Transforming your worst time into your best (#FindTheGift)

grief loss meditation parents purpose questions research spirituality transformation Jun 28, 2022

June 28th, 2022
Ep 26: Transforming your worst time into your best (#FindTheGift) w/ Lauren Lowrey


What if the worst thing that ever happened to you turned out to be the best thing?

Consistently, the people on AMPstigator who've discussed finding purpose say, for them, it came after some level of pain.  But the choices they made in spite of the pain helped them overcome negativity, stress, and disillusionment.

Let's be real, life ain't all butterflies and roses, so in this episode we talk about why you have to find the strength to transform pain into purpose and focus on ONE VERY POWERFUL way to do that: SHOWING GRATITUDE. #FindTheGift

💥 This episode is for you if 💥

-You struggle with gratitude

-You're in the middle of a pretty big storm that you can't seem to get a handle on

-You need encouragement to let go of negativity


📺What you'll hear in this episode📺

What if this stormy period in your life is the exact gift you need to blow away bad habits, wash away limiting beliefs and drown-out an old identity? In today's episode:

-[4:47] Lauren shows gratitude is embedded deep within us because giving gifts and showing gratitude pre-dates our widespread use of language

-[9:27] Our connection to gifts and why changing our ideas about what they are is the key to feeling gratitude, even in the darkest times.

-[14:58] How purpose is the culmination of repeatedly making choices to overcome -- and nature's ability to teach us this every hurricane season.

-[20:51] A reflection session with Lauren where she asks you to think about what gifts are in your life.


Plus, receive Lauren's 5-step guide to starting a gratitude practice, reserved only for email subscribers. To receive it and sign up, email her directly: [email protected]



0:23 - What if the worst thing was the best thing?

4:47 - Our connection to giving gifts

6:16 - A vision that teaches us to Find the Gift

9:27 - Research-backed benefits of feeling gratitude

10:51 - How to feel grateful in the hardest times

14:58 - Purpose is the culmination of repeatedly choosing to overcome

15:25 - How loss teaches us gratitude (The Hurricane)

18:26 - What changed for me when I committed to gratitude

20:51 - Reflecting on where to find the gifts


Other AMPstigator episodes mentioned in this episode:

-Ep. 4: MaryBeth Hyland, The Bridge
-Ep. 5: Kristoffer Carter, The Transformer
-Ep. 17: 3 Questions to deepen self-awareness (w/ Lauren Lowrey)
-Ep. 20: Set your intention (w/ Lauren Lowrey)


Episode Transcript:


So glad you’re back again for a little love-note from yours truly. I want to start with a question - something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as it deals with purpose:


What if the worst thing that ever happened to you turned out to be the best thing?


If you’re in the middle of your worst time right now, I know you’re probably saying “that’s impossible. I’m in the worst time - and don’t even think about giving me a silver lining” - I’ve been there. 


It’s an important question though, because the one thing that’s consistently true with nearly every person I’ve ever interviewed about finding purpose… the vast majority of them will tell you they found purpose after pain.


Pain transforms you. It gives a perspective that you don’t even want, but you’re gonna get it anyway. Pain gives you the final exam before you’ve even been taught the lesson. That’s life.. And it’s what shapes us.


But I want to be clear – it’s not the *pain* that brings purpose. It’s what you do *during that pain* that changes you. It’s the choices you make - in spite of the pain - which is what today’s episode is all about: being able to overcome your own negativity, stress, and disillusionment to get to the other side – and one of THE. BEST. WAYS. to do that.


And I can sum it up in 3 simple words:
Find. the. Gift.



When I was almost 6 years old, we went to Clovis, New Mexico to see my grandparents for Christmas. I grew up in South Carolina but I was actually born in CLOVIS, in a small house down the street from my grandma’s.

We were there Christmas morning, 1990. I’m about to turn 6.
Everybody wakes up and we go around the room opening presents.

My mom always likes us to save our biggest present for last. So, when it came time for me to open mine - at the end of the morning- I got a big smile on my face and started to pull the wrapping. 

First I see white handles and the streamers. 

Then I see hot pink metal and a white seat.

Then white tires, too.

