Home » Happiness Tip: Embrace Difficulty

Happiness Tip: Embrace Difficulty

Yesterday, someone asked my daughter if her mother (that would be me) is happy all the time. My girl threw her head back, guffawed, and said, “I don’t even think she wants to be happy all the time.”

Darn straight, I don’t.

So many of us confuse momentary pleasure or gratification — a new pair of shoes, or a particularly delicious meal — with what makes life joyful over the long haul. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate the fun of new shoes or the satisfaction of a great dinner, but a happy life really isn’t simply a series of such pleasurable moments strung together.

Life can gain depth and meaning from difficulty. When we are anxious, we can learn how to soothe ourselves — something we couldn’t learn if we felt calm and content. Anger gives us a unique opportunity to practice forgiveness in a way that really means something. When we are afraid, we can develop courage. In the face of challenge, we have the opportunity to strengthen our grit. After a long bout of missing someone or something, we tend to feel profound gratitude to have them back in our lives.

Self-soothing, forgiveness, gratitude, courage, grit — this is the stuff of a happy life. For this reason, I try to see the difficulties in my life for what they really are: opportunities for growth and meaning in the future.

Take Action: This week, embrace a difficulty in your life with acceptance and self-compassion. What is this challenge helping you learn? How are you growing because of this difficult situation?

Join the Discussion: Inspire others by commenting below on a time in your life when a difficulty lead to positive growth (or even joy!).


  1. Paul Sasso says:

    Grief brings with it insight, wisdom, and compassion; Anger can bring assertiveness and righteous anger; Fear can bring self-soothing and love; Shame can bring humility.

  2. Bria says:

    Every time I need to parent my kids on my own, I struggle. But I learn I am capable and creative. It brings me closer to my children, and when my spouse returns, I appreciate him on a deeper level.

  3. Sammi Law says:

    I often choose challenge, occasionally inadvertently, so I stopped think of any ensuing events as adversarial. Whether what pops up is part of the original idea, or the Universe’s idea, I adjust my future choices to facilitate acceptance.

    Several years ago I considered, reflected on and decided to leave the USA. I move to Thailand. Naturally, acclimating to a very simple life in a small village required a lot of learning. Language continues to be a challenge. Understanding the traditional culture of this nation – another… and then I decided to build a living home. (I just bought a MIG welder. Something I’ve wanted to learn about for forty years.)

    I knew it was called “the Land of Smiles” before I came here. I am slowly growing in an understanding of why Thailand deserves that nick-name.

    Is life difficult?

    Well, I use to tell this story:

    Once upon a time I had everything I wanted, everything I could dream of, not a care in the world – life was perfect …. and then my mother went into labor!

    • Annie Zirkel says:

      Sammi – that story is brilliant! I hope you don’t mind that I will be retelling it again and again. Thank you for that and for your story of moving to Thailand. Have a great day.

  4. Lea says:

    I was angry and hurt and venting to my coworker about a situation with another coworker. The venting seemed to be a release, but now I think the “embracing of the problem will actually feel better. Venting may actually keep me in that “victim” mode. I’d rather embrace and feel empowered and that I can actually gain from this experience. VentVentiVenting actually

  5. Miss Britt says:

    Pain and sadness offers perspective. If everything was happy, it wouldn’t be happy anymore; it’d be “meh.” Plus, you’d never get to experience that triumphant feeling of having survived – and even thrived – through the crap!

Comments are closed.