I collect memories and stories of happy and resilient people. I am thankful that I have the sacred opportunity to step into people's lives and ask them real questions. We ask about their family, their work, their goals, their bodies, their health, their challenges and more.
After taking stock of all the answers that we receive, it has become clear that some of the most content people we see are those who are able to see a "thread of cause or purpose" in the events and circumstances in their lives.
Said another way, they feel as though they are co-creators of their lives even during times of challenge, growth, remorse or pain.
In addition, they feel as though life is continually guiding them, leading them and teaching them more and more, and they trust that the outcomes that occur are for the highest good.
Here are a few examples: One month, a client of ours, whom we will call Shari, moved into a new, more expensive apartment and shortly, thereafter, she had unforeseen expenses pop up due to a challenging radiator and transmission in her car. But she didn't panic. Rather, Shari immediately began to look for ways in which she could excel in her sales job. It took two months of making phone calls, networking with business associates and meeting for coffee, but through her new contacts she was earning more than she ever had. And it was more interesting, challenging and rewarding. Shari concluded during one of our coaching sessions that she needed the challenge to make her rise to a new level.
In contrast, Betty took a long time putting her life back together after a heart attack killed her husband. She mourned for years, feeling isolated and depressed. Then after many years, at 65, she married a widower whom she'd known for 40 years and met again while visiting a mutual friend. Betty suddenly became more alive, active and energetic than she'd been in the years since her first husband died. The only sad part of the story is that it took so long for them to connect.
Stephen was adding a 5,000-square-foot wing to the health clinic he founded and was having plenty of aggravation in the process. The builders fell behind schedule and electricians made mistakes. Stephen was trying to oversee this major project while maintaining a busy psychotherapy practice. Stephen felt burned out, stressed and frustrated. Yet, when asked how he was coping, he said, "I'm chalking the whole experience up to growing pains."
Growing pains can be used as a great metaphor for problems we encounter on our way through life. We grow in experience and character every day of our lives.
As these stories show, adversity demands awareness decision and action. It can force us to change comfortable routines or attitudes. Sometimes adversity takes something from us and sometimes it helps us move in an important new direction. British statesman Benjamin Disraeli said, "What appear to be calamities are often the sources of fortune."
We can't tell what will happen as we enter the special moments in life that play important roles in determining our direction. Often, we don't even recognize a pivotal moment. So it makes sense to consider every problem, even during challenging times, as a possible positive turning point in your life, an opportunity to make a quantum leap toward better things as you react to the adversity.
When I find myself facing adversity, hassles, challenges or aggravation, I try to remember to ask myself, "Where's the opportunity? What is the blessing? How can I turn this around so something good comes out of it?"
Every recovery from an adverse experience is a success, a positive experience that adds to your ability to cope with the next adverse experience.
In famous writings of literature there are three basic literary themes - man against man, man against nature and man against himself - the interpersonal, physical and psychological.
Seeing the world through the eyes of " where's the opportunity" isn't asking you to put on rose-colored glasses, but rather it is asking you to draw on your internal reserve and choose once again to take another step forward into the future of what ultimately becomes a building block of your life.
Dr. Jason Kolber is a licensed doctor of chiropractic and a certified life coach. Reach him at (480) 704-2787 or www.livinginline.com.