It’s November, the month of gratefulness, where most of us take the time to stop and think about all the things we have to be thankful for. Like many of us, I’m thankful for the countless blessings in my life: family, good friends, health, career, pets… the list of all the positive things in my life could go on and on. And I think for most of us that’s true. When we pause and reflect on our lives, most of the time, it’s easy to come up with at least a few solid things to be grateful for. But what about our struggles, our misfortunes, and our failures? Do we ever give thanks for them? I know that for me I rarely do.
I’d rather not think about my failures or things that have been difficult to deal with because of the complicated emotions that inevitably come: sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger. So often in our society, struggle and failure are things to be ashamed of. I think many of us, myself included, so desperately try to pretend that everything is fine all of the time, which is impossible. If we can’t pretend or hide our misfortunes, we spin them as something to be overcome and moved on from, never something to be glad happened, and even more rare is it something we say thank you for. But maybe we should?
But without it could we really grow as people? Could we know the depth of our own strength? I think not. Which is why this month, I’m grateful for my struggles. Struggles with myself, struggles at work, struggles with other people, struggles with life. And here’s why:
When you’re in a struggle sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, but often times struggles can give you an entirely new outlook on your life. As bad as something is, it could always be worse.
A true test of someone’s character is how they deal with adversity. We’d know so little about ourselves if life were always perfect. We wouldn’t have anything challenging us to grow or change as people and we might not have empathy to help others who are also struggling. And believe me when I say, everyone is struggling at some point, so be kind, always.
The small things
Life is not so much about mind-blowing epic achievements as it is about all the small things, that when strung together add so much to our lives. A smile from a stranger, a morning chat with dad, feeling the breeze on your skin. Don’t take these for granted.
Usually, it’s the things in life that we can’t control that are the hardest struggles to deal with. But the unplanned, out of our control misfortunes often teach us how resilient we are. I think this is one of the most beautiful things about being human, our resiliency. It takes a lot to knock most people down, and even if they are knocked completely on their backside, they get up, sometimes over and over again. In my book, that’s winning at life.
I challenge all of you to be grateful for your struggles and failures. What has been a defining struggle in your life? I’d love to hear from you!
Katie is a social media and blogging guru for a local software engineering company. She's passionate about the user experience and loves to write. She also has two awesome cats.