Every Rough Patch Contains a Seed of Benefit



The Core of the Matter; by madlyinlovewithlife

Looking for Seeds of Benefit

A long time ago, I came across this quote:

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it
the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

~ Napoleon Hill

The words resonated with me so much that I transcribed them into my quote journal. Some years later, when I was going through a really rough patch, I remembered that quote, dug it out of my journal and copied it onto a small piece of paper which I carried around in my pocket. For weeks, I repeated it to myself often—because, for me, just saying those words brought me inner relief.

Inspired by the quote, I decided to try to write a list of all the possible benefits that could conceivably come out of my not-so-good feeling circumstances. At first, all I could do was stare at a blank page—I couldn’t think of a single benefit of my predicament. Not one.

Then, as I slowly let go of seeing things from only one perspective, I gradually began to open to a broader view and I came up with a few potentially good things that might arise. Finding those positives inspired me to commit to several brainstorming sessions—I sat with the intention of racking my brain to come up with more possible benefits, however tangential, that could potentially come out of my situation. In true brainstorming fashion, I refused to judge anything or deem an outcome impossible. I simply wrote them all down, uncensored. I eventually got into the spirit of it and made a game of adding more and more things to my list.

Over the next few days I came up with a list of 22 possible benefits, which included things I didn’t truly believe were probable or even possible at that time. I kept the list in my pocket and focused on it every time I started to feel bad about my situation (read: every time I wanted to let myself sink into a bottomless pool of self-pity). The list served me well, for I discovered that, even though nothing in my situation had changed, by the time I’d read to the bottom that list, I felt better—every time.

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.”

~ Lao Tzu


Time passed and so did that rough patch and I forgot all about the list. One day, not so long ago, I was cleaning out a drawer and I came upon it. Intrigued, I read over the 22 possible benefits I’d written so many years before. As I read down the list I began to realize that every single thing I’d written, including the things I didn’t think were possible at the time, had come to pass—everything! And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that much more good had come to me than what I’d written down—things that I couldn’t have foreseen at the time.

“If you say you can or you can’t you are right either way.”

~ Henry Ford

In retrospect, I wouldn’t give back that seemingly negative experience for anything—I see now that the benefit I reaped from it was so incredibly valuable. If you’d have asked me at the time, I would have told you there could never be any good to come from my situation—but I couldn’t have been more mistaken.


“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity?
Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty,
and every difficulty has an opportunity.”

― J. Sidlow Baxter

Take Heart

It’s easier to stay mired in the negative, fixated on what appears at the time to be an unsolvable problem. It certainly does take some mental effort to re-focus and begin to envision your way out of negative circumstances. But whether or not things change right away, there is an immediate pay-off from making the effort: you’ll start to feel emotional relief immediately. Even if that were the only pay-off, it’s a worthwhile thing to do. But I believe that focusing on anything positive does more that that; I believe a positive attitude opens us up to unseen Universal forces which begin to allow for seemingly magical things to happen.

So, if you are going through a rough patch, take heart—focus on the possible seeds of benefit the experience potentially holds for you, because even when we can’t yet see them, I believe they are always there. There is a flip-side to everything, so when things go seemingly wrong, something very right is potentially born. The key is to keep your focus on those potential seeds and give them the care and attention they need to blossom into existence.


See my related post: The Transformative Power of Failure



Image Credits:

The Core of the Matter, digital art by madlyinlovewithlife
© 2012 madlyinlovewithlife

Yin Yang, CC by AJ Cann via Flickr

Cherry Blossoms and Full Moon, by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2009 madlyinlovewithlife

19 thoughts on “Every Rough Patch Contains a Seed of Benefit

  1. Wonderfully positive Jeannie, an attitude I try and maintain in my daily life. The idea of putting ones goals onto paper and putting them out there is one I condone. Almost like a magical mantra. Well done you.
    All the best.

    • Thank you very much, Mark. There really is something seemingly magical about this process. Like you, I try to maintain such an attitude in my day to day life, even with the small stuff—perhaps especially the small stuff, because it’s easier. I’ve tried the alternative (being a pessimist) many times in the past and I finally realized it really didn’t help me solve anything. In fact, I stay mired in my “issues” longer. I think the only way one can come know whether there is any value in adopting a positive stance is to simply try it over time and see what happens. In my experience, things change for the better much faster when I stay positive. Thanks for stopping by! Wishing you and yours a very happy weekend! ~ Jeannie :)))

  2. What a wonderful, wonderful post, Jeannie! So glad I read it — and boy, did I need to read it. :) You know, I’ve found that when I write down goals I think nothing will come of them. But then, a few months later, or a year or so, I’ll find them and discover, as you did, that many, if not all of them had happened. Amazing! I’m definitely putting that first quote near my computer — thank you so much! (And thank you for your kind words when I came back to blogging — I really appreciated it.) :)

    • Hello Debra! I think that writing down benefits or goals is such a great way to focus one’s mind. I don’t think there is any magic in the writing of them per se, except that the act of writing is a powerful form of focus. Then, surrendering them or letting go of any worry or angst around them allows for more positive energies to flow. At least that’s been my experience. And you’re welcome—I truly believe one can never go wrong by letting go of whatever we think the Peanut Gallery thinks and simply follow our heart’s desire. I think listening to our hearts always leads to good things. :))

      • Amen to that, Jeannie! Everything you’ve said — right on the mark. I still try to write down yearly goals, and I try to surround myself with positive quotes/thoughts. Doesn’t always work, but as you say it does focus the mind and that helps a great deal. Again, thank you for this wonderful post!

