How To Find Courage Through Chaos

The dawn of a new decade, a fresh era, daunting dreams and prodigious plans2020 forecasted a favorable year. Jump to July and 2020 has been a whirlwind of woeful world events. Did anyone else feel like they were concurrently downward spiraling with the world’s events? I had, too, until I realized I couldn’t live like that anymore.

To me, finding the courage to be positive felt disingenuousand quite frankly, tone deafconsidering the current state of the world. My empathy for people suffering around the world became so intertwined with my own well-being that I struggled to find daily motivation. I knew what was wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix it.

The first step towards change is to increase your awareness and self-reflection. I was familiar with this psychological conundrum I had found myself in, but I still couldn’t snap out of it. Something I heard which hit a chord with me recently states how merely knowing is not enough. Simply knowing or “self-diagnosing” what you’re going through isn’t enough. A change must be on the horizon.

When I recognized this wasn’t something I could just ride out until it disappeared (great coping mechanism, I know), I concluded I had to proactively change the way I was living and thinking about my life. I realized I became too focused on not being able to control external factors that I overlooked things I could control. I was experiencing sorrow for the world and letting this negatively impact my life due to my empathynotoriously one of my signature character strengths. I was subliminally upset with myself for not taking advantage of the things I could control, such as a healthy mind and body. Although I knew I wasn’t taking the best care of myself in the moment, I didn’t realize how much it was impacting me. I was living in an internal chaos. Merely knowing is not enough; you must change your habits to make a difference in your life. Nothing changes if nothing changes. I knew I needed to shift my focus.

Let’s zoom out.

Look at the big picture. What we put into our mind and body, we get out. It’s not a surprise I wasn’t feeling motivated or like my best self. Where you direct your attention or let your attention fall to is where your energy goes; where your energy goes influences your thoughts which influences your actions and thus, shapes your life.

There are two aspects of happiness, in my opinion, and I will hopefully help you decipher how to solve one of them. Spoiler alert: there’s only one aspect that needs to be solved.

So what’s the solution?

Step 1 of 1: Start small

Good choices lead to making more good choices. Similarly, bad choices lead to more bad choices; don’t let yourself fall prey to the downward spiral effect. Garbage in = Garbage out. Start by looking inwardly and write down what intrinsically motivates you. What does the best version of yourself look like in terms of your mental, physical, and emotional health? Recognize which factors you can control to be at peace internally and take small steps towards achieving them every day.

For me, the secret, yet not-so-secret, key to happiness is being able to govern the internal factors you possess that cultivate happiness. When you are at peace with yourself you can achieve peace with the world. You will be able to handle anything life throws at you. We don’t get upset with ourselves over things we can’t control, we get upset with ourselves over things we know we can control yet fail to do so.

Everything is related; how you do anything is how you do everything.

There are no short cuts to well-being and happiness, it all starts, and ends, internally.

While keeping up with current events has its value, it’s also important to consider how it’s affecting your mental health. It can be hard to separate ourselves from the events of the world, especially if we feel so connected to it. However, letting yourself hurt for the world isn’t a solution; take care of yourself so you can impact your community, your circle and your “little world” positively. 🙂

Some things that have helped me shift my focus and enhance my well-being have been reading about good news around the worldI seriously felt a huge sensation and rush of energy after reading this site!

Also, I enrolled in “The Science of Well-Being” hosted by Yale University in a free 8 week online course. I’m on week 5 so far and highly recommend! It’s taught me a lot about why the things we think will make us happy don’t, and what actually will make us happy. Click here for the link.

What small choices do you make every day in order to be your best self? How have you found courage through the chaos?

As always, thanks for reading & namaste!


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For a similar article on learning how to enjoy the repetition of life, read

52 thoughts on “How To Find Courage Through Chaos

  1. Brilliantly articulated. Looking internally is harder at times when you realise there are tons of things to look at – starting small, step by step or „Schritt für Schritt“ becomes critical.

    1. Yes, it really can be overwhelming when you start to look internally, which is why I neglected it for so long. But facing my fears and shortcomings head on gives me motivation to conquer them each day, step by step. Prost & thanks for reading 🙂

  2. I enrolled in the Science of Well Being too!! I finished it just last week and it definitely taught me a lot and has increased my overall happiness. I meditate daily now and so far it has a lot of benefits! Good luck to you! So excited for your progress!! 😊♥️

    1. Fen, so cool!! I love the course so much; I’m just starting week 6 and have already found the previous weeks to be so informative and helpful to understand how my brain works. Thanks for reading and for sharing 🙂 Also, that’s amazing you’re meditating daily now–I am too and have found the 21 days of hope with Deepak and J Balvin so grounding and inspring. It’s free and you should definitely check it out if you haven’t already!

      1. You’re welcome! So glad that the course is very helpful for you like it was to me ♥️ Thanks for your recommendation as well! I’ll go and check it out! Good luck on your journey! 😊

  3. Completely sympathise with feeling demotivated with all thats happening. I often think it’s about finding the right sized circle of problems. If it’s too small then small things annoy you because you don’t have anything better to worry about – more to the point you haven’t given yourself big enough problems to worry. Equally if it’s too big you end up worrying things out of your control – like current global events. Pick problems that you can solve and that speak to your heart. “Teach me neither to cry for the moon nor over spilt milk.” Thanks for the great advice.

    1. Thank you for sharing–I’ve never thought about it that way but upon reflection it does make sense to have some problems to try to solve and keep you grounded, while avoiding trying to conquer problems that are too big to solve. Thank you for your advice that will stay with me and great quote!

