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Bad shit happens in life. It’s life. People die, jobs are lost, deals fall apart, illness strikes, property is damaged, and hearts are broken. It sucks. Accept it. Ruts in life are something that none of us are immune to. These ruts should not consume us, though. They aren’t a prison. Do not be subservient to bleak thoughts. That would be a sign of laziness or of mediocrity. We need a strong mindset.

The rut’s depth may have been created by a wagon wheel or may have been carved out of the earth by raging waters. As a result, we contemplate suicide, we use drugs, we become drunks, we beat our kids, we gain weight, and we become detached.

Years ago, I fell into despair, as many Americans do, due to a life-altering event. The lens through which we view life can become distorted by domestic issues, financial strife or an overwhelming workload. My rut seemed unescapable. For me it was a combo platter, and my darkness, masked by a lot of faking, lasted for more than a year.

For one, I missed the comradery of being a part of a unit where there is a level of intimacy with those surrounding you that can’t be found in many places. That was coupled with a horrible support mechanism at the home front. When I found myself in a dark place, my self-diagnosis, with a little help from Google, read that I was depressed. My original outlook was that depression is for pussies. Now, I know that depression is a serious thing that should not be taken lightly, but that’s what I plugged into my pea-sized brain.

I nearly capitulated to darkness. But something reminded me that life is not objective. I knew that I couldn’t simply “go with the flow.” Life is malleable. My remedy was to go for a run. Not across Greenbow County like Forrest Gump. Knowing I needed an attitude adjustment, I just went out and burned up the pavement for a bit. I needed to escape the rut I found myself in.

Some time back, I was a part of a small group of individuals who had the mindset that there is no second place. It wasn’t shouted in some lame mantra, nor was there any chest pounding. It is a mindset that resonates with certain people. I just needed to set fire again to the mindset that had become an ember.

We are all hardwired differently, however. Not all of us can put our minds to achieving a grandiose task of epic proportions and succeed at it. Not all of us can light a match that ignites dark and scary thoughts, either. Regardless, there is fire within us all that allows us to be who we want to be. We can choose our own paths. Following through and delivering is another story.

A bad sequence of events can not only put us in a downer of a mood, but it can spiral to the point where we question our self-worth. Don’t look where you don’t want to go. Before you buy a ticket to the pity party, remember that the world is bigger than you.

The mind navigates the body. In other words, how you think will determine your attitude and mindset. The brain intuitively tells the body what to do, and a mindset adjustment can get us out of the deepest darkest places.

So, I’ve come up with 25 ways to escape depression, or ruts. Whether these apply to you or not, keep in mind that these are personal and I have applied all of them. Let’s get started.

1. Be productive. Plan something, whether it is a project, a hobby or the best workday ever. Engrave that thought into your hard drive. Look forward to tomorrow.

2. Crank up the metal, even if you aren’t a metalhead. Bone-crushing, paint-peeling, flesh-shredding metal.

3. Accept the fact that life is going to hand you lemons. Make lemonade. There is no yellow brick road, no easy path. Hard work sucks, and not everyone is cut out for it.

4. Sit up straight. Maintain Condition Yellow. Stay out of the white. Stay switched on instead of switched off. Get out of that 45-degree syndrome.

5. “You can do anything you want in life.” Bullshit! No, you can’t. But you damn sure can be the best you.

6. Surround yourself with those who create the best you. Douchebags and dummies will only set you further into your rut.

7. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Take your own path and stay away from sheeple.

8. Workout several times a week, because a strong body equals a strong mind. Play a highlight reel of you attacking a workout the morning or day before it happens.

9. Never be late, light or out of uniform. If I am not early, I am late. If I am late, please come look for me because I am probably face down in a ditch somewhere. Late people suck.

10. Don’t wallow in self-pity. It is not attractive and is toxic to those around you.

11. There are 7.5 billion people milling about on our planet. Visit a shithole either abroad or right here in the greatest country on earth and see how bad you’ve really got it.

12. Keep in mind that success is the best revenge on those who may have cast you into this rut. This does not come easy, nor does it come overnight.

13. Do not deny the negative. You will only perpetuate problems rather than solve them.

14. Be self-aware and take responsibility. Some of the reason why we fall into ruts lies on us. Oh, yes it does!

15. Recognize your faults and weaknesses. Say to yourself, “You can probably do better.”

16. Do what’s right. Innately, we human beings know right from wrong. We should be good to others and do what’s right instead of doing something to appease someone or some higher power.

17. Don’t plan to fail by failing to plan. Be prepared for whatever. We need to be prepared to save our own lives, someone else’s, or to kick someone’s ass.

18. There is no cure for being a dick, and there are plenty of them out there. Check your anger before you do something stupid, but never be victimized by some dumbass.

19. Limits begin where vision ends. We cannot outperform our self-image. Positive mental attitude goes a long way in training and in day-to-day life.

20. Do not to rest on your laurels. What’s done is done. Yesterday doesn’t mean shit unless you can perform tomorrow.

21. Choose what you care about. Some shit does not require you to exert effort over or to dwell on.

22. Try not to look like shit. Get to grooming. Trim those nose hairs, take a shower and dress for success.

23. Try to find the positives that outweigh the negatives. Look forward to every tomorrow and remember what is good about the past. We should not data dump the negatives from yesterday, but learn from them. Fail quickly. When shit doesn’t go our way, we need to learn from the past, prepare for the future and perform in the present.

24. Clean up that pigsty of a house and get rid of the clutter. Seriously. Become good at getting rid of junk.

25. Put a rubber band around your neck and snap the fuck out of it. This’ll wake you up. You aren’t the only one on the planet. The sun does not rise and set on your ass. (I have said this to myself several times.)

Attitude and a strong mindset can be contagious. A negative attitude can adversely affect those around you. Conversely, you can spread positivity by emitting a kick-ass pheromone of badassery. Be the champion at your own game of life and get you some!

This article is from the winter 2018 issue of Ballistic Magazine. Grab a copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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