Speech presented at 8.18.2014, MinneapolisToastmasters Club 75
The 63-year-old actor, Robin Williams died of suicide at last week. His death may encourage a dialogue about mental health all over the world. Nowadays, about 350 million people suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organization. When circumstances don’t match your expectation or destiny, how to make yourself live in a happy life and make yourself successful out of your circumstances? Many people feel they can’t enjoy their life anymore in this circumstance and therefore the barren season comes. A “good” barren season might last only a few months, a tough barren season, on the other hand, can last years. Then, how to make your life happy and successful is an important issue we should think about in this fast-paced modern society.
First of all, cultivating self-compassion and letting go of perfectionism may make us happier. When your current circumstance and your expectation look like a mismatch, first tell yourself that you are in a formation season. Fulfillment involves a waiting period but stay active while you wait. And believe in yourself. You have a unique life journey. Your personality, decisions, relationships, schedule and background converge in a combination like no one else’s. Yes, it would be difficult when you are anxious and unsure about how things are going to go. For instance, when you are having a tough conversation with others, or if you are trying something new or doing something that makes you uncomfortable or opens to criticism or judgment. Every time when this happens, tell yourself, regardless of the outcome, you are already dared greatly and that’s totally aligned with your values, with who you want to be. So don’t criticize or blame yourself and then try to let go of your perfectionism.
Second of all, try to cultivate the characteristic of grit in our work, study and daily life. Psychologists reveal that the characteristic of grit is a significant predictor for success. Grit is not the social intelligence, or IQ. Grit is the passion and perseverance that can force people to achieve long-term goals. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years. And working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint. But how can people build this important characteristic? You should believe that the ability to learn is not fixed. It can change with your efforts. Your brain changes and grows in response to the knowledge and skills you have learned and the challenges you have faced. When you know this fact, you are much more likely to persevere when you fail, because you believe that failure is not a permanent condition. You can make everything happen if you remove quit as an option in your life.
Last but not least, cultivate the sense of love and gratitude. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful, a readiness to show appreciation for — and to return — kindness. Statistics reveal that people who practice gratitude are an amazing 25 percent happier than those who do not. For example, you can write down three things that you appreciate everyday or say thank you to those who help you. This may help you grow into a happier, kinder human being.
“If you spend your whole life waiting for the storm, you’ll never enjoy the sunshine.” Every barrenness period has an end point. We might not know where the end point is. We might not see it on the horizon or know how far from it we are. But it does exist. Try to enjoy the present, never give up, keep moving forward. Happiness is at every and each moment in our lives.