You live your life inside your own head, and in there, your rules apply.

Look around you. Various objects are placed on a table, you can look out of the window; people are on the move going wherever they need to be. Someone comes up to you and says something. All of this apparently exists in an actual, real world out there. But you can not say anything definite or objective about it. You can only relate to the world as it appears to you.

This may sound strange, but if you think a bit about it you will realize this is how it has to be. Take the color red. What is the color red to someone who is colorblind? There is no way to check that ‘my red color’ is similar to yours. Therefore, each and every one of us lives in an individual, subjective reality bubble. And that’s a good thing.

It’s a good thing because you are free to create your own set of rules for what matters and what does not. There are some universal rules and regulations you must adhere to, but they only apply to those situations where your reality is crossed by someone else. This is also good thing, because it would be a pain to have learn new rules every time you interact with others.

If you agree with me so far, how does this make you feel? If your world is your own and you have the power to define your own internal rules, how will you create them? Would you want to fill your inner world with beautiful things and positive thoughts, or will you build a warlike landscape full of negativity?

You may think that you cannot control what happens to you. Of course, this is true for some things in life. Much of what happens to us externally is beyond our control, and knowing how to deal with this is important. As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

How you relate to the world, and what happens to you, is definitely one of the things you have power over. You can over time build a mindset that allows the negative things that happen to you, to affect how you feel to a lesser extent than before. This is true no matter how awful you feel today. You can significantly change the way you relate to what happens to you.

What can you do specifically to achieve this? Here are some tips:

  1. Use yourself as the benchmark for how you feel, never others. Others are not relevant to you and your inner life; only you are relevant. Do not think “he has more money than me,” she’s prettier than me” etc., but rather: “this year I exercised more often than I did last year” or “I did good eating healthy foods today”
  2. Coat your mind with a layer of Teflon. If someone criticizes you or says something negative, consider it to be the other person’s problem, not yours (except for those times when the criticism is valid). Filter what you take in, parry negative remarks and attitudes, or go somewhere else.
  3. Look for the activities and people who lift you. Avoid those that are overly negative and drag you down.
  4. Put away your screens and telephones. Spend more time during the course of a day doing nothing, just exist. It may be difficult at first, but it gets easier with time. Take in the beauty that exists in everything and everyone, at all times. You must only look for it.
  5. Choose to do uplifting and educational or cultural activities. Cut out thrillers and violent movies, at least for a trial period (and see what it does to your mood). Scary and violent movies, series and books can provide a momentary rush of adrenaline, but does precious little to create a harmonious and calm mind. This is particularly relevant to those who struggle with anxiety.
  6. Breathe gently and slowly. Learn meditation and practice it.
  7. Spend as much time as possible in nature, especially now during the summer, when nature is at its greenest and most beautiful.
  8. Use humor as a weapon to fight negative events that will occasionally happen to you. Take what happens less seriously.
  9. Be radically grateful. That is, in spite of the pain in your life, be genuinely grateful for what you have that is good. Hold on to it. And build from there.

That’s easy for you to say, you may be thinking? Everything is easy in theory, but difficult in practice. For that there is only one answer; practice makes perfect. Rome was not built in one day.

Read more in Rise from Darkness.