How to overcome the obstacles of life more easily

Expectation vs. reality overcome obstacles of life
Why is it so difficult to overcome the obstacles of life?

Try this. Go to a cafe in a busy part of a city and take a seat that gives you a view of people walking past — perhaps a table on the pavement outside.

Now observe.

What you’ll see is hundreds, and, if time permits, thousands of people busily walking to their destinations. Rich, poor, men, women, young, old, boys, and girls. They’re trying to get to someplace that they want to be. When they get there, they’ll soon want to be somewhere else.

You’ll see a struggle on most people’s faces.

And that’s life. We’re all trying to get somewhere we’re not. It’s a struggle which only ends on the day we die. 

Asim Qureshi.

Most people go about their life on autopilot: go to work (it doesn’t matter what, as long as it provides money to buy food,) get home, watch tv, sleep, repeat. Some people want more: a big house, a nice car, a fun holiday… And for that, they need to work harder and stress more. It all goes well until they inevitably run into unexpected obstacles, and everything crumbles apart. The company has to restructure and they lose their job before completing payment for the nice car they just bought. Business underperforms and profit is not enough to sustain the lifestyle they’re used to. A misunderstanding with their SO triggers uncertainty…

The result is, with all the struggle, the stress builds until they can’t take it anymore. For some, this serves as a wake-up call. They realize they have to make some changes. Others are not so astute: they take a short break to catch their breath only to return to the same unsustainable lifestyle.

Today’s modern society is more driven by the urge to make life easier and more pleasant than by survival. Yet, it all seems to have the opposite effect. People are more lost and stressed than ever.

The lesson I learned

After I jumped into the university a few years ago, because all my mates were doing so, I jumped back out a few months later. Initially, the study of cosmology led me straight back to the study of life itself. But I soon realized there were crucial truths about life I can’t learn in any educational institution. Since then, I have been laid back, observing. Learning the trade. The most important discovery I made is: in this fast-changing, highly demanding society, if you can be okay when things are not going well, then you’re unstoppable. That’s how you can overcome the obstacles of life more easily and achieve anything you want.

It’s not all that easy

Life is a constant struggle, no doubt. But why can some people excel and live happily where others are striving to keep their heads above the water? It all comes down to knowing how to live life accordingly.

If you struggle for the wrong cause, stress is all you will derive from it. But, if you struggle for the right cause, you will get a feeling of satisfaction unmatched with anything else. If you live your life the right way, you will find meaning in everything you do. You will become a source of happiness for those around you: a light in the dark. This is how you can attain true and lasting happiness in life.

No one has ever lived their life the right way, without deviating, and reported they encountered an obstacle in life they couldn’t overcome.

Now, how can we live life accordingly?

B.L.E. Model

Life is a journey, not a destination. And, as long as you remain on track, everything will always turn out for the best. The B.L.E Model is set to be a pointer and guidance on how to embark on the journey of life and live accordingly. The Model comprises three entangled steps.

Step 1: Be

I. Human

Our ability to overcome most of the obstacles we encounter in life depends on how we react to the situations we find ourselves in. It is crucial to find balance and know how to act appropriately in every situation.

Easier said than done, I know. But try this:

Use reason

Reason is the capability that defines us the most as humans. It is reflected in the modern name of our species, homo sapiens, and it distinguishes us from all other living things. The forming of friendships, the controlling of our appetite and our emotions, the cultivation of intellectual virtues, etc. correspond to the use of reason. These activities give meaning to human lives and they represent the flourishing of our kind of living thing, according to Aristotle in his Function ArgumentThrough the use of reason, we can determine the things that are good for us. When we have irrational fears and we get “blocked,” what happens is we fail to use reason to find a way out.

How can we break out of this?

Find the sweet spot.

Keep your focus on the target and whatever you have to do that gets you closer to your target, that is the sweet spot.

As Aristotle explained in his version of the doctrine of the mean, you don’t have to hit the center of the bulls-eye to get the highest score. “There is room for variation within the shots that hit the mark. More than one shot can hit the bulls-eye of a good-sized target, and all such hits are scored the same. And a shot need not hit the exact center of the bulls-eye to be an excellent one.”

