How to Find Peace of Mind in Hard Times—Make Friends With Adversity

Make a Resilience List. Remember you are strong and resourceful.

Make a Magic Wand List. Use adversity to your advantage.

Make a 1-2-3 Action Plan. Create a new goal or a new vision for your life.

Finding peace of mind in hard times is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. We are not helpless victims in the face of adversity. We are stronger than we give ourselves credit for. We forget that adversity helps us grow. Believe it or not, there is an upside to adversity.

Unless you are very young, the challenges you face today are not the first time you have confronted hard times. Overcoming hardship has made you who you are today. You have learned and grown from these experiences. You have built resilience with each struggle you have mastered.

Look back on the challenges you have weathered. What lessons have you learned? How have those lessons made you a better person today? What might you learn from the challenges you face today?

Often hard times force us to explore new possibilities and to make different choices. What seems like a cloud may in fact hide a silver lining. How might today’s troubled times lead to something positive? Where is there fortune in misfortune? How might you arrive at a new normal where you are happier and more energized than you thought possible? Work through these three exercises to explore the upside of adversity.

Step #1: Make a Resilience List. Remember you are strong and resourceful. When adversity hits, we are often left feeling helpless and vulnerable. Our brain focuses on fear of the unknown. It’s like we develop resilience amnesia, forgetting that our lives have been filled with hardships successfully overcome.

Make a Resilience List. If you’re not in the middle of a crisis right now, do it proactively and keep it on hand. Challenges will arrive like uninvited guests. It’s inevitable.

Think about the hard times you have overcome in the past. Start with the big things—surviving an illness or accident, moving through a divorce or job loss, managing grief after losing a loved one. Then, move on to smaller things—times you felt embarrassed, heated arguments, bad grades, speeding tickets, wardrobe malfunctions.

Write down what you learned from those experiences, focusing on the direct connect between challenges and outcomes. Did having a scary medical diagnosis cause you to live healthier? Did losing that soul-sucking job lead you to a career where you feel appreciated and valued? Did the end of a marriage lead you to a loving relationship or give you freedom to pursue your dreams in a way that you otherwise would not have?

Think about how have you benefited today. How have those experiences made you a better person today? Did care giving an elderly relative make you more sensitive to the burdens of caregivers or more able to help others with difficult conversations about death and dying? Did getting a speeding ticket make you a safer driver? Did failing a semester of college make you realize how important your career goals are?

The first goal of a Resilience List is to stay focused on the times that you overcame adversity. The second goal is to recognize how you have grown from those hard times.

Step #2: Make a Magic Wand List. Use adversity to your advantage. Hard times always present us with the opportunity to explore new options and to redirect our life path. In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver was trying to develop a super strong glue for the 3M Company. Instead, he discovered a super weak glue. Out of failure, his low tack glue became the key to post-it notes.

If you could wave a magic wand, how would you change your life? What would you like to learn? Where and how would you like to grow? How can you use adversity today to focus on building those skills? Make a Magic Wand list. Is there any connection between the items on your Magic Wand List and the openings provide by the challenges you are facing right now?

Getting downsized with severance has allowed many entrepreneurs to start businesses they love. Losing a home to financial hardship, divorce, natural disaster, or a move may be an opening to reinvent yourself or to create an entirely different lifestyle. A divorce can open the door to a deeply meaningful relationship or to reconnecting with friends and family. Get creative. If an idea pops into your head, no matter how crazy, write it down.

Step #3 : Make a 1-2-3 Action Plan. Create a new goal or a new vision for your life. You now have a list of the times you have overcome adversity and how those triumphs built your strengths. You have some ideas about how the adversity you are facing can have a positive impact on your life. Focus in on one area where today’s adversity might evolve into something positive. Set a new goal or a new vision for your life that can come directly out of today’s challenges.

Now, make a simple 1-2-3 Action Plan. Start small. Choose one action you can take today to make friends with adversity and to take back control. Start the process of finding peace of mind and happiness, even in the hardest of times.Leveraging adversity is an important life skill that you can use whenver hard times knock on your door.

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Life

Make sure you take time to notice how you are reversing any negative energy into an upward spiral of hope and optimism. If you miss a day, just pick up where you left off. Every day is the first day of the rest of your life. It’s trite, but true. The magic is in not giving up. (Shazam!)

And, remember you are not in this alone.

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