How Can Every Situation You Face Serve You?
Challenges and obstacles are some of the many pitstops that are unavoidable in the journey of life. Yet, whether it’s a tough childhood or an unfortunate accident, how we perceive and respond to these challenges determine the distance we go.
There are many people who use their pain and unfortunate experiences as a ‘stressor’ to cause harm to themselves and others, but there are also as many, if not more, people who exemplify what it means to ‘make the best of every situation’ and use their unfavourable circumstances as a ‘driver’ to achieve success. No matter the circumstances, regardless of what’s outside our control, we have a choice in controlling how we respond. From our mindset to our feelings, we can be mindful and focus our emotions on what approach we want to take.
Why do we need to focus on making the best in every situation?
A basic law of neuroscience is that your thinking creates your reality. When you choose to be pessimistic and complain, nothing will ever be good enough. However, when you choose to be positive, you open yourself to the opportunities present in every challenge. Our thoughts perpetuate a cycle of experiences, and these experiences are further enhanced by the fact that we attract what we put out into the world, i.e., whiners collect whiners and grateful people surround themselves with others in a similar thought frame.
Optimism can also be beneficial for our health. Complaining affects our energy, mood, brain activity and stress levels. Every time we complain, our bodies release cortisol, which is a stress hormone, and a prolonged release of this hormone can raise our blood pressure as well as weaken our immune system. It makes us susceptible to illness, with an increased risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Furthermore, various studies show that there is no stronger predictor of success than having the competency of optimism, which offers a far greater chance of success than pessimism.
Creating the right attitude to address challenges
How we address challenges and problems directly impacts our likelihood of solving them, which means that positivity breeds success. Maintaining an optimistic mindset can contribute towards creating a strong sense of self-belief and an inclination to learn, which are requisites for developing the right attitude to successfully address challenges.
In fact, true learning only takes place when the brain is confronted with a problem to solve. Therefore, mentally preparing ourselves to be challenged by problems heightens our learning experience. As parents, we can use this information to help our children develop the right attitude for success. Additionally, the influence of the parent on the progeny is eternal, so we need to practice what we preach, as our attitude while addressing challenges will influence our children’s development.
However, talking about having the right attitude and being positive is easier said than done. Research shows that we have almost up to 60,000 thoughts a day with over 95% being the same as the day before and almost 80% being negative. The consequences of negative enforcement and limiting beliefs is crippling.
I often use the concept of the shackled elephant to illustrate the power of limiting beliefs. An elephant calf in the circus generally has one of its hind legs shackled to a chain. In the beginning, it tries to break away, but because it is not big or strong enough, it remains in its place. After a while, it goes only as far as the chain allows. When it grows up, it is easily in the position to break free of the ankle chain, but it never challenges boundaries because it believes that it cannot break free based on the habituation it has learned when it was young.
In the same manner, we need to be mindful of how we guide and influence our children. Do we want to create chains or do we want to help them realize their potential to break free no matter the challenge?
Establishing a positive influence
Along with positivity, preparation and direction are equally essential factors in determining success. Parents, through setting meaningful goals, can help children integrate these factors into their approach for life. When inculcated from an early age, this mindset and attitude becomes the base in the subconscious of children and helps them sustain their resolve for success.
A famous example where parenting has influenced success is that of Richard Branson, who was groomed by his fearless mother. Eve Branson was a flight attendant when flying was more for the thrill than transportation. She spent many hours grooming her son to live on the edge. As we know, he later rose to meet her challenges and succeeded beyond her wildest expectations as a flamboyant risk-taking entrepreneur.
It’s important for parents and children to recognize the small and big challenges of life. We need to show our children that the way we develop through life is strongly influenced by the choices we make. That by recognizing our inner strengths and nurturing each other, we can tap into our potential as human beings. Children need to have a strong sense of ‘the kind of me I’d like to be’.
Will you help them realize that they can be who they want to be?