Do you believe that life is a struggle?
Or do you breeze through life like a butterfly?
I believe that we all take life too seriously and we struggle through life, whereas we really don’t need to. We have been brought up, especially in the West, to believe that success is something to struggle and strive for, and if it comes too easily, then it is not really worth it.
This is the same as when you have a positive and bright attitude to life, and people tell you to be careful, since it will not last. It is almost as if some people believe that they have been sent to earth as a punishment and life has to be endured as an ordeal rather than enjoyed and savoured!
Perhaps Hollywood and Bollywood too has a lot to answer for – there are so many movies where the hero has to fight enormous odds before ultimately winning through.
Bollywood movies are even more dramatic where the theme is usually one where the main character overcomes incredible hurdles and goes through immense struggles to become the hero – and invariably he wins over the heroine too:-)
So in the movie of your life are you playing the “hero”, struggling and hoping to win through one day? Or would you rather just win without the struggle?
Then again if you went through life without the struggle, what would happen to all the drama in your life and who would want to watch or even be part of such a movie!
Where does this myth of “no pain, no gain” come from?
Even more importantly, here is how you can quickly overcome this myth in your life:-
1. Approach Life with a Childlike Attitude
When growing up, the adults in our life such as our parents and teachers really do mean well when they inculcate in us the need to study “hard” and do well. But their very use of the word “hard” implies a struggle, one that has to be overcome.
If only my teachers had made it all more fun and enjoyable. Learning can be fun and just as valuable as when it is made out to be a challenge.
At the same time, children can be so endearingly naïve and sweet as they look at life in simple terms. This can of course alarm their parents and so from a young age we are told to be careful and how some things are just not for us, out of reach and too “hard”.
Next time you are around some young children, observe how they just play and everything is an adventure.
Yet this childlike nature is slowly drummed out of us by the adults around us.
We can all be childlike and get back to our original true state – so today take some time out and just be a child again!
Of course being childlike does not imply being childish:-)
2. Do Everything In Moderation
I am very passionate about sport, both as a spectator and as an active participant. In my time, I have played racquet sports at a high level and trained heavily. Quite often I was told by my trainers and coaches to go through the pain, and how unless I felt the pain, there was no point even training.
In those days, I did endure the pain and though I enjoyed the sports, the training aspect soon lost its appeal. I also picked up a few injuries along the way.
I have since learnt to train in moderation, to listen to my body and try nothing excessive. At the same time, being older and wiser does not necessarily curtail me from still enjoying sport actively.
Doing everything in moderation does not mean you don’t give everything your best shot – all I am suggesting is that you simply change your approach.
3. Ignore the Media’s Negativity
We are saturated with media messages and most of it is negative –especially during the current period of world economic consolidation.
Okay, we do face some great challenges right now – maybe the most critical challenges ever or maybe not. But constant exposure to all these messages of doom and gloom only reinforces for some people the impression that life is indeed a struggle and any gain only comes with pain.
So cut down on your exposure to television and newspapers. You can do it if you really want to.
I got rid of my television set two years ago and have never missed it. The TV licence people have only now stopped chasing me to renew my licence and finally seem to accept that there are actually some people who don’t want to have a television set in their home.
Here in London we get two free newspapers distributed outside the tube stations every weekday evening, and they are just full of negative news from earlier in the day and celebrity gossip. I have now almost mastered the art of seeing through the people who incessantly try to shove a paper in my face.
Of course, also cut out or minimise your internet news surfing. Focus instead on positive or educational websites.
4. Watch the Language You Use
In our daily language, we often subliminally tell our brain about the no pain, no gain indoctrination. We have phrases such as it is “not hard” or “not difficult”. Despite the double negative, the brain still focuses on the core of the message i.e. that it is BOLD hard or difficult.
Similarly, if you are asked not to think of a pink elephant, the only thing you will think about is a pink elephant!
I remember at an African drumming session, the drum master introduced a simple rhythm and then just before moving on to the next exercise, explained earnestly how the next bit was difficult and that some of us might struggle. Sure enough most of us struggled.
It is almost as if the language we use daily is designed to make us struggle. So check the language you use with others and also with yourself and lok for ways of making it more positive and intentional.
5. Drop the Drama From Your Life
Some people just seem to continuously move from one crisis to another. Then they constantly moan how life was treating them so badly and how everything was such a challenge.
I usually tells such people to just lighten up – or I avoid them in my life altogether.
If this sounds like you, then take a step back and see what it is you are doing to attract such events in your life. Also ask yourself what you get out of being a drama king or drama queen. And then stop it!
6. Simplify Your Life
We all make our lives far too complicated.
Look for ways to simplify your life in every way you can. You will then have more time and energy for those things that are really important to you.
By having more simplicity you can create more joy and quality time in your life. Your efforts will then seem lighter and easier – life will literally flow around you.
There is so much you can do to simplify and clear out the clutter from your life – to get started take my clutter quiz.
Also cut down on your time and people commitments in your life. For instance, I to cram in a lot into my social life. As I have got wiser, I now limit myself to one quality activity at a time.
So rather than trying to see three or more friends together in one evening, I now arrange to see just one friend properly. It makes it really simple now – rather than having to co-ordinate the diaries with three other people, it is a matter of a quick phone conversation with the friend that I want to send some quality time with.
7. Find Easier Ways to do Things
I have learnt that there are easier and simple ways of doing almost everything.
Assuming that you actually do need to do the activity you are doing, then look for an easier way of doing it.
Nowadays there are so many tools and resources on the net to help you do things more easily and effectively.
Also make sure you understand and apply the distinction between effectiveness and efficiency.
Effectiveness is doing the right thing and efficiency is doing the right thing well.
So anytime you do anything work related, ask yourself first if you even need to do it and secondly how you can do it more easily.
Just as importantly check in with yourself that do need to do this activity or fulfill this social obligation, and you are not doing so simply because someone else said you had to!
Life is a breeze or a struggle – it is your choice.
What will you choose?