Aron Ralston – went hiking alone and while he was climbing down a narrow slot in Bluejohn Canyon, a boulder dislodged, crushing Ralston’s right forearm and pinning it against the wall. For five and a half days, he struggled to get free until he was forced to use a blunt knife from his multi-tool, he amputated his arm.
Louise Hay – Her childhood was unstable and impoverished, and her teen years were marked by abuse. Louise ran away from home and ended up in New York City, and eventually, she was diagnosed with cancer.
Nick Vujicic – Was born with neither arms nor legs. He had no family history to expect this condition. An innocent child, born limbless. Why?
When stuff like this happens in our own lives, sometimes it feels like the end of the world. Why does this stuff happen?
I was recently on The One World Show with Mark Brener & Ceci Suwal to talk about exactly that, and below are some key reasons we discussed.
1. “Bad Things” Turn Us Into Heroes
What makes heroes and villains, different from… “the masses?"
Simple – heroes & villains are out-standing and attention-getting somehow. We notice their personalities and the moves they make, and we label them heroic, or villainous.
So then… what makes a “hero” different from a villain?
“Heroes” become better, more loving, more noble, more positive people by embracing their life-challenges, and “villains” become more cruel, destructive, and bitter in the face of life’s challenges.
The point is, "things" are necessary to generate both heroes and villains, and heroes are the one’s who make the choice to overcome and move through these "things" and challenges, and put a positive spin on them, using them to launch them forward in the community.
2. “Bad Things” Get Us Asking Bigger Questions
So… does this mean we "need" bad things in order to stand out or give our lives meaning?
We-ell… in a way, yes.
Asking increasingly bigger questions is pretty important to life.
Think about it.
Imagine a life where no one asks big questions, and everything is shallow and bland and done-by-rote.
Can you imagine it?
Everyone wakes up each day, a cog in a machine, with 100% clarity at all times on their role, with no ambitions and no questions.
Imagine a world just 100% happy with the status quo and no one questioning anything.
Everyone I’ve spoken to says this sounds like a "boring", "miserable" life of "no substance."
But what prompts us to ask questions?
Stuff that adds to the mystery of life.
Stuff we don’t get.
Stuff we’re tempted to label "bad" or "good", especially before we understand it’s place or purpose.
If you were to tell people your life story and interact with them well, you’d need both ups *and* downs to relate to them.
And you can end up being the hero, if you tell the "downs" with a good attitude.
3. “Bad Things” Help Us To Build Confidence
Yep, bad things give us tons of confidence.
I’ve had haters, dismissals, insults betrayals, and all kinds of fear, failures and pain.
I look back on it and though I didn’t understand at the time, I was able to see how they were blessings after all.
Want a clear example of how ‘bad things’ can build confidence?
Take two imaginary peeps: Joe and Bob.
Joe has NEVER asked a girl out.
Bob has asked out thousands, and been rejected many times, and accepted many times.
For Joe, to ask a girl out is a huuuge deal, weighing the pros and cons, whiling away days fretting, and when it eventually happens, he spends weeks dealing with the consequences.
But Bob is used to the ups-and-downs of asking a girl out, he’s totally comfortable with his approach, if he makes a mistake or “says the wrong thing”, he just picks up and moves on.
The experience of both sides of the rejection-acceptance coin, having the “bad times” as well as good, gives Bob rock-solid confidence and turns him into quite the effective playboy, or at the very least, able to approach any woman he wants to.
Bob’s confidence is a direct results of the amount of approaches he’s tried and rejections he’s embraced.
Joe simply has little confidence for a similar reason.
4. “Bad Things” Wake Up Family, Friends & Social Circles
This is sometimes a sensitive one.
Keep in mind I adore family + friends. I`m not hatin`on èm.
A fish doesn’t understand water.
A fish doesn’t even recognize water. It hardly values or appreciates or wants water.
Because the fish has never known anything else.
There`s nothing contrasting or relative to water for it to recognize.
The fish has been born into, and immersed in water for it’s entire life.
And it’s only when the water is removed, that the fish wakes up and craves and values the water.
And the same thing goes for family and friends.
We’ve been around them for so long, that they often don’t notice our growth or our value or our unique skills. We’ve always been around, and they’ve always had ‘unlimited access’ to us, and vice-versa.
Until we gain some distance.
Now… what can create distance between family and friends?
Do many of us just randomly, voluntarily leave our family and friends?
Or does "bad things" need to happen to jumpstart us?
Ambition distanced me from my family. Being an entrepreneur distanced me from my cubicle-co-worker friends. Being homeless distanced me from some of my entrepreneurial friends.
In my experience, "bad things" are often necessary to create distance from family. Maybe not for everyone, sure, but they were for me, and what are the chances that they’re necessary… for you, for now?
"Don’t it always seem to go / that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone." – Counting Crows, Big Yellow Taxi
There are other ‘upsides’ to ‘bad things’ too, such as:
Getting us to drop a habit or to launch us out of comfort zones.
I want ‘good’ things for you.
And life contains both bad and good, so all I can do is help you understand and minimize and transform the bad.
And hopefully this has shed some light on some of the bullshit you’ve gone through, are going through, or have seen others go through.
These understandings brought me acceptance and peace of mind in a massive way, and I’d love it if it did something similar for you.
Mad love, keep ryzin’, and if you have anything interesting to share or express or contribute on this topic, I’d love to see it in the comments below, it was a great discussion with Mark & Ceci, and we can keep it going here 🙂