Robin Brooks: Become heartened, not hardened

Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 2:21 p.m.

It is a new year and we are thinking about the ups and downs or the successes and failures of the past year of our lives. May I offer a suggestion? Go into this new decade with the mindset that whatever we have experienced in the past (and will experience in the future) is for a reason, and that reason is not necessarily because we went the wrong way, made a bad decision, or were thrown off course.

Why do we continue to blame ourselves for the struggles we have experienced? Maybe it is because society constantly bombards us with the message that we shape the course of our own lives. Although we are ultimately responsible for our actions and reactions, have we ever stopped to think that maybe the traumas in our lives serve a great purpose? Could it be that we are stronger when we experience adversity and we can affect greater and more lasting change as a result? Perhaps these experiences are not mere aberrations but part of the divine design for our lives. This may not sound appealing, but ponder it for a moment.

Let us think about an incident in our lives from five years or more ago. Are we stronger, better, or wiser now as a result of it? Did the event cause us to activate strength we never thought we had? Can we think of at least one way we are better people having had to endure that experience? If we can, then maybe the experience was not an obstruction to our personal progress like we previously thought. In some cases, it may even have been a breakthrough for our lives. As a philosopher once wrote, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

From now on, let us choose to stop blaming ourselves for experiences that we deem unpleasant inconveniences; they may prove to be some of the most productive-causing experiences of our lives. Whenever we are frustrated, saddened, or troubled, I challenge us to consider, “What good can arise from this experience?” We should see every situation as a mechanism to propel us full force into the destiny we have always envisioned.

Experience is the greatest teacher sometimes, so stop asking why. Life does hold some mystery, but let us capitalize on the answers we do have; the puzzle pieces of our lives that we have been able to fit together. The rough places in our lives are not useless; they are stepping stones. We must become heartened, not hardened, by life’s toughest experiences to pursue our dreams with tenacity like never before.

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