It was a beautiful bike! The kind every super-femme child of the 80s with side-ponies and fanny packs could’ve possibly hoped for. 


But instead of jumping for joy.. Or squealing.. Or hugging my grandparents who gave me the bike. Or saying -I don’t know- THANK YOU….


I lost. My freaking. Mind. And not in a good way. 


I ran out of the room in tears. I locked myself in a bedroom and I cried. 

My mom was mortified. She was so embarrassed. She was apologizing to my grandparents about my reaction and - mainly how I wasn’t being grateful. And then she tried to get inside the bedroom where I was melting down, but I wouldn’t unlock the door.


We laugh about it now… it’s actually it’s own metaphor now for when somebody is given something they say they want and then decide they don’t want it - and they meltdown like a child.


The wild thing is I thought it was beautiful. And i remember crying on my grandparents shag carpet, locked inside the bedroom, thinking to myself “WHY. AM I CRYING?”



So let’s think about that in adulthood. So often we hope for something, it doesn’t turn out exactly how we planned, and then we get really upset that the process isn’t what we think it should be.

It should be going fast, but this is going slow. It needs to go this way, not that way.

And we get upset - and depending on how big the setback is, it could take years to get over it.


But what if we changed our perspective on the setback? What if we chose to see it -this thing that caused tears or shame or injury or DEBT- what if we saw that as a gift – Part of what gets us where we’re trying to go – or maybe gets us closer to our intention. 

I have a whole episode on intentions, it’s episode 20 – so go back and check that one out. It’ll help you gain some real clarity on how powerful intentions are for you. 



But even before intentions… ground zero of turning it all around is FINDING. THE GIFT. Feeling gratitude even when it feels opposite of the way you feel in that situation.


So let’s back it up here. Anthropologists say we’ve been giving gifts since way before civilization. Maybe it was a tooth from an animal, bark from a special tree. It was a way to show “thanks” – the outward expression of something we felt inside, which was love or gratitude. Historians believe giving gifts was done even before widespread use of language.

So, giving and receiving is primitive. It’s natural for us to do it. It’s embedded in there. This is something we humans do!



And we aren’t the only ones. 

Crows give gifts – paperclips, twigs.

We see primates do it - they give food to friends. 

Penguins give pretty rocks to potential partners.
Dolphins in captivity - give gifts of food to their keepers all the time.

I feel like sharing food is the ultimate! It says “hey, i love you and I don’t want you to starve.” 


When we give a gift - the hope is that the person who receives it feels the same emotion we felt when we picked it out, or made it, and gifted it. It’s a sweet exchange.


So, we reach adulthood and have this idea that gifts have to be somewhat tangible. 

We get gifts on our birthday.

Maybe on a couple holidays.


But we’re given gifts far more frequently.



In Season 1, I interviewed MaryBeth Hyland. She lives in Baltimore and a P.R. pitch email is what brought us together. She wrote a book last year called Permission to Be Human and the PR person was asking if I wanted to interview her.
To be totally honest -because that’s what we do here- I often delete those emails, but something about this one caught my attention. It wasn’t the quality of the writing or the story idea. I just had an inner knowing that I needed to connect with this woman. And I’m so glad I did. She traveled to Nashville to be a part of my original 13 episodes. She saw my vision and was like “I’m here for that!”

In that episode -Episode 4- she told this awesome story about a vision one of her friends had.. And the friend called MaryBeth to share it. Take a listen to the story:


“She had this vision and she said ‘MaryBeth I just saw you walking this winding path… keep looking for the gift even in the moments that don’t feel like there are gifts in them.”


I gotta be real with you - I, like every other human on this planet, is wired to notice the negative. I’ve been obsessive about it and let it ruin dozens and dozens of great days because I wouldn’t just notice the gift.

That’s why I love this story from MaryBeth because it’s a reminder how we need to keep things in perspective. On the day we shot that interview it was like 70-degrees in December in Nashville. What a gift?!?!?! Especially for her coming from Baltimore. She sat by her hotel pool in December!


Your life is full of gifts. All you have to do is pull the string. 

Even that situation in your life that you’re totally cussing or shunning because you think it’s all wrong….





