Whatever happens in the outside world has no meaning other than the meaning you give it. This is not a new concept, but it is a difficult one to put into practice, unless you’ve had some guidance and experience under your belt. Whenever things happen, we tend to place a value on them by labeling them as good, bad, right, or wrong. This is not a terrible practice if you are not trying to push your assigned values onto others.

For example, I know a woman whose grandson is getting married to his girlfriend after living together for two years. They already have a son together and are expecting their second child three months after their wedding. This grandmother is just beside herself: “This is all wrong. They are not doing things in their proper order. How dare the bride have a bridal shower when they’ve been living together for two years already? For heaven’s sake, she will be wearing a white wedding gown while she is six months pregnant!” She has clearly decided this is wrong, but not just for herself. She believes it is wrong for everyone!

Once you can own your value judgments and without pushing them on other people, then you may start wondering if your value judgments are even right for you. Have you ever had the experience of losing a job by either being laid off or fired? You likely thought it was one of the worst things that happened to you. Then, after some time, hindsight made it apparent that it was actually the best thing that ever happened to you. Conversely, have you ever entered a new relationship thinking it was the most wonderful relationship you had ever experienced, only to find when the shine wore off, it was not exactly as wonderful as you had thought? We’ve all had some similar experiences.

I’m suggesting you might want to cut out the person in the middle—YOU! That’s right, you are the only person between your experience and the value you give it. Imagine if you experienced life and the events comprising it as exactly the perfect thing that is supposed to be happening in that particular time. You would develop a trust and faith that everything will work out and serve you in the end. You have the power to change the meaning you assign from positive to negative, negative to positive, or from positive or negative to neutral.

This does not mean you experience life with an emotional flat line. There will be things that bring you joy and others that bring fear, frustration, or sadness. However, you do not have to be a prisoner to those emotions. Feel them, and when you do, know you can change them by changing your perception—only if you choose to do so.

Experience the joy! Let it become abundant as it flows through you and bask in the beneficial endorphins your body will release. The caution is to not become invested in “holding onto” the source of that joy. People and opportunities come into our lives, and, just as easily, they can leave again. Be grateful for the joy, but let things go when it is time to do so. I love Dr. Seuss’ quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over; smile because it happened.”

When you experience sadness, allow yourself to feel it until you don’t want to feel it anymore. When you are ready to transmute the negative energy, know there is a positive side to all the negativity. The Universe is made up of balance—dark/light, hot/cold, good/bad, positive/negative, right/wrong. Balance is the key. You could never appreciate the good without experiencing the bad to compare it with. In all negative experiences, you can find the positive when you are ready by asking yourself, “What is the lesson, gift, or opportunity in this situation?” When you are ready to look for it, you will find it. In the beginning, you may need some help from someone more experienced to guide you but feel peace in knowing it is always there.

I once challenged a room full of people to first think of something “awful” in their lives, and then turn it around to find the positive side. A young woman raised her hand and shared that she was an elementary school student-teacher who worked under a terrible, miserable teacher who was mean to the children. She asked me, what was the good in that? After thinking a moment, I asked her if she was able to develop meaningful, positive relationships with those students during her time with them. She said absolutely she did. I then asked if she thought that was made possible by the way the teacher chose to behave. She got it! She found the gift and the lesson in that situation. Without the teacher treating those children badly, this young woman would not have been able to have such a positive impact.

The key is to understand the power of your perception and recognize your ability to change it in order to serve you when you are ready. It is also important to find the balance in all things. Are you struggling with a situation right now that you’d like to find the positive side to? Let me know and I’ll see if I can help.

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