05 Mar Discover meaning (When life only offers hardship)
Human intelligence is an intriguing phenomenon. It makes us sensitive to experiences and helps us connect. Our brains are wired to pick pleasure, happiness, and positivity from pain, sadness, and negative experiences. But when trouble comes knocking, how can we discover meaning from those hardships?
Can we derive happiness from our daily struggles in the long run? I suggest that it’s possible to reconstruct ourselves back to cheerfulness again from lie’s harsh experiences. Instead of giving in and wallowing in sorrow while feeling helpless, you can take lessons from your hardships and often these hardships can deepen us.
Experience, whether small as quarrels with a partner or big as losing a loved one, can potentially help you acquire a new perspective and greater sense of meaning in your life.
Regardless of what you’re going through, what is important is the number of times you get up and move forward when hardship presents itself. And to help you discover meaning when life only offers difficulty, we’ve compiled ways to help you through.
Reflect on the impact of the hardship
Review your experiences and explore how they impacted your life. How has the experience changed your life? What can you learn from it? What’s the new version of you since the traumatizing experience begun?
Reflecting on how those difficult moments have affected you and incorporating them into your new self can significantly help you acquire a new sense of meaning.
Emotions drive us. Sharing them with others does not make us weak, but it portrays the strength lying deep within. When undergoing a challenging moment, our minds tend to pick the easiest paths to find a solution, and keeping the troubles to yourself is just one of them.
When you withhold your feelings, it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on things that matter the most. Instead, find someone you feel comfortable sharing your feelings.
If you still feel not confident enough to share with someone, find another channel. Talk to a therapist, write about it, sing it if you have to.
By getting the weight off your chest, it becomes easy to have a different perspective on things and discover meaning from what you’re going through. Perhaps your friend may have some insight as they have walked the same path of suffering.
Be part and parcel of your narrative
Everyone has a story about them that is ever-changing. These stories help us understand how the different experiences fit together to shape our lives. They create the tapestry of our life.
When you integrate your negative life experiences into your narrative, you’ll feel like those experiences and your life are part of a much bigger picture. And from that, you’ll get a more profound meaning from your hardships.
Try to write your narrative down together with their timelines, then reflect on how every hardship affected your other experiences.
Imagine the counter scenarios
“What ifs” are a great way of cultivating meaning from experiences. Think about “what could’ve happened” and analyse the possible outcomes from those experiences. Reflection will not only help you discover meaning, but you also get to learn useful lessons.
By imagining the counteractions to our experiences, we frame scenarios that can help us better understand what conspired. This mental approach is essential in helping us get acquire insight into the broader patterns beneath our experiences.
Therefore, if your mind flees into “what if” escapades, accept it, let yourself explore the hypothetical realities. Just ensure that you use these questions to understand the facts better and why they’re how they are.
Build stronger social connections
The default action for ourselves during hardships is wanting to retreat into our haven of solitude. Our minds believe that retreat can help us avoid more trouble or being bothered by others.
Instead, when we use negative experiences to connect with people close to us, we strengthen our bonds with them rather than harm them. We seize better opportunities to generate meaning from our experiences when we opt to cope with the difficulties and seek social support.
Connect with your past
When you feel threatened by the difficulties, you can generate a sense of meaning from situations by connecting with your past.
For instance, old photographs, vintage cars, or past joyful stories that have moulded us can generate the feeling of appreciating the interconnectedness behind everything.
So, when faced with a hardship, take a moment to reflect on things that make you reminisce. Let your mind take you back in time, collecting memory treasures and wiring them together up to the present moment.
Mould a different future
When we’re faced with a hardship, it’s easier to only focus on the present, trying to find where we may have made an incorrect decision to come to the situation, we are in. Find a deeper meaning from our experiences.
There lies great potential in hardships to trigger us to make better-informed decisions about the life we make for ourselves. We can make more meaningful and satisfying lives if we accept the difficulties to extract the lessons out of them.