There is no escaping some degree of adversity in our lives. We will encounter it simply by living: a heart-breaking relationship, an illness, a natural disaster, a work related disappointment – sooner or later, in one form or another, we’ll deal with misfortune.
The question is, when we feel as if our lives are shattered, how will we deal with it; will we have within us the resilience to get through the suffering? How do we get up from the mat when life knocks us down, as it surely will at one time or another?
Initially, there are useful, practical tools to distract us from our distress, but the long term, intuitive and life-affirming discoveries that bring light to the darkness are not found in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” genre. They are useful (I have written two, similar books!). But a deeper contemplation is required for the resiliency to leave misfortune behind and to bring a renewed, positive outlook to the life you choose to lead going forward.
There is no one starting place, but when the tears are flowing consider this, they flow into an ocean of tears shed by all of us. No one is exempt. You have not been singled out. There actually is an answer when you shout into the heavens, “Why me?!” It’s because you are human; suffering is part of everyone’s life.
Now the question shifts its focus. As the painful event recedes into the past how big a part of your life do you allow the ache to occupy as you go forward? You have a choice: allow your misfortune to swallow you up in the irreversible yesterday or turn to a list of all the positive things in life that await you. Think of it this way: rehash the events of the past and you get… hash. Try a new recipe and at the very least get control over the dish that turns out.
I think there is a propensity in all of us to think that a corollary of the inevitability of suffering is that joy is not permissible! Somehow or other the notion of being “deserving” creeps into the equation: as in we deserve to suffer and consequently do not deserve to have joy in our lives.
That is nonsense. Our personal experience is part of the larger human experience; we all will face suffering to a greater or lesser extent, be it not getting the promotion you applied for to the sudden death of a loved one. The resultant sadness will be felt but it is not your lot in life; happiness is what you are entitled to, not something that must be balanced by adversity.
Resilient people believe that they, and not their circumstances, create outcome. They make a choice: get stuck in viewing the event as traumatic or as an opportunity to learn and grow (even from tragedy).
Life is not without suffering. Life is not without joy. Spend more time in the joy part!