07/16/2015 08:28 EDT | Updated 07/16/2016 05:59 EDT

Facing Adversity Can Turn Us Into Better People

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I like the idea of turning lemons into lemonade. It seems to me that there are a lot of things we can do to transform difficult, even painful situations into opportunities for growth, learning and more love.

Life can sometimes be unbelievably beautiful, with everything coming together to create a moment of pure, unadulterated bliss. Life can also be pretty awful at times, with situations being incredibly unfair and heartbreaking.

The difference between someone who's a victim and someone who's a survivor is the ability to take the crappiest moments in life and turn them into fertilizer.

When we can use these painful times as fuel for our personal growth, we can move through any type of difficulty with grace and resilience.

Life is full of ups and downs; sometimes we can make conscious, empowered choices which will bring about positive outcomes and sometimes, no matter what we try, things don't work out.

Through no fault of our own, we can encounter horrible events: we can end up divorced; a loved one can become critically ill, a job can become redundant or a best friend can turn into a frenemy.

If we've been responsible in our lives, paying attention to what's going on within us and around us, we can see that there are some things that will just happen, and there's nothing we can do to prevent them. What we can do is get out the old lemonade pitcher and start slicing up those lemons.

When I'm faced with a horrible situation, I ask myself three fundamental questions:

1. Was there something I could have done to prevent this?

2. Is there something I can do to improve this?

3. Is there something I can learn from this?

Often, the way things work is that there's not much I can do with question #1; there may be a little bit that I can do with question #2, but there's always a lot that I can do with #3.

When I look inward and find the lesson in the difficulty, I'm able to transform life's horrible moments into fuel for positive growth and change; that is, I can turn life's lemons into lemonade.

We can't control anything in our lives and we can't blame ourselves for everything bad that happens. Some things we could have done differently but a lot of things are just the random events of life.

When we use the crappy parts of life as fuel for positive change, we take the sour lemons and make delicious lemonade: lessons that are so much deeper and more lasting, because they were learned at the most painful and difficult moments of our lives.

I wouldn't wish heartbreak on anyone, but the thing about it is that it actually can be good for us. We can become more vulnerable, in the positive sense -- being more sensitive to our own and others' needs and feelings and more easily moved to compassion and empathy.

Sometimes when we're heartbroken, our heart is broken open and we're able to give and receive more love. As long as we choose not to shut down around the pain but stay with the feelings and trust that we can survive them, heartbreak can be an opportunity to experience more love for ourselves, for a sick loved one or really for anyone in our lives.

Resilience is the ability to transform adversity into the opportunity for positive growth and change. When we're more resilient, we don't have to fear the painful moments in our lives because we know that we'll come out of them transformed.

Life's worst times can turn us into a better person if we let them. We simply need to put on the apron of the alchemist and focus on transforming not lead into gold, but life's bitter lemons into delicious lemonade.

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