“Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they’re supposed to help you discover who you are.” ~Bernice Johnson Reagon
The concept of this seems very simple and reasonably optimistic to do, right? To hold Gratitude for difficult Challenges we face — but is it? I bet you can think of a difficulty you’ve had to face and had a difficult time overcoming it while at the same time getting upset, depressed, discouraged, angry, bitter or negative while going through it. After your experience, now that you have overcame it, would you be able to go back and be appreciative of the challenge since you now know the outcome? Can you accept challenges with gratitude as they are occurring?
Here is a general list of challenges most of us have encountered at one point or another in life that extremely challenge us to search for appreciation and gratitude in each unique situation:
- Learning (Challenges)
- Relationship (Romantic, Family, Friends, Co-workers Issues)
- Loss (Death, Break-up, Distance or Material)
- Feelings (Sadness, Depression, Anger)
- People (Those we dislike)
- Job Dissatisfaction
- Financial Struggle
- Circumstances (Unfair Situations)
- Illness (Minor, Major and even Life Threatening)
- Not being Liked or Appreciated
- Working Hard (Outcome is not in our favor)
- Being Rejected
There are a million more examples we could brainstorm here but I think you get the point. Looking at this list, let’s break it down. For example, learning — is not only difficult for many of us but also very challenging as we are attempting to step outside our comfort zone and expand our knowledge in some area. The process of learning something challenging generally causes us much stress. It is always hard when we are challenged to think in new direction because if it were easy then we wouldn’t need to learn it in the first place. However, after we learn something challenging we feel pretty good because our reward is the learning and that we overcame the obstacle of the learning. However, if we think of an example from our own life of a time when we had to learn something very challenging, do you recall applying gratitude for the challenge as you were going through it?
We usually do not always consider the things that are hard and difficult in life as blessings until sometimes after the fact, if at all? However, the bigger consideration is; instead of waiting until after the difficulty in our life to subside to feel gratitude for the lesson, why not be appreciative (despite the level of difficulty) as we go through the challenging circumstance?
Now I know it’s not always easy to be able to just say, “Thank you God for all this turmoil in my life, it really is a blessing!” Okay, that may be an extreme example. However, let’s consider it for a moment. We know we are guaranteed challenges and difficulty in life, right? So why are we only grateful when we are blessed with things we feel we deserve or that we need or that we really wanted and finally got? In other words, why do we only consider the concept of gratitude in times of positivity or when things are going good for us? We have to start by learning to re-program our mind and realize there is good in everything that happens to us — because it is happening for us (for our growth). Even though the challenge we are faced with sometimes seems overwhelming and impossible to overcome, we have programmed ourselves to believe that. If we re-programmed our minds to accept the challenge with a more positive outlook and sugar it with gratitude –we would get to experience it more fully and with hope in overcoming it.
The movie, “Rudy,” demonstrates a really good example of gratitude, appreciation and perseverance while going through a very difficult challenge in life. For those that have not seen the movie:
- Rudy always dreamed of attending college at The University of Notre Dame and to play football. He has always been told that he was too small to play college football. He was determined to overcome everyone’s rejection (including his own family’s) and fulfill his lifetime dream. He encounters many obstacles and challenges along the path as his grades are not good enough to get accepted and he was rejected several times and must first prove himself by going to a Junior College. He also had many struggles to further apply and prove himself to the Notre Dame Football team in which he was determined, committed and loyal — showing up for every practice knowing he would never have the chance to actually dress and play for a game. He almost gave up after years of proving himself but through his sacrifice, positive attitude, commitment and gratitude for being part of the team and university, he was finally able to dress for one game due to his team’s respect and appreciation of his heart, positivity and gratitude. Here is a link to watch the trailer for Rudy.
Rudy is a very moving true story and demonstrates how gratitude and appreciation for life’s most difficult challenges pays off. The person that Rudy is illustrates how we should all be grateful and appreciative of our own difficulties as they arise. If we did not have the difficulty then we would not advance in our life in many ways such as: self-growth, appreciation, abundance, acceptance and learning (just to name a few).
“If you refuse to be happy until you have no problems or challenges, you will probably never be happy.” ~Joyce Meyer~
If you are going through something minor or majorly challenging, here are some tips to help you begin to appreciate the challenge you are struggling with and learning to accept it with gratitude:
1. Accept it and Embrace it.
It’s sort of like the old saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Same thing applies with challenges. You can’t avoid them or stop them from occurring so you may as well accept them and do it with gratitude instead of anger or a defeated attitude. Being bitter or angry just makes it harder and prolongs it. You will see a difference in your life if you start being thankful for the obstacle as you will overcome it more quickly. Doing so with a positive mind-set helps you stay in peace through the journey of it instead of getting discouraged and staying in a negative mind-set. What’s the worst that can happen from being positive over a challenge? Stop your ego from destroying your positivity and don’t get negative over a challenge or obstacle, instead embrace it and you will see a difference in your life.
2. Look for the Lesson in the challenge
It’s hard sometimes to see a life lesson in our challenges because it’s masked by our feelings, emotions and negativity — pulls us in every direction except logical. However, if you try to remove your emotions (temporarily) and allow yourself to see the bigger picture of the challenge, you will grant yourself the greatest gift of learning and enlightenment.
3. Consider your changing as a gift to the world
When you realize that changing your mind-set is helping heal others through your own growth, you become more deeply connected with yourself and others in a collected unconscious way.
4. Remind yourself it’s okay
It’s okay to have a difficult learning curve. After all, you’ve dealt with how many thus far in your life? You can get through this one too. Take it one-at-a-time and one-day-at-a-time.
5. Have Faith
Always rely on your faith. Faith is what gets you through difficult times in life. Ask God for guidance in every difficult challenge or circumstance but also let him know you are appreciative and truly grateful for the challenge and that you accept it with grace.
“God never promised that we wouldn’t have challenges. In fact, He said just the opposite. His word says, ‘Be truly glad…these trials are only to test your faith, to see whether it is strong and pure…’ so if your faith remains strong after being tried in the test tube of fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day of His return.” ~Joel Osteen