Victor Frankl, a famous psychologist, said that suffering without meaning equates to despair. So how do we find meaning in our experiences? Knowing how to find meaning in challenges is one of the hallmarks of having hope. So what can be done to foster this important attribute?
- Look for how you can take something positive away from each experience – be the experience a good one or a bad one. Examine your past experiences, mishaps and challenges. What have you learned from those experiences? Maybe you haven’t even been aware of what you have learned, but by taking the time to give it some thought, you may find that you have taken some pearls from those experiences after all.
- How have you applied those pearls of wisdom to subsequent challenges? Are you utilizing the wisdom you have gleaned from hard times in other challenges that you face? If not, try to make a conscious choice to do so. Being aware of how your struggles have taught you something makes them feel more valuable.
- Do you feel you have the ability to get out of bad situations? If you are able to learn from your challenges and find a “take away” pearl, then remembering that may give you the optimism you need to know that you can survive future challenges as well.
- Think about your successes. What are they? What strengths do you possess that helped you to accomplish those things? Realizing you already possess certain strengths can be a source of security and comfort when faced with challenges, or even just a bad day.
- How have you improved over the years? What qualities of your personality have evolved, and how? Have those qualities been beneficial to you in your life and relationships? Recognizing that you are dynamic, changing and growing can help you find more meaning in each experience. Life is full of learning opportunities.
Feeling good about yourself is one of the keys to finding hope. Knowing that you have strengths and capabilities can give you the optimism you need to find the silver lining in situations, particularly because you have done so in the past. Remember that today you have learned something new and that tomorrow will be a new day in which to apply that knowledge.
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC http://www.thcounseling.com
It is easy to become consumed with the down side of situations and to lose site of the goodness and power within ourselves. Nevertheless, recognizing that you have choices is a good starting point that can be truly empowering. Even more important is discovering that you have used the power of choice before in ways that were healthy and successful, and sometimes when you didn’t even realize that was what you were doing.
Try thinking of a time when you were happy and proud of yourself. Chances are it was a time when you made a good choice and tapped into one or more of your strengths. Rather than focusing on times you didn’t feel good and trying to find motivation to do things differently, you will have more success and feel better along the way, by starting from a positive experience. Build on your successes. It takes practice, but by developing new habits for tackling life’s challenges, and focusing on the good inside of yourself, your overall sense of satisfaction and happiness in life can improve dramatically and you will not only heal, but learn to thrive.
Here are some practices to get you more in touch with the goodness within yourself:
- Take a few minutes each day to relax, close your eyes, and bring to mind thoughts of warmth and love enveloping you. Breathe that in and breathe out any negative thoughts or feelings. Take those moments to appreciate the unconditional positive love that surrounds you.
- At the end of each day, think of something that happened that day for which you were thankful. Keep a list of those things so that you can look back on them. For more information on this practice, refer to my previous blog, Thankful List.
- Think of times that you successfully navigated a situation or frustration. What skills were you using? What quality of your personality was working for you? Try to apply that quality to future scenarios.
- When you experience a negative feeling, challenge the belief behind it. Are you making negative assumptions or leaping to conclusions? If you were to assume the very best instead of the worst, how would that change things? How does that affect the way you feel?
- Pay if forward. Every day, make a kind gesture for someone else. Open the door for someone, or buy coffee for someone else in the line. Doing good things for others makes us feel good about ourselves, and could be the fuel for a fantastic day.
Recognize and celebrate your goodness. Remember it when faced with an opportunity to make conscious choices about how to handle a difficult situation or feeling. Doing so, is a great starting point that will help you to add to your repertoire of positive qualities and tools for achieving, happiness, success and thriving!
Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC http://www.thcounseling.com