How To Deal With Life In Tough Times

2009_experiment.jpgLiving in Manhattan, I know several people who have recently lost t

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heir jobs. Most of these people are smart, educated, driven, great in their careers…and many of them have families, mortgages, and a ton of responsibilities. Understandably, they are scared.

What makes the present situation even more terrifying is the underlying sense that something is very different this time. We are seeing breakdown after breakdown within many of the socio-economic realities that we have taken for granted as being ‘safe and sound’ for so long.

Many of the newly jobless will have a tougher find finding employment in their line of work…and many will see the industry they toiled for so long completely disappear.

From the 30,000-foot level, we have to realize that this is OK…as the ‘unsustainable’ is finally showing to be, well, unsustainable. And amid all the breakdowns there are, and will continue to be, many fantastic break-throughs that will literally transform what it means to be a human being in this world!

But this can be extremely difficult to see right now as we are smack-dab in the middle of it, directly in the thick and dense processing phase where it is so easy to get lost in fear and anxiety.

The question naturally arising in SO many is: “Well, what should I do”? This is the 100 Million dollar question right now, and it’s a good one. And I am not going to propose any universal answer in this article.

Rather, my purpose is to simply shine awareness on what is happening, and to get your mind stirring whether you personal world has been shaken or not, because ALL of us are being affected by the massive transition happening on this planet right now.



ALL need to be vigilant and aware, and to allow ourselves to be guided (as gently as possible) to the next phase of our evolution.

The writing is on the wall, our biggest systems are breaking down, greed and separation do not work. Rest assured, there IS hope for a better tomorrow…and much of it depends on how we deal with the challenges today!

So, What SHOULD I Do?

Begin to realize that when things in the external field become chaotic and stressed, our minds like to pull us even more externally searching for answers.

But the answers are not ‘out there’. They are within you, and when times are tough we need to be even stronger and cultivate the ability to look within for solutions.

As hard as it seems to do, NOW is the time for powerful self-reflection, stillness and patience.

Yes, I fully understand how this sounds. Life is throwing all kinds of challenges at you, things need to be dealt with, handled, and brought to some kind or order…and this blogger guy is telling you to meditate and not do anything.

But that is not the case. Being patient and still, and moving slowly and thoughtfully throughout your day creates the necessary space for greater wisdom to come to the forefront.

It may take time, but the answer to the question ‘what should I do’ is always there. Another great thing to do is constantly gain perspective on your life situation. Try this exercise:

Get Great-Grand Perspective

We so easily lose sight of the fact that our lives as human beings are fleeting, microscopic and meaningless. Think about your great grandparents.

Many of you may have memories of some (or all) of your grandparents…but very few of us can remember anything about the next generation back.eugenia_ruth.jpg

Close your eyes and try to imagine the lives of your recent ancestors…these people who lived and breathed at one point, and who are your family. You may or may not know something about who they were, but just try and think how important everything must have seemed to them.

I know my great grandparents came from Hungary and Russia, and came to the United States in the early 1900’s and raised my grandparents.

How much they must have struggled and stressed…living through World Wars and depressions…and how much joy they must have had, experiencing a new country, new possibilities, and new way of being in the world.

When you take a moment and really go back, it is amazing to think about.

But your great grandparents are gone. Forever. Dust in the wind. All the stress and anxiety they felt amounted to nothing but a forgotten history. All the successes and triumphs they achieved mean nothing today.

And how often are these people thought and talked about? Not much, if ever.

You must realize that one day your existence will suffer the same fate. Everything in your life that you take as SO important, everything that is SO real to you will not matter and soon be forgotten as if it never mattered at all.

Yes, in a very real sense your life (our lives!) are totally meaningless and void of any value in the greatest scheme of things.

But What About ‘The Real World’?

When I say things like this to friends and family, the response is usually “OK, I get it, but what’s the point of saying that? Does that mean I should sit around and

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do nothing if it all meaningless and purposeless? Should I never go to work, have relationships, raise a family, and try to get ahead in the world”?

