“The best way out is always through.”
— Robert Frost
“Today, I’m sitting in my hospital bed waiting to have both my breasts removed. But in a strange way I feel like the lucky one. Up until now I have had no health problems. I’m a 69-year-old woman in the last room at the end of the hall before the pediatric division of the hospital begins. Over the past few hours I have watched dozens of cancer patients being wheeled by in wheelchairs and rolling beds. None of these patients could be a day older than 17.”
That’s an entry from my grandmother’s journal, dated 9/16/1977. I photocopied it and pinned it to my bulletin board about a decade ago. It’s still there today, and it continues to remind me that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. And that no matter how good or bad I have it, I must wake up each day thankful for my life, because someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.
Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.
Here are a few reminders to help motivate you when you need it most:
1. Pain is part of growing.
Sometimes life closes doors because it’s time to move forward. And that’s a good thing because we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to. When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose. Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Good things take time. Stay patient and stay positive. Everything is going to come together; maybe not immediately, but eventually.
Remember that there are two kinds of pain: pain that hurts and pain that changes you. When you roll with life, instead of resisting it, both kinds help you grow.
2. Everything in life is temporary.
Every time it rains, it stops raining. Every time you get hurt, you heal. After darkness there is always light – you are reminded of this every morning, but still you often forget, and instead choose to believe that the night will last forever. It won’t. Nothing lasts forever.
So if things are good right now, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t easy at the moment, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. You just have to take it and make the best of it. (Read The Last Lecture.)
3. Worrying and complaining changes nothing.
Those who complain the most, accomplish the least. It’s always better to attempt to do something great and fail than to attempt to do nothing and succeed. It’s not over if you’ve lost; it’s over when you do nothing but complain about it. If you believe in something, keep trying. Don’t let the shadows of the past darken the doorstep of your future. Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow any brighter. Take action instead. Let what you’ve learned improve how you live. Make a change and never look back.
And regardless of what happens in the long run, remember that true happiness begins to arrive only when you stop complaining about your problems and you start being grateful for all the problems you don’t have.
4. Your scars are symbols of your strength.
Don’t ever be ashamed of the scars life has left you with. A scar means the hurt is over and the wound is closed. It means you conquered the pain, learned a lesson, grew stronger, and moved forward. A scar is the tattoo of a triumph to be proud of. Don’t allow your scars to hold you hostage. Don’t allow them to make you live your life in fear. You can’t make the scars in your life disappear, but you can change the way you see them. You can start seeing your scars as a sign of strength and not pain.
Rumi once said, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most powerful characters in this great world are seared with scars. See your scars as a sign of “YES! I MADE IT! I survived and I have my scars to prove it! And now I have a chance to grow even stronger.”
5. Every little struggle is a step forward.
In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams, knowing that the work is worth it. So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way. Otherwise, there’s no point in starting. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what, or sleeping where, you’re used to, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar. It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers. It could mean lots of time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible. It gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it.
And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine. You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path. And it’s worth it. So if you’re going to try, go all the way. There’s no better feeling in the world… there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
6. Other people’s negativity is not your problem.
Be positive when negativity surrounds you. Smile when others try to bring you down. It’s an easy way to maintain your enthusiasm and focus. When other people treat you poorly, keep being you. Don’t ever let someone else’s bitterness change the person you are. You can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of you. They do things because of them.
Above all, don’t ever change just to impress someone who says you’re not good enough. Change because it makes you a better person and leads you to a brighter future. People are going to talk regardless of what you do or how well you do it. So worry about yourself before you worry about what others think. If you believe strongly in something, don’t be afraid to fight for it. Great strength comes from overcoming what others think is impossible.
All jokes aside, your life only comes around once. This is IT. So do what makes you happy and be with whoever makes you smile, often.
7. What’s meant to be will eventually, BE.
True strength comes when you have so much to cry and complain about, but you prefer to smile and appreciate your life instead. There are blessings hidden in every struggle you face, but you have to be willing to open your heart and mind to see them. You can’t force things to happen. You can only drive yourself crazy trying. At some point you have to let go and let what’s meant to be, BE.
In the end, loving your life is about trusting your intuition, taking chances, losing and finding happiness, cherishing the memories, and learning through experience. It’s a long-term journey. You have to stop worrying, wondering, and doubting every step of the way. Laugh at the confusion, live consciously in the moment, and enjoy your life as it unfolds. You might not end up exactly where you intended to go, but you will eventually arrive precisely where you need to be. (Read A New Earth.)
8. The best thing you can do is to keep going.
Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.
Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage to feel different, yet beautiful. Find it in your heart to make others smile too. Don’t stress over things you can’t change. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. And even if you fall short, keep going. Keep growing.
