Can you imagine how you’d feel if, after being outside for several hours in 75 degree weather, someone handed you a mug of hot cocoa, wrapped you in a down comforter and sat you down next to a roaring fire? You’d probably feel…sweaty, if not extremely uncomfortable.
What if you had the same experience after being stuck outside in a blizzard for half the night? In the last scenario, what sounded stifling has suddenly transformed into a little slice of heaven. What changed?
One word: Opposition.
Change What Opposition Means
If I asked you to define opposition you might say it’s something that stands in your way, hinders you from reaching your goals or obstructs the path leading to your dreams. And you’d be right… but not entirely. Opposition does make the way more difficult, but it’s also the only thing (yes, the only thing!) that will make the fulfillment of your dreams as satisfying as you always hoped.
I know what you’re thinking (“What?! You’re crazy!”) but hear me out. This will be much easier to accept by the time this post is through. Let’s start by tweaking the word opposition for a minute. In fact let’s give it a new name all together. Let’s call it opposite. For that’s exactly what opposition is: It’s the opposite of reaching your goal. But since opposites intensify each other, in the end, it will be what makes your goal worth reaching.
Still not following me? Let me share a few personal stories to illustrate my point:
One time, when I was a kid, I went camping with my dad. I don’t know how long it had been since I’d eaten, but by nightfall I was absolutely starving! So, my dad cooked some chicken noodle soup in a pot over a fire. To this day it was the most amazing chicken noodle soup I have ever tasted! I still can’t believe how delicious it was. I asked my mom to make the same kind of chicken noodle soup my dad had made when I got home. There was nothing like it! I had to have more!
So my mom did just that. She opened a can of the same brand of soup my dad had fed me and heated it up on the stove. To my dismay, it didn’t taste anything like the soup I had eaten while I was camping – in fact, it actually tasted kind of gross. “Are you sure this is the same kind of soup dad made?” I asked. She insisted it was. “Then why does it taste so gross?” I pressed. “It was so much better while we were camping.” “It probably tasted better then because you were so hungry,” she replied. Extreme hunger could actually enhance the taste of food?! That was my first glimpse of the enhancing power of opposition, but it wouldn’t be my last.
Years later, as an adult, I went camping again. This time, hunger was not the issue. The issue was the ridiculously heavy frame backpack pressing down on my shoulders. You may have gathered by now that I’m not the most resilient camper…or hiker…so this weight was extra difficult to bear, especially after several hours of walking. When I finally reached the campsite and put down my backpack, I was shocked to find that the earth’s gravitational pull had almost lost it’s hold on me…or at least that’s how it felt. I was so light! I literally started jumping around, half expecting my body to lift off the ground and float away. No, I’m not exaggerating. It was that intense. Never in my life had I appreciated (or even noticed) the “weight” of my body, but because of opposition my awareness, and subsequent amazement, was heightened.
“Enter the ranks of those strong ones…”
If you look for it you will find the enhancing power of opposition everywhere. Some people even use it intentionally. For instance, if an artist wanted to brighten the light colors of a painting she would need to add dark colors, not more light. If a jeweler wanted to make a single diamond look more sparkly and dramatic, he wouldn’t put it next to more diamonds, he would put it in front a black backdrop.
More than not, though, opposition comes without invitation and (it would seem) completely overstays its welcome. This can be especially difficult to accept when you’ve worked so long and hard to reach a specific goal, only to find road block after road block. If this continues for too long you may lose hope, and motivation, concluding that its better not to have dreams than to watch them lay dormant forever.
In moments like this it’s imperative to remember the enhancing power of opposition. Your dreams aren’t equivalent to a can of chicken noodle soup. They’re a gourmet five-course meal. It will take a lot longer to prepare that kind of feast and eating it when it’s only half cooked and missing ingredients will not satisfy you. Only opposition can make it to your liking. Only opposition can deepen your ability to fully enjoy and appreciate it.
In short, follow the advice of writer James Allen and “enter the ranks of those strong ones who only recognize failure as one of the pathways to attainment; who make all conditions serve them, and who think strongly, attempt fearlessly, and accomplish masterfully.”