A Year of Sacrifice and Struggle
Wow, what a year it's been. I think we'll all look back in years to come and remember 2020 as a year that was extremely different from all other years in our lives. But will it be a year of learning and growth, or a year of sacrifice and struggle without purpose?
I don't know about you, but 2020 made me re-evaluate my life, my priorities, my calendar, my work, and even my direction in life.
I've seen so many businesses hurt, so many people affected by the shut-downs and quarantines. I've seen loved ones lost by families, and I've seen children who aren't allowed to be children because they can't play and spend more time with a screen than they do with people.
If you ask any generation; your mom or dad, or your grandmother or grandfather, or read historical literature, you will find out that all generations of human beings had "their" struggle, had their cross to bear. Struggle either crush us physically and emotionally, or it causes us to focus and figure out how to do life better. Which one is it for you?
There is a term that I learned a long time ago that has really helped me realize that the situation that you are in is hardly ever a product of other people or bad luck. It's almost always the culture or environment that you are either conscious of, or more often than not, unconscious of. The term is called "fundamental attribution error" and it means the tendency we have to ascribe blame to a person, instead of that person's environment. Change a person's environment and you change their behavior. So what type of environment have you been creating for yourself and living in?
I feel a little guilty because this year has actually been one of the best years for me personally in a long time. I feel guilty because others are struggling and I don't want anyone to feel that I'm insensitive or not empathetic to their struggle. However, I keep asking myself, why has this been such a good year for me? My business is doing well, my finances are doing well, my marriage and the relationships that mean the most to me have flourished, my health has been amazing, I haven't had a sniffle or ache all year, I wake up with a feeling of happiness and optimism for the future. What the hell is wrong with me? Should I go see a doctor and get rid of this optimism and happiness I'm suffering with?
Here is the point and for me, it's been a point very well taken this year. When I struggle in life it's usually self-inflicted wounds. I'm not doing it on purpose but it doesn't matter because even if it's happening to me unconsciously, it's HAPPENING to me. Until I wake up and change my life, I'm going to keep struggling. No matter what your situation, there is always hope through choice. Even in the darkest days, the sun will still rise again. If through your struggle, you became someone different, someone better, the struggle was a gift.
Stephen Covey has taught us that most of us manage our life by the clock and not the compass. We focus more on climbing the ladder of success without regard to where that ladder is taking us. We fill our time with "things to do" with very little thought as to whether those things are serving our sense of purpose and happiness. Happiness, as opposed to struggling, comes from doing what you LOVE. Now, here is the point. You are not always going to LOVE to do it. Sometimes doing what you love is hard work. I love being a Chiropractor and helping people feel better and function better, but I don't always love doing it. It's hard sometimes like when I have a patient in pain who is blaming me for not giving them the right adjustment to magically fix them in one visit. As I tell them, "my name is Dane, not Jesus". It's hard when I have a 350 lb man on the table and he wants me to "adjust" his lower back and I feel myself adjusting more than he does? My job is hard sometimes but I LOVE it. I love how it makes me feel. I feel like I'm doing what I was genetically programmed to do, to help people lay a foundation of physical and mental health on which to build their lives. Also, my wife drives me crazy sometimes, and I KNOW I drive her crazy, too, but we LOVE each other, not because it's easy, but because we've struggled, and through the struggle, we've created a beautiful marriage. Your struggle may be real but I encourage you to wrap your arms around it and embrace it. What is it trying to teach you? If you learn the "lesson" from your struggle, it was SO worth it. If you don't, you will most likely continue to struggle and then it goes from struggling to suffering. We all struggle but suffering is optional.
What did this year teach you? Do you need to get healthy? Stop traveling so much and get to know your family again? Do you need a new career doing something you love instead of something you thought your parents or life wanted you to do? Do you need to move to another state or another country? Do you need to read more or read less? Do you need to stop watching so much TV, turn off the computer and turn life back on? Do you need to tell somebody how much you love them because they may not be here next week, next month, or tomorrow? I don't know what you need to do, but you will if you wake up, get conscious, look around, and listen to that little voice in your head. Call it God speaking to you, or the universe. God or the infinite wisdom of the universe doesn't want you to struggle all time. I look around and I don't see nature struggling all the time.
Climbing the mountain called life may be difficult, but stop and enjoy the view along the way. Appreciate the difficult parts BECAUSE they were difficult. Also, I can assure you that the view at the top is the best part of the journey. So, struggle to get to the top, enjoy the view, and send me a postcard.