Adversity is really your friend and not your enemy
Do you want an easy life, or one of significance? Do you believe in filling your life and house with stuff, or do revel in the relationships that you have formed with the people who mean the most to you? In many ways life is like a camping trip. Do you take a triple axle RV packed with all the comforts that will not let you miss “home”? Or do you want to experience nature and people at eye level, but that may come with a little discomfort and pain?
I just read a fabulous book (Get more details about “The Adversity Advantage”) about blind mountaineer Erik Weihenmayer. He has climbed 7 of the world’s most difficult summits. Blind, you may ask? Yes, blind. There is probably very little that can top this level of adversity. Yet he did it. There are a few lessons that we can take away from his experiences.
- How much suffering and pain do you have in your life? Compare that to the feat of not having your eyesight and yet hiking and climbing up to summits that even the most experienced folks may never be able to reach. Take inventory of your life. Is it really that bad?
- We need to suffer a little (some more than others) in order to learn. We need to suffer a little in order to appreciate what we have. It is too late when we no longer have it.
- It is all about how we suffer. Do you whitewash your pain? Do you blissfully ignore it? Do you wallow in suffering? Do you feel like every little issue is ruining your day turning into ballooning catastrophes? Do you escape by using / abusing alcohol, drugs, food, sex such that you numb your pain? Or do you grief and be angry for a little while, but then you see the blessing in the suffering that you have just gone through? How about all the opportunities that have just opened up for you?
- Do you help people when you are doing well? We should, shouldn’t we? Do you help people when you are not doing well and you are struggling yourself? That is the ultimate summit you have the opportunity climbing: Significance comes from lifting up people during life’s lows.
Blind mountain climber Erik organized a climb to one of the seven top summits with blind, physical handicapped, and folks with no “impairments” (when you manage climbing Mount Everest blind, are you really impaired?). This group set out to win as a team and managed to get there with 24 out of 27 people. While it was surely a personal victory of his, don’t you think that he has managed to change the life of the other 27 people forever?
Your suffering and adversity overcoming skills are like your muscles. It takes years to develop them but lack of use and abuse will shrink them and will end up living a weak life.