2 Things You Can Do When Things Go Wrong

I am the king of the world.

I was standing on the peak of Montserrat. At 4,055 feet, I felt like I was on top of the Earth.

This trip is going to be great.

And yes, the trip ended up being a memorable one. A very memorable one. But not in a positive way.

things go wrong

I ended up looking like this

Here’s what happened.

A few years ago, I went to Barcelona.

I planned the trip in absolute detail. Everything was just right.

Book a hotel in the city center. Book a flight with Flybe. Go to Birmingham Airport. Take this train to the hotel.

See Sagrada Familia. Visit Picasso Museum. Hit Park Güell. Hike Montserrat. Eat tapas.

My schedule was jam-packed. Perfect.

But if you travel, you know things never go that smoothly.

After enjoying the breathtaking view at the peak, I began to hike back down.

I slipped and hit a rock.

Luckily, I only scratched my forearm. But the wound was deep. It was gushing blood. Because I was still near the peak, there’s no way I can take care of the wound right then and there.

To be honest, I was a little worried that I would be infected.

Did it hurt? Of course. But the pain wasn’t the problem – it was the fact that I had to take care of this wound for the rest of my trip.

Even though the wound turned out okay and the blood stopped that night, I was still frustrated with this turn of events.

But my misfortune didn’t end there.

How I Hopped Around Barcelona On One Foot

The next day, when I was walking on the streets of Barcelona, I noticed there was something wrong with my shoes.

My right shoe, particularly. The sole of the shoe was peeling off from the heel.

What the heck?

I had to twist my foot with each step, so that my heel would land on the now-precariously-hanging sole, instead of the bare ground.

I was on my way to Park Güell. I still had to walk for quite some time. This was not good.

Then the worst happened.

While I was walking, the sole of my shoe literally flew off to the other side of the street.

I was only left with one shoe, in the middle of a bustling square.

Drawing quite of a bit of attention, I hopped my way into the nearest thing that resembled a store, which turned out to be the official store of FC Barcelona.

I bought a pair of flip-flops. I only put the right one on.

things go wrong

Ready for Barcelona fashion week

Problem solved? I wish.

That thing was rough. The strap edges kept cutting into my skin. The more I walked, the more painful it got. My foot was now developing blisters.

That, along with the reopened wound on my forearm, and ankle pain that came with the twisted walking, I finally gave up. I staggered into the first cafe I could find, and sat down.

I had to stop. I was basically crippled now.

My trip is ruined, I thought to myself.

How did the trip end up? I’ll tell you about it later. (Spoiler: I also had diarrhea on my way back to England, in mid-air.)

But first, understand this:

Anything That Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong

Seriously, who doesn’t want things to go smoothly?

You have a date with your dream girl tonight. If everything goes right, you are going to charm her, get married, have beautiful kids, and live together happily ever after.

You have an interview for an important position in a big company. If everything goes according to plan, you are going to be hired for your genius, get rich, and eventually take over the company.

But the thing is, things don’t go according to plan 99.9% of the time.

In science, there is a term called the Murphy’s Law, which basically means “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”. This cannot be truer for life.

Just hours before your hot date, you get sick with fever. Now you face a dilemma. If you cancel the date, chances are, you may never hear from her again. Now, what should you do?

You are dressed impeccably for the interview, looking your best. You rehearsed all your lines. The job is in the bag.

And yet, just before you walk into the interview room, you spilled coffee on your suit. You are now in panic. You forget all your lines. And you look like a clumsy idiot. Now, what should you tell the interviewers?

You Will Do Things You Have Never Done Before

Just when you think everything is going smoothly, life always finds a way to mess things up.

You know that feeling. It’s so frustrating. I know, it doesn’t feel good.

The good news?

When things go wrong, you are put through extreme stress. Now, you have only two options. Solve the problem, or endure a dreadful outcome.

Your mind goes full throttle. Every cell of your body is called up to perform. This is a sign you are using your body and mind to their maximum capacity.

All of a sudden, you will find yourself looking at things from a completely new angle, and doing things you have never done before.

After much strategizing, you may find yourself actually cancelling the date with your dream girl. Of course, you didn’t want to. You never cancel dates with girls.

