I have just heard the phrase “practice hardship” from a female outdoor adventurer. I get it. As someone who goes camping, I often hear from those that need their two showers a day or “all their creature comforts” that they don’t like camping. My mother-in-law used to joke that her idea of camping was staying in a four star hotel.
Well, I like a glamorous hotel as well as the next person, but when camping is great, it is better than a hotel. And yes, maybe you have to suffer a few discomforts to get those golden, jewel-like moments. I think that’s what she meant by “practice hardship”– embrace the hard stuff to get the rare benefits.
This got me thinking… how many times have you said you can’t, you won’t, you aren’t, it’s too hard, it’s too much work, I’m scared, I’m not good enough, I don’t deserve it? Did you miss out? What if we stopped saying those things to ourselves? Maybe those are times to practice hardship, because the metaphoric jewels are worth the effort.
And please note that when you need to say no to a negative situation, a toxic relationship, or any suggestion of illness, it is not the time to “practice hardship.” When you should be resisting injustice, fleeing from abuse, or defending your rights, it is not the time to “practice hardship.” It is definitely not about accepting martyrdom or being a doormat.
What we are talking about here are things like getting up earlier. Like showing up routinely to exercise. Like a steadfast, regular prayer practice. Like strenuously climbing that mountain, or taking that demanding course, or preparing that fancy meal from scratch, or cleaning up that colossal mess. Like learning a new skill, following a schedule, or decluttering a home. Or like starting a new career, or having a baby, or getting your parents in that nursing home.
Yes, there is some “hardship” to embrace in doing those things, but if you push through and actually do them, the benefits far outweigh whatever difficulty you transversed in getting there. Don’t always take the path of least resistance and coast through life. You’ll miss too much of the sweet stuff. Rewards are worth the effort, and you’ll find that they are actually far more than equally reciprocal.
So practice hardship as a builder, or one who is progressing, like a trainer who lifts up the next heavier weight. Get out of your comfort zone. Stretch yourself and your capabilities. Expand your concept of yourself to include what is new and exciting. Go out on that wobbly and precarious limb, because that’s were the fruit is.