Why You Should Seek Out Adversity

Chances are at some point in your life you’ve encountered adversity.  You’ve endured a difficult situation that was a struggle to get through, but you came out the other end a better, stronger person because of the experience. There were hard lessons learned, and at the time the process was uncomfortable, if not downright unbearable.  In retrospect we are often times glad to have endured the difficult times because of how we’ve grown as a person.

So why aren’t people seeking out adversity? Why aren’t we constantly putting ourselves in challenging situations in order to pursue that growth that we know will come from the experience? Have we become that complacent and comfortable? Or does the perceived difficulty of the process keep us from pursuing the potential benefits?

Advances in technology the last few years have made our lives progressively easier.  We can now move from point A to point B with little to no physical work, and do it in far less time than ever before.  We have large structures that protect us from the elements and prevent us from getting too hot or too cold. We don’t have to work to procure food. It comes in a convenient can or box and is pretty much available whenever we want it. We can click a button and get any myriad of tools or information delivered to us without having to do any work.

Let’s face it, most of us have it easy, and we need to make life more difficult.  We need to embrace our struggles as a necessity of life that makes us stronger.  We need to do difficult things for the sake of doing difficult things. Do the work and earn the successes that come our way as a result.

Bruce Lee summed up this philosophy succinctly:

Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.

Easy is boring, and rarely teaches us anything. Name the last movie you saw where the main character got everything he wanted and achieved all his goals without a struggle. Yeah, that movie doesn’t exist because the story isn’t compelling. Life works the same way.

Without facing that adversity, struggling, and ultimately overcoming those setbacks our lives would be uninteresting, and we’d have no stories to tell subsequent generations. We also wouldn’t grow and improve as a human being.  We’d fade into mediocrity and obscurity.

Instead we should be embracing the adversity in our lives, recognizing it for the potential benefits it provides. Facing it starts with changing how you view it.  Yeah, it may be difficult to do at first, but if you start believing in just how difficult it is, you can be crushed under the weight of it and soon enough you are believing that you’re a victim. Change how you respond. That response is a choice.

Setbacks are inevitable, but misery is a choice.

– Steven Covey

Choose to view that obstacle as an opportunity. An opportunity to learn, and grow, and develop.  An opportunity to get stronger and emerge on the other side a better person.  There’s power hidden inside that obstacle and you can tap into it and utilize it to give you focus and drive.  Become a problem solver and transcend the perceptions of your limitations. You’ll be amazed at what you can do with the right mindset.

Once you’ve gotten in that correct frame of mind, you’ll find that it’s easier to face that adversity head on. By seeking out difficult situations because of the power they possess and the benefits they can bestow you’ll be preparing yourself for anything life can throw at you. By doing difficult things regularly you can survive, and thrive, in the face of adversities that everyday life can churn up.

DoSomethingHardSo challenge yourself every once in awhile. Step out of the realm of comfort and complacency and seek out an arduous task. Put yourself in difficult situations.

In terms of physical adversity this is why many of us work out.  It’s to challenge the body and see what it’s truly capable of.  I didn’t race an Ironman distance triathlon because it was easy. I did it just to prove I could and in the process see if I could excel at it.

By the same token I don’t go into the gym these days, pick up a light weight, do a couple of reps, and call it a day. I pick up something heavy that’s a struggle or I do a set of movements until it feels like my muscles heart are competing to see which one gives out first.  If I don’t challenge myself like that every once in a while I’m not going to grow (literally or mentally).

The difficult situations don’t have to be confined to the physical realm though.  Challenge your mind or spirituality. You could even choose to put yourself in adverse emotional or economic positions. Personally, I need to put myself in social situations that I’m not necessarily comfortable with.  That can be talking in large groups or speaking up and sharing my opinions without reserve or care of consequence or what others may think about them. By facing these things I can develop my weaknesses. With enough focused time and effort and growth through adversity those weaknesses can be developed into strengths.

Back to the gym, I don’t program deadlifts everyday because that’s what I’m good at. I’ve got to squat and work on things like Turkish Get Ups that I’m not very adept at. I have to make a concentrated effort to work on my mobility so I can improve on my Olympic lift form. Those things aren’t easy for me, but with enough hard work one day I will excel at them.

It doesn’t pay to avoid difficulty. It makes us soft, weak, and complacent. It’s time to stop running and hiding. Face your fears and meet the challenge head on!  There are no true shortcuts and quick fixes. There might be methods that are more effective than others, but there really is no substitute for consistent hard work and you can only reap the benefits if you put it in and earn it.

So embrace the adversity.

Seek it out even.

Elevate your mind and body to another level.

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