“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.” - Haruki Murakami

Life is unpredictable. No surprises there.

You never know what lies around the corner waiting to test your resolve.

Life’s challenges are part of the human condition and yet none are immune from the ravages of existence. They arise for reasons we cannot comprehend and leave us like a wounded pigeon, with broken wings. Yet contained within this knowledge and in spite of life’s upheaval, we are able to reconnect to our authentic power however uncompromising conditions appear. This quote by Haruki Murakami signifies our ability to assume control of how we interpret pain and suffering, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.”

Through my own trials I now appreciate the supreme lesson that we are ultimately not in control. With this knowledge, we surrender to universal forces to imbue us with the experiences to shape our destiny. Surrender does not mean apathy, in contrast it means mental and emotional detachment from preferred outcomes. We allow the process of life to unfold through us and in doing so trust our needs are fulfilled at the right time.

You are never presented with an experience that is the sum of your conditioning. Each challenge stretches you to grow beyond your comfort zone. Comparable with the seasons which arrive and recede, your challenges serve a purpose.

Sometimes it may not be obvious for a long time, yet everything unfolds in line with a supreme order. I am neither referring to religion nor spirituality, but an intricate universal order which governs the framework of reality.

There is an ancient Sufi passage that states, “This too shall pass.” Reflect on these words during your darkest hour. Pain and suffering recedes to give way to a harmonious solution. Painful challenges dissolve in the same way morning fog lifts to reveal a brilliant day.

Yield to your challenges by leaning in to them instead of opposing them. What happens when you move into your challenges than run away from them? You face them head on and build self-confidence. The storm represents your darkest hour amid the backdrop of uncertainty. Known as the dark night of the soul, the storm serves a purpose. It endows you with vital resources intended for your personal evolution.

It is by no mistake that the bigger we play, the harder we fall. Challenges can arise suddenly, yet lead us to a deeper knowledge of ourselves. Your personal growth is impeded were it not for the difficult times. Man does not rise to his best under the kindest conditions, yet in the harshest storm he discovers his true potential.

Do not merely embrace the good times, savour the difficult times as well since progress is realised under testing conditions. The happiest people are those who have undergone hardship to emerge with deep wisdom to share with others.
We prevail not in waiting for the storm to pass, but in proceeding through the storm. Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” You see, the storm shapes your inner landscape by exposing your strengths and weaknesses. It sharpens the saw as Stephen Covey reminds us in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

“If patience is worth anything, it must endure to the end of time. And a living faith will last in the midst of the blackest storm.” - Mahatma Gandhi

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life’s challenges, get back on your feet and persist through it. Acquire the lessons, experience the pain. We must venture beyond our comfort zone daily if we are to awaken our potential. Those who settle, burn out well before their time has come. It was George Bernard Shaw who said, “I want to be all used up before I die.”

Similarly, we must strive to nurture patience and self-compassion as we endure the storm. In doing so you develop a resilient sense of self. Consider your advice to a close friend or family member undergoing a similar trial.

The Buddha teaches the Four Noble Truths essential to his teachings. They apply to us if we seek to understand the nature of adversity and how to make sense of it in our lives.

If we wish to penetrate the true nature of our existence, we must develop a deeper knowledge of ourselves. Suffering is the threshold into one’s reality, perceived through the lens of adversity. The Four Noble Truths affirm that life is impermanent – everything is in a transitory state, even our pain and troubles.

Your response to hardship is measured by your attitude and mental resilience. Charles Swindoll said, “Words can never adequately convey the incredible impact of our attitude toward life. The longer I live the more convinced I’ve come that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we respond to it.”

Therefore, it is not life’s volatility that is the cause of our hardship, yet how we interpret those events that shape our life. We have two choices in each challenge: rise to it and in doing so overcome it or retreat into despair. The latter invites more suffering and erodes our personal self.

We all suffer pain in one form or another, yet the degree to which we choose to suffer remains within our control.

Author's Bio: 

Tony is a leading health and self empowerment expert. He brings over ten years' experience at the highest level as a health professional, speaker, author and coach. His understanding and integration of mind and body concepts bridges the gap between health, well-being and human behaviour.

Tony has developed a comprehensive health and personal development program, The Power to Navigate Life which has been successfully embraced across Australia. The program teaches participants how to achieve continued mental, emotional and physical well-being using easy to follow principles. The book which bears the same name is testimony to the principles espoused in the program.

Tony has achieved the highest authorship of Platinum Author for online EzineArticles.com, with over 9,000 article views. He writes for a number of leading health and personal growth websites to include Pick Your Brain, SelfGrowth.com & StartsAtSixty.com and more.

He currently works with a number of Australia's leading CEO's and corporate executives and has a solid understanding and interest in nutrition, holistic lifestyle, personal development and mind body health.