December 8

Today's quotation:

The human race has had long experience and a fine tradition
in surviving adversity.  But we now face a task for which
we have little experience:  the task of surviving prosperity.

Alan Gregg

Today's Meditation:

"Surviving prosperity."  Doesn't this sound like an oxymoron, like "jumbo shrimp" or "working vacation" or "Microsoft works"?  (Just kidding, Microsoft--I use and appreciate your products!)  The words don't seem to go together, but when we stop and think about them it's very obvious that they do.

There's a huge difference in our lives during prosperous times and difficult times.  In the difficult times, our problems tend to give us a purpose, something to struggle against, something that challenges our creativity and our ability to persevere.  Human beings tend to rise naturally to a challenge, and that fact helps us to make the most of the bad times.  Adversity helps us to reach down deep and pull from resources that we simply never would have known are there if we hadn't been forced to access them by our situations.

In prosperous times, though, we have to create our own motivation.  There's very little that we have to do in order to survive--our survival is a given, save for the possibilities of accidents or illness.  And many people simply aren't able to motivate themselves, or even to find challenges in areas that are appropriate for them to pursue.  In trying times, we have a purpose of survival, yet in times of plenty we have to define our purposes ourselves.  And those people who aren't able to do so, unfortunately, tend to lead purposeless lives, moving from thing to thing for no particular reason other than they can't think of anything else to do.  And this is where drugs and alcohol and so many other problems come in.

In trying times, we band together to help each other out.  In times of prosperity, we stay by ourselves, and whether we realize it or not, we miss the deep connections with our fellow human beings.

I don't want simply to survive prosperity.  I want to appreciate the gift of prosperity and thrive in it, making the most of my life.  I want always to have a purpose, or two or three, to keep me going.  And I know that no one else can define that purpose for me or approve of it--it's all up to me if I want to survive prosperity.

Questions to consider:

What are some of your strategies for surviving prosperity?

Why do human beings do so well in adversity, but not always as well in times of prosperity?

Which people do you know who do very well in times of prosperity?  How do they approach their lives?

For further thought:

We've got the most prosperous culture in human history
and we've also got the biggest spiritual hole in human history.

Mark Victor Hansen


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