A new year has dawned, and with it an ever-increasing pressure to be "better". Be fitter, healthier and richer. Own the latest car on the market and the most recent technology. The list goes on, and the standards by which we measure our lives get higher. It is easy to become despondent when one is bombarded by the constant pressures portrayed by the media to attain the "perfect life". Perhaps we should start looking at things from a different angle.
In order for us to live a happy and fulfilling life, we need to re-evaluate what happiness means to us. We need to change what we value and how we measure failure or success. The media portrays the perfect life that we feel we need to attain in order to be happy. But the truth is that life is not always the perfect, problem-free, feel-good picture that the media would like us to believe it is. Life is challenging and full of problems, and when we are constantly trying to get away from our problems, we will never be happy with our lives.
The “backwards law” that philosopher Alan Watts used to refer to is the idea that the more you pursue something, the less satisfied you become, as this pursuit only reinforces the fact that you lack it in the first place. The desire for a positive experience is itself a negative experience; whereas the acceptance of a negative experience is a positive experience.
Why don’t we, in the coming year, instead of trying to get rid of our problems, carefully choose the problems that we want in our lives? What are the problems that you are willing to work for and to sacrifice for? If we start spending our time and energy on what really matters to us and start measuring our happiness and success against the values that we set for ourselves instead of always working toward an illusion of greatness that we obligate ourselves to pursue, a perfect life as defined by others, our lives will seem so much more meaningful.
“There's greatness to be discovered in accepting our lack of greatness, our simplicity and beauty amidst the complex and ugly. And in embracing our problems along with the dirt, muck and grime that essentially accompany life and humanity, we come to live the good life we always yearned for.” – Mark Manson
In the coming year, let’s challenge ourselves to create a life full of purpose and passion. Let’s make a conscious decision to spend our time and energy on what really matters, and create the lives we have always dreamed of.
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