My message today is titled Life is hard” and it’s about how to live a great life despite the fact that life is difficult.
Everybody wants to be happy in life. We all want to live a perfect life. We want that great job or a successful business. We want to be married to Mr. Right or Mrs Perfect. We want to have great kids. We want to have friends that stick by us come rain or shine. We want to be able to have all the material things life has to offer and have all our problems just disappear.
Everybody wishes for good life. It may be at different levels. One person may define a good life one way and another may describe it another way. For one person a good life may be just having three meals a day and a roof over their head. For another it may be having a huge mansion and a couple of million dollars in the bank.
There are different levels and meanings to what a good life is. But whatever you definition of it, there is perhaps one thing that you may have in common with many other people. You might want that good life stress free. You would like to have it without having to work so hard or struggle so much for it. That is a normal human expectation. Nobody likes to struggle through life.
Unfortunately, that is also what may be stopping you from having that great life. The thought of all that work, all that planning, overcoming hurdles and resistance is enough to make a lot of people give up before they even start. It can all seem too overwhelming, and for many it all just doesn’t seem be worth it. It’s like being drained of energy just at the thought of running a marathon. Before you are even at the starting line the thought of all that running just scares you and tires you so much mentally you just decide not to go for it. It’s just too hard.
One of my favourite books is titled “The Road Less Travelled” by M. Scott Peck. The first sentence in the book is:
“Life is difficult.”
Now, if you pick up a book and the first thing it tells you is “life is difficult” you may just think “is this book going to get reassuring and encouraging after such a start?
But, as Peck goes on to explain, once you accept that life is hard, it no longer becomes an issue that it’s difficult. He says:
“Once we know that life is difficult- once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult.”
In life you will have difficulties getting anything you want. It is very rare to get anything in life without some degree of effort. Only if you win the lottery will you have everything without effort, and even then you would have had to go out and buy the lottery ticket anyway so it’s not free at all.
Life is hard – your boss will not always be the nicest person in the world. Your job will have challenges that you did not foresee. Your workmates will sometimes be a pain. You won’t always get the salary and recognition that you want and deserve at work. Your clients may not be the nicest people in the world.
Life is hard – your kids won’t always be the ideal kids you want them to be. Your wife or husband may not be as perfect as you thought they were when you married them – in fact I can guarantee you they are not. Your home may not be the ideal place you would want it to be. You may not the perfect wife or husband that you once thought you were.
Life is hard – running a business is not as easy as you thought it would be. No one is lining up to bring money to your business, even though you are a really nice person and your business has great products to offer.
I could go on and on with these examples, but the bottom line is that “Life is hard.”
I don’t mean to say in all this that you don’t deserve a break. I am not saying that you are not justified in thinking that you deserve more than what you have gotten from life and the world to this point.
I am not saying that you are not justified in feeling the way that you feel. I know you have had it tough at times. I know that at times you feel that it’s all very confusing and just too hard. I mean you have worked very hard. You’ve done all that you possibly could in your life whether it is at work or at home. But things just don’t seem to have worked out as well as you had planned or hoped. It all just seems to have gone wrong and you don’t know or understand how or why.
But that’s okay. It’s normal. That’s what being human is all about. That’s what life is all about. Life is hard. Accept that.
Once you do, you will feel better about your circumstances. Then you won’t think of your situation as anything but what is common to every human being. Then you will think of your situation as a part of life. You will no longer beat yourself up about how bad things are or how you are not doing so well in one area or another. You will realise that you are only human. You make mistakes just like everybody else. You are not perfect just like everybody else.
But don’t stop there. Accepting that life is hard does not mean that you accept every circumstance and simply go with the flow.
You see, there are two sides to this story. There is another side to this coin. On the one side of the coin is where you have the words “life is hard” inscribed, but if you turn that coin over you will five very small but powerful words. They read:
“You can make it better”
That is one of the beautiful things about life. You can make your life better. You have total responsibility for what you do and how you respond to the fact that life is hard. As the now cliché saying goes:
“If life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
Accepting that life is hard comes with accepting that you have the responsibility to make it better. Not only do you have the responsibility to make it better, you have the ability and the power to make it better.
You can make it better – become a better employee and someone worth giving more responsibilities at work. The promotions and the better pay are sure to follow one way or another.
You can make it better – learn how to raise better kids and have a happier home. Become the good husband or wife you would like your spouse to be.
You can make it better – learn how to turn that business around. Gain the extra skills you need to run a successful business.
You see, the only person you have any control over is yourself. You cannot change other people. Let’s take the example of marriage for moment. Notice that I did not say you should turn your husband or spouse into an ideal spouse. I said you should become the ideal husband or wife you want your spouse to be. Then, once you become such a person you may have several choices as to how to relate to your spouse.
Firstly, once you are as near perfect a spouse as anyone can be your husband or wife might see the difference and also decide to change for the better or they may just change naturally as a response to your new attitude. Secondly, if they don’t change, perhaps you will have reached a level of maturity where you are content and satisfied with who they are and their faults no longer bother you. Or thirdly, in some cases, such as in abusive relationships or in relationships that are a risk to your health, you may reach a level of self acceptance and courage where you are able to leave that abusive or unfaithful partner.
Whatever the case may be, this example illustrates one other important fact about teh fact that life is hard and taking responsibility. That is:
“You always have choices”
No matter what situation you are in, you have a choice. No matter how bad things are, you have a choice. No matter what you think you can or cannot do, you have a choice.
Now it may not be an easy choice, by any means. It may be a very difficult choice and the road you decide to take may be a tough one. It may push you way out of your comfort zone. It may mean that in the initial period your life may get even harder than it already is. But it is a choice nonetheless.
A lot of times you will actually find that the choices are not as hard as you thought they were. You may just have shut off your mind from seeing those choices and possibilities because you thought you had no choice. Once you become open to the idea that you are responsible for your life and that you have choices, you will find that you are no longer stuck just because life is hard.
At that point, life is still hard, but you have the final say. Your life becomes more meaningful and purposeful.