I have a confession to make. I am a sadist—when it comes to writing fiction, that is. It’s true. I joyfully rain as much pain and chaos on my characters, at every opportunity; I love to see them struggle with the barriers I put before them, as they try to reach their goals. Simply put, I am happy when they’re unhappy. It’s not because I am a closet a-hole. It’s because I know that without conflict my characters would never change. Without conflict, there is no action, no plot and no point.
It’s clearly not as much fun when we’re the ones being struck with conflict after conflict. We react just as predictably as characters in a novel, with fear, guilt and anger. This reaction may be useful for entertainment’s sake, but unless you’re a reality television star, does it ever really help us? In the heat of emotion are we thinking clearly and acting consciously? Or by fiercely resisting such conflict are we ensuring that more of it will come?
We need stressors to drive us to adapt, to change and to evolve. It can be really difficult to see this while we’re in the midst of turmoil, riddled with emotions like fear, anger or sadness, but it is the truth nonetheless; humans require hardships in order to grow. Anyone who has lived any sort of meaningful life will agree that their most formative years were the ones with the most hardships. What if, when times got tough, we responded with love and awareness, instead of with fear and anger? How much more would we gain?
Difficulty springs Clarity—It forces you to reflect on your current situation. It calls you to wake-up and reassess your beliefs and choices and how they are affecting your world. What you want (and don’t want) out of life can become clearer in times of difficulty. Pay attention when you find yourself in an unappealing situation. The Universe is a tenacious force, and if you don’t get the point this time, it will try try again until you do.
Problems bring Perspective—Anyone who has been through a real tragedy knows not to sweat the small stuff. The little things that can go wrong throughout the day aren’t such a big deal in comparison to great loss. When we overcome great barriers, we realize how powerful we are and how strong we can be. We learn what we can and can’t control, let go of our false sense of responsibility for others’ journeys, and focus on our own.
From Chaos comes Creation—It is necessary for all life. This goes beyond positive or “the glass is half-full” type thinking; without chaos we wouldn’t exist. Consider the big picture: Without huge collisions and explosions in space, we would never have a planet. Without a gigantic meteor striking Earth and wiping out an entire species, mammals would have never had a chance at evolving into conscious beings. Look at how much good can come out of seemingly “bad” events. Only by surviving chaotic times do we become stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Don’t be so quick to label the barriers in your life as “bad”; imagine what amazing things could come to you once you overcome them.
There is no point pretending like you aren’t human: You are going to get mad, sad, and fearful once in a while. Allow yourself to feel these emotions completely, but do so consciously. Don’t allow your emotions to blur the reality of your present or guide your decisions. Your guiding force should always be love and awareness. Never make a decision based on fear, anger or guilt. Maybe it is good practice to take on a bit of a sadistic viewpoint with our everyday problems. By at least being at peace with hardship, we avoid the risk of being overwhelmed by it, and in turn avoid creating further, unnecessary chaos. Without conflict and barriers we would be static characters living out meaningless stories. Choose to embrace chaos and find joy in the tumultuous ebb and flow of your life.