How To Make Life Easier During Hard Times

Life finds a way to always get through the worst of times.

Remembering history, awareness of the moment, choosing enjoyment and letting go, makes us stronger and living through the worst of times easier.

The world appears to be engulfed in a maelstrom of chaos and uncertainty. The economy, unemployment, struggles to adapt to rapid technological advancements, global shifts in trade dynamics and political polarization can cast dark shadows.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine.

R.E.M. songs aside, it’s easy to succumb to a sense of despair and feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenges we face. That is, unless you know and remember history. 

In every era, there have been moments when it seemed as though the world was teetering on the brink of collapse. Yet, we have overcome the seemingly insurmountable, continue to innovate in the face of adversity, and forge new paths forward.

The specifics may vary, and the technologies may evolve, but the fundamental struggles remain remarkably consistent. 

We’ve Been Here Before

History may not repeat, it does rhyme.

History may not repeat, but it does rhyme.

Throughout the past, we have confronted challenges that share the same issues we grapple with today.

Here are some examples.

Government Overreach

Today, debates over government overreach and the protection of civil liberties continue, echoing historical struggles for balance between authority and freedom.

The Magna Carta, signed in 1215, is a seminal document that laid the groundwork for constitutional governance and the rule of law. It limited the authority of the English monarchy and established principles of due process and legal rights for citizens. 

Similarly, the Enlightenment era saw the rise of thinkers like John Locke and Montesquieu, whose ideas influenced the framing of democratic systems with checks and balances. 

Economic Poverty

Today, calls for wealth redistribution, minimum wage increases, and social safety nets echo past efforts to address economic disparity.

The New Deal programs implemented during the Great Depression in the United States aimed to alleviate poverty and stimulate economic recovery through initiatives like the Works Progress Administration and Social Security. 

Likewise, in the late 19th century, labor movements emerged globally, advocating for workers’ rights and fair wages in the face of exploitative industrial practices. 

Environmental Issues

Today, the urgency to address climate change and protect biodiversity underscores the ongoing relevance of these conservation efforts from the past.

Environmental degradation is another pressing issue that has historical precedents. The conservation movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, exemplified by figures like Theodore Roosevelt, sought to preserve natural landscapes and wildlife from unchecked exploitation. Efforts to establish national parks and enact environmental regulations laid the foundation for modern conservation efforts. 

Public Health Crises

Today, worldwide events like COVID-19 underscore the ongoing need for coordinated responses and the importance of healthcare infrastructure.

The bubonic plague, also known as the Black Death, ravaged Europe in the 14th century, resulting in widespread death and societal upheaval. Although medical knowledge at the time was limited, measures such as quarantine and sanitation efforts were implemented to curb the spread of the disease. 

Similarly, in the 20th century, the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 highlighted the importance of public health interventions like social distancing and hygiene practices. 

Immigration and Refugee Movements 

Policies and debates surrounding immigration and integration continue to shape political discourse worldwide, with issues such as asylum seekers and illegal migrants remaining contentious topics in contemporary society.

Throughout history, populations have migrated in search of better opportunities or to escape persecution and conflict. 

The Ellis Island era in the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw millions of immigrants arriving in the United States, seeking refuge and a chance at a new life. 

Technological Advancements and Ethical Dilemmas 

The Industrial Revolution marked a period of rapid technological innovation and societal transformation. 

While advancements in manufacturing and transportation brought about economic prosperity, they also raised concerns about labor exploitation and environmental degradation. 

Similarly, in the digital age, ethical dilemmas surrounding privacy, artificial intelligence, and automation persist. 

Global Conflict and Diplomacy

Today, issues such as nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and geopolitical tensions underscore the ongoing need for diplomacy and conflict resolution mechanisms to address global security challenges.

The Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 is often cited as a foundational moment in modern international relations, establishing principles of state sovereignty and diplomatic norms. Throughout history, wars and geopolitical rivalries have shaped the international order, leading to alliances, treaties, and institutions aimed at promoting peace and cooperation. 

These historical examples illustrate the relevance of past struggles and how societies still are dealing with the underlying issues.

Life Feels So Difficult Today Because We’re Living It

The problems of the world we live in can feel like it’s never been worse. Believe it or not, the data says that’s not exactly true.

