We have all heard of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” On the surface level, it sounds like a nice and honorable notion, but if we go deeper, does it really stand true? When we face hardships, do we really do better in life? Is suffering setbacks crucial for our growth? There are many successful people out there who have been blessed with good fortune and seem to be doing pretty well. Is it truly worth it to experience difficulties, disappointments and disadvantages continually in our life?
Sure, we can look at the hardships that we face in our lives in a negative light and be critical about them. Or instead, we can choose to see them as essential components of life and success, and train ourselves to appreciate them. We can think of the challenges that come our way as opportunities to shine and prove our mettle, to grow as a person, to learn how to cultivate endurance, patience and grit, and to be more creative and resourceful.
Our failures, our setbacks and the times when we were treated with unfairness and disrespect — all of them can act as fuel in our pursuits.
Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces—to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it—and makes it burn still higher.”
Like him, we can also condition ourselves to look at the impediment to action being an advancement to action. The obstacle in the path can become the path.
It’s not accepting the hardship that comes in our way reluctantly, but about willingly acknowledging it, and wholeheartedly working with it and trying to find a silver lining in it. It’s a matter of choosing the positive in the negative, of converting the obstacle in front of us into an opportunity, and to turn our setbacks into fuel to propel us ahead.
No matter what happens to us, good or bad, we can learn to make the most out of it. We can train ourselves to keep persisting and persevering as we face setbacks and failures, so that over time we get equipped with the knowledge, wisdom, strength and inner power that helps us achieve monumental and long-lasting successes.