Ever feel like life is unfair?
Are there too many problems clawing for your attention?
You’re not the only one.
At times it feels like too much to bear.
But there’s a better way to deal with the difficulties of life.
The answer lies not in running away, but turning to face life fully.
The Truth About Adversity
“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” – Frederick Douglass
Adversity is synonymous with difficulty and misfortune.
And we’ve been taught to avoid difficulty at all cost.
But without difficulty, without adversity, there is no growth. No progress. No life. No fulfillment.
Adversity is the force that shapes you for what’s to come.
It’s nothing more than how you view an event in your life. Adversity teaches you to let go of what you think is happening. It nudges you to stay in the present moment.
Adversity seems like an obstacle between you and your dreams. But it’s more like a friend pointing to the the stepping stones along the stream.
“The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.” – Rumi
Accept the difficulties of life, and life becomes less difficult, because when you face the perceived problems in your life, you become larger than them.
The problem isn’t adversity, but how you relate to it.
When adversity comes knocking on your door, open up, and say hi. It has something to teach you. Somewhere to nudge you.
If I’m honest with myself, I cannot judge events in my life. I don’t know what’s positive and what’s negative. I don’t know what has been put in motion.
In my teens, I had stomach trouble. I spent several years in agony. Yet it changed my life. The doctor’s couldn’t find anything wrong, so I had to reclaim my power, and uncover the solution for myself.
It opened my eyes.
I woke up, as if from a dream, and realized that I could teach myself whatever I wanted.
I could find my own answers, and my own attitude.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” – Viktor Frankl
A Better Way to Cope with Adversity
“There is no education like adversity.” – Disraeli
Instead of seeing adversity as the enemy, look at what you’re being taught.
Coping with adversity doesn’t mean you eliminate the flinch of a negative event.
It means letting go of the reaction to the reaction.
The second reaction is what determines whether you keep pouring fuel on the fire, or whether you harness the fire for your benefit.
Unravel the Reaction
“By letting go it all gets done.” – Lao Tzu
This quote by Lao Tzu is about a mental letting go.
What keeps me chained to resisting adversity is thinking that I’ll fail if things don’t go perfectly.
But once again, I don’t know what perfectly means. I have an idea in my head of how things should go, but I don’t really know.
It’s a fabricated story.
In the end, all I can ever do is live each moment as best as I can, and see what happens.
As John Keats, an English poet, wrote: “If Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all.”
I follow my heart, my calling, and if it isn’t meant to be, it won’t be.
A Real Life Example
Between 2013 and 2017, I went in and out of depression (or I went through a dark night of the soul).
Life lost its color. Everything lost its meaning.
At first, I resisted. I felt as if I was walking through life unassisted.
But gradually I began to write in my journal. I began to meditate again. Adversity turned into opportunity because of a shift in perspective.
I told myself, “If this is what has to be, then it will be, but I will face it fully. I will feel everything.”
I had to let go of all the results I was grasping for. I had to come face to face with my pattern of wanting to force progress, and wanting to bully life into a ready-made mold.
Sounds easier than it was, but those are the cliff notes. I wrote a more in-depth post about it here.
The Bottom Line
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” – Seneca
Life is difficult. (edited from Life is meant to be difficult).
Life challenges you.
But that doesn’t automatically make it a problem.
The problem is thinking that life should be a smooth ride.
How you think about adversity is what determines how you feel about it, because you feel your thoughts.
The more you can accept what comes your way, the more you can flow with life, and turn difficulty into opportunity.
The more you grow as a person, the more you can deal with life.
And to end this article with a bang, here’s a quote from Hunter S. Thompson:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”