Yes, Together We Can
by (Capt) Ravi K Mahajan
9. ADVERSITIES - CHALLENGES – PROBLEMS
Adversities are Normal but an Essential Part of our Lives. May you confront every Adversity with Courage, Wisdom and Confidence.
Humans are the most evolved species on this planet earth and, by nature, they like to conquer Adversities-Challenges-Problems, whatever comes in their way. To win over Adversities, is our second nature. It is Human nature to be a winner above everyone else. It is Human nature to stand atop mount Everest and feel great, having overcome all the difficulties, challenges, problems, mental and physical adversities. It is Human nature to feel the exhilaration after having overcome the difficulties. It is all part of Human endeavour to tide over the adversities and claim the winning position.
Giving birth to a child is, physically, perhaps the most painful but mentally most satisfying experience for any women. Though, the child can never express, being born may be the most trying and painful experience for it. However, after having settled to begin the life, its challenges start the moment it leaves the safety of mother’s lap. The child has to learn all human skills with great apparent difficulties, but all those come so naturally to him as the child grows up.
A child falls and gets up to learn walking, then running. To learn to speak, a child talks so many words incoherently but ultimately, it learns to speak its mother tongue. ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall’. This is 100% true for a child, in whom the indomitable courage and spirit to learn anything new, is inherent and natural. A child will fall a thousand times, but gets up to learn whatever it has to, that is walking. We adults must learn life’s lessons from the child, who never accepts ‘No’ as an answer and it never accepts defeat because instinctively, child rides over all the adversities-challenges-problems.
Every difficulty and adversity overcome by us, makes us more stronger and resolute in conquering them in future. Meera was totally devoted to lord Krishna. Her in-laws troubled her so much for her devotion. But in the end, she came out more devoted and resolute in her devotion. Take the case of Bhakt Prahlad, whose devotion to the lord and faith was so much that he did not hesitate to embrace a red hot burning pillar. More recently, what insurmountable difficulties and adversities, Gandhi ji went through to achieve his life time Goal of attaining freedom for this country.
This world is replete with past and present examples, how people bounced back after recession, how they were able to conquer the storm and win over the circumstances and causes, which at one time, appeared totally lost. How Olympic champions are made and what they have to go through – years of practice, diligence, hard work, patience, hope, faith in themselves and their abilities and capabilities, which will have to be developed in the making of a champion. How the ultimate champions, who could have been overawed by the adversities and difficulties, ultimately, emerged victorious to stand on the Olympic ramp for a minute.
Some, selected one liners are written at the beginning and at the end of this lesson. They are all self explanatory and can be easily understood. ‘There is no education like adversity’. Well, there is none. It is only in adversities that you learn and gain experience. It is only in adversities and difficult times, you come to know who your true friends are. So always be careful about making and choosing friends because their dependability can only be judged when you are in difficulties. Don’t be surprised, if so-called fast friends, even fail to recognize you when you are going through a rough patch in life. They are called ‘fair weather friends’, who have shared with you so much during your heydays, joys, parties, functions and good times, but leave you when things get even temporarily tough and difficult for you. So always learn from such experiences.
‘Never Give in. Never. Never. Never.’ Easiest thing in life is to take the easier way out. But another fact of life is ‘Tough People last, while Tough Times don’t’. Easier way means, when confronted with a tough situation or situation not to your liking, we choose the easier way, which may bring us more difficulties later on. Such situations are of daily occurrence in our day to day life. Such as, while driving on road, you see the yellow or red light when we should halt, but since you do not see the traffic cop, do not brake and halt, but keep driving. After a few days, you get a court notice to appear before the court for such a minor offence. Whole day wasted and you have to shell out fine. Along with the repentance, you wish if only you had halted the car.
During a meeting, you know what is being suggested by the President, is blatantly wrong and harmful for the organization and you should speak up. But you take the easier way out and remain quiet. Later, as happens in such cases, you are put to great embarrassment for not having opposed the move and having gone with the wrong. Both are crimes. ‘To have spoken, when you should have remained quiet, or remain quiet, when you should have spoken’. World over, crimes, lure of easy money, buying things beyond your capacity through credit cards and so called easy loans, are easy only in the present, but cause lots of difficulties later, when time for repayment with heavy interest and penalty, comes.
