How to feel like you’re winning (even when you clearly aren’t!)

Image of Bear Grylls in a jungle looking at the camera with the word "Survivor" above his headWallop!

That’s the sound of life sneaking up on you and blindsiding you. One day, everything is hunky dory, the next it’s far from that. 

Life will play nasty little tricks on you from time to time (natch). Hopefully, that won’t be too often, if at all. Just in case it does though, this is my guide to staying positive so that, even when life is being its harsh, smelly self, you can still feel like you’re winning and get back on top.

Make a plan instead of going with the (negative) flow

When you suddenly find yourself staring into the dark, foreboding abyss of uncertainty, the time comes to take the situation by the scruff of the neck and yank it in your favour!

Fair enough, you need to pause to come to terms with the full extent of the adversity first, but don’t leave it too long.

Get your head down. Form a plan. Take control.

This is your first step back on the road to stability.

Forget the road to nowhere. Forget the road to hell. Forget any other bleak fictional motorways. Your plan will place you back in the driving seat and firmly on the highway to happier times. (See what I did there!)

Time to rev that engine up!

Get some exercise lickety split

In the Britpop classic by Blur ‘Parklife’, front man Damon All Bran tells us he puts on his trousers, has a cuppa tea and thinks about leaving the house.

Unfortunately for you though, you’re not Damon All Bran, so I’m not recommending you think about leaving the house: I’m telling you to actually leave the house (but don’t forget to put your trousers on first, though)!

Go for a jog or hit the local swimming pool and replace the emotional and mental exhaustion with the physical kind.

Whipping yourself into shape will gradually cast you into the frame of mind to confront life’s trials and tribulations with a more sunny outlook, not to mention make it easier to find clothes that fit. Hooray!

Image of a BMX biker peforming a stunt against a backdrop of mountains
Having a wheely good time turning bad times on their head [sorrynotsorry]

Clean up your dietary act

Ever hammered a takeaway on Friday or Saturday night, or both (gulp); washed it down with some Irn Bru; and then felt immediately guilty afterwards? I know I have.

You’ve satisfied your dirty foods lust, which felt good at the time, but now the reality is sinking in that your body ain’t gonna thank you for it. In fact, it’s gonna seek revenge by letting those filthy calories find a cosy little spot around your midriff.

For all it’s short-term pleasures, junk food has a negative impact on our mood. Don’t overindulge just because you’re feeling sorry for yourself. Once you start, it’s difficult to stop (my struggles with chocolate will testify to that!).

Consume fresh foods, including plenty of fruit and veg, and drink plenty of water. Eat smaller portions but more frequently so you’re not always hungry and so your body can absorb the calories without clinging onto blubber.

Basically, cut all the regular rubbish out of your diet. Treat yourself to it from time to time, okay, but in the main, exercise some self-discipline and eat clean. You’ll feel physically healthier and mentally stronger, you titan you.

Image of a greasy, unhealthy looking hot dog drowned in mustard and tomato ketchup

I’m on a health kick now, don’tchaknow!

Find something you love (but don’t let it kill you)

A cracking way to stay motivated when tough times come a-calling is to find a new hobby or interest, something juicy which you can really be passionate about.

There are two reasons for this:

1. Your new interest will re-direct your attention away from your troubles, channelling your energy into something more positive and giving you a sense of focus.

2. The interest offers you the chance to achieve. Whether you’re enrolling in a language course, taking up a martial art or reflecting in a new blog, make the most of it and shine on, you crazy diamond!

Stop existing. Start living.

Empower yourself with an anthem

Totally ramping up the cliché factor with this one, but it would be rude not to for this piece!

Why do we pick an anthem when our life is going through the grinder? I don’t know. We just do. It’s ‘a thing’, and everyone knows you can’t argue with a thing!

Your anthem should be a song that applies to your situation and/or somehow inspires you to ride the waves of the turmoil.

Popular clichés include Gloria Gaynor’s empowerment classic ‘I Will Survive’, Fleetwood Mac’s dismissive, break-up juggernaut ‘Go Your Own Way’ and just about anything by the queen of empowerment anthems, Beyonce.

What’s that – my own personal anthem, you ask?

Well that would be silky smooth-tongued Craig David’s ‘Walking Away’. It has been for some years now, and not just because it borrows from U2’s atmospheric ‘One’. The words were about taking control rather than accepting untenable circumstances. It just seemed to fit at the time. Thanks, Craig!

If nothing seems to match your circumstance or is what you’re looking for in your anthem, choose one that always cheers you up. The song doesn’t have to bear some deep meaning to the wider world, just to you.

And if you’re low on ideas (and some might argue, on taste!), go with a montage from the ultimate inspirational movie, the Karate Kid! Think of yourself as a Cobra Kai because, as we all know, Cobra Kai never dies. More than 30 years after it was made, this film just keeps on delivering!

These are my tips to taking a stand against the forces of the universe and being able to smile along the way. Not the easiest forces to confront, I know, but give this advice a shot and see if it works for you.

And hey, don’t let others face the world all alone out there. How do you keep coming out fighting when life is trying to dish out a Johnny Lawrence-style beat down?

Share your tips in the comments section, you Cobra Kai you!

Images by Pexels, bosutn, used under CC licence 1.0; and LWP Kommunicaio, used under CC license 2.0


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