Hardships aren’t called hardships without good reason. Hardships are unpleasant and difficult to handle, but they can also push us to improve ourselves and to find an inner strength that we didn’t know we had. After all – that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

The good news is that we can often find new meaning in our lives when we’re going through hardships because it’s the best moment to pause and reflect. You should try it sometime. Here are a few tips to help you to get started.

1. Help those who need help

Helping other people makes us happy. When we go out of our way to help other people, it reminds us of how fortunate we are whilst simultaneously making us feel good inside. It can even reduce stress and provide huge amounts of satisfaction – especially if you get to see the difference that you’re making to somebody else’s life.

Get started by asking at local churches and community organizations and volunteering an hour or two of your time.

2. Find people who share your interests

One way to pick yourself up is to make new friends and to surround yourself with people with similar interests. Find people who you can talk to, even if it’s just to share knitting patterns or book reviews.

Struggling to find those people? Join local or online discussion groups for a subject that you can’t stop talking about.

3. Do what you always wanted to do

Most of us have a secret passion. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to be an artist, or perhaps you have a flair for making music. Life has a way of getting in our way – so when you’re going through hardships, it’s the perfect opportunity to fight back.

Ann Lamont from Aussie writings suggests that “writing can be particularly therapeutic when you’re going through a tough time”, citing a study that found that writing about emotions can ease stress and trauma.

4. Document your life

Take photographs. Start a journal. Create a time capsule and make a note to open it in a year’s time. Keep souvenirs and mementos. Maybe even start scrapbooking.

By documenting your life, you’ll create something that you can look back on in the future.

It’ll keep you grounded and give you some perspective, and perhaps you’ll find that the things you worry about don’t matter quite as much as you thought they did.

5. Enjoy the journey

It’s always important to have an end goal in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the journey.

Ultimately, while you might find meaning in writing, painting or making music, the odds are stacked against you making a good living from it. Likewise, if you want to make new friends and form a close social circle, you’re unlikely to become a famous socialite. But let’s be honest – that’s not what’s important. Instead of focusing on your destination, enjoy the journey – and be grateful for where you are every step of the way.

In good company

Bill Gates’ first business failed. Richard Branson is dyslexic. Stephen Hawking overcame motor neurone disease to become one of the most accomplished scientists of our time, simultaneously smashing doctors’ estimates of his life expectancy.

Ultimately, only you can find meaning in your life – and only you can pull yourself through the hardships. We all go through hard times, but it’s how we deal with them that makes us who we are.

The most important thing to do is to try – so if you’re struggling right now, make a plan to phase in some changes and to create the life that you want to live. Good luck.

Guide to Inspired Life