Life Intelligence: Turning Challenges into Opportunities


Challenges abound. Without them, life would probably be boring. In fact, some people look for challenges to spice up their lives. Like learning how to dance or a new language. Preparing for an Ironman. And yet, when the challenges we face are not of our own choosing we complain and suffer. I suggest that we embrace them instead.

Challenges push us to the periphery of our comfort zone, just outside of our area of expertise or knowledge. They test our patience. They cause us to think, problem-solve, become resourceful, and even redefine the way we see things or what we believe.

What is wrong with an expanded comfort zone, updated and upgraded perspective, opinions, and beliefs? By doing so we become more resilient, experienced, and hopefully wiser. But to gain these benefits we need a growth mindset. Stanford professor of Psychology Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success states that “In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” Challenges afford us opportunities for learning. Whether we learn about ourselves or the world around us, whether we learn a skill, it all leads to growth.

The more we are prepared for, the more we notice and take advantage of opportunities because they become within our reach and because we begin to create them.

Unless of course, we see the world through a “doom and gloom” lens, in which case challenges makes us miserable. They disturb the order and threaten our existence and happiness. If this represents you, but you wish to change, good news! A growth mindset can be learned and adopted! There are also specific ways we can deliberately engage with life so that we use all our brainpower and resources to transform upsetting challenges into opportunities we want. We can become creative thinkers and problem solvers.

If you are in the middle of a rough situation, remember, others have probably experienced the same thing and have lived to tell the story. Some have transformed that very thing into something good. Think about your situation, what you can do, what bothers you, what it means to you, what is your emotional reaction to it. Then find out what others have done when in your shoes. What can you learn from them? What’s positive about your situation? What are you noticing about yourself?

Be honest. Look for different perspectives. Be curious and determined!

Valentina Petrova has been helping people with life, health, relationships, financial, career, professional, and business challenges since 2015. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a certified Life Coach. You can reach her at (805)909-1401 (This post was originally published in Morro Bay Life, July 2019)



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