Seeing the Positive in a Negative Situation

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If there’s one thing that unites us all, it’s that we all suffer. We all triumph. We face obstacles in our lives and encounter things that throw us off our course and challenge our inner strength. That’s life, with the lesson often seen in retrospect. Without the difficult times, there would be no great times. Everything would just seem flat and uneventful, plain and boring.

There would be no impactful change without struggle. The beauty of life is overcoming what we think we cannot. Our self-esteem grows and we find strength in ourselves that we never knew existed.

This very point had me thinking about various struggles that I’ve been through in my life. I remember focusing mostly on the negative aspects of the situation. How badly I felt, how crappy the situation was, and how much I didn’t think things would ever change. Blah, blah, blah. It’s a vicious cycle.

But what if we focus on how our struggles change us and our lives for the better?

Would it be possible to improve negative situations, if we thought about how we might benefit from them?

When I was unhappy with my research career, all I could think about was how much I screwed up my life. I went to university for 7 years training as a researcher only to discover that I basically loathed it. So many days I would curse myself for making such a huge mistake in my life and going down the wrong path.

My negative thoughts were so powerful, I almost convinced myself that it was better to just live the rest of my life unfulfilled than face the alternative (change). I told myself that I could do what I wanted when I retired. I was 25 years old at the time!

That’s when I realized that I could rot in my own negativity or I could see things in a different light. Instead of cursing myself and “mistakes” (I’d rather call them “learning experiences”), I searched for lessons and meaning.

What was my unhappiness trying to tell me?

How was this discomfort nudging me to make a change in my life?

Without taking the wrong career path, I wouldn’t have found the happiness I have with my career today. I started this blog as a hobby while I worked as a researcher. It was something I could work on during my own free time and it brought me so much happiness that I spent most of my free time working on it. What started as a distraction from my real life became the thing that gave me life.

Little did I know, this hobby would not only serve as the catalyst for eventually leaving my unfulfilling career and starting my own business, but it would also lead me to discover my real passions in life.

Most surprisingly of all, I now see struggles in a new light. Instead of cursing an uncomfortable time, I see it as a message to change. Whether I listen or not is up to me.

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Previous Daily Glow posts: What is Daily Glow?, Graduation Fears, The Silly Things We Say, Do What You Can…Today, What’s Your 6-Word Love Story?, Without Self-Love, I Have Nothing., Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, Kicking the Pop Habit: Eric 1 Year Later, Weekend Inspiration

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

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Vanessa Leininger November 23, 2015

It can be done!!!

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) October 23, 2011

Great post!

Hey Angela – I have been wanting to order globars, but the site says they are all sold out. Any idea of when there will be more for sale?

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Jonathan October 22, 2011

Growing up, I would always hear my mother say, “It’s always darkest before the sun rises.” And it seemed strange and annoying that she would tell me this all the time. But after reforming my diet 4 years ago and experiencing the drastic difference in my physical, mental, and spiritual being, the meaning behind that saying became so profound to me.

We all have light, and we all have darkness. Both are there to help us value the other. And through that, we have a better capacity to feel compassion, not only for ourselves, but for the world and the people around us.

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Becca @ Peace, Love & Bagels October 21, 2011

what an awesome post! You are basically echoing the Dalai Lama’s words from his book “The Art of Happiness”. I definitely think it’s about time to reevaluate my life and make more room for the things that I love to do!

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Michaela October 20, 2011

that was a wonderful post!
people should more often stop for a second and ask themselves these questions.

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Lindsey @ Cardio Pizza October 20, 2011

What a thoughtful post, and I can definitely relate (and I’m sure many others can too)

You have such a way with words and I really enjoy when you do these types of posts!

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Casey Thomas October 20, 2011

This is such a great and spot on post. Suffering does unite us (as does love I believe) and it gives us some powerful learning opportunities. I had head to toe bloody, debilitating, nightmare ecxema that caused me an incredible amount of suffering but I know see it as a gift to me. The suffering led me to health myself naturally after a decade worth of trying and now I help people all around the world to improve their health dramatically, feel amazing and be confident and love themselves. This only became my work because of the suffering I went through. It was a blessing (albeit a painful one!).
Thanks for sharing Angela.

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Anja October 20, 2011

I love your post. I am in a quite similar situation as you were. I started my own blog about two months ago and it helps me to keep my spirits high since I look around me with different eyes. Your post is like a mirror for me. Thanks!

