The Universe keeps itself in check by providing balance. More importantly, it keeps itself in check by providing contrast.

This contrast is absolutely essential. Without it, things fall apart.

Consider the following:

– Would light exist without darkness?
– Can there be an up without a down?
– How can one measure good if bad is non-existent?

As you can see… without this contrast, there wouldn’t be balance.

Life is no different. It, too, requires balance. But, how does one achieve that same level of balance and contrast in their own life? How do we allow contrast into our lives without letting it destroy us?

The answer may be easier than you think!

Not Everything Bad, Is Bad

Don’t get me wrong… bad things suck. They really do! But, unless the bad thing is you’re dead… there’s hope!

Many times we’re thrown into undesirable situations. These situations can range from the most benign event to the most unfathomable life changing event possible.

Comparing your bad stuff to another person’s bad stuff serves no useful purpose. Remember, their stuff is equally important to them as your stuff is to you.

I would no sooner compare my assault, to a person who unexpectedly lost their job. I’m sure their feelings of loss, hopelessness, helplessness, anger, and fear didn’t feel any less important to them.

Clearly, both events suck and have an impact on our lives. Who am I to judge which one is worse. Besides… what purpose would it serve? It’s way more important (and productive) to figure out how to move past the bad stuff rather than debate which one is worse.

In my case, the bad event helped me to become a stronger woman. Sure, there are countless ways I could have learned to be a stronger woman; certainly living through an assault isn’t on anyone’s top-ten list, but this is the situation that was given to me.

The trick here is to understand that even the worst situations can provide us with an opportunity to grow. You have the option to move forward. I suggest you exercise that option.

Understanding What You Don’t Want

Sometimes you have to experience things you don’t want in order to figure out the things you do want. Makes for a great bumper sticker, right?

All kidding aside, this is where contrast is most valuable.

When I was a kid, my dream job was to be a Veterinarian. There was no doubt in my mind that – eventually – I was going to be a Vet. I even pictured having my own parking spot marked, “Dr. Tammy”. =]

Obviously, that never happened; but, not because I couldn’t do it. As it turns out, I didn’t want to do it.

When I was fourteen, I was given an opportunity to experience my career choice first hand. It was that experience that helped me realize that being a Veterinarian wasn’t for me.

Sometimes we just need to experience things we don’t like in order to help discover what we do like.

Appreciate What You Have

We’ve all heard this one before, right? Unfortunately, we often forget about it when dealing with the bad stuff.

If you take a moment to appreciate the things you have, you’ll be amazed at how much more you can achieve.

It’s not rocket science; when you feel better, you do better.

Do yourself a favor. Stop spending your time looking around for what’s missing. It’ll only lead to disappointment and frustration. These two things won’t help you; they won’t motivate you. In fact, they will do the exact opposite.

Focus On What You Want (not on what you don’t want)

You might assume that because I recommend showing appreciation for what you have that automatically means you can’t (or shouldn’t) focus on what you want.

Good news! That’s not what I mean.

While it’s important you need to appreciate what you have, it’s equally important to focus on what you want too. However, in order for that to be truly effective, you actually need to focus on what you want… not on what you don’t want.

For example, if you want to be successful, focus on the success you already have. If you want more time with your kids, focus on the time you already have. If you want to lose weight, focus on feeling healthy. To do otherwise is counter-productive.

When your wanting comes from a negative place, not only will you feel bad about your situation, but these negative feelings could prevent you from moving forward and achieving your goal. Besides… no one likes to feel miserable.

Be deliberate in your thinking. Focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

In Conclusion

Life isn’t always easy. We’re thrown into the mix and sometimes we get pretty banged up in the process.

Be easy on yourself. Take time to appreciate all the wonderful things around you – there’s an abundance of them – if you know how to look.

Understand that contrast is an essential part of balance. Put on your glasses and take another look around you. Life is awesome!