A Simple Philosophy to Help You Overcome Difficult Obstacles

[Ed. Note: Here at the Daily Reckoning, we strive to bring you a unique and entertaining view of the world of finance. But we also realize that there’s more to this world than money. After all… what good is money if you don’t know how to use it wisely to protect yourself and enjoy your life? So as part of our ongoing “Tip of the Day” series — brought to you by our friends at Laissez Faire Today — we’re proud to share this little actionable tip on living a happier, healthier and more secure life than you ever thought possible. Enjoy!]

“There is good in everything, if only we look for it.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

I admit: It happens. Sometimes, I let negativity cloud my vision of the positive.

When I fall prey, it’s like plunging into a dark tunnel. And once I begin my descent, it’s normally a slow process finding my way out.

But there’s always a consistent reason I eventually see the proverbial light…

It’s because I gain a new understanding about what I was worried about. I begin to see the problem differently.

I realize that what was formerly the bane of my existence was actually good for me. The only problem was how I reacted to it. Not “it” itself.

Here’s what I mean…

We’re at our best when we’re conscious of the fact that ALL our obstacles are good things and are necessary for our growth. We feel on top of the world when we conquer those mountains.

We’re at our worst when we allow these obstacles to make us feel overwhelmed, discouraged, or upset.

“Socrates had a mean, nagging wife; he always said that being married to her was good practice for philosophy.”

“It’s our preconceptions that are the problem,” Ryan Holiday writes in his book, The Obstacle is the Way.

“They tell us that things should or need to be a certain way, so when they’re not, we naturally assume that we are at a disadvantage or that we’d be wasting our time to pursue an alternate course. When really, it’s all fair game, and every situation is an opportunity for us to act.”

For example, let’s say I finish writing your Tip of the Day… shut my laptop… and go on about my day. Later, while giving it another look, I realize that a glitch deleted everything I’d written.

Do I get mad? Do I consider throwing my laptop out of my living room window?

Honestly? Probably.

But the wise man inside of me might remind me that I’ve just been given an opportunity to make your Tip of the Day even better. Drive the point home even harder. Hit you right in your chest with the message and make it resonate even deeper.

See what a shift in perspective can do? I’m almost inspired to delete all this and start anew (not really).

“Blessings and burdens are not mutually exclusive,” Holiday goes on. “It’s a lot more complicated. Socrates had a mean, nagging wife; he always said that being married to her was good practice for philosophy.

“Of course, you’d want to avoid something negative if you could. But what if you were able to remember, in the moment, the second act that seems to come with the unfortunate situations we try so hard to avoid?”

You’ve heard of post-traumatic stress disorder. What gets far less coverage is what’s called post-traumatic growth, or what psychologists refer to as adversarial growth.

It happens when people are blindsided by events and use those events as springing boards to make radically positive changes in their lives. If you’ve ever read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search For Meaning, this philosophy is crystal clear on every page.

It’s the difference between blindly skulking through a tunnel…

And confronting the obstacle, seeing the truth about it (that it’s really a challenge to grow), and reframing it as a benefit.

If you avoid it… don’t deal with it… put it off… blame others for it… you’ll keep sinking deeper and deeper.

And some people get so deep, they can’t claw their way out.

If you confront these things and see the truth about them, the obstacles becomes exciting, enriching and empowering.

Let me show you a few examples…

Here are some ways you can use this philosophy to deal with difficult people in your life.

When someone in your workplace is lazy… [it] just makes whatever you accomplish seem all the more admirable.

When people are rude or disrespectful towards you, this doesn’t reflect who you are or degrade your self-worth…

What it really means is they underestimate you. And, in the art of war, this puts you at a huge advantage.

When people are conniving and set out to harm you in some way, it doesn’t mean you deserve it… or that it’s part of your lot in life…

It merely means you won’t have to apologize when you make an example out of them.

What about when others are overly-critical or question your ability?

Again, it’s normally not a reflection of your abilities and it doesn’t mean the critic is warranted in his or her harassments…

It just means that their low expectations are going to be extremely easy to exceed.

Last one: When someone in your workplace is too lazy and slacks off too much while you’re busting your hump…

Once more, it’s a good thing. This just makes whatever you accomplish seem all the more admirable.

The examples go on.

Have some of your own? We want to hear them. Email us at Chris@lfb.org


Chris Campbell
for The Daily Reckoning

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