Sometimes I find life lessons when I least expect it.

The other day I was walking to my car outside after work and saw a woman in an electric wheelchair who was stopped on the sidewalk with her head down. I went up to her and asked her if she was OK and she said, “Yes, I’m fine, my wheelchair just starts and stop sometimes. I’ll just sit here and wait for it to recharge and then it will start working again. Plus the sidewalk here is a bit of a hill and it always has a hard time on hills.”

I asked her if I could help, which she declined, saying that she was almost home. “It’s a beautiful day and I love being outside,” she said.

So I headed to my car in awe of how completely unfazed she was. This woman who could only go 20-30 feet without her wheelchair shutting off was taking it in strides and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine.

I couldn’t help but notice what an incredible metaphor this is for life.

Inevitably we all hit a hill in our lives. It can be a slow, slight incline or a fast, steep, breathtaking ascent. Oftentimes we fear the hills, unsure if we can make it to the top. We may not be great at self-care, so taking a break and allowing ourselves time to breathe probably doesn’t even enter our minds. We might approach the hill with resent, anger and self-loathing.

But what if we looked hills and hardship differently? What if we stopped fearing the hills? What if we understood that even during difficult experiences our minds can still be at peace, that we can still find and experience joy, that it’s OK to take a break and let our batteries recharge? That we can make it up the hills with patient acceptance?

Not being afraid of the hard stuff brings us freedom from the ups and downs of life. Each of us has the ability to maintain inner peace even when our external circumstance are challenging. A peaceful mind is the key to a happy life and I’m grateful to the woman in the wheelchair for the unexpected reminder.

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