What exactly are the hard moments? These are the conflicts between doing the right thing and doing the easier thing. They are the key tests, the defining moments of life and how we handle them can literally shape our lives forevers. Hard moments come in two sizes, small and large.
Small hard moments occur daily and include things like getting up when the alarm rings, controlling your temper or disciplining yourself to do your homework. If you can conquer yourself and be strong in these moments your days will run so much more smoothly. For example. if I am weak in a hard moment and sleep in (mattress over mind) it often snowballs and becomes the first of many little failures throughout the day. But if I get up when planned, (mind over mattress) it often becomes the first of many little successes.
In contrast to small hard moments, larger ones occur every so often in life and include things like choosing good friends, dealing with negative peer pressure, and rebounding after a major setback: You may get cut from a team or dumped by your lover, your parents may get divorced, or you may have a death in the family. These moments have huge consequences and often strike when you’re least expecting them. If you recognize that these moments will come (and they will), then you can prepare for them and meet them head on like a warrior and come out victorious.
Be courageous at these key junctions! Don’t sacrifice your future happiness for a night of pleasure, a weekend of excitement, or a thrilling moment of revenge. If you are ever thinking about doing something really stupid, remember these lines from Shakespeare:
What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?
Or sells eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the vine destroy?
These lines are about sacrificing your future for a brief moment of joy. Who would want to give up the rest of his / her life for a week’s worth of pain? Or who would destroy an entire vine for just one grape? Only a stupid person would.
Some of the hardest moments come when facing peer pressure. Saying "No," when all your friends are saying "Yes." takes raw courage. However, standing up to peer pressure, what I call “won’t pressure,” is a massive deposit into your Character Bank Account.
A freshman girl at high school came running into my office in Yokohama one day just before class. She had tears streaming down her face. “Martin Sensei, they hate me! They hate me!” she sobbed. I asked her to sit down and I waited quietly until she finished crying.
She had been dumped by her group of " friends
" who told her to get lost because she was “no good” because, the day before they wanted her to ditch school and to spend the day window shopping in Shinjuku and Shibuya (places in Tokyo young people like to meet, shop and hang out).
She had wanted to at first, but then she thought about her mom and how much it would hurt her mom when the school called and told her that her daughter was not in school. The girl felt she just couldn't do that to her mom because she had made so many sacrifices for her daughter and the girl just could not let her mom down!
She stood up to her friends and said
"No, I can’t do it." Everyone just blew her off. The girl thought everything would be ok the next day, but it wasn’t. They told her to find new friends because she was too good for them.
Through the tears and the pain, she began to see that she felt good inside, but lonely, as her friends didn’t accept her. However, she accepted herself and gained self-respect and inner peace despite outside rejection. A life lesson learned and a moment of standing up for herself. When the mother heard what her daughter had experienced, she was moved to tears, full of pride at how strong, mature and kind her daughter was. The bond between them got even stronger. The friends that ditched school were called into the Principal's office, reprimanded and given detention after school for a week. Sumiko the freshmen girl focused on her studies and very soon she made new friends and eventually graduated high school top of her class with Honors. She wrote a short poem that I would like to share with you.
Any day of the week,
I would choose to be “out” with others
and in touch with myself …
than to be “in” with others and out of touch with myself.
Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei