4 Important Lessons You Learn Through Difficult Times, by MAURA HUGHES

While difficult times can feel like a deep dark hole that we can’t escape and we often wonder “Why is this happening to me?”, there is a silver lining to tough times. It’s through the difficult times in our life, that we are able to grow. It’s when we are tested that we are able to rise, push through and come out the other side stronger, braver and bet

No one wants to struggle. No one wants to even admit their struggling. We all want to have Photoshopped versions of our own lives that fit perfectly into an Instagram square. But life does not work like that. Every one of us will be faced with a variety of tough times in their life. It is one of the few things we can really count on.

The truth is, there are some important lessons in life that we are only taught through difficult times and they can become the silver lining to the darkness.

1. Who your real friends are.

It’s an unfortunate and often time brutal truth to learn that someone we once thought would be there no matter can’t be counted on. Difficult times have a unique way of trimming off the fat in our lives. If someone does not truly care, they will not make the effort to be there. End of story. The realization that someone you love doesn’t make you a priority can knock you off your feet but it will save you time and energy that would have been spent trying to be there for them in the future. Eventually, you will learn who really matters, you will be grateful for them and you will have cleared out some emotional space for someone who will be there for you, through thick and thin.

2. The depth of your strength.

“It builds character,” was my mom’s favorite response to any complaint I had growing up. As annoying as that line was, it is true. Nothing builds our strength like surviving difficulty. Nothing forces us to leverage what we have, dig deep and come up with every ounce of integrity, patience and strength like a hard time. When you survive something, your internal scoreboard registers it. Imagine as if your internal synapses are pushing an extra win into your win/loss column and the next time you go into battle, your will take an inventory of what your winning record is and bulk up your confidence that you can survive and thrive, no matter what you are facing.

3. What really matters in life. 

Difficult times tend to turn our worlds upside down and anything that is nailed down to the floor will go flying. Sometimes it’s comforting to know what actually does stick, what is still hanging in there after the world goes awry. Because when we’re right side up again, we’ll be able to look a little more closely at those things, take a bit better care of them and love them even more for being unmovable. Most of us spend most of our days worrying about everything but what we should be worrying about. But after a difficult time, we’re less likely to worry as much about the little things and focusing on those unmovable pieces in our life that really matter.

4. How to be grateful. 

Difficult times leave us with a lasting impression. They alter us and change the way we view our lives. We have learned who and what matters in our life and undoubtedly we have a greater appreciation for them. Surviving hardship gives us a broader perspective on what hardship really is. You will look back on the things you use to complain about and be thankful they are your only worries. After we have survived a difficult time, we are given a deep gratitude for our life.

Difficult times will happen. To find the light, we have to go through the darkness and while you’re in the midst of it, try to take a deep breath and remember that the lessons you are learning will shift your view of life. You will learn what matters, who matters, how strong you are and how lucky you are to exist. That’s what difficult times teach us and they are some of the most important lessons we can ever learn.

Original Post; http://www.purposefairy.com/80874/4-important-lessons-you-learn-through-difficult-times/

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Setting Boundaries: Turning Expectations Into Appreciation

