On a day hiking trip with my sister and her friend we came across two signs pointing to two trails “Harder or Easier.” It being a sunny day and all of us feeling up for the challenge we took the harder path for a while. I’d been thinking about how often in my life it seems I take the harder option. Sometimes not by choice. It’s the harder path in my opinion that sometimes provides the prettiest scenery. The harder path is rougher terrain so it is more resistance which in turn is more of a work out and so you receive a physical benefit.
In Junior high we were forced to run. A lot of kids walked. I was part of the cross country team during that time so I used it as an opportunity to challenge myself. The competitiveness inside me would never let me walk even though I wanted to and could have gotten away with it. The gym teacher said to run and I knew she was waiting back at the school with her timer. That was it for me. Challenge accepted! These gym mandated running days weren’t fun but there was something that I couldn’t resist.
In high school we were forced to run again. You might remember those annoying and painful beep tests or being sent on those long excursion runs. I was part of the track team at this point and during gym my coach would send me in a group with some of the girls to encourage them and show them the route. There weren’t a lot of girls on my track team when I was on it. My friend and I were the only girl sprinters so it was always nice to have girls to run with. Some of the girls I had to run with wanted to walk but I’d tell them that they would get the physical “benefits” if they ran the route. It became (no pun intended) the running joke because I was always talking about the benefits. The word “benefits” alone had them burst out in laughter. But once in a while they would try to run for a bit even if they couldn’t do it the whole way. For some that meant realizing that they could do something they previously never thought they could. They pushed themselves. They got out of their comfort zones.
Not much happens on the comfortable path- no resistance,no strength building -nothing new. I’ve since learned to embrace the harder path and the uncomfortable places because each time I’m pushed out of the nest or I’m scared it allows me to step up and take new territory. It’s true for all of us. Most of us strive to get comfortable if we are forced out of comfort. In the place of difficulty we come up with new solutions we would have never thought of.
For instance getting sick might make you start to think about how you eat and how you can get better through better choices. An injury would make you realize how you’ve taken a small part or all of your body for granted and give you a desire to get stronger. A challenging living situation might force you out to look for a better one.
In each situation it’s usually the discomfort of where you are that takes you into a new arena. A powerful quote I’ve heard in a few places in many versions: “Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”
Sometimes we can choose the harder path in the journey of our lives and sometimes we are forced into uncomfortable places and positions but either way there are benefits to the resistance we must endure, and the view is almost always better.
Do you have a story of a uncomfortable path that took you into a better situation?