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In his best-selling book, The Road Less Travelled, Scott Peck began with these words: “Life is difficult.”

When I first read that, I thought, “Well, tell me something I don’t know!”

Of course, our difficulties won’t kill us. But the way we think about them might. It can sometimes leave us feeling stressed-out, beaten down, drained, discouraged or even depressed.

And that’s just Monday!

The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke offers a refreshing way to think about the difficult:

“Be of good courage, all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost…What is required of us is that we love the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.”

“Time passed in the difficult is never lost.” There is some benefit, some personal growth, something for me to gain from the difficult.

And I get that benefit by learning to love the difficult—learning to accept it, take it as a challenge, even find humor and playfulness in dealing with it.

It’s like the Quaker man in the old movie “Friendly Persuasion” who tells a man who had insulted him, “Friend, I love thee, but thou art standing where I am about to strike!”

Practice the art of learning to love the difficult, Rilke says, and the difficult will love you back. It will be your friend, your mentor, your life coach.