“…there is nothing either good nor bad but thinking makes it so.” –Hamlet, Shakespeare

When hard or frustrating or painful times occur, we have a choice. We can focus on all the ways life didn’t meet our expectations, or we can focus on how we will now respond. We can complain about what everyone else did, or we can focus on how we can make the most of the cards we’ve been dealt.

Over the years, I’ve heard plenty of people who, when looking back on times of pain or loss in their lives, still maintain an attitude of gratitude for what they went through. They recognize the positive impact those times ended up having on them – perhaps in what they learned, or how they changed their outlook on life – and sometimes they even say that they wouldn’t trade in those hard times for anything.

This kind of response is not to minimize the pain or difficulty they endured, but rather to frame it in a different perspective. It’s to recognize that our experience of life is profoundly shaped by how we choose to think about the events and circumstances we encounter. Because while we may not be able to change what’s already happened, we always have a choice of how we’ll choose to view it.