The Most Important Question of Your Life 0 1828

By : Chantal D

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

Everyone would like that — it’s easy to like that.

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,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

 

How-to-get-hapiness-in-love-life

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is “what pain do you want in your life?” “What are you willing to struggle for”? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence — but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé boundaries of an endless cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship — but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. So they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years until the question morphs from “What if?” into “Was that it?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was that for?” if not for their lowered standards and expectations 20 years prior, then what for?

Because happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative. You can only avoid negative experiences for so long before they come roaring back to life.

At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. Its negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon 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 or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and 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 question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.

There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t sure if it’s what they really want, if its what they want “enough” to sacrifice for.

Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also bare the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

Sometimes I ask people, “Why do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me, “me” and you, “you”. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

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 stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then… and then nothing.

Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.

Music-Concert

I was in love with the result — the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing — but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.

Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.

But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.

I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.

Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is not a call for 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. So choose your struggles wisely, my friends.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

LOCKDOWN – THE LESSONS WE LEARNED 0 144

BE THE LIFE OF YOUR OWN PARTY

There is no doubt, that solitude for an extended, and unknown, length of time was the biggest challenge for many of us during the lockdown. The prospect of having to spend months on end stuck in a house with few options for entertainment was initially daunting, but then again isn’t necessity supposed to be the mother of invention?

For many folks, it took a few weeks to get over the shock, and gradually, as the gravity of the situation sunk in, acceptance followed. For some, it may have taken just a little longer to achieve that acceptance, but after much aimless milling about they finally got themselves into gear.

Most people I spoke to on the issue however related to me their stories of how they eventually learned to enjoy their own company. The lockdown it seems was the perfect opportunity to engage in some much needed soul searching, and wade through the depths of our own selves to come up with our tailor-made coping systems, because gone were the days of having the physical presence of a large friend circle to help you with that.

So the first lesson I learned, was how to be the life of my own party. I ended up throwing together a list of things I love doing, and drew up a schedule for my week. The list included things like reading a specific book for a couple of hours each day, spend an hour or two looking for new music to listen to, watching a tutorial, look for a new recipe involving whatever I had on hand, and many others as well. However, the biggest battle I faced was in fact the urge to not do anything at all and just stagnate while waiting for the lockdown to end. It was a very fine line that in hindsight I am glad I never crossed.

Experts believe that using the schedule method is one of the most effective ways to cope with cabin fever, because the lack of a routine can lead to increased dissatisfaction and even depression. Further, having a regular schedule also improves sleep, by reprogramming your body clock. Hence, the next time lockdown comes around (God forbid), create a schedule of tasks and fun-filled activities in advance to gain a sense of control and help you alleviate anxiety. Your schedule should ideally include allotted time for exercise, mindfulness, socialisation, and learning as well for the best results.

MINDFULNESS DESTROYS DISHARMONY

Those living with family however, have a very different take on the issue. After years of living through a routine where the family home was just a place to fall asleep and have an occasional meal, the prospect of spending three whole months locked in with a family seemed at first to be akin to a well-deserved holiday. However, as the weeks dragged on the illusion begins to dissipate.

After the initial honeymoon period, having to conform to a schedule that you have no control over, becomes more of task than you think. This leads to irritability, frustration at not being in control, and shorter tempers, that ultimately serves to destroy the harmony of your home.

This situation was even more challenging to those who were forced to move in with older family members unable able to cope alone. One person who was faced with such a situation cited having a feeling of despair after the first couple of months, fearing that the temporary situation may just become permanent after lockdown ends.

Having your independence threatened by unforeseen forces can be a very stressful experience. Hence, knowing how to balance your independence and responsibilities, tempered with a big dose of understanding, is key to building a healthy relationship and maintaining your own sanity.

Therefore, mindfulness is key. Taking a deep breath and pausing before reacting, is also a good way to preserve your sanity. After all, isn’t the whole point of taking on such a challenging time your own personal growth? If you succeeded in achieving mindfulness throughout the lockdown, you deserve a pat on your back for learning the most important lesson anyone could have.

