Thursday, August 15, 2013

The 12 Principles of Overcoming Adversity

I have been blessed and honored by many people who reach out to me when they are experiencing personal or professional difficulties. 

There is also a running joke amongst some of my friends who know how many times I have been stopped in the streets of New York and elsewhere by complete strangers who, needing help, walked up to me and opened a conversation with a line similar to “Excuse me, Reverend ……”.

The one thing that I prefer to share with people who ask for help are personal stories that I have lived, to help give others context that “I know your pain and this is how I know”.  I’m not merely spouting clichés or repeating something I just read and people are often simultaneously startled and appreciative of my transparency.

A few of those stories came to mind the other day as I was reviewing some items in my journal.  With that in mind, I thought I would share my top twelve favorite principles that I share with others when asked for help.

Here they are, in no particular order and not representing an exhaustive list.

The 12 Principles

1. Be patient with everyone and everything, especially yourself.  Not everything can be directed exactly as we want it and exactly when we want it to be.  There will be moments of weakness.  You are not human if you don’t know what I am referring to.

2. Remember to express gratitude for the small things around you.  If you can’t be grateful for the small stuff, why should you be entrusted with bigger things?

3. Have faith that things will work out, because they always do, often despite our best efforts to the contrary.

4. Remember the importance of the universal laws that “you must ask to receive” and that “you must answer the door when opportunity knocks – opportunity doesn’t kick it down for you and drag you out kicking and screaming”.

5. It is critical to follow your bliss and not bend to someone else’s, personally or professionally.

6. Miracles come from unexpected sources when least expected and often at the last minute.  Even to atheists and agnostics. :-)

7. Perseverance sometimes requires you to do nothing.  Doing nothing is sometimes equally as important as doing something.  Silence matters.

8. My corollary to the previous point.  We should take action when we can, even if all we can muster is not as much as we would like.  Action matters – perfection is not always required.

9. There is always a lot of love around us but we need to be open to receiving it and the help that often accompanies it.

10. The world doesn’t owe you a damn thing but it sure has a lot to offer if you want to step up, assert your value / worthiness and take it.  If you don’t, someone else will.

11. Lessons, no matter how painful, repeat at difficult or inconvenient times until we “get it”, often with an ever-increasing frequency and sense of urgency (or sense of “pain”).

I wish I could identify the easiest or most difficult one to learn or which one was most important but I cannot since different combinations were woven together at different times.  However, if I were to pick the one that seemed most common in my own Life, it is #11. :-)

Ah yes, I promised twelve reasons.

Here is the twelfth.

12. In your uniqueness, there will be lessons learned that are unique to you.  Treasure them and share them with others when you can.  In our difficult times comes our greatest learning opportunities – about Life, about others and about ourselves. You will look back on the difficult times with a sense of gratitude at some point.

I wrote this blog with one person in mind – that person knows who they are.

To others, I would like to offer this long distance dedication.

I dedicate this musing to the people who helped me to learn these lessons (way too many to name here), to the people who are learning their lessons now and to those who have not yet been “blessed” with the opportunity to do so but who will probably be forced to at some point in their Life.

Take care and create a great day for yourself and others, because merely having one is too passive an experience.

In service and servanthood,

“Reverend” Harry :-)

Addendum – August 16, 2013

For those who are exploring where they are on their journey, the book “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom” by John O’Donohue is a HIGHLY recommended read.  Please have a highlighter handy – you will need it.

Addendum – August 18, 2013

After a heavy response to this blog, I felt compelled to muse about The 13th Principle of Overcoming Adversity.

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