Life can feel like one hard thing after another.
If it’s not this, it’s that.
The Capitol is stormed; a pandemic kills millions worldwide; Russia invades Ukraine and meters atrocity that Europe hasn’t seen in nearly a century; worldwide drought and famine pervade; homelessness is on the rise nationwide; crazy inflation and gas prices; Crypto implodes, and an impending recession.
Your home front might not be any rosier. Your marriage may be falling apart; your business failing; you’ve been sued; your parents are dying or aging badly; your cute kids have grown up with many challenges; you’re miserable in your career; your neighbor is the world’s most inconsiderate person ever; you’ve been the victim of violence or a crime; or you’re battling a rare and deadly disease.
During these tough times it’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel that the sky is falling or the end of the world is near. It’s convenient to want to just run far far away – Canada, Luxembourg, Outer Space. Anywhere else that’s not here.
However, the Stoics teach us the importance of holding steadfast and standing our ground. In other words, acknowledge our challenges but hold out for hope. To be able to do that, we must train our bodies, hearts, and minds to be prepared to withstand torrents of pain, sadness, and chaos in our lives. Otherwise, we will never be able to outrun the pain of fate. It will overtake and ruin us.
Such a reminder is timely during this season of Advent and Hanukkah. Both the Christian and Jewish faiths use this time in their theological calendars to focus on hope in the face of dire circumstances. Mary and Joseph were impoverished outcasts and essentially homeless at the precipice of the birth of the Messiah, while the Jews faced bloody oppression at the hands of Syrian dictators who had slaughtered thousands and overtook Jerusalem and defiled their temples.
Thousands of years later, both faiths rejoice this time of year with themes of hope and light whether they be the Star or the Menorah. It would’ve been easy for Mary and Joseph or the Jews to wallow in their hardship. Instead, they chose to endure the hardships they faced and changed history and mankind forever.
Let’s face it, life has never been an easy street for anyone. Life never will be. Sure, some people’s roads seem easier than others, but that doesn’t mean all roads are easy. Beware of the “grass is greener” effect. Other’s paths in life may just appear that way. There’s no sense in comparing because appearances can be (and often are) deceiving.
Life presents challenges to us all. If you haven’t experienced that, then hold on, it’s coming. The biggest questions for you (and us all) as we transition to a new year and all the uncertainty and promise it brings are: Are you prepared, and will you be ready?
Take some time away from celebration this holiday season to reflect and prepare. You will be better for it.
Keep Being Amazing,