We can all do hard things. In my view, to enjoy genuine satisfaction and happiness, we must do hard things. More than once. Actually, continually and regularly.
Admittedly, this concept is not original with me. It is found throughout the annals of mankind. As an example, let me paraphrase something Paul of Tarsus wrote to a group of Christians in Rome two millennia ago: Let us rejoice in hope of the glory of God; and not only that, let us rejoice in adversity and challenges also; knowing that adversity and challenges develop patience and perseverance. And, patience and perseverance develop character and strength; and character and strength produce hope and confidence that, in turn, yield the joy that God intends for us.
Modern Example: Running a Marathon
A friend shared this experience: “When I first thought about running a marathon, the goal seemed formidable and frightening. How in the world could I run, or even walk, 26.2 miles? The first month, I started run-walking one or two miles. By the end of the second month, I was able to run a 10K (6 miles). It wasn’t easy, but it gave me a great feeling of accomplishment when I first did it.
“By the third month, 6 miles was not a big deal. I could do it fairly easily. So, I started stretching my distances—meaning, I started stretching myself. Each time I set my mind to go beyond my current “limit,” my body seemed to whine and balk at it. But every time I made my body do what I wanted to do, I received a feeling of great joy and confidence when I did it. I also noticed that after I had pushed my body to a new limit, it seemed to accept it. After running that distance a few more times, it became fairly easy, whether it was 6 miles, 12 miles or 20.
“Every time I achieved a new goal, I could tell my body became stronger. Even better, I became stronger and more confident as a person.
“Five months after I first set my goal of running a marathon, I did it. Not only did I finish, but it wasn’t nearly as grueling as I had first imagined. Amazingly, in many ways running the marathon was easier than my first 10K (6-miler).
“That’s when I learned for myself a lesson that I’d heard many times before but had never applied: Our fears hold us back and keep us from realizing high goals and reaching our potential. Fear makes a lot of things appear to be much harder and more painful than they really are.
More Thoughts from Abraham Maslow
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
“What one can be, one must be…. Even if all needs are satisfied, we soon develop a new discontent and restlessness, unless the individual is doing what he is fitted for.”
“People with intelligence must use their intelligence, people with eyes must use their eyes, people with the capacity to love have the impulse to love and the need to love in order to feel healthy. Capacities clamor to be used, and cease in their clamor only when they are used sufficiently.”
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write poetry, to ultimately be at peace with himself.”