Life is both roses and thorns put together. Circumstances, sometimes are favourable while other times, unfavourable. You have to meet them head on with faith, self belief and self confidence. Pain and Pleasure, Good and Bad, Happiness and Grief, Hope and Despair are part of the same life. But none of these last forever. Change is the law of the nature. Whether good or bad, circumstances will change like weather. So it is up to you how to meet the challenges created by unfavorable circumstances. Meet them head on, is the answer. You will always find that adversity stimulates growth. Help, often, comes from most unexpected quarters. That is the nature’s way of rewarding us for courage exhibited and convictions adhered to.
‘Life is wonderful, Great, Terrific, Never better, pain, unfair, Frustration or a challenge. Accept them as part of your life. Problems and adversities are normal but essential part of life’. What you do to have healthy body. Exercise! Exercise is nothing but overcoming resistance and artificial physical adversity created by weights and other such equipment, which is the part of a gym. Same way, overcoming adversities in life make you stronger physically and tougher mentally. If troubles and obstacles come your way, it is God’s will. He shall only provide you enough strength to get over them. He shall only show you the way. You only have to prepare yourself to face every adversity and challenge with courage and wisdom.
We should remain serene and composed in whatever circumstance is there for us. We should not become too glad during the favourable period and dejected or lose heart during unfavourable and adverse conditions. Both happiness and sorrow will definitely pass away. Irrespective of the nature of the situation you are in, just use your mind and do all that you must, your Karma. ‘Even this too shall pass’. But you should not be lying idle and keep waiting for it to pass. ‘Karma’, that’s what you are supposed to do, borne to do. Think and do your best, keep trying, do not give in and then only, ‘this shall pass’.
Whenever any adversity or difficulty arises, which often could happen to anyone, your reaction should be to think coolly for some time. Look ahead, not back. Do not ever bemoan your bad luck, pin blame on people or events. Instead focus on what to do next. Distance yourself. If you are immersed in a crisis, take a break and revisit it with a fresh outlook. It is natural that few solutions would emerge. Choose the visibly best, because no one knows with certainty, as to what is best.
You cannot foretell anything with certainty. Anyone who claims to know the future is lying, even if he happens to be right. You can only choose, what appears to be the best solution. Do not try to run away from the problem or try and take the short cut, which could put you in serious problems later. After all, only Karma or action is in your hand not the result. Result is always in His hands.
Our mental processes are very unpredictable and complex. When you are faced with crisis or adversity, do not ever let it overawe you. If you let it happen, then a state of neurosis or anxiety will develop within you which will gradually dissipate your energies which you need to confront the problem. Do not let the vagaries of your own mind defeat you. Sometime, you may even have the urge to run away from the problem. Instead face the problem head on with faith and pluck. When faced with stubborn and determined people like you, adversities and problems also do what lesser human beings do. They give in or simply run away. Battle is between the guts. Who has strong guts? You or the problems!
‘When looking around does not bring the answer, TRY LOOKING UP’. Here enters another important factor in your life. That is GOD or FAITH. Whichever God you believe in. Every Human being has his own God which is very much personal matter for him. And only way you can reach your GOD is through PRAYER. ‘Do your best and leave the rest for Him’. When you have Faith, He responds also, favourably. Just Pray which again is in your hand. All Good and Bad times, Problems and Adversities are His gift to you to make you stronger. After having overcome those challenges, you would yourself feel a different person, much improved at that. Faith and Prayer puts Steel into you, which no one can see but only you will feel. And mind you, prayer does not mean only to go to a temple and pray. Read second lesson in this book, ‘God and We’, once again and try to become the person whom God loves, rather than vice versa.
Though this book contains a special lesson on GOD, little bit mention here as to how we must conduct ourselves with God, will be very much in order. God is the creator and omnipresent. Pray every morning or remember Him first thing, when you get up in the morning. During the day, as many times as possible, keep Thanking Him for whatever goodies, he provides you. Before going to sleep, spare a couple of minutes Thanking Him for all the Care he has taken of you during the day. I can assure you that your Prayers will not go in vain. Going to God as a stranger and seeking His help only when you are surrounded by adversities, may put anyone off, even God. So always keep your proximity with Him through Prayers. ‘Adversity can be rich and Educational gift. Prayer is a Big solace. Have explicit Faith in God and His Doings. As Humans, we have very limited area or things in our control. Everything revolves around Him and His will. Accept it.’
Often, when faced with difficulties, problems and challenges, we have no idea whether we have it in us, to meet those challenges successfully? Whether we will pull through? As one psychiatrist once said ‘As with so many of life experiences, humans are simply not very good at predicting, how they’ll act when hit by sudden adversities’. Though, there is no barometer to measure human resilience or how a particular individual will behave, when faced with serious adversities, I have absolutely no doubt that you have unlimited resilience lying latent within you. You have physical and mental ability to get over almost any adversity, provided you make up your mind and develop that level of mental toughness & stubbornness, provided one is determined.
