Sunday, August 10, 2008

Life is difficult

So begins the wonderful book, "The Road Less Traveled" by M. Scott Peck.

We have all experienced or are experiencing things that push us to the brink, the one thing that makes us wonder if this thing we call Life is worth living or whether we have what it takes to persevere to better times. Many times as we think these things, we look to those around us, especially those seemingly more successful and say "I wish I had it as easy as they do".

Those who study the lives of successful people discover that most of these people experienced the same or higher level of challenge at some point in their life before one or more defining moments transformed their life into the one of success we see.

These people possessed the same characteristics that we have in unlimited supply if we apply ourselves, including but not limited to courage, intelligence, perseverance, passion, hope and faith.

Faith is an interesting concept, as when we openly discuss faith with people, a few camps quickly become apparent:

  • Those who have a strong faith in one or more Supreme Beings and live by their faith
  • Those who have some faith
  • Those who claim to have faith in something (a higher Being, themselves, etc) but don't practice what they preach
  • Those who have no faith and deride others for having it (yet quickly calling upon a Supreme Being in times of need). It's like the atheist trapped in a foxhole who immediately calls out to Mom and God for protection.

Faith is not entirely tied to the religious definition. Faith is also the belief that things will work themselves out in some fashion (perhaps not entirely the way we expect or demand). Hopefully when the challenge has passed, we accept the obligation to harvest what knowledge we can from the experience. Faith is the ability to know that we must persevere because a lesson lies in the experience, a lesson that either applies to us or to others.

We must continue to take action in order to strengthen our faith, whether we believe that we have Divine guidance or not. Faith is not just a case of "if I think really good thoughts, then the answer will be delivered to me in a painless fashion". If that were the case, we would have put the lottery business out of business some time ago.

Our faith in getting through that which tests us calls us to continually take action towards our goals. This continuous action allows us to stay focused on the end goal and therefore any progress towards that goal, no matter how slight, offers us comfort that progress is possible.

With comfort that we will survive our current challenge comes a glimmer of hope that a solution is possible and upon that foundation of hope, we can begin to have courage to take larger steps which in turn reinforces our faith.

As we take these steps, our courage grows and we become emboldened to take larger steps. Eventually we get to the end of the challenge and we discover that we have survived when we originally felt we would never get through it.

Sometimes, however, when we get to the end, loved ones who were struggling are no longer with us and we carry the pain of their loss.

During those times, it is important to focus on what that person gave you in Life, not what they have taken away in their passing. Whatever your belief is in terms of what happens when we move on after this life, we can all take consolation in the fact that our loved ones are not in pain anymore. Isn't that what we ask for when we make our silent pleas during private moments - "please help them to not suffer".

So while Life out there is challenging us and we beat ourselves up over our perceived failures, remember that the only real failure in Life is when we refuse to get up, to look the challenge square in the eye and proclaim "I am stronger than you, I will overcome, I will be better for it and I will use what I have learned to make the world a better place".

A few great quotes come to mind:

"The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all" - Chinese Proverb

"In every difficult situation is potential value. Believe this, then begin looking for it" - Norman Vincent Peale

"If you compared your troubles, or challenges, with those of others, you would surely find that there are those whose troubles make yours look like minor inconveniences." - Catherine Pulsifer

"Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars." - Henry Van Dyke

"Just because you know where you want to end up doesn’t mean you will not be faced with obstacles, or challenges along the way. Instant success rarely happens." - Catherine Pulsifer

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. " - James 2:14-17 (TNIV)

"Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love." - 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NKJV)

We have all struggled at one point or another. For those who are struggling, reach out for help. When you reach out for help, remember that your faith, hope and courage will only grow when you use the assistance to take action. You will be no better off if, after asking for help, you step back and hope that someone else takes care of all your troubles for you.

For those who have the ability to help others with their struggle, don't wait another moment.

Please make a difference in the life of someone else today. It doesn't matter how big or how small the difference, nor should we look for rewards or recognition. The Universe will reward us when the time is appropriate.

Yours in service and servanthood.


Check out the link below to explore M. Scott Peck's beautiful book.

The Road Less Traveled, 25th Anniversary Edition : A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
by M. Scott Peck

Read more about this book...

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