THE BLOG

How To Appreciate Your Challenges

09/08/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Are you facing any challenges in your life or your business right now? These days, there are some real challenges facing many of us - slowing economy, high gas prices, housing market crash, lots of negativity and complaining around us (based on all of this stuff going on and more), and the myriad of personal issues related to family, health, money, relationships, and more that always tend to show up in life.

The challenges themselves, even the most difficult ones, aren't usually the real issue; it's our relationship to them that causes us the most difficulty and suffering. Think of what your life, your relationships, and your career would be like if you didn't complain about or resist challenges when they showed up? For most of us, this would make things very different.

Resisting, complaining about, or even feeling sorry for ourselves about the "bad" things that are happening is totally normal and what we're often encouraged to do by people around us and our culture in general - whether we do it out loud with others or just in our own heads. However, these things, while understandable, don't address the real issues, the genuine emotions we're experiencing, or make things better for us.

I'm not advocating that we pretend everything is "fine" when it isn't in some phony, Pollyanna way - that's denial, which won't help us either. However, the question in life isn't whether or not we'll face challenges, the question is what will we do and how will we respond in the face of the challenges that arise? Do we avoid really dealing with difficult things and learning from them by playing the role of the victim and not acknowledging our true feelings about them or do we face them directly, acknowledge our emotions, and choose to grow from the experience? It's always up to us.

On our path of life, growth, and success, we all encounter difficulties. Many of the most successful and fulfilled people who've ever walked the planet have faced incredible challenges. What if we actually appreciated our challenges? Remember, appreciating something doesn't necessarily mean we like or enjoy it. Appreciation means that we recognize the value of it.

Here's a list of some things we can appreciate when things get tough:

- Challenges often give us important feedback about where and who we are

- Challenges give us contrast and can help us appreciate things when they get easier

- Challenges can allow us to wake up and notice all the good things that are happening that we weren't paying attention to

- Challenges are always a great opportunity for learning, growth, and improvement

- Challenges give us an opportunity to get in touch with, take responsibility for, and express our real emotions

By learning to appreciate our challenges and see the opportunities in them, we take our power back from the situations and circumstances of our lives. Our ability to appreciate difficulties, learn from them, and use them to our advantage, gives us an important insight into who we really are and how to create success and fulfillment in a conscious and deliberate way.

Action: What You Can Do

Make a list of some of the biggest challenges in your life right now. What can you appreciate about each of these difficulties? What are you learning from them? What are you able to appreciate in yourself and your life because of these things?

If you look for it, you'll be able to find many things to appreciate about every one of your current challenges. Appreciating our challenges can allow us to accept them, learn from them, and ultimately take back our power from them. Doing this reminds us that we're the authors of our lives - not the circumstances we're facing.

Mike Robbins is a keynote speaker, coach, and the author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Hardcover, jossey-Bass) and the forthcoming book Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken (Hardcover, Jossey-Bass/Wiley, April 2009). More info - www.mike-robbins.com