Appreciating the hard times

It seems even the most positive people in my life are having difficulty remaining optimistic this year. Many people in my circle – family, friends, clients – have experienced some hard times recently. I’m not immune, and I’m not judging. It’s hard to stay positive when it seems like the world is crashing down around you.

My word for this year is reframing, and I’m certainly getting lots of practice doing just that.  But as I was reading and thinking of pretty much nothing earlier today, it occurred to me that maybe I should give reframing a rest.

Maybe it’s time to appreciate the hard times.

Positive thinking and appreciating the hard times.

How many times has someone told you to “think positive”? This advice comes in many forms:

Look on the bright side!

Things can always be worse! Be grateful for the good things in your life!

You have to remain positive for things to change!

This is all good advice…to a certain extent.

Keeping your thinking positive will allow you to persevere through hard times. Research shows positive people tend to live longer and be healthier. There is nothing wrong with positive thinking as long as you don’t use it to justify denial.

People often experience hard times when they need to change something. We tend to resist doing those things that will work to our benefit, and so sometimes we need a “wake up call” to spur us into action. Rather than ignoring the alarm clock and just continuing with blind positive thinking, maybe we should appreciate the lesson and use it to propel us to better things.

This doesn’t mean every bad thing that happens is a lesson in disguise. Sometimes, we’re just going to go through hard times. I could list a ton of cliches about appreciating the light after the darkness, but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll just leave you with this thought: Eastern cultures not only embrace the light and the dark, they also show them in harmony with each other. The yin yang is the best-known representation of this concept, but it exists in many other forms in some of our planet’s oldest cultures. Perhaps appreciating the hard times and even being grateful for them can allow us to more fully appreciate and be grateful for the good times.

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