Be Happier By Avoiding Life in Crisis Mode

Are you operating in crisis mode? If so, you’re most likely being short-sighted about important decisions you make every day in your life. 

It’s easy to get caught in a cycle of wrong thinking. When you’re only focused on trying to keep from going under, you’re neglecting the big picture of your life. 

While it’s good to be present and focused on the here and now, if you’re not also planning for the future, you can shortchange yourself and your life by your actions. 

For example, it’s easy to make wrong decisions about money when you “declare an emergency” on your finances. You may get so caught up in trying to find the money to pay the electric bill that you borrow the money you’ve got set aside for something else.

crisis

It’s also easy to fall short in our obedience to God.

If we view the end of each workday as having survived yet another crisis, it can be easy to pick up vices such as drinking, smoking, and other bad habits. After all, we deserve to let off a little steam after going through such a hard day, right?

If every day is a crisis, then we never get around to truly planning for the future—we’re too focused on merely surviving.

We end up cheating ourselves and those around us out of the fruits that come from setting and achieving long-term goals.

So, how do we avoid this trap? We have to become masters at planning simultaneously for short-term and long-term goals. 

If we’re truly in a crisis, we have to manage it diligently while also planning for the future. That may mean we need to become more creative with our problem solving and not throw all our mental energy into merely making it through another day. 

That may mean that we need to stop throughout the day and consciously tell ourselves to think long-term—to bring to mind the bigger goals in our life and not live for just the here-and-now.

The last thing we want to do is wake up one day and realize that we’ve wasted our whole lives putting out one fire after another—and never taking time to put in solid effort toward worthwhile life goals. 

survival

I’m very guilty of having done that. So much of my adult life has been spent trying to contain all the apparent crises, that I’ve often neglected working toward bigger goals. 

Yes, I regret that tremendously. However, there’s nothing I can do about it now, except to change how I live my life from this moment forward. 

That’s all that any of us can do. We certainly can’t change the past, and the future isn’t here yet. All we really have is this tiny slice of time that we call the present—right now. 

What we do with this moment is the only thing we have control over. 

At first glance, it may seem like I’m contradicting myself from what I said above. But, I’m actually not. 

The trick is to make the most of the present so that you build toward the future, all the while learning from the mistakes of the past without dwelling on your shortcomings.

And just because we use the present in the best way we know how, doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out how we want it to. It may or it may not. 

But if we put in our best effort, we will always have that to fall back on. Knowing we did our best is really all that any of us can ever hope for.  

And, who knows? One day we may look up and see that we’ve achieved the goal we’ve been working toward for so long. That would be a wonderful feeling indeed. 

Forget about merely trying to survive. Instead, focus on thriving in whatever environment you’re in. Don’t worry about finding the perfect job or the perfect mate — or the perfect anything for that matter. 

You’re not perfect, so why should anything in your life be perfect? Make the best out of your circumstances, whatever they may be. Learn how to be content in any situation, as Paul tells us to do in Philippians 4:11.

Rely on God and trust that he will reward your efforts. The outcome may not always look like you expect it to, but don’t fret. It may actually be better than you had expected. God has the power to do that, and He loves giving good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11).

So, don’t operate in crisis mode. Instead live life to the fullest every moment of each day.

Today is All You Have

“The fool, with all his other faults, has this also, he is always getting ready to live.”

– Seneca quoting Epicurus

Today is your life. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Today is the only day that you have.

Many of us fall into the trap of living in a day other than today. We’re either stuck in the past, wallowing in regret over our mistakes (guilty, I’ll admit), or we’re frozen in fear with worry about the future (what if?).

Years ago, there was an Ann Landers article that extolled the virtues of living in the present. While the details are a little fuzzy, I’ll always remember its message.

We’ll never be content so long as we’re waiting for the next big thing in life. “I’ll be happy when I get that promotion,” or “I’ll be happy when I get married,” or “I’ll be happy when I can finally afford a Mercedes.”

No matter what goal you set for yourself as to when you’ll be satisfied in life, there will always be something else on the horizon, waiting to steal your joy.

As the old saying goes, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the present.”

When we devote all our mental energy to the past or the future, we can’t focus on the present. We don’t give our full time and energy to it. And the present (today, right now) is all we have.

By the time you read this sentence, it’s already the past. You can never actually live in the past or the future. Only this very moment.

What can you do right now to further your life? Take a moment to relish the present. Here. Now. Before it’s gone.


Reframing How You See Your Life

Too many people struggle with depression and anxiety on a daily basis—and I’m one of those people. One approach that I have used from time to time to help eliminate my worry and anxiety over the future is to completely reframe my thinking regarding it and the past.

By nature, I have always held onto the past. It’s where I’m most comfortable because it’s a known. The future is unknown of course. By thinking about the past and dwelling on the past I’m able to keep my mind in a more comfortable, secure place.

However, we don’t live in the past. We only live in the here-and-now, with the future to look forward to. So, by living in the past in my mind, I’m actually creating more anxiety for myself. What happens now is that I see my “true” life as that which I had before I left home for college. That’s the point at which one major phase of my life ended and another began.

Therefore, in my mind, all the events that have happened since I left home are cataloged as leading away from that anchor point. 

Let me explain it this way. It’s as if I’m wading into the ocean backwards with my eye on the shoreline that is getting ever farther away. My childhood is represented as my walk down the beach until I reach the edge of the water. 

Everything after that (adulthood) is represented by my wading into the water. The longer I live, the farther I get away from the shore with its supposed safety and the more treacherous my journey becomes. 

Slowly but surely, I’m wading backward out into deeper waters, getting closer to the point where I’m completely underwater. My focus is not on the direction I’m headed, but rather it’s always on the shore.

Each day of my adult life is seen as a crisis—it’s not my real life because that ended at childhood when I began wading into the water. The crisis is heightening day by day as I get deeper and deeper. There is no real living in this scenario—just survival for as long as Ican.

As you can imagine, this way of thinking makes for a very anxious kind of life.

However, by reframing my way of thinking, I can see my life in a whole different light. If I create a different schema to catalog my experience, then everything is flipped 180 degrees. If I see each new day as the beginning of the rest of my life, and all the events that come afterward as just a long extension of my real life, then a great deal of worry, fear, and anxiety is eliminated.

I have to tell myself, “My life is here and now. Everything else is in the past. This is my life, along with everything that I experience from this point on.”

But the real key is to see my life this way. I have to keep in mind the image that the past is all behind me and that the future is a great, wide road in front of me, representing all the potential that life holds.

Creating this image in my head helps me see my life completely differently. Instead of ruminating on the past and fretting because each day takes me further away from its “safety,” I’m instead focused on the future and making each day count for something. I can look forward to each day instead of being anxious because life has taken me so far from my past.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells his readers that he uses that same approach:

“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”

Phil. 3:13b

It’s good to learn from the past, but not so good if you live in the past. As the motivational saying goes, “Remember the lesson, but forget the details.”

Living in the past cripples you and makes you totally ineffective for you present life. Plus, you end up fearing the future because your mind is conditioned to crave the apparent security of the past. 

That security is all a lie, however. The past has no real power, only that which you allow it to have. The present and the future are where life is truly lived.