Problems or opportunities?

August 13, 2018

Life is filled with endless opportunities. Sometimes the opportunities, or silver lining, are hard to see when we have problems with our health, finances, family, or career, but they exist. When we shift our thought patterns, good fortune will most always be revealed.

As Napoleon Hill wrote in Think and Grow Rich, “One of the tricks of opportunity is that it has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.”

Instead of recognizing the opportunities that lie within our “misfortune”, we often get angry and become closed minded. Some even feel vengeful, as if the world is out to get them. It is imperative that during these times we persevere, open our minds, and really pay attention. It is then that we realize that life is happening for us, not to us.

This perspective helps us remain hopeful in the present moment and about our future. It also allows for tremendous growth to take place, as it is during difficult times that we learn the most about ourselves. Challenges require us to truly look deep inside to find the life changing lessons. This is one of the gifts, or beauty if you will, of “problems.” They teach us character and how to be mentally and physically resilient.

Over 20 years ago, my life dramatically changed when I developed a painful neurological movement disorder called Dystonia. It has been the greatest challenge of my life, but also my greatest teacher. When I learned to live with it and not fight it so much, new doors opened for me to learn and grow. I had to work with it to find peace and healing. This gave me a new outlook on a life I thought was taken from me by this health condition. Dystonia changed things in major ways indeed, but it opened doors to important life classrooms.

We can’t change anything until we accept it. We have to stop saying life shouldn’t be this or that way; it should be this way, because it is this way! We have to stop resisting what is, move forward, and make great things happen.

A healthy way to deal with problems is to look at them as opportunities for growth.
– C Norman Sheely, MD, PhD –

With this in mind, I made a promise to myself. I said, “I do not know why this health issue happened to me and I lost everything, but I do know one thing for sure; something great is going to come from it because I refuse to go through this for nothing.” I first heard this from author and motivational speaker, Sonia Ricotti. I carry this thought with me every day. It is most helpful on days where I feel like throwing in the towel.

Be thankful for closed doors. They often guide us to the right one. Be thankful for what you have and you will end up having more. Don’t start your day with broken pieces of yesterday. Today is a new day to start fresh. Every day is another chance to change your life.

Tom Seaman is a Certified Professional Life Coach in the area of health and wellness, and the author of 2 books: Diagnosis Dystonia: Navigating the Journey (2015and Beyond Pain and Suffering: Adapting to Adversity and Life Challenges (2021). He is also a motivational speaker, chronic pain and dystonia awareness advocate, health blogger, volunteer for the Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) as a support group leader, and is a member and writer for Chronic Illness Bloggers NetworkThe Mighty, and Patient Worthy. To learn more about Tom, get a copy of his books (also on Amazon), or schedule a free life coaching consult, visit Follow him on Twitter @Dystoniabook1 and Instagram.


6 responses to “Problems or opportunities?”

  1. Sandie Ordahl says:

    Excellent! This is a lifetime goal for me. It sometimes becomes, two steps forward, one back… The key is to change how I look at life’s challenges and how I am able to see the good. Thanks so much, Tom

    • Tom Seaman says:

      You’re welcome! This is also an ongoing goal of mine. I think as long as we are taking two steps forward and one step back rather than one step forward and two steps back we are doing well. But even if it is one forward, two back, each step should be acknowledged and used as a stepping stone to grow to be the person we want to be.

  2. Helen Houghton says:

    Thank you Tom!!!! You always seem to hit the nail on the head for me!!!! This was a morning I just wanted to throw in the towel. My faith had taken a toll but your encouragement always lifts my spirits!!! I want to be more like you!!

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Helen, you are so sweet. Thank you! I am so sorry you reached that point but so glad this article found you!! Please keep hope alive and reach out of there is ever anything I can do to help!

  3. Barbara Davenport says:

    Just what I needed to hear on a particularly difficult day! This morning was overcrowded with can’t do’s and what’s the point? Reading this put a smile on my face. Dusted myself off and rejoined the world!

    • Tom Seaman says:

      Hi Barbara- I’m so glad this came at a good time for you. I find myself sometimes saying “what’s the point?” also. Writing articles like this helps me work through it and then getting comments such as yours, it really lofts my spirits. Thank you!

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