“The brook would lose its song if you took the rocks away.”
My nephew Alex found a way to beat the system in his new video game. Money was instantly available to him and he delighted in building mansions, and buying everything in the game he could possibly want. Wouldn’t you like to beat the system? Have the resources to reach your dreams instantly available? Have all obstacles instantly disappear? Wouldn’t life be ideal if only you could get rid of the obstacles and challenges?
As part of my work helping people live rich and fulfilling lives, I’ve studied the lives of hundreds of successful people. I’ve studied the latest success methods and those used for thousands of years. I’ve worked with hundreds of people to live the lives they want. Here’s what I’ve found. Life ALWAYS contains obstacles, challenges, and opportunities. What’s different about the successful and fulfilled people is how they see them.
What if instead of headaches, obstacles were what we cut our teeth on, what made the game exciting, what stretched our capacities and strengthened our muscles, or changed our thinking and gave us a new perspective? What if they led the way to new experiences, new possibilities, new dreams?
What if our obstacles were gifts?
Imagine that you looked at this big old obstacle in front of you from another perspective. What if you saw your biggest obstacle as your greatest gift? What would you do differently? Would you shake it, rattle it, look at it from all sides to try to figure out what was inside? Would you unwrap it layer by layer, enjoying the anticipation?
Our first thought when we have a problem is that it is very big, that “everything” is wrong about it, and that “nothing” can be done. The term psychologists have given this process is “awfulizing.”
Once we begin unwrapping a problem we find that not “everything” is wrong and we unparalyze ourselves and start listing the facts a little more rationally.
Once we lay out the facts we can get to the next layer. What can we do to improve the situation? Usually we can think of several things once we get past “nothing.” What’s the first thing we can do? The next? And the next?
As we take action we may come to a part of the wrapping that is hard to open, we may have to step back and think what to do next, we may even come to parts where we feel we’re further from unwrapping it than when we started. But if we persist we eventually come to the gift in the problem.
That’s what a California farmer did in 1872 when a severe hot spell shriveled his entire grape crop. He sent his dried-up grapes to a grocer who advertised them as “Peruvian Delicacies.” They sold at a good price, and we’ve been eating raisins ever since.
That’s what Lewis E. Waterman did when as an insurance agent the fountain pen he handed the client began to leak all over the contract, and the client changed his mind about taking out the large policy before Waterman could return with a new one. Waterman was so disgusted that he gave
up the insurance business then and there and devoted his time to the development of a reliable fountain pen.
My favorite story is of Thomas Edison, who’s factory was destroyed by fire when he was 67. Much of his life’s work went up in smoke and flames. At the height of the fire, Edison’s 24-year old son, Charles, searched frantically for his father. He finally found him, calmly watching the fire, his face glowing in the reflection, his white hair blowing in the wind. When he saw me, he shouted, `Charles, where’s your mother?’ When I told him I didn’t know, he said, ‘Find her. Bring her here. She will never see anything like this as long as she lives.'”
The next morning, Edison looked at the ruins and said, “There is great value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God we can start anew.” Three weeks after the fire, Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph.
And most recently I met Mary who’s decided to use the sense of isolation she feels as she waits for her kidney transplant as an opportunity to start a life makeover group at the hospital for others with medical challenges. That’s what finding opportunities in obstacles looks like.
The job we dislike that pushes us to find what we want. The financial problem that makes us determined to move towards financial independence. The person who crosses our boundaries and forces us get clear about what we stand for. Gifts.
Is there an easier way? A way without obstacles? Sure is. It’s a way of opportunities. Opportunities that come in a box labeled “obstacles.” How you see them determines what you do with them. The gift is always there, though not always recognized. The choice of how you see them is yours.
Without obstacles and opportunities Alex will soon loose interest in this video game and go looking for one more challenging. Look around. Got a couple of opportunities? Aren’t you lucky to have your best game right in front of you now?
Sometimes something is just fun. I’ve been getting ‘Daily Notes from the Universe’ for awhile now and find they usually give me a reminder of what life’s about, a reason to smile and cherish life. Thought you might enjoy them too. www.tut.com/AdventurersOath.htm