Seeing the “up” in the “down” side of living

by Psyguy on March 6, 2010 · 23 comments

in happiness,resilience

Can you remember the last time you hurt so badly that you felt like you were going to die? You were so “down” it felt as if things would never feel “up” again. Sure you can. All of us can because that’s life. As we continue along the life cycle, life teaches us that suffering is a part of living. To become an authentic human being and lover of life, we must learn to carry our personal suffering while continuing joyously living. Ironically, the longer one lives the more one comes to appreciate the wisdom in the adage, “this too shall pass”. Inside every occasion of suffering is wrapped an opportunity for gratefulness and compassion. So the next time you’re feeling down, have faith and trust that just like the other times you’ve suffered one or more of these ups is waiting to be discovered:

1. It could have been otherwise – even more diminishing, more painful

2. Yes, I’ve been hurting, but I can feel myself healing

3. Since it didn’t kill me, it’s made me stronger

4. Of all the things in life that can harm me, I now know to stay away from that one

5. Now that everything’s different, I too can become different.

6. Now that that’s out of my life, I’ve got room for something new.

7. In these difficult times I’ve come to know who is and isn’t there for me.

8. Through my pain and suffering I’ve come to realize that everyone suffers.

9. Since this has happened to me, I can now make sure it doesn’t happen to others.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zach Smith March 18, 2010 at 3:49 pm

When I’ve been down there in the bottom one of the most powerful (and difficult) practices I’ve developed is to open up to the pain, the suffering and fear. In sitting with it, allowing the tears to flow and the teeth to gnash, I can then explore it and investigate it. The pain, suffering and fear is inevitably linked to “me.” Who I am and who I’ve been. Exploring the roots and rhizomes of these feelings, tracing them to key contexts, habits of mind & heart, physically locating them are all incredibly valuable learning experiences. It requires solitude, and allowing yourself to really be alone. It also really helps to have someone to whom you can tell the story of this inner adventure. I’ve found that in sharing comes communion and release. When I haven’t shared, I’ve done the work but the gunk is still within me. Something about being able to share with a trusted someone creates a pathway for letting it go.

2 Malcolm Fry March 18, 2010 at 5:11 pm

About 10 years ago after being laid off 3 times from the oil & gas sector in Calgary within a short period of time, I was in a state of great despair. I gratefully was rescued through leadership, skill set development and discussion therapy by Dan McKinnon who I can thankfully call my mentor for life. The result of my meeting Dan has led to a new very successful career, which continues on today. Yes, Dan you saved me from very scary times & helped shape me to where I am today. I’m proud to call you my true friend. Thanks.

3 Richelle Mottosky March 18, 2010 at 5:29 pm

This article resonated with me for many reasons and on many levels. Although difficult to see the up side during a down time – I have come to realize that the ability to become an observer of my own suffering leaves room for curiosity and enough separation to see the whole picture – this idea of transcendence during difficult times allows me to stay connected enough to the situation to work through it and separate enough that I no longer get as down as I once did. Life is not doing this to me – life is doing this for me to learn and grow -and I trust this even though in the moment I may not be able to see the gifts of the down. Life is about up AND down – embracing this concept leaves me open and participating for the entire ride. Thanks for reminding me of this important message. Tying together another article you recently submitted regarding Gratitude – I feel very grateful for having read this today.

4 Dr. Sarah Eaton March 18, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I agree with your points. Thanks for the reminder about the “ups and downs” of life!

5 Michael March 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Great suggestions for how I might think about an experience that I may have been quick to label as “negative”. When I have those types of “downs” that you describe, I also ask myself: What important muscles is this exercising for me so that I remain fit and resilient?

6 Mary Nix March 18, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for the uplifting words! Your new blog looks wonderful!

7 Carol March 19, 2010 at 6:09 pm

Hi Dan,
Love your insights. These nine statements are great adages to live by. I think I will print them out so they are there, at hand, to review whenever I feel the need. They are good reminders to keep everyday events in perspective.

