How to make the best out of anything

Sometimes the going gets tough. It’s up to you how you deal with it.

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

by: E.B. Johnson

No matter how hard we try to toe the line in life, things go wrong. Life is filled with disasters and things can look bleak even when we’ve done everything right. We lose our jobs, our partners leave us. Bad things happen — but it’s up to us to choose how we respond to them.

Every situation we experience in life is a chance to learn and grow, but sometimes it can be hard to see the opportunity beneath the layers of emotion we build up around ourselves. We know that people make it through dark times, but going through them yourself is different; it can feel like there’s no way out.

The difference between those who make it and those who don’t isn’t some mystical trick or advanced genetic advantage. Those who succeed in life choose to succeed and those who don’t…well, it’s easy to get caught up in the bad things that happen to us.

We have to pay a price to reach greatness, and even though it’s painful, the journey is beautiful. By learning to make the best of any situation we can grow in unimaginable ways. All it takes is a little change in perspective.

Facing the brutal truth.

Before you can learn to see the silver lining to any situation, you have to face a few brutal truths.

Life is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. No matter how hard you work, things can and will go wrong.

You can put everything into job and still lose it. You can love someone with every fiber of your being and still lose them. We like to think we’re in control, but we’re not. Nature is a vicious mistress and she’s constantly moving. Life moves on heedless of how we feel about it.

When things go wrong, be honest about it. Accept that the situation is not as you expected and move forward focused on a solution. Don’t ignore the reality of a situation just because it’s hard or uncomfortable.

Those who have made something of their lives did not do so because everything went according to plan. They were able to succeed because they were able to make new plans (and execute them) when their original plans went awry.

Make a conscious choice to embrace life for what it is — success and failure in equal measure — and don’t let it hold you back from going after the things you want in your life. Everything is temporary. Setbacks included.

Getting creative.

When you’ve come to accept that life doesn’t always go the way you plan, you can then start getting creative when you find things going wrong.

Thinking creatively means thinking outside of the box and uncovering new mental sets that allow us to grow. When we look for creative ways to get ourselves out of a bind, we’re thinking critically, unlocking new possibilities that we never imagined before.

Creativity isn’t resigned to the arts. Being able to think critically and creatively allows you to recognize the power of persistence and and patience, and teaches you that you must sacrifice for the things you want most in life.

Rather than getting caught up in a tailspin of wishful thinking, it’s more beneficial to come up with new ways you can control the destiny you have in mind for yourself. There’s always a silver lining, you just have to get creative when finding it.

Harnessing the power of suffering.

We all get disappointed with ourselves, but when we learn how to see past that, we can harness the power of our suffering and learn how to truly transform any circumstance in our lives.

Learn how to channel your negative emotions in a positive way and let them fuel your fire for change. Our insecurities and past regrets can go a long way in inspiring us to be better. Rather than wallowing around, feeling sorry for yourself, learn how to harness that guilt and discomfort for powerful change.

Our suffering teaches us our limitations and teaches us in ways our happiness never could.

There’s value in every situation, but you have to get creative about how you see it and fearless about how you face it.

When you wield your fear and your pain as a weapon for change, it can have a positive impact on the way you lead your life. When we suffer, we realize there is a better way to live. Our suffering grants us a learning experience with each and every encounter and within it we find our hope for a better future.

Suffering teaches us resilience and this resilience translates as strength that can empower us to change any circumstance in our life. The more of life’s hurdles we overcome and the more suffering we encounter, the more fuel we have to add to the fire.

It takes a little self-discipline to master, but harnessing your suffering for good is transformative across the board.

The Best Ways to Make the Most Out of a Bad Situation

Our suffering and our creativity to hand, there is little in life that we can’t conquer in some shape or form. While many of the factors in our lives might be out of our hands, the way we react to the challenges life throws at us is always in our control.

1. Accept the good with the bad.

Making any bad situation always starts with a healthy serving of acceptance.

Unfortunately, time machines don’t exist. What’s done is done and you’re at where you’re at. Learn how to accept things as they are, rather than how you want them to be, and make sure you accept them honestly and openly.

Accepting the reality of our situations helps us to move on both cognitively and emotionally. When we accept things, we clear them off our plate (so to speak) and give ourselves the breathing room to set about the work we have to do next.

The past cannot be changed — but the future can. Sit down and engage your brain and consider the ways you can make things better moving forward.

2. Open up the best little lemonade stand in the county.

When things get rough, take all those lemons life has been handing you and open up the best little lemonade stand in the county.

If you’re ever going to get anywhere in life, you have to learn how to turn bad situations into beneficial ones. Often, this starts by treating every experience (no matter how good or how bad) as a learning experience.

You’ll hear just about every successful person in the world tout this way of thinking, but what they don’t make clear is that it doesn’t work as a once or twice occurrence. To truly succeed, you have to adopt this perspective full time, and practice it over and over again when things hit the fan.

Part of being that person everyone else looks up to is getting up when we’re knocked down. Make that lemonade over and over again, as you strive to turn every negative situation into a positive one.

