Adversity as a Path to Happiness

Only when you're well past your comfort zone can truly learn something about yourself.


"No man is more unhappy than he who never faces adversity. For he is not permitted to prove himself." -Seneca.


The whole point of doing hard things is to experience a struggle and a bit of suffering. What will we remember at the end of our lives? The chill, easy, monotonous moments? Or will we remember the times when we had our backs against the wall, on the edge of failure, yet somehow overcame the odds and pulled through? The fact that it was hard is what made it worth while and memorable. 


A good challenge is like fertilizer to personal growth. Real development only happens after you've moved past your comfort zone.


Epictetus, another Stoic philosopher, once said, "The trials of these teachings will introduce you to your strengths." I get the impression that even 2,000 years ago some Romans felt life had become too soft for their taste. In today's world, most of life's natural challenges have been conquered by society, yet most of us discover a calling within our souls that is drawn to a good challenge. 


Take cycling for example: when you start to feel the first signs of a bonk coming on, that is the place you must get to before you can adapt and develop as an athlete. It may take three hours of riding before you can get that last hour of development. The first three hours are the entry fee, the last hour of discomfort is the reward. 


When you're feeling comfortable and fresh, your mind is like that of a busy and noisy classroom. There are tons of distractions, lights, voices, and noises. Learning and development is compromised. When you begin to struggle, the distracting lights in your mind turn down, the room becomes dark, you may hear nothing but the voice in your head telling you to stop. The outside world becomes almost invisible, your focus is directed 100% internally. You've now entered the realm where you can develop as an athlete and learn something about yourself. 


I hope you find a way to smile when the struggle becomes real in your next event. The event you signed up for was supposed to be hard, wasn't it? Remember that only when you're well past your comfort zone can truly learn something about yourself, and hopefully grow and develop as an athlete in the process.


-Antonio Gonzalez



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