But by cancelling the date, you figure you may actually set the tone of the relationship right.

Even if this relationship doesn’t work out, at least you signaled you are not needy. You value and respect yourself more than a date. She might like you even more because of this.

After trying to clean your shirt in vain, you walked in to the room. You go in and address the elephant in the room right off the bat. You sounded strangely secure and assured.

By nature, you are very insecure – you have never been this confident and humorous. Of course, you are just faking, and you nearly peed your pants. But the interaction actually went better than you expected.

How to Fix a Situation Even If You Can’t Fix It

True, not everything is fixable.

Maybe there is an accident on the highway to the airport, and you are going to be late no matter what.

Maybe your hand slipped and you dropped your phone into the toilet, and you have no way to restore the data.

Maybe your humor and confidence didn’t work, and you didn’t get the job in the end.

It sucks when you can do nothing about the situation, especially when things went terribly wrong.

But if you can’t change the outside, you can always to change the inside.

As mere human beings, we don’t always have power to influence outside events. But one thing we will always have complete control over, is our state of mind.

When things go wrong and you can’t do anything about it, it is time to manage your emotions. If there is a time to practice mindfulness and rational thinking, this is it.

When you feel frustrated, angry, or exasperated, just slow down. Watch your emotions. Let them come, and let them run their own course.

Talk to yourself rationally. You are going to be fine.

Accept the situation, and let the chips fall where they may.

So you see, even if you can’t really do anything, you can still learn to manage your own emotions, transforming the ordeal into a valuable experience.

This is how you grow. Sort of like, when you work out, you have to lift weights, give your muscles a little tension, and maybe tear them up a little bit.

Of course you will feel stressed and exhausted. That’s the whole point. Without tension, your muscles won’t grow.

So is your spiritual life. The more you face challenges and difficulties, the more you learn.

And don’t ever think things won’t go wrong twice – because they will. But when that time comes, you will be more prepared. You already have that experience in your toolbox.

What If Everything in Your Life Went Smoothly?

You were born in a wealthy family. You were given the best education. You got the highest grade in every exam. You got a prestigious position in your family business right after graduation. Your salaries went higher and higher every year.

Every day was so uneventful. Time flies. Even if you look successful, truth is you are just bored with life.

That is, until your company filed for bankruptcy.

Now you are jobless. No one wants you. Your family is broke. Your friends don’t want to see you. Now what do you do?

You are overwhelmed. You have no idea what to do. You had no experience dealing with challenges before. You simply give up.

This is why when things go wrong, you should be glad. It prepares you for the worst to come. And when it does, you already have tons of experience to back yourself up.

You learn the most when things go wrong. So start treating it as a blessing from God. This is your time to grow.

Exhaust all your brain power. Think outside the box. Solve the problem at all costs.

And even if you can’t, don’t get frustrated – actually no, it’s okay to be frustrated. Just remember to stop, and fill your soul with mindfulness. This is how you learn to manage your emotions in the heat of the moment.

The Specks of Light I Saw in the Sunset of Spain

If my shoe didn’t fly off, I am not really sure if I can still remember that trip so vividly right now.

After all, if things went smoothly, all I would have done was just visiting some attractions that everybody went to.

Now that I was virtually crippled, I didn’t have to catch up anymore. I was allowed to enjoy a cup of green tea in a quiet corner of Barcelona.

The sun was setting. I decided it was time to go. I stood up. Instead of heading to Park Güell, I walked down an alley at a snail’s pace.

In the end, I didn’t visit most attractions. No Park Güell, no Sagrada Familia, no Camp Nou.

But then, I got to study every alleyway, every Spanish face, and every speck of sunlight reflecting off the bits and pieces of Barcelona, in such detail that I could never forget.

How to Be Mindful When Things Go Wrong

When things go wrong, you will probably let your anger and frustration take over you, especially when you have no way to actually solve the problem.

Truth is, you can only change how you feel when you are mindful and aware. Meditation is a good starting place if you want to increase your self-control, mindfulness and awareness.

I wrote a super-detailed guide called “Buddhist Meditation Ultimate Guide”. Even better, you can download it right now for free.

This free guide has more and better information than most of the meditation books on the market, including those that sell at a premium price.

