The Need for Challenge

There was an Indian tribe residing in the Shuswap region of British Colombia.  This specific region was considered by the Indian people to be a rich place.  There was plenty of salmon and game, vast amounts of below-ground resources, and plenty of fertile land.  They built village sites and had elaborate technologies to effectively cultivate the resources.  The Indians looked at their lives to be rich and good.

Yet, over time the elders began to find predictability throughout their days.  With everything so readily available, challenge began to go out of life.  Without challenge, life had no meaning.

So the elders gathered and discussed what they should do.  Through discourse and in their wisdom they decided the village should move.  Every 25 to 30 years, the entire population would move to a different part of the Shuswap land, and there, they found challenge.   There were lands to fertilize, new game trails to learn, new areas to navigate.  Life would regain its meaning and everyone would feel rejuvenated and happy. Incidentally, it also allowed resources in one area to recover after years of harvesting.

The need for challenge.  It is an essential part of our lives.  We all have days when we wish we could just have things handed to us.  Money, jobs, knowledge, health, people.  The list goes on, but if we were to magically acquire our, desires would we really be happy?  Or as the Shuswap elders predicted, would life loose its meaning.

This tribe had it all.  They were the Rockefellers of the Indian world.  But even surrounded by all these riches, the people were still unfulfilled.

We think if, if only I had ‘this’ then I would have the means to do ‘that’.  But by not being handed what you want, it allows you to focus in, face the challenge, and achieve what you need.

A psychology study manipulated the initiation of being part of the experimenter.  Little did the participants know, the initiation was actually the study.  The first group completed quite simple and basic tasks and then went on to partake in an arbitrary study. The second group had to go through much more difficult initiation.  The tasks were harder.  Some of them were embarrassing and required significantly more involvement from the participants. When the study was over, who do you think valued the study more?  The latter group.  It was a relatively meaningless study, but because it was more challenging and greater amounts of effort went into the process, the second group found significantly more meaning in the study.

We thrive for challenge.  If you were given everything you wanted in this world, would you become complacent? Probably not.  We are constantly seeking stimulation. No one wants to sit around and do the same word search over and over again.  We know how it works out, we know the answers, we want something new, something unfamiliar – something unknown.

Having it all does not give you a life of fulfillment.  Next time your tested by something, challenged by its complexity, tired from its rigors, ask yourself would you have it any other way?

June 1, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Better Business | No comment

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