    • Thank you, Debra! Yes, the apple core image above is a digitally hand-painted photograph that I shot. Here’s how the image came about, if you are interested: when I was active on Flickr I came across some interesting images of dried apple cores that someone had shot and posted. I was intrigued by the dried shapes and wanted to experiment with apple cores myself. So I made a nice snack out of a fresh apple, put the core on a plate, lightly covered it with a tea towel and left it out to dry in Calgary’s dry winter air. After 10 days, it started to look like the interesting dried apple core shots I’d seen on Flickr. I took some shots of it using a macro lens and then imported a photo onto my computer, where I used a digital art program to hand-paint it using a stylus and oil brushes.

      • Wow, that’s really cool, Jeannie. I love that apple core! I once painted a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch, and wouldn’t you know it, I chose to paint the one that was all rotted in the center (lots of black and gray hues, LOL). I don’t know what that says about me, but I do love images of things aging. Maybe I’m trying to face my owning aging process, :)

  3. Dear Jeannie,
    I don’t know how you do it – your posts are always inspiring & uplifting, and (from a selfish perspective) seem to come right at the perfect moment. A big Thank You for sharing the quotes, some of your experiences, and your stunning artwork and photography. I’m kind of emotional right now ;) Hope you and your partner are having a wonderful weekend, full of laughter and love!!

    • Dear Takami! Thank you so much for your gracious words and your good wishes. Everyone goes through rough patches in life and if my blog can offer a soothing word to just one person, then I have achieved my goal. Thank YOU, my friend, for being so generous in sharing your thoughts. I wish for you all the good things this life has to offer. And if it doesn’t seem like it’s coming just yet, know that it will, my friend. :))

      • 金本様こそ、優しいお方じゃないですか?^^
        (for Jeannie: Mr. Koji kindly said I’m a nice person, and I replied with ‘But aren’t you such a kind gentleman yourself?’) :-)))

  4. I had not checked on your website in quite a while and your subject matter on being positive could not be more appropriate as I have a niece diagnosed with lung cancer whose positive attitude is such an inspiration to her family & friends. She is visualizing happy thoughts & images & not allowing any bad thoughts to enter her mind. Thanks Jeannie for such a wonderful written post.
    You are a gifted writer & photographer whose work I love to see even though it may be periodic visits. Suddenly I am reminded that I had not looked at your web page & better check it out.I am never disappointed in what you share with us.Have a wonderful new week my friend.

    • Your niece has every reason to feel positive. The body is incredibly capable of regaining balance and health, and staying positive allows for so much healing to take place. I shall hold her in my thoughts, envisioning her return to perfect health. And thank you, dear Diane, for your very kind and gracious words.

      Sending you and your family many warm wishes,

  5. Thanks so much, Jeannie, for this inspiring, hopeful, and courageous post. I find it is so easy for us to sink into self-pity when things aren’t going well, but actually it is too easy. So much better to move through it with thoughts, words, lists, or memories of our blessings, and the faith that benefits and happiness await. Great post. :)

    • Thank YOU, Jet, for your very thoughtful and well-written comment. It so true that it’s easy to feel positive and hopeful when things are going our way and not at all easy when things aren’t going as we wish. The real work for anyone seeking to be a true optimist is to hold fast when the seas get rough. I think it’s our habits of thought, our self-talk and our past disappointments that make it so easy for us to stay negative but, like any habit, with a bit of commitment and practice, that negative self-talk can be changed into something more positive. One of the keys for me is to take my attention off of what has already occurred and start looking forward to where new possibilities exist (but I’ll be the first to acknowledge that it’s easier said than done). Thanks again for contributing your valuable thoughts to this discussion.

      • I, too, gently push myself to take my attn off what has already occurred and look forward to more hopeful possibilities. It took some time to re-route my thinking, but it has been ever-so helpful. Thanks so much Jeannie…. :D

  6. It is a tough battle, Jeannie. It is really tough being under attack by your own feelings 24 hours a day, even while trying to sleep. Pretty difficult putting up a defense…

    • Yes, monkey mind can be tough to deal with. The way I’ve dealt with it is meditation. For me, meditation has done wonders to calm my mind and help me gain control over my thoughts and emotions. My meditation teacher (an esteemed Buddhist monk) says that even practicing for five minutes three times a day will yield fruitful results over time.

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