By Nataly Kogan

Struggle is optional

Tags Happier Skills

I got really stuck in struggle recently. 

Doubting myself all the time, giving fuel to all of these thoughts of how I’m not good enough, unique enough, successful enough... doubting what I have to give and share. 

For the first time in a while I felt completely overwhelmed with feelings of defeat and was at a loss for how to shift my energy.

Can I just say it sucks to feel this way?

This morning, I dragged myself to my usual yoga class and struggled most of the way through it. Just going through the motions, watching the clock.

And then, suddenly, there was this moment of clarity: I realized that I was causing so much of my own struggle with the endless defeatist and harsh self-talk.

It was not easy to admit this. I wanted to feel sorry for myself, to wallow in it.

But I couldn’t run away from it: The challenges in my life were real, but the struggle I felt stuck in was mostly of my own doing.

And I had the means to shift out of it.

It’s really hard to learn lessons you teach, you know? Because the thing is, the emotional health skills I share with thousands of people in my talks, workshops, and through the Happier community are the very skills that help us avoid getting stuck in struggle and actually give us fuel to move through challenges.

So there I was, on my yoga mat, and I decided to practice the skills in my head:

  • ACCEPTANCE: Look at the challenge with clarity (this is how it is) vs. judgment (it’s not how it should be!)
  • GRATITUDE: What is something within this challenge I can still be grateful for?
  • INTENTIONAL KINDNESS: How can I help to elevate someone else with kindness and help shift my energy and feel connected to others as I move through this challenge?
  • BIGGER WHY: How does my finding a way to move through this challenge help someone else?
  • SELF-CARE: What can I do to support myself as I would a good friend as I move through this challenge?
struggle is optionalChallenges are constant and real -- in work and life. But when you practice your emotional health skills you gain the power and ability to move through them with less struggle.

Challenge is real. STRUGGLE IS OPTIONAL.

As I began to practice these 5 skills in my mind, even before I finished, my body felt lighter. I felt less stuck and more energized. I'd taken the first steps out of struggle and it felt awesome!

And then, the universe spoke through my teacher. Out of nowhere, she said: "When I let go of struggle, I float."

Next up: 40 lessons in happiness for my younger self

Don't miss your happier boost!

Subscribe to our weekly email to get practical tips and inspiration to help you feel more joyful and resilient.