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Pushing Our Limits — Key to Happiness

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Abraham Maslow, one of the brighter minds of the 20th century wrote, “If you deliberately plan on being less than you are capable of being, then I warn you that you’ll be unhappy for the rest of your life.”  While agreeing with his statement, I raise a question: Does anyone deliberately plan on being less than he or she is capable?  I don’t think so; at least we do not think of doing so in those exact terms.  No one gets up in the morning and thinks, “Today, I am going to get out there and live way below my potential.” Rather, we let our fears and our addiction to comfort govern our  choices, and we are all prone to opting for the course of least pain and effort.

 You Can Do Hard Things

           One night my wife, Susan, was helping our son Christian with his English homework.  He was in about sixth grade at the time.  To understand the dynamics of this experience, you need to know that Christian was born with profound, bilateral hearing loss.  The way Christian has dealt with his deafness has been a remarkable example of The Ownership Spirit in itself.  He is a true inspiration to me and many, many others.  One of his courageous choices was to be mainstreamed in the public school system.  This he undertook with enthusiasm and a positive attitude.  Although this route was more challenging in many ways, Christian excelled. He did well socially as well as academically, earning mostly A’s and B’s.  But, his toughest class, by far, was English.

            If you have mastered a second language, I extend my sincere respect.  That is no small feat.  If you have mastered English as your second language, my respect for you climbs even higher.  The English language is fraught with so many quirky rules it’s a formidable challenge to master it.  If you couple that with the fact that Christian can’t even hear it, then you get some idea of what a challenge English has been for him. 

            So, now picture that one night Susan is helping Christian with his English.  He had learned one of the quirky rules and applied it, and it worked.  Then he encountered one of the exceptions to the rule and it threw him for a moment.  He put his pen down firmly on his notepad and said in the unmistakable tones consistent with his deafness, “This is sooo haaarrdd.”  There was a pause and then Susan, gently but firmly responded, “Yes, Christian, it is very hard. “But you can do hard things.”

            That statement has become a mantra—a scripture—around our home. I can’t tell you how many times that thought has given me inspiration to keep battling as I have encountered obstacles in my path since that time.

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  • Jary Welker

    Dennis, I think that we all need exactly that kind of mantra when things get hard or our pathway darkens. Yes we can all do hard things and honestly that is when the growth comes, at the outer limits of our strength when we push a little harder. Thanks again.

  • Diana Timmons

    That is so profoundly simple, and yet so perfect. It redefines “hard”, and makes us realize that hard does not mean impossible. Excellent post.

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