3 Steps That Turn Hardship Into Hope

09/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011


Various studies show that an optimistic mindset will lift your mood and might add years to your life. But how do you look on the bright side when life is really bleak? Let's say you've lost a job, are going through a divorce, or are struggling with a health problem. Is there a way to stay positive during such hard times? Yes, there is! I've met and worked with many people who seemingly had every reason to feel down. Yet they were among the most optimistic people I've ever known. They taught me a lot about turning hardship into hope.

These courageous souls have taught me the following life lessons:

1. Accept what you cannot change. I can't always control what's going on in the world around me. I can't control the economy. I can't control the actions of other people. I can't even control whether or not I suffer from certain health problems. But I can control how I react to what's out of my control.

You can do this, too, by taking charge of your mind. You can control what you think about and how you feel. Become the leader of your own mind. Do not allow negative events to lead you to negative emotions. Empower yourself to change your mindset.

2. Redefine what's possible. Perhaps you can't get a job in your chosen profession right now, but you can set a goal to do something. Maybe you can set a goal to earn just enough money - doing something outside of your chosen profession--to make ends meet. Or perhaps you can make it your goal to make the best of your free time during your unemployment to get all of those projects done that you never have time to do. Even if you have a major health problem, you have possibilities. I've interviewed cancer patients, for instance, who could not control the course of their disease, but they could control how they lived their final months. Ask yourself, "What do I want? How I can redefine what's possible for me?"

3. Define how you'll get there. Once you know what you want, create a plan that will help you accomplish that goal.

How do you turn hardship into hope?

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