Of course not! These questions are simply missing the point. Knowledge of our meaninglessness is freedom; freedom to explore the life that you were meant to lead; freedom to see the places you were meant to see; freedom to interact with the people that you were meant to interact.

The ‘real world’ can often be like a prison, incarcerating you in all of the heavy expectations that were ingrained in you as a young person. Realizing the absolute non-meaning of your life is lightness, freedom and joy!

Imagine living with no limitations, and having pure unadulterated liberty to allow your inner most soul uncover itself moment by moment! This is the blessing that was granted to you upon being born….yet it is SO easily forgotten.

And attaining perspective of our purpose-less existence does NOT mean that you should ‘sit around and do nothing’. On the contrary, truly experiencing this breakthrough leads to powerful and swift action.

The action you take becomes determined by intuition, purpose and love as opposed to fear, stress and external circumstances. You become free, featherweight and empowered to lead the life you were meant to!

SO even though times seem tough, and the world as we know it appears to be disintegrating before our very eyes, constantly bring yourself inward, give yourself perspective, and have awareness that new realities are being born that will make ALL of our lives extraordinary!

*If you like this article, please share it with a friend. Thank you :)

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56 Responses to “How To Deal With Life In Tough Times”

  1. Denise says:

    Hi Todd,

    I am a fellow New Yorker who recently discovered your blog. I love your writing! This post is great and so very true. Going within, getting quiet and taking full responsibility for ourselves can give us the most unexpected and miraculous answers as well as true freedom! It is amazing that when you realize each moment is meaningLESS, you can then see the possiblity of creating a meaningFUL existence! Thanks again for such refreshing thoughts!


  2. Todd says:

    THANKS Denise, I really appreciate it! You and I are really in the thick of things in NYC :) We really need to be the examples! All the best, ad feel well, Todd

  3. I’m so glad to see you back, Todd, I just linked to this post and I’m going to tweet it.
    I, too, sense the change we are going through is actually really good. It’s just destruction must precede creation.

  4. Todd says:

    THANKS Akemi!
    Much love to you…and wishing you the best in ’09,

  5. Ray Mannion says:

    Thanks for the brilliant perspective. I instantly envisioned my grandmothers sitting on huge boats for days coming across the Atlantic, full of fear and worry. Their courage and hard work gave their children and grandchildren a life of freedom and opportunity.
    So, we set the coffee pot timer for 30 minutes earlier and we get up, sharpen our pencils and get on with it knowing our future will reap the benefit.

  6. Todd, this post rings very true for me. At the root of this is fear. I’ve noticed that fear is more present in people’s lives than ever before, and it’s because the things we thought were indestructible are in fact disintegrating around us. Fear comes from uncertainty.

    I like the way you illustrate meaningless – all we really have are our thoughts – which create our reality. Our stories about the bad economy might very well be worse than the actual reality. We fill in the blanks with our imagination.

    This topic is an important one – and I love your take on it!

  7. Todd says:

    Thanks for the kind words Ray and Charrise…I am glad I could offer some nice perspective!

  8. farouk says:

    in addition to what you said todd, i think attachment is one of the reasons we feel bad when lose something, if we thought ourselves how to detach from things fast we will be able to move on

    • Ajay Kadlag says:

      Hi Tod,
      I can definately relate to what u have said. My father is in hospital and I have started feeling depressed. But to my amusement, I discovered that I was thinking about how will I lead my life in his absence. I love my father as every son does. But I guess, the real thing is I love him for the love, support and help that he has extended since I was born and that I am being selfish now to think about how will I manage without him. The ‘I’ factor in love needs to be thought about. Love should be unconditional. Also, the whole body awareness technique that you have discussed is really worth trying. I have tried it today just for a little while and I felt releaved from stress and unworthy worries.
      I love my dad even more now …

      Ajay Kadlag

  9. Great post and very good timing for it. Every day more and more people are losing their jobs. So, its very easy to fall prey to fear.

    I’ve taken this recession as an opportunity to really get back to what is important in my life. This is a time of change and will teach us to really put things in the right perspective. Its easy to not do this when we are stuck in the daily rat race.

