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Note to Self (06.02.23)


We sometimes find ourselves in a challenging situation, wishing so badly to get ourselves out, but what are we willing to do about it? Do we still want to solve problems when we see the work required?

We must be able to do the hard work and be willing to delay gratification in favor of what is right, not what is easy.

In listening to a podcast with Seth Godin this past week, he discussed the idea of tension. Growth in any form (modes of learning, personal or interpersonal development, physical adaptation such as muscle gain, etc.) requires tension to initiate, promote, and sustain adaptation.

What is tension? Consider it as pulling one thing away from another, creating tightness and resistance away from the baseline.

For our purposes, we are pulling our mind or body away from a state of normalcy, homeostasis, and comfort - into a stretched state - beyond what is recognizable. We are forced to adapt - and so we do. We grow.

We often believe that stress is the key initiator of growth, but Godin states that tension is unique from stress and a more accurate indication of whether growth can occur.


Hard times are, in nature, tension-promoting. Therefore, if you are experiencing a challenge that you feel the world has unduly imposed on you, view it as the prime opportunity to develop the part of you being stretched.

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” (Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way)

Here are three notes, written to myself, for myself, on what hard times require and how to make the most of them.

  1. Hard times are humbling. They require that we take steps forward that feel more like a sprint in the opposite direction. These actions are growth investments, not steps backward. Though there may be no immediate return, the benefits outweigh the sacrifice.

  2. Hard times require us to check our egos and do what is best, not what feels best. Maybe it's the boring decision or the reality that you need to take an opportunity that feels 'lesser than' what you've grown accustomed to; either way, it's what the situation requires and the only way forward.

  3. Hard times either bring you closer to or farther from reality. You can come to terms with the situation and identify the next steps, or you can become disillusioned by the belief that you are the victim. No matter which you choose, you will soon realize that no one is coming to save you - you must accept reality and do something with it.

Hard times are inescapable, yet overwhelming, nonetheless. You may never feel good in these moments, but you can appreciate them as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

And that perspective shift can make all the difference.

Note to Self: Happiness is not the absence of struggle but an embrace of it.

More on this topic in the coming days and this week's edition of Think About It, my weekly newsletter, distributed for free each Sunday morning.

Until then,


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