“Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, ‘Grow, grow’.” —The Talmud
The idea that life is geared to help us is one of the fundamental beliefs that changed my world. But unfortunately, I had a very distorted perspective on this earlier in my life, because I misunderstood why “bad things happen to good people” — I thought that the bad things happened because the good people had either messed up, or because they didn’t have enough faith to keep the “bad stuff” away. Basically I thought there was a devil trying to kill us and a god trying to save us (but only when we had faith in that god) — and I was stuck in the middle, spending my life feeling punished for my inability to get it right.
(Phew! What a nightmare… I’m glad that’s over.)
But then I started to notice something…
Like flowers growing out of the cracks in concrete pathways, the areas of my life where I had “found a way” through the challenges, hardships and roadblocks of life were blooming. In fact, when I stopped fighting those situations and, instead, used them as opportunities to learn something or find a new way to do something, then those situations ALWAYS ended up benefitting me in some way. Most of the time I found that I never had to face that same problem again, and even if I did, I could use my previous positive experience as a type of PROOF that I can find a way through, no matter how bad it looks.
I discovered that those problems were here to help us, not hinder us.
Well, actually both really.
The problematic people we meet, the financial “mess” we find ourselves in, the anger we feel, the heartbreaking anguish, the times we “lose our way”, the tools we break, the computer that fails us at seemingly crucial moments…. the many, many challenges we face ….all of these things are here to arrest our attention—to hinder our mind for long enough for us to WAKE UP to a better way of living.
You see, most of the time we just run like clockwork—automatic responses based on previous subconscious “programs” and beliefs. And our minds are even hard-wired to “protect” the status quo—to protect our existing way of seeing and ‘doing’ life—so most of us would never wake up to a better way of living UNLESS we had some sort of pattern-interrupt occur.
So I started to see problems as circuit-breakers instead…
But much more than that, I could see that the problems not only held the ability to stop us in our wayward tracks, to notify us that there was a better way of doing that aspect life, but they also acted as a roadsign to redirect us to that better way.
Take for example…
- The problematic people we meet… People press our buttons. I found that they highlight parts of ourselves that we don’t like and provide the mental energy required to change our own behaviour in a positive way.
- The financial mess we find ourselves in… Debt is a killer. It sucks. It’s stressful… BUT, it also provides us with some very clear roadsigns (and the energy to change direction), showing us that our own spending/saving habits are flawed, and in fact that the whole financial credit-based system is flawed. It also helps us (eventually) to understand that “always wanting more stuff you don’t need” is a disease created and fueled by clever marketing and popular belief. That’s the killer if you ask me.
- The computer that fails us… I had many instances of this (some which occurred at crucial times like the day of an urgent deadline) UNTIL I understood the idea of circuit-breakers. Now I generally only have problems with my computer when I’m working for too long on something that’s not in line with my personal goals for my work, or perhaps when there’s a much better/easier way of doing something that I just haven’t seen yet. So the computer crashes or slows down, or some other issue occurs for long enough to get me to stop and reconsider what I’m doing at that time—to find a better way, or to stop doing that altogether and simply take a break (if I’ve been working too long) or do something else that is more productive (or more in line with my personal goals).
The key is to loose focus
We often get very focussed on what we’re doing. We’re practically “inside” the task at hand. Particularly when there’s some sort of emotional involvement (like a relationship for example). We often can’t “see” anything else and we simple “see” more of the same thing (task, object, strategy, person, etc). Like when you want a certain car (or have just bought one) and all you notice on the road is that particular model of car. Our brains are simply wired that way.
So, if indeed there is a better way (or a better relationship!) available to us, we will only be able to notice it IF we first loose focus on what (or who!) we are doing. This isn’t easy. This isn’t even natural.
But life is here to help.
CRASH!!! It’s a three-car pile up on the freeway. Your car is one of them. One car gets of with just a scratch. It had better handling. It had a stronger frame…. It WASN’T your car. Which car do you want now?
It’s best to learn to love the challenges of life
There is always something to learn. There are always ‘higher’ roads to travel. There is always a smoother way of ‘doing’ life…. and unfortunately, that means that there will always be challenges.
The good news is that it gets easier. THEY get easier as you notice them earlier and earlier each time. You get braver and mentally stronger as you build up a list of times you’ve used challenges to move on to something better. You know these are your opportunities to evolve. And everytime you evolve a little more, your life gets a little better. One day you’ll wake up (like I did) and see that everything is perfect (even when the computer crashes…. AGAIN!).