Throughout our lives we are presented with all types of struggles. Some are relatively benign, such as passing a particularly challenging test. Others may be profoundly impactful, such as a devastating personal loss. One thing is certain, if you were presented with a great struggle and overcame it then you were more than likely better off for it in the end.
Think back to all the worst occurrences in your life you can recall. There were probably some events you thought you could not survive. But, survive you did. Not only did you survive, there were probably may positive benefits and rewards for having made it through the greatest challenges you have ever faced.
Consider something great which was handed to you in the past without any effort on your part. Did you appreciate it as much as something you struggled with and obtained only with determination, perseverance and hard work? Where was the reward greatest?
Sometimes in life we make bad decisions and suffer negative consequences of those decisions. As a result, we struggle. Sometimes, destructive and calamitous decisions are made by others on our behalf, decisions we have little or no control over, and we struggle desperately as a result.
In each of those instances, if you overcame the difficulty that was presented to you, did your life not take a new and more positive direction? Did you emerge from your struggle forever changed, as in more resolute, stronger, happier, more content and better equipped for the next challenge?
If so, what do you think now of your life’s greatest struggles? Are they something to disparage or celebrate? Should we despise them or be grateful for them?
Recently, I went through a devastating separation and divorce. It was extremely painful and I was an emotional wreck for a year. But, I never lost hope that things would get better. After a while, I stopped hoping and decided to make them better.
I became introspective and began to reexamine my life. I actively pursued even more change than that which was foisted upon me. I struck out in new directions and enthusiastically sought new experiences.
I learned. I grew. I became a stronger person than I was before. I accepted the gifts of struggle. Now, I will tell you, I am much better off.
I have had many such struggles in my life, just like you. Many wonderful things have always come to me following a great struggle. They are too numerous to mention. None of them would have taken place without the struggle.
Think of all the truly great individuals you know, the famous ones you admire, the notables you would most like to emulate. How did they become so great? Were they born to greatness, did they stumble upon greatness or did they struggle through to greatness?
Imagine a life without struggle? How would we learn? How would we grow? How would we become strong? It only takes a moments reflection to realize, struggle is a precious gift.
I know why we fear and dread struggle so. Struggle is hard. Struggle is unpredictable. Struggle can be painful and cruel. Isn’t it strange, though, that we look back on those aspects of struggle with some sense of satisfaction and fondness after we emerge from them triumphant?
The next time you are presented with a great struggle, resolve to overcome it and dwell on these possibilities instead of dread.
- This struggle could be a prelude to greatness.
- This struggle could be a signal for eminent growth.
- This struggle could lead me off in exciting new directions.
- This struggle could reveal to me some of life’s best kept secrets.
- This struggle could allow me to discover my true passion and purpose.
- This struggle could bring me unanticipated opportunities for joy and happiness.
Opposite of what most of us were taught, perhaps we can begin to view life’s struggles less negatively. Instead, we could endeavor to embrace our struggles for the precious gifts they bring just as long as we remain open to receive them.
What are some of the struggles you have faced which have help to shape you in positive ways?
“The harder the struggle, the more glorious the triumph. Self-realization demands very great struggle.” – Swami Sivananda