Click here and download it for free.

Two Extra Bonuses

By signing up for the meditation guide, you also get two extra bonuses, “The Buddhist Way to Quiet Your Mind And Find Happiness” and “How to Let Go of Thoughts and Quiet Your Mind Podcast”.

(If you are already a subscriber, just enter your email again, and you’ll have access to the bonuses.)

Click here and get the free bonuses.

This Is What Happens When You Choose to Walk Away

I was trapped.

This sucks, I thought to myself. Should I stay or should I walk away?

I was in a black box. It was dark everywhere. The only source of light, is the huge screen in front of me and a dozen other people.

I glanced around. I had my 3D glasses on. White frame. Red and blue. I must have looked like an idiot. The screen was showing blue people flying around. I felt dizzy. The red and blue only made it worse.

The only thing I could appreciate was the smell of popcorn. But then, I could still smell it outside the theater. Hell, I could even buy some out there.

I really wanted to walk out. I’d already paid for this three hours’ worth of torture. It is only thirty minutes in, and the movie was already testing my ability not to fall asleep.

Man, I thought. I could have been drawing, studying my new language, working out…even freaking web surfing would be better than this.

It was true. Instead of wasting so much time on a lousy movie, I could have use that time on things that actually mattered – things that contribute to my long term happiness.

But I still couldn’t let go of that £12 ticket. Instead of walking away, I sat it out.

I wish I could say it was worth it, but it wasn’t. I was now three hours closer to death. I think it’s safe to say I made a bad choice.

What Happens When You Walk Away?

This was quite a good few years ago, and I still couldn’t get over that crappy movie. From then on, I always think twice every time someone asks me to watch a movie with him or her.

This little incident taught me a lesson though: Never waste time on worthless things. That is, even if you have already invested in it. Be decisive, and walk away.

Being an outsider, you must have thought I was dumb not to walk out of that movie, just because of a few pounds. But I bet many people would do the same, you included.

You see, human beings are motivated more by the fear of lost than the prospect of gain. That’s why people seldom walk out of movie theaters, even if the movie sucks. They want to get their money’s worth – except when it’s worth nothing.

When you walk out of a movie, you incur something called an “opportunity cost”. It is a cost you have to pay when you choose something over another. In this case, the opportunity cost is the ticket price.

Not being able to walk away from a movie sounds innocent enough. Not so much when you are stuck in an abusive relationship, a hopeless career, and a deadly addiction.

Many people are paralyzed to change their course of life because of this fear. That’s understandable. In the end, if you give it all up now, all the years you’ve lived would mean nothing anymore. It is part ego, part pride, and part fear of the unknown.

Predictability is nice. No matter how bad your life is, at least you know what to expect. At least you are still the old you.

The Haunting of the Unholy Trinity

The familiarity of pain. The comfort of routine. The certainty of life.

Jessica is stuck in an abusive relationship, because she keeps hoping her partner would change some day. She doesn’t want to lose all the love she has invested in their relationship. She hopes that he is still the one, the lovely, caring man she fell in love with.

But it is just a fantasy.

The reality is, Jessica is disappointed and physically hurt, time and time again. The pain gets familiar, predictable. It becomes part of their abuser-abusee relationship.

She knows she needs to walk away from him. But now, she is too familiar with the pain. It is part of her life now.

Chen is stuck in a hopeless career, because he couldn’t resist the comfort that it provides: Wake up at the same time. Put on the same suit. Hit the same road. Off at the same time. Go home and eat the same food. On the weekends, drink at the same bar. At the end of the month, a paycheck. It’s all good.

Except it will get him nowhere.

Chen has a dream, buried deep down somewhere in his heart. Something big. Something that makes history. Does he want to continue to live in a loop until the day he dies? Of course not.

But he can’t let go of the comfort predictability gives him. After all, he’d invested so much time in this job. If he walks away now, he can never find a job like this again.

Tyler is stuck with an alcohol addiction, because it gives him an escape from all his problems. Life has been brutal to him. When he was drunk, he can forget everything that bothers him, and just act however he wants to.

Everyone knows drinking too much is bad. Tyler knows it too. But he also knows that if he gives up alcohol, he will have nowhere to turn to when he gets frustrated.

