Learning from hard times

Unless you are different from the rest of us, you have hard times. We all have things in our lives that are difficult to handle. Look around your family and you will see them. Our niece’s son has leukemia. Our daughter suffered loss in a divorce.

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  • Unless you are different from the rest of us, you have hard times. We all have things in our lives that are difficult to handle. Look around your family and you will see them. Our niece’s son has leukemia. Our daughter suffered loss in a divorce. A neighbor has Parkinson’s disease.

  • Our trials can depress us and drag us down, or they can be a source of growth and maturity. Our niece’s sweet gentle personality is now coupled with strength and courage because of the difficulties she has experienced with leukemia. Our daughter is raising two wonderful grandchildren. Her soul has been refined and polished through her divorce experience. Our dear neighbor finds joy in her life even with Parkinson’s disease. Some days she just endures the dizziness that comes from her medication; other days she can meet friends and enjoy their company. I see the courage in her eyes as she gets herself out and about.

  • A terrible car accident killed a young mother and her unborn baby, leaving behind a husband and several children. The cause: a drunk driver. Situations like this are tragic and difficult for a family to experience. I was impressed by the attitude of the husband and father. He knew it would be a difficult time for his family, but he didn’t engage in bitterness or vindictiveness or say life was unfair. Even though he had many difficult trials ahead, he accepted them with the knowledge that his family would be healed and strengthened.

  • Sometimes the lessons learned from our trials dim as the years go by. Keeping a gratitude journal will preserve the wisdom we gain and bring positive energy into our lives. Emmons and McCullough, in the "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology," studied counting blessings verses counting burdens and found those who focused on daily blessings were more optimistic, vigorous, pleasant, and felt better able to handle life’s troubles. Their sleep improved, and they were sick less often. They were more charitable and made greater progress toward their goals. If these are all attributes you would like in your life, include words of gratitude in your day to remember the strength you have gained from life’s problems.

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