Problems – Hardships – Delights: A PHD in LIFE

Destiny is not created in the victory lap.  Breakthroughs don’t happen at the ribbon cutting ceremony or at the bottom of a champagne glass.



When I think of some of the moments in my life where a breakthrough happened for me, I realize they were often forged in the fires of doubt, shaped by the heartbreak of temporary failure or unplanned setbacks.

We create our destiny the moments we arrive at the place we have spent our whole life trying to avoid. 

The place where insurmountable puzzles lie sphinxlike in front of us, asking to be solved.

These are the sticky emotional spots we can’t seem to break free from, the quicksand environments that make you sink the more you try to free yourself and the big ideas that seem too large to fit through the tight cracks of the “real world”

On a street named “Discovery,” there is a boarding house they call The Fountainhead, with a family of question marks waiting to grow into answers. All your heroes have lived here.

All your heroes, the greatest men and women in the history of art, business or science have spent time in this neighborhood, trying to iron out their big ideas, wrestling with the realities and the setbacks inherent in bringing our most cherished desires to life, and most importantly, trying to understand and harness their own gifts, which often seemed more mysterious to them than to the rest of us. But you can’t figure this stuff out by wearing old ideas that don’t fit anymore.


It would be quite comical to wear the clothes we wore as children, yet we often wear old perspectives and judgements that no longer serve, and keep trying to fit them into our current life.  Is there a new perspective you might not have considered wearing that might fit you better?

Perspectives are a bit like an automatic labeling machine and each one comes with its own style of thinking.

Watch how often we love to judge everything, at every moment and then stick a shiny label on it, as if that’s it!

We stop even noticing how we are doing it to ourselves almost incessantly. Sometimes it takes some moment of absolute wonder like the birth of a child to turn off our mind, and get a taste of freedom or some moment of such intense pain or fear that we just break down and become quiet enough, and something shifts inside of us.


Judgement is, in some sense, a product of our own fear. We judge other people because we’re not comfortable with ourselves, and we do it to ourselves relentlessly because we are never enough.

We judge our circumstances based always on what we think should be happening. It seems we are in a constant battle with what is actually happening.

By judgement, you find out where you stand in relation to everything in your outer world. The judging mind is very divisive. It separates. It packages everything up into nice little boxes.

Separation closes your heart.  If you close your heart, you perpetuate suffering; you create resistance.

Anybody can be open hearted when things are working out, when they perceive themselves to be winning or getting ahead. The real challenge of growth, emotionally, mentally and spiritually come when things are not going your way. It takes courage when we are defeated, when things don’t go as planned or when a cherished dream doesn’t come true.  It takes courage to shift out of judgment.

Shifting out of  judgement means learning to appreciate your own muddle, and in conflict, even the other persons muddle, with an open heart, a heart that begins to soften itself to the moment that is unfolding.

It is an opportunity to open to life and let it in rather than building a wall around yourself.  Walls can protect you from bad stuff getting in, but they also prevent anything good from getting through. Walls stop you from letting your own goodness out; You start to armor yourself up.

When countries do it, we call it war.

“If the only thing you ever did was just to learn not to be afraid of your experiences, that alone would eliminate most of your anxiety.”

As we learn to experiment with letting go of labels, shifting perspectives and leaning into our destiny, our experiences begin to transform us. Perhaps something we have been battling with for a long time loosens its grip on us and we see a problem in a new light, or we pay more attention to the goodness that we have been overlooking right in front of us.


Awareness practice gives way to new understandings.

We are forever students of life, sent unique lessons that only we can experience and unravel. And it makes us more compassionate knowing that everyone you meet is going through their own P.H.D. program (Problems – Hardships – Delights) … there is a sense we are all in it together.

I am always amazed at the wonder of it, knowing that learning has no finish line and that each day offers us a chance to fully inhabit who we are meant to be. Some day’s we do a better job than others, but if we are willing to discover and practice less judgment, our path becomes much more enjoyable.

Judgement doesn’t make us better or stronger, more efficient or creative. It doesn’t make us kinder or happier – it robs us of joy and contentment.  It always obliterates the moment we are in.

To understand something more deeply requires that we be open to a new possibility, willing to part with our present perspectives and imagine the unimaginable.

LIFE offers us many opportunities to trade in and trade up the perspectives we’ve outgrown. Through our own process, we discover new interpretations of old ideas. And we continue to expand our understanding.

When your heart speaks, take good notes.
– Judith Campbell

An interesting question to ask yourself is:

Who might I fearlessly become to more fully realize the contribution that I am here to make?

Let the anticipation of this question excite you and pull you in a compelling way into your future.

by David Frank Gomes – Purpose Development Specialist