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As we prepare for Memorial Day weekend, many of us are thinking about picnics and barbecues and other kinds of family get-togethers. But for many others, Memorial Day is a solemn occasion, when we commemorate the brave men and women who gave their lives while serving in our country’s armed forces.

For these people, it’s a time to honor the loved ones they’ve lost — be it husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, or even children — clearly causing sadness and heartache.

Every single one of us has tough times. Some are worse than others, but pain, loss and disappointment comes to everybody at some point.

As I’ve learned through my own experiences, it’s how we respond to those tough times that reveal who we are — and who we will become. Hopefully, we can grow stronger as we learn to move on, while remembering each trial and tribulation that we’ve endured.

That’s why I’ve put together these helpful tips — not just for surviving hard times, but also growing from them:


Think positive.

Do you consider yourself a “glass half-full” type of person? When life gives you lemons, can you make lemonade?

If you’re in the middle of a crisis, staying positive — and realizing that “this too, shall pass” — is a much better way to approach things. Understanding that God’s plan is not always obvious or smooth sailing can help you focus on the better days ahead.

Of course, it’s hard to always stay “up.” Sometimes it feels like the whole world is against you, and anything you try to do is futile.

But I’m here to tell you that positivity — and strong faith — can get you through anything.


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Be creative.

Some people hear about “thinking out of the box” and wonder what that really means. For me, it means looking at things differently than you normally would — which usually leads to coming up with a unique solution to any problem.

There are many different ways to fuel your creativity. You might approach a problem from the viewpoint of a six-year-old — who doesn’t have all that adult baggage — and come up with a simple answer.

In the Information Age we live in, you can search online for pretty much anything and find unique approaches to even the simplest problems. There are all kinds of “hacks” out there with new and innovative ways to get things done. (Lifehacks, shopping hacks, etc.)

Or for other “outside the box” thinking, you could actually try the “old school” approach — and find some inspiration in the Bible! You’ll find a wide variety of valuable lessons to be learned in the Good Book.


Look for the lesson.

And speaking of lessons, make sure you take a step back and look at “the big picture” when dealing with a problem. Chances are that you can find the data and insights you need to learn and grow.

When I say “data,” I mean the simple facts. What’s the problem? How and when did it start? How big is the problem? Who is involved?

And the insights are conclusions that you can make by looking at the data/insights. So once you’ve examined the facts, hopefully you can identify what started the bad experience, what you might do to prevent it from happening again, and how you can handle things better the next time it happens.

That’s how we learn and grow.


Plan to change.

So you’ve learned your lesson(s). And it’s time to take those lessons and turn them into action.

But first, a bit of planning. You need to turn your learnings into an action plan — and then you’ll have a clear path to making it happen. How? Understanding all the things, people and decisions that occurred to start this issue in the first place.

Once you know how to avoid these circumstances and deal with any possible effects, boil it all down into a few easy steps. (Kind of like this blog post!)

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Make it happen.

Take that action plan and bring it to life. You don’t have time to wallow and sulk — you’ve got problems to solve and things to make better.

The wonderful feeling of controlling your destiny — as best you can, with God’s help — will enable you to focus on the positive and take steps to improve not only your life…but the lives of your family, friends and colleagues.

Life is a roller-coaster! How we react to the low points (and the twists and turns in between) reveals who we are and who we want to be.


Good luck to all of you on your journey!