Regardless of our life circumstances, there are aspects of our lives that we perceive as ‘good’ and other components we view as ‘not good’ – or bad if you will. I agree that life isn’t always ‘good’ to us, and that things don’t always happen as we plan or anticipate. When we find ourselves in these ruts, it is an example of adversity, but it is also an opportunity to turn an obstacle into success.
When faced with adversity, we can choose to view it as good or not good. However, it’s not how we choose to perceive it, although it does carry significant weight. The more important issue is whether or not we allow the difficult circumstance to cause us to focus our thoughts and energy on everything else that is good in our life, or everything else that is not good.
Adverse events have the ability to steer our thoughts towards all of the negativity in our life, which naturally creates a path of resistance. As many of our parents would say, this path is ‘all up hill, in the snow, with cardboard covering the bottom of your shoes… both ways’.
The purpose of embracing adversity is to utilize a five-step process to make the path from your ‘here’ to your ‘there’, well… just a bit easier. So, the consequence of focusing on the negative aspects of our lives in the midst of adversity is that it actually makes the process more challenging. If we let it, then the negativity will eat at us. And over time, it will break us down, causing feelings of incompetence.
On the flip side, we could choose to focus on what is good in our lives – even as we wade through the quicksand that seems to be pulling us deeper and deeper into the unknown. Instead of thinking about how little time we have until we are neck deep, we choose to focus on how much time is left – and that is a good thing.
After some reflection this past week, I’ve come to the conclusion, that in my life, the good things are often the simple things. The simple things are often the people, ideas, and opportunities that I have a tendency to let go unnoticed. Ironically enough, when viewed in their simplest form, they are all of things that bring me the most joy.
How about your life? What are the things that bring you joy? Is it possible that these same things are also what bring happiness to your life – things that make you feel better about yourself?
You see, the ability to harness what is ‘good’ has a natural inclination to help us in the face of adversity. It benefits us in these three ways:
Think about something that is good in your life – one thing that brings you joy. For example, one thing that brings me joy is having the opportunity to train for endurance sport events. In many ways, the training can be tiring, boring, and stressful amidst other life obligations. However, at the core of the training are three simple actions – swimming, biking and running. Simply having the physical ability to participate in these activities is a good thing. This is motivation to appreciate the skills and abilities that I have been blessed with. It helps keep me move forward in pursuit of my goals. The essence of a good thing is that it makes us motivated to move towards something we are after.
- Resilience and Grit
There will be moments along the path of adversity that could be a potential setback. These are the times when our momentum is challenged and we struggle to move forward. In these situations, we have two choices: we can focus on how difficult it is and recede with caution, or we can hone in on what is good about the situation and use the motivation that we have already received and embrace our circumstances. The result is that the choice to focus on what is good will create resilience and grit. These traits allow us to appreciate all the small victories we have celebrated on the current journey, and be strong enough to step forward with confidence.
- Peace of Mind
As previously stated, the good in our lives is what brings us the most joy. The things that bring us joy are the things that allow our mind to be at peace. When we are at peace, we have the ability to think more clearly and feel more at ease despite the difficulties that we face. On the contrary, focusing on what is not good, produces added stress, unease, and even fear. It creates a mindset focused on short-term gains instead of long term solutions.
As you go about your week, you will be challenged in some aspect of your life. In those moments, you will have the opportunity to steer your thoughts about everything else in your life and view it as good or not good. When these events occur, take five seconds to ask yourself this question…
“Will this reaction bring me joy, and ultimately feelings of happiness?”
One possible response will elicit feelings of motivation, resilience and grit, or peace of mind. The other response exhibits feelings of sluggishness, low self-confidence, and frustration.
How will you respond? What will you say? Will your response help you embrace the situation, or let the situation have a grasp on you?
*Disclaimer: I’m in agreement that all good things must come in balance. When good things become the ‘only’ thing, then it’s time to re-prioritize. Also, when thinking about what is good in your life, break it down to what it really is at the core. For example, whether you have been married for 1 week or 1 month, or 10 years or 50 years, at it’s core you have someone to love and someone who loves you – that’s a good thing – that’s something that brings joy.