Seen from two different perspectives, one environment can present two totally different situations. The amount of impact that our environment has on our happiness and success will be determined by the way we see it.
Imagine you’re on a sunny beach in the islands with 4-foot waves crashing on the shore. You’re swimming in the water and fighting against the waves. As you try to get beyond the point where the waves break, each wave crashes into you. It’s exhausting as you fight it and very dangerous as they throw you into the sand. After 20 or 30 minutes, you’re completely out of energy, so you make your way back up to the sand where it’s calm. Although you enjoy the beach, the experience is not what you expected, and your body is sore from the waves beating on you.
Then think about this same situation, except this time you have a surfboard. You paddle out over the waves, wait for the perfect swell to roll in, and ride it back to shore. Enjoying the exhilaration of the ride, you do it again and again. After 40 or 50 minutes, your body is exhausted, although you don’t fully realize it due to the adrenaline. You then make your way back to shore and take a breather. Out of breath and with sore muscles, you sit and think of how great the surfing conditions are today and how exciting the ride was.
In both scenarios you were exhausted and sore from the waves. But in one of them it was a negative feeling, and in the other it gave you purpose. It is important to remember is both scenarios the environment didn’t change, just the outlook did.
Imagine that wave is a problem. If you fight against the problem, you will end up beaten up and exhausted before going back to the beach to rest. If you instead decide to surf the problem, you will enjoy the ride. The difference isn’t the problem (or the wave) but how we choose to look at it. From one perspective it’s in the way of enjoyment, from another it is the enjoyment. In both cases we still end up tired, but one of them gave us personal meaning.
So instead of seeing the next problem in your life as a huge wave crashing against you, choose to get out your surfboard and turn the problem beating you down into the opportunity of a lifetime. The difference isn’t the wave. It’s what you choose to do with it.