What you can do now

There’s one decision that has the power to change the course of your life.

It’s not our conditions, but our decisions that determine the quality of our lives. Every person on this planet experiences severe stress and pain at some point, and the way they choose to react to that pain is what ultimately defines the course of their lives. 

Take people like Oprah, Nelson Mandela, and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl for example — they all endured extreme injustices, and instead of suffering for the rest of their lives, they instead found a way to use what life gave to them, become stronger, and move forward. 

The key to having an extraordinary life is not to hope that nothing bad will ever happen to you, but instead to develop the psychological and emotional strength that makes you resilient when you face challenges. You can then use that pain to create something even greater and help others, just as Oprah, Nelson Mandela, and Viktor Frankl did. 

So if you can accept that extreme stress is going to happen, the key is, what are you going to decide to do when it hits? You can decide what to focus on, what things mean, and what you’re going to do as a result — but if you don’t do this on autopilot, it’s all-too-easy to get stuck in a pattern of frustration, anger, or fear — and that’s no way to lead an extraordinary life.

The Two Skills for an Extraordinary Life

Life Force co-author and global peak performance strategist Tony Robbins has had the privilege of coaching tens of millions of people from hundreds of different countries around the world, and has made it his life’s mission to help each and every one of them live an extraordinary life — in other words, life on their own terms. 

In order to live an extraordinary life, there are two skills that you must master. The first skill is the science of achievement  — or how you turn your dreams into reality. The second skill, the art of fulfillment, is even more important to master, and can also be more difficult, especially for high achievers.

According to Robbins, the art of fulfillment can be attained by making the simple and crucially important decision that life is too short to suffer, and that you’re going to appreciate and enjoy life, no matter what happens. He calls it living in a beautiful state. It has everything to do with living in a state of gratitude and appreciation — and finding meaning in challenges instead of letting your mind suffer. 

How to Live in a Beautiful State

If you buy into the belief that life is happening for you, not to you, it’s easy to maintain a beautiful state and overcome challenges when they arise. Surely, there’s a time in your life that you would never want to go through again or have anyone you care about go through. But if you look at that time with a wider lens, can you see the higher purpose? Did that difficult time make you stronger, more compassionate, or a better problem solver? It’s likely that no matter how difficult the situation was, there was something good that came out of it that helped you to grow and become a stronger person.

Many people suffer in life because the expectations they have aren’t being met. Expectations destroy happiness, no matter how big or small. Here’s an easy way to think about it: If you ask someone, “How was your day today?” there are three primary patterns of response: 

  • “Oh, it was really good.” Why? Because the day went the way they wanted it to go.

  • “It was incredible, one of the greatest days of my life.” Things went better than they’d expected.

  • “It was a terrible day.” You guessed it — things didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped for or anticipated.

All three responses are solely based on expectations. If you stick with these patterns, then your life will constantly be held victim to the outside world. If you are able to trade your expectations for appreciation — and find a way to appreciate whatever life throws at you, your entire life will change for the better. 

This doesn’t mean that you need to settle for anything less. It means that if you’re not happy, or you are going through an extremely difficult time, you simply need to believe that all your pain is happening for a reason, and are meant to serve a purpose. It’s your responsibility to find that higher purpose and use it.