Why We Need Adversity
It's one of those hard questions that is often asked; why do we need hardships and adversity? Why must we suffer? Why must we have pain? Well, obviously some pain simply has no explanation, and some circumstances are so horrible that we cannot begin to understand why they happened, but I honestly believe that from every adversity comes the opportunity to become stronger and better.
I remember when I was young and we decided to plant a mulberry tree on our family farm. With the visions in our minds of the bounties of berries we would pick, we were excited to see that, with the right conditions, the tree began to flourish. Within a couple of years the tree had grown to a considerable size, but to our dismay we had not collected a single berry yet. Another few years passed and it was the same; the tree was getting bigger, but no berries. Still today when I visit the farm the tree stands strong but produces no fruit.
There’s actually a simple explanation for this. The reason the tree doesn't produce fruit is because it has never been pruned. For the tree to produce fruit, it must first be trimmed and molded correctly. It’s actually called “branch training”, and over the years as the tree grows to maturity, the farmer will systematically remove the lower branches from the tree, and at times cut off all new growth. Any fruit-bearing mulberry tree must undergo this process.
So it is in our lives, that we can only grow and become stronger through adversity. The most beautiful fruits arise after a struggle or hardship, and like the mulberry tree, we must first be tested before we can grow to full maturity.
Bad things happen in life, and most of us will come face to face with trying circumstances. It is not our place to ask why these things happen to us, but we must instead ask how we can learn and grow from them. I understand that at first we are ignorant to the potential upsides of our trials in life, but the most influential people in the world are those who have been able to see challenges as opportunities for growth and progression. In fact, as I interview the guests on my podcast, "Searching For Good", they often share stories from their life where they have gone through horrible circumstances, and yet they see these as times of extreme personal growth.
Napoleon Hill said that “every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage.” These wise words never cease to inspire me to look for the ways that I can grow through trials. And this rule doesn’t only apply to situations beyond our control. In fact, we can use this law to our advantage every day if we are willing to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone.
The experienced gym-goer knows that it is not the first 10 repetitions that do the most good, but the last few that push her beyond her comfort zone that will encourage the most muscle growth. If you will push yourself further than you believe you can go in every area of your life, you’ll soon see the truth, which is that you can become stronger, better, and greater when you push beyond your comfort zone.
There is a saying in the business world that successful people are those who will do today what other people won’t, so that tomorrow they can do what other people can’t. Are you willing to push yourself today so that tomorrow you can live the life that you truly want? Are you willing to get uncomfortable in life? Because the truth is that without discomfort, there is no growth. Life was not meant to be easy. Life is a process, and learning how to live means learning how to push past adversity whilst taking advantage of opportunity. The greatest opportunities in your life will be guarded by great challenges, and it’s up to you whether you will push past the challenges, or submit to your fears.
I want to encourage you to think about the ways that you can push past your challenges, and leave your comfort zone. It’s a hard thing to do, and it goes against the hard-wiring of our brain, which is designed to protect you from danger, not lead you towards it. But if you will push past your discomforts, I know that you’ll experience life in a way that most people will never experience. And really, it all comes down to a few variations of a simple question; do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to be happy? Do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to live life on your own terms? Do you want to be comfortable, or do you want to chase your dreams? The choice is yours.