Yesterday was Independence Day here in the United States of America. Every year, on July 4th, we celebrate the brave, monumental feat that we accomplished 243 years ago - fighting for and claiming our independence.
Our founding fathers fought for freedom. They fought for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assemble - all sorts of freedoms they believed were God-given rights. The fought for their freedom against a country they didn’t believe represented them. Talk about high-achievers!
On a seemingly unrelated note, exercise and physical fitness is my hobby. I enjoy going to the gym virtually every day. And for as long as I have been going to the Gold’s Gym in my area I have seen one man in there consistently who has impressed and inspired me. (Since I didn’t ask for his permission to write about him in this article, I will omit his name. Heck, I didn’t know I was going to be writing about him until I sat down and started typing.)
This man is in the gym all the time. I can count on seeing him at least several times a week. I think it would be safe to say that physical fitness is a lifestyle for him, too. The big difference between him and me (besides the fact that he is in better shape and is more impressive looking than me) is that he wheels his wheel-chair around the gym as he moves from machine to machine getting in a solid workout.
I’ve never asked him what his physical challenge is, but if I were to trust my eyes, I would deduce that he has some form of muscular dystrophy. He can walk, but he does so slowly and with a pronounced limp. And yet, he chooses to push his wheel chair (with a limp) around the gym so he can get his workout in. Watching him workout is one of the most inspiring things I see on an almost daily basis.
This man is an incredible model of the human spirit. He lives with adversity and difficulty with every single step, and yet he comes to the gym every day. He seeks out physical fitness instead of allowing himself to wither away. He works to improve himself and to push himself.
No one would fault him if he woke up in the morning, worked his way into his wheelchair, and just went about his day, full of difficulty and hardship. But that is not who this man is. This man’s spirit shines for all the world to see. His example stands taller than any giant.
So, what does this man and the United States’ Independence Day have in common? Adversity. My friend from the gym and our forefathers faced a challenge that appeared to be impossible. Did that stop them. No. Overwhelming adversity did not stop them. Instead, they chose to face that adversity head on.
I believe that we (human beings) often achieve our most impressive feats when we face adversity. Personally, I’m a pretty relaxed guy until you give me something to fight against. But, once you make an enemy out of me I will unleash my willpower against you at its fullest intensity. And that is the beauty of the human spirit. In order to do our best, and most inspiring work, we need adversity.
Look, I wish I could take away the pain and difficulty that adversity brings in your and my lives. As someone with the uncontrollable (and sometimes painful) twitches and tics of Tourette Syndrome, trust me when I tell you that adversity just flat out SUCKS!
The adversities that you and I deal with can certainly take their toll on us physically, but I believe the mental beating that adversity metes out is the most devastating and difficult to overcome.
The simple truth is that as long as we breath in oxygen, and blood pumps in our veins, we will have to deal with adversity. So, what do we do? How do we overcome the challenges that feel bigger than we are?
We embrace adversity, and when we do we learn that we are more powerful and far more resilient than we originally thought.
We send a message to ourselves and out into the world when we embrace adversity. That message is that, while adversity can be brutal, you and I are resilient and able to overcome the difficulties, no matter how big, that life brings.
And when we do these things, when we face down the “impossible challenges” that life throws at us, we are given a gift. We are introduced to our superpowers. That’s right. Adversity is the necessary ingredient to show you what you are truly made of.
You may be wondering what those superpowers look like? They look like courage, empathy, iron-will, selflessness, service, kindness, bravery…just to name a few.
It may be difficult, initially, to understand why these traits are superpowers. After all, we’ve been conditioned to think of superpowers as super strength or the ability to fly. But the real superpowers are the ones that help us understand ourselves better. The real superpowers are the ones that help us build up others, not to tear them down. Real superpowers, like these, make the world a better place for everyone.
So, what do we get from facing our adversity, our “impossible challenges?” When we suffer through the fires of adversity, we learn about our inner-strength, we forge superpowers that help define us, and we learn how to help others going through difficult times.
I’ll say it again. When you are smack dab in the middle of a dark and/or difficult time, adversity sucks. It does. No doubt about it. However, if you can bring yourself to it, think about all the incredible things that have been accomplished because of the triumphant human spirit. That human spirit dwells in you. It is your birthright.
So, grab a hold of that adversity and take it on - head on. It’s how a man often stuck in a wheelchair became a powerful, muscular physical specimen. It’s how a young man with Tourette Syndrome (me) became an internationally award-winning magician. And it’s how thirteen colonies rose up against a monarch, and within a few, short hundred years, became the most powerful country in the world.
Above photo by RUN 4 FFWPU from Pexels.
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