No matter how skillfully we live our lives, pain and loss visit us all. We all have endured or will endure one or more seasons of great suffering. This is an inevitable part of life.

Suffering can destroy us or it can serve us, depending on how we deal with it. If we make efforts to stay with our suffering we can be bettered by it. It can deepen the meaning of our lives. If faced properly, it can be redemptive.

Suffering clarifies our vision. It disrupts the trance of ordinary life. It wakes us up to harsh realities about ourselves, about others, and about life that we would rather ignore. From this comes wisdom.

Suffering cultivates humility. It brings us face to face with our limitations and our utter dependence on forces beyond our control. We surrender to the fact that Life is not about us, but about the Life of which we are a very small part.

Suffering can deepen the scope and purpose of our lives. Our hardships may drive us to devote ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves, such as helping others who suffer similar hardships, or working to correct an injustice. Suffering can help us transcend our limited self-concerns. Suffering does not bring happiness, but it can give us the gift of character.

Suffering can soften the heart. Our suffering gives us compassion for the suffering of others.

Ironically, suffering can bring gratitude for the grace and love that come to us in difficult times.

By enduring our suffering, we discover the power of love, if not to heal us, at least to deepen and transform us.

Finally, suffering teaches us acceptance. By accepting what is beyond our control, we diminish the unnecessary suffering of fighting with Reality. Though acceptance, we diminish the suffering of our distress. With time, we may find a kind of peace even in the midst of distress.

Stay positive during tough times. Even in the darkest of times, keep your hope that this too shall pass. Reassure yourself that you will survive, thrive, and prosper as long as you act skillfully and not addict or otherwise run from your pain.

Attitude is everything. Faced with hardship, you have a choice. You can choose to:

• Be grateful for what you have.
• Have hope.
• Look for opportunities for learning, growth and change in the midst of difficulty.
• Consider all life events, whether painful or pleasurable, as teachers.
• Cultivate understanding, acceptance, compassion, and forgiveness.

Remember that you are in charge of both how you perceive your situation and how you respond. Don’t attempt to escape your pain. Face it, learn from it, and do what you must to get through it. Let it harden the steel of your character. Let the fires of adversity transform you that you might become the better because of it.

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