There are many ways to miss and approximately one way to succeed. Look for that one way, with the use of reason.

Sometimes, we get caught up in emotional turmoil, and it becomes difficult to think clearly. In these situations, having someone to confide in is vital. A friend or family, a professional: life coach, therapist, etc.

Bottom line

As a human, use reason, the highest human capability, to find solutions to problems. You can practice finding solutions for yourself, but it’s good to have someone on standby whose reason you can trust to help you find a way out in extreme situations.

The use of reason might seem so intuitive that we don’t even think about it. And that’s the point. That’s how we end up drifting into autopilot mode. Living mindfully is more beneficial than living in autopilot mode. If you train your reasoning ability as you strive to be a better human, you will be able to overcome the obstacles of life more easily.

II. Your True Self

There are so many people that want to be different. Not different as in distinguished from the majority, but different from who they really are. I find this to be the wrong approach.

What research says

Research found that “the undesired self, in comparison with the ideal self, is the preferred reference point for making judgments of present-day life-satisfaction.” This means that a person will be more satisfied in life if they strive to be their true self than if they strive to become a “different person.” Better, even.

Do you prefer general tips or to find and put your preference to use?

Most self-help and motivation gurus nowadays operate on generalizations. I mean, think about it for a moment. If you’re a shy person, would you rather learn to be rash or preferably be your self and find someone that appreciates your shyness? Of course, it’s important to learn useful life skills — which I will cover in the next step of the B.L.E Model — but most people are so far away from themselves that they don’t know how much inconveniences it’s causing them.

Most of the obstacles we encounter in life originate internally: you pretend to be who you’re not in order to woo a partner or to get a new job. Once you’re in and it’s not going very well, you wonder what went wrong. When you temporarily adapt your behavior because you want to be perceived a certain way, things are bound to end badly.

The benefits of being true to your self

There are many benefits to being true to your self, among them are:

  1. You will attract the right people and be surrounded by people that appreciate and share your values and like you for who you are.
  2. You will discover your true values and know what to give a f*ck about and what not. That simple knowledge will make your life easier by several folds.
  3. You will be able to find your signature strengths and put them to use.
  4. Stress will affect you less and you will be able to better navigate unfavorable situations because you will know what your stressors are and how to neutralize them.
  5. You will be more mentally and emotionally stable.
  6. You will know what exactly you need to change about yourself, if anything at all, and how to go about it.
  7. Your decision-making ability will be improved as you will know where you stand at all times.

If you find and “be” your true self, you will be one step closer to being okay in the face of adversity. This will boost your ability to overcome the obstacles of life.


But, how can I find my true self? You might ask now

There are literally thousands of assessment tools out there that can help you discover exciting truths about your self. Most of these tools are mere iterations or variations of another. It’s always better to get a professional assessment but, for now, let’s use these self-reporting assessments for the fun of it.

  1. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI): MBTI is the most popular and also the most criticized personality assessment tool. But, like any other tool, its efficacy depends on how you use it. I recommend focussing more on the MBTI cognitive functions rather than the general description of types, which some claim to be nothing more than a complex form of astrology. MBTI will give you an insight into how your mind — and other people’s — works: how you perceive the world in comparison to other people. You will really benefit from knowing what your dominant MBTI cognitive functions are, especially if your type is among the least common. For better typing, you can complement it with the Enneagram Type Indicator. For Enneagram, I suggest focussing on levels of development. It will show you what to expect as you grow and evolve and become your best self.
  2. DISC Personality Test: The DISC test is less popular than the MBTI and Enneagram but I find it to be quite useful in a unique way. With the DISC test, you can determine what your drive is at any given point of your life, and know if you’re on track or if you’re sliding astray. Does Significance matter most to you?: Are you wired to be highly successful and prestigious? Or do you care more about Variety?: Do you crave change and you get bored very easily? Anyone can get bored easily. But, you know your main drive is Variety if you get a speeding ticket even when you’re parked, if your nurse needs a scientific calculator to take your pulse and if you just finished another sweater and you don’t even know how to knit. Maybe what matters to you most is Connection… or Stability. Whichever it is, the DISC test will tell you. What you do with that information is left for you to decide.
  3. Big Five Personality Inventory (or OCEAN): The Big Five is the most scientifically acclaimed personality assessment tool, and for a reason. Most assessment tools are specialized in determining individual differences, but the Big Five goes a step further and digs deep into what each of us is inherently made of. While the MBTI and other assessment tools don’t necessarily predict life success, the Big Five does. In step 2 of the B.L.E Model, Learn, I will shed some light on how to use the Big Five Inventory to determine what life skills we must acquire in order to be able to overcome the obstacles. Compliment this with the StrengthsFinder test. Free version, paid but more accurate version.

