I’m sure we’ve all asked this question at some time or another throughout our journey. “Why is life so hard?” If not, maybe we expressed our discontent in other ways like sometimes my life sucks, or why is my life not working out the way I had hoped it would? Whatever our sentiment, it all means the same thing- that we wish our lives were different from how they currently are.
I don’t think there has ever been anyone who was 100% satisfied with every aspect of their lives. Not a single person! However, I don’t think that this is an issue that needs to be resolved. Rather, I think it is a natural and necessary condition of being human.
In this post, I’ll share with you why I think an easy life, without challenges, is less beneficial for us than a life, which at times, challenges us. When you are finished reading, I hope you will view what you consider to be problems in your life a little differently. And that you will be better equipped to limit and manage what you now consider to be hard, unnecessary, and unjust.
Why Is Life So Hard?
To get a sense of why it is important to have some challenges in our lives, consider the conclusions scientists reached from this experiment:
When scientists grew trees in a sealed biosphere, where all the conditions for optimal growth were always available, to their surprise, they discovered the trees kept falling over before they matured. The scientists eventually worked out why. The trees NEEDED TO BE STRESSED by the wind (natural environment) so they could develop a strong root system to support them throughout their whole life cycle.
And we are no different from the trees. Without some adversity/stresses in our lives, we would grow up without developing the necessary ‘backbone’ (or support system) to survive when anything adverse happens. And for this reason, some misfortune and hardship can be viewed as beneficial.
We can give many reasons why our lives are hard……
Some things we consider hard, other people accept as a natural aspect of their lives. For example; in most countries, we can turn on a tap and expect water fit for drinking to flow. Whereas many people in the world still have to trek for miles each day to carry water back to their dwellings, and it is not always clean.
Or what if rich dad doesn’t buy you a new Porsche when you graduate high school, but your friend gets one? How hard is that! Or maybe you are going to bed hungry again because you gave the last bit of food you managed to scrape out of the rubbish to your younger sister in the hope she would stop crying due to hunger pains.
Yes, life is hard…. for many different reasons. And the degree that we are suffering is dependent on our beliefs and expectations…..
Talking about hard; we all innately know that we are not going to come out of this experience alive, right! What a great reason to be worried, concerned and stressed. But do you lie awake at night and spend endless hours each day worrying about the fact that one day you will depart this earthly life? Probably not!
Then there’s all the sickness, wars, and natural disasters to deal with. And if that’s not enough to contend with, what about when your best friend gossips behind your back, your mum won’t let you have ice cream for dessert, or your partner forgets your anniversary?
We all, without exception, get to see things and experience stuff, sometimes on a daily basis, that we would rather not be part of our life’s journey. And what makes it all bearable and even exciting at times, is, as I’ve already mentioned, the way we think about it!
Life is a subjective experience, and it is what we think about our experiences (not the experiences themselves) that determine our level of happiness, or not!
Are you happy to be where you are now? Do you look at your life’s circumstances with joy and pride? Or do you wish your life, or at least some aspects of it, had turned out differently?
Personally, I consider it a privilege to be here on this earth with a mind that can reason and learn, and in a body that can experience sensations. Because it is the experiencing of the variety that life has to offer that makes it such an awesome playground for our eternal souls.
So, getting back to the question of ‘are you happy with the way your life is turning out?’ I would like to think that many of you will answer yes….. even though there have been times that included pain, sadness, frustration, anger, jealousy, fear, anxiety, etc.
And do you know why I don’t consider these ‘negative’ emotions to be detrimental to our overall experience? Because without the contrast that our experiences offer us, we would not have been able to learn and grow in the way we have to get us to where we are now.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
– Arnold Schwarzenegger
So, in a way, we can say that there are no good or bad experiences. Instead, every experience we have holds within it an opportunity for us to learn more about ourselves and our relationship with this experience we call our lives.
How can I look at the negative things and not think life is hard?
Yes, there are many ‘legitimate’ reasons for us to be angry. Why shouldn’t we shake our fists at the world when someone we love gets a terrible disease and falls apart before our eyes? After all, they are a good person and surely they don’t deserve to be treated like this in life…. Why didn’t it happen to that bad person over there instead?
Who amongst us is not affected by this sort of stuff???? If it doesn’t touch our hearts in some way, maybe we are on the wrong planet, because we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t feel something. It’s enough to make us scream that like is unfair, and life is too hard!
