Are Our Lives Really Shaped by Adversity

Classic mountaintop scene in the mist on Huangshan or Yellow Mountain, ChinaCanon 5D Mark II camera and Canon 24-105mm f4 L series lens @ 24mm. Exposure Details: 1/5 second @ f11 ISO 100.
It is said that our lives are shaped by adversity. I was talking with my great friend, Joseph, the other day and he told me how a family tragedy that occurred when he was a young man had helped determine his philosophy on life. In particular he spoke of how that truly negative experience had galvanised his attitude towards life. There would no longer be any reason to waste time. The world was full of opportunities and he intended to embrace them head on.  

It seemed to me that Joseph's life's book, which was already a great read, had plenty of pages yet to fill. And I have no doubt that he will do so with as much joy, excitement and positivity as possible.

So, whether workday or weekend, Joseph is up early and on-the-go. He is clearly able to separate work from play, which allows him to keep weekends free for a range of passions, including his photography (at which he excels). Rather than fearing risk, Joseph embraces it. A good example is his approach to technology. Joseph is what I'd call an early adopter. Once he's found something that whets his appetite he's onto it (quicker than a goanna in a budgie cage). I guarantee this man will not die not knowing.

Joseph's long-held philosophy is in line with my own, although he got there much earlier than I. It's my contention that, despite a life full of hardships, we do have the power to make our own reality. Life is not the cards we are dealt, but how we play the hand. Life is neither good nor bad, fair not foul. Life just is. It is, literally, what we make of it.

If we want a better, happier, healthier, wealthier life we need to change our mind. For it is the way we perceive the experiences and events around us that determine our reality. Said another way there is no such thing as reality, only what we make of what happens around and outside of us.

Buddhists will tell us that the best way to shape our reality is to control the way we perceive that reality. Our life is actually shaped by the meaning we attached to our experiences. So, to live a life full of positive experiences its essential to change the way we feel and respond to those experiences. It seems to me that perception and feeling are critical to the way we experience the world around us.

Let us all make a determined effort not to be sucked into the negativity that surrounds so much of our lives. There is sorrow and despair for the taking, but there is also bliss and abundance for the making. But we need to train ourselves to control our own negativity, to stand back from it and see it for what it is: something foreign and totally separate from our true self. In doing so we stand apart from it and its power over us will diminish. What's more by doing so we will create plenty of space for all the positivity we could possibly wish for.

Feel free to comment and add your own experiences and suggestions. The great thing about being in a community is that you're never alone. But are greater sense of belonging comes through contribution. So let's see what you have to say.
The above image was made on Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) in Eastern China. It is arguably the most beautiful place I have yet seen. And this particular view, made late on a day when the hope of a sunset had long since faded, was one of the most sublime I've encountered. It seemed a most appropriate choice for this article inspired by my great friend, Joseph. 

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Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru