I’ve never had the good privilege to see them in person, but there’s something about wild horses that capture the imagination.
In the wild horses, we see harmonious herds that move and think as one, protective stallions, tender moments between mares and foals, play among the youngsters, and grooming among friends.
Wild horses are hardy, tough, and resilient. They are robust and lively, full of vitality and hutzpah. They are sound, strong, and truly healthy as a horse.
It’s amazing, when you consider the life that a wild horse lives. Constant threat of predator attacks, fights with other horses, pecking order disputes, foaling every spring and nursing for the other three seasons, extreme weather conditions, eating tough and sparse twiggy grasses, navigating thousands of acres for food and water and shelter.
We humans look at those living conditions and shudder. We feel uncomfortable with their challenges so we take those hardy animals and we pamper them.
We keep them safe in stalls, we place rich foods right in front of their noses, and we put crystal clean water just a step away. We put blankets on them, and give them treats. We clip their hair, and shampoo their coats. We let them become pasture potatoes.
And the result?
Those hardy, resilient, and tough animals break down. Lameness, illness, obesity, anorexia, anxiety, depression, and anti-social behaviour are the norm among domestic horses.
Why? Why wouldn’t they be healthier when their lives get easier?
It turns out that challenges keep horses healthy. Avoiding challenges makes them fall apart.
What do wild horses have to do with you? Let me explain.
We humans have the tendency to believe that struggle is bad. That discomfort is wrong. That challenges are to be avoided. That a difficult life is a bad life. We tend to lean towards comfort, ease, convenience, and gratification. And we resist anything that is uncomfortable.
Disagreements, tough conversations, difficult people, family problems, career change, life changes, aging, injuries, loss, hard work, failure, global issues, and so on are challenging. There is no doubt about it.
But challenges. Are. A. Part. Of. Life. Period.
Like our wild horse friends, challenges are the very things that keep us physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fit. Challenges keep us on our toes; they keep us praying; they keep us humble; they make us grow; they teach us new things; they make us become more today than we were yesterday.
And best of all, challenges lead to beautiful things.
Harmonious families, deep and close relationships, tight communities, real men, real women, fulfilled children, full hearts, prayerful minds. These things are only possible with challenges.
It is not by avoiding challenges that beautiful things happen. It is only by working through challenges that beautiful things happen.
Like our domestic horses demonstrate, we get into so much trouble by trying to avoid challenges. Addiction, broken families, greed, entitled and spoiled children, weak men and women, fractured communities, divided nations, drama, blame, tension, disease, shame.
It’s not life’s challenges that lead to stress. It’s when we try to avoid them that causes stress.
Does this mean you go rushing out looking for fights and problems and challenges? No. Those things will find you without you looking for them. But when they show up, it’s how you respond that makes all the difference.
Will you be calm, centred, and compassionate? Will you keep your heart open? Will you pray for strength and courage to lean into the challenge gracefully?
Will you have the tough conversations? Will you open up? Will you choose connection over being right? Will you dig deeper and reach higher?
Will you grow through your challenges, faithfully knowing that there is more beauty on the other side of the challenge than there could ever be found by avoiding the challenge?
Here’s to Conquering Stress.
The Stress Experts
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Practical Strategies to Deal with Daily Stressors
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