Once upon a time, there was a man. He was very successful and very happy. He had a lovely wife and children and lived in a nice big house. He was financially secure and very healthy.
Then there was another man. He was very depressed. He was struggling to cope with life. His alcohol addiction meant that he had lost his job, his wife and his children were embarrassed to have anything to do with him. His health was deteriorating and his doctors had given him six months to live.
And that’s how both stories began and ended.
“Wow, Toby…you should write a book. Your stories are fascinating!!!” I hear you say.
Well, just another one of my many talents…….. ???? ????
If I turned these two stories into films, I don’t think I would pick up any academy awards.
So, why is it that stories about people who have a great life or a very bad life simply don’t sell at the box office or go down well at dinner parties? After all, when we watch a movie or hear a story, we want the characters to be happy in the end, don’t we? So why don’t we just skip to the end?
And why are there never any movies about people who struggle with life and never find a solution to their problems?
Because good movies and stories need to have a ‘struggle’ bit in there somewhere and some kind of victory in the end.
Whenever you enjoy a movie or hear a good story, it usually involves the following scenario:
A situation where everything is fine.
Then a problem arises.
There is a struggle to overcome the problem.
The person is at the very end of their tether and about to give up.
Then there is a realization.
They then finally overcome the problem and live happily ever after….or so we are lead to believe.
The reason why I bring this to your attention is that recently I have come to the conclusion that in order to fully enjoy life, we need to follow the same scenario.
Now, self-help books and motivational speakers often go on about abundance and attracting that perfect life that you want. And it sounds great, but the other day I sat down and tried to imagine what life would be like if I really had everything that I wanted. I imagined what it would be like if everything in my life was perfect and I could do whatever I wanted. And the more I thought about it, the more I began to think how dull and boring life would be.
Think about it for a moment. Having everything you wanted. No struggle to get it, you just said the word and you could have it. Nothing would be too much.
Now at first, I think it would be amazing. A whole new life would open up to you. You could live your dreams and never have anything to worry about again….or so you would think.
But after a while, I think boredom and frustration would begin to sink in. You would have nothing to work towards, and you would lose your sense of purpose in life. Even if you bought the most expensive, luxurious yacht and travelled the world, I think it would just get boring after a while. Because I think that after seeing the umpteenth pyramid/temple/mountain/lake/beach or whatever, the excitement of seeing another one would disappear. You would start to compare them with the other amazing places you had visited and no longer appreciate their beauty.
Also, if you rented a comfortable, private jeep or helicopter to take you to these places, you would miss out on one of the highlights of any adventure; the struggle to get there.
I remember the trip I had Nepal to see the Himalayas. It wasn’t seeing the Himalayas that I have the best memories of, but the ups and downs of the whole experience; the amazing couple I trekked with, the cold nights huddled in a sleeping bag trying to stay warm, the freezing cold showers, the exhaustion, the blisters, the evening we got stranded on a mountain top and were taken in by a kind Nepalese family.
Yes, the morning I woke up and actually found myself staring up at the ‘roof of the world’ was spectacular, but it is only a small part of the beautiful memories I have of that trip. The struggles were a huge part of the whole experience.
I like the UNCERTAINTY of life. NOT knowing that everything will be fine makes life interesting and fun.
Although I am lucky that I enjoy the work that I do, I also enjoy the fact that I am not financially secure yet and need to work to put money away for my retirement. This gives me a reason to get up in the morning.
I think life without some sort of struggle is what drives a lot of very wealthy people to carry on working, even though they no longer have to.
And I think this carrot of ‘abundance’ that is dangled in front of us by motivational speakers and self-help books leads people to think they cannot be happy yet because they are still lacking something in life. Life is difficult and ‘wrong’ somehow because it should be perfect and it’s not!!! And as a result, they forget to enjoy the struggle and see themselves as not perfect, not happy with the way things are.
I think struggling is all part of the fun of life. Struggling gives us something to work towards. Struggling gives life meaning and a huge sense of satisfaction when we overcome the challenges we face.
So, if you are struggling with something right now, don’t be dismayed. Don’t think to yourself, “oh this shouldn’t be happening’ or ‘life shouldn’t be this way’.
It should be this way. Life would be really boring without it.
And when you come to the end of the struggle, enjoy the taste of victory, because it will taste so much sweeter.
What do you think? Do you think that a certain amount of struggling is important in life?
I would love to know your thoughts.