It’s a famous scale developed by psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe in 1967 that lists 43 of life’s biggest stressors. It is used to predict correlations between stress and health using a point system.
The theories they were propounding in their paper turned out to be true and easily validated with quite a bit of supporting research.
I bring this up because last year at this time my life was in a state of total disarray. My partnership with my children’s mother was breaking up (65 points), I lost my job (47 points), I was dealing with a pretty serious illness (53 points), and I was about to move out (25 points).
For all intents and purposes, I had enough points racked up to warrant a nervous breakdown, and even though that infamous scale did not include points for leaving the residence of your two daughters who were still toddlers, anyone who has endured this knows it was simply an oversight on their part. That was probably more stressful than anything else.
If I had seen then what my life looks like now, just 11 months later, I’m not sure I would have believed it. I won’t spend time here ticking off a list of accomplishments, but let’s just say that I am thriving—living my dreams and existing in my most authentic state.
Of course, I didn’t just sit here and wait for all of this fantastic luck to wash over me—but sitting here and being retrospective, none of it seemed all that arduous. Every single thing I did from day to day was spurred on by what felt necessary. The pain energized me instead of breaking me.
We decide how we will be affected by what life throws in our direction. It’s completely up to us if we allow the steamroller of bullsh*t to flatten us like roadkill, or if we get to the other side like Rocky with huge lumps and black and blues all over our bleeding face, jumping up and down screaming, “Adrian! I did it!”
If that image of Sylvester Stallone just got your heart racing—if you are in your living room right now hollering, “Yes! I want that, too!”—then allow me to list a few helpful hints that will propel you further:
Immerse yourself in what’s good.
I’m being serious too. Tony Robbins, Kyle Cease, Dr. Wayne Dyer, Elizabeth Gilbert, and anyone else you can think of—play their YouTube stuff on your phone when you’re in the shower or in your car when you’re driving to work (or to the unemployment office, it doesn’t matter) all day, every day. Raising your frequency in this way will, almost by default, program you to keep your eyes peeled for greatness and simultaneously ignore all that sucks.
Learn to connect to source.
Deepen your conscious contact with source energy by whatever means you are comfortable with. If prayer is your style, make time for this in the morning. If you have found solace in meditation once, make it a must—every day.
If you have trouble with both of these methods or have never tried them, try something a little less structured. I have found that, at times, just getting quiet for a half an hour in the morning and before bed gets me aligned with all that is good. You kind of owe it to yourself to try.
Write! Write! Write!
Of course, I’m a bit biased, but from where I stand, there is nothing on earth more freeing than a marble composition notebook and a pen. Whether I am venting and allowing the words to just flow like a faucet of venom, or I am hashing out the clever symbolism and irony of a poem, just the act itself helps me transcend the unhelpful habit of simmering in my vat of toxic stew. If you have misgivings, just agree to try it for a week as an experiment. You can thank me later.
Sometimes when we are subjected to what seems like one unfortunate set of circumstances after another, the most common reaction is to stare at the TV and hide in our yurts or our double-wide trailers. Please remind yourself that as uncomfortable as resistance initially seems, you are essentially saving your own life by doing it.
And if you are reading this, feeling so low that you’re not sure if saving your own life is a thing you’re even interested in, pick up the phone and call someone. Let yourself cry. Push yourself into catharsis. And then begin back at step one.
Right at this moment, someone somewhere is living their final seconds on this planet and wishing more than anything to have just a few more days.
Our experiences are really nothing more than what we tell ourselves; so as bad as things get at times, remember that if you change your story, you can change your life.
Take it from someone who once had 190 points.