    I strongly recommend meditation to lose this fear and get courage to see life for what it really is, to deal with this recession, and to grow closer to what truly is important in this world; your family, yourself, and spirituality. It has done wonders for me and gave me the courage of leaving my practice as a lawyer for over five years and now publish online about meditation for other overstressed and busy professionals.

    All the best to you and yours,

    Sonia Gallagher

  10. Chris Phone says:

    Good post Todd. You are right, if we are focused on the outside world, we will never be happy. Like the old song says, you can’t please everyone so better please yourself.

  11. I like your “thought experiment” here about ancestors and appreciate your basic point of suggesting that we need to get a larger perspective in hard times. In spiritual and religious discourse, this is often called “detachment” – a word about which there’s often a lot of confusion.

    In any case, in my sixteenth year of an incurable rare disease and now completely housebound and mostly bedridden, I would have gone crazy or killed myself a long time ago if I hadn’t found that larger perspective…

  12. taney says:

    This is such a great article! Very moving, touching, yet heartwarming at the same time.

    I totally agree with you, but I wouldn’t say this life is meaningless. Most of the people in the world don’t look at the big picture of life. They look at everything day-to-day, what is necessary for survival, and plan accordingly in the short-term span.

    Most people are focused on abundance of wealth and material things. When they have it, they just want more. Does it really make them happy? In the short-term, most definitely, but what’s next?

    There are times where I just contemplate about life. I honestly don’t believe that life is fate. I believe it is destiny and you create it yourself, but there are times where I have sat and wondered, “What if it’s fate? What if I’m destined to be in the situation I’m in? Shall I not still enjoy it?” Then I realized even if I’m not rich and I don’t have all the material things that I want, I should learn to enjoy this beautiful life. I shouldn’t mope and whine and watch life pass me by. There are people in much worse situations that would give anything to trade places with me. I have learned that a lot of times, it’s just how you perceive.

    The picture of life is painted by you. It can be black/white and dull or really vibrant with brilliant colors. I was reading this article in the Atlantic magazine. It’s called “What Makes Us Happy?” It describes a Harvard longitudinal study, which analyzed the lives of many students from when they entered college up until they reach their old age or death. It’s really interesting! They interviewed candidates every few years, sent them questionnaires, and even perform physical examinations on them. It’s a very interesting article because it shows many different cases and how some people were successful early and hit rock bottom; whereas others were struggling and reach success later. Majority of them were pretty successful by the time they were in the 50s. You really get to see many different lives as a big picture, just like how you described our great-grandparents. To sum it up, these people all had their ups and downs. What separated them was how they coped with their obstacles. By altering your mindset and attitude, it will completely change the way you see the world.

    Times are tough, but you can easily see it as an opportunity instead of a threat. One day, we’re probably going to sit down and tell our grandchildren these exciting stories. Life is adventurous! Learn to enjoy it while it lasts! (=

    For those interested in reading the article, it is posted here:

  13. nirmal says:

    I really liked your thought of feeling featherweight…because it was all I needed at this moment!

  14. Being able to keep your mind positive is critical to change of any kind. You have to roll with the punches of life. Persistence and a mind filled with good thought can get you to the pace you deserve to be.

  15. Wow. You are really amazing. You have said a mouth full. I’ll try to follow what you said. Thanks a lot. :-)

  16. Arnold75 says:

    Food must be grown in with a short growing season, and all of the farm stuff that used to be in a 1890 Sears catalog is no longer available. ,

  17. Kaushik says:

    Good post. When our inner purpose is to awaken to the Truth of who we really are, our outer purposes come and go, and we don’t look for completion in them. I haven’t been able to find job for over a year–and it turned out well because I’ve had the time to write books on awakening.

  18. His_wife50 says:

    In general I find public schools to cater to the lowest common denominator. ,

  19. No_limits95 says:

    For many staff, this can be an eye- opening experience. ,

  20. [...] Todd at We The Change just wrote an interesting post related to this: How To Deal With Life In Tough Times [...]

