I can remember punching, but doing it more so out of reflex than because of conscious thought. The ringing in my ears was the only sound that I could hear, though I could see the crowd cheering ringside, and I could feel my opponent’s punches landing.
I’d just been dropped in a fight for the first and only time, and my reaction was as it should be: I got right back up and started fighting. Had I stayed down and accepted defeat, I’d never know if I was a real fighter or just a wannabe, a warrior or a pretender.
It’s in pain and struggle that we experience growth. Pain, struggle and defeat show us more about who we are and what we’re capable of doing than times of ease. We are given an opportunity to grow stronger in pain. Whether we seize that opportunity will either lead to our further development, or usher us toward our weakening, our decline.
If tribulation is how we grow stronger, then why do we avoid it? Why do we seek ease when struggle is what leads to our success?
Life is a War
Everyday we awake to two versions of ourselves; we’ll call one the warrior, and we’ll give the other an external, tangible existence, naming it the Resistance. The Resistance is anything and everything that calls us to be small, weak and timid.
The Resistance is our fear, worry, self-doubt, lack of courage and imagination, and our laziness. When we awake, the Resistance begins its work immediately. It’s the part of our Self that wants to press the snooze button, or to watch TV. It’s the voice in our heads that fears risk and wants us to stay within our comfort zone, avoiding growth.
The Resistance can take the form of others, even our loved ones: those people in our lives that want to keep us small, like them. That want to prevent us from going out in the world and creating something beautiful, to prevent us from forging a legacy, because they’re scared that they’ll lose us to the greatness we have within. They offer us pizza when we’re on a diet, ask us to a movie when we have a project due the next day or make fun of our audacious goals and dreams and wishes.
The Resistance is a very real enemy. An enemy that most would rather ignore or befriend than fight. Most would rather give in to their fear, laziness and desire for an easy, small life because the battle against the Resistance never ends. It’s a lifelong war, filled with daily battles fought on the epic field of our mind, our soul and our spirit.
But we have an ally...
Each of us, man or woman or child, has a warrior within us. We have a source of internal courage that we strengthen each time we defeat the Resistance in battle, but also weaken every time we are defeated.
The warrior within is fed every time we risk, every time we wake up at the sound of our alarm, every time we push for one more repetition in the gym or spend one more hour working. It grows every time we persist, every day we move forward, every moment we hustle.
I defeated the Resistance when I got up from that knockdown and kept fighting. I defeated the Resistance when I turned my phone off and worked, when the Resistance wanted me to go on Facebook, and I brushed it off, killed that weak thought, and did my work.
You killed the Resistance when you booked that trip in the face of fear, when you started your passion project even though your spouse scoffed at the idea of you breaking off and doing your own thing in business, and when you encouraged someone to do the same, even though there was a jealous, envious part of you -- the Resistance -- that wanted to crush their dream like so many have done to you before.
The Meaning Of Life: Embracing The Struggle
Decades ago, Theodore Roosevelt called his fellow Americans to embrace the strenuous life. He called for them to seek struggle and to avoid ease. He saw that life, not only success, is found in a strenuous life, and that death and a life wasted is found and created in an easy life.
To truly live a successful life, one filled with action, purpose and growth, we have to gravitate toward, and embrace, pain and struggle. We have to push ourselves beyond what we can currently accomplish, so we can accomplish greater things tomorrow.
To avoid the struggle is to be ignorant of not only the battle being waged by an unseen enemy in our lives, but to avoid life.
Next time you feel yourself being pulled toward weakness, or giving into the part of your mind that wants you to stay small, acknowledge the battle, don’t avoid it. It’s real, and it’s a matter of life or death.
If you fight, you’re rewarded with the strength and courage you need to live a legendary life, if you avoid the fight, you take the road that millions take everyday: that of a small life lived in fear, insignificance and a betrayal of the potential we all possess, in favor of the coward too many settle down and become.
Chad Howse | @ChadHowse