By November 24, 2010 Read More →

Enjoy the Struggle

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As a friend of mine told me, you have to “catch” happiness — that’s why it’s the “pursuit.”  Whether you’re pursuing happiness or wanting to lead a better life, things go wrong along the way.  But it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond.  And how you respond depends on how you look at your life.

One of the best little gems I read on how to look at life is from the book, Fat,Forty,Fired: One Man’s Frank,Funny,and Inspiring Account of Losing His Job and Finding His Life , by Nigel Marsh.  Nigel writes:

“Life is hard, and as far as I can see it will always be hard.  The vast majority of us will always have to struggle — whatever lifestyle choices we make.  Admitting this to myself was liberating in its own right.  I then started to focus on enjoying the struggle rather than attempting to create a mythical stress-free nirvana.  I started to praise myself for small victories rather than beat myself up for the bigger failure of not having a perfect life.”

Robert Burns may have taught us, “The best laid schemes o’mice an’ men, gang aft agley” … but Nigel Marsh teaches us to focus on the small victories and enjoy the journey along the way, struggle and all.

10 Comments on "Enjoy the Struggle"

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  1. alik says:

    Once you feel the struggle is not too fierce, get yourself into a new adventure to make it even more colorful ;)

  2. Hi J.D.

    I remember I read somewhere that everyone you meet is fighting their own big struggle/battle. It puts our view of others into proper perspective. People are currently working at their current limits.

    Things will always be somewhat difficult, because we hit some new peak, and then seek to rise again. Running from difficulty just delays hitting the next peak, and we have limited time.

  3. JD says:

    @ Alik — It’s like an Aikido move … instead of fight the resistance, use the resistance and go with the flow.

    @ Armen — I like your point about how we continuously find and seek new peaks. That certainly puts the journey in perspective.

  4. Hilary says:

    Hi JD .. happiness and the struggle – we struggle too much .. we comment on the negative things & how difficult life is .. ‘crumbs’ we’re lucky we have choices .. and that’s a happy thing – even down and out we can get back up and get going .. mind over matter. Gratitude for the things we have. We can laugh at any time .. at a cartoon, at a child’s antics, at a joke (good or bad!) .. life may be tricky for a while – but rise above it .. get on with it & enjoy life.

    Happy Thanksgiving .. Hilary

  5. Justin Dupre says:

    I totally agree with you.. having the right attitude helps so much with how you respond to things when they goes wrong. I really like this part of the quote

    “I then started to focus on enjoying the struggle rather than attempting to create a mythical stress-free nirvana. I started to praise myself for small victories rather than beat myself up for the bigger failure of not having a perfect life.”

  6. J.D. What a great message here. I think it is important to realize that it is okay and expected that life is going to filled with challenges and obstacles. I also appreciated that message you shared from Marsh to focus on the small victories and enjoy the journey. That message seemed right on and a good approach to always manage through whatever comes our way. Great post.

  7. JD says:

    @ Hilary — We really are lucky when we have choices and it’s a wonderful thing that we can bounce back after being down and out. I’m always up for a good joke or a crazy antic ;)

    @ Justin — Nigel really knows how to drive a point home. It’s too long for a t-shirt, but I could imagine something like, “Forget your mythical, stress-free nirvana … I’m enjoying my struggle.”

    @ Sibyl — Thank you. Nigel really delivered and, even though I’ve heard these message before, it was like an old song sung new.

  8. Jk says:

    JD – What a great book title that is! But more importantly, a power excerpt on struggle.

    For me, struggle provides knowledge of challenge. When I sense that I have to struggle, or I’m within struggle I know that I’m, right around the corner from triumph. Small wins lead to big ones!

    Good stuff JD!

  9. JD says:

    @ Jk — It’s one of the best books I’ve read in a long time … funny, insightful, and touching. It was a great reminder how we’re all so human, life is fragile, our lifestyle is fragile and our dreams have to grow with us.

    I can relate to how a struggle can be a sign that triumph is right around the corner. As one of my mentors puts it, “that’s what growth feels like.” Weight-lifting early on taught me that growth comes from pushing past your comfort zone.