  21. Ali says:

    i have read so many articles on such subjects, but really it is a valuable one and it is creystals of wisdom embedded.
    thx a lot 4 the author!

  22. Gopi says:

    Very Nice and Intresting post. I wish the Good work continues awakening more and more ppl in your future posts.

  23. Great article, Todd! Indeed, many of our worries and fears are often baseless and if we enquire into them through meditation, they’re often not as dire as they make them out to be. Thanks for the illuminating article!

  24. Rags says:

    This comment is a little OT because it’s basically spurred by one phrase you used… but funnily enough someone was saying to me today about “the real world” this and that….

    I was talking about how I see house ownership as a futile endevour which encourages a life of 9-5 slavery.

    “Welcome to the real world.” was his response (not in a cynical way, he’s a friend of mine).

    The truth is – their real world is nothing at all like mine – so I didn’t feel the need to respond.

    I know that in his world owning a house and working 9-5 for the rest of his life is what he will do. He’ll be 70, own a property, have a family, and that’ll be that.

    Nothing wrong with it – if that’s what you’re satisfied with.

    But in my real world, that’s not what a smart adventurous ambitious person does at all ;) .



  25. [...] Todd at We The Change just wrote an interesting post related to this: How To Deal With Life In Tough Times [...]

  26. Joe says:

    Yeah makes sense… I did not lose my job, but quit it… To improve my career… Sometimes the zeal to do more in life makes you reach situations where you wonder if the decisions that you make were really sensible…

    I am not your ordinary Joe, I come from a very well to do family, but the drive to do more has made me land in a situation, which I did not expect…

    It’s always one day at a time, and hope that all your hard work pays off… And It always does, you just have to believe in yourself, never let the words of other people make you lose faith…

    It works for me! :)


  27. Justine says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’m living in New York trying to maintain that crazy balance of life we all so desperately want and desire. I’ve felt this crazy state of the world, which seems to be so much more intensified on a regular basis lately and stumbling upon this did help to see the greater perspective if you will. I can only hope that all our own collective consciousness will lead us all into a higher state of living and thinking. This world is just a dream. Thanks again.

  28. Nitin says:

    Great work Todd. We all need more and more of self discovery and owning up to things. In the end, we need to embrace people the way they are because of the circumstances they have been through is unique. Thanks for such a breeze of fresh thoughts.

  29. Carlos says:

    Well, Depending on what sort of tough times you are experiencing, there are different ways you might deal with them. Whether is be financial, emotional or any other tough time, you could approach it in a variety of ways.

  30. Troy says:

    Your article is basically a short version of the book of Ecclesiastes. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. The Holy Bible is full of the ultimate wisdom.

  31. Yogesh says:

    The sun that will rise will also set the same day.The one who had elephants,horses,money,power dont have even light at their grave.The ultimate destination is grave.You come empty handed will leave empty handed.Give love to everybody and anybody and leave this world happily.

  32. pinky lonzaga says:

    its the most reelection of the living persona in earth today. we cant have everything in this world., thou God made us in His being but were not treated equal ( i guess) what we need is to be contented of what we have and strike for the better of our being.

  33. gobinda says:

    I found this blog inspiring and very true.
    At difficult moments, we have feelings like, “we are alone. rest of the world is against us. we are being tested. our problem is unique and very big.” but the reality is that the “fear of the worse” grows so big that we can’t dare to face the reality.
    by being patient, by constantly reflecting where our life is heading towards and by finding where do we stand now as compared to past we can face the reality and move forward. those problems which otherwise would have paused our life and shrunk us to a small and tiny force, instead we can play big “inside-out” and achieve our highest goal.

  34. Michelle Rose says:

    Why did you stop posting? It seems you have really good things to say. A writer writes!

  35. tom newman says:

    great article

  36. matorseh says:

    I adore this article. Thankyou so much, your words bring peace to my mind and heart.

