“Everything can be taken away from a person but one thing: the last of the human freedom -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” – Viktor E. Frankl
In every challenge there is an opportunity. There is a chance to learn more about yourself and others. There’s a chance to move forward.
It seems as though, at any given time, you or someone you know is dealing with a breakup, a sick relative or friend, a crappy job that we thought we’d love but don’t, or we feel like we’re endlessly searching for that meaning and purpose in our lives that everyone talks about.
As I continue to flow through the choppy waters of being a young adult (and now a father), I’m learning that working through uncertainty really starts with the choices you make each and every day.
It begins by understanding that you have a choice.
It's understanding that you have a choice to look at challenges as opportunities to learn more about yourself and to grow.
It’s not easy though! In fact, sometimes it’s freakin’ near impossible!
It’s difficult to see the good in a bad day sometimes. A disagreement with someone you care about, frustrations about where all of this is heading, insecurity at times about who you are and where you're heading. All of these things can add up and take over -- leaving you overwhelmed and feeling trapped.
So what do you do? How do you keep yourself optimistic when there seems to be so much pessimism around you? How do you get out of the s#!% that Life seems to have been throwing at you for so long that you feel stuck?
My opinion? We do the things that help us feel just a little bit more in control. We talk it out with a trusted friend or family member, we write it out in a blog, a Facebook post, or a journal. We look for ways to connect with others, and we bring back the things in our Life that make us happy.
Look for the small and beautiful moments that show you everything is going to be ok. Look at the things that make you happy or when you were most happy and work hard to bring them back into your life when you need them the most.
Once in a while, you'll have one of those beautiful moments that tells you that everything is going to be ok. But pay attention...those special moments don’t seem to always present themselves as outwardly as the bad ones; I think that’s part of what makes them so meaningful.
It’s those little moments that can fuel you. It’s a small piece of clarity in a sometimes very clouded life.
Having an awareness of this creates choices that we may not have seen beforehand.
We start to understand that we do have a choice, even when it feels like we don’t at the time. We start to see that crappy basement apartment as a lesson we’re learning about patience and working toward something bigger. We look at that breakup as an opportunity to get to know ourselves better rather than losing a part of who we are. We can look at the challenge of bettering yourself and remind ourselves that the goal is bettering ourselves and the challenge is how we get there.
Because what we focus on, grows.
So step back and ask yourself, "where's my focus, right now?" If it's on the big, bad and ugly, try taking some of that focus and shining it on the small, good and beautiful.
Create a habit of asking yourself what you're learning from the hard times. As you do, it will become easier to get through them.
Those challenges turn themselves into opportunities.
Finding the good in the bad days takes a change in our perception. It takes changing our attitudes and looking at those challenges that being whoever you are entails and taking ownership over that. When you start to do that – when you start to own the outcome- things change for you.
Matt Tod is an international speaker, leadership facilitator, writer and lover of all things Zombie-related.