Does Every Silver Lining Need a Cloud?

Via on Dec 6, 2010

The nature of challenge

Creative Commons License photo credit: BruceTurner

After recently reading this post by Empowered Soul Andrea Hess, I’ve been reflecting on just how prevalent our sense of deservedness figures into getting what we want.  It’s as if we feel the need to qualify our desires almost before we can admit having them, and certainly before allowing ourselves to pursue them.

So let’s talk about desire, which often gets a bad rap and is confused with greed, gluttony, or other characteristics generally lumped into a category beginning with “The 7 Deadly . .”

The Nature of Desire

Desire is natural.  Many physical desires – like hunger, thirst, sleep and sex – are hard-wired into us instinctively to ensure both our individual and collective survival.  Take a look at just about any other living thing, plant or animal, and the desire for food, water, rest and reproduction is pretty obvious.

Human desire, however, goes beyond survival instinct. Many of our creative or intellectually-driven desires are what take us beyond subsistence into abundance.  When these desires are motivated by or result in material abundance – of money, possessions, or experiences – they are oft-criticized.

I prefer to think of desire in all its forms as positive vs. negative in the sense that it spurs the forward flow of energy.  I see its primary benefit being not what it yields for the individual having the desire, but what its residual effects are along the journey toward its expression.

As Charles Fillmore states in his book Prosperity, “desire is the onward impulse of the ever evolving soul.”  And as Edwene Gaines writes about that in The Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, “It stands to reason then that if we are evolving souls (and I believe that we are) then our desires – the longings of our hearts – are what propel us forward into the life experiences required for an evolution of consciousness”.

I happen to agree.

I also agree with what Andrea wrote, that our divine gifts and talents in life are what come naturally to us.  Yes, that which you naturally love and excel at is the “work” you are meant to do, the way you are meant to serve others and yourself in this lifetime.

So it seems both sad and paradoxical to me that so often we sabotage our desires – our forward propulsion – with the need to feel deserving of what they might yield before we allow ourselves to accept or act on them.  And therein we unnecessarily create our own struggle, and our own suffering.

All of which made me further ponder why struggle and suffering exist at all.  For as I also believe, nothing – even loss, pain and challenge – is wasted.

So, What’s All the Hardship For?

I think the concepts of challenge and struggle deserve more than a passing glance.  It’s easy to claim we create them and need not do so, harder to actually stop creating them. It’s worth contemplating if there is value to challenge and struggle. Since they exist, they must be good for something.

Also, there are different degrees and flavors of challenge. Sometimes to my surprise, I find myself actually enjoying mental, physical and emotional short-term challenges.  Temporary challenges are stimulating because they bring out creative thinking, are often quickly transformational, and are empowering to overcome.  So maybe it isn’t that we want our work to always be challenging, but rather, we like the challenge-achievement cycle because it is fulfilling.

Long-term, perpetual challenge or ongoing struggle with no end in sight is a different story, and I see its value in using it as a guidepost.  If things get too hard, unpleasant or painful, struggle is there to show us we’re meant to take another road.  It seems to me that if doing your work is a constant miserable struggle, it’s probably not the work you’re meant to be doing.  As Abraham-Hicks reminds us:

“From your human perspective, you often believe that you must work hard to overcome obstacles and satisfy shortages and solve the problems that are before you; but often, in that attitude or approach, you work against yourself without realizing it. Attention to obstacles makes them bigger and more stubborn; attention to shortages makes them bigger and prolongs them—and attention to a problem prevents any immediate resolution or solution . . . In the absence of longing, in the absence of doubtin the absence of obstacles and shortages and problemswill be the solutions and abundance that you seek”

In using struggle as a guidepost, we not only allow it to steer us in new directions, but also allow it to serve as a reminder to stay focused on what we DO want and not on what we don’t want.  We can productively use it as a slingshot for gaining ground rather than as an excuse to stay mired in quicksand.

The Value of Challenge

The lesson? Don’t be a slave to challenge, allow it to steer and serve you.

If we were all born into a world where we were constantly guided and told to do only what comes naturally to us and makes us happy, it is possible we would never have or need challenge or struggle.  But since that’s not the world for 99% of us on this planet, challenge and struggle exist to bring out our divine natures and nudge us toward what feels natural, harmonious, and easy.

Some seem to thrive on challenge and enjoy continually raising the stakes for themselves.  While I agree with Andrea that this ascension in difficulty isn’t necessary to achieving abundance, some people either consciously or unconsciously choose that path (I know I’ve done it myself at times).  To their credit, perhaps it is occasionally borne of a desire for accelerated growth, because through challenge and struggle is how we grow.  It’s not the only way to grow, but it’s often the fastest, most interesting, most stimulating, or simply the most fun!  A little struggle during your conscious evolution? A few growing pains? Certainly a catalyst for thinking out of the box or leaving one’s comfort zone, and certainly a lesson for persistence when persistence is needed. Besides, who wants to have come into the human experience and be bored the whole time?

Let’s not discount the value of struggle in that it provides contrast, and through contrast, makes light and growth visible where it might otherwise not be seen. Every cloud makes the burning sun behind it want to shine that much brighter.  And make no mistake, no matter how high you or anyone has ascended to divinely-guided easy work, at any moment a new cloud – of your own imagining or not – can drift in to take growth to the next level. There’s always higher to grow.

On the other hand, let’s not develop an addiction to challenge. Let’s not resign ourselves to it being the necessary way; let’s not play slave to it.  You are deserving of all your desires for abundance and growth as well as the abundance and growth itself whether you do anything to earn them or not.  You are also, however, the ultimate creator of your experience.  If you feel you must create hardship to be deserving, or if you’re just having more fun that way, that’s your choice.

What do you think? Do you believe we unnecessarily create challenge and struggle to keep the game interesting and/or because we’re conditioned to believe we have to be deserving of our desires? And even if we didn’t create struggle, would it still be part and parcel of the evolutionary process, of the human experience?  Tell me in comments below.

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About Karen Talavera

Karen Talavera is a self-described “Accidental Seeker” who stumbled upon a non-conformist journey of self discovery, spiritual awakening and personal growth after years of living the stereotypical American dream. A writer, entrepreneur, mother and avid international traveler, she draws on the rich and often overlooked experiences of daily life to illuminate opportunities for awakening and share insightful takes on spiritual growth. She writes about these and more on her blog The Accidental Seeker. Karen has been a Huffington Post blogger since 2008. Her writing has appeared there and on Divine Caroline as well as in various blogs and print publications since 2006. She lives in Palm Beach County, Florida where she enjoys soaking up the sun and surf when she’s not either writing, dancing, or off and running on one of her many journeys.

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