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Do you agree with Jane Fonda’s favorite exercise motto, “no pain, no gain?” Is it impossible to attain greatness without considerable hardship?

Absolutely, no doubt in my mind and experience.  I have learned the most from mistakes I’ve made.

Kids start out that way; they are experimenters by nature. They are learning everything by experience. They make sense of their world through trial and error and develop concepts of how the world works through their personal explorations. Bumps, bruises, falls, and cries, are a result of their miscalculations and inexperience. But they are more resilient than adults, they get right up again, and repeat their actions until they get it right.

With older children, emotions, peer pressure and value judgments come into play. It’s no longer getting basic skills right, but getting along in a larger world. They become aware of right and wrong, winning and losing, doing their best, and some just getting by. How children deal with mistakes often depends on how much self-confidence they have which largely comes through strong family bonds. A strong sense of self is achieved by having parents who help them work through making decisions and giving them constructive help (not excuses) to get through difficulties.

I know a very few people who seem to live charmed lives, and I wonder why they seem to escape the tough times those around them experience. Do they actually have problems and just deal with them better? Or do they avoid problems because of their strong personalities, a strong sense of self, and ability to roll with the punches?

Truly I think it’s how a person deals with adversity that defines them. I know some people who seem to have more than their share of problems and woes and are still able to smile and care about other people. Others go into a shell and become confused, feel downhearted, may lose faith in God and their fellow man, and lose their perspective. Who knows exactly what makes the difference. Trying to find our place in the world and having a sense of life, not as an endless, pointless struggle, but as a chance to grow in character and in our relationship with our higher power is why we’re on earth, I believe.

No, I don’t welcome bad experiences, death of a loved one, infirmity, serious problems with family members, but I accept them as an inevitability of living on earth because we are all fallible and human. I am confident that I will get through them, by the grace of God, and the support of those closest to me.