10 greatest paradoxes in life

Whenever something knocks me down, I try to see the good in it. It’s not always obvious at the time, but usually, in life, there is something of value to be gained from even the harshest of knockbacks, some new piece of insight or understanding. I try to see this as the price that must be paid for learning.
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Yesterday the editor of My Psychology magazine asked me, “Why do you always believe that everything will turn out OK?” 

“I can’t help it,” I said. “Experience has taught me that life prefers to give us not what we want but what we need. Even though it sometimes feels like a gift that’s been wrapped in barbed wire, it’s still a gift,” I replied.

“That’s quite a paradox,” she said, eyeing me with what I thought was a touch of concern. But why? life is full of paradoxes. When I was small I used to tear around at top speed, until the day I inevitably slipped on a wet pavement. Just before the crown of my head hit the concrete, a hand caught me. It belonged to a man in a wheelchair. Everyone around him was astonished by his reactions, as they themselves weren’t quick enough to react. And he said: “I once fell over just like that, but no one caught me and I’ve been in this chair ever since. Without that, I would not have such reflexes. Wheelchair basketball,” he said, miming a shot, and he winked.

Life is like a door-to-door salesman, ever persistent, ever unflappable, sometimes succeeding in selling you something you thought you didn’t need, only to find later that it’s a perfect fit.

It teaches me humility when things go well for me, and patience when they do not. It teaches me to look for the positive in things that at the time, make me want to swear. I know everything has a good side, even when I can’t see it straight away. It’s always there, but it’s sometimes a matter of waiting. With time and perspective, I can usually see what I needed to see.

Those of you who read my book 250 Laws of Love know that I often work with these kinds of paradoxes. We all know them, we just forget about them. It is good to remember them, especially when we see only one side of the coin, the negative, and we think there is no positive. Any event in life that happens to us has BOTH sides. We only need to open our eyes to them.

1st paradox: The best way to look after others is to first take care of yourself

We hear it during the pre-flight safety talk in aircraft: “Put the oxygen mask over your own face before placing a mask over the face of your child.” If we want to be useful to others, we must first make sure that we are OK.

None of us is able to give others what we do not have. We cannot give love when we are empty and we do not like ourselves either. We cannot smile if working our cheek muscles is a huge effort that feels like a lie. In order for people around us to have energy, we must have it in the first place. Let’s think about that.

When Martina Svadbíková, founder of NordicDay and BellaRose e-shops, started to do business, with three children to care for as well, there were times when she hit rock bottom. My husband was in the hospital, I visited him, I was taking care of three children, I was doing business. The youngest son was crying all night, I was sleepless, on the verge of collapse. I needed energy. Then I decided to make one of my best decisions. I called my grandmother, pushed the children on her, rented a room in the hotel opposite, slept there, did all of the work, calmed down, recharged, and returned to the children strong and happy. We managed everything then,” she remembers. “The only trouble was that my friends were convinced we were divorcing when I left the house. They saw the sense in it afterwards and were even a little jealous at the counterintuitive step I took. It looked wrong and selfish from the outside but paid off in the end. A paradox!”

2nd paradox: To hurt the person you care about, means first and foremost to hurt yourself

Imagine a player who scores an own goal and is pleased to have won. A fool, yes? Well, how is that different from being a person who hurts someone close, someone he really cares for, someone he loves? Why do we lie, betray, and cheat the most important people in our lives? To hurt the ones we love is to unwittingly self-harm.

3rd paradox: The value of what we have is best realized when we lose it

If I personally meet the readers of my books and we talk about their life stories, they often express surprise when someone who was important to them and left them later wants to come back.

They ask: How could they only just realize their mistake now when we’re no longer together? Why did he have to hurt me first to realize it was wrong? Why couldn’t he just be good at the time, instead of turning up out of the blue with promises, pleading, and flowers?

It’s like health. As long as we have it, we don’t even notice it. Whatever we have every day we take for granted. In order to realize what has real value, we have to lose it. We have to notice it by its absence, and only then can we understand its true value.

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