An Excerpt from Living a Five Star Life

                                     by Betty Mahalik

            A friend of mine, who has a far greener thumb than I, recently took me on a tour of her backyard in 
the desert Southwest.  She pointed out all the varieties of trees, shrubs and grasses she has planted, but
one plant in particular caught my attention. She pointed to a shrub with small dark red blossoms on it, and 
told me that if you give the plant too much water it doesn’t bloom. It thrives and blossoms under just the right
amount of environmental stress.

It reminded me of another story of a butterfly, perched on a windowsill, struggling to escape its cocoon. A
helpful observer, watching its struggle, decided to gently cut the creature’s cocoon open and free it. When 
the wet butterfly finally emerged, it was unable to fly because what was intended to be helpful had actually
prevented the butterfly from strengthening its wings to prepare it for flight,

Perhaps the stress we experience can be the predictor of beautiful flowers or elegant flight in our own lives.
Perhaps if we are patient and stop to be grateful for our experiences, we too, like the plant or the butterfly, 
will blossom or fly in unexpected ways as a result of the stress, rather than being defeated by it.

I’m not saying that stress is always a good thing. I am saying, from first-hand experience, that it’s not always
a bad thing either. We need the right amount of tension to keep us “blossoming.” And while we humans are
more complex than a plant, we can learn valuable lessons by observing nature. If you’re in a period when
stress seems to be your constant companion, take a lesson from nature. Instead of asking, “Why am I 
having to deal with all of this?” ask yourself what you most need to learn from your experiences. View the
situation much like the butterfly must see its cocoon...as a     barrier you must break through to become the
extraordinary creature you were designed to be.

It’s not always easy to maintain such a perspective. We often make our experiences harder than they have
to be by our resistance to change, growth or stress. Stay focused and use stress to take you a step closer 
to the flower or butterfly you want to become.

 It is a basic principle of spiritual life that we learn the deepest
things in unknown territory. Often it’s when we feel most confused
inwardly and are in the midst of our greatest difficulties that
something new will open. We awaken most easily to the mystery of
life through our weakest side. The areas of our greatest strength,
where we are the most competent and clearest, tend to keep us
away from the mystery.”

                                                                                                      -Jack Kornfield-

 © P.R.O. Inc. 2012