In The Obstacle is the Way, author Ryan Holiday encourages us to run toward the obstacles that appear in our lives instead of constantly trying to avoid obstacles and challenges. He highlights the opportunity for growth that obstacles provide, and shows us how they build new opportunities. He writes, “Obstacles are not only to be expected but embraced…because these obstacles are actually opportunities to test ourselves, to try new things, and, ultimately, to triumph.” This short quote sums up much of Holiday’s thinking surrounding the challenges in our lives and how he views the struggles we will encounter.
What I find great about this quote is Holidays acceptance of struggles and challenges as a necessary part of life. I find that I try so hard to build a life for myself where I will not face challenges and struggles, but it is a useless effort. What Holiday says is that we should expect our lives to be full of obstacles and we should not imagine a perfect future life free from adversity. I think I am stuck in a trap that has been built for people of my generation, the millennial generation, where it is easy to imagine a simple life with all of our desires available accessible, and with all our obstacles mitigated by forces beyond our control. The simple truth is that we will all experience some degree of suffering, and it is through our struggles that we will grow and become better people.
Holiday also shows the importance of building awareness and self-reflection into our life journeys. If we are not aware, then we will not see the opportunities that present themselves in the obstacles that we face. Any bit of adversity that we experience can have a positive side to it, if we understand our reactions and look for ways to use our adversity as a new fortification for the foundations upon which we rest our lives. Without a dose of awareness, we risk crumbling in front of our challenges, unaware that it is this very challenge that could help propel us further.