  37. farouk says:

    hey Todd
    we are waiting for more posts

  38. Loni DL says:

    Hi Todd
    I’m just inpired by your words in one of those days where things are not too clear and you dont trully know your own path…..or next step…
    It’s wonderful to realize that in this tough world there are still people like you…..

  39. Tammy says:

    Dear Todd,

    Just looking for someone to talk too. See, I didn’t lose my job, I quit. I quit at the most worst time when my husband’s job has been going down hill for the last year. I couldn’t handle the stress anymore. We have bills to pay, our vehicles are breaking down, in fact, everything we have is either broken or needs repaired. It seems that with the economy the way it is, that employers feel we are going to take whatever they dish out. But, I couldn’t do it anymore. I feel like I am about to have a nervous breakdown. So, I walked away from a job. The first thing I did was try to feel better by taking some time off for my health. But, the bills are again due, and it falls back on me to get a job, even if it is not the best job for me at the moment. You see, I am the parent. I have responsibilites. I must take care of my kids, right? What was I thinking at a time when times are so bad? My husband still can’t find anything so I have added to the burden. Well, just pray for my family that things get better. I have never written on something like this before. I just feel so lost, I wanted to talk to someone.

    • Kay says:

      I can relate. Hang in there! I did the same thing with similar consequences. It get’s better in time. We often have to just stay focused on the solutions to our problems and wait for things to turn around. Keep trying and believing until things change.

  40. sudha says:

    Hi Todd,

    this is my first time,leaving a comment in a blog. so your writing is simply good and continue your work. thank you…

  41. Neil says:

    hi, well i must say that it all sounds perfect !! BUT ……..


    • Nichole says:

      I think it meant don’t let it worry your mind & give you stress because there will always be problems. To be stronger & remember that TO motivate you to take action. I am close to someone who has been stressed and depressed for a while…what have they accomplished? Nothing. Why? They can’t think clearly & it’s not healthy. It ruins you completely! Not worth living… to be consumed by your problems 24/7 ..thinking and having no hope or understanding of the big picture. No faith, no purpose. Who is the most successful? People who smile and are happy… people others want to be around… want to help.

  42. Roda says:

    I have read some of the posts written above and I would like to add my viewpoint :
    It is true that no one can really feel the pain of another .. at least not as much as the persons actually going through the experiences. Everyone has a different problem and it is never easy to find a single solution that answers each one individually.

  43. Ask someone if they could have anything they wanted in life and 98 out of 100 people will begin to describe everything in their life that they don’t like. They will tell you what they don’t want but have very little idea of what they really do want. Even those who have some idea of what they want do not have any specifics. They want more money, better relationships, a more fulfilling job etc., but they cannot describe exactly what this means to them. If you want to start manifesting your reality you need to be specific.

  44. Judecy says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful and enlightening writing about life in general. I feel better now than I was before reading your post. Life is really not so important to matter and the only way to fully live life in all circumstances is by appreciating little things we get in our lives and treating all things that happen to us in a positive way because they are the blessings of our lives. Not moan that things turned out bad for you but thank God that it happened and you could experience those situations and learn from them, after all life is a learning process and at the end of the day its just about staying happy and sharing happiness to people around you is what matters in life and nothing else. God Bless!

  45. len says:

    I am going through a very tough one and still I can’t handle myself how o move on and be a positive thinker. I just read your article and it enlightens me a bit to be honest with you but still I think I need to be encourage more with your advices and posts about life and facing the reality especially the hardships in life.

  46. Honestly, this article is so enlightening to me. It gives an idea how to manage change and stress in life. Life is tough i know that for sure and that change is inevitable. You just have to find something in you that will keep you doing. You never give up and it will be better in coming days. There is a saying that there is always a rainbow after the rain. Believe in that saying. Also, i find this article very interesting it gives you ways how overcome stress. If you have time you can check the article out and you will learn a lot of things.

  47. Mudassar says:

    I really like this article Tood although i read it now but the good thing is I found answers for few of my questions from your article.Thanks!