I will write a future post to dive deeper into how to use these tools appropriately. But if you can’t wait, hmu here for a free personalized assessment and to figure out stuff the tests can’t cover.

III. What You Can

Getting to the point, here is where you aim to develop your full potential.

At birth, each of us is armed with a unique set of skills and abilities. Your unique set of skills is what makes you an individual, and special.

Our environment and surroundings — and, when we become old enough and capable, our decisions — determine which of the skills in the set get to develop. The ones that develop tells the world — and sometimes us — who we are. Let’s call the set of skills the genotype, and the skills that develop, and manifest, the phenotype.

The human genome is the genome of Homo sapiens. It is made up of 23 chromosome pairs with a total of about 3 billion DNA base pairs. ScienceDaily

Each person has a whole lot of skills in their set: some are well developed, some are under-developed and others go unnoticed. Stay tuned, we will dive deeper into that too, in a future post.

For now, let’s talk about this man.

James fallon sticking tongue out. overcome obstacles
James H. Fallon (April 21, 2014 — Source: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images North America)

He’s a psychopath: he got himself tested. He’s also good at telling who’s a real psychopath. Apparently, clinically, psychopathy, malign narcissism, etc. don’t really exist. But yet, we’ve learned to fear people with these tags because they possess some certain traits. Normally, these traits disrupt the lives of the people with them and those around them. But not James’s life. Despite having some traits linked with criminality, instead of becoming a criminal — which would have disrupted his life —, he went ahead and became something else he could also become: a top neuroscientist.

Next is this man.

John nash beautiful genius. overcome obstacles
John F. Nash (Source)

He was crazy.

Duh… He’s a genius, isn’t that what geniuses are, silly?

Well, mostly, yes. But they can be other things too. Like being a top mathematician and winning a Nobel Prize and the Able Prize.

And, last but not least, this man.

Stephen Hawking in space

He had no shot at being an athlete — not even for the Paralympics—, much less, an astronaut. But he became what he could: a space tourist. Look at his face. It’s “the biggest smile the people that know him closely had ever seen.” Considering the fact that he was normally a jovial and playful person.

I’m not sorry for using extreme examples.

As you see, despite the condition of these men, they went ahead and became what they could and they achieved a full life. Yet, many completely sane and healthy people are barely hanging on.

Stop deceiving yourself, you can be so much more.

Each person has a unique set of skills. If you’re so eager to acquire new skills, don’t forget to develop the ones you already have, preferably, first.

Anything you want to become, ask yourself if you can. If the answer is “yes,” then nothing can stand in your way. If you aim to become what you can, you will be able to overcome any obstacle in life and achieve your goal.

Do you want to be a dancer? An athlete? A scientist?

Do you want to be rich?

Can you?

If you need help to figure out what you can be, and how, send me a message here.

Hint: Stop using the word “do” explicitly or implicitly, and start using “be” instead. Do you want to start your own business? Simply “be” an entrepreneur, no more, no less. Do you want to rise to the top? Be a leader. Distance yourself from things that are not good for you, don’t allow them to be part of who you are. You can be a lot of things, but not all at once. So, chose carefully what you want to be.

Sometimes we have to go step by step. If you want to be a medical doctor, be a medical student first. If you can be a medical student — not a good one, not a bad one, simply a student — then, eventually, you will become a medical doctor.

