she was talking about circumstances like this and she called them sucker punches, which I loved.
Speaker 1: (06:17)
So not just suck but sucker punches because the idea of a sucker punch is right that it’s totally unexpected. Somebody does it to you, you’re not expecting it. It strikes without warning. You don’t have your time to get your defenses up. And that’s what some of the stuff that I was being told by friends, that was really a perfect analogy. They were totally getting sucker punch. Like out of the blue, things were happening that just seemed completely, you know, that they were being blindsided. So, and, and when that, when that happens, your brain has to react in a lot of different ways and learning how to manage your thoughts becomes more than just, you know, self-improvement. Truthfully, it’s not just about trying to be better. It can really be the difference between breaking down and holding yourself together. So first things first, when things suck or you get a sucker punch, it’s important not to ignore it, try to cover it up or to just try to forge ahead.
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You need to acknowledge what has happened and you need to be able to say, you know, something is really that, that was really awful. Something really awful happened to me and you need to accept where you are right then you may have a lot of thoughts about wanting to go back in time, wanting to change the circumstances and you’ll want to really pay attention to all of those thoughts that you’re having about trying to change the circumstance because ultimately you’re probably going to end up feeling pretty powerless because you realize that you cannot control some of these circumstances. And that’s when it’s most important to remind yourself that why you can not control the circumstances in your life. What you can control is your thoughts. So you get to deliberately decide how you want to feel and how you want to act in this moment of crisis.
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Taking time to manage your thoughts during these times of crisis is extremely important because it is so easy to ignore our thoughts and fall into numbing and buffering behaviors and negative spin cycles that are actually adding to our suffering instead of lessening yet. So there may be negative emotions that you are feeling and thoughts that are causing those negative emotions that are completely appropriate for you to be feeling. And that’s one of the best suggestions I have for you when you’re, you’re trying to be aware of the thoughts that you’re having and the feelings those thoughts are creating is asking yourself, ha, you know, how am I feeling in light of this sucker punch is how I am feeling in light of this sucker punch situation appropriate? Is it appropriate? It might be completely appropriate for you to be having some really genuinely negative feelings.
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The trick is to observe your brain, watch your thoughts and decide is if what you were thinking and feeling is how you actually want to respond and not just let the brain go unmanaged and into a negative spiral when you are feeling powerless and like you wanted to change something and you can’t. The one thing that you know, the initial thought of, I feel powerless can often lead people to painful negative emotions that they want to hide from, they want to buffer against and then they tend to play them over and over and over again in our minds, which actually just perpetuates the whole situation and perpetuates that sucker punch cycle again and again. So when my brain is starting to do a negative spin cycle, I sometimes like to visualize a stop sign. I literally tell my brain stop and I actually wrote about this in our blog back in June and I had some other tips I think there that will help too and I’ll sh I’ll link that particular blog in my show notes as well as a link to our, which has I think in in that blog has a link to our five for life resource pack stress resource pack, which is all good stuff for when things suck, but right now I want to dive a little deeper into the next layer of thought work that you can do when you’re managing yourself during a crisis.
Speaker 1: (10:59)
So you’ve, you’ve been watching your brain, you’ve acknowledged that what has happened in your life really sucks and you’re monitoring your thoughts so you’re not, you’re, you know, you’re stopping anything from spinning, you’re not buffering, you’re not dramatizing, making things worse and here’s what you can do to start feeling better, to feel more powerful and to manage your mind and to provide a little relief. A next step is to ask yourself some really good questions. One of the great things about asking yourself a question is that the brain just cannot help itself. When you literally ask itself, ask yourself a question, your brain has to stop doing whatever, you know, spinning on whatever negative thought it’s been spinning on and it wants to try to answer a question. So when you use this tool appropriately and appropriately and you ask yourself some really good questions, um, you will, I think, start to see a turn in your thoughts and your turn then in how you’re feeling.
Speaker 1: (12:06)
Uh, these questions are questions that I got from Brooke Castillo and the Life Coach School podcast. And I’ll say it again. No matter whether you want to be a life coach or not, I’m sure not many of you do. This podcast will help you self coach yourself. And it’s one of the top podcasts and sheer number of downloads. Uh, you know, of any podcasts for a reason. And what I love about it is all the practical tools that you can use. And really throughout the last year I’ve shared on the podcast, managing your thoughts and managing your mind is really a meta skill. It is something that you can use for everything and it is part of and, and really key to building habits and the quality of your habits equals the quality of your life. So doing this mind work is, it is just incredibly important and I really love that podcast.
Speaker 1: (13:07)
She’s gives great tools, great advice. I’m hoping that I’m contributing in some of the ways for all of you. It’s certainly my goal, but if you have a moment and you want to listen to that podcast too, I highly recommend it. All right, back to this, back to the suck to the sucking part of things. Um, here’s some questions that you might want to be asking yourself. So one, how can this situation make me stronger? Two, what can I learn? So this makes me smarter. Three, how can I use this for? What do I want to create from this? Oh, those are so good. Let’s hear those again and write these down if you can. All right? If you can’t write them down right now, come back, write them down later because this is important one. How can this make me stronger? Two, what can I learn?
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So this makes me smarter. Three, how can I use this? And four, what do I want to create from this? Now there’s a possibility that you’re hearing this and thinking, uh, that sounds really woo and like that might work for some stuff, but you don’t understand. Molly, what happened to me is really, really awful. It’s way bigger, way harder, and there’s absolutely nothing about this that is positive. I don’t want to paint lipstick on a pig, so to speak. I need to be real. What is about what’s happening here? And it’s terrible. If you’re having thoughts like that, I’d like to remind you first that of course they are just that they are thoughts, but feeling terrible and having negative emotions might be completely appropriate for what is going on. But what’s important is that you can choose, okay? So once you’ve accepted that something negative and something terrible has happened, you get to choose whether you’re going to keep on adding to that suffering by continuing to think to yourself, Oh, this is terrible, this is terrible, this is terrible, and putting yourself into a negative spin cycle.
