Hard times – why they are important and how to get through them

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Hard times are no fun. They come unasked, unwanted, and yet we have to get through them somehow. Often they are even a key for our personal development.
In this article, you'll find four ideas about the mindset that will help you get through difficult times.

What happens when the framework of life starts to shake?
It's relatively easy to be happy and content when things in our lives are running smoothly. When nothing is jarring and everything feels like it should be exactly the same – or at least similar – to the way it is right now. When we have valuable people around us, a solid job under our feet, a goal and lots of plans ahead of us.
But what happens when circumstances suddenly change?
When the stable framework begins to shake, the ground sinks in,
the scaffolding collapses and happiness plunges down with us?
Does it stay with us down there?
Or does it give way to loneliness and hopelessness?

Difficult times are part of our life
Some affliction always occurs to life to make us wobble or even fall over: a great tragedy or the subtle feeling that we are not running in our own lane; that something is wrong.
There is no such thing as a life without depths.
They will come. And it's good that they come, because they are part of our lives. Depths and precipitation enable growth, cause change and make us rethink things.

Four suggestions on how to get through hard times better
Maybe we can see them coming, maybe they catch us off guard. But when they are there and at times we no longer know where up is and down is and who we are ourselves, and we wonder why fate is shooting poisonous arrows at us, the following four ideas can help you get through hard times with more purpose and gentleness.

1 – Embrace the feelings – even the ones that weigh us down
While virtually we express more and more with emojis, in analog life we like to shirk the unpleasant feelings. We don't want to feel pain and would prefer to run away from it, shake it off and just leave it behind. Unfortunately, this does not work.
In fact, the opposite is true: we cope with and process our soul pain by encountering and experiencing it. By looking at the emotions and taking them apart, understanding them and putting them back together, we can heal ourselves.
So allow yourself to feel the pain.
It's okay to hurt. Hard times are part of it.
Your tears are okay.
They are meant to be cried.
Cry them so you can laugh again soon.

Good times, hard times – life is duality
Because no life is solely pain, but every life is duality, you can only feel pain because you know what joy feels like. And because every element of life is as impermanent as life itself, melancholy will also pass away. Find the meaning behind it and give it the space it demands. Don't make it bigger than it is, but don't try to ignore it either. Embed it in the big picture – in this way you neither make your worries bigger nor smaller, but put them in relation – and that makes them smaller in the end.

Defense creates suffering, acceptance heals
Give the pain the time it wants to be with you. You are not alone. The pain is with you to help you, to free you, so that your life becomes easier again and finds its way back on track.
Obstacles, lows and turning points are lessons of life that we can grow from and become who we are meant to be in this world.
Nothing happens without a reason. But we often only understand the meaning behind the pain in retrospect, when we look at this phase in the context of our entire life. Even if we cannot make sense of every crisis, they are inevitably part of our being. We should accept them and the unchangeable – with everything that goes with them – and after a while continue on our way strengthened.

2 – Look for happiness within us – even if you don't believe you'll find it there
Especially in hard times, we want to give up the weight most of all. We try to distract ourselves and stuff the empty, unfulfilled needs with externalities. No matter whether it's with a shopping spree, a ready-to-eat pizza or a bottle of red wine – we wake up the next morning at the latest and the supposed fullness has been digested. The emptiness reappears because superficial happiness can never alleviate a profound pain. It may numb it, but it can't reach it, and it certainly can't dissolve it.

Your inner light shines even in the darkest times
Because true happiness comes from within – and not from a plastic bag, from the best kebab store in town, or as a genie from some wine bottle. Always. Even in our most difficult times. Even when we think that only empty, dark smoke rises from within, which we want to extinguish with all our might through some distraction, our inner self also brings forth light.

Rediscovering difficult times and happiness
Learning something new, being grateful and curious, playing or exercising, praying or meditating, spending time in nature or with loved ones can give us true happiness. Even in the hardest of times. Even when you don't believe in it.
So don't hide from the dark side of life. Start meditating or painting or learning something new. Do what is good for you, so you nourish yourself. That true happiness comes from within is a gift of life to each of us. You have your own source that no one can turn off – not even you.

3 – Be grateful – even for the small things
In the dark times, life is not only upside down – you also see nothing and forget some things that were long internalized, including our gratitude.
As soon as we are overwhelmed by our emotions, they override the rational thought processes. In hard times, we literally forget the good in our lives. Yet the beauty of gratitude is that it is simply a matter of perspective: every moment offers the chance to be grateful.

Discover the good – even in difficult times
Even if you can't feel it at times, you know what people, events or circumstances you can be grateful for.
Think about it and look for the good in your life. Don't let pain paint everything black that was shining a while ago. Be grateful as best you can right now. And then be grateful when you feel better because of it.

4 – Be mindful – when you least want to be
Especially during the difficult times of life, I would like to be anything but mindful. I want to be able to fast-forward the days or weeks, and sometimes even the months, during these difficult times, so I can skip the stressful emotions and escape the now.
In this, the now is the only thing we truly possess.
Even though it's hard, we should accept that we are where and how we are right now: In the dark, perhaps on the most difficult stage of our lives.
And clearly it's not pretty there.
And of course we want to move on as quickly as possible. But this resistance requires much more energy than simply accepting the suffering in the now.

Simply accepting difficult times
Mindfulness is on everyone's lips, but it is far from being present in all lives. Practicing it helps to first simply take things as they arise: without judgment, concern, or objection.
Regrets about the past or worries about the future – we do that first. Things are as they are – with all their advantages and disadvantages. And often not as bad as our heads suggest.

You are here now:
In the here and now.

Walk bravely through the hard times, because they make life deeper, make you stronger and make you who you are supposed to be.


Bruce Jacobs

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