In 1608, when the telescope was first demonstrated to a group of European leaders, they considered it a terrible weapon of war. Why? These heads of state reasoned that a general could see enemy armies coming from a much further distance, thus giving him an unfair advantage.

Most of us would never have expected this conclusion, yet war was one of the first applications these leaders saw.

And just as something good like a telescope can be turned towards bad ends, so can something we think of as bad be used for good.

In fact, we can learn the art of finding hidden benefits in so-called “bad” events

When we do, we can feel grateful even during times of hardship. It allows us to find the joy in small things. To realize we can live in fulfilling ways even when many things don’t go our way. Or even when it seems little to nothing is working.

How to discover what we can appreciate during “bad” times

It can be a bit tricky to find moments of appreciation during “hard” times like the current crisis, so I suggest first looking for some hidden benefits in smaller unwanted situations such as feeling annoyed that someone got to a parking space before you. Or you just found out that the package of office supplies you need soon will be delivered a month late. Or maybe the store ran out of toilet paper again.

Finding the hidden benefits in these events will build up your ability to find them for the more challenging events during our current crisis

I’ll show you how to apply this perspective to the events I listed above and then I’ll show how to apply them to something more difficult.

Someone took my parking space.

“I’ll have to park further away. That means I’ll get more exercise.”

My office supplies will be delivered late.

“I get to work on the skill of conserving the materials I have on hand.”

Someone cut me off on the freeway.

“Grrr. At first it’s annoying. Then I think about the potential danger. Finally, I get that this can help me appreciate each moment I’m alive.”

As you can see, it does take a bit of creativity to apply the exercise even to small events.

Now I’ll apply this “Bad to Good” exercise to my current situation — being all alone in my apartment for hours on end

I am healthy and can take care of myself which is a blessing beyond words.

I have a profession in which I help people. The work is gratifying and makes me feel connected to others.

I am working at home and am grateful to have my clients to support through this challenging time.

I have the most beautiful view of nature from my apartment that I now get more time to appreciate.

I have access to hiking trails that are gorgeous all around my house and more time to spend walking on them.

It is the first time my women’s group has had all 11 of us together in town in the past two years.

I have Zoom to see my grandson and two daughters.

I now have Zoom lunches with friends that I haven’t seen for ages such as my friends in Norway.

My stores are still stocked and I have plenty of food (too much in fact :))

I keep hearing about perfect strangers stepping up and helping each other.

I got to know some wonderful neighbors that I’d never met before.

After making this list, I feel much more appreciative and grateful for all the blessings I have.

But aren’t some things like murder really bad?

I would never suggest someone try to find the good in such a tragedy. However, most of the “bad” in our lives is pretty small. By finding the good in unwanted events, we can add just a little more joy to our lives. And during a time of crisis, we can use all the joy we can get.

To try this exercise yourself:

  1. Choose just one small annoyance or inconvenience.
  2. Then think about the potential positive aspects of this experience or it’s positive consequences.
  3. Then notice how you feel. You may feel just a little lighter and just a little more appreciative than before.

Why did those European leaders instantly see the telescope as a weapon? They were all still embroiled in the 80 Years War and so they had a lot of practice thinking about conflict. When you practice looking for the good you can be as good at finding benefits in unwanted events as they were at finding more ways to fight.

Next Step

How to gain the power of a quiet mind in 10 weeks

The mind can be as noisy as a city during rush hour traffic. When the mind is filled with chatter we tend to have more anxieties and annoyances. But what if we could be a bit more like the monk who carries peace within no matter what is happening in the outside world?

We would have a quiet mind, an inner repose no matter what happens outside us

This is the promise of the Occurring Course (formerly the Lefkoe Freedom Course). In this course, you learn how to dissolve meanings your mind gives to events so you are a bit unflappable. Few things will bother you. And those that do bother you will wash away in moments.

If you’re interested you can get a few goodies that help you understand how to get to this quiet place within. To get them, you can click the link to join the waiting list for the Occurring Course. Registration will open in July.