However, reacting in this way just takes us down a rocky road of self-pity and despair….. and that will never end well for us, or anyone close to us. NO ONE BENEFITS WHEN WE ARE BEATING UP ON OURSELVES, ANGRY AT THE WORLD, OR ARE PISSED OFF AT OTHER PEOPLE. NOT US – NOR OUR SICK FRIEND!
“I always thought it was me against the world and then one day I realized it’s just me against me.” – Kendrick Lamar
Fortunately, there is an alternative that doesn’t involve us having a shitty and depressing life experience. It does involve US, (not the stuff happening in our environment that is causing our negative thoughts) THINKING about how we can make the ‘situation’ better.
And when I say situation, I mean our experience/impression of the event, circumstance, or situation that is causing the negative reaction within us. Because let’s face it, we can’t cure our friend’s cancer, stop the volcano erupting, or end world poverty and hunger. But what we can do is STOP MAKING OUR LIVES WORSE BECAUSE OF THINGS THAT ARE OCCURING, THAT ARE A NATURAL PART OF LIFE, THAT WE HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL OVER.
Our lives INSTANTLY become better when we stop looking for what’s wrong and begin focusing on what’s right in our lives.
I hear many of you say: That’s a really selfish attitude to take!
And yes, it is! But let me explain why it’s also the only reasonable course of action…….
Imagine you are broke, no money, nada! Your mum comes to you, her last option, asking for a loan so she can pay her overdue car payment to stop her car from being repossessed. Oppps…. You haven’t taken care of your finances, so you cannot help others even if you want you.
What if your depressed friend comes to you looking for emotional support? However, you’ve had a shitty day at work and are pissed off at how unfair life is. What benefit are you to your friend? Your bad mood is likely to make them even more depressed and maybe even suicidal.
I hope you are realizing that by us being poor, sad, angry, etc. doesn’t help anyone! Nobody benefits….. and I’m not even going to go into the physical and psychological damage that negative emotions have on us personally as well as those around us in this post…. because it’s such a huge topic!
However, logic and common sense dictate that to have a better life experience, we need to first take care of OUR OWN MENTAL, EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL WELLBEING. And this means that we cannot continue sulking around complaining about ‘Why Is Life So Hard!’
Not one of us has lived a perfectly happy life all the time!
We’ve all experienced stuff we can complain about, and we’ve also all had times when life has worked out in our favor. If we can understand this, we will understand that life is not out to get us personally.
Instead, life is just a series of events and experiences that happen and will continue to happen forevermore. And our challenge is to learn how we can make the best of it so that our life experience becomes one we enjoy living.
I had a business partner in a restaurant. He would spend all day, every day, complaining about how bad things are. I put up with this every day for years even though the business was popular and successful.
One day while talking with him, I mentioned, (after being utterly bored by his consistent complaining) how I thought that overall, 90% of everything related to our business was going really well. I was surprised by his response……
He said, No, 95% of the business is great! And yet, he still complained every day following our conversation! He couldn’t help himself and complained about the tiniest details….. the one thing the 20+ staff did wrong, the one meal that didn’t look perfect, the one customer (out of 250+ every day) that was a moaner…. etc.
The point I want to make by sharing this experience is that: In life, we have many choices to make each and every day. And it is the thoughts we have…… that results in the choices we make…… that determine the outcomes we achieve/recieve as conditions in our lives…..
OUR THOUGHTS THEN MANIFEST AS FEELINGS, AND OUR FEELINGS ARE OUR GUIDE TO THE QUALITY OF OUR LIFE EXPERIENCE.
And if we want to have a better life, a satisfying life, it begins by us having better thoughts about the current experience we are having…… Look on the bright side, look for the benefits, the learning, the experience that is to be gained by all situations, by all events, and from all the wonderful (and not so wonderful) people that are in our lives!
This is how you make a better life for yourself……
“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L Hay
I hope this post has given you something to think about, and more importantly has inspired you to look at your lives with ‘fresh eyes’ and a renewed attitude.
Life doesn’t last forever….. we are here for a limited time, and it’s not a long time.
Take a good look around, look deeply into nature, look at and feel your body, and marvel at the complexity of your incredible minds…..
Seriously, when you take the time to look for stuff to be in awe of, to be inspired by, to marvel at, you cannot help but find it…. anywhere, everywhere, and at all times…..
Life is a gift! And our challenge is to wake up and start enjoying more of the ordinary and exceptional moments and experiences that are available on this beautiful planet that we call home.
Shared will love and respect for all souls that choose to play the game of life. May you choose to have an exceptional experience…..