Life can be difficult. Scratch that, life is difficult, and for some it is much more so than for others. Circumstances within our lives can sometimes be outside our control, leading to emotions such as sadness, fear, frustration or anger. Throughout history, every human being on this planet has dealt with difficult times. And in the worst of times that difficulty can lead to the desire to give up. Nevertheless, we must persevere. There is beauty in the world, if only we knew how to find it.

I have had many times of hardship within my life. As someone who suffers from many mental illnesses, I absolutely realize how difficult life can be when it feels as though nothing is going your way. Parental death, inability to attend school or work, unemployment—these are some of the hardships that I have dealt with throughout my life. I have noticed that it’s often difficult to do so with the unwavering hope and positivity that’s necessary to get through difficult times. After all, how can one meet seemingly unbeatable challenges with anything but frustration and despair?

I’ve realized that in times of hardship, it becomes even more necessary to take a close look at the beauty in my life. I have to shift the focus from the negative to the positive; switch from anger and sadness to cheerful hope and a drive to make things better. I meditate on what life is, what it means to be alive, and take a moment to go outside, whether there’s sunshine or rain, snow or hail, and look around me. I take time to focus on how everything is constantly in motion, always in a state of flux. The seasons change, the trees bloom and then their leaves fall to provide fertilizer for the soil below. The caterpillar becomes a butterfly and lays eggs for the next generation. Life never stops moving forward.

We should strive to be like nature, always moving along no matter what problems we face. Have you ever noticed after a natural disaster, when everything seems to be destroyed, sprouts still continue to push out through the soil? Nature does not stop in the event of death, disease or natural disaster. Instead, nature continues to push on, flowers and trees continue to grow even when faced with difficulty or what appears to be total destruction.

Throughout my time on this planet, I’ve experienced much hardship. Despite this, I’ve realized that the strongest people are not the ones who face the most, but instead the ones who meet what they do face with loving thoughts and a positive outlook.

Read more on this topic in THE GRATITUDE MONUMENT: Remembering the hardship of previous generations>>

Samantha Murphy-Laevens is a woman living with mental illness, moving through a journey of self-love and fulfillment. She lives at her parent’s house in Toronto, Canada, with two dogs, two turtles, a snake, five fish and one hamster.
Image: butterfly and caterpillar via Shutterstock