It’s tempting to think life would be better if it always ran smoothly, right?
However, as much as you might wish that life was one fun and fulfilling experience after another:
Suffering and hard times teach us lessons that can’t be learned any other way.
But, to reap the benefits that come with hardship, you need to have the right mindset.
You must learn to reframe negative experiences into positive memories (or teachable moments).
This exercise helps you do that.
First, on a sheet of paper, create three columns.
In column one, write down a negative experience.
Next to that, in column two, write out how you felt about it at the time.
In the final column, write out how the experience seems to you now.
What came out of it for you?
Were there any lessons learned, funny stories, or positive experiences gained because of it?
Some experiences aren’t going to feel positive, like losing a family member or a pet.
For those, don’t write about a lesson learned or good outcome.
Instead, write about why you’re grateful for the time you had with them.
And, write about how it made you stronger or wiser.
This exercise isn’t just about reframing past experiences.
It can also help you resolve and learn from a negative experience occurring in your life right now.
Write down any factors that are contributing to this situation that you cannot directly control.
For example, you can’t control the weather, the economy, or other people’s feelings and choices.
Focus on that list for a moment.
For each item, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and commit to not worrying about it.
Now, what are the factors you can control?
What can you personally do to change the situation, or take yourself out of it?
Which of those things can you do today, or better yet, right now?
Go do them, or at the very least, put them on your calendar.
Use this exercise as often as you need.
It will help you reframe the tough stuff and emerge stronger and happier on the other side.
About Bridget Hilton
Bridget Hilton creates tools to help teams and leaders connect in the workplace through rich experiences and shared goals. Her keynote helps Fortune 500 companies navigate topics of mental health and wellness, burnout, employee belonging and connection, inspiration, motivation, and goal setting. Her book Experiential Billionaire and card deck Treasure Maps is out now. She is located in Los Angeles, CA and is booking keynotes and workshops worldwide now.