Joy is Not the Absence of Conflict

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes. ~ Jack Handey

by Pete Ferguson

Okay, so maybe the opening quote isn’t quite related to the article, but it is really funny – and for a morning that is 5 degrees above zero on a day I chose to wear shorts to the gym, funny is good.

Over the weekend, my wife and I heard a discourse with the quote “Joy is not the absence of conflict.” We know the couple who delivered the message well, and they are two of the happier people I know. I also know that they have dealt with a great amount of conflict.

Two people who have developed joyful characters will navigate through problems and be sustained by a daily sense of joy. ~ Valerie Layton

Along the lines of yesterday’s blog on the “7th rep,” it is true that for muscular gain, maturity, and mental and spiritual growth, the lessons usually come after the trail.

When a budding Monarch butterfly first emerges from its cocoon, it is not in its majestic form. Its body is swollen and its wings appear too small to fly. Through a slow and methodically flapping of its wings, blood is forced from the body into the wings and they begin to enlarge as the body shrinks.

Our friend suggested the following three things to overcome adversity and find the joy in life’s challenges:

  1. Rejoice – Whether large or small, celebrations allow us to focus on the positive and give ourselves credit for overcoming struggles.
  2. Be honest. Allow emotions out of the dark recesses of your mind. Understand things as they really are – don’t make assumptions, but take time to work through your own emotions and understand where others are coming from.
  3. Be thankful. Grapple with problems with confidence, knowing that you will make it through the storm and focus on the blessing you have received already.

I’d add to the list: Don’t make assumptions. Even if your assumption is right, it does you little good and if you are wrong, it makes you look foolish. I’ve wasted a lot of time on assumptions, so I speak as an authoritative figure on this topic.

Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. ~ Malachy McCourt

I’m grateful for the conflicts I have in my life – but I’m not usually grateful for them during the storm. I’m working on this, because a life without challenges is a bit pointless, really. Leaning into the pain allows for more control, less resentment, and a quicker recovery.

What challenges are you grateful for today? Are you in the depths of the storm, or are you able to look back and find the lessons learned?

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