The True Upside of Hard Times

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 · 6 Comments

buried and planted

I often say if there’s two things in life that we can’t evade aside from death and taxes, it’s stress and pain. Suffering is a part of life, but the mindset we layer over it makes all the difference.

I have so many examples in my life, and you may as well, where a difficult time was upon me and that very time was the seed which brought on the growth of the next moment.

The reality is, we never truly know whether an experience in life is good or bad because we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

In Uncovering Happiness I write about how the deepest, darkest moment of my life was exactly what inevitably opened my mind to seeking out support that led me to where I am today. It was this very experience, and many more like it, that led me to seek out mindfulness, whichinevitably led to me being interested in key happiness components such as compassion and altruism.

I felt like I had been buried in that moment, but really, I had just been planted and now aware of the blooming.

To go even deeper, while we can learn to savor the blooming (a key skill for happiness), it is impermanent. The bloom will come and go and our work is to learn how to be grateful for the time where our lives are in bloom and be graceful during the more difficult times understanding these times are an opportunity for more seeds of mindfulness, self-compassion and grace to be planted.

There isn’t a limit to your ability to plant seeds and water them during good times and bad. The only limit is in our minds and as Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right.”

Thoughts aren’t facts, even the ones that say they are, so don’t let anyone tell you (including your mind) that you can’t learn to ride the waves of life with ease and grace.

Just remember in those difficult moments, you think you’re buried, but perhaps you’ve just been planted. Apply self-compassion, be patient, and savor the beauty of the inevitable bloom.


Elisha Goldstein, PhD

Adapted from Mindfulness and Psychotherapy


  1. Jane Garrison
    March 22, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Thank you for this. In the dark it’s very hard to remember it won’t always be that way. I am reading Uncovering Happiness for the second time and trying very hard to apply these lessons. It’s a lot of work. Once I have the knowledge there’s no going back to the darkest places. Thank you again.

  2. February 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you!
    I always find something that resonates with me in your emails.

  3. Dagmar Davidson
    February 15, 2016 at 4:43 am

    This is a wonderful reassuring and positive way of looking at those times in life when you don’t know if you will be able to survive what “life has put in your path”.

  4. Leslie
    February 11, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Yes yes yes! Me, too! I look back at the hardest places that were “impossible” and see how much I learned and grew. I refer to those most difficult times when I relate to other people. They are a place for compassion, I think.

    I remember the weakest prayer: “well, God, this is impossible for me. I’m at my wits’ end. If anyone could help me, it would have to be you, but I just don’t believe you will.” Twelve years beyond that prayer and dilemma, I’m glad I stated the prayer the way I did because I now believe a higher divine God got me through and I didn’t need to have had a bunch of faith.

    I so appreciate your work! Keep on keeping on!

  5. Stu Webb
    February 11, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Love this opportunity to share our thoughts. I’m a great advocate of mindfulness—meditated for 20 years in my Buddhist group. Find it invaluable personally, but also in my collaborative practice. (Not retired). One further suggestion: check out “non-duality”–the ultimate paradigm shift!

    • Elisha Goldstein
      February 16, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thank you Stu!

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