Some of you may have read The Fellowship of the Rings by the author J. R. R. Tolkien. Two of the main characters are a wizard named Gandalf and a hobbit named Frodo. In the beginning of book one, Frodo and Gandalf are discussing the difficult situation in which they find themselves.
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Frodo’s frustration is understandable. No one wants to find themself in a challenging spot. But most of us find ourselves in challenging spots on a regular basis. Thankfully, our problems are usually not as burdensome as the battles facing Frodo, but life can be tough even without strong and motivated bad guys coming after you.
Gandalf’s response is fabulous, in two specific ways.
First, Gandalf doesn’t lament over the problem or having the deal with it. Getting upset over a tough break doesn’t make the obstacle any easier to overcome, and it wastes precious mental and emotional energy. Accepting the situation is the first step to a solution.
Second, Gandalf encourages Frodo to rise to the challenge presented to him. Problems aren’t resolved by ignoring them, but by addressing them head-on. Even if the process is slow and hard, you will always have better success with effort and perserverance than you will have by pretending that a mess doesn’t exist.
Pretty much every person I know would benefit from remembering Gandalf’s thoughts on adversity. Address the problem, then take action. It’s a simple process, and it works better than anything else I know.
photo by: David J.
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