How to Take the Bad with the Good: 5 Distinctions between Surviving and Thriving

Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be. –Grandma Moses

I have accepted that I am both an optimist and a pessimist. I have both good and bad qualities. I feel happy and sad. We all know this, but simply knowing it doesn’t make the difficult times any easier, does it? There was a point in the recent past where I was resistant to accept my negative qualities. I held myself to a higher standard and believed that I “should” be able to be happy and virtuous all the time. Of course, avoiding and pretending I didn’t have character flaws made everything worse. It made me anxious and neurotic. It was only when I accepted the bad days with the good days that I started having significantly less bad days! As Michael Neill shares we need to learn how, “to be more grateful for our highs and more graceful with our lows”. That is how life works. The human experience is full of a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and actions. All of them serve a purpose for our greater unfolding. We are innately endowed with immense potential, yet it is inevitable that we will encounter failure and obstacles along our path – particularly the higher we aim. The higher we aim the more failure and mistakes we will encounter along the way. Accepting this dichotomy was very enlightening for me, and I hope it is for you as well. To live our life full of courage, inspiration, and hope we must choose to be bigger than just our concerns and worries. We must choose to seek all that we can become while embracing our weaknesses and failures as they show up. So, here is how the ongoing peaks and valleys of life can be blended to support a thriving life.

Repairing the worst vs. Building on the best in life

Yes you have some areas of life that aren’t working. We all do at times. If something is broken it is a good idea to fix it. We need to be ready to rise to life’s challenge. At the same time, we also have great potential to enhance and build on. We are innately designed with the propensity to grow and develop mentally and psychologically. Solve problems when you need to, but always ask yourself, “what can be done with this situation to help me build a greater social, emotional, and spiritual life.”

Start where you are. Use what you have.  Do what you can. –Arthur Ashe

Building weaknesses vs. Using your strengths

We all have strengths and weaknesses, and they both are a fundamental part of who we are. The way that our strengths and weaknesses impact us is comparable to parts of a sailing ship. Our weaknesses are the hull and our strengths are the sails. Weaknesses simply keep us afloat. As long as we manage weaknesses we will get by, but when we stop building weaknesses the ship can sink. We must patch the holes of our weaknesses to stay afloat. Our strengths on the other hand are the sails. They are what put the wind at our back and energize us to move forward. Using our strengths fills us with enthusiasm and inspiration. Work on weaknesses but always focus on approaching life using your strengths.

Dealing with pain vs. Finding enjoyment

Pain is a part of life. When we experience emotional or physical pain it can be hard to find any joy. This is because many people allow pain to lead to suffering. They focus on pain. They give pain all their attention. They make it worse than it has to be and lose sight of everything else. Pain happens but joy is created. Don’t forget about seeking out joy. Joy can found in in almost any daily experience. Deal with pain when you feel it, but always remember you can create joy.

Preparing for challenges vs. Dream of possibilities

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

I believe that resiliency is a muscle. We build our mental strength every time we overcome adversity. Be prepared to deal with what life offers you because it is likely a part of your ongoing growth. But, no matter how bad things get don’t let go of your dreams or deepest desires for life. When we stop dreaming we start living a limited and guarded life. How can you start viewing challenges as blessings? How can you find opportunities amid your challenges?

Working hard vs. Living with purpose

The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain

Give your full effort to whatever you do. Work hard and commit to giving everything you’ve got. Working hard doesn’t mean you have to be a slave to your goals however. You are working hard because you have a purpose, and your goals can be a slave to your higher purpose. When we have a clear and definite purpose for what we do, working hard becomes a joy. Live your purpose every day. Be grateful with your highs and graceful with your lows and you will build character and become a more resilient person. What has been your experience of trying to take the bad with the good? When have you seen success and when has it been hard?