Hurdles vs Obstacles

“What’s in a word?” some might ask. For me, everything.

I love words. They are filled with shades meaning and nuance which sometimes our American English fails to express. Germans have “kummerspeck” which refers to the weight gain from emotional overeating. What a vivid description. When I read the Bible I like to look up pivotal words in the original languages (Hebrew or Greek) because the passages take on deeper, richer life when I understand what the words actually mean. (Posts on my favorite words to come…)

I’ve run into a few tough spots this week. I usually refer to them as “obstacles” because there’s a fight and struggle to overcome them. But now I think “hurdles” might be a better word to use.

Hurdles can be low or high, so I’m not diminishing the challenge by using a different word. But I’ve seen runners leap over hurdles. When I imagine it, I see not only a runner on the track, but I also envision a train or subway hurdling down the track. That implies speed, heft and significance.

Reframing from “obstacles” to “hurdles” also offers me hope. Hope that the end is near. Hope that the exertion is worth it. Hope of a medal, a rest, a celebration at the end.

What motivates you to push through challenges? Which word appeals to you more: obstacle or hurdle?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *