Since we travel so much, occasionally I’ll buy a book in an airport bookstore. I’ve seen a few people reading this one on the plane and was intrigued by the headline, so I bought it.
I haven’t finished it yet, but I wanted to share this excerpt with you because it was so powerful. It reminds me of the many years I spent participating in courses with Landmark Education.
Since it’s January and everyone is talking about resolutions and goals and succeeding or failing at them, here’s another way to look at why you don’t get what you say you want.
Maybe you’re just not committed to the struggle of what it’ll take to get there. And when you figure that out, you can stop making yourself wrong that you didn’t achieve that particular goal.
Here’s the excerpt from Chapter 2:
If I ask you, “What do you want out of Life?” and you say something like “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” your response is so common and expected that it doesn’t really mean anything.
Everybody wants that. It’s easy to want that.
A more interesting question, a question that most people don’t consider is, “What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”
For example, most people want to get the corner office and make a boatload of money–but not many people want to suffer through sixty-hour workweeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, and arbitrary corporate hierarchies to escape the confines of an infinite cubicle hell.
Because happiness requires struggle. It grows from problems.
Joy doesn’t just sprout out of the ground like daisies and rainbows.
Real, serious, lifelong fulfillment and meaning have to be earned through the choosing and managing of our struggles.
People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes from living inside a gym for hour after hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.
People want to start their own business. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, the insane hours devoted to something that may earn absolutely nothing.
People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes from weathering rejections or staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love, you can’t win if you don’t play.
What determines your success isn’t, “What do you want to enjoy?” The relevant question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?”
You have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t be roses and unicorns all the time. Pleasure is the easy question. And pretty much all of us have a similar answer.
The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain? That’s the hard question that matters, the question that will actually get you somewhere.
For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician–a rock star in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on the stage, playing it to the screams of the crowd! This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. For me it was never a question if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when I had it all planned out.
Despite my fantasizing about this for over half my life-time, the reality never came to fruition. And it took me a long time and a lot of struggle to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.
I was in love with the result–the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I was playing–but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. In fact, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all. The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a sh#t, the broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling forty pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top.
And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the summit.
And life doesn’t work that way.
Who you are is defined by what you’re willing to struggle for.
People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who run triathlons and have chiseled abs and can bench-press a small house.
People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who fly to the top of it.
People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainties of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
This is not about willpower or grit. This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain”. This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. Our problems birth our happiness along with slightly better, slightly upgraded problems.
See: It’s a never-ending upward spiral. And if you think at any point you’re allowed to stop climbing, I’m afraid your missing the point.
Because the joy is in the climb itself. Written by Mark Manson
When I read the ‘gym analogy’ (which is often used when people talk about how much work anything awesome takes), I liked that it was a slightly different take on why I’ve never been super fit. I don’t enjoy the process. I have a personal trainer and that is what gets me to the gym regularly and on time. Maybe there is another kind of work-out that I would enjoy, but I’m not willing to drive a minimum of 30 minutes to find out (which is how far away everything is from where I live in the country).
When it comes to writing content for this blog, (which sells all my products and colour workshops) I work all the time and spend most of my Sundays and many weekends writing or producing content for the following week.
Many of us have heard the expression ‘Happiness is in the journey’ but when I read this chapter about ‘Choosing your struggle’ I love how it puts it in a new perspective.
Which struggle can you give up now that you’ve just figured out you just don’t enjoy it enough to keep doing it.