Ripples #1153: Reframing Struggle


Reframing struggle as a mechanism for growth recognizes that life is challenging, even in the best of circumstances.
-Heidi Szycher, PhD, written and shared by Heidi in Colorado (via her newsletter)


Anyone can be a rock star when times are perfect, but adversity brings out who you are at your core. Adversity can either extinguish you or distinguish you.
-Gary Kunath, shared by Kelsey in Fond du Lac, WI


I’ll whisper a secret: I’ve had these two quotes paired up for quite some time, and yet I’ve been hmmm-ing and hawing about how and when to share them with you.

It’s not about the quality of the quotes: I love them both! I believe they are each powerful reminders that when we’re in the right mood and the right mindset, life’s inevitable challenges are rich opportunities for growing braver, stronger, and wiser. I also adore the people who submitted them. The pebble was written by my childhood neighbor/friend Heidi whose family introduced me to the Colorado Rockies when they moved to Boulder back in the 1980s. (Fun fact: another of Heidi’s wise reflections was featured in Ripples #866, and I loved it so much it is featured as the finale of our book, Ripples for Reflection) The Boulder was shared by one of our rock star quote contributor (Kelsey works at Marian University, a place I’ve visited many times to fire up students and staff).

So why my hesitation at unleashing these quotes? Because GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME OH MY the last year has been such a long slog, with so much struggle and such significant adversity. I was worried that sharing these too soon after such extended difficulty might come off as an overly simplistic version of, “Hey kids, you know all the sh*t you’ve been dealing with? All you gotta do is turn your frown upside down and everything will be okay!”

We all know that it ain’t that easy, and it ain’t that simple, either. LIFE. IS. HARD. And the last 15 months have been excruciating (you know the list: pandemic, race, climate, polarization…it just goes on and on). And this doesn’t even include all the teeny and titanic challenges you’re grappling with in your little corner of the world.

Still, one of the unfortunate and yet reliably accurate truths I’ve stumbled upon during my five decades on this planet: we tend to experience more JOY during the good times, and more GROWTH during the tough times. Ultimately we are at our best when we have the right balance between comfort and challenge, and that includes managing the discomfort that comes along with growth spurts.

If you are someone you care about is struggling right now: HANG IN THERE! I hope you’ll soon be able to embrace the learnings, toss away the yucky stuff, and head towards some good times. If you’re doing okay, make an effort to spot someone nearby who IS struggling so you can give them a lift.

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