We have problems, obstacles, and painful situations we just wish weren’t so. However, there’s one very undeniable truth: We cannot undo what has occurred, what is presented to us, and that which we want to resist. But what if, in this very moment, we decided to look and act upon our problems in a completely different way?
Everyone has, will have, and will always have frequent disappointments and unexpected tragedies. This is the human condition. Yet how we become stronger people, leaders and thinkers is this: Accept everything that happens as if we chose it, and then use this obstacle as not only a path to move forward, but as a way to become better.
In Ryan Holiday’s book, “The Obstacle Is the Way,” he outlines the Stoic manifesto of turning negative situations into positive ones. I read this book a few months ago, found it inspiring and late Tuesday night read parts of it again. This, dear friends, is how these philosophers advised us to accept and enjoy our lives—all the pieces of our lives.
Perception. First, we have the choice of how we look at our problems. Within our attitude and approach to what is truly at first terrible to us, there’s the opportunity to see what has occurred as exactly what needed to happen, because it did. This is not about saying, “How can I think this is not so horrible,” but “How can I make this good?” This is a skill of seeing things for what they really are now—not an imagined horrific future—and, perhaps, as an opportunity to learn, connect with others and grow, precisely through our pain.
Action. Next, we have the ability to expend our energy not in trying to change or reject what has happened, but to turn our upset, hurt, and loss into action in changing what we can. It is important to be guided by the practical—what we can impact—and once we see this, to act with persistence and vision.
Will. And finally, we have the choice to develop the fortitude to accept defeat. Accept what we cannot change, persevere and live with full acceptance that we are all mortal and finite. We ought not wish our lives away.
We have a choice. We can accept what has occurred, lean into it, and give our all to overcome it. With this, we become better. Stronger. More resilient. It is through our losses that we grow. What if now, at this very moment, we began to accept all that occurs in our lives with gratitude? What if those things we wish away are exactly what we need now, and that is why they have occurred? Obstacles are in our lives, and will always be in our lives. And they are gifts—if we choose to see them this way.
“Objective judgment, now at this very moment. Unselfish action, now at this very moment. Willing acceptance, now at this very moment, of all external events. That’s all you need.” —Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (161-180) and Stoic