Mental Health Moment | The Ups and Downs of Life
Jul 27, 2022
I live on property that the Elk River flows through, and one of the ways I find peace and relaxation is to sit out in my backyard and watch the river, listening to it ripple over the rocks. A month or so ago, when we had experienced a period of heavy rains, the river was extremely full, overflowing into the pastures on the other side. While I was loving the full and constant flow of water through my backyard, I also saw that it was causing damage to the pastures & trees on the opposite side. What was enjoyable on my side was damage on the other.
A lot of times in life we experience something good or something bad, and we tend to see the “other side” when we’re on the not-so-great side, and we may find ourselves wondering why that other side got the good part of the experience, while we got the bad. We may be less aware of that other side, though, when we are the ones getting the “good stuff” on our side of a situation. We may just be enjoying the good, while being completely oblivious to there being a bad side that someone else is experiencing. Life, though, always has good and bad, ups and downs, positives and negatives. Sometimes we are on the good side, sometimes the bad. But no matter what, we can feel pretty secure knowing it will always change.
If you’ve ever ridden a roller coaster you can probably very clearly remember that first climb up the steep hill at the beginning. The car you’re in is rattling and shaking, and pretty slowly moving up the hill, climbing continuously, and you know it’s taking you to a dropoff where you will then plunge down an intensely steep hill, rattling and speeding around curves and more hills. That slow climb up is full of anticipation and sometimes fear. You may feel pretty safe while climbing, but your anxiety comes from knowing that once you reach the top, that fast free-fall ride is going to be an adrenaline-pumping, white-knuckle-holding-on-tight experience. Even if you’re deathly afraid of roller coasters, you still do this. We need that slow upward climb, in order to reach the top and move us toward that next adventure, but you wouldn’t want to just stay in that ever-climbing state forever. You endure it in order to reach the top and experience the thrill of the fast-moving downhill thrill.
Life is a lot like these things – we have ups, and we have downs, and each of them serves a purpose. If things were just constantly going well, with no effort, no adrenaline, no thrill, but just smoothly moving along, we would never appreciate the fact that things were going well because we wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. Relativity and comparison can make us miserable sometimes but can also make us appreciative of what we have. If you’ve gone through a ton of hard times, and it just seems like things continuously keep going badly, when something goes right you really do tend to appreciate it and savor it. There are big uphills and big downhills, and also small ups and downs thrown in as well. No matter what, it seems things are always changing. Even if everything is going great, don’t get too comfortable in that because life just simply means that occasionally our situation will change and things will suddenly be different.
If you’re in a constant uphill climb, stuck waiting for the “good” thing to happen, don’t give up. If you were on that roller coaster climb up that first hill and you got bored or impatient, and asked them to stop and let you off, you’d make a difficult climb down a very long staircase or ladder, and go back to walking around on the ground, and you would never experience that thrill of reaching the top, creeping over it, and then flying down the thrilling first big drop. You’d be safe, you’d know what to expect from just walking around, but you’d be missing out on the adventure. Wait it out… don’t give up… everything will change, even if it’s little by little and so gradually that you may not notice. Compare where you are in life right now with where you were 10 or 20 years ago. You may have, way back then, thought everything was a certain way and would stay that way. But now, with hindsight, you are able to see that all sorts of things changed – some good, some not so great, but all sorts of things are probably different right now.
If things are challenging right now, start doing little things that will move you towards positive change. If things are going great right now, do the little things you can to keep things going well, but also prepare yourself for that time when life throws you a hill to climb. In the big picture, usually someone is on the side of an experience where good things are happening and someone may be on the side where the experience is less than wonderful. Then, remember, it can flip, and each side may experience something entirely different. Move towards decisions and choices that lead your life into the good things; remove the things from your life that are causing you harm or stirring up the negatives on a regular basis. What you do now is building the path toward where you will be in the near future, so pay close attention to the things you do now. Live within your means, save money, expand your education, meet new people, think positive and add positive to your life, grow friendships that encourage you, gain new positive experiences, and remember… life is full of ups and downs, and will always be changing. Enjoy where you are now, and learn as you go, and never give up.