LOCKDOWN FATIGUE IS A THING

What is lockdown fatigue? If you’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings, combined with underlying anxiety, future uncertainty and a lack of control over part of your life throughout the lockdown, then you now have a name for that feeling.

Experts say that this can also be characterised by symptoms such as oversleeping, changes in appetite, weight gain, and tiredness or low energy.

Some have described these symptoms as “brain fog,” and have also noted a marked decrease in short term memory as well. Hence, recognising the symptoms and acting on them before you fall too deep into the abyss is the first step to recovery.

The second step is knowing how combat it. Medical professionals say that the best way to begin the recovery process is to improve your sleep cycle. Key to this is reaching a balanced sleep-wake cycle, because it provides an “anchor” in the day that allows us to give our circadian rhythms a chance to get to work and have a positive effect on energy levels, emotional balance, and hormonal regulation.

Further, disconnecting from technology, media, high-intensity activities, and embracing more mindful activities will help you de-stimulate and relax, which improves your body’s ability to relax and get ready for a well-deserved rest.

SAVING MONEY ISN’T THAT HARD

One of the most startling realisations I arrived at, through the first wave’s three-month lockdown, is that I spend way too much money socialising such as going out, drinking, shopping, or even ordering in food.

For the first time in my life, I actually ended up saving money by staying home and being restricted. True, it’s not the most enjoyable way to end up with extra cash, but then again I realised that my priorities were badly in need of a reassessment. My priority list right now, post-lockdown, has been trimmed down, and this has set the foundation for what I hopefully be a year of a healthy bank balance.

My biggest savings actually came from taking the time to cook my meals, which I calculated at around a staggering Rs.15,000 each month just on delivery options. Mind you, this is just one of the many areas that required trimming.

Hence, if you have some cash to spare at the end of the month during this time, it’s also important to consider a good home for it to grow. I have come across a couple of people who have chosen the stock market as a destination for their extra cash. With the recent digitalisation of the CSE, with a trading app launched as well, the doors have been opened for people like you and me to make our money grow.

So if you haven’t started reassessing your spending habits in the new normal, then I think it’s time you did, because after all we are living in probably the most uncertain time of this century. Just the right time to start a little nest egg of your own.

THE CHALLENGE OF SELF-MOTIVATION

For those of you who experienced working from home for the first time in their lives, the idea may have been exciting, but the reality was far from it. I’m an old hand at working from my den. Having worked for two years as a freelance writer, I know the dangers of getting too comfortable with my home surroundings, and not to mention the innumerable distractions a home front offers.

To have the discipline to push yourself and remain immune to the call of lethargy takes an iron will, and will reveal some startling truths about yourselves. However, getting it right at the outset is key, because designing your personal work space and schedule, and motivating yourself to stick to it for the two weeks required to settle into a routine only takes persistence.

In contrast, the plus points in working in an office environment is that you hardly have to motivate yourself – that’s what your superiors do. Also, having colleagues to interact with also sweeps you up in the moment and syncs you with the office energy and buzz. That is a key aspect that we don’t realise has such a bearing on how productive we are. Having taken this for granted in the past, and also having come to such a realisation early on, my efforts at self-motivation were backed with a large dose of commitment, which is the fundamental building block to success I believe. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to character and mettle, because if you can’t motivate yourself, then is there really a point?

Why Sunday Is the Most Important Day of the Week for Your Wellbeing 0 1179

Your business will benefit when you prioritize time for yourself and the important people in your life.

Hustle. Grind. Long hours. Go big or go home. Fake it ’till you make it.

Entrepreneurs hear these statements daily, often from the people who inspire them. Our culture believes we must forgo personal lives in pursuit of business success.

Of course, running a successful business is hard work. It’s stressful, it can feel chaotic, and the tasks sometimes seem downright impossible. But as an entrepreneur, you need to do more than simply push through. Research shows you must take a step back if you hope to achieve any measure of life-work balance and truly relish your accomplishments.

Here are three specific ways the Sunday step-back benefits your business while it helps recharge your batteries, fend off depression and make you more personally productive.

Sunday is prime social time.

