“When you look back at the painful and difficult events of your life, you find that they were the times of your greatest personal growth. The challenges of our lives provide us the opportunity to develop our highest potentials.” – John Bruna
Today’s quote is not a pleasant truth, but a truly important one to remember. None of us look forward to painful or tragic events in our lives. In fact, it is quite natural and healthy to do our best to avoid them when possible. Yet, no matter how skillful we are, the very nature of participating in life means we will encounter challenging, painful and tragic experiences. There is no way to get around this. Since they do happen and we will have to deal with them on some level, why not engage with them in the most meaningful of ways; extracting the lessons they can teach us so that we can grow from them.
It can be very tempting to simply try to get over the painful experiences in our lives as quickly as possible and try to forget them. However, this often leaves the residual pain deeper within us and, since we did not explore deeply, we may be none the wiser for all of our suffering. Instead, we can examine our own motives, assumptions, and actions to see if there is room for improvement or some wisdom to be obtained. One example of this could be the ending of a long-term relationship. There is usually much emotional pain even if it is amicable. If we don’t take time to inventory the healthy and unhealthy qualities of the relationship, it is common to carry the same habits to the next one. However, if we honestly evaluate the qualities of the relationship and our part in them, we may be able to identify the attributes and qualities that are supportive of the kind of relationship we want and the ones that are not. In this way, we we can bring our new wisdom and healthier attributes into our next relationship.
As we develop equanimity in our lives, it is not that we don’t feel the pains and joys of life. We simply learn that both are valuable to us. Though normally, our more difficult situations provide us with our greatest growth, equanimity provides us the opportunity to extract profound lessons from our most joyful experiences as well. It is a wise acceptance of life on life’s terms that empowers us to become more fearless and engaged in all the experiences of our lives.
I invite you to call to mind some of the difficult situations in your life and reflect upon how they helped you grow. Throughout your day, make note of some of the challenges that arise, though they may be very small, and see if you can find some lessons in them. – John Bruna
The above is a an excerpt from one the daily emails sent to the members of the Mindful Life Community. I invite you to explore our community and consider joining.