It’s easy to stay positive and optimistic when things are going well in life and we’re feeling good. It seems all of the pieces fall into place and nothing is out of reach. But how do we stay hopeful when things aren’t going so smoothly? How do we find the proverbial silver lining in the darkest of storms?
There is no easy solution or quick fix for feelings like grief, depression, stress, or sadness. If there was, someone would have discovered it a long time ago and become a millionaire selling them to people. On the contrary, it is an ongoing choice to reframe our thoughts and actions to lead us to a more positive headspace. Happiness is not something that happens to us, it is something that must be chosen.
Here are some things to remind yourself when going through difficult times:
1. It’s okay not to be okay.
We are not perfect, infallible beings. It is healthy to cry, to feel pain, to be scared. We make mistakes. We fall down sometimes, and then we get back up. The pressure to have it all together can be heavier than the actual hardship you are going through. But you don’t need to have all the answers all the time. Take time to process your feelings.
2. You are not alone.
During difficult times, it’s easy to feel isolated from the world. But everyone goes through periods of struggle. It is a universal rite of passage. Find someone you can talk to, whether it is a friend, a stranger, or a professional. Even if they have not gone through the same exact experience you have, chances are they can relate. You don’t need to bear the weight by yourself. Sometimes just knowing someone is there for you if you do can be enough.
3. You are growing.
Every experience, positive or negative, reveals something about ourselves or teaches us something. We learn just as much, if not more, from our struggles than our successes. There is a lesson to be found in even the most difficult situations. Focus on the lesson. What you can learn from the situation? How can you use what you are going through to help someone else in the future?
4. Focus on what you can control.
As much as we wish we could, we can’t control everything in life. There are so many factors beyond our reach. We can’t control other people and we can’t always control the events around us, but we can control the ways we act and react. If a friend came to you and asked how to get through a similar problem, what would you tell them to do? Chances are, you wouldn’t tell them the situation is helpless. There is always something we can do to push us in the right direction.
5. You are strong.
Think back on your life. Look back upon the many struggles you have already overcome. They may have seemed impossible at the time, but you made it through. You can and will do it again.
The most important choice you can make while going through tough times is to not give up. Every person is a work in progress, and difficulties are an important part of the process. Challenges are just opportunities to become a better version of yourself.
Being optimistic doesn’t mean that you don’t see the hardships facing you. It means that you acknowledge them and choose to face them with faith and certainty that you will get through them.