At some point in your life, you will probably go through a difficult patch. Perhaps you perceive that you have had more than your share of difficulties already. Maybe you’ve witnessed someone whose life seems to be filled with one difficulty after another.
In some cases, our difficulties are the logical consequences of choices we’ve made. In other cases, however, difficulties result from events completely out of our control. The choices made by others can have a negative impact on our lives. Sometimes, plain, simple bad luck can take us to the wrong place at the wrong time.
The difficulties that come up in our lives may seem unfair, and it can be heart-wrenching to observe difficult things happening to people we care about.
However, no matter the difficulty facing us, we have some choices. While we may not be able to choose our outcome, we can choose our attitudes and perceptions.
For example, I could choose to perceive my difficult time as a personal affront. I could choose to compare my situation with others who are apparently able to scamper through life without a care in the world. I could choose to perceive my situation as unfair.
As my response to those perceptions, I may choose to engage in anger, resentment, blaming, despairing, or other similar feelings and actions.
There are, however, other perceptions that I could choose. The most useful that I have heard is this: I could choose to view the process of going through my difficulty as a personal learning opportunity which I can then use to help others get through a difficulty of their own.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. For that matter, I don’t know why bad things happen to bad people. But I do know that bad things happen, and there’s not necessarily a discernible connection between choices we’ve made and what has happened.
Given that, what to do? Here is one question that might be helpful to ask yourself as you go through your difficult time: Can you create a purpose out of this experience that can be helpful for yourself or others?
You can believe that difficulty has a purpose—that you can gain some important understanding, empathy or skill that can make your life and your service to others more effective. Or, you can believe that difficulty is meaningless, cruel, and pointless.
If you happen to be facing a difficulty right now, I hope that you have the strength and resources you need to deal with it. And when you come through it, I hope that you will take some time to think about the lessons you learned, and how you might pass those lessons on to others who could benefit from them.
Good help can be hard to find. That sounds a bit blasé for this discussion, but it’s true, isn’t it? When you are going through a difficult time, how easy is it to find someone who can truly, with real sincerity, help you out? Someone who can say, “I have some idea of how you are feeling right now, and here is how I dealt with that. And it helped.”
You can choose to make your own purpose out of most any situation. Or, you can choose to believe that creating purpose is futile. Which contributes to making your life more satisfying?