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The Value of Obstacles

A weird thing about human nature is that we think we want to be able to do whatever we want, but we would never do what we want if we, essentially, weren’t forced to do it by our environment.  Be grateful for the constraints of your life because it makes you do things you thought you couldn’t do.  As much as I hate the constraints of my life, it’s actually those constraints, and that pressure, that propels me forward to creating a life that I want.  Without obstacles, you have nothing to try to get around, you have no problems to solve, and therefore, no real creativity.

I often dream of a life in which everyday is spent doing the things that I love and enjoy, and doing none of the things that I don’t want to do.  Especially since I graduated from college and started sitting at a desk all day, a life in which I could do whatever I want seems to be a highly worthy (if not highly ambitious) goal to pursue.  When I look ahead to the future and I see 50 weeks a year (2 weeks of vacation – whee!) of hanging out in my cubicle, being told when to show up and when to leave, and sitting in traffic I think to myself that I need to figure out NOW how to not do any of this.  But, would I really want to live a life where I had no constraints or pressure in my daily life?  Would I really want to have pure unadulterated individual freedom? 

 Think about a film maker who doesn’t have the budget they want to realize their vision, or one of the great Renaissance artists who had to complete work commissioned by the church in order to make a living, or the individual who works a full time job and doesn’t quite have the time to engage in the activity that they love.  All of these people have to find ways around these obsticles.  The obsticles themselves energize the individual to movement.  So, the next time you feel yourself starting to complain about something in your life that you don’t have, ask yourself questions that begin with – “How can I…” or “What can I do…” and you will begin to figure out your way around the problems in your life.  Human greatness is realized in the tension between “what I want to do” and “what I have to do.”


You can be absolutely certain that when you feel you are being most unfairly tested, you are being prepared for great achievement.  -Napoleon Hill




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  1. Amanda, this is good stuff! You’re right on, we “need” obstacles in our life to make it a life worth living. A life in our own constant paradise would quickly become old and stale (and we’d be looking for new challenges). That’s the great thing about the human spirit – it’s our will to be challenged, and to overcome those challenges. Of course, a little time in our own paradise every once in a while sure can make it all worth it!

  2. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Lance – thanks a lot! I agree – we do need some time in “our own paradise” sometimes. I think we would burn out without it.

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