Life is Difficult

I recent read this except from a book called Life is Messy, by Matthew Kelly. It struck a chord deep inside me and something told me to share it with you. I hope you somehow benefit from reading this:

Life is difficult. We can accept that or get aggravated, but we cannot change it. The mistake we make, with varying degrees of awareness, is that we believe life should be easy, and that we would be happier if it were. We torture ourselves when we conflate easy with good and difficult with bad. This false belief leads to a clash of the titans between reality and our illusions.

The easy life is a mirage. Those who chase this illusion end up angry, broken, disappointed, cynical, and resentful. Anyone who thinks life should be easy will lack empathy for others in their struggles. They will also lack empathy for themselves when they are being tossed about by life's difficulties. In the extreme, when their own life gets difficult, they may come to believe there is something wrong with themselves.

The problem isn't that life is difficult. It is supposed to be difficult. The problem is that we expect it to be easy or we try to make it easy. Life proposes a series of challenges, dilemmas, problems, dissatisfaction, heartaches, and opportunities. How we respond to these events determines the direction and quality of our lives. But we have become so expert at problem-solving, that we think that life itself is a problem to solve. But the “life-is-difficult problem” is unsolvable because it isn’t a problem.

We set out to avoid all difficulty and friction. This is impossible, so we become agitated and angry. We shun anything that will bring us stress. Pain is unacceptable in this paradigm, so each time we encounter it we try to numb it.

All our efforts to avoid the difficulties of life lead us away from everything that is deeply satisfying. If your goal was an easy life, would any of the following be possible? Meaningful relationships, deeply satisfying work, health and vitality, raising children, starting a business, or mastery of a profession or hobby?

What are you avoiding that you should be confronting?

This quest for the easy life leads us into the abyss of comfort. We begin to see comfort as the antidote for anything that is difficult. But soon the comfort turns to pain. I know, it's a paradox, but it is real. It may not be physical pain, but emotional pain and spiritual angst. We are not made for an easy life, so with each attempt at the easy life we inflict acute emotional suffering upon ourselves.

We now find ourselves at a junction. We can return to reality and face head-on the difficulties of life, or we can allow reality to continue to crash against our illusion of the easy life. Many choose their illusions, but they end up suffering more for their avoidance than they would have suffered if they had simply embraced the difficulties of life. Having abandoned the path that leads to everything deeply satisfying, they become miserably discontented, and spend their lives complaining about everything and everyone. Only a fool makes an easy life his ultimate goal.

When human beings are at their best, they face the difficulties of life head on. They learn to delay gratification, embrace reality, release illusions, except responsibility for their lives, and live in the wisdom that most satisfying experiences are often difficult.

Here's to conquering stress.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

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