The Warrior Within
As a parent, I long to give my sons the tools they will need not just to thrive, but to also do so in a way that they can enjoy a truly content life, despite life itself.
This morning, my 13-year-old and I were watching Oprah's Super Soul Sunday and she was talking with a man who had suffered the loss of both legs and one hand when he was only nineteen. He had gone on to have a thriving career as a doctor and specialist in end of life care.
His story was certainly inspiring in many ways, and it gave me the opportunity to have an honest conversation with my son. We talked about the major difference between living life as a warrior, as such a small percentage of us do, or as a victim, as it seems most fall into.
"This man is evolved," I explained to my son, as we listened to him refer to the accident he suffered as a gift.
"What do you mean, 'evolved', Mom?" Neeko asked.
I realized I had just been given the chance to teach Neeko the most important life lesson I had ever learned.
"Son, I'm not going to mislead you by telling you the human life isn't difficult or sometimes full of extreme suffering, because it is. As much as I'd like to protect you from the hurt and pain that naturally come from being human, I'd be doing you a disservice if I did. Plus, there's no way I could and still enable you to live a full life and evolve.
You see, suffering, heartbreak, difficulties and disappointments are what enable us to evolve. You are going to get your heart broken, many times over. You are going to suffer physical pain. By the time you are done, you are going to realize many great wins as well as many devastating losses.
But you are also going to experience immeasurable joy and extraordinary moments that simply take your breath away.
The success of your life overall will be measured by one, single factor: How you choose to process the bad times. Most of us view ourselves as victims of circumstance when undesirable situations overtake us.
But a handful of us see it a different way. We see life's most painful, disappointing moments as a blessing, a gift. Because each time we conquer and overcome these difficulties, we grow stronger.
We become more compassionate toward others, more understanding of ourselves. And each time we get back up after being knocked down, we get a gift: the realization of how strong and capable we really are.
That is what makes a warrior: seeing life's difficulties as an opportunity to grow, to course-correct, to get back up and reinvent ourselves in a better, more resilient, more imaginative way.
And equally as important, it makes us so much more appreciative of the good times.
If there is any one thing I could give you that would help you live a full, deeply content life, it is this understanding. The knowledge of how to live life as a warrior and not a victim. I figured out a few years back that each and every one of us will experience great suffering. It's not the life we get dealt that matters. It's how we deal with the life we get.
The ones that suffer the most do so at their own hand, by living life as the victims in their own story. It's really not important what happens to you in life. What really matters is how you embrace it and become stronger, kinder and better as a result of it.
That's what it means to live life "evolved." To live your life as a true warrior.
And teaching you that mindset is the single most, valuable gift I could ever give you."