Find peace, find joy, happiness, contentment. All of that makes theoretical sense but it isn’t sustainable in a life with ups and what seems like a lot of downs.

What you seek is clarity.

Clarity to see the downs for what they are: temporary.

Clarity to see the ups for what they are: temporary.

Clarity to see that life is a series of moments strewn together. Older and wiser people have this down. They don’t over react. They don’t react at all. That ‘zen’ state of mind where nothing phases you. Where you don’t get on the self pity train and stay there for the entire cross-country ride for days. The self control to take yourself off that train.

They say the hardest battle we fight is in our own mind. I think this is because the battle is relentless. The thoughts keep coming back. Eventually you spiral. You get on that train and you can’t get off. The one negative person in your life makes everything negative. Even the flowers and cupcakes. This is when you lose clarity.

Yoga, prayer, meditation, gratitude – all of these help. They force you to remind yourself to get off the trainThey interrupt the relentless negative thoughts. But when you lack clarity, you don’t want to do any of them. None. You are stuck in the negativity. That is the only reality you can see and everything else seems fake.

So be fake. Be fake for a while. Like everything else, it is just temporary. Fake meditate, fake self care, fake smile, fake happy even. Fake it for just one day.

Then one more.

Be uncomfortable. Then, be creative. Whatever creativity means to you. Write, paint, garden, do your makeup – let it come to you.

The thoughts won’t stop. Don’t expect them to. You get better at letting them go or at least identifying them. Sometimes you win. Sometimes they win.

Rest. This is exhausting.

Then, socialize. Small group or large whichever is easier. Talk to someone about something else. Anything else. Then go rest some more. This is exhausting.

Your brain can actually start feeling ‘buzzy’ with all these anxiety inducing thoughts. You may not realize this until you actually rest your brain. But if you feel it. You are on the right track. You have gained enough clarity to be self-aware and feel your ‘state’.

This is progress. Progress is nothing but a series of small steps. Each one individually insignificant but compounding to a greater good. One moment at a time. Think. Think about helping someone else. If you can get that far – actually do it. But at least think about it.

Thoughts = chemicals. Anxiety, depression and negativity all boil down to chemicals in your brain. Sometimes you can change your chemical balance just by thinking it. Sometimes you need help. To know the difference, you need clarity.

Take your small steps that seem meaningless and turn them into progress towards clarity. Progress isn’t one directional. You take two step forwards but maybe one step backwards. It is still progress, although it doesn’t feel like it. Take care of yourself the best way you can. Your whole self, mind, body and soul. If you ignore one aspect, it pulls the other two down. Start where it is easiest. Take care of your mind, your thoughts. Let them come and go until you can get off the train and watch it leave.