Surviving hard times

Your ability to look beyond current difficulties is the key to overcoming them

Surviving hard times

HOLOCAUST survivor Viktor Frankl studied prisoners in the Nazi death camps he found himself in during World War II.

He wanted to understand how people dealt with pain and suffering. He observed how some of the prisoners just gave up and died while others hung on and made it through incredibly difficult situations.

He theorised that one of the primary differences between those who survived and those who perished had to do with finding meaning in pain, suffering and life. Those who saw no meaning or purpose to life or pain and could see no good coming out of it, lost hope and quickly died.

There were others who persevered, who would not give up, who believed that good could come out of extremely painful situations. They were able to look beyond the "moment" of suffering and into the future. These people had a higher chance of surviving and moving on.

Very few of us will be confronted with the depth of painful choices those prisoners had to make, but we all face difficult situations of one kind or another.

An example of this is the current financial crisis, which has already affected so many lives. People have lost their money, jobs and homes and the worst, we are told, is still to come.

How will you deal with it?

There is an anonymous quote that says: "Every time I find the meaning of life, they change it."

This can be true only if you have never personally found the meaning of your own life.

The meaning of life in its beauty and wonder is rarely discovered in financial and career success alone. It is suffering and hardship that seem to teach us about the meaning of life with its truth and beauty.

I know many successful professionals who look back at the pain and suffering of different seasons of their lives and remember the lessons they learned in those times. The common response they give is: "I wouldn't change any of it, because it made me who I am today."

Here is how you can find meaning in the midst of a potentially painful time in your life:

Value yourself

Remember, your meaning and value as an individual is not linked to a job or a relationship. It is not linked to success or wealth. Your value is in the very nature of who you are as a human being. Nothing can take that away.

Room for growth

See it as the beginning of new opportunities for growth, greater self-awareness and a new season in your life. Remember, you are probably still better off than two-thirds of the world right now.

Count your blessings

Here is a simple secret of happiness - learn how to be thankful for what you have. A thankful heart is like medicine to a suffering soul. It can heal you of bitterness and negativity.

Be people-centric

Reconnect with those you have been too busy to spend time with. Fulfilling, joyful relationships are a great source of personal happiness. Very often, we get so distracted by our busy schedules that it takes a crisis to remind us how important our loved ones are.

Slow down, go for a walk, laugh and let those key relationships "catch up" with you.

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