Who in life is immune to difficulty? Everyone is familiar with the old saying:
“Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin
An older version of this saying that is more comprehensive was written decades earlier. The author of the famous novel Robinson Crusoe said:
“Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believ’d.” Daniel Defoe
As Defoe notes, while death and taxes are certain, so are other things in life. Difficulty falls into this “more firmly believed” category. We face difficulties as soon as we emerge from the womb. Difficulties are common to everyone regardless of who you are, what you have, or where you live.
Let’s discuss the difficulties of life. What difficulties exactly? All of them! We will use a broad definition of difficulty, meaning anything that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand in any situation life throws at us. It could be as simple as stubbing your toe to something as complex as recovering from a financial crisis or an illness.
The good side of difficulties
Difficulties impact everyone’s life for good reason. It is in difficulty we live, grow, learn, and mature. It is in difficulty our lives are forged to make us who we become. Because of difficulties, we survive and prosper, provide for our families, and become responsible.
It is because of difficulty we obtain material goods and wealth. Can you think of anything in life that does not come to us through, from, or because of difficulty?
Without difficulties in life, how would we know what was good, and how could we ever improve? Because of the difficulties in life, great inventions are created, making life better for everyone. Without difficulty, mankind would stop growing and would soon meet its end.
Think about the difficulties of our early ancestors. One of their greatest struggles was survival. Through difficulty, they had to find food and shelter to survive.
“The difficulties and struggles of today are but the price we must pay for the accomplishments and victories of tomorrow.” William J. H. Boetcker
One of our greatest difficulties today is not having internet access. Or maybe your cell phone signal is a little on the weak side. How times have changed!
“We have inherited new difficulties because we have inherited more privileges.” Abram L. Sachar
Dealing with difficulties
It is how you deal with difficulties that matters most to the outcome of your life. What is your attitude when faced with difficulty? Do you dread it, try to run from it, or attempt to hide?
How is the way you are dealing with difficulties working for you so far?
Since difficulties are inevitable in life, why not pay attention to how you respond to them? Find another way to deal with them. Develop a different attitude toward them.
From experience, whenever a difficulty arises, unless my life is threatened (which has happened but is very rare for most people), I stop and take a few deep breaths. I take the time needed to regain my composure
Once I calm down, I find the majority of the time, difficulties are nowhere near as problematic as they first appeared. I purposely try not to react as I know reacting comes from a lower form of intelligence than does responding.
When you use the rational, thinking part of your brain, you will see more clearly. With the emotional rush gone, you can ask yourself a few questions to quickly sort out the difficulty.
How serious is it now, and how much will it matter a year from now? What do I choose to do about it? What is the opportunity in this difficulty?
“What is the difference between an obstacle and an opportunity? Our attitude toward it. Every opportunity has a difficulty, and every difficulty has an opportunity.” J. Sidlow Baxter
Benefiting from difficulties
What good can difficulties bring in life? Plenty! Let’s look at a few ways they can benefit us.
Because of the difficulty involved:
- Childbirth brings forth life
- School and societal norms lead us to learn and get an education
- We grow in stature and mature into an adult
- We continue to mature throughout our life
- We learn to be responsible
- Our life is shaped as an individual
- Our work leads to competence
- We learn how to lead
- We learn limits and boundaries
- We learn how to go beyond expectations
- We learn to appreciate life and other people
- We discover happiness and joy
- We learn our true selves
- We learn how to live, survive, and thrive
- We desire relationships that give us life
- We find an abundance of opportunities
- Our character develops
- Life becomes worth living
- We find meaning in life
- We come to find God
What additional thoughts come to mind that you would want to add to this list? I would love to hear them from you in the comment section below.
“Adversity introduces a man to himself.” Albert Einstein
Become thankful for the difficulties you face in life. Learn from them. Find the opportunity in them. Use them to grow in wisdom. Use them to create a better life for yourself and those you love.
Don’t wish for fewer difficulties; wish to be strengthened by those that come your way.
I leave you with some words of wisdom to think about as you continue your journey through life.
“Difficulties are opportunities to better things; they are stepping-stones to greater experience...When one door closes, another always opens; as a natural law it has to, to balance.” Bryan Adams