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How to stay positive and motivated in tough times

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As they say, tough times don’t last, tough people do. (read: why work, why struggle?)

It’s true. But the goal isn’t even to last, but to thrive during tough times. It’s not to simply withstand tough times – which are always just around the corner – but to excel in them.

When you look back at your life you’ll often see that the tough times, those dark days, the brutally difficult periods in your life were also some of the best. In fact, it’s in these times where you grow, where you evolve and become better.

They’re not to be avoided, skipped over.

These are the best times in your life, though they won’t feel like it in the moment.

Nassim Taleb came up with a term that describes this ‘thriving’ in turmoil.

When we apply it to companies, the robust company is able to withstand bad times, the fragile company is crushed when turbulence hits, but the antifragile company grows during periods that would typically hurt or at least stall a company.

Humans overall are antifragile. 

As a species we’ve created things that help us live in any climate, get food in drought, and thrive even in the worst conditions.

You, too, can become antifragile.

And in this video we’ll cover tried and tested methods that will help you stay motivated during tough times, even improving and evolving when everyone else would be paralized by fear or sorrow.

The key to doing this is actually walking a pretty fine balance between being happy and ambitious.

If you go too far to either side, it’ll hurt you. But if you’re able to stay both happy and motivated, walking that fine balance of being content with what you have while also striving to achieve more, you’ll dominate life.

Jim Rohn said, “Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.”

First, you have to understand what happiness is.

Happiness isn’t because of something.

That’s too frail and fragile.

Happiness simply exists. You’re not happy because you found a great woman. You’re not happy because you have a great relationship with your kids or you’ve earned a ton of money lately.

All of those things can be taken away from you. Thus, they’re too fragile to truly be called happiness.

Happiness is. It exists in good times and bad times. At its core it’s the realization that there’s nothing that can make you happy. 

Getting that job, winning the lottery, finding that women, these are all nice things, they’re games you can play in life, but winning them or losing them won’t make you happy or unhappy. 

On the other hand is ambition and drive.

To be driven, for many of us, is to want what we do not have. To focus on getting what is not yet ours.

This removes happiness.

Again, happiness cannot be dependent on getting anything, so focusing on what you do not have simply makes you less happy.

This can distort your judgement, and success is merely the quality of your decisions.

So by being exclusively driven, you likely hurt your chances of supreme success.

Being happy doesn’t require anything external, as such, to be purely happy is to be happy with how things are, which can hurt your drive and remove any potential success you may have had within you.

The ideal is to have both, actually, it’s a necessity to have both, especially when times are tough.

You can’t win if you’re always focusing on what you do not have.

You can’t be happy if you’re always focusing on what you do not have.

And yet, humans need forward motion to find meaning, purpose, and joy.

You need to win. That’s a part of why you’re here on this planet.

We can find many reasons for why we’re here, but a fundamental one is to reach our potential, to become the best version of ourselves that we can possibly become. (read: why are you here?)

This requires happiness, but also drive, it demands discipline but also freedom and adventure.

Life is insanely short. We’re a drop in the bucket of eternity.

To not aim your highest, to not try and see just how great you can become is a travesty of the highest order.

This is true both in good times and bad times.

Here’s a great quote from Og Mandino, “I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness for it shows me the stars.”

When bad times hit, your improvement doesn’t stop, slow, or pause. It continues relentlessly forward, and hard times typically provide the most room for learning and growth.

It’s often easier to be motivated during hard times because of the desire to change your surroundings. 

There are two things you need to do to remain both happy – which helps with judgement, decision-making, and will make the hard times easier – and driven.

  1. Practice daily gratitude.

Write down something you’re grateful for. Do it everyday. Be grateful for what you have. It’s silly to focus on what you don’t have.

You can do this for your overall life, but I also recommend being grateful for something that happened within the last 24 hours. 

See – on a piece of paper – why your life is great. This will inevitably give you more energy, less stress, and greater clarity, which will have a profound effect on your achievements.

  1. Win the games you choose to play.

You’re likely a driven guy naturally. Being that you’re reading this or watching this – you want improvement.

The key is to see these areas of life where you’re chasing improvement, victory, or success, as games, not as things you need, but as things you will conquer.

This will help you when you’re losing these games, and when you’re winning.

When you’re losing, you’re not going to see them as things you need to be happy, because you don’t. If you see, say, success as a game, you’re going to be able to step back, detach, and see your errors and the strategies you need to implement to win.

There’s the marriage game, the family game, the wealth game, the health game. These are all simply things you need to figure out. That’s it.

Figure out, then implement. (read: how to increase productivity and become more motivated)

The aspect of discipline and hard work are simply aspects of living well.

You won’t reach your potential if you’re lazy. You won’t reach your potential if you never take risks or have discipline, either.

Regardless of how things are going, whether you’re in dark days or everything’s going great, you remain consistent.

Which brings a third aspect to staying motivated during hard times…

Be consistent with your routine, even refining it or getting it more dialled in.

It’s often hard to feel good about yourself when everything’s going horribly.

Maybe you’ve lost your job, you’re making no money and the debt is piling up, you broke up with your lady and it seems like it’s impossible to get over.

Emotionally you’re a mess. 

Your confidence is gone. (read: how to be more confident)

The best way to have more confidence is to live in a way that makes you proud.

You do that by doing what you planned. In other words, by having the discipline to do what you set out to do.

The worst thing you can do when times get tough is to lose discipline…

To start sleeping in, playing too many videogames or watching too much tv, or doing things that make you ashamed of who you are.

You HAVE TO feel good about who you are and where you’re going even if your surroundings don’t reflect that. You do this with discipline.

Get up earlier than usual.

Read, write things you’re grateful for, workout early, get the body moving which will release positive endorphins, do the work you said you were going to do.

Keep a checklist of tasks that you have to complete throughout the day. Keep it to a maximum of 3 important tasks, and get them all done, all the time.

This act of checking things off a list is powerful. It SHOWS you that you’re improving, that you’re moving forward, and that’s when you begin to realize that this state you’re in of loss or failure or sorrow, will soon end.

Just don’t compromise who you are because of some current tragedy.

Always keep in mind who you’re trying to be in 5 years, and be him right now.

Look like your ideal, talk like him, act like him.

If you keep these things in mind:

  1. That you don’t need anything to be happy.
  2. That you’re here to reach your potential and win.
  3. That no matter how life is going, you have to act like a damn winner, like your best self, and maintain discipline…

Then you’re going to not only be able to weather any storm, you’re going to become antifragile, you’ll grow and win in situations and events where most people will quit.

Stay driven, my friends. And if you liked this video, please give it a thumbs up and subscribe to my channel.

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Chad Howse

Chad’s mission is to get you in the arena, ‘marred by the dust and sweat and blood’, to help you set and achieve audacious goals in the face of fear, and not only build your ideal body, but the life you were meant to live.

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