by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
Looking externally for happiness or validation is ultimately futile. But most of us do that habitually.
My 36-year practice of the SGI Buddhist life philosophy has taught me that I create happiness for myself and that every person is empowered with this potential.
The core of this concept is that adversity develops inner strength. This concept is quite the opposite of the idea that adversity is something to avoid or minimize.
Becoming a person who is spiritually strong enough to face, endure, search for the gain within and create positive meaning from struggles, and overcome them is how to create happiness intrinsically. In other words, using our problems to develop inner strength is how to build happiness.
How does this work?
First, I do not run away from difficulties. I look directly at my troubles. Acknowledging them is the first step.
This action is an act of courage.
That doesn't mean the fear goes away. Being brave doesn't mean you are not afraid. It means you feel the fear but take the necessary action anyway.
I face my problems, even while feeling fear, and take action. From there, I can start finding the good, the gain, and the solution to win over each obstacle.
But again—first, I muster audacious bravery to look straight at the problem.
As Eleanor Roosevelt wisely stated,
"You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along. 'You must do the thing you think you cannot do."
At that point, a celebration is in order.
When you are courageous, you've already won.
From there, strength grows.
It is also important to repeatedly remind myself not to give up. Not to allow the current moment of difficulty to defeat my spirit.
If I stand firmly, refusing to be defeated, this determination transforms into victory. Overcoming anything starts within the heart first—with a mindset.
In any race, business endeavor, toward any goal, when addressing any failure or hardship, it is important to commit to making it all the way through to the end.
Just making it to the end is a success.
So, one of the first things I do when facing an obstacle is to strengthen my resolve to finish what I started.
The key to success is this mindset to keep moving forward without retreating a single step.
No matter what.
When in the thick of challenges, whether internal or external, circumstantial or ongoing, focusing on my mindset is the key to breaking through to the next level.
I remind myself that when I'm in the middle of a mountain climb, I must recognize that getting to the top takes time and effort.
It is important to check my expectations. I cannot start the journey and get to the top in the amount of time or with the amount of effort it takes only to reach halfway up there.
Sometimes I realize my calculations were way off. It may take much more effort and time to reach the goal than I originally thought because unexpected hindrances may arise that I did not foresee.
That's when working on mindset and inner resolve is critical. When the issue becomes overwhelming, or I feel deflated, I must take a step back to reflect and reassess.
I ask myself, what is the point of fighting so hard toward a goal or overcoming obstacles if I QUIT in the middle of it?
Let's face it. We are ALWAYS in the middle of it!
At that moment, sometimes it means I must dig my heels in more deeply to firm my inner strength and forge ahead again. But sometimes, I'm too tired or overwhelmed mentally to get there with the necessary mindset.
At that moment—and along the way—it is important to:
—for the long haul.
When you need rest or a break, you must do what you need to do to be your best self.
Taking a break, taking time to reflect, pray, sleep, immerse oneself in nature, play with friends, family, and loved ones, or the awe of art and music—these are all necessary ways to refuel yourself.
When you do what is necessary to be at your best — to give yourself what you need to be your best —you can get back in there to continue the good fight.
You need this for yourself and those around you impacted by your condition.
I'm working on doing what I need to take care of myself first. I do this to not give up on all my goals. I take care of myself to prepare for overcoming the inevitable onslaught of hurdles I face as I gain ground toward my goal of winning an irrefutable victory.
Let me recap;
Then get back to the drawing board. This strategy leads to winning and happiness.
What are you doing to forge your happiness?
by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
It's easy for any of us to be defeated by our problems. Whether they are big or small doesn't matter. They're our problems and because of that, they can seem tailor-designed to knock us down.
Someone recently asked me how to overcome their problems. Regardless of specifics, when faced with difficulty, having the attitude to work toward a solution or win victory, is the first step to creating forward momentum.
I praised this person for having the desire to find a way through their challenges.
The Buddhist philosophy I practice has taught me that struggles are actually precious treasures to appreciate. We can actually use them as stepping stones to deeper happiness, solid inner strength and an awakening to our inherent wisdom. All this personal expansion leads to experiencing a rich, more fulfilled life.
The conversation with the person who asked for my help reminded me that I need to repeatedly polish my attitude and actions toward the challenges in my life.
I've learned that developing a determined spirit to win over difficulties is powerful. No matter what the problem is, having that spirit to keep fighting is itself the key to victory. It’s when we lose hope, or stop believing in our vast potential to achieve or transform anything, that problems get the better of us.
There are many things we can do to deal with our problems. But without the mindset toward winning ultimate victory, the results may prove less than satisfactory.
In other words, we can take plenty of action, but if we still hold doubt in our hearts about ourselves or our desired positive outcome, we diminish our results.
You Get Stronger Through Challenging A Problem
If we first work on strengthening the attitude behind our actions, we stand a greater chance of overcoming the problem or reaching a goal. Actions we take are only part of the solution or winning strategy.
Equally as valuable is the inner strength we forge by enduring the problem state.
As long as we resolve never to give up on ourselves, every problem actually can serve as a springboard toward improving ourselves and our quality of life. Building a strong inner intent ultimately manifests in taking wise action. This is the basis for creating a happier environment, and advancing our personal growth.
Plus, the added perk of solving our problem.
Be Like Einstein; Stay Longer
There’s an Einstein quote I love that goes, "It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer."
Problems can function as beneficial to our lives because they push us into the proverbial corner until we learn to strengthen our belief in the unlimited potential within ourselves and humanity.
Problems can force us to work harder to mine that golden potential. Perhaps if we didn't experience our difficulties, we'd never make the kind of effort necessary to uncover our full abilities.
The fact is that we all have problems. Our capacity to overcome these is infinite. And by winning over them, we give others incredible hope to do the same.
Let's continue seeking ways to overcome our problems. In that sense, we are already winning.
By the way, my photo essay, How To Use Difficulties To Inspire Appreciation & Creativity, touches on this same point. I hope it encourages you and others reading this!
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In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.