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“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body.” ― Seneca

Happiness is not the absence of problems.  Happiness is how you deal with the problems you encounter.

I saw a poster the other day that said:  “If you stop struggling, you float”.  It really resonated with me.  I have been struggling instead of floating lately.  I have been encountering many problems and with each I near that one moment where despair sets in and all seems beyond repair, when it feels nothing is going right.

I realize that my faith is being tested. My very positive self is being put to a test. Even though I am very positive I realize there is still room for improvement.

So I have been making a very conscious effort to change how I deal with problems in my life.  I no longer try to immediately attack it aiming for results without any thought or regard to my actions.  I no longer react without pause and careful consideration.  I also no longer try to slam the door on a problem pretending that it doesn’t exist and hoping it will go away – I call that the Brazilian way, but it is extremely ineffective! Instead I am opening the door and inviting the problems in.  We sit, we talk, we arrive to conclusions.  I am choosing to treat it as a friend and in turn it does become my friend.  It no longer has control over me.  It is no longer my enemy, it has now become my ally.

When I don’t react, when I take the time to look at a problem with comprehension and not anger, everything changes.  I end up realizing that the problem is not as big as it originally appeared.

The moment I embrace it, it eases up on me.  I am no longer scared to the point of despair or paralysis.  I look into its eye and what I see is not this enemy trying to destroy me, instead it is a patient teacher, a caring mentor.  It is not here to hurt me or cause me pain.  Pain and hurt are mere conduits, mere distractions, just steps necessary in my ascendance to a better place.

Problems have a mission in our lives and their mission is to mold us into a better and stronger person.  We can either accept that or fight it.  Accepting makes the road much easier.

“Being challenged in life is inevitable, being defeated is optional.”  Roger Crawford

Welcoming problems as lessons, teachers, opportunities, etc changes the whole dynamic. This one little shift in attitude, welcoming problems instead of fighting them, is making a dramatic improvement in my life.  I now see it a chance for me to grow and shine.  The bigger the problem I am facing the greater the chance, and the bigger the reward at the end.  I get to analyze the situation, I get to make choices.

In 2015 I am inviting to sit at my table all my friends that go by different names such as trouble, problems, mistakes, challenges, curve balls, hurdles, obstacles, etc.  Once they are welcomed in they become opportunities, goals, lessons, growth, steps, acceptance, maturity, tests of faith, etc.

They are already a part of my life anyway, but now they are recognized and treated as guests.  Problems used to make me feel out of control and totally at the mercy of others, now we co-exist in harmony.

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ― Molière

Inviting problems to my dinner table is my idea of floating, of making peace with that that robs my sanity, and drives me to reach for food as solace. Nothing like a problem to kick my emotional hunger in high gear.

I could go and hide my face in a slice of chocolate cake, or I could become paralyzed with fear, but eventually I have to deal with whatever problems life throws at me.  How I look at it makes a world of difference.

I think there is always a problem before a big miracle.  There is always a test, a roadblock to test our resolve.  So now I see a problem for what it is: the appetizer that doesn’t taste so good before a meal that is going to be amazing. So, no need to despair just work on the problem and move on to bigger and better things.

My 2 main points here are: 1) Problems are good, accept it! and 2) We are in charge, but not alone!

We are in control, as far as anyone can be actually in control of anything 🙂 We have a choice.  We can control how we perceive and react to a problem.  I choose to be the driver and not the passenger in this road trip.  I want to make my own way and not crumple at the sight of a little inconvenience. How one deal with problems separate the victims from the survivors, from the heroes. I was never a victim and don’t plan on starting now.

Why should I be deserving of rewards and miracles when at any minor inconvenience I throw in the towel, I despair? What does that say about me and my faith?  I need to remember that I am never alone and for whatever problem I face there is always a solution.  A problem presents itself but so does a solution.

Accepting that problems will happen, understanding that they are here to make me a better person, and knowing that I am never alone, helps me to deal with the dark moment and not over dramatize anything and make mountains out of molehills.

Problems also have an incredible way of teaching gratitude.  Gratitude for so many days without any problems and gratitude for the solution that is always there!

All of a sudden life is lighter, even though this evening had me face a problem that I had already spent money last week to solve.  Oh well, I marvel at the hidden reward of a returning problem. Did I miss the lesson the first time around?

I am done struggling! Now I float…and it feels divine!  Try it!

 “You will face your greatest opposition when you are closest to your biggest miracle.” ― Shannon L. Alder