Challenges Serve A Purpose
“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” — Haruki Murakami
Life is unpredictable. No surprises there.
You never know what lies around the corner waiting to test your resolve.
Life’s challenges are part of the human condition and yet none are immune from the ravages of existence. They arise for reasons you cannot comprehend and leave you feeling like a wounded bird, with broken wings.
Yet contained within this knowledge and in spite of life’s upheaval, you can reconnect with your authentic power however uncompromising conditions appear.
The following quote by Haruki Murakami signifies your ability to assume control of how you interpret pain and suffering: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”
Through my own setbacks and life’s challenges, I have come to appreciate the ultimate lesson that I am not in control. With this knowledge, I surrender to universal forces to entrust me with the experiences that will shape my destiny.
Surrender does not mean apathy, it means mental and emotional detachment from preferred outcomes. You allow the process of life to unfold through you and in doing so trust your needs are fulfilled at the right time.
You are rarely ever presented with an experience that is the not the sum of your conditioning.
Each challenge stretches you to grow beyond your comfort zone. Comparable with the seasons which arrive and recede, your challenges serve a purpose.
Sometimes it may not be obvious for a long time, yet everything unfolds in line with a greater order. I am neither referring to religion nor spirituality, but an intricate universal order which governs the framework of reality.
Proceeding Through The Storm
“If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.” — Mahatma Gandhi
There’s an ancient Sufi passage that states: “This too shall pass.”
I invite you to reflect on these words during your darkest hour.
Pain and suffering recedes to give way to a harmonious solution. Painful challenges dissolve in the same way morning fog lifts to reveal a brilliant day.
So, yield to your challenges by leaning in to them instead of opposing them. What happens when you move into your challenges instead of run away from them?
You face them head on and build self-confidence.
The storm represents your darkest hour amid the backdrop of uncertainty. Known as the dark night of the soul, the storm serves a purpose. It endows you with vital resources intended for your personal growth.
It is by no mistake that the bigger you play, the harder you will fall. Challenges can arise suddenly, yet lead you to a deeper knowledge of yourself.
Your personal growth is impeded were it not for the difficult times. Man does not rise to his best under the kindest conditions, yet in the harshest storm he discovers his true potential.
Don’t only wish for good times, but savour the difficult times as well, since progress is realised under testing conditions. The happiest people are those who have undergone hardship to emerge with deep wisdom to share with others.
You prevail not in waiting for the storm to pass, but in proceeding through it.
It was Winston Churchill who once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” The storm shapes your inner landscape by exposing your strengths and weaknesses.
It sharpens the saw as Stephen Covey states in his book: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.
Life Is Impermanent
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” — Helen Keller
When you feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, get back on your feet and persist through it. This way you acquire the lessons, and experience the pain.
Venture beyond your comfort zone often if you wish to awaken your potential. Those who settle, burn out well before their time has come. It was George Bernard Shaw who said: “I want to be all used up before I die.”
Similarly, strive to nurture patience and self-compassion as you endure the storm. In doing so, you develop a resilient sense of self and consider the advice offered to a close friend or family member undergoing a similar trial.
The Buddha teaches the Four Noble Truths essential to his teachings. They are worth noting if you seek to understand the nature of adversity and how to make sense of it in your life.
If you wish to penetrate the true nature of your existence, develop a deeper knowledge of yourself. Suffering is the threshold into your reality, perceived through the lens of adversity.
The Four Noble Truths affirm that life is impermanent — everything is in a transitory state, even your pain and troubles.
They are espoused in the following principles:
1. The Truth of Suffering
Life is filled with suffering.
2. The Truth of the Cause of Suffering
The root cause of suffering relates to your cravings for the wrong things. Your material attachments can never meet your true needs since you always yearn for more. Everything is impermanent or in a transitory state.
3. The Truth of the End of Suffering
Suffering can be overcome and happiness attained if you relinquish your cravings and live each day as it comes. Bliss is attained when you let go of satisfying your personal needs in place of allowing life to flow through you.
4. The Truth of the Path Leading to the End of Suffering
This embodies the Noble Eightfold Path leading to the end of suffering: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.
Your response to hardships is measured by your attitude and mental resilience.
Charles Swindoll said: “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I’ve come that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.”
Therefore, it is not life’s volatility that is the cause of hardship, yet how you interpret those events that shape your life.
You have two choices in each challenge: rise to it and in doing so overcome it, or retreat into despair. The latter invites more suffering and erodes your personal self.
Pain and suffering is part of the human condition, yet the degree to which you suffer remains within your control.