Certified High-Performance coach, speaker, author, husband, adventurer, former commando-paratrooper, and tsunami survivor.

Embracing the Suck: Finding Joy in Difficult Circumstances


Have you ever found yourself in a challenging situation, feeling beaten down by life and wondering why things aren’t going your way? I’m sure you did, and more than once! It’s easy to fall into a negative mindset when things don’t go as planned, but what if you could decide to find joy and gratitude even in the midst of difficult circumstances? Don’t roll your eyes! In this article, we’ll explore the concept of choosing your stance and how it can empower you to live a more fulfilling life.

The book of Viktor Frankl “Man’s Search for Meaning” had a profound impact on me. Reading his work made me think deeply about my life and how I react to whatever happens. I learned that we have the power to consciously choose our attitude towards any given situation and that this choice can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. 

The human mind is a complex and enigmatic thing. The more aware we are about our thoughts and intentional with our actions, the more control we have over our lives.

This article addresses one of the key topics featured in the no-bullshit guide to creating success and fulfillment in life and business, where you’ll uncover the 3-part formula to design and live a more rewarding life. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s a system that actually works. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do so now to gain a better understanding of what it takes to reach excellence. Additionally, you can read the 4 steps to reach excellence and learn a methodology you can apply to any subject to speed up your progress.

Embracing the Suck: Finding Joy in Difficult Circumstances

Feeling intense grateful for this beautiful landscape in Patagonia.

When it sucks

The gusty Patagonian wind, reaching 100 km/h, woke me up once again. It felt like my tent was pitched on a runway. Even with earplugs in, the sound of the wind was deafening.

After several hours of being battered by the tent, I gave up trying to sleep. The pain in my hips and back didn’t make it any easier. It was also cold, and the rain and hail only added to the misery. When I touched the ground, it felt odd, and I soon realized we were floating in water. Everything was soaked, and the tent’s water resistance was being put to the test. It was only a matter of minutes before we got wet.

I woke up my friend, and we decided to leave. Before putting my boots on, I removed the plaster from the open wound left by a blister I got two days earlier. The skin was sticking to the plaster, while a second blister was forming underneath.

We quickly prepared breakfast, discovered that mice had eaten through our bags, and enjoyed some of our granola and lunch pouch. Seriously?!

We rushed to pack the tent, trying to keep our things dry in the rain. Our hands were red and sore from the cold. After checking the map, we set off walking. It didn’t take long before the rain soaked through my underwear and socks. This sucked.

It was our fourth hike day, and we had just completed the Huemul Circuit. Due to the bad weather, we had to finish it in three days instead of four. We were exhausted, having slept an average of only 2-3 hours a night for the past few days. We had already walked 100 km, and now the rain and cold made every step painful.

Finding joy in the midst of adversity

Looking up at the sky, I smiled. I thought to myself; I feel alive. I am alive! Hiking in Patagonia was on my list for the past 10 years! Ok, I imagined joyfully walking in the sun, under the blue sky, and surrounded by beautiful mountains. The reality was not quite like my imagination (except for the mountains!)

But I couldn’t stop the rain or instantly heal my blisters, hip pain, or knee pain. I could, however, choose to smile and be grateful for being there. And when I did, everything felt a bit brighter.

I was thankful for the cold because I could see snow on the peaks. Thanks to the rain, the vegetation was green and lush. I felt grateful for the pain in my body because it reminded me that I feel great most of the time and that my body allows me to take on these kinds of adventures. I had immense gratitude for being alive because I had miraculously survived a double natural disaster four years earlier.

It was a good reminder that I can always choose my inner stance. It’s not about denying negative emotions because they give us valuable information about our situation. It’s about acknowledging whatever you feel and choosing your response.

I’m not mastering it yet, but I’ve noticed that I can reduce the gap between the trigger and the moment I choose my response. This space between stimulus and response is true freedom.

I sit less and less in negative emotions and empower myself to choose positive ones. Yes, it sucked, but embracing the suck with a smile was so much more fun.

3 steps to choose your inner stance

Most of the time, we react unconsciously to things. But the more you learn to catch yourself and choose your response, the better you are at shaping your own life. Taking conscious control of your reactions allows you to respond to situations with greater intentionality and purpose rather than simply reacting on autopilot. And this feels good!

Ultimately, your life is the sum of your years, which are the sum of your months, which are the sum of… you get the idea. Every second, you choose how your life is. By choosing your inner stance, you define your life.

