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How to Turn Your Tragedy Into a Legacy

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Sometimes, life isn’t just unfair – it’s downright cruel. It punishes those who deserve reward, praises those who deserve reprimanding, and at worst – takes the lives of those who deserve living. The year after I graduated high school, my best friend of nearly a decade was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Not just any cancer – but one that’s most often diagnosed in men over the age of 60.

She biked several miles a day, trained ballet multiple days a week, and didn’t lay a finger on drugs. With an energy so addictive, you could feel it a mile away, and a laugh that echoed through the walls, she turned heads in any room she walked into. Two years later, I was traveling abroad when I got the news she was entering hospice. I booked a 15 hour flight home the next morning to go be with her and sit by her bedside.

We made jokes, caught up on the latest Beauty And The Beast remake, reminisced about embarrassing childhood pictures, retold our favorite stories, and made plans for the future. Three months later, three days before my 22nd birthday and a few months after hers, her cancer won. I watched the most incredible soul get robbed of a life and a future they deserved. And I didn’t understand why.

As many people do, I spiraled into depression for the first time the following month until one day I had a dream with her in it. The next morning, I thought of her and what would make her proud.

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” – Robert Kennedy

All of a sudden I realized I had two choices: To use her death as a reason to hold back, avoid healing, and never step outside of my comfort zone for the rest of my life or to use her death as fuel to begin living a life she’d be proud of, and make the kind of impact – and legacy – she didn’t get the chance to.

I knew what I had to do. The next day, I opened my laptop and shared my full story on social media for the first time. No walls, no barriers, no filters. Less than a year later, I’d built a six figure online business helping hundreds of other entrepreneurs grow their businesses by sharing their stories and showing up authentically and vulnerably on social media.

All because I realized I had a choice in the face of tragedy. And so do you. You can choose to let your next hardships serve as an excuse for not creating the life you want. You can choose to play the victim, and stop moving forward because life decided to hand you – or someone around you – a poor deck of cards. Or, you can be the difference.

The 1% who sees opportunity amidst the downfall. The 1% who seeks inspiration during healing. The 1% who gathers the strength to build something bigger than yourself and take one step forward when it feels like the world is pushing you three steps back. It’s up to.

Adversity is to be expected. Curveballs are thrown often. And tragedy is unavoidable – that’s why they call it tragedy. Whether the next time it’s you or someone you love facing tragedy head on, remember that joy wouldn’t be in existence without pain. If you never experience the lows, you’d never feel the beautiful, unforgettable highs. Life would be one long, dull ride.

Let yourself scream, cry, curse the world in the moment – but whatever you do, do not blind yourself from the opportunities that lie ahead tomorrow. Most times, they’re in front of you as clear as day, waiting for you to open your eyes and grab them.

“Every tragedy has a lesson equal in significance to its heartbreak.”

Allow yourself time to heal, process, and grasp what is today, then wake up tomorrow with an open heart. Be open to the idea that perhaps everything does happen for a reason, even if we cannot see it.

Open to the idea that the world only deals us cards we’re strong enough to handle. Open to the idea that pain is temporary, and time truly does heal. If you choose to, I guarantee you will come out on the other side a stronger, better version of you.

Your world may be gray, and you may feel like the weight of it is on your shoulders, but I promise, if you take one-half of a step forward every day you will heal. Not only will you heal, but you will find a way to turn your most painful chapter into your most powerful chapter.

A way to leave a bigger impact, create the life you or your loved one would be proud of, and make this world a better place.

So the next time life decides to test your strength – and it will – remember that you control what happens next. A poor deck of cards might be dealt to you at a moment’s notice, but it’s what you do with it that counts.

Lauren Raye Gordon is an international entrepreneur, brand story consultant, and speaker. At 18 she left her hometown of 600 people on a one-way ticket to Australia with $500 to her name. By 22, she built a 6-figure online business in 8 months while facing an unexpected pregnancy. Now she travels the world with her daughter educating brands and businesses on how to maximize their profit and stand out on social media through the power of brand storytelling. Consume more of Lauren's free valuable, educational content in her free online community of 5,000 entrepreneurs here.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. vipul rathod

    Nov 21, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Tragedy ultimately leads to legacy through right choices and decisions.

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Life

The 3 Types of Confidence You Need to Know and Understand

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We’ve all heard it before, confidence is everything. Those that seem to have it, have it all. They, themselves, are not necessarily perfect human beings, but they seemingly have the charisma to attract whatever they want in life. (more…)

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3 Simple Tips to Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence for Better Relationships

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Relationships are challenging. They make you examine yourself from all angles, and that can be triggering. For example, have you ever had a friend or significant other say something that sparked an argument instantly—only to find out you misheard what they said in the first place? (more…)

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If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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