Alcohol is his best friend, his safe haven, and his only solution to every problem in life. Alcohol is always there for him. He can just take a shot whenever he needs to.

There’s no complication, no uncertainty.

On top of that, Tyler is too proud to give up drinking. He is only too happy when people call him a drunkard. And yet he knows, as well as anyone else, that he is just a slave to his urges.

He knows giving up drinking would be the best choice he could make in his life, and yet he can’t walk away.

How One Decision Transformed My Entire Career

Just a few weeks ago, I was still stuck in the cliché “self-help blogger” circle.

Ever since I became a writer, I’ve always wanted to write about spirituality. But to make a living writing spiritual stuff, you can only either brand yourself as a “life coach”, “spiritual teacher”, or even worse, a “guru”.

I am none of above.

To get my name out there, I have no choice but to write for self-help blogs. To write for those blogs, you’d have to pitch a post written specifically the way they want it.

This completely stifled my creativity. I was churning out posts with a formula. My words had no soul. My posts were empty shells I put together to make the end product look like an article. It doesn’t even feel like writing.

After a while, I was completely blocked, to the point where I couldn’t write a single word anymore. I couldn’t keep teaching things I don’t believe in.

But I knew I have to stop writing this way. I knew if I continue, I will become just another faceless self-help writer you don’t care for. Frankly, do you even remember one name out of all the writers you read on self-help blogs?

Another reason was, writing like that was just plain torture. This reason alone was enough to push me over the edge.

But what could I do? If I give up writing using “self-help blogosphere” lingo, I would become an outcast. No blog would want me anymore. No one would ever come to read my blog.

And what about those “connections” I built with these blog owners? I thought I was making friends with them. If I stop giving them what they want, I wouldn’t have an “in” any more. All my investments in the self-help circle would be lost.

It was a hard decision to make. The opportunity cost was huge. But unlike the movie, I didn’t sit it out this time.

I did it anyway.

Now, my writing flows like the Niagara Falls. I just vomit words onto the page. My fingers never stop flying on the keyboard. Because now I write the way I think. I write about things I believe in.

Many of you are really supportive. In fact, since I wrote this way, the engagement from my readers has shot through the roof. I am really glad you like me for who I am. I am really grateful for your support.

I will never go back to being a fake self-help writer anymore.

Freedom Is Only a Decision Away

This proves that sometimes, you should just forget about the past, and make that decision you should have made a long time ago.

I know, a sudden change of direction is hard. You are essentially throwing everything away. Everything you’ve invested so far – time, money, energy, love, and memories – would mean nothing anymore.

It also means you’ll have to admit you made the wrong decision. Some people are too proud to do this.

But if you know, deep in your heart, that something has to change, you can’t let your ego get in the way. Admit your mistake. Let the past go. Give up your investments.

If you know your life is going down, there’s no point holding on to what is left of it. It’s like holding on to a sinking ship. You’ll only go down with it.

Let everything go. Live a new life. Discover new possibilities.

Actually, it’s really like walking out of a crappy movie.

At first, you look around a bit. You hesitate. It is really hard to stand up when everyone is sitting down, pretending that they are enjoying it.

You finally stand up. A dozen pair of eyes stares at you. Oh boy, you think. This is really awkward.

Summoning up your courage, you begin to walk down the aisle. As you get closer and closer to the exit, your body relaxes. Your back straightens. Your steps become more certain.

You open the door. A crack of light tears through the darkness.

I’m out, you pump your fist, I am finally free.

Yes, you might have lost a few dollars, but you also got two and half hours of your life back. Now go do something worthwhile with it.

And oh, don’t forget to get yourself some popcorn.

What To Do Next

Most of the time, you operate on autopilot. This means even if you know you have to walk away, you will still freeze when the time to decide comes.

Truth is, you can only change how you act when you are mindful and aware. Meditation is a good starting place if you want to increase your self-control, mindfulness and awareness.

I have written a super-detailed guide called “Buddhist Meditation Ultimate Guide”. Even better, you can download it right now for free.

This free guide has more and better information than most of the meditation books on the market, including those that sell at a premium price.

Click here and download it for free.

