To have a fulfilling life it is essential that you grow. Yet growth is rich with challenge and challenge is inherently uncomfortable because it moves us away from where we are at ease. Operating in this realm of unrest comes naturally to very few, those who are good at playing in this space have developed the skills to do it well, or at least cope long enough to gain. Here are some things I think are worth practicing as you invite challenges into your life:
1. Learn to add joy to fear.
Feelings are choose-able. Sometimes this may feel like pretending but most skills feel like pretending when you first learn them. Next time you feel fear as you come into a new situation, reach into yourself for the feeling of joy and put it on. Fear + Joy = Excitement. Excitement can be a more palatable way to work with fear as it creates energy and often allows us to access optimism, and enjoy the process regardless of its outcome.
2. Learn to relax instead of struggle.
Meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, martial arts, and other disciplines that teach you to marshal the patterns of your body — relax your muscles, slow your breathing, and calm your mind — are ideal for teaching you how to respond in stressful situations. If you are more comfortable and competent with handling stress you’ll be more willing to embrace challenge.
3. Respond Don’t React.
In a previous post I talked about the idea of cultivating a thoughtful and balanced response to stressful situations, in particular those involving other people. Reminding yourself to stay aware, breath, and respond to a situation based on your goals and intentions can help you move mindfully toward challenge even when you fear it. Remember courage is not the absence of fear, it is the ability to make wise decisions while feeling fear.
The beautiful thing about growth is that as long as you are open to it, it is inevitable. Every situation you go into has the opportunity to teach you great lessons and move you into deeper places as a human being. Become less attached to the outcome and more enthralled with the process and the doors of success and fulfillment will open for you.