We’ve heard the old saying “Life has its ups and downs” and The Huffington Post thinks you should read something positive that will lift you back up. I agree. I hope you find something to encourage you in this “Bipolar Life” (a life of ups and downs).
Life has Its Ups and Downs
I think this is a harsh reality that we all have to accept. Life is tough. It’s why we have such phrases as “Life is a rollercoaster”, “This too shall pass”, “There’s a season for everything”, and “Life’s not fair”.
Bad things happen to good people.
Good things happen to bad people.
Life goes on, regardless, and, if we’re smart, we will too.
So what about you?
When is the last time you caught yourself in the middle of an exhilarating high that can only be experienced through a life well-lived? How about the last time you were in the middle of what seemed to be the darkest cavern on the darkest side of the Moon where you felt alone, stuck, and unable to see a way out?
Maybe you’re like my friend who feels like life has thrown everything at him at once. Within a week, he lost both his long-standing good paying job with the coal mines and his girlfriend who he would have done anything for. To me, nothing screams that life is unfair like bad things happening to good people.
Perhaps you’re like my friend from college who I studied Psychology with. I just recently discovered she’s 29 and has been diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer. She has one child and a husband. 29 years old. Nothing screams to me that life is unfair like good bodies going bad.
You could be like another friend of mine, who while working her ass off during her first year teaching was greeted with nothing but love and admiration by staff and students alike, but has to choose between going back to kids she loves and a principal who for some unknown reason just does not like her. Nothing screams to me that life is unfair like good workers being trampled by bad bosses.
What if you’re like your fearless blogger, Dan, and have a criminal record. From that point forward, every person, job, and potential positive in your life can always rehash a past period that was brief, filled with terrible mistakes, and utterly selfish. You know you’ve grown and continue to grow from it, but it’s always there, reminding you of bad choices and branding you, to some, as “one of them” even though you’ve tried everything you can to put that behind you. Sometimes the legal system and its rehabilitation process aren’t fair. Nothing screams to me that life isn’t fair like the inability to travel back in time and take away my dumb mistakes.
As I’m sure you can see, we all have a story. We all have that thing that makes us throw our arms in the air and scream (whether audibly or internally) “Life isn’t fair!” Which begs the question “What do we do?”
What do you do when life has taken a turn for the worst?
I think the answer is found in a classic prayer (which you don’t have to pray, by the way, unless you want to)
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as a pathway to peace..
–Excerpted from Reinhold Neibuhr’s The Serenity Prayer
The wisdom of this text is:
- Find peace and there you will find acceptance (acceptance doesn’t mean you’re OK with it, but you get to a point where you know that strong feelings are not going to change reality)
- Be courageous and willing to change the things which are in your control (spoiler alert: this may not be comfortable or easy.)
- Be wise in all areas of your life. Wisdom comes from observation and to observe you need to SLOW DOWN (Sometimes we need to be reminded that we’re not God and we have limitations. Some days you need a reminder to just slow down and rest.)
- You are finite. (Sorry, but you’re going to die. Spoiler Alert 2: You ARE dying.) None of us are guaranteed another day or breath. Try to enjoy life 24 hours at a time.
- Enjoy one moment at a time (An ADD and Bipolar person’s nightmare). Meditation, reading, writing, and yoga can all help with focus.
- Hardships have a way of being tough while simultaneously making you tougher (if you let them) and leading you to a peaceful thought like “I’ve survived.” Once you start to notice this, you realize that finding meaning in the hard stuff makes life seem pretty bearable.
Now this wisdom represents the inner life. These are things you can do on your own, but life isn’t meant to be lived alone. Life is meant to be lived with others. Notice I didn’t say “enjoyed” with others, I said lived.
As many of you know, “living” encompasses both the great times and not so great times. Surround yourself with people who love you at all times. With their comfort and support, along with your personal investment in your inner life, you will find peace (and maybe some clarity).
The Takeaway (with a Bipolar twist)
As a man with Bipolar Disorder, I am drawn to peace. Peace, to me, represents balance and as someone who is prone to highs and lows, I am working very hard to achieve balance in my life, but I’ve grown to realize that balance in the outside world cannot be possible unless I’m balanced on this inside.
I’m not advocating for religion, spirituality, or any of that, but I am advocating for you to find the healthy things that bring peace to your heart. For me, it is meditation, lighting a candle, a nice walk with my dog, a conversation over beer or coffee, taking photos, a quiet sanctuary, and disconnecting from the Internet.
These are my things that bring me peace and help me slow down and take the time to make sense of the messiness we call “life”.
Take a moment today and find the peace within you. It’s the only way that life will become bearable again.
Be well my friends,