Jan 1, 2021 | Difficulty

Happy Tough New Year

Difficulty | 0 comments

Written by Matt Taylor

Few would argue that 2020 was a tough year, in so many ways. The long-term consequences of the fear, isolation and lack of contact will only become clear with time. For those whose health has been damaged and those who have lost loved ones, 2020 will be remembered for the sense of loss and grief. In this blog, I want to share some thoughts about the positive things that have emerged from a difficult year but my intention is in no way to diminish or belittle the suffering so many have faced. My heart goes out to those in the midst of grieving.

Earlier this year, I listened to a book on Audible by Vishen Lakhiani, the creator of Mind Valley, an online education platform. In it, he describes a conversation with Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, founder of the International Agape Spiritual Center. Beckwith believes all personal growth occurs through pain or insight. He believes that growth comes from either one or the other.

Growth through PAIN or INSIGHT

 

It got me thinking more about the topic of what facilitates growth, which has been on my mind a lot since we first began to look into frailty prevention – a very important issue facing many of our more mature physiotherapy clients.

If pain (what I prefer to describe as difficulty) is a factor of personal human development, then perhaps when we reflect back on 2020, we might see evidence of this.

While our economies may have shrunk from the Coronavirus fallout, I have witnessed growth in so many areas of life.

Last night, my neighbourhood took part in a charity fundraiser via a new WhatsApp group, which I don’t believe would have happened had we not been united by the challenge of facing the lockdown and distancing rules. It was wonderful to be a part of. This morning, the first of this new year, I enjoyed reading lots of heartwarming messages from newly connected neighbours who want to remain connected and build on what began last night.

 

Throughout the year, I have observed the coming together of households and communities to support each other and offer kindness and love in ways I have not seen before.

When the vaccines have taken effect and we have entered the era of the “new normal”, I will be living in a street with quite a different sense of community, one in which the sense of collectivism has resulted in increased cohesion.

On a more personal note, the family being forced to stay indoors together for a few months has also allowed us to grow in our closeness. This is a treasure too great to express in words.

Previously, if we had disputes or arguments, it was easy to avoid the awkwardness of resolving the issue through avoidance. During the lockdown, this was no longer an option. The difficulty of being stuck indoors allowed the emergence of deep late-night talks and conflict resolution which simply wouldn’t have happened previously.

It’s fair to say that through the pain, growth has occurred.

Though Beckwith says growth occurs either through pain or insight, I think growth can happen via the insight that pain brings.

When we face difficulty and challenges we are forced to call upon on our innate resourcefulness to find solutions to cope and overcome. Challenges initiate our problem-solving faculties to go into overdrive. Whether you like it or not, your mind will be working on solving the problems you face, even when you are completely unaware of it.

Meditating helps us to see just how busy the mind is in this regard. While you sit or lie in stillness, with your attention focused and fixed on, for example, the breath, you will notice how thoughts just bubble up, seemingly out of nowhere. These thoughts can be completely meaningless but often, the “self-liberating thought” will be the answer you were looking for, the solution to your problem. 

“we are often at our best when we are pushed, when we are demanded”

This “unconscious” creativity is remarkable and something to be treasured.

A couple of things I have learned from pondering this:

Number one: we are often at our best when we are pushed, when we are demanded of and when we are called to be resourceful in a manner which is novel and new.

We have the most remarkable ability to learn and problem solve but these capacities can lie dormant unless we place ourselves or life places us in situations which are beyond our usual comfortable state.

Number 2: we are often too busy to even notice the wisdom and creativity which every single one of us has. We run around chasing the next short-term feel-good-fix and neglect to notice that we hold within us the immense potential to come up with solutions to so many of our problems – individual problems and collective problems.

We have become too preoccupied with “life” to notice the wonderful insights and intuition which bubble up in our minds.

We have become too preoccupied with “life” to notice the wonderful insights and intuition which bubble up in our minds.

Growth and Difficulty

I completely agree with Beckwith that pain and insight are woven into the fabric of growth and development, and not just in the personal arena, these are key to organisational growth too. But I’m not so sure it is an either/or situation.

In 2021, I will be sharing some of my own thoughts about personal development and growth, especially around the pivotal concept of difficulty.

In my study and reflections, I am becoming more and more aware that our potential to achieve great things cannot be realised without difficulty.

2020 delivered a lot of difficulty and life will undoubtedly continue to throw curveballs at us, long after the vaccine has put an end to the worst of the Covid pandemic. What I am excited about, is enjoying the fruit of the growth that has taken place around me in 2020 and better understanding how I can utilise this principle in becoming the best I can be in 2021 in all my roles – father, husband, son, brother, friend, neighbour, businessman, therapist…

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Wellbeing… it means different things to different people but one thing is for certain, it means a lot to everyone. We all want to be well, healthy, full of vitality and joy. But life is sometimes tough and there is no such thing as a pain-free life.

Learning to live well, despite the tough times, is key to being happy and fulfilled. This is what this blog is all about.

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