Once, when one of my daughters was eleven years old, she complained about a pain in her knee. Seeing nothing wrong with her knee, I suggested that it was probably growing pains. My daughter didn't like the explanation. "Why can't we grow without pain?" she demanded.

Unfortunately, in real life, growth is often associated with pain. As the famous saying goes, "No pain — no gain." While we may not have control over the "pain" part, especially when it’s caused by others, we do most definitely have control over the "gain" part.

Most of our learning and growth in life comes not from the good times but rather from the difficult times. During the good period we are happy and therefore do not want anything to change. It is during the bad times, when we are unhappy with the status quo, that we learn how to change things — how to make our world better than it is.

When life throws challenges at us, we have a choice. We can feel sorry for ourselves and cry and complain, "Why me?" Or we could stop and say to ourselves: "What can I do, given the new circumstances that have arisen?"

I once asked an elderly wise person whom I used to approach for advice, "Where do you get such good judgement from?" He answered, "Good judgment comes from bad experience." He related to me the following story, which had a profound effect on me.

One day, a donkey fell into a pit. The animal cried and whined for hours while his owner tried to figure out what to do. Finally, the farmer decided that since the animal was old, and the pit needed to be covered up anyway, he'd just bury the old donkey right there. He got a shovel and started filling in the pit. The donkey kept up its wailing, but then fell silent. After an hour of furious shovelling, the farmer paused to rest. To his amazement, he saw his old donkey jump out of the pit and trot away!

At first, when the donkey realized what was happening, he cried even more piteously. But then the wise animal hit on a plan. As each spadeful of dirt hit his back, the donkey would shake it off and take a step up on the growing mound of earth. Eventually, the mound grew high enough for him to jump out of the pit.

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the pit well is to shake it off and take a step up. We can get out of the deepest pits by not stopping and never giving up. Just shake it off and take a step up.

Try it, it works!