People often think of success as a singular moment. It’s not.
Think of it this way. One day you get sick and tired of always being sick and tired by the way you look. You can’t stand seeing yourself in the mirror, so you decide it’s time to go to the gym.
You work out for a day or two. What happens after that? Do you see any results? Do the people around you?
If nothing changed, are you a failure? What happened?
Do a lot of people give up because after one, two, twenty workouts, there’s still no visible change? There’s no one to acknowledge their work? What if they quit, and then start over, and then quit again, and then start again… and one day, they just keep going?
If they keep working out, going to the gym, day after day after day, and then, one day, they look in the mirror and they go like, “Wow.” And all their friends and family congratulate them on what they achieved.
Is that the moment when they became successful? Or did everything before that moment lead to the moment when everyone else acknowledged their success?
The true man is revealed in difficult times. So when trouble comes, think of yourself as a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck. For what purpose? To turn you into Olympic-class material. But this is going to take some sweat to accomplish.
Epictetus, Discourses I, 24.1-2
I know a lot of you are scared. I know a lot of you are frustrated by events that you had not fault over.
Everybody who’s enjoyed some kind of success and Oprah will tell you that you can be great. That you are unique, special, fantastic, phenomenal…
But there’s a trap. It’s quite obvious, actually. As most things in life are.
“It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.” –Ian McEwan
They say the biggest distance between two people is misunderstanding. It creates this gap between people. Or is it a wall? And it’s frustrating, isn’t it? It does make you feel as if you’re alone, the only one who thinks and says and acts in a certain way.
And by feeling so don’t we diminish others as well? Don’t we fail to understand that even though they are different, they’re still inherently the same as us? And they deserve to be treated the same way we’d like to be treated.
I don’t know, it’s a difficult question to answer.
But could you hate someone if you knew why they do what they do? If you could truly understand them? Their thoughts? Their feelings? Know their past? Their struggles? What they want? What they have lost?
“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.” — William Goldman
I’m not a big fan of “positive thinking.” Yes, it’s important that we love ourselves, that we try to see all that is good and worthy of gratitude in us and others. I believe in seeing the light in others and offering them the support they need to better themselves.
But I also know that it is extremely important that we be realistic about what is what and who is who.
To most of us this simple word means much more than just the muscle that keeps us alive. It defines our ability to feel, to love, to care, to suffer deeply, to evolve, to fight on… it is the source of all our power, our greatest strength and our greatest weakness.
To me the word implies all that is good and bad and wonderful and frightening in a human being. It’s the essence of who we are, the inexorable truth of the human condition. Found in the center of what we call one’s soul, the heart is the passion we are capable of mustering, is the strength that we are capable of summoning, the ability to love…