Quite often people are in search of easier options or cheap imitations. Mostly such easy methods don’t work out and end up in failures to the consternation and regret. The miner who searches for gold on the beach because it is easier to dig there, finds nothing. You must dig the hard clay and cut harder stones to get to the gold. A diamond becomes a diamond after millions of years of hard press in the rocks. Simple lesson of life is that you have to overcome adversities in life to achieve something, to become something. Soft options produce soft materials, not of much use. One cannot discover new oceans unless one has the courage to lose sight of the shore.
Here I shall give example of my army training way back in 1963. When I started my training in OTS Madras, till about nineteen and half years of age, I had never done any physical exercise. Suddenly, I found the army training extremely tough physically. I might have left my training in between and gone to the sweet comfort of my home at Agra, but the thought what face I would show there, only kept me going. But to my great amazement and relief, as I went though that extremely tough training, soon I felt, I could take more and more of it. Within a month, I had got used to it and even started enjoying it. All those drills, Physical Training, Weapons training, route marches, night patrolling, which earlier I found extremely tough, became a routine matter and I wanted to do more and more. Obviously, as I went though that hard training, I had developed resilience and toughness to withstand all that physical activity and even enjoyed it which, earlier I abhorred and found very tough.
Physical toughness and mental resilience, can also be the result of how much face to face with those sort of adversities, we have been through earlier. Each of the adversity or challenge, which we face make us more and more tough and resilient. It not only teaches us how to cope, but also how our family members or friends cope or behave and also who our real friends are? When you are alone, meet the adversities with restorative positive attitude. Then you will never feel that you are in the midst of a storm. That way you become a source of strength for others, who may not be so adept at handling adversities or problems and may look towards you for support and guidance. Meet every situation with equanimity and fortitude knowing fully well that this too shall pass.
Same thing is about suffering. No amount of prayers or other spiritual practice can alleviate suffering from our life. Suffering is also the part of everyone life. Normal human reaction is when people are happy, it shows but it may not show when they are sad or suffering. But one thing is there. Prayers, spiritual practices or other goodness mantras act as umbrellas which does not stop the rain but it protects you from the rain. Once we take any suffering part of life and in its stride, just like good times, they become more acceptable and bearable.
When we talk of bigger adversities in life, such as Death of a loving Spouse, Meeting with a serious accident causing long time hospitalization and serious injuries taking many months or years to recover, Or becoming partly invalid with the result of some accident, or sudden realization of having contacted serious ailments or sibling marrying against the wishes of the parents, divorce, or losing everything in a natural disaster or financial setback, it would require different attitude to deal with. In such serious adversities, first thing should be to accept the reality as His will and not go into a ‘why me, God’ or self pity mode. Read the inspiring stories of those, who have been through such adversities earlier and how they have been coping with them. Try to keep yourself busy through some service vocation, helping others. Develop mental toughness and refuse to bow down, shall be most helpful.
It has been proved beyond doubt that mental toughness is also like physical strength and both develop with exercise. Those who keep seeing such things happening, definitely cope better than those who have never seen such adversities in life. Why backward and poor African countries have left most developed countries far behind in athletes, specially long distance running? Because, right from the beginning, children are going to their schools, mostly by running, sometimes even 30-40 kilometers every day. No wonder that some of them reach the pinnacle, as athletes.
Women, definitely cope better. If you pray regularly as suggested, you will definitely cope better, because of the strength prayer gives to your inner self. If you are a helping type, compassionate, kind, have empathy for others, friendly type, you are definitely better prepared to face setbacks and adversities. Loners, unsocial types, atheists, arrogant, uncaring types, suffer most from adversities and find it difficult to cope up with them. However, it is observed that mostly, the challenges we face, problems we encounter or obstacles coming in our way, can be met successfully or overcome, with positive attitude and winning disposition in life. Study the problem intelligently, workout the possible solutions and then choose the best possible. Persistence and positive attitude, makes all the difference in riding over adversities, which are common but essential in anyone’s life. Three qualities are absolutely necessary in riding over every problem in life, tremendous patience, tolerance and perseverance.
