February 13, 2024

What we can Learn by Tackling Life’s Ups and Downs

Article that highlights the key mindset shift to overcome adversity

What we can Learn by Tackling Life’s Ups and Downs

Have you ever started your day thinking it would turn out one way but it ends up totally different? How about your life? We all have hopes and dreams for how our lives should unfold. And, just when we think we are on top of the world something comes along and knocks us down. Life is a series of peaks and valleys and how we navigate these ups and downs is crucial to our overall well-being and happiness.

Once, when my brother was visiting me in my hometown of Carlisle, MA, we were at the school playground with our kids. It was a beautiful summer day and as we watched the kids climbing up and down the playground structures, my brother turned to me and said,“You’ve created a pretty good life for yourself.” It was a nice affirmation of how well my life was going. I was on own my personal ‘peak’. I lived in a beautiful place, had a beautiful family and my career was thriving. Just when things couldn’t have been better, the unimaginable happened. On February 19th, 2019, my nine year old son, William, died in a freak and tragic ski accident. In an instant I went from the highest high to the lowest low. I was in a valley of pain and despair so deep that there were times where I thought I would never get out.

When we face an uncertain future, like when we are confronted with change or loss, the predictability of our lives is shattered. We feel like we have lost control.When you are in that place it’s normal to want to fight this or avoid it, because it’s the last place you want to be. All you want to do in that moment is cling to what once was and turn away from the uncertain path that lies ahead of you. It’s part of how we process what’s happened to us. It creates space for our brains and our hearts to catch up and make sense of things. While this processing is important, there does come a point where we have to make a choice. We can either continue to push against our new reality, or we can choose to accept it. It’s counter-intuitive, but the only true way forward is through acceptance. Once we accept what is, we can then find ways of framing the situation differently. We can look for the possibilities that may exist even in the bleakest moments. It’s at this point that we are able tolift ourselves out of the valley and look out at new horizons as we summit our next peak.