This week I’d like to discuss challenges in our lives. We all grow up with certain expectations based on how we’re influenced early in our lives by our parents, our teachers, our peers and society at large. Most people expect to establish a successful career and find someone with whom to have a close personal relationship with and enjoy some leisure time once in a while which usually includes vacation.
When we are planning out our future, most people fall into one of three categories. The first category do not anticipate challenges on their path and when they encounter them, they get derailed. The second category will not follow a desired path because they know that they will face challenges and do not want to. The third group expects to encounters challenges and fearlessly and gracefully welcomes and confronts them when they arise.
As you can surmise, the majority of people fall in the first two categories with the minority falling into the third. But why is this? Why should we expect to have lives of ease and comfort? We’ve all heard the old adage that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone but few of us ever live by this premise. The majority shun and fear being uncomfortable and facing obstacles on their path.
This is because most people are addicted to a fantasy of living a seemingly ‘perfect’ life where they are in a wonderful relationship with a great career, meaningful secondary relationships and easily achieve their desired goals. But this hardly ever happens without struggle and hardship.
The fact of the matter is that everyone will face obstacles and challenges in their lives whether we want to or not. Even the most successful people who have ever lived did not achieve their success without some degree of struggle whether they are great actors, star athletes or famous musicians.
What if we were to approach our lives differently? Instead of shunning and retreating from challenges, what if we were to expect, bless and welcome these challenges? How would this transform our relationship to hardship? Would there be anything left to fear? What would you attempt to achieve? Who would you aspire to meet?
The fact is that we are born into this world unwillingly and in a state of hardship. The baby, who has spent nine months in the safe container of their mother’s womb is suddenly thrust into the physical world in a state of shock. In fact, if we knew what is to come in our physical life, most of us would want to remain in the womb.
So what if we had it all wrong? What if we realized that our lives are not about living in ease and comfort but are about seeking and confronting challenges head on outside of our comfort zones? Imagine how we would grow mentally, emotionally and spiritually? Imagine what we would be able to accomplish? Imagine who we would become?
The possibilities would be endless and the impossible would become possible. So suspend the belief that your life is supposed to be easy and accept the difficulties and challenges that are inevitable. In fact, welcome and rejoice in these for the blessings that they are. This is because you know that you will come out on the other side more resilient, more resourceful, more emotionally mature, more fearless, more fulfilled and more joyful.
You will also be on the path to achieving what you once thought was impossible. This is the path to mastery and discovering who you are and what you are here to do. Anything less is a life lived far below your true potential. Start to redefine the challenges in your life as opportunities for growth, self-improvement and transcending limitations. If you do this without reservation your life will never be the same.
Nauman Naeem MD FCCP FRCPC