Being at the bottom is inevitable. The reality of being emotion-driven humans is that while we get to experience joy and happiness we also have to endure equal and opposite measures of pain and unhappiness. This is simply the price of admission for the human experience.
So if having bad days, rough weeks, and hard bottoms is guaranteed in our lives, what should we do when we’re there?
Just because hitting the bottom is inevitable, it doesn’t mean we have to hang out there for extended periods. Whether you’re at the bottom from a significant loss or you’re simply at a point in your life where you need a change, there are intentional actions we can take that shorten our duration spent at the bottom. Here’s the ones I’ve used successfully in my life.
It is nearly impossible to feel pain from what you don’t have when you genuinely appreciate what you do have. Oftentimes our bottom is driven not by circumstance, but by a lack of recognition of all the things we can be grateful for. I know as much as anyone how tough it can be to seek gratitude when all we want to do is the opposite. But if we can find the initial courage to seek gratitude, it can change our situation in an instant. All it takes is a few minutes of focused effort, and our mindset can be shifted entirely. Start small. Take an action you already do every day, like showering, and use that time to focus on things you’re grateful for. It is difficult to stay at the bottom when we show ourselves through a gratitude practice that we’re already on top.
Change Your Scenery
Our environment is critical to optimizing our happiness and success. If we are in a place that drains us, we’re putting ourselves at a handicap to dig ourselves out of the bottom. Sometimes, a change of scenery is the perfect recipe for changing our position in life. Whether that’s a trip to get out of town, or literally changing the place you call home, a change in scenery revives our senses, our spirit, and our hope. Changing our scenery is not running away from whatever ails us. It’s running to something completely new and invigorating, which can be just what we need to climb out of the bottom.
Get to Work
When we hit the bottom in our life, sometimes action is our biggest ally. There is immense satisfaction in work, contribution, and achievement. Left to wallow in our own thoughts and boredom, we can find ourselves stuck at the bottom simply from a lack of activity and momentum. Whether this is literal work, like our job, or simply effort that gets us focused on a project or goal, working toward the achievement of something aligns our mind with action, and can help keep out the negativity that comes from being at the bottom.
Process Your Thoughts
Our thoughts need to find a way out of our head. Left to our own thoughts we can create incredibly unhealthy states between our ears. When we hit the bottom, we need an outlet to process and flesh out our thoughts. For me, this is writing. Putting pen to paper allows me to organize my thoughts and think logically through them. For some this might be another creative outlet like drawing or music. For some this might be a fitness pursuit that serves as an outlet of aggression. Whatever works for you, do it. As long as it’s helping you take the words floating between your ears, and process them in a way that makes them more coherent, it will help you get out of the bottom quicker. Our mindset can hold us down at the bottom. Processing our thoughts, much like the gratitude practice above, helps us shift our mindset to one that serves us.
I have been at the bottom many times. You have been at the bottom many times. We will both see the bottom countless more times in our future. By knowing this up front, we can put actions to work that will help minimize our time there. By leaning on gratitude, changing our scenery, getting to work, and processing our thoughts in a productive way, we make sure the bottom doesn’t become comfortable. We make sure that our home and place in the world is on top, smiling down on the path behind us. We’ll be down there again, but that destination is temporary. And we have the power to make sure of it.