My current challenges seem like a walk in the park if I compare them to those of other people and what humanity as a whole are facing. When I make this comparison, my challenges seem a bit easier to process. We all have challenges throughout life. If you’re living, life is not always a stroll through that proverbial park.
Each year, it seems we encounter new difficulties and reasons to choose to act outside of the box or to give up. I’d rather not give up. Sometimes I prefer to cogitate on the matter at hand for awhile. Whenever possible, a time out helps me to think clearly. Since I tend to over-think issues and sometimes have regrets over past decisions and actions, I have to set limits on my time-outs.
Like many people, I have to recognize that our approach to challenges speaks to even broader challenges we still face. Perhaps there is an unresolved issue from childhood or somewhere in the past. When we’re prompted or reminded of that difficult time or trauma, we mentally push back or we keep spinning our wheels. We promise to deal with it when we’re mentally stronger. Some of us go into denial by procrastinating permanently. Of course, the longer we procrastinate, the bigger the challenge seems.
The beautiful thing about responding constructively to challenges is that once we’ve tackled a challenge, we know we’re capable of doing so again, if necessary. An added bonus is the sense of relief we have when the situation is resolved. If the problem is faced and resolved to our satisfaction, self-confidence improves. Future similar challenges are less scary because we know we are capable of taking them on.
If one is paying attention to life, she or he notices that meeting challenges head on builds resilience. If a challenge in one aspect of life is met, then other inner challenges are revealed that beg to be resolved. At some point, meeting internal challenges becomes habitual. The person not only takes on the hard work, but comes to love challenges.
The most interesting, successful people not only tackle challenges as they are met; they seek them out. Curiosity with its challenges becomes the good fight to accept defeats and victories. We see this in good education. A quality education presents daily intellectual challenges to children. When we analyze how schools are organized by age, class, and subject gradients, this becomes apparent. When the child meets the learning challenges of first grade, she advances to the second grade. When she can do second grade level work, then there’s third grade. This process repeats until graduation.
A good education helps cultivate further know-how and the curiosity to meet the challenges the child will face when she grows up. Hopefully, the person will have found out that education does not end on graduation day. The better part of learning is taking on challenges every year of one’s life. One of the main reasons we have public education is that people who understand life and can think independently on their own play important roles in their countries.
“A powerful idea communicates some of its strength to him who challenges it.”–essayist and novelist, Marcel Proust
Some of our biggest lessons are to challenge our favorite beliefs. Doing so lifts us above barriers we once believed that were impenetrable. Life lived beyond those barriers is full of extraordinary wonders and joy. At the very least, meeting challenges provides a life that is more than merely satisfactory.