Two Extra Bonuses

By signing up for the meditation guide, you also get two extra bonuses, “The Buddhist Way to Quiet Your Mind And Find Happiness” and “How to Let Go of Thoughts and Quiet Your Mind Podcast”.

(If you are already a subscriber, just enter your email again, and you’ll have access to the bonuses.)

Click here and get the free bonuses.

Postscript (Tiny Buddha)

I don’t mean to pick fights with just anybody.

I know a lot of you know me from Tiny Buddha. Lori, the owner of Tiny Buddha, is a very nice person. She has no ego, a trait I rarely see in blog owners, especially when Tiny Buddha has gotten so big.

Lori helped me a lot since I got into blogging. I fully endorse Tiny Buddha and all its writers.

Since changing my style, I haven’t submitted a post to Lori (this post was submitted over two months ago), but I am sure she will read my new stuff with an open mind.

What If You Can Never Solve All Your Life Problems?

Do you wish all your life problems can just disappear?

Or maybe a better question, can you make all your life problems disappear? Before you answer this question, sit down and think for a moment.

Was your life ever perfect?

Just when you think you are in excellent shape and your finances are all sorted out, your marriage starts going downhill.

Just when you think your marriage is fixed and kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, family problems arise.

Just when you think your family is in harmony and you’re doing well in your job, health problems creep in.

Life is always playing tricks on you. Isn’t that depressing?

In this day and age, you are always bombarded with the fantasy of a “perfect life” –  where you are in shape, good looking, rich, have a beautiful wife or a manly husband, drive expensive cars, have genius kids…everything is just right. Perfect.

But no. Life will never be perfect. Whenever it takes a good turn, something bad will always balance it out.

Let me give you a personal example. A few years ago, I thought I had it all. I was healthy. I have a loving family. I got to see my grandma who raised me every day. I had an internet business. I didn’t have to work for an oppressive boss. I had a great circle of friends.

And then, everything fell apart.

It all started with my grandmother. She was very healthy and active. She was a great cook. She was humorous and fun. Then she was dead. It all went down in just a little over two weeks.

When she was on her deathbed, one of my friends got into some kind of substance abuse. In the state of delirium, he fell off a building and broke his spine. He is paralyzed.

And then, my internet business wasn’t sponsored any more. All my income was cut off.

With all that, I was too depressed to be social and happy anymore. I isolated myself from all my friends. I lost them all.

I thought I knew a lot of spiritual teachings. But at that point, no amount of scripture was of any help to me.

I could only cry. And cry.

My Life Still Sucks, but in a Different Way

Now, everything seems to be going back on track again for me. From the failure of my internet business, I got into writing. One of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

And then, with the death of my grandmother, the bond in our big family grew stronger than ever.

Everything’s well, except most of my friends didn’t come back. But now, I feel I’m now more open to meeting new people than ever before.

Really, I prefer my life as it is now than it was a few years ago. But does that mean my life is perfect now? No, far from it.

Maybe my overall situation has improved, but I know there will always be other life problems that come with it. Life exists in a state of equilibrium.

To be honest with you, I have trouble making a living writing. At this stage of my writing career, the income is minimal compared to any kind of jobs I’ve had.

I struggle everyday just to keep this blog running. I am desperate to find more ways to increase my income. My family is legitimately concerned about my financial security. So am I.

And the grief from losing my grandma never went away, and it never will. She was like a third parent to me. I miss her every day.

Combined with the anxieties I already have going on, this makes my mental state even harder to manage, even with all the spiritual knowledge I’m equipped with.

But does this mean you should just stop trying? You know, because everything you achieve will not make any difference?

No matter how many life problems you solve, there will always be new ones. Why try at all?

Thing is, life is never static. It will never be completely perfect. On the flipside, it will also never be irrevocably hopeless.

Can you start a car with only positive batteries? Of course not. It is the same with life. If it is all positive and no negative, it is called stagnation, not perfection.

If everything in life goes according to plan, it will be boring and predictable. Sort of like wrestling with a 5 year old when you are a 265 pound, 6′ 4”, muscular and professionally trained MMA fighter in your early-20s. It’s no fun.

Worse, if your life is all perfect, smooth, and uneventful, it will turn you into a zombie, because you don’t have to even use your brain anymore.

