What Would Make This Feel Easier?

Liz Dennery

In the first paragraph of his best-selling book, The Road Less Traveled, M. Scott Peck writes:

“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult — once we truly understand and accept it — then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

Right after my divorce, I felt burdened by responsibility. Raising a toddler as a single mother, managing an often-chaotic household and running a business on my own felt really difficult.

I became fixated on just how difficult life was – the baby is throwing another tantrum and I have to get him dressed for school, one of the Shit Pickles (my two dogs, Lola and Henry) just threw up again and I need to call the vet, the air conditioning isn’t working, the dish-washer is broken, I have a client meeting in less than an hour and “DAMN, I could really use an extra pair of hands right NOW!”

I was fully committed to the thought “my life is really hard and I don’t see how this situation is going to change.” I was completely focused on everything that seemed “wrong” and “stressful” and “hard” about my life. And so, not surprisingly, my life continued to feel stressful and hard.

As a long time student of the Law of Attraction, I know that wherever we place our focus, that’s what expands. If we focus on everything that feels beautiful, then life feels beautiful. If we focus on everything that seems stressful, then life feels stressful. I know this. And yet, during that tumultuous time after my divorce, I struggled to take what I know and put it into practice. Knowing is one thing. Doing is another.

So while I desperately wanted to experience joy and ease, I was so focused on how hard my life was that I was repelling the exact thing I wanted.

While I was making a concerted effort to focus on the things that were going right in my life – no matter how small – I paid a visit to my awesome integrative wellness and Chinese medicine doctor. I explained what was going on, and told him I really wanted to stop feeling like life was “just so difficult.” I wanted things to feel better. Lighter. Happier. Just…easier.

He listened and then asked me, “What are you doing to take care of your energy?” He wanted to know what I was doing to make sure I got enough sleep, good nutrients to power my body so that I had enough energy to jam through the day and nurture myself well so I had enough reserves for family, friends and work.

So I made a few adjustments to my daily routine – really basic things, like going to bed an hour earlier during the week, getting enough protein in my diet (a girl can’t live on wine and chocolate alone as much as we might want to!), taking a few supplements to balance some deficiencies, making more time for play and relaxation, and taking a couple of minutes each day to consider the things I’m grateful for.

With a few small adjustments here and there, I felt like I could breathe again. My energy improved, and just like that, I created more ease in my life.

Next, I worked on stopping negative thoughts in their tracks. When a negative thought came up, I’d pause, notice it and reach for the next best thought. Instead of, “UGH! This traffic sucks!” I’d replace that thought with, “Yes, this traffic sucks, but I’m going to use this extra time to chill out and listen to the newest episode of my favorite podcast.” Instead of, “My kid is out of control! I can’t handle this!” I’d replace that thought with, “My kid is having a tantrum right now, but it’s temporary, and I’m going to use this as a teachable moment so he’ll learn something positive from our interaction.”

Yes, my toddler still throws tantrums and things break in my house all the time. Clients can be demanding and the Shit Pickles are always up to their mischievous shenanigans. But because I’m taking better care of myself, paying attention to what I’m thinking and always reaching for a better thought, there is much more ease in my life.

One of my favorite new questions is, “What would make this feel easier?” A different thought? A different attitude? A new way of looking at the situation? Yes, yes and yes. We can make those kinds of shifts instantly, all by ourselves, with our own minds, just by deciding to do so.

At the end of the day, life is difficult – for everyone. At one point or another, most people experience broken relationships, frustration and anger, illness, the death of a loved one, not getting what we want – and for some people, things are much, much worse.

But once we accept that yes, life is difficult, then we get to choose whether or not we want to enjoy the ride.

I’ve learned that even when life is difficult, it doesn’t have to feel difficult. It can feel beautiful. It can feel meaningful – and full of ease. It can feel however you want it to feel. It all depends on what you choose to focus on, what you choose to believe and what you choose to say to yourself during stressful moments. The power to shift your mood – and your day – is within your reach.

You’ve had the power all along.

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