Essential Lessons From Two Brilliant Humans on How to Be Grateful for the Challenges We Face

Vincent Van Patten

The pain is the antidote for the journey that you're on

Photo by Darran Shen on Unsplash

I stood atop Japan’s venerable Mount Fuji, looking down at the mountain I’d just summited. I was strong, healthy, and whole.

There were no sounds, only silence; that silence contained thunderous emotion.

It is a Japanese tradition to climb Mt. Fuji after a significant life accomplishment.

Mine would be overcoming the elusive pain I’ve felt in my body for the last several years in my back and hips.

With my eyes closed during my morning meditation, tears rolled down my face.

This wasn’t the first time I’d cried when envisioning my life in three years.

In a sense, the pain has taken away my freedom within my body.

But it hasn’t taken my freedom of thought, my freedom of choice, nor my freedom to see each day as a gift.

I know that day will come when I’m pain-free looking down from the top of the mountain.

Until then, I will continue to grow and continuously fight, even if that only means letting go.

Walking has been my main exercise while I’ve battled this injury.

More than just the movement, walking has opened up my mind and allowed me to honor the magic in the world.

I was recently on one of these transformative morning walks in my neighborhood.

I felt the sun shining down on my skin warming me from the inside out.

The sun’s embrace feels as if I’m procuring the essential vitamins and minerals in the known universe.

All we have to do is step outside to feel the benefits of nature’s medicine.

I’d gaze up at the pine tree branches crossing paths against the wide-open, pale sky.

The branches’ details are the brushstrokes of nature; the canvas is a vast expanse of reflected blue light that serves as a threshold into the divine.

This thought is enough to make me stop and wonder what power truly lies within us.

The pain is the antidote to the journey you’re on

This moment couldn’t have been more suitable for what I was about to hear on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast.

I was listening to Aubrey speaking with his guest Dr. Zach Bush, a medical doctor who’s unlike any I’ve ever met or heard about.

He has dedicated his life to understanding the human organism as it relates to the natural environment and the very spirit we foster within us and without, which exists in the cosmos and all things.

During his medical practice working in the ER, he brought countless humans back to life from the other side.

This has given him a profound understanding of death, and the unfathomable aspects of life.

He is truly a beautiful human being, inside and out.

“When you are in pain, whether it be physical, spiritual, or psychological, know that within that pain is the antidote to the journey you’re on.”

Dr. Bush said this in a tone that sounded so sincere it was as if he was looking at me in the eyes.

Aubrey and Dr. Bush were discussing his past and what has brought him to this point.

He had overcome severe depression earlier in life and had gotten to a dire point I can’t begin to imagine.

I listened attentively to every word.

“The antidote, the medicine that you’re seeking is inside the pain. The pain is there to take you into the present moment. The pain is only a neurological experience. It’s very temporal it only lasts a few seconds and has to keep creating itself to be present for anything more than that. But if the pain is recreating itself it is bringing attention to space within our body, specifically that holds an old injury, or an old trauma within us, typically an emotional trauma that is now leading to the pain.”

I stopped walking.

“Go into the pain, ask yourself, what is the emotional memory in this space? And then you know what to forgive. And as you forgive and as you replace that with gratitude, you replace that with the love that comes from seeing the beauty in it, you will not only resolve that pain, but you’ll find out why you are alive. And in that vital particle state of living, you get to experience all things.”

These words hit me like a gale force of energy and swept my breath away.

I looked into the sky and tears came to my eyes. They rolled down my face and dried in the sun; I’d never felt so alive.

My spirit slowly rose from the ground and I saw my body from a birdseye view — my hands on my hips, the tears on my face, a human being alone under the sky questioning all that this journey means.

Everything clicked.

The pain I’ve dealt with for the last several years has given me a reason to dig deeper beyond what I’ve thought of myself as capable of doing.

I’ve stopped looking for the answers in the exterior world because maybe they’ll come and maybe they won’t, yet whether they do or not is out of my control.

I’m only focused on what is.

The emotional sign of gratitude

What’s out of our control dictates our lives when we get into the mindset of believing life will get better when something out there changes.

Once I find the right person, change jobs, lose weight, or finally heal, then I’ll be happy.

We all battle this paradigm every day, but it’s not a battle worth fighting. Liberation comes from letting go and focusing on the only thing we can control — our minds.

We can turn our mind into our greatest ally, our most trusted friend, and our savior by living every day in gratitude.

Neuroscientist and researcher of epigenetics and quantum physics, Dr. Joe Dispenza, discusses how living in gratitude shifts our perspective from our outer environment to our internal environment.

As a guest on The Model Health Show with Shawn Stevenson, he says:

“When a person starts feeling gratitude, then the emotional signature in the body is that something’s happening to them or something’s just happened to them. The moment you feel gratitude your healing begins; the moment you feel grateful for your life, your life is going to change. Now you’re causing an effect.”

Dr. Dispenza is the author of the books Becoming Supernatural: How Common People are Doing the Uncommon, and Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself.

His work focuses on giving individuals the tools to free themselves from their limits by taking control of their thoughts.

You won’t want to change one thing about your past

I know my time of healing will come. I don’t know precisely how or when, but I know it will.

That’s what brought me to tears while meditating on the vision of my future.

This pain brings me to the now; it causes me to truly feel what’s taking place within my body.

I’m so damn excited for the future, but what I have is this moment, and I’ll never spend another second ungrateful for it.

“If you’re creating something new and unknown in your life it can’t come in a way that you can predict or expect. If you can predict or expect it, it is the known,” says Dr. Dispenza.

“The moment you start trying to figure out how or when it’s going to happen, you’ve got in the way. But when you are open to being astonished and surprised and it comes in a way that you haven’t expected, you wake up from the dream and you go, ‘Oh my God it happened.’ And then you will look back at your entire past and you will not want to change one thing. It brought you to the present moment, that’s the moment the past no longer exists.”

We are alive for this moment

All we must do is dream. Know the what and know the why of your healing, your aspirations, and the best version of you, and let the how fade away.

Hold on tightly to the what that you dream of, and be open to the unknown miracle.

These sentiments of Dr. Bush and Dr. Dispenza intertwine because as I dream of my future, I realize that this pain has given me a reason to live.

It’s given me a reason to ask questions of the universe and seek to help others.

It’s given me a reason to count my blessings every moment of the day and appreciate the sheer beauty of the world.

Life will always put challenges in front of us, but our inner world mustn’t be determined by what’s taking place outside.

I feel deep within my bones that this period of my life is happening for a crucial reason. I choose to be grateful. I choose to see beauty.

I choose undiminishing love for myself and for the world, today, and always.

We are alive for this very moment. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

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My name is Vincent Van Patten. This is my home, a place to share who I am and what lights my soul on fire. I’m a writer, media creator, and co-host of The Dare to Dream Podcast. Most importantly, I’m an inspired citizen of our ever-changing world. I strive to learn all that I can about how we’ve progressed to where we are today as individual cultures and as a planet. It’s my passion to fill every day with exploration and creativity no matter where I am, whether in California crafting my latest project or on my way to discover someplace new. By writing about my experiences, connecting with people and the earth, and remaining present, I always feel at home. I write to express my perspective of daily living, from the thoughts in my head to the relationships we share as human beings. I write about travel, culture, books, life, philosophy, spirituality, health, self-improvement, and history. I also write poetry and short stories  —  doing so soothes the soul. I believe we’re here to challenge ourselves by questioning all we think we know. When we do, we open our minds to a way of living we could never have imagined. This life is a journey with no finish line in sight. I hope to leave a positive impact with every step I take.

Del Mar, CA

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