This poem describes it best (excuse the religious part):
“Life is like an old-time rail journey—delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride”.
More often than we like, we are too caught up with the busyness of our lives. Endless thoughts, worries and emotions overtake us. We wonder what we will have for dinner tonight – whether or not the ice cream machine will be working – or we get caught up thinking about some of the bigger things in life, such as our ambitions, careers etc and whether we will be able to sustain ourselves.
Being grateful is not an attitude or some quality; it is the deep understanding that simply to be alive is the most tremendous gift.
There is only one thing certain the moment you come into this world, and that is that you are going to die at any moment, in any way. Everything that happens between life and death is an unwritten part of history. The food you eat, the people you meet, the college you attend, the clothes and shoes you wear – nothing is promised to you the way you may have it at this moment.
Certain moments may be difficult to endure, but it is important to remember that the course of life is such and everything you go through is all a part of your life experience to learn and grow from. This also includes those moments of love and happiness, which are to be enjoyed as well. We are not obligated to anything, and should be grateful for the good parts.
So, what I do is make a conscious effort to take a moment to stop and be aware of my breathing. You can try it, too – that is, if you still happen to be breathing.
My ideal life was to travel the world and see amazing sights and I thought that that would make me super happy, all the time. Even if you did adventure sports like skydiving, your happiness would only last during that experience and a short time after. It would look like a bell curve. If you constantly lived that life, it WOULD become boring.
What I realised is that life is boring (in a way). There’s no other way around it. You’re going to have to work, clean, cook, exercise and do a lot of unsexy things that makes it seem like you’re wasting your life. This can sound depressing, but isn’t the truth once you realise 1) everyone has to do this and even the person that has the “best” life does this 2) there is a certain pleasure in toiling.
The reason a lot of people are unhappy today is because they have a lot of choices. Do you think our ancestors were this unhappy? Probably not, because they were raised to work in the fields and couldn’t afford to travel elsewhere so they built their small little life with their community and were happy. They didn’t know anything else.
There is a concept in psychology called the hedonic treadmill. Basically, whatever situation we are in, we get used to it. That is why Kylie Kardashian probably doesn’t feel happy all the time even though she is living the dream.
There was also a psychological study done comparing the happiness of people who had been in a horrific accident and had to have a limb amputated vs. someone who just won the lottery. Surprisingly, amputees were happier than winners. This is because in a short period of time, their life had dramatically been condensed into focusing on their current situation, nothing else. Terminal patients are probably the most happiest and grateful. Same with why people in slums are happy.
Accept that you will have to work hard in life and it will be boring. That pill is easier to swallow once you realise it is something that is a requirement, not optional. Accept the grind of life and stop resisting. Life is easier when you consent to being ground. But also realise that there is pride in that. There is pride in going to the gym everyday, or cleaning your room, or working and studying. These things aren’t unimportant and time wasters stopping you from living your dream life. You are actually doing your best, learning how to sacrifice and being an adult. If you take a vacation after this, THEN it’ll be worth it. Contrast is everything.
Find ways to get used to boringness. Force yourself to slow down. If you are bored sit in the silence, don’t whip out your phone. Take and savor every moment now instead of wishing you had your goal.
Let go of ideals and stop wishing for perfection in everything. You’re NORMAL. Love every part of you and realise it makes you human. Improve what you can and accept the rest. This goes for job, spouse, etc.
I’m seeing some people think that this is extremely depressing and you should aim higher in life. That’s not what I’m saying and not the point of this post. The point is that even the people that seem to “have it all” in life aren’t at a much higher happiness level than you because for them it becomes normal. And you never know what’s going on in anybody’s life – Anthony Bourdain for example.
Kim Kardashian has to put effort in her body & business, Bill Gates schedules his days in 5-min chunks. Even people who have everything don’t spend their life lying in the Bahamas, no matter how much Instagram shows they do. Every human, every animal has to move forward and work because to get anything in life, you have to put in effort. If that’s depressing, I don’t know what to tell you. But having a good relationship, clean home, friends, great job, great body – takes a lot of energy and time that is “mundane” because a lot of times, you only see someone’s end result.
The point of life isn’t to feel entitled to have the best, funnest life ever because that’s not reality. Whatever comes your way, you should feel grateful for getting to be alive and having that experience.