Sarah’s Corner: Big People, Big Problems


Big People, Big Problems

Sarah Pachter

Little kid, little problems. Big kid, big problems.

When children are young, a big concern may be figuring out which foods to offer picky infants or how to baby-proof the house for a rambunctious toddler.

As children age parental concerns evolve. Peer pressure rears its ugly head, emotions run high, and our children are faced with difficult choices. The physical exhaustion from young children seems to pale in comparison to navigating the emotional rollercoaster of raising older children.

However, as they grow, the reverse is true as well. The bigger they become, the smaller their problems can seem.

Mr. T. Harv Eker, billionaire businessman and motivator, explains in his bestselling book, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, “The secret to success is not to avoid or get rid of your problems, it is to grow yourself so you are bigger than any problem.”[1]

In life, every person is tasked to grow spiritually. We do this by slowly moving up a figurative ladder. The lowest rungs are beneath us and represent easy challenges that we are to conquer. The highest rungs, representing the more difficult challenges are seemingly out of reach. Our job is to slowly conquer each rung, until they too are beneath us. 

Therefore, at times we may be actively battling the evil inclination, while at other points in life there will be no struggle to choose correctly.  This is because the levels below this one have already been conquered. Each time one defeats the evil inclination by choosing to do good, his Nekuda Habechira, the power of free will, is raised a bit higher, and that choice will be easier for him to make in the future.

Eker explains this concept with the following analogy. Using a scale of 1 to 10, imagine you are a person who has the character and attitude of a Level 2. Suppose you are experiencing a Level 5 problem in your life. This Level 5 problem would certainly feel very serious. Now imagine you have matured and developed yourself into a Level 8 person. That same Level 5 problem would magically not be considered a big problem anymore.

At Level 10, that initial Level 5 problem is now not a problem at all. It doesn’t even register in his psyche as an issue, and there is no negative energy surrounding the problem. It is an everyday occurrence, like eating breakfast or driving to work.

I was out on a walk with my husband one evening with our then three-year old who had fallen asleep in the stroller, and we were taking advantage of the rare opportunity to talk.

We passed by an acquaintance, and as she saw us she casually remarked, “Wow, one kid? Now, that’s a vacation!”

I chuckled uncomfortably, but thought to myself, Seriously? This child is so rambunctious! My sister calls him the Tasmanian devil because he moves so fast! Hardly a vacation.

Years passed as my family grew Baruch Hashem.  I can now better understand her perspective. However, in some ways, caring for four children is easier than one.

When I had only one child, I was a new and inexperienced mom. It was difficult to get out of the house. The diaper bag, the change of clothing, the snacks, the milk…it all took time to be packed, and seemed impossible to remember! Now, with four children, I have a routine. I have systems in place, and older children to help make the process more efficient.

As a mother of one, I was still adjusting to the drastic life change.  A new mother needs to learn to give of her own needs for the needs of her child. By the time I had four children, I was accustomed and welcomed this change. I “grew” bigger than the problem.

Everyone has challenges, most of which do not magically disappear. It is not about the size of the issue, but rather about how large we become relative to our issues. Eker remarks that the bigger we develop ourselves, the more we can handle problems with ease. Then, the more responsibility we can take on, the larger the business we can manage, the more wealth we can handle, and the larger we can become spiritually.[2]

Eker describes a time in his younger life where he made a tremendous amount of money. Almost immediately he lost it all because of overspending and bad choices. He firmly believes that if we don’t grow ourselves large enough to hold the wealth we make, we will lose it. The only way we will maintain wealth is by developing ourselves into a  “vessel” to hold it.

How, then, do we grow ourselves?

We must start from the inside out.

Our outer world is created from our inner world, and is merely a reflection of what is happening inside. If something is wrong on the outside, it is the inside that needs fixing.

Eker eloquently explains, “If you want to change the fruits, change the roots. If you want to change what is visible, you must first change what is invisible. Unsuccessful people are constantly trying to avoid problems. They back away from challenges.” Whereas successful people approach challenges head-on, hoping to conquer the problem, and themselves, in the process.”

Rather than trying to change our problems, we  will be more effective by changing ourselves in order to solve our problems. Our problems mature as we do, and life can feel unfair and overwhelming at times. However if we change our perspective, the reasoning becomes apparent.

 I often think about my son and his attitude towards homework.

“I wish I had Nava’s homework! It’s so easy! All she is doing is adding basic numbers!” Josh complained one evening.

My response was, “Really though? I know it might be nice to have easier homework for a night or two, but wouldn’t it be boring and a waste of time to continually do something so easy? It’s beneath you, Josh. Take pride!”

We must accept the fact that as we mature, so will our challenges. The key to growing “bigger” is pushing ourselves beyond our comfort level, without stretching to the point of breaking.

I recently lost a beloved relative who owned an immense property in North Carolina that spanned almost 200 acres. She lived in a beautiful, two-story home, with vaulted ceilings and plenty of natural light. Starting from when I was about five, our family made yearly visits there. We anxiously anticipated the next visit as soon as that year’s vacation was over. As we grew older, life got busier, and many years passed before we visited again.

When I was finally able to return as a teenager, I was immediately jolted by the size of her house. Somehow, the house seemed to have shrunk. The ceilings were not so high after all, and it was essentially a normal two-story home.

Of course, the only thing that changed was my perspective. The bigger I became, the smaller the house appeared. The same is true of our problems.

In Judaism, there is no stagnation—problems and challenges will arise. Will we rise, is the question.

Life is like an escalator, we are either going up or down. (Source)

I urge us all to move up the escalator of life so that all the problems below us seem small and surmountable.

[1] Eker, Harv T., Secrets of the Millionaire Mind, pg. 107

[2] Eker, T. Harv, Secrets of a Millionaire Mind, pg. 107-108