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Why challenges are truly valuable

Most of us want to be happy, but happiness is often something we can only experience in the stark contrast of being challenged or unhappy. 

And then there are some people (like me) who actually have ‘challenge‘ pretty high up in their list of values. To some of you out there this might sound very strange, and of course I tend to not like challenges when I’m in the middle of dealing with them. Like that time I got to the 35km mark in my marathon and started asking myself WHY I was doing that to myself… But at the same time a (small, medium or big) challenge offers a lot of perspective that smooth sailing just does not offer.   

Challenges do: 
  • Give you choice in how you show up. It’s easy to show up 100% when things are fine, it’s much harder to walk your talk when you’ve been kicked around by life. When things are especially tough this is a question to ask yourself every morning – “how am I showing up right now?“. If you simply don’t have the energy or capacity to give 100% that day is fine, just remember you still have choice (even it might not feel like it). After a challenge this is always something I acknowledge myself for, and as a bonus I also choose to forgive myself for the times when I did not show up at my best. We’re all human!
  • Teach you new things you might not have known about yourself or others. Most people surprise themselves on how much they are actually able to handle under pressure or at a difficult time. Not saying we should seek out challenge all the time, but I find it important and humbling to pay attention to what challenges can teach us. 
  • Teach you to listen to your body. In a world where stress seems to take over and shut us down physically and emotionally, we need to listen to our body. Challenges tend to push that a bit extra and make us realise that we need more sleep, nutrients and recovery than we often allow. Listen your body and follow its instructions, it’s pretty wise I tell you!
  • Allow you to sit with and express emotion. Crying, sadness, frustration and all sorts of other things. Challenges connect us with primal emotions and there is nothing wrong in letting them come out! 
  • Help you to connect with your tribe for love and support. So many of us battle through and avoid asking for help (yes, I’m a bit like that too!). In reality a challenge is one way to connect with your inner circle and remind you that you don’t have to deal with big or small challenges on your own. In fact, it’s pretty vital for your well being that you get some help at strategic points. 
As I’m sure you understand today’s post is not about defining challenges, because it goes without saying that what’s a big challenge for you might seem tiny to someone else. 
Now I’m curious about what you think. How do you feel about challenges generally speaking? And what did your last big challenge teach you or help you realise?