When facing problems as described above, under every circumstance, you must avoid self pity. Show a bold face as if nothing has happened or whatever has happened, does not matter. Keep speaking to yourself that you will be able to manage it. Keep yourself on a learning mode. You may learn even from the high and mighty criminals and corrupt. You can always see them smiling and upbeat. I am sure they are faking all that but no wonder they also know, it pays to show a brave face. There is no harm in taking advise or counsel from a sincere experienced person, provided you are confident that he shall not mislead you or take advantage of the situation. Always keep yourself on a thinking mode, positive attitude and in the confidence that the problem is too small for you and matter shall be resolved in your favour ultimately.
Conviction that you are right and what you are doing is for the betterment of everyone else at large, always adds strength of character to your efforts to meet the challenges and overcome the adversity. Adversities and problems, definitely make us more compassionate, understanding, kind, sensitive to others’ problems and total surrender to God, remembering Him more often. In Mahabharata, Kunti requests Lord Krishna to give her more problems, so that she will remember Him more frequently and intensely. Problems also make us realize the fragile and transient nature of wealth and worldly possessions. They make us unafraid of even death.
When we discuss Adversities-Challenges-Problems, one more factor which is very relevant and near to the subject, must also be discussed. Seeming unfairness of it all, is the point of contention. Often, in life, we see plenty of unfairness, some man-made while some God made. We throw our hand in despair and say ‘why me, God’. I have seen both young and old dying premature, suffering from painful deceases, meeting with accidents, losing limbs etc. Most of the time, there are explanations. One just has to accept God’s or nature’s will. There is no plausible answer, only mystery and remorse.
Simple thing in my opinion is that a life must be lived Gracefully. What is that? ‘Gracefully’ is how you react to adversities-challenges-problems. ‘Gracefully’ is when suddenly things go bad or appear to be going bad, how you react. Supposing you are going on a picnic or holiday. Suddenly an accident takes place and your whole programme, preparation and enthusiasm goes for a toss. Now what you have learnt from this book starts to show. Do you accept the fate gracefully? Your holiday, for which you and family had been looking forward to, has suddenly turned sour. Your mind must be so tuned that you accept the inevitable gracefully and do what ought to be done at that time, instead of brooding over the spoiled holiday. Adversities-Challenges-Problems are there to be faced and we must face them boldly and gracefully.
It is human nature to see and feel most problems or difficulties as insurmountable or lasting through eternity, which mostly is a myth. In army, we had a common saying ‘Things are never as bad as they appear to be’. Mostly it was true. Supposing you change the way you look at the problem or create a time distance, same problem would look small. In your life, you have gone through umpteen difficulties or problems. But when you look back, longer the period, smaller the problem appears. Sometimes, you would even laugh at yourself as having felt so much afraid or helpless or at your over-reaction at that time. Another way is to imagine what worst can happen? Whatever happens, you can have faith in your ability to face it. ‘Every night is dark but without exception, dawn comes and sun shines’.
At the end of the first lesson ‘Preface – a must Read’ in this book, very inspiring mantra is written ‘When confronted by a multitude of grief, if a person stands boldly, not accepting defeat, he shall see the defeat, itself depart utterly defeated’. One is defeated when one accepts the defeat. If you do not accept the defeat, no power on earth can defeat you. A man lost everything in fire, everything. Next day he placed a signboard at the same place saying ‘Shop burnt, goods burnt, everything burnt but faith, hope and confidence not burnt. Business will start from tomorrow’. One needs this kind of stubbornness in life to succeed, to do well, to stand tall over all Adversities crush them mercilessly under his feet.
A hypothetical question often comes to my mind that, would we be better off without problems. No, definitely not. If bad was not there, we would never have known the importance of good. Destructive power of mind is much more than the constructive power. What takes years to build, can be destroyed in minutes. Simple fact of the Evolutionary Process, which has been going on for millions of years, is that our brain would not have developed to this extent, master at solving most complex and intricate problems and attained confidence that WE CAN DO IT, had we not faced all sort of adversities and problems and solved them. That joy, happiness, exhilaration and sense of achievement, comes only after overcoming adversities. Tougher the adversity, more the joy overcoming it. Ask Sachin, which century he relishes most or ask Dhoni, which of Team India’s many victories, he cherishes most? Satisfaction of scoring a century against the best of bowlers or beating the best team in the world, will be thousand times more.
There is No Education like Adversity.
There is an inherent Good in Most Difficulties.
The Tide always comes back. Don’t Ever Accept Defeat.
The Night is Darkest before Dawn. But the DAWN Comes.
Both rain & sunshine are needed to make a rainbow.
Similarly, both Joy and Sorrow are needed to make Life
Truly Beautiful and Colourful.