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Making Diamonds Out of Dust

Embrace life’s challenges to uncover your true value.

Key points

  • Challenges and pressures are opportunities for self-discovery and character development.
  • Our greatest sources of meaning in life come from our responsibilities, not from a life of ease.
  • A life filled with novel experiences contributes to greater life satisfaction than simple pleasures.

Have someone ever advised you to "make sure you fulfill your purpose" and then you lived in constant fear that you might fall short? Do you wrestle with uncertainty, pressure, and disappointment when things in your life do not turn out the way you hoped, planned, or believed?

Don’t Wish for an Easier Life

“Don't wish it was easier; wish you were better." —Jim Rohn

What we actually need is not fewer challenges but more skills and wisdom to grow stronger, allowing the pressures to transform us into our best selves.

When you reflect back on your life, were the easiest and most carefree days the ones that gave you the most pride, or were they the most challenging periods that helped you uncover who you really are and develop your character under pressure?

Often, it is through difficult times that we grow stronger bonds with family, friends, and even strangers who offer random acts of kindness in our darkest hours. It is through the shards of our brokenness or perceived flaws that, when we turn toward our suffering rather than away, we can begin to rebuild our lives on broken ruins that help our dimmed lives become points of light that offer living hope to ourselves and others in similar dark places.

Finding Treasure in Your Ruins

What if we could make diamonds out of dust? Could we truly find treasure in our ashes? Was Rumi right when he said, “Where there is ruin, there is hope for treasure?”

Pressure is beneficial. Often, our problems have a way of pushing us out of our comfort zones, which motivates us to take action. Did you know that we make our most personal progress when we get out of our comfort zone and into our growth zone? This is where we find a deeper understanding of ourselves and our capabilities.

Entering our fear zone sends us into our threat brain. We engage our brains and bodies for protection rather than for connection. This can lead to a lack of confidence, hopelessness, or allowing others' opinions to affect us. This poses a danger that prevents us from entering the learning zone, which enables us to acquire new skills and overcome our challenges.

All Emotions are Welcome

Human suffering is not the result of emotional pain, but rather the avoidance of uncomfortable emotions. Avoidance of pain can often leave us succumbing to despair. While we all may want to avoid difficult situations, embracing them as the path to growth helps us find our purpose, set new goals, realise our aspirations, and create deeper meaning in our lives.

We all desire a meaningful life, and we often mistakenly believe it will come if only we could make life easier. However, this is not the case. The greatest sources of meaning in life often come from the responsibilities we have and the trials we endure. Researchers have identified meaning-making as one of the greatest predictors of living a good life, rather than merely having an easy one.

Is There More to Happiness?

In the quest for a fulfilling life, it's easy to perceive happiness as our ultimate goal. However, being in our flow suggests there is more to life than simple pleasures. Flow occurs when we engage deeply in something that is both challenging and worthwhile, requiring a high level of skill and challenge. We are three times more likely to be in our flow when engaged at work than in leisure, suggesting that fulfilment comes from engagement when overcoming difficulties rather than avoiding them.

According to research, feelings of gratitude, optimism, and satisfaction from attainable desires contribute to happiness. Studies suggest that pursuing gain rather than avoiding loss and accepting less-than-perfect outcomes contributes to a happier life. However, focusing solely on happiness may neglect the deeper, more complex interactions of a fulfilling life.

How to Create a More Meaningful Life

On the other hand, a meaningful life extends beyond our personal satisfaction and is, as Aristotle suggests, a eudaemonic life, in which meaningfulness results from repeated good deeds and a commitment to virtue throughout one's lifespan.

Then there is the concept of psychological richness, a dimension of life that involves remaining open to experiencing novelty, complexity, and perspective changes. Leading a psychologically rich life will engage us with a more diverse set of social networks and a greater depth of personal experiences, which contribute to having a more holistic understanding of the world.

Looking at Life on the Back Side of the Tapestry

I often envision my life as a tapestry, and one day, when I peer beneath the beautiful picture on top, I will recognize each thread of pain and suffering, and understand how it shaped beauty from ashes. Each thread has played a role in my story and in your story, creating twists and turns like nature that uses only the longest threads to weave patterns so that each piece of fabric reveals the organisation of the whole tapestry to become a tree of life that saves lives.

Each thread adds a unique colour and texture that we often do not see when you are looking at life from the back side of your tapestry. You are part of a bigger tapestry, and you are not alone.

Feeling the Pressure?

If you are struggling with fear or anxiety, keep in mind that the greatest word is help, and your greatest strengths lie in acknowledging your weaknesses and embracing all of you. Remember how far you have come, and that love has the power to dispel fear just as much as fear has the power to cast out love. Lean into your pressures with compassionate connection, allowing the weight to become your wings.

Be curious and think creatively about how you can adapt and change what is in your control, who you need around you, and how you can use this pressure to bring out the best in yourself and others as a breakthrough. Remember, we get happier in life when we get stronger, not when things get easier. Allow the pressure to transform your struggles into opportunities for growth, turning 'diamonds out of dust. Let your light shine into those dark spaces to reflect on another diamond in the rough, so they too can make diamonds out of dust.

Source: Ryan Thwaite/Used with permission
Diamond's out of Dust: Renewing once dimmed lives to become points of light and hope for others in similar dark places.
Source: Ryan Thwaite/Used with permission


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