What a difference a question makes. I woke up this morning and immediately started in on my current litany of worry-wart woes. You’ve been there, right? Maybe it’s your kids or money or too much to do. But this morning as my stomach tightened with anxiety, I suddenly remembered two questions I had written down in the front of the book I was reading yesterday: “What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?”
And there it was–the answer in those questions. I felt empowered as I imagined myself tackling the issues I was fretting about instead of wishing they would just go away.
In Mark Manson’s new book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, he asks us to switch up our way of thinking from “I hope for a life without problems” to “I hope for a life full of good problems.” It feels good even writing that, freeing somehow. Manson suggests happiness comes from the act of trying to find solutions to our problems. So don’t wish your problems away and hope only for pleasure. As he says, “Happiness is a “form of action…a constant work-in-progress…and the solutions to today’s problems will lay the foundation for tomorrow’s problems, and so on.” So don’t ask, “What do I want out of life?” Instead, choose your struggles because our struggles determine our happiness.
Our youngest child will graduate from high school in just 18 days (Yippee! and sad face), and I was thinking about what good advice this book has for young people setting out on the next phase of their lives. I think Manson says it best when he writes:
What determines your success isn’t, ‘What do you want to enjoy?’ The relevant question is, ‘What pain do you want to sustain?’ The path to happiness is a path full of sh*t-heaps and shame.
You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns all the time. Pleasure is the easy question….The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain you want to sustain? That’s the hard question that matters, the question that will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change a perspective, a life. It’s what makes me, me, and you, you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.
So, my friends, I ask of you, “What are you willing to struggle for? What pain do you want in your life?” By the way, I recommended this book to my hubby, and he loved it! We’re going to do it in our couples’ book club. I’ll let you know how it goes–sure to be a good discussion!
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