“It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them.” – George Eliot

I was reading about Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright; and wished I could have sat at the table next his, in a small café and listen to his conversations with his friends, or his brother. When I think of his family life as a youth, I feel like I need to take off my shoes and tread softly. He grew up with a father who threw tantrum at dinner table, spilling soup, twisting their young stomachs. When they grew up,

[restrict] Anton criticized his brother Alexander for the way he mistreated his wife and children by reminding him of their father’s cruelty and lies that ruined their mother’s youth. His words, “Let me ask you to recall…”

Going through hard times or challenging circumstances is not always what we want to do. I’m not just talking about toxic thinking and emotional issues, but also learning and changing for the better. As U2 sings, ‘And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.’ We all hope to live a better life… to find that freedom that keeps us content whether we have lots to eat or not.

We know that we are encouraged to “keep on keeping on” through “hell or high water” as the saying goes. But just going without a goal, thrasing blindly is a wasteland. And giving up is losing your brain power.

We are designed to love and forgive and to be able to do things that are hard. When we challenge ourselves not to hate those who are different from us, we increase our brain power. I have learned that pushing yourself to face up to a challenge, and to choose to go just beyond that difficult circumstance where you have to really apply yourself in focused ways, increases your brain power. As you make mistakes, acknowledge and learn from them; getting up and trying again enable you to increase your intelligence and joy… and a sense of achievement. In fact, slowing down, acknowledging and correcting your errors activates the circuits in and around the certain area of your brain to go into high learning and neuroprotective mode. So, when we think deeply and consult with God, we direct our attention differently. We develop the correct attitude to the events and circumstances of life. This reflects as healthy integration in our brain networks and manifests as increased mental health and wisdom.

Chekhov’s life is inspiring – growing up in abusive environment as a boy, he hungered for more of life. He became a medical doctor, a playwright, short story writer, who is considered to be among the greatest writers of short fiction in history. “Medicine is my lawful wife”, he once said, “and literature is my mistress.” He recalled and chose not to do as his father did. He developed his brain power by doing hard things. He captured his hardships and turn them into skills, increasing his intelligence and creativity.

We build exceptionally good mentally healthy memories when we learn from our mistakes! Setbacks are opportunities to gain information and learn! [/restrict]