Life is made up of problems. Problems will never go away, because it is life itself. You solve one, another one comes right after it. This is the nature of life.

The good news?

Each life problem you face makes you grow stronger. That’s how a baby becomes an adult, and how an adult becomes a wise old person.

In the same way, each time you avoid your life problems, the less of a person you become. You become weaker and weaker, as life problems start stacking up and overwhelm you.

What Happens When You Abuse Spirituality

This is where I disagree with the doctrine of passivity in some Eastern religions.

Some advocate you just sit there and meditate, and put some restrictions around your life (precepts), so you can avoid facing the life problems you should really be working on.

Not meaning to sound harsh here, but some people actually become monks and live in monasteries just because they don’t want to work. They want a false pretense to beg for food and have a shelter without even working for it.

And then, some people choose to live in seclusion because it provides an escape from real life. When you live in seclusion and cut off every “worldly tie”, you are really just cutting off your own responsibilities, because you don’t have the courage and integrity to face them head on.

Same with meditation. Some people are attracted to it because you get to transfer your consciousness into a non-dual reality, where you can dwell in your artificial, peaceful head space where life problems are non-existent.

A monk from Rinchen Terdzö (a Tibetan Buddhist organization) once said, “what he liked about Dzogchen (a non-dual practice) was that when life got to be difficult, he could just press the Dzogchen button and nothing would mean anything painful any more. When in doubt just zone out, sort of thing.

You know it’s bad when people abuse alcohol and drugs to avoid facing their life problems. It is equally bad if you abuse meditation and spiritual teachings to do the same. In both cases, you try to alter your state of consciousness to escape from reality. This is a destructive mentality.

Of course, I’m not saying every monk is a bum, and everyone who meditates is a coward in denial. But the truth is, there are people like that.

Fight the Beasts Before They Devour You

Contrary to popular opinion, I believe life is not full of twist and turns. It is a straight line. You have no choice but to walk it, no matter what comes your way.

As you walk down this path, scary beasts will block your way. You can either fight them off, or run for your life.

The bad news is, no matter how many beasts you kill, there will be still more beasts ahead of the road, trying to eat you alive.

Each time you fight a beast off, you get stronger. You get more experienced in wrestling with them. Your body gets more powerful with all the constant training. And with each fight, you get more and more confident. You grow physically, mentally and spiritually.

But if you try to escape, the beasts will chase after you tirelessly. They will never go away. The more fights you flee from,  the larger the army of beasts behind you becomes.

You will eventually get exhausted from all the running – when those beasts catch up to you, you will have to pay a bloody price for your cowardice.

So choose a way of life now. You can be brave, embrace your life problems, keep fighting and become a stronger person. Or you can choose to escape, become a weakling, and let the beastly nature of life devour you.

Which way will you choose?

What To Do Next With Your Life Problems

Most of the time, you operate on autopilot. This means even if you know you have to face all your life problems head on, you will still try to run away when the pressure comes.

Truth is, you can only change how you act when you are mindful and aware. Meditation is a good starting place if you want to increase your self-control, mindfulness and awareness.

I have written a super-detailed guide called “Buddhist Meditation Ultimate Guide”. Even better, you can download it right now for free.

This free guide has more and better information than most of the meditation books on the market, including those that sell at a premium price.

Click here and download it for free.

Two Extra Bonuses

By signing up for the meditation guide, you also get two extra bonuses, “The Buddhist Way to Quiet Your Mind And Find Happiness” and “How to Let Go of Thoughts and Quiet Your Mind Podcast”.

(If you are already a subscriber, just enter your email again, and you’ll have instant access to the bonuses.)

Click here and get the free bonuses.

Why Negative Peer Pressure and Haters Are Your Friends

Do you have a dream?

You know, like a passion. Something you want to accomplish in life. Something that gives your life a purpose.

To some, this may mean building a successful business and earning a lot of money. To some, this may be finding a great spouse and building a beautiful family.

To some, this may mean becoming a great musician and getting famous. To some, this may mean going on a religious and spiritual path and seeking ultimate peace.

Are you chasing your dream? If you are, you’ll notice one thing: everybody will try to talk you out of it. I have had this happened to me many, many times before.

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