Challenge yourself before life challenges you

Picture of Frederick Dodson

Frederick Dodson

I have two cats who are siblings. Watching them grow from kittens to cats, I learned that animals have unique personality from birth, just like humans. Experiences shape our personality too, but part of us is already fully there from the “beginning”. This means that birth is not the beginning.

There was one difference between the cats that was not due to personality. The male cat had lower energy than the female cat. The first time we let them spend some time in our garden, the female promptly jumped up on trees, up on our fence into unknown territory, even entering a neighbors house. She is zestful and passionate. She’s also the one whining to wake us up in the morning and open the bedroom door. The male cat does none of these things.

At first we thought this was just different personalities. We thought the male is polite by nature.

But there’s something I learned in my Coaching work:

Unhealthy people often avoid challenge. People who are well, seek out challenge.

This also applies to animals. The more healthy and strong an animal feels, the more it seeks adventure, learning and the more it will venture into the unknown. Frankly, our apathetic cat was much easier to handle. “Such a peaceful cat!” people said. The healthy cat was wild and annoying, rebellious and loud. I could see why some Governments prefer docile people.

One of the most important lessons of Levels of Energy is not to mistake apathy with peace.

When our male cat had to go to the vet because of ingrown hair (she wasn’t grooming herself properly), we finally understood it’s not his “personality”, but that he does not feel well. So we began treating our apathetic, listless cat as being in need of healing, generously and daily applying the tools in my book You can heal anyone. It took only two weeks of conscious healing and care before the situation changed. Now he’s just as playful and wild as his sister and he finally joined her in tree climbing!

Animals and humans that are well, embrace challenge or leave their comfort-zone. Such animals and people may not be as safe, as sanitized, as comfy, as unintrusive, but they are certainly more healthy. Healthy people will not regularly implore you to “stay safe”.

Here’s how you can use this natural reality to your benefit: When you welcome challenge in your life, you are acting-as-if you are well. Then you become well. Life is growth. If you create your own challenges, the Universe doesn’t have to deliver them and your life becomes easier.

Did you get that? Your life doesn’t get easier when you avoid, shy away from, evade, resist and hide from challenge. That’s why the people who seek short-cuts comically and tragically get the most hardship. When you plant a seed, there are no shortcuts. There is

  1. the act of planting and then
  2. a long wait and then
  3. harvest.

The process is effortless if you have patience. The impatient try to force growth and speed it up. If you keep taking the seed out of the ground to see if it’s already growing, it can never start growing. Some who learn for exams for school only cram information into their short-term memory, by “learning” certain materials one night or just a few days before. They retain the information short-term, but this is not real learning. It’s like cheating. But you can’t cheat life. There is no short-cut, even with utmost effort.

That’s the true meaning of the following Zen story:

A martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, “I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it.”

The teacher’s reply was casual, “Ten years.” Impatiently, the student answered, “But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice every day, ten or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?”

The teacher thought for a moment, “20 years.”

If you keep digging out the seed to see if it is growing, it’s growth will take much longer.

The Universe is built as an ever-expanding, ever-growing field. As long as you grow, you are in alignment with the Universe. If you stagnate, rest on your past success or think you’ve “arrived”, you are no longer in alignment with the whole. Then, the Universe sends you challenges that keep you growing. Sicknesses, accidents, tragedies – these things are sent to people who need a wake-up call. They are no coincidence. So if you don’t want those things to happen, don’t require a wake-up call.

Become a devotee of lifelong improvement and change. People think it’s normal to stay in the same job their entire life or live in the same village. But it isn’t. It causes problems. A soul was not meant to robotically keep repeating the same thing. The robotic affliction does not only relate to “normal” people. The actor Liam Neeson for example, could have become a good actor. Instead, he got stuck in the role of action-movies where he is playing a father who avenges a victimized family. He’s done at least a dozen movies with that precise theme. We know certain self-improvement teachers who keep writing the same book over and over in many variations, never venturing beyond the field they succeeded in. Certain music bands who quit experimenting and are still making the same music they made 30 years ago. People think this is “normal”, but it isn’t healthy and it’s not what a human life was meant to be.  A favorite quote on this:

Those who specialize in skills that will fascinate an audience tend to abandon their experience as total human personalities and be reduced to a kind of skilled puppet.

Yukio Mishima, The Way of the Samurai

The soul is so much more. If you wish to stay problem-free, then create your own challenges. Learn something new. Do something you have never done before. Break your routine. Live a full life.



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