So, how can you choose your stance and take control of your life? Here are three actionable steps to get you started:

1. Acknowledge your emotions

The first step to choosing your stance is to acknowledge your emotions. It’s okay to feel frustrated, angry, or disappointed when things don’t go as planned. In fact, these emotions give you valuable information about your situation and help you make better decisions in the future (discover strategies to cultivate emotional intelligence). So please don’t avoid feeling what you feel! The key is to acknowledge your emotions without letting them control you. Take a moment to breathe and reflect on your feelings, then name how you feel (say it out loud or write it down in your journal) and allow yourself to feel your feelings. Then decide how you want to respond.

    • What emotion are you feeling right now, and why do you think you feel that way?

    • What would happen if you allowed yourself to fully feel and express the emotion you’re experiencing without trying to control or suppress it? How might this change your response to the situation?

    • How can you use the valuable information your emotions provide to choose a response that aligns with your values and supports your desired outcome?

If you’re feeling stuck in a cycle of suffering, this article may provide you with some valuable insights.: The Secret To Dealing With Pain And Suffering.

2. Practice gratitude

I know you hear that everywhere… And sometimes, I guess you’re like: “But life sucks; I don’t want to be grateful right now!” If that’s the case, go back to step 1.

Just over a week ago, I was on the Appalachian trail for a few days to support my amazing wife, who led a hiking and walking retreat.

It felt so good to be in nature! As I walked, I suddenly felt this burst of joy and gratitude for being alive. I often find myself getting lost in solving problems, chasing bigger things, planning my future, and executing my grand plans. And also sometimes complaining about what doesn’t work. But that moment on the trail reminded me of something so simple yet so profound: waking up each morning is a gift. 

You can’t be in a state of gratitude and depression simultaneously. And there is always something to be thankful for. Let me give you one technique that will help: leave the past, stay away from the future, and tune into the present. That’s where gratitude is to be found; not in whatever happened that hurt you or whatever did not yet happen that make you worry.

Gratitude is a powerful tool for choosing your stance. When you focus on the good things in your life, even when things are difficult, you empower yourself to find joy and fulfillment in the present moment. Take a snapshot of the present moment and reflect on the following:

  • What small things in your life are you grateful for, and how can you express your appreciation for them today?
  • How do you feel when focusing on gratitude in the present moment?
  • What steps can you take to create a daily gratitude practice even when things are challenging or difficult (especially then!)?

3. Choose your response

Now that you have acknowledged your emotions and taken the time to recenter yourself in the here and now, it is time to choose your response. Before making a decision, you must consider the different options. This is the moment to generate more options!

When I was hiking in Patagonia, after expressing my pain and frustration, I noticed what was good in the moment. Then I let go of the complaint and chose joy. Sometimes we don’t know that joy is available because the suffering is too overwhelming. So we choose between mad and angry. But when we slow down, feel, and think, we can come up with more options and choose the one that aligns with our values and goals.

  • What emotion would you like to feel right now?

  • What can you do that will help you move toward that emotion?

  • Based on the previous answers, what response aligns with your values and serves your best interests?

Man standing with crossed arms grateful for this strong feeling that he feels deep inside of him.

The power of choosing your inner stance

When life sucks, it sucks! Denying the suck or not speaking about something doesn’t make it less real. Remember that you have the power to choose how you react to the situations in your life. Instead of trying to get by, you can follow this simple process of acknowledging how you feel, letting go of the past and the future while looking for the good things, and finally choosing your response. 

By choosing a response that aligns with your values and goals, you can empower yourself to navigate challenges with grace and resilience and ultimately achieve the desired outcomes. Choosing your stance is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

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Download Chapter 1 of my new book: "The Illusion of Time"

After nearly dying in a tsunami, I dove deep into personal growth, trying to find answers to my questions. I promised myself to live every single day to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. But for that, I had to get better at life. In my book “The Illusion of Time,” I put together 11 lessons to not suck at life and make the most out of it.

Download Chapter 1 of my new book: "The Illusion of Time"

After nearly dying in a tsunami, I dove deep into personal growth, trying to find answers to my questions. I promised myself to live every single day to the fullest and inspire others to do the same. But for that, I had to get better at life. In my book “The Illusion of Time,” I put together 11 lessons to not suck at life and make the most out of it.

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