Savoring the Journey
Life is hard, plain and simple. I used to expect and hope for everything to go smoothly and then become flustered and panicky when inevitably, things did not go as such. Now, like any other idealist and optimist, I still hope for smooth sailing but I no longer expect it. I’ve come to accept that this journey will continuously be filled with challenges, difficulties and moments when I need to break down in tears from utter despair. Sounds depressing?
Not really. The past ten years has proven that a primary source of unhappiness and discontent arises from the constant fighting against what is natural. The more I questioned why life kept throwing challenges at me, the more I resented those challenges, the more I wondered what I had done wrong to deserve difficulties- the greater my unhappiness. It’s only these past few years that certain realizations set in. After having traveled a great deal, after having lived in various financial brackets, after experiencing great successes and great failures, I realized what has been a constant truth.
No matter how old I was or what tax bracket I was in, no matter what city I was living in or what was going on around me, life was always filled with obstacles and difficulties and that happiness was something I had to consciously extract from life not in spite of the challenges but because of the challenges. It’s hard for a lot of people to understand how you can be happy because of challenges but think of this. If everything in life were easy and proceeded smoothly, what would anything mean anymore? Isn’t the very essence of challenge the reason that we root for the underdog; the reason we become so engaged in sports, music, books, art and anything else that requires long years of training, determination and sacrifice to achieve greatness?
Who are the people we admire most in life? Are they not people who have achieved some type of success despite what seemed like insurmountable odds? We laud those who have faced challenges head-on and emerged victorious. So why then would we expect life to be easy and smooth? Every single day is filled with challenges. Simply navigating traffic and not dying is a challenge in itself. Making each day productive is a challenge. Having a positive attitude is a challenge given the many negative influences that exist in our current world.
But I found joy in little details that all add up to an overall sense of happiness and contentedness. I don’t focus on the traffic I’m sitting in; I notice the beautiful day around (whether it’s sunny or cloudy, there’s a romance in both) and how lucky I am to have a car. I think of how lucky I am to have the freedom to pursue my passions and how blessed I am to have amazing people in my life. I no longer resist challenges as being some big scary monster. As each comes along, I embrace the opportunity to learn what I’m capable of, adding another notch to my proverbial belt of life. I prove to myself that I can weather through and succeed. And there is no sweeter success than that which comes from tremendous effort and sacrifice.
Once I learned to accept and expect constant challenges, a huge weight was lifted and an awesome sense of calm set in, allowing me to savor the journey with all of its highs and lows. It also propelled me towards surmounting obstacles much more quickly since I no longer waste time lamenting on why the obstacle exists in the first place. Challenges no longer have the power to rob me of my happiness; that’s here to stay.