Everyday, as people, we are presented with challenges. These challenges can attack us physically, mentally, and even spiritually. The ways in which we react to these challenges speak volumes about our character and our pride.
Anyone who trains hard in the martial arts knows what it means to be challenged physically.Some think that training technique is the most essential aspect of training and hours should be spent practicing the same maneuver in every possible form. I love these people. Others think that the best way to train is through ridiculously high stress work outs that push you to the physical limit of your abilities. And I love these people too. The point I am trying to make is that we may not all agree on the method of training that works best for us, as individuals, but we can certainly agree that the method that works best for one may not work best for another.
Mentally, we challenge ourselves. We are the ones who create our internal world. We take our feelings and swallow them selfishly and then use them to protect ourselves or for our own selfish gain. Feelings can be our greatest strength or our greatest weakness. Someone once said that holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal with the intent of throwing it. You are the one who gets burned. But, by holding on to anger we can also grow. Anger can help teach us about ourselves and fuel our ambition to be better and stronger. It can be transformed into other feelings. Joy, passion, or even envy. To fear an emotion is to fear the self.
And finally, we are challenged spiritually. Spirit can be a term that is open to interpretation. For me, it stands for the ideals that I follow in this world. Ideals such as honor, integrity, and hope. It is our follow through with these ideals that shows we are not mere animals who survive for our own selfish ends. My ultimate fear is that we become a world of hedonists. Face booking away our lives while we waste away and never truly develop any sense of who we really are. We like this, we dislike that, and relationships fade away into a puddle of internet memes and high ideals that are passed around as internet postcards.
Some of us are already challenging ourselves on a daily basis and to me that is extraordinary. Others feel overwhelmed and that is something I can understand. We cannot just give in to being overwhelmed, however. High degrees of stress can be the turning points on which we transform ourselves from the ordinary to the extraordinary. We may relive old challenges on a daily basis, just to prove we can. We may suffer, but that suffering can lead to incredible levels of growth and understanding about who we are and who we need to be. Be a time traveler in your own mind. Remember your deepest, blackest, loneliest nights and think deeply on them. Feel them out. Imagine to your fullest content and recreate that kind of darkness. And then conquer it.
Conquering that kind evil helps create an inner strength that is impossible to see with the naked eye. Any cut you receive won’t seem so deep. Any lie you hear won’t sting quite the same way. And anyone who stands up to challenge what you think is right will be immediately challenged in turn. That level of integrity cannot be bought or sold to anyone because it will be part of who you are. It will flow through you like water to nourish you when you are ill, and it will consume you like fire when the need to fight arises. This is why we challenge ourselves. To prove we are alive.