When we experience hardship in life, we seldom see it as a positive experience and the reasons why that is are rather obvious. When we are going through a hard part of life, our focus isn’t on finding the silver lining in those difficulties because we are focused on surviving those hardships. It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when we are barely hanging on, right? But in this article, I hope to offer you a different perspective. A perspective that will not only help you make the challenging parts of life easier but that will also help you see the hardest parts of your life as your biggest opportunities for growth.
If you know my story then you know that I’m no stranger to hardship. Within a 12 month period, I suffered a life-changing spinal injury that not only ended my military career, nearly took my ability to walk but it sent me on a grueling 7-year recovery that I’m still working through today. I also experienced tremendous loss as three the closest friends I’ve ever known tragically lost their lives (on three separate occasions). Then my grandfather (whom I had called every single day for years) passed away just a few short weeks before the Army told my I was officially “unfit” for duty and that my Army career was officially over. A few short months later, I was medically discharged from the Army and sent home to try to rebuild my life just to find out my father (and lifelong hero) was diagnosed with ALS, a terminal illness.
The truth is, that was the worst year of my life.
Why is it so rare for us to only face one obstacle at a time in life? Why is it that the bad things in life seem to come in waves?
When life is getting the best of you, it really gets the best of you…
In the middle of all of this adversity I did not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I did not see a way for things to get better. I saw no silver lining. And honestly, I questioned my ability to make it through this horrific time in my life.
But then it hit me…
I was barley hanging on but being upset about the adversity I was facing in my life only made a difficult situation harder. Feeling sorry for myself and only focusing on all of the bad things happening around me was only making my chances of making it out of such a difficult time that much more unlikely.
When you open the door to negativity and self-pity, it consumes your mind and spreads like wildfire. Your every thought becomes toxic and self-destructive.
The reality was, whether I felt sorry for myself or not, I still had to go through this hardship because giving up was never an option.
Feeling sorry for myself or hanging my head down low every day doesn’t make the pain from my injury suck any less and it sure as hell wasn’t going to give me my Army career back.
It wasn’t like the Army was going to say, “Oh, you’re sad about this whole injury thing? Well, then never mind, come on back!”
Being sad about my friends being gone wouldn’t bring them back. I needed to grieve but it wouldn’t help me live a life that would make them proud or to help me carry on their legacies.
Being angry about my dad’s diagnosis wouldn’t help cure ALS, it would only steal my ability to make meaningful memories with him.
That’s when I realized…
The light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t just magically shine brighter one day. You have to change the way you are looking at the obstacles in your life or you may never see that beacon of hope you are looking for.
Why couldn’t the adversity I was facing become an opportunity for me to become stronger? Why couldn’t the obstacles I faced become stepping stones for a brighter tomorrow? Why couldn’t the hardest year of my life be the year when I grew the most? When I learned the most? Or when I flipped the switch for who I wanted to become when that light at the end of the tunnel finally started shining?
This change in perspective not only pulled me out of one of the most difficult times in my life but it helped me to really focus on the opportunities in front of me.
My injury may have ended my Army career but it also started my writing career and my helped me find my passion for inspiring others.
I still wake up every day with chronic pain but that pain has become one of the strongest sources of motivation in my life because it inspires me never take the smallest things in life for granted.
I miss my friends terribly every day but I live my life every day in a way that I hope makes the proud.
Six years later my father is kicking ALS’s a$$ and over the last six years, we’ve made some of the most incredible memories together.
So how does this apply to the hardship you face in your own lives?
When you are going through the hard parts of your own life, I challenge you to consider the power you have to control your perspective. Ask yourself how things would be different for you should you choose to look at those hardships as not only obstacles, but as opportunities.
What opportunities can you find in the hardest parts of your life?
Are their opportunities to learn more about yourself?
Opportunities to find out who you true friends are?
Opportunities to find out what matters most to you in life?
Opportunities to build confidence in your own strength and resilience?
Opportunities to gain a different appreciation for the great parts of your life?
The truth is, the opportunities are endless but only after you flip the switch and start looking for the silver lining in the hardship and adversity you face in life.
Thanks for reading! But before you go…
My father always tells me, “My hope is that you’ll hear my voice in your head long after I’m gone reminding you of everything I’ve taught you.” The truth is, my parents have taught me so much about life and I hear their voices replaying those lessons in my head over and over again every day.
Now as a parent myself, I’m realizing that I want the same for my daughter. For her to grow up hearing my voice teaching her all of the right lessons to guide her through life and for that voice to stick in her head long after I’m gone. In fact, I think most parents probably feel the same way.
But what messages are we using our voice to share? What are we teaching our kids? I created this channel to help spread positive and inspirational messages and lessons about life in a world otherwise full of negativity.
This channel is my way of sharing my voice and my perspective on life with the rest of the world. The same voice, perspective and messages I want my daughter to grow up hearing.
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