Sometimes you start to wonder if there is a light at the end of the tunnel, or if this nightmare of stumbling from one problem into the next will continue until you breathe your last. Sometimes you even feel that way when you’re already in the light, as you’re just too focused on the bad that you’re not even noticing the good.
At moments like these we need to be shaken a little bit, we need to hear the proverbial wake up call. So don’t be alarmed by that ringing sound. That’s the sound of life telling you you’re getting better and that though you might not yet be in the flying unicorns farting happiness stage, at least the sun is peaking through those menacing dark clouds. And you know what they say about rain and sunshine? That’s right, somewhere the first rainbow might be forming.
So go on, answer the door.
What signs should you be looking for?
Some of the bad stuff has a period at the end
Bad is stronger than good. It’s that simple. It doesn’t matter how good looking and rich you are if you’re suffocating on a chicken bone. So, in order to feel happier you need to clear away some of those things that are making you sad, angry or scared. And the moment you’re managing to close the book on a few of these things, there’s a good chance life is improving.
If you have been down for a while, remember that the opposite of depression isn’t happiness, it’s emotional resilience. For it is the ability to roll with the punches that will decide if the next bump in the road is barely noticed or takes out your undercarriage. So if things are starting to look up, make certain to work on your resilience so that things keep improving.
We don’t have time to be truly emotional when we’re down. We’ve got to deal with all the crap being flung at us. We’ve got to buckle down and live up to that tough people get going cliché. Heck, often we barely have time to actually register how bad things are.
It’s only when things are on the mend that we’ve got time to look up and around. And that means there is time for emotionality. So don’t feel too worried if there are sudden bursts of inexplicable emotionality – be they positive or negative. That’s just you coming back to some kind of emotional even keel.
You’re reaching out to friends more often
When you can’t see the forest through the trees and everything is absolutely miserable you tend to lock yourself away and keep to yourself. The moment things start to improve, however, your desire for companionship is often rekindled.
Therefore, if you find yourself reaching out to friends and family it’s a good sign your life is improving. Even if you can’t see it yet, your subconscious might be starting to spot the differences. All I can say is that you should definitely continue reaching out. Friends and family are one of the main routes to happiness and good feelings, so just the act of being with them will already be making you feel better. Some people not there anymore? Well, we’ve all got fair-weather friends. Just pay attention to who is still around. They’re the ones that really matter.
You’re seeing your hardships as growing pains, rather than just suffering
If you can see that what you’ve gone through has made you a better, more rounded, more interesting individual, then you’re on the way up. After all, it’s the bad times that lead to the most self-improvement and ultimately self-improvement is the key to success.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that when your life is being shaken around. The moment you do, however, things are settling down a bit and your life is on the mend.
Thinking about the future doesn’t fill you with gloom
That, right there, is the light at the end of the tunnel you keep hoping for. It’s there, in your thoughts. The very fact that you can think about yourself in the weeks, months and years to come in some kind of favorable light means that things are definitely improving.
Now that doesn’t mean there might not be some trouble between here and there (hey, that’s life), but at least there is a ‘there’ you want to go and that has to count for something.
You’re finding the root of the problem (and it’s probably inside your mind)
Sometimes as find your way through the bad stuff, you’ll discover the root cause of many, if not all, of your problems – and more often than not (though not always), it’s something within yourself. Now initially this might make you feel a lot worse. You might come to hate yourself and this aspect that is within you.
But not for always. Because once you have some idea what’s causing this badness in your life, you’re in a position to do something about it. For, as they say, the first step to solving a problem is accepting that there is one to begin with.
The road to character
As a last thought, something that has always helped me through the dark times, of which I’ve had my fair share. The one thing that I always work to keep fixed in my mind is the thought, “How will I look back at myself during these days, when all is bright again?” And I try to make certain that when I do look back at myself I’ll be proud.
That I’ll be able to think, “Despite everything going wrong, at least I did the right thing.”
And if I can feel that way, that in and of itself will bring some brightness into the darkness. Because the darkness will pass – it always does. And when it does, all that will remain is memories, which either make you proud or make you cringe. So try to make your future-self proud – and in the process you might find the darkness lifting a little sooner.
And even if it doesn’t, when the darkness does finally go you’ll be a better person for it. For though the good times bring us beautiful memories, it’s the dark times that give us character (or take it away).