The Obstacle is the Way.

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In Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius’ book Meditations 1, which is a set of personal writing and ideas on Stoic philosophy, he observed in book 7:

“Nothing happens to anyone that he can’t endure. The same thing happens to other people, and they weather it unharmed—out of sheer obliviousness or because they want to display “character.” Is wisdom really so much weaker than ignorance and vanity?

Things have no hold on the soul. They have no access to it, cannot move or direct it. It is moved and directed by itself alone. It takes the things before it and interprets them as it sees fit.

In a sense, people are our proper occupation. Our job is to do them good and put up with them.
But when they obstruct our proper tasks, they become irrelevant to us—like sun, wind, animals. Our actions may be impeded by them, but there can be no impeding our intentions or our dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.

The impediment to action advances action.
What stands in the way becomes the way.

There is an old Zen story 2 about a king whose people had grown soft and entitled. Dissatisfied with this state of affairs, he hoped to teach them a lesson. His plan was simple: He would place a large boulder in the middle of the main road, completely blocking entry into the city. He would then hide nearby and observe their reactions.

How would they respond? Would they band together to remove it? Or would they get discouraged, quit, and return home? With growing disappointment, the king watched as subject after subject came to this impediment and turned away. Or, at best, tried halfheartedly before giving up. Many openly complained or cursed the king or fortune or bemoaned the inconvenience, but none managed to do anything about it.

After several days, a lone peasant came along on his way into town. He did not turn away. Instead he strained and strained, trying to push it out of the way. Then an idea came to him: He scrambled into the nearby woods to find something he could use for leverage. Finally, he returned with a large branch he had crafted into a lever and deployed it to dislodge the massive rock from the road.Beneath the rock were a purse of gold coins and a note from the king, which said

:“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

“Our actions may be impeded . . . but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

The Obstacle is the Way 2

This philosophic approach is the driving force of self-made men and the succor to those in positions with great responsibility or great trouble. On the battlefield or in the boardroom, across oceans and many centuries, members of every group, gender, class, cause, and business have had to confront obstacles and struggle to overcome them—learning to turn those obstacles upside down. That struggle is the one constant in all of their lives. Knowingly or not, each individual was a part of an ancient tradition, employing it to navigate the timeless terrain of opportunities and difficulties, trial and triumph.

“In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices. —EPICTETUS


Emotionally Strong People Understand, Appreciate, and Grow through Their Struggles 3

Because life involves struggle. Emotionally strong people expect difficulties and learn to appreciate the growth they bring. Emotionally strong people do not expect immediate results. As they approach life, they know they are in it for the long haul. As they face struggles, they do so with energy and fortitude. They understand that genuine success takes time. They try new things and fail. They run into obstacles but persevere. They keep going, keep working. They focus on the right decisions they need to make and make them quickly. They realize that they may change their direction overnight, but they won’t arrive at their destination overnight. They keep their eyes on the big picture, and they don’t quit.


Daily Calm with Tamara Levitt  – Teachers

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is a vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child. – Carl Jung

Sometimes, people come into our lives and make a lifelong contribution. By practicing loving kindness towards them, we can honour them and keep them close to our hearts.

Daily Jay with Jay Shetty – Tell Yourself Something Good

Just because you know that something is good for you doesn’t make you want to do it automatically. Researchers concluded that if we can focus on some enjoyable part of an experience, we’d be more eager to do it. We can invoke the appealing aspects of an activity. When you consider the positives ahead of time, it is easier to tap into them later. That is because instead of trying to convince yourself, you merely remind yourself.

When we struggle to get our train rolling, it is natural to fixate on the cons. But if we mindfully invoke the pros, we will propel ourselves forward in the direction we’d like to go.

Daily Trip with Jeff Warren – In The Mood Tunnel

Affective Realism is when we confuse our affect, our inner feelings, with how things are in the outside world. Mindfulness can help us notice these mood tunnels. Sometimes it helps to ask yourself straight up, am I relating to my life in a perfectly neutral way right now? Or has a subtle mood begone to distort things very slightly. The sanity is in the noticing. As soon as we notice a tunnel, we are no longer entirely inside it; that is where we get insights.

Am I in the world or Am I in a mood tunnel?

Just noticing the tunnel means that you are no longer fully inside it. It is like the authority of the mood is ever so slightly undermined.


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All the best in your quest to get better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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