The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
Setbacks and failures are an integral part of life, and how we think about them largely determines our fate.
No matter how much we try to avoid it, shit will happen, and when it does, it’s up to us to decide how we are going to let it affect us.
There are two ways to ‘perceive’ what happens – one way is productive, and one is unproductive, counterproductive and sometimes even destructive to our goals.
When we perceive setbacks as being bad, we accept the presumption that negative future repercussions are inevitable, and we decent into victim mentality.
When this leads to anxiety or stress, we can stay true to the moment, and remind ourselves that “this probably won’t kill me”. This is good advice that any self-diagnosed hypochondriac (like me) can attest to.
When we perceive setbacks as being a natural part of life, however, these same setbacks empowers us to redirect our energies and attention in a new and positive way. It becomes a positive and a wonderful gift. We just need the ability to see it in this light.
Some aspects of life are simply non-negotiable. It’s like getting stuck in traffic. We can choose to get mad and curse our misfortune, or we can embrace the new reality and look for the hidden gifts. Sometimes a more scenic and relaxing route is the outcome. We might be late for a meeting, but we’ll have more peace of mind to be able to handle it when we arrive.
All failures are gifts in disguise, given to us by a higher power. The stoic philosophers of Ancient Greece were superbly skilled in expressing this sentiment. Deo Volente, they would sign their letters. God Willing.
In order for us to be happy, we need to reframe the idea that setbacks are bad. In reality, they are fuel which we can chose to direct towards feeling of anger and injustice, or that we use to propel ourselves in an unexpected, but often better ways.
Shit Happens (and that’s a good thing).