When I was fourteen, my godparents gave birth to a baby boy after twenty years of marriage. The most joyful day of their lives was shattered by the devastating news that their son had Down's Syndrome. Fifty years ago Downs was a death sentence and Robert was no exception. Three weeks later they buried their only child. I was deeply impacted by the response from my aunt, a woman of deep faith, when questioned about their loss. "I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to experience being pregnant and bringing a child into this world." Years later, when I became a mother myself, I found it difficult to fully comprehend her positive attitude. Losing a child is every mother's worst nightmare, I thought to myself. I would die if that happened to me. Little did I realize what the years ahead held in store for me.

Every day, humans face indescribable heartbreak: children being abducted, raped or murdered. Soldiers, having witnessed the unspeakable horrors of combat, return home with bodies that no longer function at full capacity. Six years of a declining economy have left families facing financial ruin. Yet amidst all of the misfortune, injustice, and loss there are those who miraculously find a way to maintain a joyful spirit.

Why is it that some who face insurmountable hardships sustain hope and joy while others drown in bitterness and anger? There are ten behaviors common to survivors and "thrivers" that you can embrace as well:

1. Don't dwell on the past. Know that it is a learning tool to further advance you in your life process.
2. Understand that there is a higher purpose to suffering. Just as a pregnant woman experiences intense labor pains in order to bring new life into this world, so too must we sometimes suffer in order to create life extraordinaire.
3. Acknowledge and process your anger, fear, remorse, etc. to prevent it from turning into bitterness and resentment.
4. Reject feelings of self-pity and victimization. They serve no valuable purpose and, like quicksand, will only pull you further down, ultimately leading to your demise.
5. Remain positive: remember that every pile of manure was created by a pony. Seek and find the gifts that are await you.
6. Look for ways to use your new-found knowledge and situation to help others. Never miss an opportunity to make the world a better place.
7. Focus on gratitude; search for and acknowledge the blessings that still remain in your life.
8. Remember: you are far more resilient than you realize. Reflect on all of the challenges you've overcome thus far and build on those strengths and attributes to pull you through yet another life surprise.
9. Use others as a source of inspiration. There are many who have been through worse than you.
10. Have faith in God that He always provides whatever is necessary to face the apparent and unseen challenges that life hands us. And at the exact right moment He will show you the necessity of this experience and reveal His Divine plan to you.

I endured a ten-year estrangement from three of my adult children and subsequently two grandchildren. While it has never been my style to wallow in self-pity, the excruciating pain of being separated from my children nearly ended my life as I knew it. Yet the strength and love of my Heavenly Father upheld me. Once I learned to fully trust in Him and realize that my life was literally in His hands to do with as He saw fit, my worry and anxiety subsided and in its place I discovered a sacred peace that has sustained me ever since. Only then could I fully understand my aunt's response to the loss of her son.

Trust in God. He will guide you through life's most terrifying moments and bring you to victory each time. Let go of the need to live life on your terms. Follow His directive. He is really all you need - now and for eternity.

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Author's Bio: 

Janet Pfeiffer, international inspirational speaker and award-winning author has appeared on CNN, Lifetime, ABC News, The 700 Club, NBC News, Fox News, The Harvest Show, Celebration, TruTV and many others. She’s been a guest on over 100 top radio shows (including Fox News Radio), is a contributor to Ebru Today TV and hosts her own radio show, Anger 911, on www.Anger911.net.
Janet's spoken at the United Nations, Notre Dame University, was a keynote speaker for the YWCA National Week Without Violence Campaign, and is a past board member for the World Addiction Foundation.
She's a former columnist for the Daily Record and contributing writer to Woman’s World Magazine, Living Solo, Prime Woman Magazine, and N.J. Family. Her name has appeared in print more than 100 million times, including The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Alaska Business Monthly and more than 50 other publications.
A consultant to corporations including AT&T, U.S. Army, U.S. Postal Service, and Hoffman-LaRoche, Janet is N.J. State certified in domestic violence, an instructor at a battered women's shelter, and founder of The Antidote to Anger Group. She specializes in healing anger and conflict and creating inner peace and writes a weekly blog and bi-monthly newsletter.
Janet has authored 8 books, including the highly acclaimed The Secret Side of Anger (endorsed by NY Times bestselling author, Dr. Bernie Siegel).
Read what Marci Shimoff, New York Times bestselling author, says of Janet's latest book, The Great Truth; Shattering Life's Most Insidious Lies That Sabotage Your Happiness Along With the Revelation of Life's Sole Purpose:
"Janet dispels the lies and misconceptions many people have lived by and outlines a practical path to an extraordinary life beyond suffering. Written with honesty, clarity, sincerity, and humor, this book serves as a wonderful guide for anyone seeking a more enriching and fulfilling life.”
Dr. Bernie Siegel says, "All books of wisdom are meant to be read more than once. The Great Truth is one such book."