Strength in Hardship

I had it all!

I had my own business which was very profitable and provide me with a great income. My business allowed me to have a lifestyle that was the envy of my friends. I lived in a big house with beautiful furniture. One of my great passions was technology and my home was fitted with all the latest gadgets. I loved expensive Apple products and had all the latest gadgets. My home was very beautiful and I would regularly throw parties and I could tell that my old friends could not believe how well I was doing.

My business was in online retail and I loved it. In fact, I was one of the leading e-commerce retailers in my country. I had always been passionate about my business and I enjoyed getting up for work every morning. Unlike my friends and family, I rather enjoyed my work and found it very fulfilling. Maybe it was because I was my own boss. Often, I felt sorry for my friends who hated Mondays and going back to work for the week.

The best thing about my life was my beautiful wife and two daughters. I loved my wife very much even though we had been together many years. My favourite time of year was holiday time, we would all go as a family to the sun for at least two weeks. They were magical times. My only regret in my life was that I did not spend enough time with my beloved family.

Then it happened. The economy began to slow and there was not such a big demand for my products. In 2008-2009 the country fell into a recession like so much of the world. Suddenly, there was no demand for my business and I would sit around doing nothing. Within twelve months I was not able to pay my bills and some six months later I was bankrupt. I was not alone in this and many others were in my boat. However, when my business went my whole life collapsed. After my business failed I could not keep up repayments on my home and we had to move to a smaller house. Then my relationship with my wife became strained and we argued every day for hours. I became very angry and blamed everyone for the problems in my business and its failure. Sometimes I even became angry with my two daughters. My two beloved daughters began to resent. Looking back, I had become impossible to live with.

My wife decided to leave me and she could not cope with all the pressure, my moods and outbursts. She moved back with her parents and took our daughters. I was devastated. I must admit that I had all types of dark thoughts. For some days after my wife and daughters left me I was like a zombie, I did not care if I lived or died. I was then forced to live in a small apartment. The noise was terrible in that building and so too were the neighbours. Sometimes I would go for a walk just to get away from the misery of my apartment.

I found that I enjoyed these walks. Exercise is always good for the body and the mind. I would forget my troubles for a while lost in the crowd. Then I recalled some lines that I read somewhere.

“True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have.”

I knew that that I was tormented by hopes that I would one day get my old life back. These were making me unhappy and as a result I was not living my life. I decided that I would live every minute. Instead of being sad and wasting my time regretting the past. I would live in the present as much as I could. After all each moment is unique and will never occur again. Most importantly I learned that I was responsible for my wife and family leaving me. I had not been considerate and not taken responsibility for my own failings.

Then I realized that everything happens for a purpose. There was some great reason for my present difficulties. What could have been the reason for all my present problems. I thought of this for some time. Then I recalled another quote from long ago.

“Difficulties strengthen the mind, as labour does the body.”

Sometime later I found out that this was a quote from the great Roman philosopher Seneca. I knew that things were bad and that I had lost everything. However, I could benefit from this and become a stronger and a better person. Difficulties and problems can help us to become better persons. Having tough times allowed me to become stronger as a person.
I now began to see my predicament as an opportunity. I could now become a better person. I had spent all my life looking and searching for material things. Now I had to accept that things and money were not important and that they most important thing was to become a better person.

Suddenly, once I had these thoughts I began to feel much better. No longer was I concerned with the loss of my business, home and family. I would live in the moment and no longer be distracted by what I had lost or vain hopes. Immediately I was no longer depressed and felt so much better. Now I accepted that external things like homes and computers are not that important. These are not important and once I accepted this I no longer felt bad about losing my business and my home.

These ideas changed me!

Once again, I could enjoy life. It did not matter that I had no money and was living in a terrible apartment. I generally accepted what life had to offer. I did not matter if things were bad if we accepted them then we could go on and enjoy the moments that we have. I believe that my difficulties had made me stronger as a person and regained my self-belief. Now I am also a much humbler person.

Soon I was starting a new job as a manager and could get a better apartment. My relationship with my daughters and wife has also improved and we now hope to live again as a family. I have learned to accept my life as it is and no longer judge my life by how many things I own and this has made me a stronger and a better person. I now know what is important in life. There is a lot to be gained in our difficulties and I believe that I am now a better man.