Victor Frankl, a famous psychologist, said that suffering without meaning equates to despair.  So how do we find meaning in our experiences? Knowing how to find meaning in challenges is one of the hallmarks of having hope.  So what can be done to foster this important attribute?

  • Look for how you can take something positive away from each experience – be the experience a good one or a bad one.  Examine your past experiences, mishaps and challenges.  What have you learned from those experiences?  Maybe you haven’t even been aware of what you have learned, but by taking the time to give it some thought, you may find that you have taken some pearls from those experiences after all.
  • How have you applied those pearls of wisdom to subsequent challenges?  Are you utilizing the wisdom you have gleaned from hard times in other challenges that you face?  If not, try to make a conscious choice to do so.  Being aware of how your struggles have taught you something makes them feel more valuable.
  • Do you feel you have the ability to get out of bad situations?  If you are able to learn from your challenges and find a “take away” pearl, then remembering that may give you the optimism you need to know that you can survive future challenges as well.
  • Think about your successes.  What are they?  What strengths do you possess that helped you to accomplish those things? Realizing you already possess certain strengths can be a source of security and comfort when faced with challenges, or even just a bad day.
  • How have you improved over the years?  What qualities of your personality have evolved, and how?  Have those qualities been beneficial to you in your life and relationships?  Recognizing that you are dynamic, changing and growing can help you find more meaning in each experience.  Life is full of learning opportunities.

Feeling good about yourself is one of the keys to finding hope.  Knowing that you have strengths and capabilities can give you the optimism you need to find the silver lining in situations, particularly because you have done so in the past.  Remember that today you have learned something new and that tomorrow will be a new day in which to apply that knowledge.

Tamra Hughes, MA, LPC    http://www.thcounseling.com