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Abolition of the drama, and tying up loose ends can be both cathartic, and liberating, especially when it comes to situations or circumstances that have lingered on much longer than they should have – days, months, perhaps years?  So, imagine my surprise when I finally gathered enough courage to confront a situation that had been causing a lot of negative feelings only to be told that I did something horribly wrong to hurt someone ….WHAT?  How did I hurt you when I was minding my own business?  As I continue, you will see how ultimately it was myself that caused this to happen.
I am a giver.  I love to give and to see people smile.  I love to make days brighter if you are feeling sad, or even just having a normal same old day.  I love to be generous, not only because it feels good but, because in my mind I know that it is good karma – you can never give too much.   It doesn’t have to be something grand, it just needs to be the thought put into it.  It can be anything from giving a friend a bouquet of flowers, to taking them out for dinner, to writing them a nice card from your heart, baking a friend a batch of cookie, etc.   I give to friends, and family members.  I give to strangers, food banks, charities, homeless people.  I donate religiously to causes for animals, health research and anything that tugs at my heart-strings because I can, because I want to, because I am free to do so, because it makes ME feel happy.  It makes me shine – and when I shine, I feel wonderful.
I felt that I needed to make a change at the beginning of last year so I really tried to take a look at what the cause was, and what I could do to not only protect myself from feeling this way, but also see the reality of my situations.  I took an honest look, and the “things” I was doing for people, and the way I was being treated were not adding up.  The balance was off kilter and it was impacting me negatively.  It hurt and I was not feeling joyful or happy about doing things for people – I was beginning to feel like it was an obligation.  So, I chose to make a conscious effort to be selective of the individuals I spent my valuable time with. I began to set boundaries.  Not huge boundaries but just enough to create a little distance so I could work on what I was struggling with.  I felt that my boundaries were keeping me focused, on track and committed to the most important thing in my world, my family.
Ultimately, I felt like I was being taken advantage of by many people – not being fully appreciated for the things I was doing for them.  Some of the people who I was trying to distance myself from were friends I that have known for many year, literally decades. So, in hindsight I can definitely see, from their point of view when they say that it looked like I had changed – perhaps I did.  After all, my priorities had changed.  My focus was on being a wife, and mother of two children.  My energy was redirected to them, and gladly so.
I was doing fantastic.  When I did have some time to spare I was spending time with, and becoming closer to, wonderful, beautiful individuals – people who were inspiring, intellectual, positive influences, and limiting the time from those energy draining people aka the energy vampires.
There were many different individuals, but the one that was bothering me the most was my best friend.  I could feel the distance invading my friendship with my best friend of twenty plus years, but I just chalked it up to being a result of the boundaries that I had set for myself as I previously mentioned.  I felt that I needed to keep distance from her, in particular, because of the relationship she had with her husband.  We did not see eye to eye on many of the issues when she would come to me for advice so I chose to back away avoiding tension in our conversations, as I can be quite blunt at time – especially when it comes to situations that continue to happen over and over again.  I appreciated that this was her path she was wanting to travel.  It had nothing to do with me – I was just simply feeling protective of someone I loved and hoping that the friendship would just work its way through the bumps, as things had in the past.  I was being respectful.
Since I made this change I can literally count on both of my hands how many times I had not only seen her, but talked on the phone. I missed her, but took responsibility for the way things were going – after all, I was not happy with my feelings at the beginning of the year, made my boundaries –  so I really needed to put myself first, for once.  I figured that she was doing the same thing.
The distance became greater, more obvious and awkward – it was completely apparent that there was hostility, over the past few months, as my text message were no longer responded to, my phone calls were ignored.  Of course, I was completely hurt as the months continued on, but I took responsibility for the way I felt, even if I was feeling down for her not being more involved in my life because the reality was that my personal boundaries would , obviously, result in this distance.  Whether I welcomed it or not, it was something that I knew I had to do in order to make me happier – it was not specifically directed at her, it was a phase that I had to work thru in my own personal world.  The reality was that I had been busy being a mother of two, and spending my moments raising my children, not accommodating her needs.
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What this ultimately comes down to is that her expectations in a certain situation were not as she had anticipated.  She was disappointed that I did not put as much effort into a material gift that was given to her – she felt that it was much less than I had done over the past twenty years, and she was offended by it. I’m still confused how someone has the audacity to say that out loud, but yes, we’ve all experienced disappointment, but would you honestly say that to someone??  I’ve witnessed homeless people show more appreciation for the food I have given them!  Saddened, beyond words.
To hear that out loud broke my heart because over the years I have been so giving.  You would roll your eyes at me if you knew some of the things I did to make her, and others happy. Disappointed, deeply.
I indirectly take full responsibility for this particular bump in my path because I know in my heart that if I had set my boundaries years ago, things would have turned out differently. I would have been more guarded, and the end result would not have been the way I am feeling right now.
Expectations …. it will destroy friendships if you begin to take someones kindness for granted.  Learn to appreciate their efforts before you destroy a friendship based on characteristics that you would never even look for, in a potential friendship, in a first place.  There is no room for expectations, especially without appreciation, in genuine friendships.

The Karma Factor: What Goes Around Comes Around

karma1Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.   ~Henry James

The Chain of Love

“One day a man saw an old lady, stranded on the side of the road, but even In the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so. Was he going to hurt her? He didn’t look safe; he looked poor and hungry.

He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He knew how she felt. It was that chill which only fear can put in you. He said, ‘I’m here to help you, ma’am. Why don’t you wait in the car where it’s warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson.’ Well, all she had was a flat tire, but for an old lady, that was bad enough. Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two.

Soon he was able to change the tire.But he had to get dirty and his hands hurt. As he was tightening up the lug nuts, she rolled down the window and began to talk to him. She told him that she was from St. Louis and was only just passing through. She couldn’t thank him enough for coming to her aid. Bryan just smiled as he closed her trunk. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her.

She already imagined all the awful things that could have happened had he not stopped. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was not a job to him. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty, who had given him a hand in the past. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, ‘And think of me.’ He waited until she started her car and drove off.

It had been a cold and depressing day, but he felt good as he headed for home, disappearing into the twilight. A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. It was a dingy looking restaurant. Outside were two old gas pumps. The waitress came over and brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair.She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet for the whole day couldn’t erase. The lady noticed that the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The old lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan .. After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred-dollar bill.

The waitress quickly went to get change for her hundred-dollar bill, but the old lady had slipped right out the door. She was gone by the time the waitress came back. The waitress wondered where the lady could be. Then she noticed something written on the napkin.There were tears in her eyes when she read what the lady wrote: ‘You don’t owe me anything. I have been there too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I’m helping you. If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you.’

Under the napkin were 4 more $100 bills. Well, there were tables to clear, sugar bowls to fill, and people to serve, but the waitress made it through another day. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. ~Plato

With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard…. She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, ‘Everything’s going to be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson.’”

Does this story mean anything to you apart from it just being another proverb? Well, I’d say it’s a reality. Try it out once. Afterall, miracles do happen! Hope the following story changes your outlook towards life (It did for me!). Keep shining!

This beautiful story began as a story that appeared in the Chicken Soup for the Country Soul book in 1996, written by Jonnie Barnett and Rory Lee.