“We were homeless, we were not hopeless. There’s a world of difference.” – Chris Gardner
I’m a sucker for inspirational stories. Whether it be books, movies, documentaries, or just about anything that has something to do with rags-to-riches stories and people who battled through adversity, it will surely get my undivided attention.
Just this past Sunday night, we were watching this regular Sunday magazine program that featured a couple who started a small restaurant business and eventually became millionaires. It got my attention not only because of how inspiring it was but also because I’ve already dined with my family in that very same restaurant. Who would have thought that the owners of that place started from humble beginnings?
There was even a time when they were still starting that one of the places they rented burned down and they had to start all over again yet here they are, enjoying the fruits of their labor, running a very successful business and becoming millionaires in the process.
This is just one success story out of a thousand others out there and with everything I’ve watched and read, one of the common things these success stories had was that most of the protagonists of these tales, at one point in their lives, went through really tough times.
I don’t know if it’s just me but do you ever notice that some of the successful people we know got to where they are after experiencing hard times? How many times have we heard of stories about people who went homeless and almost had nothing to eat but then suddenly, they’re either rich or famous or both?
How many times have we seen people living in large mansions and driving fancy cars who admits in one of those tell-all, sit down interviews that he or she, at one point in their lives, had no place to stay, jumped from one orphanage to another without a single penny in their pockets?
I find these stories amazing, and I mean that in a good way. Amazing in a sense that despite all their struggles and all the hardships, people find a way to turn their lives around and live it the way they’ve always wanted to.
We all go through problems every single day and that’s part of life but not everyone goes through tough times. Not everyone gets to experience being buried in debt, being bankrupt or being homeless that’s why I take my hat off when it comes to these kinds of people.
While most people view tough times to be something negative, I believe, based on the success stories I’ve come to know, that we should cherish these tough times instead and here’s why:
1. It builds emotional muscle
Whenever you go to the gym to lift weights, one of the things you achieve is you build muscle. The heavier the weights you carry, the harder and bigger muscles you develop.
Building muscle though, is not as easy as it looks. I’ve seen people in the gym try to lift real, heavy material. Their whole body shakes as they struggle to lift barbels away from their chests and towards the ceiling. Some of them even shout to gain more leverage.
When people push themselves to their limit, anything lighter becomes almost immaterial. If you’ve been used to lifting 100-pound barbels, surely, 50-pound dumbbells will be like a sack of a cotton to you because you’ve trained your body to deal with something a lot more heavier.
Tough times have a similar effect, not to our body, but to our emotion. If you’ve experienced living in the streets and sleeping on waiting sheds, living in a small apartment with four other roommates wouldn’t be problem for you would it?
Hard times make us strong and durable when it comes to the trials that life brings. It makes you tough!
2, It fuels your ambition
Tough times can give you all sorts of pain. It can even bring you to your knees until you’re almost about to give up. For a negative person, this means the end. This is the time when they tap out and throw in the towel but for a positive person, this will create an itch.
This itch comes as a result of the discontentment you feel toward the hardships you’re going through. The itch will become itchier as time goes by because you’ve experienced the worst and you would do absolutely anything to avoid experiencing them again.
So what do you do? You learn from your mistake and you set bigger goals that go way beyond just avoiding a situation you were once in.
3. It gives you a different perspective
When you go through difficult times, one of the things you will experience is the realization or reflection stage. This is where you begin to realize everything you’ve done wrong. You realize what you should and should not have done.
If you are trying to lose weight but as ironic as it may seem, you find out you gained 5 lbs, what’s the first thing you’ll do?
You’re probably going to look back and ask yourself, what the hell have I been feeding myself?
If your business lost money, what’s the first thing you’ll do?
You’ll probably visit the books or ledgers and see where the discrepancies were and once you’ve determined where, you’ll do the best you can to not do same mistake twice.
You’ll never realize how great it feels to win if you’ve never experienced the agony of a loss.
4. It makes you a better person
One of the reasons why I started blogging about personal development was because of the tough times we went through back in 2013. We were living from paycheck-to-paycheck, and we had no savings. Our credit card debts were mounting and we were starting to get behind in some of our bills. It was embarrassing if not humbling and I’ve never experienced being in that situation before.
I was really down during those times and the collections officers from these credit card companies only made things worse. I was almost about to give up but then I heard one of Joel Osteen‘s sermons. You know Joel, he’s really got a way of lifting your spirit and giving you hope. He’s got the ability to change your mindset into something more positive which will make you realize eventually that all is not lost and the fight is not over.
I consider this experience as a major turning point in my life because I was never a fan of personal development but this experience was so humbling, it made me reassess my beliefs and perspective towards life. I started to listen more to inspirational material and read books about personal development and success, something I have never done before.
Our finances have become better since then although it’s still not perfect but what I am thankful for is that through these tough times, I was able to change my mindset to a positive one. Through these tough times, I’ve come to appreciate life even more. I became more thankful for each day that I get to live with my family and for the things I have and not complain with what I don’t.
Would I want to go through tough times again if I was given a chance to relive my life? Absolutely. Not because I’m out to prove a point, but because I would be blind to life’s beauty if I hadn’t. I would never have known the great qualities I have and the bad ones I had to throw away.
Over to You
What has tough times taught you? What were the benefits you got by going through hard times?
I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment or share your story below. I would appreciate that so much!