What would you do if your entire house burned down?

What would you feel? What would you say or do?

It is hard for many of us to imagine something like this happening. Many of us would call this a “catastrophe” or a “disaster”, and of course, it can be and will be, based on whatever meaning you give it.

Well, David Hoffman, a famous documentary filmmaker, does not need to imagine such an experience as this is exactly what happened to him this past year. However, he decided to give this experience a different meaning than the typical negative one that is associated with it. Watch the following 4-minute video to see his inspirational words on how something “bad” can be turned into something “good” and read on for some insight from me on what two amazing lessons each one of us can take from this scenario.

Am I My Things?

One of the most precious lessons to gain from this story is about identifying with material possessions. It is no surprise that this is what and how many of us identify or define ourselves by and through in today’s times. But material items never have and never will define who you truly are. Sure these lead to pseudo-happiness, but never to anything deep or long-lasting.

Most people who are entranced by this physical illusion will never understand the above concept – but regardless of that, it does not make it false. So many people try to hold on to material possessions and the sentimentality that comes with them as if that is all they were. The threat of these items disappearing brings them great discomfort. If and when the items do disappear, many people act like they lost a part of themselves, they are distraught, lost, confused, and almost as if in a state of mourning.

However, it is not the end of the world, not even close and those people who know how to live in the present and enjoy the items when they have them without getting attached to them are able to live a very satisfied, peaceful, and fulfilled existence. It is great when the items are there, but you are no less when they are not.

Some may think that David’s experience may not be a good representation of such a situation since David is quite a celebrity and hence well off to replace his material items easily. However, let us not forget that most of what he lost had sentimental attachments, which generally speaking no money in the world can replace, as most see it.

So as far as sentimentality goes, I wrote a post about this topic a while back entitled “Detaching Self from My Things and My Story” where I shared with you a situation that I chose to experience and how I dealt with the sentimentality idea. What we ultimately must remember is that all the experiences and memories you choose to make are always and will always be with you for as long as you choose and no object in the world through its presence or absence changes that one bit. Your memories are no less and you are no less, regardless of an object’s absence or presence.

I understand that we live in a physical realm and that is all that most of us know and identify with, but this is only until we get back in touch with our true self – our spiritual nature. Many times, it is upon “losing” something material that we held dear, that we are presented with an amazing opportunity for such growth. And that is exactly what David in his experience chose to do.

Turning Something Bad Into Something Good

The second and perhaps main lesson from this event is that we hold the power to give a situation meaning. The situation does not have power over us unless of course, we let it.

To some, perhaps even most, it would seem that David lost “everything” in this fire, sentimentally and materially speaking. He lost archives, collections, single copies of his films, books, photographs and that is just aside from the usual material items inside of a house. He could have crumbled, he could have lamented and felt like his world collapsed – but he didn’t. Instead, he decided to make this so-called “disaster” into a project which he entitled, “Life of Bits and Pieces”. And what is more so, in the midst of this situation he even went on TED to reach out to millions and share his story of so-called “loss”.

David himself acknowledged that he had an “epiphany” from this experience, and it is those “epiphanies” that lead us to opportunities for higher growth and evolution. They are not only amazing foundations for new learning but also carry with them immense opportunities for experiencing ourselves in our truest natures. Imagine that, David “saw” his picture collections as looking “better” burned than the way they used to be. This to me also shows, that how we view things and what we decide upon in our mind is within our control.

Hence, in the midst of this growth opportunity, David chose to grow, not to crumble and offer appreciation, not anger for what he was presented with. That to me is an inspiration in itself that illustrates the power of the human being.

So whatever situations, problems, challenges, or experiences come your way, intentionally or unintentionally, remember that they all serve an amazing purpose, whether we are aware of it at the time or not, which allows us to grow and truly experience the magnificence of the human being that we are. You only have to rise to the occasion that is presented before you and release the power and the ability that is within you, to turn something “bad” into something “good”.