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The Beauty in Challenge – the more you overcome it the stronger you will become

Challenge is an opportunity: make it gold or a tough stone, it only depends on you, you are your own alchemist.

Every time you overcome a challenge, it will lift you up, build you strong and make it easier for you to overcome your next trial. But if you surrender to the challenge, it will downsize you, break a piece of confidence in you and make it harder for you to overcome it the next time. It’s like building muscle – the more you train it the stronger it will become. Once you lift 50 lbs, then adding 5 lbs more is easy. By adding a harmless 5 lbs each time, with consistent practice you will eventually lift a magnificent 100 lbs of challenge, effortlessly. But if you give up on your first 20, 30 lbs, you will never build strong enough muscles. Make a decision now – do you want to live with powerful muscles or saggy fat?

Personal story: I overcame my food cravings by passing over my favorite food stores again and again.

I used to be obsessed with all kinds of sweet and fatty foods. I ate deserts all the time: before, between and after meals. Then later I found it was not a healthy habit. So I decided to quit it and it was hard. Every time I pass my favorite stores, I struggle. There were thousands of voices inside me arguing: Should I eat that cake? Oh I shoud not eat that sugar coated poison! Should I devour those crispy chips? Oh I should not shovel that junk into my stomach! Should I get that insanely rich chocolate? Oh I should so not be tempted by that dark evil sin…The voice was loud and I was on the edge of breaking down. But somehow I pulled out the last drops of willpower remaining in me and managed to pass by the food store once, buying nothing at all. I felt extremely uneasy until I got back home and tasted my first joy of small victory: it was delicious. Then I passed by the seductive food stores again, for the second time. It was a little bit easier because last time I did it nothing horrible happened except I felt extremely proud of myself. And I made myself pass those heavenly-scented bakeries and fast food chains again and again, each time getting bothered less. Now I have my diet healthily streamlined and I am so happy that I made the first few tough choices towards fighting my food addictions. It built good momentum for me to coast by the rest of the temptations easily and smoothly.

I also transformed my lifestyle into an active one by adding exercise one dose after another.

I used to be an inactive person. I was sitting behind my desk at work for 8 to 9 hours every day, commuting to work and everywhere else by taxi and subway, sitting in my couch at home and sleeping for one third of my life in the bed. I was involved with zero exercise at that time and lived with very low energy and spirit every day. Then I finally felt sick of it and chose to add some movement to my life. I changed my office job into a part-time one and applied for another part-time job working in a bar. So I made myself stand hours in the venue and walk around customers all the time. The first days were a “standing hell.” My feet were screaming “You fat lady!” all day and night. But I stuck through every minute I wanted to give up, telling myself “Everybody in this business stands full hours just fine. You can definitely do it too! Let’s hang on for one week first.” And after that one week, though with sore muscles everywhere I still came up with the conclusion that, “This is actually bearable.” So I hung on another week, then one more after that… until it’s been four months now and I feel as comfortable as a fish in its pond to stand 20 hours a week in the bar. And I didn’t only stand in the bar for those four months. It was just a small trigger that activated the rest of the revolution. I soon fell in love with bicycling. I rode my bicycle to work, to meetings and to many romantic spots in the town. I was on the road for a minimum of one hour every day. I also got myself involved in a “stand up computer” project and was standing at the computer four hours everyday on average. It has become my most comfortable position to play with the computer now. I also touched up my life with dancing and stretching. Whenever my body feels stiff I give myself a good stretching and a round of dancing too if the mood is there. Basically I became quite an active person now and this is not at all hard as I so self-convincingly imagined in my couch for the past years. I am so happy that I made the first tiny steps to walk out of my comfort zone. Soon I was catching up with the rhythms and running spontaneously.

So what is your challenge that you are afraid of? Face it now, conquer it and let it leverage you even stronger.

If you are too timid to speak up for yourself in daily life, then regardless of your fears, force yourself to say one word out of the heart every day. At first, you will only mumble nonsense and totally sound like a nerd. But just keep throwing the balls, you will eventually hit some targets and organize clear sentences.

If you are suffering in your current life but don’t think you deserve a better one, then you will keep living in the suffocating situation. To breathe new air, you need to step out of your dead zone. Once you buck up and make the first courageous step, then adding a few more steps is not that a big deal and soon you will walk farther away from the cave you hated.

It is always easier to do nothing about the challenge and remain in the status quo. But I strongly suggest you choose a harder choice, fight with your challenge and let it lift you to a higher position with more beautiful views. Once you get started with throwing a few bold punches into life, you will soon feel comfortable to box with those opponents you thought so tough and tall. And later you will get so good at your skills that you must call in stronger competitors to the ring to match the game and have more fun. Be that aspiring boxer in your life.

As Nietzsche put it, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”