“If life gives you lemons, don’t settle for simply making lemonade – make a glorious scene at a lemonade stand.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
“I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.” ~ Ron White
Clichés are a way for us to turn big things into small, manageable bites. They help us make sense of our world even though they offer only a surface view. Such is the case with the cliché, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. That sounds nice but what does it actually mean?
I understand it’s saying make the best of every situation, but how? Just saying that we should do that doesn’t make it any easier. There are times in your life when things fall apart, you get sick, you lose your job, someone close to you dies, or you get a divorce. These things are the lemons life gives you. So how do you add the sweetness to these events to transform them from something bitter into something as sweet and refreshing as lemonade?
Here are three steps to help you find the sweetness when you go through hard times.
- Remember You Are Not Alone
Isolation keeps you trapped in tragedy. You are not alone. You are not the only person who has ever felt this way, has ever had to go through this, or has had this particular struggle. The thing about life is its lessons are universal.
So reach out for support. Allow others to help heal your wounds and support you through these hard times. Even if all they can offer is a shoulder to cry on and an attentive ear, you will feel better from reaching out and connecting with someone.
- Search For Your Silver Lining
When bad things happen it is human nature to get very caught up in the drama of it all. Bad feelings are very intense and they tend to expand with constant focus. It’s very easy to get mesmerized by them, much like the flute player mesmerizes the cobra.
So you must look away, even if for only a moment. Looking away will break the hold these feelings have on you and allow you to look for what else is available to you in this scenario. Even if a blessing or lesson is not readily apparent the fact that you expect it to show up and are actively looking for it will make it appear.
So open yourself up to the possibility of this event being the turn in the road that will lead to your greater good. Maybe you are sick because you are going to meet a doctor you will eventually fall in love with and marry. Maybe you lost your job because you were supposed to take a year off and help an orphanage in Africa, which is an opportunity you would have never considered because of your “responsibilities”.
I don’t know what lessons or gifts will emerge for you, but I do know you will find them if you look. They are there waiting for you to embrace them.
- You Have Power Over Your Story
How often have you retold the story of something bad that has happened to you? Do you fall into the trap of retelling your wrongs: recounting what bad things happened and who did you wrong?
I call this retelling photo talk. You take a moment in time and retell it like it was captured in a photograph. You have frozen it just as it was in the past, and as such you have frozen yourself in the past, unable to extract anything more from that picture than the details of the scene.
I suggest you free yourself from the pain of keeping that moment locked up and Photoshop your story. Ask yourself questions that tell the rest of the story and integrate the answers. Questions like, “What good came of this event?”, or “What did I learn?”, or “What about that lead me to be here right now?” or even, “What part of that am I grateful for?”. When you expend your version of the story you bring in the sweetness that transforms everything.
“In all my work, I try to say – ‘You may be given a load of sour lemons, why not try to make a dozen lemon meringue pies?’” ~ Maya Angelou
June’s joy-full lesson is discovering the sweetness that is available in every situation, event, or person. Add it to your story and discover the joy of making lemonade from your life’s lemons.