Turning Points as Stepping Stones (365 Days of Spirited Living — DAY 356)
“Sometimes the course of our lives depends on what we do or don’t do in a few seconds, a heartbeat, when we either seize the opportunity, or just miss it. Miss the moment and you never get a chance again.”
— Aidan Chambers
Every challenge we encounter and every adversity that we face comes with the opportunity to make a decision. It is as if we arrive at a fork in the road and have to stop in order to make sure we take the right path. Sometimes, we tend to rush through difficult times without giving any thought to what it might be trying to teach us.
Each of us will inevitably face such times. They are the moments of life that determine whether we stay the same or make the changes. Whether the experience is happy or unhappy or whether it pertains to our personal or professional lives, these are moments that regulate our thinking and often lead us to make small decisions that open the door to huge possibilities.
Choice is the most powerful tool we have in the world. The choices we make determine the direction of our lives. It is probably the only useful tool we have when we get to that fork in the road. Every turning point can be the impetus for positive difference if we see it as a stepping stone on our journey. Here are some ways to do that:
1. Learn the tough lessons.
Every difficulty has a lesson embedded in it. It is human nature to think about hard times as bad experiences. No doubt, there are moments that bring pain and heartbreak. But it is possible to mentally and emotionally grow into a person who desires to look beyond the obvious pain for deeper implications. You want to be able to go through all the layers and arrive at the core to gain the wisdom and learn the lessons that seem to only be present in these moments. Instead of running from what is difficult, lean in to it and glean all you can from the experience.
2. Embrace the situation as it is.
It is human nature to attempt to change bad situations into positive ones. And even when we can’t change it, we still try to put a positive spin on it. The problem with this is that we never actually get to the root of the difficulty and thus keep entertaining the same experiences. Some of the worst situations are the ones that we create for ourselves. You can emerge from such situations and even ones you don’t create yourself by embracing it and then working to make it better. Surrender to the situation as it is; do not try to paint over it with a bright color. Instead of denying and fighting to escape, create a pathway by which a new situation is formed through truth and clarity.
3. Make the journey the goal.
Turning points are a little like pit stops. You will come across them as you travel and you may stop to refuel and refresh, but you’re not supposed to stay there. If you are rushing toward your destination, you may very well run out of fuel and be forced to stop anyway. The destination is important, but the journey is equally as important. Every point of life begins with A and ends with Z but there are 24 other letters in between A and Z that you have to do something with. Too many people take shortcuts and rush through formative years of life in order to become something and then when they get there, they throw it all away with foolish behavior and stupid choices. Why? Because they never learned the lessons that are only taught when you take the full journey.
4. Look at the big picture.
It is natural for us to only see what is right in front of us when we are up against a challenge. It can be hard to see beyond our own perspective as we tend to enlarge the situations we face. Remember that individual problems always seem to be bigger than they really are simply because they are ours. However, when you can take a minute to zoom out of the immediate situation and see the bigger picture of your life, you will be able to make clearer decisions and bravely face the path ahead. Instead of allowing yourself to get stuck in the moment which will not last forever, you are able to look beyond what is happening and see this as another step on the whole journey.
Turning points are not stumbling blocks. They are stepping stones, opportunities that help us get to where we should want to go. If we embrace them and handle them right, they become the most important parts of our journey.
“There must be in life something like a catastrophic turning point, when the world as we know it ceases to exist. A moment that transforms us into a different person from one heartbeat to the next.”
— Jan-Philipp Sendker