Have you ever wanted to say something and then find someone who says it better than you ever could? That's what happened to me while I was researching the topic of why you need problems. Professional boxer Ed Latimore stated it so well that I asked him if I could share his thoughts here...
Life is full of problems. People act shocked when things don’t go according to plan, but imagine your life if no problems existed. What most of you are doing right now is imagining life without your specific little problems like paying the bills or getting a date. I’m talking about a world in which NOTHING is wrong. Not just for you, not just for me, but for everyone. Everything goes according to plan. This is not life. This is not reality.
Problems aren’t going anywhere. When you fix one thing, in a matter of time–sometimes minutes, sometimes days–something else will go wrong. These “wrong” things are the source of all of your stress. You could lose your job, get dumped, get robbed and beaten, etc. These are the problems that disrupt your life and significantly derail your plans.
But here’s the secret: You need terrible things to happen to you. Getting blind sided by a catastrophe is the single most powerful opportunity to improve. If you get dumped or fired, most times you didn’t see the signs. You didn’t see the signs because your self awareness was low and you erroneously believed that your performance was adequate. Even if things appeared fine, you didn’t realize the situation you were in was not a good match. Someone else did and they took action. After you take however much time you need to wallow in self pity, the only acceptable response is to look how you can become better for next time. How can you be worth more to someone? How can you improve your vision to see a better a match and forecast potential problems that would arise?
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If you get into a fight with a friend there is an issue that needs to be sorted to make the friendship better or you simply are not a good match as friends. Either way, you needed this problem to manifest so that you take action to improve the quality of your life and relationship. If you can’t find a date that fits your criteria, then you have a problem that calls for you to make changes to yourself. If you keep finding yourself in the back of a squad car, then there is a problem you need to fix that will ultimately make you a better person. This is why you should welcome all the horrible things that happen to you. Every problem has the capacity to transform you into something better than you were before it happened. You should not go seeking out things to muck up in your daily life, but when they happen–and they always will–then you get an opportunity to be better if you so chose to accept it.
Really terrible things–beyond what any person thinks is a reasonable degree–are going to happen to you as well. You aren’t going to just get dumped, but that cheating son of bitch will give you AIDS. You won’t just get fired, but someone is going to plant a brick of Columbia’s finest uncut cocaine on you. It won’t just be a verbal fight with a friend, but they are all going to turn on you and you will be so lonely that suicide becomes an option. How you respond is still within your control and you can use it to become a better person.
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The inspirational list of people that used handicaps as a springboard to improve their lives and the lives of others is so long and well known that I’m not going to repeat it here. But for every Christopher Reeves there’s a guy that got hooked on drugs and killed himself. All problems have the capacity to transform you or you bury you and it’s up to you to chose which. All that it requires is brutal honesty with yourself and refusal to ever place blame elsewhere. You must always ask yourself, “How can I—and only I—have avoided this and how can I become better from it?”
There will ALWAYS be something wrong. Show me someone that has nothing wrong and I’ll show you someone that has given up on life. That person, for all intents and purposes, is dead anyway. And don’t fall into the trap of saying that some people’s lives are better than others and their problems are less severe. All that matters is that the problem disrupts the individuals personal trajectory. There’s an old saying that sums this up perfectly that I suggest you take to heart: “Be kind and lower your head, for everyone you meet is facing a harder battle than you.” What the battle is does not matter. The point is they have a specific problem that is causing THEIR own life hardship. The next time you have a problem, ask yourself how you can use it to be better and do better.