Dealing with Difficulty

 Today we talk about how to deal with difficulty.

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Show Notes

Daily Reading

Today's reading is from chapter 64 of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching from the translation of Gia fu Feng and Jane English.

As this is a long passage, we aren't providing the transcript. Please consider supporting the translators if you like this version.


This passage contains probably one of the most famous lines in the whole book. "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Sometimes, the challenges we face can seem incredibly daunting. It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the difficulties in life. But if we look at our challenges and problems more closely, we may see that the big problems can be broken down into a lot of smaller ones.

 Say your can breaks down on the highway and you don't know anything about fixing cars. Your mind might start spinning with all of the implications of what could be wrong with it, of how you can't afford to replace it if there's something seriously wrong, of how now you're going to be late to work…

 Of course, thinking about those things isn't improving the situation you're in at the moment. At the moment, you're in a car that won't move on a busy road. That's a very specific problem that's limited in scope and has a clear solution: call a tow truck or a friend.

 A lot of the bigger problems in life can be broken down into a series of smaller ones to make them less overwhelming, less daunting. Part of being able to see the potential ways to break down a problem comes with learning to be attentive. And when you're attentive to your problems, it's easier to deal with them evenly. Therefore, give as much care to the end as the beginning. 

Uplifting News

Tokyo based charity Little Ones has won top honors at the World Habitat awards by addressing two of the country's big problems: single Japanese mothers are some of the most impoverished in the world, and Japan has a growing number of abandoned houses as the population falls. Right now, there are roughly 9 million empty homes. Little Ones helps property owners repair the structures if the owner promises to offer affordable housing. This allows single mothers to access housing at about 20% below market rate, and seems like such a common sense way to address two country wide problems.

 Quote of the Day

Our quotes of the day are from the great Nobel-winning American Novelist Toni Morrison, who passed on Monday, from her book Song of Solomon:

“If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.”

“You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”