No matter what you do or who you are, life is filled with challenging moments. At times, navigating through the obstacles that lie between health, wealth and happiness can be downright miserable.
Struggle is common to the human condition. But the ability to embrace the struggle and move forward despite it is surprisingly uncommon. This is what keeps this country spending 190 billion dollars a year on obesity related illnesses. This is why only 4% of Americans are millionaires.
How can we change this? How do we welcome struggle and keep charging onward to an empowered destiny.
To find an answer, let us rip a page from Gandhi’s playbook.
Gandhi had it tougher than most. Defeating the British Empire after almost 90 years in India without throwing a single stone or swinging a single fist was no easy task. Yet through an iron will, he led the people of India to freedom from outside rule.
Despite all the challenges he faced, from fighting against the British in a non-violent manner to the numerous fasts that almost killed him to the battle against his own people during his efforts to promote peace between the different religions in India (a battle that eventually led to his assassination) Gandhi persevered and refused to surrender to circumstance.
So how did he do it? How did he stay in the right state to face any obstacle?
In his own words:
“If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.”
All it took was the ability to find something to laugh about in any situation. That skill kept Gandhi alive and fighting every day until the day he died.
It sounds simple, but it’s a lot more challenging than you think. Especially when everything seems to be going wrong and the world seems out to get you.
But it is often in the harshest of times that we unearth the infinite capacity of the human potential.
During my 7-month tour of Iraq with the US Marines, I had the unfortunate role of having to walk out in front of our 3-vehicle convoy every time we crossed a dangerous stretch of road that presented a threat of a potential Improvised Explosive Device. This could have meant a bridge, a road surrounded by large patches of sand or just a stretch of road that any member of our squad felt uneasy on.
My job was to walk out in front of the convoy with another Marine in order to scan each side of the road for wires or explosives. Consequently, if anyone would be blown up, it would be the other Marine on the ground or myself.
Despite the terrifying reality of this situation, it became a daily source of humor that I would be blown up.
A morbid sense of humor perhaps, but if we didn’t laugh about it, what else could we do?
Developing this ability is simple. No matter how bad the situation you find yourself in, ask yourself: what is funny about this?
It may sound overly simple, but that is really all there is to it.
All thought is a question or an answer to question. Once we are aware of this, we can empower our thought and consciously choose to direct it where we want it to go by asking ourselves the right questions.
For example, let’s say you find yourself standing on a porch on a rainy day and I were to ask you, “Isn’t it miserable outside today?” Your mind would immediately focus on all that is wrong with the weather. If, on the other hand, I were to ask you, “Isn’t a rainy day the most beautiful thing in the world?” You would then focus on the beauty of the event.
The questions we ask ourselves shape what we focus on, which in turn controls our state of being, which then shapes the actions we take. To get everything you want in life, begin by asking yourself the right questions.
And one of the most empowering questions you can ask yourself is: what is funny about this?
Laughter is a great transition state. Moving directly from a disempowered state to an empowered one is near impossible when we are immersed in the demons within our mind. A sense of humor facilitates the change by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals known for their feel-good effect.
If you can find humor within the depths of hell, you will be farther ahead in the journey toward success than most of the planet.
To further condition the habit of humor, as soon as you finish reading this, write down three to five things that went well in your day today. Three to five successes that you can celebrate and find joy in from your day, no matter how small or large they may seem.
Practice this exercise at the end of every day and you will find a noticeable increase in your overall life fulfillment.
Studies have shown that this simple exercise has not only reduced depression in clinically diagnosed patients, but improved the quality of life for the average individual as well.
Gandhi was no different from you and me, he just knew the power of taking one simple action over time. With that power, he managed to defeat an empire.
What will you do with your power?