Choose your struggles, not desires
So here we are again. Sharing with you the flying memoirs - basically articles that I write on the plane to you because I don’t know what else to do other than look at my computer.
Kids are screaming, I’m in cattle class, the seats are super small and I can’t move much even though Im half the size of I was last year (let alone 5 years ago). Wait, I found 3 seats empty at the back - run before someone else gets it. Phew! The air hostess was a little pissed but I own 3 seats for the next 8 hours…. like a boss!
Ok I digress.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and also feeling the need to talk about it - you know that thing about finding your happiness.
Self-help industry has been growing. There seems to be experts, gurus and coaches everywhere. I’m all for spreading your message that has a real impact - but not the kind of message that’s wrapped in 'I want to help people’ but the interior motive is about ‘How do I get more out of it?’.
I’m seeing a lot of people reading a 4-hour Work Week and the next day they’re a Business Coach teaching how to live laptop lifestyle from their one-bedroom apartment that they hate. They read Light Is The New Black and the next day they’re the spiritual teacher teaching how to attract abundance but their bank balance is minus. They attend Matthew Hussey’s workshop and the next day they’re the Relationship Expert teaching people how to be the attract and keep the guy but they’ve just registered their 7th account on Tinder.
I know I know. I sound a little grumpy. But trust me this is good grumpy.
Here’s the thing, I don’t blame them at all because it’s how the society has become.
We’re being bombarded by numerous ads on Facebook that says “My life is so cool and yours suck so you should sign up my webinar to be cool like me”.
We are under the impression that to have challenges in life is bad because everyone else’s Instagram is showing they all have life figured out.
We think there’s always something wrong with us because magazines tell us we should be like the models or the celebrities.
We’re in the pursuit of chasing after something that doesn’t exist - perfectionism where we are complete with happiness. We love the idea of being happy, living an amazing life like the upper east-siders from Gossip Girl, having a multiple 6-figure career like so called online gurus, being with a partner who will make George Clooney cry, have sex like 50 Shades of Grey and be respected by the world like Ghandi.
Everyone wants that. Aren’t we all trying to manifest more, more and more into our lives?
Today we’re not only having material crisis or mid-life crisis, we’re having existential crisis by having too many options to choose from, having unbalanced view of life and chasing illusions that don't exist.
It starts with wanting only one side of life and ditching the other completely. It ends with feeling even more miserable than when we started.
We want only the idea of happiness but not willing to choose the struggle.
We want the best romantic relationship partner but not willing to be honest, have difficult conversations and compromise.
We want the promotion at work but not willing to put in the hours, take initiative or upskill ourselves.
We want to have the most intimate sex but not willing to break down the walls, open ourselves up and truly connect.
We want to look hot and sexy but not willing to endure the pain of workout and diets.
We want to start our own business but not willing to learn, hustle and do what’s required to make it a success.
We want the respect from people but not willing to keep our words integrity.
“It’s your birthright to live an awesome life”, some so-called guru said online. Oh my. I pray for the person.
Arabelle, so what is this article about - you might say.
So glad you asked.
The honest answer is I don’t know.
This is one of those articles where I do a brain dump on the plane and then at the end I find out what the article is about. I think we’re getting close.
What’s so hot in my heart right now is how the self-help gurus are boosting the egos of their followers, giving them temporary distractions to avoid their problems or even worse, programming ideas of manifesting better, newer, cooler, awesomer version of themselves or things.
The only problem is when you’re being told that "if you want to live a rich life or if you want to be happy", it only presupposes that you're living a poor sucky life right now. When being told over and over, it becomes an affirmation in your head.
I know distractions feel nice - get a drink when your heart aches, go shopping when you confidence is low and blame others so no responsibility needs to be taken.
But denial and distractions are like coke - it creates temporary highs that make us feel like we’re on the top of the world but deep inside, teeth are rotting, tumours are forming and sanity is slowing disappearing. (And no I don’t have personal experience but I’ve seen it in the movies.)
We distract and deny because we don’t want to face the reality. We don’t want to face the reality because we have this unrealistic and illusionary idea that life is supposed to be awesome. Worse if there are experts screaming “Living an awesome life is your birthright”.
I totally agree that we all can live a happy life; an awesome life. But what’s awesome and what sucks is defined by our subjective views. Awesome is when things are always going well. Suck when there are obstacles. So first, how about about we come to a point that will actually make our lives so much easier?
Acceptance. Yes. Accept the fact is life is made up of dualities.
Good and bad, opportunities and challenges, support and difficulties, love and hate, light and darkness - all these will come in a buy-one-get-one-free deal.
It’s not about choosing only what we want. It’s about accepting that the love of our life that we marry today may one day be the person that we will get fed up with. The job that gives us the lifestyle may one day be the job that takes a toll on our health. The dream house we bought may one day the house that we feel so lonely in.
Once we accept that there are always two sides in life but that we can choose our struggles then we’re pretty much on a great start.
“Choose the struggles, not desires”
If you notice, none of us need spiritual teachers because all of us have spiritual teachers - they’re called challenges. Evolution, growth or transformation happens on the other side of challenges.
The setbacks are what creates that metamorphosis.
Challenges are what decides whether the caterpillar will turn into a butterfly or not.
If we choose to see all the lows in life as the spiritual teacher then we’ll be learning heaps every single day.
Finally, there is this thing called integrity. I grew up hearing this word so much but never really saw anyone practiced so the word got watered down until I realised what it really means. To me, integrity starts with self and it starts with doing what I said I would do. That’s it. Simple.
If I say I will start and complete this project, I will.
If I say I will make this happen, I will.
If I say I will buy you an ice-cream, even if there’s a war going on, I will buy you an ice-cream!
So how shall we conclude this article? Again, I'm not sure but I know this will be useful for some of you and a waste of time for some. Life is made up of dualities right?
Right, so let me know if there are things that you resonate with. Leave me a comment below, share or write to me because I absolutely love hearing from every single one of you.