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Jackie October 19, 2011

I love this post. A great reminder…any day…everyday. Thank you.

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Lillian October 19, 2011

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. I’ve been in a similar situation to the one you were in all those years ago, and today was a day when I needed to hear this exact message. It made me feel a gazillion times better. :)

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Zestful Lou October 19, 2011

I’m having trouble with this today. Tears…and lots of them.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 19, 2011

Sorry to hear that Lou. Never forget how awesome you are, ok?

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Sush Gollapudi October 19, 2011

At the moment, it feels like anything and everything has gone wrong, and I am looking to get back on my feet again and find my spirit and happiness once more. Your post pushes me in the right direction, so thank you.

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Nicole October 19, 2011

Hi Angela,

I’ve been reading for a while, and always loved your posts on how you changed your life. I definitely agree that you can’t afford to wait to be happy or to do the things you love. But- I have to say, I took engineering in school, and halfway through my second year, I realized I didn’t like it. I am working now, and while I don’t hate what I am doing, I don’t love it either. I got lucky with an amazing company and great co-workers though. However, if I hadn’t been so lucky, I couldn’t afford to go back to school and change, and I definitely couldn’t afford to quit. The reason I stuck with it after my second year was that I could do internships that paid well, and allowed me to pay for school and the medical bills I had then (and still have).

I am single, so I have no second income to fall back on. I love your message- but I think it is important to note that a change like yours isn’t always possible. Sometimes we have to work with what we have. There is an book by Marcus Buckingham I am reading called “Now, discover your strengths”. It is all about learning how to use your strengths and passions in your current job. It has examples of people who are unhappy with their jobs, and learn how to take on different roles that appeal to their strengths.

I just think that advocating such a drastic change without offering other more accessible options could be alienating for readers who don’t have the financial freedom to quit their current jobs to do what they love.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 19, 2011

Thanks for your comment Nicole. I do think that working with what you have is certainly an option. All the power to you if you can make it work! That is admirable.
I did not intend to alienate anyone by sharing my story, but I can see how it may have come across that way. Thanks for your feedback.

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Cat @Breakfast to Bed October 19, 2011

I have been battling some of the same things. Thank you so much for this post.

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Jessica October 19, 2011

Great post Angela. your words are inspiring more bravery to take charge and go for it rather than llive with career misery. thank you!

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Burnsy October 19, 2011

There must be something in the air because I was going to be doing a post on my blog about focusing on the positive. There comes a time when you can wallow in the challenges that life deals out on an all-too regular basis or make a stand and do what you can to make the best of it. My son has ADHD which has made life a struggle daily. I first came to your blog as I was reasearching food in attempt to help minimize or even possibly eliminate his disability. I have found for him that food does indeed play a role, but he has required more help than that. I love your blog and hope that as I experiment with more of your recipes you wouldn’t mind if I post my favorites on my blog. I am so glad that you have accomplished all you have and found happiness in your blog. It is so great that what brings you happiness, also helps and brings others happiness as well. Happy Autumn!

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Dalai Lina October 19, 2011

You wrote that perfectly. I completely agree with you – any negative feeling is giving us a message!

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Laura October 19, 2011

Thanks for another great post!
Daily glow are so inspiring, makes me rethink my choices in life and reevaluate where I want to be.

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Brooke October 19, 2011

This was an awesome post! I think about the challenges (I refuse to say any of this was negative) that has happened in my life – my father leaving my mom when I was 3 and not contacting my sisters or me, my drug addicted brother, my mother struggling with money, my high blood pressure and struggles with weight – and I find myself NOT wanting to change any of it. All of these things have brought me to this exact moment in my life. They have made me who I am. As much as I would like to change people or things outside myself, it never happens. The more I try to change others, the less they listen. There are things we can change, but the things we cannot change, we change our reactions to them. Loved this post!

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Jill @ A Cook's Nook October 19, 2011

Thank you for posting this well thought out and poingnant piece. One of my favorite expressions is: this too shall pass. Opportunity and hapiness can often come as a result of your darkest lows, which you will get through because you have to. It’s often difficult to see a “mistake” as what it is; a cue to redirect and change things for the better. Sometimes you just need a little nudging to see things that way.

Again thanks for the post! I love your blog & can identify with so many of your stories. I wish had known there were people like you out there 7 years ago!

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