Yes, the challenges and difficulties we face in our lifetimes are important. They’re significant, but not entirely special.

It feels worse than it may be simply because we’re living through it. 

We are experiencing it now and not reading about it. This immediacy magnifies stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, making it seem as though it’s more intense than ever before. 

It’s most likely not.

When we take a step back and examine history, we often find that our struggles are not unique, nor are they necessarily more severe than those faced by previous generations. From wars and economic crises to pandemics and natural disasters, the annals of time are filled with challenges. 

The difference lies not in the magnitude of the difficulties themselves, but rather in our perception of them.

Memories of the past often become tinged with nostalgia, creating a rose-tinted glow over bygone days. We reminisce about simpler times, recalling moments of joy and triumph while conveniently forgetting the trials and tribulations that accompanied them. This idealized view of the past can distort our perception of the present, leading us to believe that our current struggles are somehow more unbearable.

In reality, life is a cyclical pattern of highs and lows, with each generation facing its own set of trials and triumphs.

It’s More About Fear Of Change

Fear of the unknown.

In the midst of what appears to be extraordinarily difficult times, the true discomfort comes from fear of change. 

More specifically, it’s worry that the change will convert a comfortable lifestyle to destitution. 

One of the primary reasons we fear change is dealing with the unknown. 

We have a natural inclination to seek stability and predictability in our lives, as it provides a sense of security and control. When faced with change, even if it’s in the form of a new job, a move to a different city, or a shift in personal relationships, we often experience anxiety and uncertainty about what lies ahead. 

This fear of uncertainty can lead us to imagine worst-case scenarios, magnifying apprehension. It further aligns with a deep-seated fear that any change will inevitably result in bad outcomes. 

This pessimistic outlook is fueled by a phenomenon known as “loss aversion,” whereby we place greater emphasis on avoiding losses than on acquiring gains. As a result, there tends to be a perception of change as a threat to current circumstances. 

It’s fueled by fear that it will lead to a deterioration in our quality of life. 

Try To Keep The Proper Perspective

It’s been said before by….someone. 

Hindsight is 20/20.

That’s, of course, easy to say when looking at the events of the past. However, living through them at the moment can feel quite different. In fact, it can be very frightening. It’s during those moments, that keeping the right perspective can make all the difference.

It’s important to recognize that while the world may appear to be teetering on the brink of disaster, the likelihood of a truly catastrophic event affecting the entire world is relatively low. 

While there are certainly serious problems that demand attention and action, history has shown that most challenges are manageable.

There is a psychological phenomenon known as negativity bias. It’s a tendency to focus on the negative aspects of life. This article published in Very Well Mind does a great job explaining it.

In reality, there are countless examples of progress and positive change happening every day, from advances in technology and medicine to improvements in living standards.

It’s important to maintain perspective and recognize that the world is not as bleak as it may seem.

Here Is How To Live Through Difficult Times

We can all make it through hard times.

There are several ways to live through the worst of times. Here, you’ll find a few that have been proven to be effective, including some that I’ve found to work well.

Difficult Times Always Pass

Like much of this life, in a long enough timeline, everything inevitably changes.

The same applies to difficult times. While it’s always possible conditions worsen over time, it generally does not. Pain heals, financial problems lessen, anger subsides and things are rebuilt. 

Again, history shows this, both in the world and personal sense.

Affect What You Can

You can change the world…kind of.

If you feel deeply called to join an organization or take part in a movement, by all means, go for it. However, in my experience, that time and effort is better spent on changing your own world.

I’m talking about your personal one.

How you think, feel, react, and function in your circumstance is something you can directly control, or at the very least, greatly influence. Behaviors can and do evolve. The person you are now is vastly different than the person you were 10 years ago. 

Focusing your efforts on yourself and how you respond to a thing is more effective than trying to change the thing itself.

We all want a better world.

I often daydream of a life where the only conflict is determining what to build first, or what discovery to expand upon next. Sadly, there will always be villains, those who refuse to share, poverty, despair, creatures trying to kill you, and anything other life-threatening being you can imagine. 

Maybe that’s the point. 

