For many, life is one great struggle. We struggle with bosses who don’t respect us or our work. We struggle with trying to get more things done each day than are humanly possible. We struggle trying to get our kids to do their homework, get into bed, get into the car and stop bothering their siblings. Struggle, struggle, struggle.
Some people feel that they just aren’t alive unless they are locked head-to-head with something in life – people, events, beliefs. What if instead, we were more able to be in flow with life than to be struggling with life? What if the key to living our greatness and a happy life is actually to stop struggling and learn to be more okay with how life shows up?
Go for the ride
I am not saying you should not have goals, a focus or a plan. Set the direction you want for life by knowing yourself and knowing your world. Build your guardrails along your road in life to keep yourself on your path. Then as life comes at you, go for the ride. Stay on your road but don’t fight with what shows up on the road.
Struggling with life just makes us regret, resent or miss our lives. It turns into a battle of wills that fatigues us to a point where we don’t see its greatness, awesomeness or value. We see everything as a win/lose, us/them, good/bad.
What to do instead of struggling with life
What if instead, we changed our ideas, thoughts and beliefs to see that life just is. Accepting what is then uses the energy you normally would use to fight and struggle to now respond in a new, healthier and more successful way. Here are some examples.
- Let’s say you are in a job you don’t like. Your boss is like many bosses – he is not that supportive or interested in connecting with you to engage and inspire you. So you anguish over how awful work is. What if instead, you used all that energy to see which ways you could make work better for yourself – offer more ideas to bring your best to what you do. Or, what if you used your energy not to fight with the situation but rather to see it as the information that now is the time to go find something better – a workplace that openly wants and values you?
- Let’s say you are always arguing with your teen. What if instead, you remind yourself that the best solutions come from a reasonable and sane conversation, something that can’t happen if you go directly into a conflict or struggle? What if you realized that your teen is actually a unique person trying to find his way, to live his own life – not to be a replica of yours? What if you simply stopped arguing, started talking and shared something you love about your teen, or something he does well? Communication could change.
- Let’s say you are driving on the highway and a car recklessly pulls in front of you – no blinker. You can of course return the reckless behavior and be aggravated by the event for the balance of your day. Or, you could quickly slow down, realize that you don’t know the motivation for their action, and not be locked in a mental struggle with a situation you don’t know about or have any control over. You could simply wish the driver well and keep on your way. You could. Or, you could struggle…
I heard a great line from the On Being podcast interview (host Krista Tippett) with social psychologist Ellen Langer – Dr. Langer said, “No worry before its time.” I’d like to offer, “no struggle before its time.” There are indeed times when struggling helps us grow. There are also times that struggling is just our go-to behavior that doesn’t serve us. We should know the difference. Save the struggle for the important things.