By: Cristina Trette
How many times have you heard the story about someone embarking on a total life change upon the heels of illness, injury, divorce, or death?
The great motivator, Brendon Burchard, talks publicly about how a tragic car accident served as a catalyst for him to start living a life that mattered with love. The inspirational speaker, Klyn Elsbury, goes big towards dreams every single day, while simultaneously fighting Cystic Fibrosis.
I don't mean this flippantly. Klyn walks her talk. She eats, breathes, and sleeps authentic positiveness and love, combined with a relentless go for it attitude, which is magnetic.
I had dinner with Klyn last night, where I was able to dip into inspiration. I left feeling excited and ready to do life and love differently.
At the same time, I wondered, why, is it so hard for so many of us to live fully while we are alive? And do we need to experience tragedy in order to wake up? Or can we tap into our passion and purpose at any time, moving us from mundane to magnificent?
I watched a video the other day as I was researching substance use disorders. A gentleman spoke about how his addiction broke up his marriage. For years his wife had begged him to quit drinking but the more she pushed, the more he drank. Eventually, she left him and took the kids.
During the divorce process his world collapsed. He almost drank himself to death. He was in serious dept and was fired from him job.
The divorced finalized and his wife got 100 percent custody.
This was what woke him up. It took losing everything for him to do the hard work and make the change.
Eventually, he was catapulted into sobriety. Today he is enjoying great health and has a girlfriend he likes. He has become wildly successful in career and is enjoying the fruits of his labor.
But his wife has remarried and he only sees his children on Sundays. He misses his family like crazy. Not a day goes by where he does not wonder what would have happened if he had quit drinking ten years ago.
Why did it take losing all that he loved in order for him to wake up?
Researchers in the field of Positive Psychology have coined the term Post-traumatic Growth which refers to the phenomena that living through adversity can ignite people to positively transform their life, sometimes in radical ways.
And yes I find it to be brilliant that we can harness all of our power to recreate and tune into our vibrancy after life has us dropped down hard or after we willingly take the plunge. This is particularly true when trauma and devastation impact those who have no control over the situation such as with illness, death, abuse, natural disasters, and other tragedies.
But many of us do not experience terminal illness, devastating storms, war, or famine in the literal sense.
Instead our tragic-ness is self imposed.
How many of us have lives, relationships, careers, and families - that in reality - are pretty darn good but we don't see it or we are not grateful for it?
How many of us numb ourselves through indulgence in affairs, sweets, alcohol, drugs, porn, or work?
How many of us yell at or tear down our spouses and children and the people we love the most?
And how many more of us trudge through life, in a mild state of miserable, not depressed but not happy either. Yes, perhaps we have moments of joy but for the most part, live pay check to pay check, literally and figuratively, just to get by.
Does tragedy have to happen in order for us to climb out of the ditch? Do we need to lose our family or experience terminal illness in order to take the reins on our lives - and make it worth living - and then some?
Do we have to get knocked around hard before we can wake up?
While I do not have the answer to this question in any firm sense. My personal answer to this question, is "no".
Big tragedy can ignite transformation. Tiny tragedy can too. All the moments that we struggle in our relationships, career setbacks, or weeks of sadness or mild depression can become invitations to turn inward, to connect with what makes us feel alive.
Perhaps its time we stop waiting for a crisis to occur to begin living. We can take the reigns, do the work, and see what happens next.
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