Q: How do you see your problems? Are they threats or challenges. Or gifts? [The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday]

Q: How do you see your problems? As threats or challenges. Or gifts?

We’ve all heard of the “fight or flight” response. It stems from our caveman ancestors, and as much as we like to think we have evolved, our homo sapien processing hardware is still relatively the same.

When we are stressed, our endocrine system still reacts with the same life-threatening response, do we fight or flee?  In the ‘caveman’ era, the outcome for choosing wrong was death.  To survive they had to choose one of two survival strategies:

  1. fight – they could choose to view their problems as challenges and run towards them. They would be celebrated by their tribe, be happy, but most likely live shorter lives
  2. flee – they could choose to view their problems as threats and try to avoid them. They would live longer lives but without the short-term perks.

Both strategies successfully passed their genes on to us, leaving us with our “fight or flight” response intact.

There are those, who like our caveman ancestors, who are still fighting to meet their basic survival needs (shelter, food, and connection).  They have nowhere to retreat. They are forced to adopt the “fighter” mentality.  Now success is not guaranteed, but these people are forced to get comfortable fighting adversity, therefore, they don’t bat an eye when the next problem arises.  They control what they can control, and ignore the rest. With a little help from external circumstances, they are the ones who have the mindset to become elite performers.

When reflecting on their success, many of these elite performers cite the perceived obstacles that they have faced as the reason for their success.  If they didn’t choose the fight they wouldn’t have grown into the person they are  In other words, they see their scars as medals.  When they decided to face down their challenges they were rewarded with antifragile confidence; the rougher you treated them the stronger they got. They see themselves as heroes of their life’s story, never victims. However, those faced the same choice-point but chose to avoid their challenges always face more depression and anxiety in their attempt to avoid pain. However, t

Without any saber-tooth tigers to flee from, the ‘flight’ response no longer serves a purpose.

The majority of you reading this article are lucky enough to live in warm homes, have food in your belly, and are blessed with family and friends who care about your well-bein.  You don’t have to fight to survive.   Not to say that you don’t have your own problems that may feel like life or death.

Bur try to put things in perspective  quickly.  You’re blessed!  There are no saber-tooth tiger threatening our lives.  Therefore, there is no reason to avoid problems that are not life-threatening. Face them head on with confidence and grit! Re-orient their minds to see problems as fuel for growth. Don’t just try to avoid challenges, seek them out and you will be rewarded with happiness and success.