This is the time of year we actually remember the importance of gratitude. But that doesn't mean there aren't things in your life you wish were different. Maybe you’ve experienced recent setbacks, or unexpected hardship.

If gratitude is a temporary mindset for you, it's easy to see times of hardship as an excuse not to be grateful. If, however, you choose to make gratitude your way of life, you'll find that difficulties offer a unique opportunity for cultivating optimism and resilience.

Finding the good in the worst of experiences has the power to revolutionize your life.
 

When my doctor diagnosed me with clinical depression several years ago, I was working in a corporate job that I hated. Eventually, after feeling like I had run out of options, I turned as a last resort to gratitude. Committing to be thankful for everything in my life — even the things I hated — was a huge factor in my recovery from depression.

Because of my perspective, the boss who was hard to work with became a person with whom I could empathize. The corporate job I hated became an integral part of realizing my future life. By saving more, I was able to build a safety net that allowed me to leave an unfulfilling life behind to follow my dream of becoming an author and life coach.

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If this time of reflection is telling you that you want — you need — to transform your life, I suggest you start by cultivating gratitude for the most difficult challenges you face. Finding the good in the worst of experiences has the power to revolutionize your life. You will feel less anxious, more at peace, more present, and more appreciative of the people in your life — including yourself.

Gratitude is a powerful process for shifting your energy. Choosing to focus on the good is the most effective way to attract more of it.

Here are seven circumstances or experiences you might never have thought to be thankful for — but probably should be.

1. Without your struggles, you wouldn't have found the strength you have now.

2. Goals you haven't reached and dreams that haven't come true are opportunities to cultivate patience.

3. Making mistakes is evidence that you still have room to grow. What's the point of life if you've stopped learning?

4. Wrong turns and unmet expectations have been crucial in helping you discover what you actually want.

5. The people who are unsupportive of your dreams have given you room to believe in yourself even more.

6. The people who have wronged you are allowing you to practice forgiveness.

7. The wrinkles you see in the mirror are a physical reminder of the adventures you've had and the life you've lived.

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These suggestions are excerpted from the author’s new book Adventures for Your Soul.