If you don't have a Problem, hope for one
This week’s Article is thought provoking. If you do not want to be intellectually challenged, if you do not appreciate a different perspective, if you have a fragile ego, this episode is not for you. However, if you are ready to frame problems through a different lens, you will literally love it! And of course take everything with a pinch of salt, your mind will be tempted to dismiss some of the idea but I do hope that you will reflect on the main themes and they will help you live a better life.
I have a question for you:
Think about two men. One has a stroke of luck and wins the lottery. The other one has a terrible accident, fractures his spine and become a paraplegic. Here is the question: who is happier after 4 years?
99% of the people say, without hesitation (I said that too) that the person who won the lottery is for sure the happiest. However, the answer is not that straightforward because it has to do with our perception of life. Within 3 years of treatment, the paraplegic might be super happy because they can lift a finger. The winner of the lottery might be very sad because everyone wanted money from him and he squandered all his riches. It is a matter of emotional balance, the story we tell ourselves and the meaning we give to what we focus on.
Today, I will try to give you a different perspective. A different perspective on your problems, on your suffering, on stress. Bottom line is that if you learn how to manage your emotions and you will live a much happier life.
And I would like to start with a simple reflection: Help yourself before you attempt at helping others.
This was one of the most important epiphanies in my life. People who went through hard times have a strong desire to help others because they do not want to suffer as they did! However, if you help others before having fixed your problems, you will make a mess. I had to fix my own traumas before being able to successfully help others.
I am a frequent traveller and a good metaphor is wearing your oxygen mask on the plane before helping your son. Your son is the most important thing in your life, but you help yourself first, because you cannot help him if you are dead.
Shit happens in life. Everyone has some challenges to deal with. Something wrong to deal with. Everyone.
When something bad happens, according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, Swiss-American psychiatrist and author of the book On Death and Dying, we go through five stages of grief (listen to the Podcast for a more detailed explanation):
At first, we deny what is happening (e.g. COVID will not affect Europe)
Then, we experience anger and frustration
When anger cannot solve it, we start bargaining, with God, with the government, etc.
Then, we go through depression and a sense of helplessness; the world seems to be over!
Finally, we accept what is happening and we start exploring our options. We need to create a new world and to do that we let go of what was.
Why do some people suffer so much?
Rob Dial, host of the Mindset Mentor Podcast, always says “Pain is inevitable but suffering is a choice”. The formula to suffer is simple:
You get a large amount of stress + You cannot control the stress + YOU FIGHT THE FACT THAT YOU CANNOT CONTROL IT.
You must train yourself to deal with stress, not deciding if it is fair or unfair. Many people complain, “Oh this is so unfair, I do not deserve this”. Remember: Life is balance! Spring follows winter and winter follows spring. But if you are mentally resilient, it does not matter what season you find yourself in, you thrive.
Let me tell you a secret. COVID, for the Leaders of their Life, for the people who were mentally prepared, has been a blessing. Who suffered during COVID were the people who did not build a shelter for the winter. The Leaders were prepared and sold winter coats, if you allow the metaphor. We looked at massive redistribution of wealth ($1.7 Trillion).
Our brain will always prove us right. If you think you can, and if you think you can’t, in both cases you are right!
Your beliefs will become your reality because your brain will filter information to confirm what you are already thinking. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to train our brain to see the beauty, the right path! Otherwise, we will always focus on what’s wrong, on what we cannot control.
And what if there are some problems on your way? You may say “Ok, I am mentally prepared, but come one, objectively I see challenges ahead!”.
I love what Tony Robbins said once: “Problems are gifts! If you don’t have a problem, beg for one!”. Most of us do not truly understand the power and the value of problems.
You know who has no problems? The people who are dead! Do you want Peace? Go to a graveyard, you will find peace.
You do not want Peace, you want to stop suffering and you want to take control of your life. There is a difference! I had an intense discussion with a friend once on why some people commit suicide and we analysed how suicide cannot be an option because it leads to Peace and stops suffering but it does not address the main issue: we want to create a life which is worth living. Hence the importance of taking control of our life, which requires a mental effort, designing a clear strategy and acquiring new skills.