8 Psyguy March 19, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Good to hear that “seeing the up in the downside of living” resonated for you Mary. As you know, the key to a happy life is found in the framing and reframing of the happenings in life. Wonderful works for me, thank you!

9 Psyguy March 19, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Hello again, Michael. Up-down, down-up, being able to flex and reframe the experiences of a life in this way certainly make one fabulously fit.

10 Psyguy March 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm

Sarah, it’s great to hear that my “seeing the up in the down side of living” works for you in your living.

11 Psyguy March 19, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Thank you Richelle for feeling gratitude by engaging with my blog and posts. I am touched to have touched you. Someone once said that, “all suffering prepares one for vision” and it’s wonderful to know you are living this on a daily basis. Hoping you return to share more of your wisdom and vision.

12 Psyguy March 19, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Dear Malcolm, glad and grateful to have engaged you as a friend and kindred soul during this never ending quest called “Life”. This is what friends are for and I know that our friendship is a relationship of equal reciprosity. Looking forward to much more, “friending” with you.

13 Ken Emshey March 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm

“Through lifes journey gratitude is a common thread that draws us to certain people. Those who lend a hand or an ear or whatever to someone ,appear as if they knew that they might be needed”

14 Shary Scheps March 20, 2010 at 5:30 am

Your “Helping Happiness Happen” is a great guideline for helping people find happiness. You need to find happiness within to be truely happy. Life is too short. Everyone deserves to be happy. I’m looking forward to watching your other life lessons. Thank you.

15 Psyguy March 20, 2010 at 1:05 pm

For sure Shary, everyone has a right to be happy and each of us has a duty to help those close to us get happier. So pleased you liked the video and I look forward to your future visits. Thanks.

16 Psyguy March 20, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Hi Ken, I think/feel that you’re on to “the secret” stitching with your note about gratitude. It is the human thread that weaves the tapestry of a happy life. Sounds like you’ve woven one for you and yours, congratulations.

17 Psyguy March 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Hello Carol, thank you for your “love of my insights”, :>). Sounds like you’re going to put “seeing the up in the downside of living” into good daily practice. After all, it’s in the everyday where the “wow of the now” comes alive. Until next time, be happy, belong, be….

18 Psyguy March 20, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Terrific revelation and sharing, Zach! Thank you for bringing this wisdom to light so that we can see that “pathway for letting it go” which will lead us to the clearing of discovery and development, as you so eloquently disclosed.

19 Dltee March 20, 2010 at 1:42 pm

I am in a situation at work that is testing my ability to stay positive. I do find myself having the inner conversation that this will pass — the sooner the better!! It’s a daily, mental exercise to balance my emotions – exhausting, but I also find strength in being aware of the necessity of doing this, and being able to do it….to some degree. Sharing my anguish with others — I am grateful for friends and confidantes — definitely helps to find perspective in the blackness. And, I do look forward to saying, “glad that’s over.”

20 Psyguy March 21, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Dear Dltee, Sounds like you are exercising your ability to “see the up in the downside of living” with strength and hope. When you mentioned being “grateful for friends and confidantes” I think you struck one of the great “mental muscle” building elxirs. Giving gratitude every day in many ways often clears the way. Here’s a fun and freeing way to do that:
Drop back sometime and let me know how your gratituding is going….

21 Wayne March 22, 2010 at 9:57 am

Dan, I’m new to your site, but I find your video clips very insightful and thought-provoking. I find myself listening to them in the background as I complete other work and later I’ll quote you as I problem-solve my various issues in life. I look forward to your future clips and be nice to see them published to peak my interest. I’d like to hear one some day on decision-making in couples….just a thought.

22 Psyguy March 22, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Hello Wayne, I’m pleased you found your way to my site and that you are putting the messages in my video clips to work for you. I’ll keep you suggestion in mind for the next time I “shoot” some videos. Here’s a link to Debra Tannen’s website and her wonderful classic, You Just Don’t Understand, that’s all about how men and women do and don’t communicate and what to do about it:
Have a look and let me know if this is what you have in mind.

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