It is not easy to be hopeful in today’s world. The COVID-19 pandemic has no end in sight. Issues of racism, sexism and violence don’t seem to improve. And there are no quick answers to any of these issues. Within the last five months, our lives have changed dramatically. In my own household, life is […]
Life is hard. And it is hard for everyone. No one goes through life without difficulty. Some of those difficulties we bring on ourselves. Others are inflicted on us. And yet, some people go through life being bitter while others go through life feeling blessed.
For example, I know a pastor who immigrated to the United States from India. He came to this country with $10 in his pocket. Unfortunately, during his career, he experienced racism at the different churches where he served. And yet, he has a beautiful spirit. He loves all people. Life is joyful for him, and he feels blessed to serve God.
By contrast, I know another person who has had every privilege. He is white and had wealthy parents. Life, as a result, has given him immense opportunities. But the inevitable bumps along the road have turned him into a bitter person. He goes through life angry and does not have a generous spirit.
Realize that our socio-economic position is not what leads us to feel bitter or blessed in life. Nor is it the severity of the trials that we endure. (Trust me, there will always be someone out there who has had it worse than you.) Rather, it is our response to those trials that leads us to feel bitter or blessed.
Fortunately, we all can move from “bitter to blessed.” Consider the approaches below to transform your attitude from bitter to blessed and see how happy your life can be.
1. Use Your Suffering to Become More Compassionate
Some people respond to the difficulties of life by becoming negative and bitter. Others become incredibly compassionate. Their own suffering leads them to be kinder, gentler and more understanding toward others. And that gives their suffering value.
In my own life, I cannot make sense of the difficult experiences I have endured. Nevertheless, I believe that those experiences have had value. They weren’t pointless. Those experiences are what have made me a more compassionate person. I feel the suffering of others more deeply because I myself have suffered.
If you want to move from bitter to blessed, you need to transform your suffering into compassion. Otherwise, your suffering will be random and meaningless. When your difficult experiences lead you to be a better, more compassionate person, they have value. And then you are truly blessed.
2. Become a Gentler, Quieter Person
I always find it ironic that people who have suffered from violence become violent individuals. It should be just the opposite. We should want to steer clear of the behavior that we abhor.
We go from bitter to blessed when, in spite of our experiences, we choose to be peaceful rather than aggressive. That is hard. It takes self-control.
But ultimately, it is our choice as to how we respond to life’s experiences. We certainly can choose to be like everyone else. We can choose to be noisy, angry, hostile and aggressive, due to the negative things that we have endured.
Or, we can choose to be high quality individuals. We can make the choice to be kind, gentle and respectful toward others, no matter what has happened to us in the past. Blessed people conduct themselves with utmost civility and decency, regardless of whatever negative experiences they have had.
3. Acknowledge Your Courage
If you have been through a difficult experience and have come out on the other side, you have courage. Period. You may not have gone through the experience perfectly. There may be things that you wish you had done differently. That is natural. But the bottom line is that if you got through a bad experience, you are a courageous person. Celebrate that!
Instead of focusing on the unfairness of the experience, instead, focus on your strength. Realize that you are tough. You now know that the hardships of life cannot break you.
Courage and mental fortitude are not inconsequential qualities. There are lots of people who do not possess those qualities. Instead, they fall apart when life gets a little tough.
In fact, I’ve known people who simply cannot manage life. They throw temper tantrums when life doesn’t go their way. Others have mid-life crises, or they flake out on their responsibilities when life gets a little bit too hard.
If you simply get through life, with all of its challenges, continue to meet your responsibilities and operate in a kind manner, then give yourself a pat on the back! You are a lot farther along than many of the folks out there. Feel blessed because you are courageous!
4. Help Others
The fastest cure for bitterness is to help others. As bad as you think you have it, someone else has it worse. Help that person.
Bitter people do not help others. Just the opposite. They insult others. They behave cruelly toward others. And if you act that way toward other people, you will stay bitter.
To move from bitter to blessed, you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself. You instead need to use your experiences to build up your empathy and compassion for the suffering others. And then you need to put that empathy and compassion into action by easing their pain.
As soon as we help others, we give meaning to our suffering. Your suffering isn’t pointless if it leads you to help another person or an animal (or the earth!). When our suffering leads us to be kinder, gentler and more helpful than we would be otherwise, we give it value.
Moving from being bitter to feeling blessed is not easy. We have to change the way we think about our most difficult experiences. But if we change how we view those experiences, that can lead us down a path of being truly blessed and happy.
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