Have you ever experienced a great disappointment? Have you ever had success or attained a goal? Though on the surface they may appear to have very little in common, both experiences, the high and the low, are part of the universe's plan to move us toward the realization of our authentic selves.
No one likes to fail, and if we could avoid those experiences, most of us would do so. Have you ever reflected on a failure with the realization that it was the exact thing that you needed at that time? Perhaps it was a failed relationship which you mourned, but now realize that it was all wrong for you. Or maybe it was your dream job which you desperately tried to keep, but in retrospect realize that it was not the best fit and really a nightmare. Or maybe it was an opportunity which you got passed over for, all to have a better one come along sometime later. Life will remove those things, people, and situations that need not be there—if we allow it to.
Some of life's greatest lessons happen when we fail, because unlike succeeding, failing serves as a reminder of our humanity. We are reminded to be patient with ourselves, to be kind to ourselves and to accept ourselves just as we are. These experiences also create an opportunity for deep, meaningful connection with others.
Have you ever comforted someone in their success, or consoled a friend after a great accomplishment? In moments of triumph, we share in the glory, offer congratulations and admiration. These are not the moments where we as human beings communicate our deepest love and affection, because in those times, the pervasive sentiment if one of joy and happiness.
There is maybe no single greater human interaction than empathy, and it is during their moments of greatest need that we show true kindness to others. These selfless acts are life’s way of gently nudging us toward deeper, more meaningful connection. It allows the comforter to tap into their own experiences with hurt and to offer compassion which says, “you matter, I care.”
If it is the triumphs which are our pursuit and what drives us, then life provides us with many avenues by which we can attain them. Nonetheless, life also offers windows into our innermost parts by allowing us to experience what we call “failures”—when we do not live up to expectations or achieve our goals. What if failures were just a necessary detour on the path to our destination? What if they were life’s way of helping us course correct?
In these moments it is important to maintain an open disposition and not become hardened or rigid in one’s thinking. Life is a process, a journey and not a destination. We are inundated with images and messages that ascribe labels to successes and failures. These ideals are not only largely unattainable, but also fleeting. As is true with any journey, the meaning is found in the challenges along the way. Without those hurdles, life would be boring, mundane, and repetitive.
And so, life continuously gives us opportunities to challenge ourselves, surmount all manner of problems, grow in understanding of our own fortitude, and most importantly, come to greater awareness of self. Though uncomfortable and at times painful, we endure, because it teaches us how strong we are. Life teaches us just how resilient we are in the face of each unsettling and unpleasant moment.