Facing adversity, one may find it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Just the thought of suffering can cause anxiety and fear. Most people are familiar with this scenario, but many don’t realize that, by changing our perspective, we can influence circumstances and even enhance our mental and physical health.
Sara Yosef, inspirational speaker and author of the book It’s All in Your Mind, wrote “Hardship is a springboard… We must convert every situation into one of growth that makes us better.”
Our most valuable life lessons do not come from sailing along easily, but from coursing through choppy, tumultuous seas. Tribulations are truly blessings in disguise, as they prompt us to assess what matters most in life.
As appealing as avoiding misfortune may seem, it is impossible to lead a life without pain. A medical condition could send one to the hospital, relationships can be rocky and ruinous, and financial difficulties may weigh heavily on one’s mind. Everyone suffers in one way or another. How we deal with our troubles is what makes all the difference.
The Chinese proverb, 吃苦 是 富 (Chi ku shi fu) or “Hardship is joy,” embodies the concept that suffering provides an opportunity for enlightenment.
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In The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, coauthors Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama discuss suffering. According to them, pain either ennobles or embitters a person. It either strengthens or crushes you. Finding the significance of your suffering is what helps you grow spiritually.
Tutu says that progress occurs when one is faced with dissatisfaction or conflict. If you are stuck and thrown off course, it’s up to you to get back on track. He explains that usually, when one is hit, one hits back, but the cultured person thinks about their attacker and why they struck, trying to see things from their perspective.
“There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive?”The Book of Joy
Outlook on Life
With a humble and grateful attitude, one gains a clear philosophical view of life. We have the power to transform our minds. Appreciating laughter, dreams, love, and maintaining a positive attitude when things are going badly will help you on your way.
Meditation and prayer can be powerful spiritual tools. Mindfulness enhances perceptual awareness and comforts the soul, and a calm mind heads toward higher consciousness.
The ancient Stoics lived a life of virtue, following the course of nature. Our characters are precious and enduring, and should be treasured and enhanced; while things like money and fame, which are fleeting, should be taken lightly.
A Universal bond
COVID-19 lockdowns and mandates have contributed to a wide range of emotional and logistical problems that have tested our resolve to the limit. Difficulties and hardships appear in many forms but they can all become learning experiences for us.
“All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me… You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”Walt Disney
When faced with the choice between letting unfavorable situations drag us down, or embracing hardships, remember that the latter will help inspire us to rise beyond our circumstances. By adopting a positive outlook and revolutionizing our minds, we may find that suffering creates excellent opportunities for understanding and growth.