I got into this process of self-improvement because I never wanted to have a bad day again. I wanted to create a utopia – in my mind – so the world could never hurt me in any way. I wanted a state of permanent happiness, of endless joy, and was willing to do all the studying it took of philosophy and psychology in order to make it happen. You know what? I got to the point where I was happy – but I realized there is no escape from the pain, sadness, and exhaustion that is so common in our world. None. No matter what happens, even if you become “enlightened” (and I’m certainly not), there will always be trials in our life that test our courage, strength, and resilience. They will push us to our limits, they will hurt us, and we’ll have to fight through them every time.
The Big Lie
Like I said in last week’s post on magic pills
, whenever we become happy or get in a great relationship, things don’t go poof!
and disappear. No – we’re always going to be challenged by the world. Constantly. In fact, if we’re not being challenged, then I’d say we’re sticking to our comfort zone, which is the surest way to stunt our growth and begin to trigger a downward spiral of stagnation. We don’t want that. At the same time, we have this idea of salvation in our heads that tells us that we should be reaching towards a carefree lifestyle, a utopia of happiness and positivity, where nothing will go wrong, where we will be good enough to tackle every single challenge that comes our way with relative ease, and our lives will be totally stress-free. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Even after you become “happy”, you still have good and bad days. You still have days when you’re on top of the world, and you have days where you feel like you can’t get out of bed. You still have days when you feel like you’re the man, and you have days when you hate everyone you talk to. You’ll still get frustrated at work, you’ll still plateau and stagnate, you’ll still get sick (though I haven’t in over a year and a half!), and you’ll still have arguments with people over totally stupid things. Doesn’t that sound totally different than being happy? Well, the two can coexist. The difference is how you react to your bad days and the tests that are thrown your way.
Willpower Is the Difference
Your resilience determines how well you’ll get through these tests. Put simply, how resilient and strong you are is responsible for how you get through your bad days and annoying coworkers. Even when the whole world – including yourself – feels like it’s against you, it’s up to you to put your foot down and say that you are not going to let it affect you. You have to have the self-trust to know that, whatever the world throws at you, you can make it into a winning hand, so to speak. The challenges – the bad days, mistakes, tough work projects, all-nighters, whatever – will always be there, no matter how happy and positive you are. Again: if you’re not getting challenged, you’re not growing. As they say – if you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space. What determines how successful you are is how you handle those challenges. Do you procrastinate and do whatever you can to hide from them? You’re just delaying the inevitable and are not going to get great results. But, if you look them in the eye, stare them down, and don’t allow them to control you, facing them with a cool self-assuredness that you will succeed – you will. Whenever you feel that pull of negative emotions like fear around your heart, steel yourself. No matter what, stay in the fight, face your challenges, and reap the rewards. Because, really, every single day has its own set of challenges. The only time when the challenges end is when your body is in a pine box.