“It may be necessary to encounter defeats so we can know who the hell we are.”
—Maya Angelou, poet and political activist
Life is not meant to be an easy ride, but when we think it should, we feel like a failure because we struggle. The truth is, it can be challenging to find out who we are and figure out what path to take in life. But that’s how we grow—by trying things out and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Life’s challenges only make us stronger, a valuable lesson to learn—and it’s when we try to avoid life’s struggles that we run into trouble. In fact, the latest studies show that extremes of stress, either from heat or cold or high intensity exercise, have been proven to increase mitochondrial function in the cells and increase longevity, so it seems that when we avoid difficult challenges and life situations, we are short-changing ourselves. “Where we struggle, there your treasure lies,” mythologist Joseph Campbell tells us.
We gain self-confidence and a sense of achievement when we overcome our challenges. And when we recognize that struggle is part of life, it gives us compassion not just for ourselves, but also for others as they make their own journey through life—for no one’s life is without its challenges.
From “Know Yourself, Be Yourself” by Gillian Drake