Speaker 1: (15:14)
Or you can ask yourself some of those questions and start to guide your thoughts away from thoughts that are going to add to your suffering. One of the most important steps in all this thought work, especially when you’re dealing with things that suck is writing your thoughts down. All right? Being able to see your thoughts both from the negative like things that are, you know, the negative parts, the negative emotions and negative thoughts you’re having as well as the questions and the positive things that you might or the more positive thoughts you might have. Those being able to see your thoughts, look at them and allow yourself to review them. I, I’d like, I imagine it like this, you’re at the grocery store, you’re in the produce section and you’re picking things up and you’re looking at, you know, a melon and you’re deciding whether or not it’s good or not, and you can just put it back down.
Speaker 1: (16:12)
So write down your thoughts, write down your questions and answer them in writing. All right, another part of this is using, I guess our imagination. We often use our, you know, we think of imagination, we think of kids, right? And we, we don’t tend to think of imagination that we’re using it on a daily basis. Even though as adults, we use our imagination and whenever we’re problem solving, and I bet you most of us use our imaginations in a really negative way. We often catastrophize and we are worrying with things that have never happened yet, right? And that’s just a negative way of using our imagination. During this time of crises, I want to challenge you to write down both the worst case scenario but then you know, crumble that up, throw it away and write down what if, what would be the best case scenario and really allow yourself to believe that the best case scenario is just as possible.
Speaker 1: (17:28)
It’s just as possible as anything negative that might happen so much at the time we do not focus our thoughts on things that the positive side of what might happen and during a time of crisis it’s incredibly important to remind yourself that what is happening does not mean that something has gone terribly wrong. Adding that and thinking those kinds of thoughts just increases your suffering as opposed to, you know, accepting where it’s at and understanding that, that this kind of stuff, you know, people get sucker punched all the time. People all around you are getting sucker punched and you and so are you and it’s a part of life and you are completely capable of coming through on the other side and learning how to, you know, how you want to show up during these times of crises is really up to you. It’s a choice that you’re going to make by deciding to, to look at your thoughts, manage them, and take action from a a point where instead of, you know, and you can really actually do, you know, do two different, uh, models, put your circumstance, the circumstances, neutral. You can’t call it a horrible situation. You just put the circumstance no matter what it is, received a cancer diagnosis. Your first thought might be, this is absolutely terrible. I am terrified. Okay. Or I’m terrified. How about if we put a, the, the circumstance is I received a cancer diagnosis. The thought is I’m scared, but I can handle this. I’m scared, but I can fight through this.
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I’m scared and that’s okay.
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Adding and that’s okay. I think I talked about this on a different podcast or maybe I didn’t. Maybe I was just talking to someone I use and that’s okay. Like all the time in my life, all the time when I start to have an anxious thought about something that hasn’t even happened or maybe it has I, it’s how I remind myself that nothing terrible has gone wrong here. This is just a part of life and that’s okay. I don’t have to have, things don’t have to go perfect all the time for me. That’s okay. Now maybe you don’t feel like it’s okay and that’s, you know, so and that’s understandable, right? This is not a turnkey, like you’re not going to flip a switch and go from, I feel terrible too. I feel also it’s so great that this terrible thing happened to me. No, you’re going to take the feeling crisis and feeling totally negative in that moment.
Speaker 1: (20:48)
You’re going to use it to propel yourself forward in a calm and peaceful and you know, a way that you’re going to actually be able to contribute to, to a solution for your, uh, you know, to a solution for the problem, right? That’s the goal. You want to start focusing and taking care of moving towards a solution that, uh, is important, not focusing and continue to focus on the problem, which is what happens when we allow ourselves to sink into a negative spin cycle and to continuously go round and round and round with the negative thoughts that happen when we are dealing with crisis. So to reiterate what we’ve talked about and to recap really quickly when you are dealing with a crisis and when you are being sucker punched first things first, except that you have been sucker punched and you know, allow that in your life and allow that feeling.
Speaker 1: (21:58)
We’re not gonna just focus on it. We’re going to allow it and then we’re going to start asking ourselves questions. We’re going to start asking ourselves questions that help us move from a feeling of overwhelm and confusion and sadness or anything else, any of the negative emotions that come on during a crisis into someone that is calm and purposeful and solution oriented and some of the ways that you can get there are by asking yourself questions like how can this make me stronger? What can I learn to this makes me smarter? How can I use this? What do I want to create from this? So the goal is always to figure out how not to paint lipstick on a pig. You’re trying to create your very best version of yourself even in the midst of when things suck because things are going to suck. They are going to and taking care of yourself and being able to manage your mind during it when things suck is really the ultimate way of living a happier, longer life. Look for the link in the show notes on that blog post about how I think the blog post was called when life explodes. But there is a resource there on our stress resource pack from five for life, other ideas as well. And I hope you all have a fantastic week. I hope that you are not dealing with the SUCK, but if you are, I hope this gave you some ideas and some tools. Use those questions and I will see you
Speaker 1: (23:46)
all next week. Thanks for listening to the live happier, longer podcast. If this podcast is helping you and you’d like to go a little deeper, maybe track your progress on your habit building, you should check out our five for life planner. The planner is 13 weeks undated and you can start literally at any time to create the habits of a happier, longer life. It will keep you motivated and it’ll keep you accountable and Hey, it’s affordable. So go to shop.buy for life.co that’s shop.buy for life.co and enter promo code podcast for a special discount.