So - What gifts are lingering in your life right now, unopened. Is there a person you know who might help you get closer to where you want to be? Was the gift already given to you, but you’re stuck in this mindset of noticing the negative and you can’t seem to see it for the gift it is?


Is your gift wrapped up in loss – and you’re being taught non-attachment right now, and how to let things go?


Start becoming aware of the gifts that are out there - waiting for you. And like MaryBeth said - “just pull the string.”



And I’m really harping on gifts right now because I want you to connect with the underlying emotion that comes when you receive a gift. Something you didn’t expect. (It’s also partly why my mom WAS SO EMBARRASSED WHEN I STORMED OUT SOBBING THAT CHRISTMAS WITH THE PINK BIKE.)


What are you supposed to say when you’re given something????


Thank you.

I didn’t say thank you. 


And why does a person say “thank you”? To express gratitude.



Just a few days ago I was reading about research that showed "gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress). When you feel less stress, you feel more optimistic.

In other research, scientists have shown gratitude helps you overcome trauma and reduce depression.

Gratitude gives you stronger self-esteem which contributes to optimum performance each day.

Grateful people have fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier.

Grateful people sleep better.

Saying thank you… being grateful… that’s totally free. Gratitude doesn’t cost money. It doesn’t even require a physical action. You can simply take time to be grateful in your heart and mind and research is showing over and over that you reap the positive neurological and physical benefits. 



It’s easy to be grateful AFTER you’ve received something. The real change comes when you can choose gratitude even BEFORE you’ve seen the gift.  Choosing to be grateful in the midst of struggle – creating a gratitude practice, for example - can really help.


My friend Kristoffer Carter put it like this in Episode 5 of AMPstigator. 


“If we really look around our life and … what is the one thing we can be grateful for… and build it from there.”


It’s such a simple concept. Simply feeling the emotions - letting them radiate around your heart and mind. In that same episode with KC, he talks about how simply placing your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly, breathing in deeply, and then allowing gratitude just radiate around in a loop can help you so significantly.

Having an attitude of gratitude changes everything AND as research shows.. it makes you healthier, it reduces physical pain in your body, it helps you overcome trauma, IT HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER.



BUT I WILL TELL YOU FROM EXPERIENCE, OFTEN, the hardest thing we can ever do is feel grateful when all we feel is pain. 


I’ve shared about my major turning point moment in january 2021. I talk about it in Episode 17 if you haven’t listened already. That day I told you about in that episode was THE TURNING POINT… the time I personally realized I couldn’t let other people determine what was meant for me, or what I was capable of, or what I was worth, or what I was here to do. I had given everyone else the power and it was time I take it back.


Even though I knew that particular day was a life-changing, watershed moment... It still took me months to overcome the anger and resentment and hate I felt in the situation. I had to do some deep inner work to change my attitude, to change my long-held beliefs, and also change what I believed was possible for my life. For the first time – I had to define it. And honestly, some of that work continues. I’m still in regulation play on this really looong game.



But In that process of feeling hate, and anger, and resentment… I forced myself to feel grateful. And it was hard.


Every day I’d go to work… I’d feel the anger well up, and I would combat it with the choice to feel grateful for my health. Grateful that I had a job. Grateful that I had a sweet husband and three amazing kids. Grateful to have a weekend to be with them. 


And even in the midst of a crappy situation - I chose to feel Grateful... that I had been… woken up.



I made an active choice to be grateful for the pain, because intuitively I knew purpose would come from it. That purpose was AMPstigator and I was grateful for it EVEN BEFORE I created it. 

Anytime someone close to me would ask how I was doing.. I would say “SOMETHING will come from it. I don’t know what it is, but SOMETHING BIGGER will come from this time. I’m just being grateful and open to whatever that is.”


It was 5 full months before I got the idea for the podcast, before I started exploring it or started working on it. But when it hit, I KNEW.. I was called to start this project, both for me and for the people I would impact by sharing powerful stories of people who’ve overcome. 



And that’s something major that I highlight in every episode of this podcast that purpose is the culmination of alllll the times you’ve chosen to overcome. It’s a choice. 


