19th century philospher Friedrich Neitzsche said, “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
I’m about to make a bold statement. Mr. Neitzsche was wrong.
Things do not make you stronger. Events do not make you stronger. Other people do not make you stronger.
YOU, and only you, make you stronger. It is not the external hardship, it is your response to it, that adds to your level of strength.
Putting aside the fact that he basically lived his life as a hermit, I am going to place Friedrich Neitzsche in a hypothetical example. If this philosopher stepped into a gym, walked over to the weight rack and stared down at the rows of dumbbells, do you think he would believe that their existence in and of themselves were making his muscles stronger?
Of course not. It is the type of interaction he chooses to have with the dumbbells that will determine if he becomes stronger from their existence of not. Further it is the level of engagement that decides how much stronger our dear philosopher will become.
It is his reaction… (Does he run away from them? Or does he decide to pick them up and put them down a few times? Hahaha, queue up the plant fitness commercial)
…to the external stimuli (the dumbbells) that determines whether or not he will become stronger, as well as how much stronger he will become. All of this of course, is his decision, and his alone. Not the dumbbells’, not the other equipment in the gym, and not the rest of the world’s. The result is 100% a product of his own free will.
Conclusion: Adversity itself does not make you stronger. You pushing forward when you are in the middle of the adversity, is what will make you stronger.
Adversity is a gift, in my opinion. It can be super painful of course, so it does not always feel like a gift, but it is always a stepping stone to make you more of what you are. And one must never take adversity personally. Doing so is only a disservice to your growth and will only slow you down.
All of this tells us something. It tells us that essentially our environment does nothing to us. It does nothing to shape us. It is what we do with the external stimuli that determines our outcome.
Why is this good news?? Because it means WE shape our destiny! Not genetics. Not our upbringing. A trauma suffered and a big break given both mean nothing in the end unless we take those opportunities and DO something with them.
Otherwise they are one and the same. Events that came and went in your life that you did nothing positive with.
A lot of times when something bad or even good happens to us, our first reaction is to say, “This isn’t supposed to be happening to me.” Whether it’s perceived as an opportunity or a disaster, we feel as though we don’t deserve it.
Is this a common reaction to unexpected events? Yes. But is it also completely insane? Yup!
Why insane? Because when you say “this isn’t supposed to happen,” you are actually stating that you, YOU!– one single human being standing in the vast expanse of our big, beautiful universe– think you know how the universe should work. Further, you are refusing to accept an event that has already happened.
This is insane!
But we’ve all been there. I have definitely been there! I fully own this! So let’s go ahead right now and all forgive ourselves, and each other while we’re at it, for being insane.
Okay, good. We have let go and let flow. In other words, we have stopped trying to control/manipulate/guilt trip the universe, (again, how silly does this sound? :))
Now we have freed up our energy to accomplish a real task. A truly productive one.
Actually, the one and only single task that will ever matter, for the rest of your life.
Show up in every moment.
How does one do that? By remembering that, though we all have different goals in life, we will accomplish none of these unless we continue to learn. We all have so much to learn in order to get to where we want to be. And what is the most fertile ground for learning, for true mind expansion? Full attention. Or, you can also state this as being fully present.
Start regarding every moment as your teacher. There is so much external stimuli waving at us, throughout each day, begging us to learn. Since we have agreed to no longer be distracted by silly agendas, like to trying to control the world around us, we are free to give our full attention to our teacher, which is this moment, and learn.
I am not saying this is easy. I am not saying it always comes naturally. But it is worth it. And it will bring about greater productivity and happiness.
I love you guys. See you in a moment. One of these moments :) Hopefully soon. :)