The heading sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?
Why on earth would anyone want to pray/ask for something bad to happen to them? Especially in this day and age where pain and suffering seems to surround us?
Hear me out before you close this tab down and move on to another article.
We all strive to live happy lives. The reality is that nobody on this planet has ever lived a life without experiencing pain. Fact. That means the heading is actually rhetorical – and what the heading actually speaks to is changing the way we look at and experience ‘bad things’. The heading got your attention though didn’t it?
I look at my life and think about how the toughest times have been my greatest teachers. I still consider my biggest blessing being born about 40% deaf in my left ear. My luck improved at age 5 when I had mumps and subsequently lost the remaining hearing in my left ear; but left all my hearing in my right ear.
This gift allowed me to experience a valuable lesson from an early age: How people focus on the negative.
Peoples focus would always be about the deaf ear whereas it hit me to be grateful I could still hear at all.
I use this lesson to this day to remind me how to look for the positive in life. Look for the lessons in the bad that is happening to me which, in some cases, has even proved to be the best outcome for me years later. Living in Cape Town is just such an example.
I find experiencing difficulties early on as a tremendous positive in relationships too; friendships and partners. The sooner something difficult disrupts the honeymoon phase the better for me. It’s so easy to be with people when times are great; life is good and smiles abound. The true test of peoples characters though come in to play when the shit hits the fan.
You lose your job.
Somebody dear to you dies.
A bad break up.
You learn very quickly about people in your time of need and who is prepared to sit with you until 4am for no other reason than you just need someone to be with. Who calls you? Who checks in to see if you okay? Who brings you food after you’ve had a shoulder operation? Who actually offered to take you to the hospital and who brings you flowers to help you smile on the anniversary of a death?
When did you ever think about this question..
When last were you that person for somebody else?
I want to share my time with people that are genuine and we have a mutual respect that allows us to explore who we are and challenge each other to do more. To be more. These difficulties that life throws us are a fantastic way to learn about ourselves and others. Don’t you want to become stronger? Mentally and emotionally? Most people jump at chances to exercise physically it’s a shame these two get neglected by most.
These tough lessons build our character which gives you another opportunity to be a pillar for someone else when tough times strike. Ties back to questioning ‘what are we doing for others’?
One of the greatest pieces of writing I have been sent about this is:
The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Beautiful people do not just happen. I love that. It’s such a powerful reminder that even the happiest people you come across or interact with, have been down. Have experienced loss; but haven’t let it define them.
This is why I invite you to ‘ask for bad things’ to happen to you. It’s a total change in mind-set to view them as an opportunity to learn and grow, because let’s be honest about one thing – they are certainly going to happen whether we want them to or not. It might sound weird but some of my worst relationships actually turned out to be my best, because of they showed me who I am (good and bad) and how I changed because of them. The Andrew you would meet today is very different from even just one year ago.
A great exercise you can do now, is look back on your life and on a graph, plot your earliest happy memory. Then plot a low point that happened after that. Then? The next happy memory you had and keep going until the present day. What jumps out at you is that just as the tide comes in every day and then goes out; just as the sun sets only to rise the following day; so too do we have cycles of experiences. The trick is not to get caught up in them but enjoy the flow and know that many more good and bad things are indeed going to happen. That there are lessons in each.
It’s not what happens to us that defines us; but rather what we decide to do afterwards that does.
The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Enjoy the journey.