We see this lesson in nature all the time. THink about it like this, when you’ve got a bad storm that comes and the winds start picking things up and throwing them around, things get blown away. You have to choose to rebuild.


I grew up along the coast in South Carolina and we saw hurricanes all the time. And when you’d watch the weather, you’d look for the eye of the storm. It’s the place the clouds would clear out, the winds would die down and you could actually see the sun. It’s wild because all around there would be torrential rains and crazy winds, but in the eye, there’s this relative calm. 

SO when they’d say a storm made landfall somewhere, they’re talking about the eye. Where did the center of the eye land?

Hurricanes are destructive. They blow things away. They bring floods. They spin-off tornadoes and wash away A LOT.

You can certainly cry about what’s gone, grieve the loss, feel the sadness for what those things meant to you. But then, you have to make the difficult choice to feel gratitude.
Grateful it could’ve been worse but your most important things were spared.
Grateful nature made the choice for you about taking away the things you didn’t need. 

Grateful for a new perspective.




Sometimes the hurricane is a job loss, or an addiction, or a mental breakdown or maybe the death of someone close. But the stronger the hurricane, the stronger the eye. 

The eye of the hurricane is your heart. It’s the place where you go to see sunlight. To feel a reprieve from the wind. It’s where you go inward to fill up again. Your heart is always there for you. You find Gratitude there. Love is there. Peace is there. You find rest there. It’s why silence, meditation, prayer, these stilling practices are so incredibly important for strengthening your resolve.


When you look around and see the storm, look for the eye of the storm, inside. Be filled with expectant gratitude for what hasn’t yet happened. Feel gratitude for the life you know is coming – because you can see it in your heart. That’s when you say “THANK YOU” for the storm. The hurricane was your gift. 


It’s not easy.

But after a while, you start to tune into the people and the events that get you closer to that life you see yourself living – and you can’t help but feel gratitude for that. 



You have a path full of gifts. Find them. Pull the string. You can be grateful that everything you need is already in you. Just start being grateful and the rest begins to fall into place.



After I started being consistently grateful, I started having so many wild synchronicities, serendipities, God moments. Like - I would think about a person, feel gratitude for their friendship, and then within a day we would cross paths. Or I would say “Gosh I need someone to help me with xyz - I’m grateful that someone is coming my way to help me with this” and then that person, who in multiple cases I had never met, would just appear. I’m not kidding – it keeps happening. 


I made a conscious choice to consider people in my life…. GIFTS. 


So, after MaryBeth told me that story – about having the gifts all laid out in front of you.. I started saying this sentence when something like that would happen - I’d say “You’re my gift today” or “that was my gift today.” 


I meet a girlfriend for a walk to catch up, I say “you’re my gift today.” 

I have a meeting get cancelled, even one I looked forward to, I say “that’s my gift today.” 


I actively look for more gifts each day because I know for me, gratitude has been the key to all of it. In my life, people are gifts. 


I’ve evolved my gratitude practice one step further… and I now look for opportunities to be someone else’s gift. I see something I can do for someone that would make a difference for them, I do it!

And I think when we commit to allowing ourselves to also be of service, we’re further embodying the things that we also want. 



So I want you to take a moment and reflect a bit…

-What are you grateful for right now?

-What’s holding you back from being grateful?  What’s your hurricane?

-Where are you putting negative energy that doesn’t serve you?

-How can we see this storm differently, with new perspective? As a gift.

-Is it time to release it -and maybe even bless- the pain?

-What gift is waiting for you to just pull the string?


Your life is full of gifts. Maybe it’s a shiny hot pink bicycle with streamers and white tires, just waiting to be unwrapped. Don’t lose it when you open what you’ve been waiting for. Practice gratitude now, so you’re ready for that gift when it’s time to pull the bow. 

If you want help starting a gratitude practice, I’ve put a guide in today’s weekly email in your inbox right now. If you aren’t signed up, shoot me a note to “[email protected]”. I’ll send over the details. And if you’re listening to this later, just let me know what bonus content you’re looking for and I’ll send it over.


For now – I encourage you to go into the eye… feel the light, lead with your heart. And live life purposefully. I’m Lauren Lowrey and this is AMPstigator.


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