I heard some really good advice from author Arthur C. Brooks on how to overcome adversity. For all of us our lives will be full of very challenging times. Sometimes these will seem almost overwhelming. There will also be times in the lives of those we care about that are extremely challenging; when this happens we will see strategies and pathways they will be able to use to battle through, regardless of the situation they may be in.
Unfortunately, when we face our own challenges it’s often the case we aren’t able to see as clearly as we can when we want to help another person. What we do need to do is take our own situation and look at it from the perspective it is happening to someone else, a person we really care about. We know we would have advice for this person to follow, and we also know we would truly believe there would be a way through.
We need to learn to treat ourselves in the same manner we would for someone who matters to us. If we can do what we would hope and know others could, then no situation would be too challenging to overcome.
Worth fighting for
Pericles was a Greek politician and general during the Golden Age of Athens.
When speaking to his people on what was worth fighting for he shared ideas that may have seemed different to what others had said who had gone before him, and certainly to many who have come after, yet the ideas he shared may strike a note with more of us because they relate to the way in which we live and enjoy our lives on a daily basis.
Examples of what Pericles thought were worth fighting for included:
- The way in which citizens were open and polite in public places
- For the manner in which citizens entertained at home
- For the attitudes of citizens to beauty
- For the way in which citizens approached exercise
- For the sensitivity of citizens towards their natural surroundings
To many, the values expressed by Pericles may seem trivial. However, it’s these ‘trivial’ things that really are worth fighting for. When they are eroded we lose a little of our identity, and the sum of these parts really do make a whole that is worth fighting for to maintain and build upon the communities we already have.
I read today there have been over 130 million books published. A person who reads a lot will read approximately 6000 in their lifetime. It’s pretty easy doing the maths here; a huge number of books will never be read by even the most enthusiastic of readers.
There’s some learning with what I have just shared about the number of books published and the number any of us are likely to read, this being that we need to choose our books carefully, and also be ready to abandon those books we don’t enjoy or aren’t providing us with the content we need.
We can also take a different perspective – because there are so many books, there will be a huge number that won’t be to our taste or needs, so there is a case for rereading books of quality we have previously enjoyed.
A final comment on this theme is that with 130 million books published there’s likely to be books on anything a reader is looking for, so if we take the time to investigate and explore, we’ll always be able to find what we’re looking for in a book.
Catching up with a friend after a meeting, I shared an assumption I had made about a situation involving me at work. Immediately my friend talked about a book he had just read, The Four Agreements. The agreements are essentially the values of an ancient culture, with one of the agreements being not to make assumptions.
Thinking about this advice, it couldn’t have been more timely. It’s so easy to make assumptions, but it’s equally easy for these assumptions to be wrong. What we should do is focus on what we know for sure, to only look at the facts in regards to any decisions that we make.
I appreciated the advice from my friend. It couldn’t have been more timely and it was exactly what I needed to hear at that very moment.
Tim Nelson is principal of Lakeview School and author of the book Small Steps for a happy and purposeful life. He endeavours to learn something new every day by reading books, listening to podcasts, and engaging with a wide range of other content.