Awake every morning and do your best to follow this daily TO-DO list:
- Think positively.
- Eat healthy.
- Exercise today.
- Worry less.
- Work hard.
- Laugh often.
- Sleep well.
The floor is yours…
What helps you stay motivated when you’re struggling? What’s something positive you try to keep in mind when everything seems to be going wrong? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Antonio Buccella
I needed this very badly.. Thanks a ton for all the wonderful words of encouragement you are giving others. Thanks for sharing your blessings.. I have a diary where I write all the lines and words that mean a lot to me from your posts… I keep reading them when I am low and when I feel I need some encouragement to keep going..
I love them all but #8 is the one I needed most and wrote the entire thing in my diary so that I can read everyday to help me move in the positive direction…
THANKS ,THANKS ,THANKS, 🙂
Thank you. After reading this one post I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I will endeavor to think about these 8 things to remember.
thank you! this was very helpful!
Thanks for this post 🙂
It is just the kind of advice I needed to read today.
I will read this everyday from now on!! This is possibly the most comforting article/words ever to keep me moving forward..
I totally agree!! Amazing!
A big THANK YOU for the article. I recommend everyone to read this, it makes you appreciate life more. ?
Thank You… I feel light!
Thank you so much. This really wiped the tears off of my face. I know one day everything is going to be good. I’m going to give up, I’m going to try harder and harder everyday to overcome this pain . & again Thank You So Much.
This is one of the most uplifting articles that I have read in quite a long time. There were no scriptures used in this script; however the words create an evangelical message and could very well be supported by scripture.
I have been experiencing a tremendous string of mishaps. All four vehicles in the household are in need of repair. I live an hour away from my job and I have absolutely no transportation. The vehicles broke down, each one week apart. Nonetheless, I have remained positive and I still have a smile on my face. I remind myself daily that things can only get better. I’ve hit rock bottom and there’s nowhere else to go but up.
Thank you once again for such an encouraging message!
Debra Holland says
Wow! It’s not often I read something, and every word resonates with me because it’s what I believe and live and preach to others. How lovely to come across a soul friend by way of the internet.
Filomena Day says
I share your comment Debra!
Thank you for this wonderful and inspiring article!
I stumbled across this in the midst of packing to move. I didn’t want to move, and when I read #1 where it says, …”we often won’t move unless circumstances force us to” – it must have been a divine message. Now I’m packing with a little more purpose and enthusiasm.
At this stage of my life, it is clear to me, I MUST not give up doing ALL the things I continue to do for others. Although, I am THANKFUL everyday, I have not been happy for many, many, years. My mom suffering over a year and a half with brian cancer, my wife’s personal struggles, my hundreds of students with their daily struggles and tribulations. Also, the daily outside negative forces that seem to thrive. Just see the daily stabbings of my people in Israel, the continuos misguided so-called presidential candidates eg. Donald Trump, who’s every word continues to inflict pain on thousands of people. Showing off “how much money you have” and not using ITS power to help people shows me, “how poor someone may be when they appear to be so rich!” I continue to pray to the Almighty to give me the power NOT to give up, see happier days, and allow me the power to ‘be part of the solution and NOT part of the problem!” I do hope, I’ll see better days but I am very tired….
Diana Usher says
Remember to take care of yourself too. On that list –to eat,exercise, and sleep daily. Sounds like you have a good heart, take care of your mind and body as well. Best regards.
Need this today! Glad I found it and thank you!!
tarun nurat says
Thank you.. for giving me the right amount of positivity which I was in dire need of.
Why would it be bad to have too much positivy, if your focuc changes, your focus changes… is it beautiful.
Your scars are symbols of your strength.
Thank you! I needed to read and understand this.
Allison Montgomery says
One of my absolute favorite posts. The quote in the beginning is beautiful… “in a strange way I feel like the lucky one.” If only we all realized this every day. All 8 pieces of this list are so crucial and relevant. Thank you for sharing!
I came across this article while trying to figure out why my life feels like a constant stream of bad luck. After reading this, I have realized that my bad luck is really just life’s little challenges and so many people have it so much worse. Thank you for opening my eyes to a new view and focus in life.
Thank you so much for this article xx
I have this post bookmarked on my phone and read it almost every week and have so for what seems like a couple of years. It has helped me though some very hard times and even some good times. It gives me strength and hope. I’ve shared it with many family and friends. Thank you so much!!
Thank you so much Marc and Angel for this! Your post has really helped me out a lot. Everything has been going wrong in my life for so long and 2015 has been my worst year to date. But I believe that I will get through all the pain and live my best life. Stay blessed you two and keep up the good work!!
