I've heard this cliché all my life but never really "got" it until recently. Maybe that’s because I grew up in an abusive family. Surviving my childhood taught me fierce coping skills. For those skills, I'm grateful. I also believe it molded me into the loving, compassionate woman I am today. It’s why I go out of my way to help others. I know what it's like to need help and not have it.
But whenever I heard this cliché, my first thought was: "Forget that! Hard times are no fun. Been there, done that. Gimme the good stuff!"
However last year I took too many hits in every area of my life, and I crumbled. No matter how many coping skills I had acquired, it wasn’t enough to handle so much heartache, tragedy, and stress.
My closest friends didn't know how bad it was. Hey, I didn't know how bad it was until something snapped in me. Instantly, I crashed and burned. Later I realized I'd been holding on by my fingertips for months. This was just the last straw.
Eventually, I rose from the ashes like the mystical phoenix. I've always been a Taoist Witch and lived primarily in the moment because the present is all we really own. The past is gone, and the future hasn't happened. When I crashed I became entrenched in the present moment and couldn't think past it. It was like floating in a foggy sea of numbness.
When I finally emerged from that fog I wasn’t the same chick. I had changed in important ways. I was still firmly grounded in the moment. But I’d lost many of my former attachments. I’d even lost my attachment to the "future." I just couldn’t grasp the concept anymore.
Then a weird thing happened. I realized nothing bothered me like it used to. How freeing! I've always been good about letting irritating things roll off my back. That was still true. Only now it was multiplied by 100. Wow!
Best of all, I no longer felt the need to push myself to the max in any part of my life or career. Actually, I couldn’t. My body refused to cooperate. Don't get me wrong. I was still a high-energy chick. Even so, when I emerged from that fog I couldn’t rush anymore. In fact, I couldn’t even walk fast. My body no longer felt the need. So I walked slower and enjoyed it more.
Today I realize those odd changes made me stronger. That's saying a lot, since I've always been a tough cookie (even though I'm a sweetie with a big mushy heart). You have to be tough when you grow up like I did, or you won't survive.
What does all of this mean? Believe it or not, I'm happier than I've been in years. I gained a soul-deep happiness I never had before. I think that's why I no longer sweat the big stuff or the small stuff. I just do my thing, love all the people I love every day, and enjoy my life.
This experience taught me it’s enough to live in the happiness of each day. Living firmly grounded in the moment will do that to you. So will "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Who knew? Not me. But I do now.
If you’ve recently survived a tough time, look closely at the ways in which this experience has changed you. Those changes may feel odd at first, and a few will only be temporary adjustments. But some are positive "strengths" that need to be recognized and embraced. Why? Because they will help you create a happier life for yourself. It’s true!