“I ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders.”
Years ago I received a master’s degree in Asian religions. I was mostly interested in Buddhism. I found the philosophy fascinating and an accurate picture of what I saw happening around me. The foundation of Buddhist philosophy is often summed up by what are called the four noble truths, the first of which is that life is tough, it is full of disappointment and difficulty, suffering and the need to constantly adapt. Rest and calm are hard to come by.
At first, this seems very pessimistic and depressing, but I have thought a lot about what the alternative would be like. What if life were easy? Imagine life without any challenges. You wouldn’t need goals, because the purpose of goals is to motivate us to achieve. Why would we want to acheive anything if everything was easy? Have you every played a game that was too easy for you, that was below your level? It’s no fun, is it?
It is life’s difficulties and problems which become the highlights of life. Think about your greatest accomplishments. Most likely, they are things you acheived by pushing yourself, being persistent and patient. Some of my great accomplishments so far include being self-taught in Mandarin Chinese, quitting smoking, cultivating an amazing relationship with my wife and bringing my wife through the ridiculously bureaucratic U.S. immigration process. All of these accomplishments have required an enormous investment in blood, sweat and tears. Most importantly, each success has given me a stronger platform on which to tackle future challenges.
If you climb a small hill, you probably will soon forget it. However, if you climb a mountain, you will never forget how you felt when you reached the top and the obstacles you overcame along the way.
It is through difficulty, pain and suffering that we grow and become stronger and better people. If life were easy, in my opinion, it would be very boring and without meaning and purpose.
Problems and difficulties are opportunities. It is through using our muscles that they become strong, not letting them relax on a hammock. Often times, when I am faced with a problem, my first impulse has been to wish that I did not have to deal with it or take it on. However, as time goes by, I have realized that problems really are the spice of life; without them life would be bland.
When faced with a problem, I try to remind myself that this could be the seed of one of my greatest accomplishments. Framing it in this way makes it much easier to tackle something head on.
What problems and challenges have you faced that, in the end, turned out to be one of your greatest accomplishments? Leave a comment and share your experience.