Thank you for these inspiring and true words … Having spent years struggling with myself and my self absorbed view of life these words are a shot in the arm
thank you so much, it’s so hard to look at a bigger and clearer picture sometimes, thank you for this reminder…i really needed this.
Reus J says
Thank you! this was very meaningful and helpful !
Thank you so very much for the amazing article. I read this maybe two years ago or something like that and ever since, every time I have some difficulties , I find it again on the internet and read, and read, and read. It really helps.
I am in a period now, when everything I have had in the recent past is falling apart. I might lose my job, therefore I might stay without a home with not much chances for shelter etc. And I made a stupid mistake to make the one I liked so much to hate me.
You know, it might sound stupid of me to say it, but I will be 24 soon and there’s one thing I realized in life- that the older you get the better life gets. And not because problems and challenges just disappear, but because whatever happens to you, it most probably has already happened to you before. You have been fired, you have been broken hearted, you have lost and gained. Hence, whatever it is, it can’t really surprise you.
Thank you again.
Man, I’ve been in your shoes before, 3 times actually. You have better chance at navigating the path than I did. I was blind for so long, still am, lol.I’ll give you something…. the more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know.
Wow. I woke up today feeling hopeless and depressed like the usual..BUT after reading this article, it gave me hope and motivation to live LIFE again. Wonderful article. I will keep reading this over and over again. Thank you so much for sharing this.
Thank you so much for posting this article. My feelings about my life moving forward will be of positivity. Knowing that life will not always be milk and honey. But I feel I have the strength to take the bitter with the sweet…
Thanks again for the awakening article.
Thank you for this article… I needed all eight lessons today like you wouldn’t believe! Shadows of the past have been darkening the doorstep of my future… and I’ve lost a love today because of it… I decided the other day to take steps to change things and it WILL be one of the biggest steps of my life…
Barry L Watkins Sr says
Try to do something for someone else each day. By doing this you get your mind off yourself .
Lisa Madril says
Thank you, this makes so much sense, I’m going thru a really touch time at work and they are trying to make me leave. My stuff is being stolen, broken and I am being bullied. Thank you because a lot of this makes sense and No Weapon formed against me shall prosper and thru God Grace and Mercy I will stand in the strength of the Lord. Thanks again.
Very beautiful and very wise advice.Thank you for this .
I admire and appreciate the article. Thank you. CJH
Pam Clemmons says
And don’t forget to say your prayers, as my mom always used to say.
Lynn Fountain says
Life is a journey. The road is not always easy and sometimes you stumble when there is no one there to catch you. The trick is for you to get up in your own and keep moving
Thank you so much! Today I needed this. My life has been in a downhill slide for sometime, and these words are strong.
zuzeka nkatshu says
Thank you very much for this article that helped lift my spirit a little.
I don’t often look for encouragement. Though lately my life has been a bit more of a bumpy road, which leads me to a mild short-term depression. So I’ve been having mostly negative thoughts, especially about “how good it was back in the past” line of thoughts. These lines helped lift me a bit. The prospect of my future is unknown waters, but I guess, I feeling a bit better now.
I still wished I’d be an artist instead of an engineer though. *slightly weeps silently*
Buut, I’ll probably get to it in the future. No, I WILL.
On other hand, I’m slightly regretting not taking architecture instead, but only slightly. Cuz’ at least my current qualifications will secure me a job in this SEA country. 🙂
Charlie Golmon says
All my life I have bourne the sorrows of struggle. I was born with Tetrology of fellot, a heart defect. This prevented me from participating in a life of sports and adventure to some degree, but I used it to become adventurous in my mind and heart. I had surgery at the age of seven, and during my hospital stay I witnessed many others my age pass away from various diseases and defects. I learned early how precious life is, and often would ask “why am I still alive”. As years rolled along, my life has been fraught with many countless sorrows. My first wife committed suicide, I was battling cancer, and just lost EVERYTHING in the recent floods that swept louisiana! Today I am going to see my oncologist about future treatments and what we may be able to try. I refuse to surrender. I will never quit. I lived this long when far better people have passed on, and I owe them and myself the efforts of battle to never stop! Yes….it hurts deeply to look at my past, and yes, my present hurts as well. I am facing a huge task….surviving cancer, rebuilding my life again, and just pressing onward….but I will move on!
I am now 53 and have beaten these conflicts at every turn….and I must keep trying. I can’t get depressed or shaken too long…because the war is too great! My advice to others is pray, seek God, and never throw up the white flag or lay down your sword! Swing that thing!!!! Fight! Win!!!!