  4. Ellie, I enjoyed reading your article…very relatable and filled with helpful information and advice! I also read the article in Good News about Wood Bison being reintroduced in Britain, which I found very interesting Thank you for a great post! Stay safe and be happy! Cheryl

    1. Hi Cheryl, that’s wonderful–doesn’t it feel so good to read about good news?! 🙂 I’m happy you found something that brightened your day. Hoping you’re staying safe and keeping positive 🙂 <3E

  5. Thanks so much Ellen for sharing your amazing gift of writing and caring with us! You are obviously very talented and it is so important ,especially in this day and age, that you continue to help motivate us and help us to go in the direction of improving our lives versus getting stuck in a downward spiral. I especially like your link to the good news stories and have shared it with my readers as well. Thanks again Ellen – I sincerely hope you keep up your great work!

    Sincere regards, InLightable
    Onward and Upward…

    1. That’s so kind of you and your words have really brightened my day. It’s truly an honor and privilege to bring some light and positive thinking to my readers, whom I thank for having an open mind. I’m also so happy you shared the good news site with your readers as well, it makes me smile to think about the good feelings we are passing along. Thanks again for reading and for sharing. Sending light & love…

  6. I often oscillate between wanting to “save the world” and withdrawing completely into my own little world. Neither extreme is right nor realistic, but having your feet in both worlds is absolutely essential in order to achieve anything meaningful. If the external world defines our existence, we will never develop our own backbone. But if we never step out of our internal world, we will contribute nothing.

    1. Your first sentence—I relate 1,000%. Sometimes I feel like there’s no in between. I’ve really been making an effort the past 2 months to take care of my mind and body. Your last thought, “if we never step out of our internal world, we will contribute nothing,” really hit me. Making a contribution is important to me, and this is a great reminder to bring that back to my attention. I really appreciate your comment today, I will surely be mulling over this. Wishing you the best, <3E

  7. This is a great post! I’ve been focusing on small steps. I’ve been reading a lot more, changing my diet, getting more sunshine.

    I really feel leaps and bounds improved compared with a year ago.

    It’s definitely all about small steps!

    1. Hi Julian, that’s great news and I’m so happy for you! When I’ve been in some of my darkest times it’s really been the small steps I took that have made the most impact. One after another, day by day, improving. Of course with lots of learning and missteps along the way, but hey that’s part of it. Thanks for sharing and I wish you the best 🙂 <3E

  8. While reading this post I found a lot of the words resonating with me. It was almost eerie reading this, and coming to realise the style you write in us very similar to mine! The way you describe the need to look after ourselves so we can be better prepared to look after and assist others is such a beneficial trait.

    Thank you for sharing, and for providing encouragement to a world that needs it, to awesome people so they don’t burn out, and to yourself to keep on reaching for the stars. Peace.

    1. Sometimes it is eerie when we find another’s thoughts are so similar to the one’s we thought might be unique to ourselves. And they still are in some ways 🙂 I’m glad my words resonated with you and I look forward to reading more of your posts as well, I can tell we have similar mindsets. Namaste my friend 🙂 <3E

  9. That’s a lot of ideas, thoughts and positivity in one blog. I am definitely going to check out the course and work through the chaos in my life.

      1. That’s wonderful, I’m so happy you were able to add some more light to your day this way 🙂 Thanks for sharing, <3E

    1. Hi Sunayana, thank you for reading and I’m so happy you are planning to check out the course. Hopefully you’ve already started it and have some takeaways for your life already. Best wishes! <3E

  10. Really positive! I can relate to empathy very well, it has made me feel weak and negative so many times. Someone told me Sympathy and Empathy are two different things.
    I loved the quote “We don’t get upset with ourselves over things we can’t control, we get upset with ourselves over things we know we can control yet fail to do so.” I am working on it. Pls don’t mind if I use this quote in one of my blogs. Thanks for writing and keep writing 🙂

    1. Hey sis! Yes, I absolutely love that quote. It really hits a chord with me because I see that struggle playing out inside of me more than it should. It’s one thing to feel bad for something/someone, but it’s totally different to channel that energy towards a solution. And the things that can’t be solved (yet), those you just need to let go of. I am working on it too. Thanks for reading and sharing 🙂 <3E

  11. Chaos is a trigger that makes your brain to work at its full potential..
    If you have a positive mindset then you can give a tough fight to any situation…

    Beautifully written…
    Thank you.. 😊😊

    1. Hi Prashaank, yes I can definitely see that and hadn’t thought of it that way before. Chaos, just like pressure, stimulates the brain to work at it’s highest capacity….. great food for thought. Thanks for sharing 🙂 <3 E

  12. A really encouraging post! Something that I started doing since the beginning of lockdown was start a gratitude journal where I would write down three things I was grateful for that day and that really helped to keep things in perspective for me. Thank you for sharing such positivity!

    1. Hi Caitlin, thanks for sharing! I’ve also started a gratitude journal and do my best to write an entry at the end of every day. Do you have any tips that keep you accountable to writing in it every day? Sometimes I get distracted and end up forgetting but I know I always feel better when I do. Thanks!

  13. I too, had fallen into that entrapment of what our current events is doing to us all.
    One must be strong in order to open oneself to positivity and change.
    Then you’ll know you (yourself) are stronger than what is trying to make us feel around the world.

    It’s something to break the mold and the sadness that is overwhelming people.

    Excellent post with great points. Bless you my friend.

    1. Charlie! It’s great to hear from you. It definitely takes a strong person that chooses to believe more in the positivity rather than negativity in the world right now–much like breaking the mold. Great comparison and thanks for sharing as always 🙂 Hope you’re taking care out there!

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