Reality Check: The Obstacle Course

There’s always something, isn’t there? Just when you think you’ve gotten more or less on top of things, some unexpected nuisance, or worse, pops up to demand attention. Like an incessant drum beat—one thing after another—adding to the pile of what must be handled. When we take a look at the road ahead, it can appear to be filled with obstacles.
Yet, we know that different people respond differently to their individual obstacle courses.
Some people will not rest until the desk is cleared, phone calls returned, commitments are handled, and everything has been set on the most orderly path possible. These folks are not satisfied unless they’ve cleared the obstacles.
However, others look ahead, see the obstacles, and set them aside. For example, these folks are able to have a fun, satisfying day even though they have commitments that haven’t been kept, bills they haven’t paid, work that’s not been done and issues that have not been resolved.
By now you may be thinking, “But obviously, one of those approaches is right and the other is wrong.” Maybe so! However, my take on the existence of these two approaches is simply that we do have some control over our perceptions of whatever obstacle course we face.
Some people look ahead and see a dreadful, dark route and wish they could see a straight sunny path ahead. Others might see the same route, but perceive it as being filled with adventure. They look at it as an invitation to overcome challenges. And there could be some who see it as a game, “Just let those obstacles try to catch me!”
If our perceptions have an impact on the approach we choose, then they also have an impact on our outcomes. Different approaches lead to different results.
As an example, let’s say we perceive an obstacle—we’ve received a health-related letter that we don’t fully understand. Some people might take a fear-filled perspective and delay asking for explanation. They might even misplace the letter. Thus, they never learn whether it was good news, bad news, neutral news, or a need for action.
Other people might adopt a perspective of curiosity, even eagerness. They would follow up immediately, make inquiries, and do research.
Still another person may adopt a perspective of anger or resentment. “Why are they always bothering me?” They might glance over the contents without giving it full attention.
Depending on what the health information actually is, the person’s choice of approach could make a huge difference in their ultimate outcome.
“There’s always something.” You’ve heard that line before, and you may even be living it right now. Perhaps you think it’s a new phenomenon in our modern world. But I recently found that same line in a book written almost a century ago by Basil King. The topic was fear, and its appearance is a reminder that humans have always been confronted with challenges. This is unlikely to change.
We can perceive this as negative. However, here’s another perspective that we could choose as we look at the obstacles in front of us. They present the opportunity for us to grow. We can learn to overcome. We can become more resilient.
If we had no obstacles, we could become passive, not think too much, nor exert ourselves either mentally or physically. We wouldn’t grow into our potential.
Could taking that approach help you deal with your obstacles?

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