Rethinking the Hard Times

December is a good time to reflect on the past year and to re-evaluate our life’s direction. As we set intentions for the coming year, we’re acknowledging the importance of making choices and plans in line with our values.

However, life rarely proceeds according to our prearranged schedule. There will be external pressures and unforeseen difficulties next year, just as there were this year and every year before. In fact, when we think about our biggest achievements – the things we’re most proud of – more often than not it was the external pressures that drove us to excel. The deadlines that had us putting in the extra effort at work or study; the family demands that pushed us to the limit; the crises that had us digging deep. In short, it’s the things we often complain about at the time, that we realise later were the very things that prompted us to be our best selves.

“A smooth sea never made for a skilled sailor,” says a wise saying, and it’s true. Every virtue or strength that we admire in others and hope to improve in ourselves, is only worth its salt when the circumstances make it inconvenient. Anyone can be patient, kind, loving and loyal when everything is going smoothly. It’s the moments when things aren’t so smooth that really test our mettle. We cannot have courage if there is nothing to be afraid of; the hope we hold is meaningful only when things are looking bleak.

As we look back over the trials of the past year, we can be grateful for the hard times that brought out the best in us. Next year, perhaps we can recognise our difficulties as growth opportunities, even while they are happening!

Stephanie Hills ©


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