“Oh when I look back now,
The summer seemed to last forever,
And when you held my hand,
I knew that it was now or never,
Those were the best days of my life!”
Bryan Adams declared that the days of the summer of ’69 were the best days of his life.
What were yours?
Were they when you landed that job you badly wanted? Or when you took that memorable vacation? Or dazzled everyone at the party with that gorgeous dress? Or when you found the partner of your dreams?
Yes, those wonderful moments were your happiest days (until now). But they were not your best.
The best days were the dark ones—the ones that threatened to destroy you.
Allow me to use the example of a traditional Japanese art form to explain.
Kintsugi dates back to the 15th century. In this art form, masters carefully add gold and silver to the cracks of damaged plates, cups, and bowls. This makes the objects more beautiful in the places where they were broken.
Most of us admire the beautiful, gold-infused plate or cup, and want our lives to be like it. We yearn for a happy life, one where only good things happen.
We want to escape the dark times as quickly as possible. We shove the experiences of distress and unhappiness out of our minds. Positive vibes only.
But this mindset has deep-seated flaws. It makes us see the world through rose-tinted lenses. It makes us take the good things in life for granted. We become rigid and entitled, demand that what we “deserve” gets handed to us, and blame others for our misfortune.
Eventually, we turn into people who draw happiness by pulling someone else down.
In other words, the pursuit of unlimited happiness ironically turns us into ugly people.
Our Scars Make Us Beautiful
Reflect on your darkest times, when each moment felt like an eternity, when you felt you’d never be the same again.
Maybe the person you loved left you for someone else. Or you lost your job. Or you something you banked on ended catastrophically.
Those moments broke you, damaged you, left you with ugly scars that never healed. You wondered whether you would make it through.
Yet, in those moments, you built the resilience to stand for what you believed in. You learned to be grateful for tiny things.
Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if not balanced by sadness. — Carl Jung
You clawed, you fought, you hung on by the skin of your teeth. You did things you didn’t know you were capable of. You connected deeper with yourself. And you eventually triumphed (and deserved each moment of that sweet victory).
Dark times are not obstacles in your path to bigger achievements. They are the path. Those struggles shape you. Otherwise you’re just someone who just got lucky and who can lose everything in a snap. (Then you won’t know what to do except blaming the world.)
Nothing good comes out of running away from your monsters. Life keeps putting you through the same painful experiences until you learn your lessons.
It’s better to face your monsters, to learn from them, and become worthy of what you want. Then nothing can stop you from getting what you deserve.
A diamond is just a chunk of coal that refused to give up.
You will be broken.
The world breaks everyone,” Ernest Hemingway wrote. “And afterward, many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.”
We cannot choose whether the world breaks us. (It will.) We can choose how we respond.
We cannot choose whether the storm engulfs us. (It will.) We can choose whether we let it sweep us away or we emerge stronger from the other side.
The goal is not to be unbreakable. it’s to be unconquerable.