Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue.
Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” -Ranier Maria Rilke
I first heard this quote read by my yoga instructor at the end of one of our classes. It got me thinking about how much we try to make sense of things that happen in our lives — especially, when life throws us curve balls and creates stress. Why didn’t I get that job I wanted? Did I make the right decision to move across the country? How will I live with this new diagnosis?
In Steve Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford, he talked about life not always making sense to us in the moment. He stated, “…You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”
So, how do we live the questions until the dots connect? What can we do to nurture ourselves through life’s stressors and lean into the curve balls? I came up with a few strategies.
1. Take a moment. Give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling. If emotions arise, let them come to the surface, instead of pushing them down. Susan A David, Ph.D., in her recently released book Emotional Agility talks about the importance of accepting the way you feel as legitimate. Take time out of your day to be still — even if it’s only for a few minutes. Too often, we try to fill our days so we don’t have to feel, when in reality, giving our emotions the space they need will help bring them to the surface and clear the mind. Dr. David believes, “by ending the internal struggle of how you actually feel vs. how you ought to feel, you can begin to walk your why.”
2. Move your Body. We all know how closely linked our minds and bodies are. During times of high stress, exercising is a great remedy. A recent study by Mayo Clinic suggests that exercise allows you to focus on your body, releases endorphins, and relieves tension, thereby improving your mood. Maybe you take a walk outdoors and breathe in some fresh air. Perhaps, you sign up for a yoga or a salsa class. Maybe you recruit a good friend to be a running buddy. Make some form of exercise a priority.
3. Find Support. Remember, we can’t go through life alone. Lean on the people in your life that you trust and who have your best interest at heart. Share your feelings, and allow them to be your safety net. Often, we will find that those closest to us have gone through similar circumstances and give us solace that we are not alone. Sometimes, that’s enough.
4. Focus on Gratitude. This is such a powerful tool to help us through any tough time. Remind yourself of the things that are going right in your life (and, I guarantee, there are MANY). I have a gratitude journal that I keep. You may want to start by writing 5 things you are grateful for when you first start your day or before you go to bed. I guarantee your perception of the current circumstance will shift.
5. Feed your Soul. What are the simple things that give you pleasure? Maybe it’s taking a warm bath or booking a massage for yourself. Maybe you relish reading a good book on your couch. Perhaps, you spend some quality time with your spouse or kids cooking a meal together. How about that painting class you’ve been meaning to sign up for? Give yourself whatever it is that brings you some level of joy.
6. Accept Where You Are. This is challenging for many of us. We want so badly to be out of our circumstance. But when we can fully embrace this time as just part of our journey, we realize that the wave of life never stands still. It is always moving us forward.
Can you create some space to live and love the questions that arise in the moment of your own life?
Originally published at wellnesskriya.org on December 14, 2011.
Photo Courtesy of Unsplash
Originally published at medium.com