Perhaps existence is about how well we can individually and collectively play the game called life, but that is for another article.

Let Go Of Everything

I’ve written about this before. You can read about it here.

I know. It seems counterintuitive. 

We often cling tightly to what we know, what we desire, and what we believe should be. However, in many cases, it’s this very clinging that furthers our suffering. Here, it’s to a lifestyle or way of living we’ve grown accustomed to, and aren’t willing to lose.

Imagine a turbulent river. If we try to resist its current, we exhaust ourselves, struggling against its force, not really going anywhere. But when we let go and allow ourselves to flow with the river, we conserve energy and find a sense of ease. Simultaneously, by going with the stream, we are more clear-headed and able to find a way out of the river.

Letting go doesn’t mean giving up or abandoning hope. 

Instead, it involves a real acceptance of reality as it is, even if it’s not what we desire. It means releasing attachment to specific outcomes, the ones we wish would or should happen, and embracing uncertainty. 

Balance Yourself

While controlling specific circumstances and situations may be less likely, maintaining a balanced self can make it notably easier to get through tough times.

A healthy body through nutritious food intake and regular exercise allows for better performance, providing stamina and energy.

A well-nourished and active body is better equipped to withstand and recover from setbacks more efficiently. Furthermore, physical activity releases endorphins, which promote feelings of well-being and help manage stress and anxiety.

A mind focused on positivity and good things acts as a powerful shield against the onslaught of negativity during difficult times. The less negativity consumed, the easier it is to think clearly.

This means limiting news feeds and social media, neither of which is necessary to make it properly through your day.

Then there is a supportive environment, such as one benefiting from Feng Shui principles, which creates the right kind of environment that nourishes and allows for optimal performance.

A harmonious environment alleviates stress, promotes relaxation, and creates a sense of stability and security. 

Do Something You Enjoy

Ultimately, we can either wallow in difficulties or get up, and live life. 

For most people that means going to work and earning an income. If that job is one that you enjoy, even better. If not, then during your free time, do something that does give you constructive pleasure.

That can mean reading fiction novels, unwinding and watching a good episodic show or movie, or getting immersed in an adventurous video game. Doing these activities with friends and family is even better.

The benefit of participating in events such as these is a reprieve from stress and challenges. 

It also provides a sense of purpose, accomplishment, and control.

Better yet, if you can discover and actively do an activity where you learn a new skill, acquire practical knowledge, become more educated in a valuable occupational field, and so forth, not only are you relieving stress, but you’re also investing in yourself.

For example, let’s say you learn a new language. Once you become proficient in it, you can travel to that country or apply that language in a job, earning a higher income. 

Another example could be starting a side business like teaching others one of your hobbies or sharing years of wisdom. 

Those Over 40 Have It Easier

Those over 40 have lived long enough to know bad times pass.

Surpassing the age of 40, we discover a valuable asset: experience. 

Having lived and survived decades, we inherently possess a deeper understanding of human nature, societal dynamics, and the ebb and flow of existence.

One advantage is the ability to discern patterns. 

Having witnessed the recurrence of challenges and obstacles over the years, many of us over 40 have developed a keen eye for recognizing similarities in different situations. This allows us to often anticipate outcomes more accurately and make informed decisions with a broader perspective.

You can call this a type of wisdom.

This also provides perspective to those around us, particularly during difficult times.

People panic, especially those younger. It’s during these moments when relying on what we have come to understand about life provides a sense of calm, strength, and even peace for a more promising future. 

Rather than feed into fear, we over 40 can transmute trepidation into faith. 

Live Consciously 

We all know that life can get out of hand.

It’s not like there is a universally accepted instructional book. Generations have documented and are still trying to figure out how to live life the best way.

Despite that, what does work and certainly can help, is living more consciously. This article published by Psychology Today explains a few ways to do that. 

Whether or not we get what we want (which is really little to no suffering), each of us is living in moments.

How we respond to those moments determines what we experience.

In many of those, we can choose to live more enjoyably than not.

Self-awareness through letting go, being educated with a handful of historical events for reference, maintaining a balanced life in our body, mind, spirit, and surroundings, and doing something you like, softens hard times.

As always, thank you for reading, and until the next time, cheers!

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