Finding Purpose When Life Sucks

Helen Keller quiet character

I got some pretty lousy news today that threw me for a loop. It made me angry and scared and sad and overwhelmed. Then, as I began to calm down, I started thinking it could have been so much worse. I started seeing all the things to be grateful for in the situation. Soon I shifted from feeling like life had just sideswiped me, to recognizing that I had been given an opportunity.

We often go through life expecting that everything is supposed to go to plan, be happy and without problems or difficulties. No one expects to have relationships problems, to be sick, to lose a job, to have an accident or for their car to break down. Yet these are fairly normal occurrences in the course of life. Often things far worse than these happen. The loss of a home, a spouse or a child. Why do we think life is supposed to be smooth? How could we learn and grow without lessons and tests?

True, we have no need to seek out struggle and hardship, but there is also no reason to assume that it should never be a part of life. One force pushing against another creates great things. Entire canyons are created because of eons of water flowing through, creating resistance against the rock, slowly carving out beauty and grandeur. Diamonds are formed through intense pressure on lumps of coal.

Sometimes these things that life gives us are nothing more than information about what isn’t working so well in our lives. We can listen and correct course or ignore it and it will continue to alert us in new ways until we recognize what we need to see. Guideposts are everywhere. In our bodies, in the environment, in our interactions with others and the way they make us feel. Our intuition speaks to us all the time, as well. Most of us don’t listen. We’ve been taught not to believe.

But here’s what I started thinking about my bad news. I learned about it in enough time to do something proactive. I listened to my intuition repeatedly and that’s what led me to learn about it that soon. I am so thankful for this Divine gift that we are all given. I am thankful I pay attention to mine more often than I used to. I also recognize that this is a signal. It is a chance for me to open my heart and my mind to learn more about the life I am living and the body I am living in. Am I expressing it, my body and my life, in the best way I can? Am I serving the highest good? Am I happy? What does that mean? Am I free to serve fully or am I holding back?

Every bump in the road is a chance to examine the life we are living. Big bump or small, it doesn’t matter. It may be your lesson, or a lesson you are participating in for someone else. Keep your heart and mind open to feel and see all you can. These bumps aren’t happening to you. They are happening for you. Even the harshest ones are for a reason. If you can’t see that, begin with gratitude.

Gratitude for the experience, even if it sucks. Gratitude that you are alive to have it. Gratitude that you are able to feel fully enough to know that it sucks this bad. Gratitude that it’s not worse. A wise friend of mine, a Holocaust survivor who lived in a concentration camp for years, was fond of informing me that it could always be worse. If the world is still spinning and you are alive, it’s true. It could be worse and it will eventually get better. As much as it sucks, if you really need a gratitude starting point, start there. Focusing on gratitude will help shift the focus off of “why is this happening to me?” towards “how can I see the purpose in this?” That shift changes everything.

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