Problems are a sign of life.
Therefore, if you do not have any problem in your life, if you are not experiencing any failure in your life, if you are not facing any hurdle in your journey, you have better start praying for one because problems are a sign of life! If you do not have problems it means that you either have a very low standard of living and you shy away from any problem, you stay in your little comfort zone, or you are dead. And in my opinion, staying in your comfort zone means that you are kind of dead.
Jim Rohn, famous American entrepreneur, Author and motivational speaker, said:
“Do not pray for less problems, pray for more skills”.
Rather than praying that things get better, what about you getting better? This is especially relevant in COVID times where people wait for the vaccine to start living again, which is what I find really sad. And by the way, you are not afraid of COVID; you are afraid you are not strong enough to face COVID and die without leaving something meaningful.
How do you build mental resilience? In the same way you build muscles. How do you build muscle? Every day, you go to the gym and you push against unbelievable resistance. I love the quote “The Universe gives us problems to sculpt our soul”.
For things to change YOU have to change, for things to get better YOU have to get better.
That is how you fall in love with yourself. Don’t fall in love with other people, fall in love with yourself. You go through pain and you get better. And when you love yourself others will love you. How others perceive us is a reflection of how we perceive ourselves.
Let’s give an example. We all watch movies right? If you watch any movie, the main character is really happy and healthy! Then, they suffer. They refuse the calling, saying “I am not a hero!”. Then, they grow and win. No one goes to a movie where the main character is always happy! Can you imagine how boring that movie would be? No journey of the main character? No growth? Absolutely terrible! And your life is the same thing.
Mark my words: Where you get, will never make you happy. Who you become to get there will make you happy. Focus on what you want because where focus goes, energy flows.
Becoming mentally resilient is important because we are bombarded with negativity. Journalists have a say: “If it bleeds, it leads”. This is why the news is typically negative, our brain retains negative information more easily.
We also must become better at filtering information. Nowadays we have too much information and zero wisdom! We are in the attention society, where everybody has an attention span of 7 seconds and everybody overreacts and takes everything personal.
Learn to embrace stress
Everybody is experiencing stress. The only way we can be happy is growing. I always say “We either grow or we die”. When people stop growing, they feel that their life is meaningless. Appreciate you have a problem, deal with it and expand.
Think about a terrible problem: you would never go through it again, but do you recognize that it made you grow so much? Do you see the grace in that terrible problem? See that life is happening for you, and not to you.
Very important reflection: life is not about avoiding stress, it is about embracing stress.
Look at the benefits of stress. It gives you an opportunity to:
Realise how strong you are. Test your skills and capabilities and become stronger.
Discover who your real friends are. When you go through happy times, you will have plenty of friends; but when you go through a hard time, that’s when you will know who the true friends are.
You build an immunity to future challenges. Your mental and spiritual muscles will become stronger and you become bulletproof.
I wanted to share three important reflections on strength:
For most of us, stress is caused by other people. Let’s learn to not resent them. Resenting somebody is taking poison in your own body and expecting someone else to die.
The reality is that we will all go through something terrible in life. We will all experience the death of loved ones, a breakup, lack of financial resources, etc. Help others when they go through hard times.
Be grateful for the fact that your worst problem is someone else’s dream! Many people wish they had your problem. I am sure you heard the saying:
“If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75 percent of the world. If you have money in your bank, your wallet, and some spare change, you are among 8 percent of the world’s wealthy. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture or the horrible pangs of starvation, you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering. If you can read this message, you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.”
I would appreciate if you let me know your feedback on this more mentally-challenging article! if you liked it please share it with someone you know and love, the only way we grow and impact more people is if you guys share the podcast so I greatly greatly appreciate all of you who will do it.
Make your life a masterpiece, see you next week, I appreciate you and I hope you have an amazing day.