Success is a choice. If this guy can do this, then nothing can prevent you from reaching great heights. Stop listening to fake news and go for it.

Summary of Step 1: Be

  1. Human: Use reason to find the sweet spot.
  2. Your True Self: Find your signature strengths.
  3. Anything You Can: Develop your full potential.

Now, If you use reason to find the sweet spot while being true to your self as you use your signature strengths to develop your full potential and become what you can, beyond the sky will be your limit…

But we’re only getting started, two more steps to go.

Step 2: Learn

You see, learning is what living is all about. When you “Are,” you exist. But, to live you need to be constantly learning. As the saying goes: Change is the only constant.

Regularly, we’re are in a hurry to satisfy immediate desires and we fail to do things accordingly. Some people take action that ends up resulting in unfavorable outcomes, yet they do the exact same thing again. And again.

Me, trying to figure out why people repeat the same mistake.

A wise man once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This happens when we fail to learn from experience.

Another wise man said, “Repeat what works.” A piece of simple and innocent advice, but do we really do this? Applying this advice means we have to do the opposite too, “Don’t repeat what doesn’t work.”

We can better realize what really works and what doesn’t by actively and deliberately learning. When we passively learn, this process becomes lengthy and tedious. Progress becomes slow and sluggish. And any obstacle we run into in life becomes difficult or impossible to overcome.

So, now that we’ve seen the benefit of learning, how do we go about it?

I. Learn From Experience

To learn from experience means you learn from things that happened to you or to people you know or you’ve heard of.

As humans, we have the highest capacity to actively learn. We learn best through our own experiences but, we save ourselves a lot of trouble by simply learning from other people’s experiences, too. This is what James Clear’s site is mostly about.

II. Learn Through Experiment

Learning through an experiment means you have no idea if what you’re going to do will work. And there’s only one way to find out.

If you took the personality assessments in step 1, Be, you will know if you’re a person that learns more by doing or by mastering first principles. Now, choose what works best for you, but don’t leave the other option far behind.

  1. Use imagination. This is about the prized “think outside the box” quality, which is considered to be vital in any problem-solving environment. It’s about brainstorming, coming up with novel ways to tackle problems and finding effective solutions. Mastering first principles, fundamental laws, and theories make this process more efficient. If you feed your mind with the right material, your imagination will be enhanced and well-calibrated and it will become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to problem-solving.
  2. Try new things. Trying new things is an action-oriented way of learning. You don’t sit around and master the basics first, you simply jump in. It is a way of learning by doing. The new things you learn don’t have to be things you want or like for that matter. Some people call this “to get out of your comfort zone.” I like to call it “to expand your comfort zone” because, it’s ok to retreat to your comfort zone if after gaining basic knowledge on how to do the new thing, you confirmed it’s… Just. Not. Your. Thing. The more you practice this, the better you’ll be able to handle novel situations. If you master the art entirely, you will be able to take your comfort zone with you anywhere you go.

A perfect combination of both options yields optimum results, obviously. Sometimes, neither of these options can do the job on their own. And this is why teaming up with the right people is so important.

III. Learn Useful Life Skills

Sometimes, we get forced out of character. The more you actively learn and deliberately practice useful life skills that don’t come naturally to you, the easier it will be for you to overcome the obstacles of life. But, always be in touch with who you truly are.

What makes you, you? Transcend the traits that make you, you. Brian Little|TED2016

A teacher once told me in middle school, “The grammatical errors you make are always the same. If you make a list of them all, and you correct them one after the other, someday, you will have none left.” Back then, it was hard to imagine. But now, it makes all the sense in the world. And the funny thing is, life is exactly the same way.

Life is all about progress, and living is all about learning. If you continually learn to progress, you will be able to overcome any obstacle in life more easily.

Step 3: Evolve

Our feelings, the way we think, and our beliefs change over time we like it or not. Why then, resist change? Why not encourage and guide it? Most people find it hard to abandon old habits even after learning new ones that work better for them.

It’s good to acquire new skills, but it is vital to be able to evolve and leave the old ones behind.

No achievement is a single event, they are long processes that have to be seen through.

Michael Bright

To be continued…

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