Humans are social creatures. Regardless of how busy you think you are, human nature will find ways to remind you that you need others in your life. Don’t resist it. Giving in to this urge for socializing actually is better for your overall health.

Sunday is prime time to make new connections or care take the ones you already have. You should be out of the office, doing something you enjoy.

You gain nothing by denying yourself time to de-stress. Research reveals you’ll spend those hours either in enjoyment or in sickness.

In short, spending quality time with the people who mean the most to you can help improve your health and expel stress. Both are essential for a successful business.

Sunday is the perfect day for self-care.

Taking care of your physical and mental self is essential to rejuvenation. (I’m a big believer in batching, which is why I like to do the bulk of my self-care on Sundays.)

Adding a self-care aspect to your weekly routine can prevent overload, help refocus your goals and reduce stress.

As an added benefit, self-care simply helps you feel good about yourself. You might make a trip to the salon, book a massage at your favorite spa or take a long bath at home with lavender or other relaxing essential oils. It’s taking time for yourself and believing you look your best that help you feel great. Both show in your performance. When you like what you see in the mirror, you project confidence and your positive energy increases.

Unfortunately, the inverse also is true: If you believe you look as ragged, worn-out, sleep-deprived and worried as you feel, your work will reflect that attitude and your business will suffer.

Schedule time for yourself. You are the embodiment of the business, and you should look and feel your best. Making a commitment to do something for yourself will give you a little reward to look forward to during your work week.

Meditate. Mediation helps clear your mind of negativity and stress. Practiced in earnest, it can give you a moment of peace to reconnect with your goals. Maintain focus on your priorities so you are constantly revitalized.

Get a good night’s sleep, every night. This might seem like an impossible feat, but it should be a clear priority. Plan to go to sleep and wake up at a specific time. Consistency is key to establish this habit and translate it into a routine to keep you on track. Figure out how much sleep you need and stick to that number.

Enjoy your life. For many people, the ability to enjoy life on one’s own terms is the most attractive draw to an entrepreneurial path. There’s no boss telling you what to do. You make your own hours and you work to find success in a field you love. Take a step back to appreciate everything you’ve already accomplished. Use this time of reflection to do what you want to do, and you’ll discover new signs of peace and prosperity in all aspects of your life.

 

Sunday gives you a jump on planning.

Entrepreneurs are expert innovators who thrive on often unconventional work tactics. However, you also must make time to plan the week ahead so you can use your time in the office wisely. It’s true devoting an hour or two each Sunday to this task technically counts as working. But it’s productive and fun. It gives you an excuse to address all the things already on your mind and organize them on paper or in a digital format so you can enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Many entrepreneurs find that planning also contributes to their sense of balance. It offers time to reflect on the previous week and accordingly amend their actions for the week to come. Here are a few important features to include in your weekly plan.

Goals. Every entrepreneur should have weekly, monthly, yearly and overall goals. Even more important, business owners should keep track of whether they’re achieving their short-term goals while they work on their long-term goals. Little victories are still victories. Celebrating the wins along the way can encourage you to keep striving for more. On the other hand, if you discover you aren’t reaching those midpoints, it’s a good indication you need to make changes or risk stalling your progress.

Timetable. Time always moves forward, and we must work with what we have. After all, no amount of money can buy back wasted time. It’s crucial to develop the skill of accurately assessing how much time you need for each task. Otherwise, you’ll run out of hours before you run out of work week.

Scheduling. This is not a wish list of all the thing you’d like to complete. Scheduling is creating a plan and following it. Successful entrepreneurs know what deserves to be included in the plan. Remember: While it’s necessary to schedule work time, meetings and deadlines, it’s equally important to reserve hours in your schedule for family and friends. You can’t do all your socializing on Sundays. You need a bit of a life all week long. Maybe that means jogging or indulging in a date night. Schedule these as priorities so you don’t put your loved ones on hold or worse make the mistake of thinking you don’t have time for them.

Reclaim Sunday as a day of rest in your 24/7 world. Take the time your body and mind need to step away, even for one day. You’ll come back Monday feeling refreshed, renewed and highly supported by the life you’ve refused to leave behind.