Better, not bitter...
Seems like these are always the choices, bitter or better. We don't have to look to far to see examples of people who are better after the hardships in life and those people who are bitter. Keep in mind, all bitter does not look the same. I think of my mom and dad who are both bitter, but have no other similarities. Mom is the poster child for bitter, most days. She is angry, doesn't trust people, and can't really ever let go of her hurts long enough to have fun. Dad, on the other hand, doesn't ever give anyone else a thought. He plugs away enjoying his solitude and doing whatever he wants to do. Neither one of them is "better" because of their hardships. The root of bitter is selfishness. It can either be a martyr that never feels like his needs are met, or a person who gratifies all his needs without the thought of another.
Joy is the anti-bitter. If you are trying to distinguish bitter from better, joy is the measuring stick. Joy is not happiness. Happiness is fleeting. It is conditional and can dry up with the least provocation. Joy doesn't always look happy, doesn't paint on a smile every morning. Joy is knowing this ain't it. No matter how hard life gets, my redeemer lives and one day all of this shall pass away. Joy sometimes gets down so far it can hardly get up, but with joy, God will always be the lifter of your head.
I guess this is all so important for me to get out because, while my happiness is depleted right now, my joy remains. Thank you Lord that our joy is forever. You are the lifter of my head.