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How To Think About Obstacles

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We can think of hardship many ways: As failure. As unfairness. As the end of the conversation. Clearly, this was not meant to be, we can say. They don’t want me to succeed, so what’s the point of trying?

Or, we can choose—we can train ourselves—to see it a better way: As grist for the mill. As a chance to learn about endurance, patience, resilience, struggle. As an opportunity to prove our mettle. As a way of learning about people or situations or actions or things.

Marcus Aurelius believed in the latter approach. As he wrote:

“Our inward power, when it obeys nature, reacts to events by accommodating itself to what it faces—to what is possible. It needs no specific material. It pursues its own aims as circumstances allow; it turns obstacles into fuel. As a fire overwhelms what would have quenched a lamp. What’s thrown on top of the conflagration is absorbed, consumed by it—and makes it burn still higher.”

It’s not about accepting hardship then, or resigning ourselves to it. Rather, it’s a matter of agreeing to work with it. To decide to make the most of it. To see hardship as an opportunity, not an obstacle. In this way, we can turn what happens to us into fuel.

We can be made better and brighter by everything that happens.

The Obstacle Is The Way Leatherbound Edition

P.S. Some exciting news: Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way is now available in a limited edition premium version. The Obstacle is the Way has sold millions of copies worldwide, and we’ve heard from countless people about how they have worn out their copies over the years. So we wanted to create something that could stand the test of time. We found the best Bible manufacturer in the United States to make a leather edition with a gold foil-stamped cover, gilded-edge pages printed on premium-grade Munken paper. The first production run has only a limited quantity so to learn more about what makes this edition so special and to order your copy, head over to

You can also check out our brand new The Obstacle Is The Way pendant, as well as The Obstacle is the Way medallion which is inspired by the same insights from Marcus Aurelius and is awesome for carrying with you everywhere you go.

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