It isn’t what happens to you that matters; it’s how you meet it.

That quote, from Epictetus, is probably a cliché, and yet one that seems to need to be relearned by every generation.

Everyone will encounter painful roadblocks and setbacks; we will all lose people we love, unless our lives are short, leaving those who loved us in grief. We know it’s part of life, and one many of us would rather not think about.

Yet there’s the other side of that story – the doors that open unexpectedly, the friends and relationships we make, the work each of us chooses to do that gives our life purpose.

These two go together – it isn’t possible to experience the joy without also experiencing the grief. You probably know someone who has chosen to dull the pain in some way – either through some external substance or intense focus, or some other method. That person, in doing so, has also dulled their capacity to experience joy. Think of the straight line on a heart monitor – that straight line signifies death. Life is the wavy line of ups and downs, separated by moments of quiet contentment.

When we encounter something really painful, it may not seem possible in that moment to ever feel joy again. But that pain will pass, if we allow it to pass. Just as joy will pass. They are both temporary, and both part of the process of living.

Knowing that it will pass – pain or joy – might help in focusing instead on how you hold up during these times. Are you gracious to others, even while feeling great pain? Do you make the effort to continue to put one foot in front of the other? When experiencing joy, do you remember friends and family? When feeling pain or joy, do you stick around for the next phase?

The secret to great opportunities

Quote of the Week

All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”

― Walt Disney


If you like this article, and would like it delivered to your in-box every Monday morning, sign up here.