Remember: you aren’t the first person to fail and you won’t be the last. Rather than brooding over all the things that went wrong, focus on the the things you can make right and turn them into the thing that catapults you into the future.

3. Take some time to assess.

Life moves fast, so sometimes you just have to make a conscious effort to slow things down. When a situation gets messy, take a step back and take some time to consider how you got there and what went wrong. Be honest with yourself about yourself (and your circumstances). Was it your choices that led you here? Or someone else’s?

Always keep your goals in mind and don’t force it. Coming to the truth of things can take time. Rushing it will only lead you back down the road of assumptions…and we all know what happens when we assume. Don’t we?

4. Make it a learning experience.

Failure and high pressure situations are often the best times to take on board the critical life lessons we need to be and do better.

When we view our foibles as a step in a learning process, rather than the end of a journey, we are able to adopt a growth mindset and stop berating ourselves when we make a mistake.

We can learn much about ourselves by studying the decisions, behaviors and beliefs we shelter; but we can learn even more about ourselves and what we want from life in the midst of our greatest obstacles.

Failing or thriving doesn’t matter as much as figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Go forward bravely and confidently knowing that — regardless of how things work out — you’ll come off knowing more than you did when you started. That’s a pretty priceless gift.

5. Work hard. Go harder the next time.

One of the best parts of a bad situation is the drive it (should) instill in you to keep pushing forward with your goals. Things going belly-up is life’s way of telling us “no.”

There are few other words more motivating to the human species than, “No,” — no matter what language you say it in.

When things go wrong, it is a chance to gauge your enthusiasm and re-establish your ambition. By keeping your attitude positive and your emotions collected, you can stand on your willpower and move forward even harder and more enthusiastically the next time; knowing you will do so better prepared, smarter and stronger than you were the first time.

6. Put things into perspective.

The obstacles in our lives can either be major setbacks or minor irritations. While some are definitive (the death of a parent, spouse, child, etc.) others are more like phantoms built greater and more fearsome by our overactive and panicked imaginations.

We spend more time worrying about the bad things in our lives than we do actually experiencing those things. More often than not, we worry about things that never come to pass, or worry about things that pan out better than we thought they might. Rather than living with worry (which causes stress, anxiety and depression) you can learn to let go of that raincloud by putting things into perspective.

When things shake you, learn how to remove yourself from them and put them into perspective of the bigger picture.

Stop and consider what is going on in your life and what things led you there. Take some time to ask yourself the simple questions like:

What am I actually struggling with, exactly?

and:

Why am I reacting this way? Is there something going on beneath my surface?

Accept the things you cannot change and list and evaluate the rest. What is worth your time and what isn’t? Consider your point of view against that of others involved. Is another person’s view tampering your opinion of the situation or yourself?

Try to examine things differently and see this one tiny moment against the entire expanse of the cosmos. Is it actually that serious or are you making it worse than it really is? A little shift in perspective can reveal so, so much.

7. Learn how to be flexible.

If you’re someone who has often been beaten down by life, it can force you to become rigid and unmoved by the people and situations around you.

It’s understandable.

When we’ve been hurt or disappointed over and over again, it becomes harder to become hard to the barrage, rather than going soft. This tactic, however, can alienate us and cut us off from the best and most rewarding aspects of our lives.

Learning how to adopt a flexible attitude when things go differently than we planned is key to transforming any situations. When you’ve discovered how to treat the bad times like learning experiences, and developed a method of examining your situations against a bigger perspective, you can develop a flexibility that will allow you to thrive in any circumstance you find yourself in.

Flexibility allows us to learn and grow in beautiful and unimaginable ways, opening up new doors of possibility to us through pathways of connection and fellowship. Being flexible isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength; and it’s one that gives you the power to transform yourself and the world.

8. Remember to be.

However you choose to approach a new situation in life, remember to be present in the moment and authentic in every thing that you do.

If the circumstances seem dark, be the light that is needed to shine on the horizon of the future; if things seem dangerous, protect yourself and your spiritual and emotional wellbeing. Change is hard, so make sure your voice is heard by speaking up for yourself and remember that your voice is just as valuable as any other person’s on this planet.

Putting it all together…

Although we aren’t fond of admitting it, there is little in our lives that is actually under our control. So many facets of the things that make us happy (and the things that make us sad) rely on the wills and intentions of others — a seemingly dangerous thing in this day and age. Rather than focusing on how we can get a grip on the world around us, we have to learn how to make the best of where we find ourselves in the moment.

Embracing change and accepting things as they are allows us to open our minds to a new sea of possibilities. When we remember to be authentic and open ourselves up to the learning experience of the moment, we can realize some truly beautiful things about ourselves and the world; but we have to be open to it. Flexibility is key, but so too is remembering the drive and the energy we need to put in to succeed at the things that we want.

Only when we learn how to accept the good with the bad and turn life’s lemons into lemonade can we truly learn how to be happy no matter what.