  48. Steve says:

    Totally relate to what you have said in this article Todd. The best place to think these thoughts are on top of a mountain (does not have to be a big one), on the coast where all that is seen ahead is the ocean (somewhere with no coastline at all within the view is best), or somewhere within vast openess. You truly know your insignificance within the universe. If you’ve ever thought that anyone on this Earth is actually superior to you, then you’ll soon realise that this superiority is actually totally insignificant in the total scope of reality.

  49. Leah says:

    Hello Tod
    I googled how to quiet your mind and
    I found you and your steps for beginner.
    I’m wondering if you can help me
    I thought I could get through my situation
    On my own but here I am almost a year
    Into it and I am dealing with extreme turmoil
    that is affecting me on a
    Daily basis. I have been dealing with
    Everything that comes along with the extreme
    Shock of dicovering my husband of 22 years was
    Having a affair and I think I have realized after all
    Said and done i have been traumatized from what
    Has happened in the past two years. I want to stop
    The thought that are Destroying my day to day life.
    I want to put this past me.. I want to be whole again
    And be at peace.. I want to forgive and learn from it
    But my mind won’t quiet. When you say “meditate with
    A purpose” what do you mean? Do I focus on the thoughts
    I’m trying to rid my mind of? I know I can do this my mind
    Just wont shut up! Leah

  50. Leah says:

    Hello Tod
    I googled how to quiet your mind and
    I found you and your steps for beginner.
    I’m wondering if you can help me
    I thought I could get through my situation
    On my own but here I am almost a year
    Into it and I am dealing with extreme turmoil
    that is affecting me on a
    Daily basis. I have been dealing with
    Everything that comes along with the extreme
    Shock of dicovering my husband of 22 years was
    Having a affair and I think I have realized after all
    Said and done i have been traumatized from what
    Has happened in the past two years. I want to stop
    The thought that are Destroying my day to day life.
    I want to put this past me.. I want to be whole again
    And be at peace.. I want to forgive and learn from it
    But my mind won’t quiet. When you say “meditate with
    A purpose” what do you mean? Do I focus on the thoughts
    I’m trying to rid my mind of? I I can do this my mind
    Just wont shut up! Leah

  51. Jenny Smith says:

    I have just started to get back on my feet again after 2 years of feeling paralysed with anxiety. What I find is that you take one tiny step towards getting back on your feet (I started doing voluntary work after being unemployed for two and a half years) & things start to cascade. I had a terrible fear of computers cos I thought that everybody IN THE WHOLE WORLD knew how to make them work EXCEPT ME! And these days, you really need to be able to use them if you want any kind of a decent job! But since I started the voluntary work, my confidence has come on in unbelievable leaps and bounds, and I decided that I HAD to face my fear… & here I am! I know that learning to meditate will help me to cope with my crippling anxiety and fear of the future, so I typed “Meditation for Beginners” into Google & found this. Now I’m finally starting to feel a bit of optimism &… yes… Even the beginnings of hope!! I’ve always been aware that I have a lot of blessings to count, & feeling miserable has always made me feel incredibly guilty because everything could be So Much Worse. Unsurprisingly, this has been unhelpful to my state of mind! But even just being reminded that none of us have unique problems can dial down that towering terror. Thanks for that!

  52. jarnail Singh Germania says:

    It is nice to go through the article and the comments of those who shared their responses. Life without appears meaningless and void. It indeed provides us option to look within and to see purpose, if any, of existence, as cosmic beings. To feel light and free and to enjoy bliss of living each moment of our precious existence is the key to the way of life we intend to life. And, to seek – our soul unfolding to fulfill our destined role and both lighten & enlighten us within, as a part of the whole creation – that lead to stability and sense of purpose even in times of chaos and turmoil in the real world. It’s ‘how we look at and take life’ as it unfolds in its nature pace and humor, does matter in our senseless travails.

  53. sarah says:

    Hi Todd-

    I really liked the article you guest-posted at zen habits and just linked to it in my blog on meditation:

    I was also hoping to link to some of the other articles form your site — but it looks like it’s inactive. I’m curious to know what you are up to now, and whether you’ve done other work I might link to on meditation practice?

    many thanks, sarah

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