Have you ever had the sense that you were doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing? That you’re right in the sweet spot where talents, skills, opportunities and passions intersect? Or, maybe you’re not in that elusive sweet spot, but at least on the path toward it. Or, you’ve finally reached a goal…you’ve lost that 50 pounds, gotten your dream job or married the man or woman of your dreams. What if that thing that was supposed to make you happy, solve your problems or make your life easier…didn’t?
What it that thing happened and life was still hard?
I mentioned last week that I’m working on a new project. It’s a daily writing that’s being used in my community group at church and other people are following along as well since it’s being put out on a public website. I feel like this group, writing, and the art associated with it is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing with my life right now. This spiritual storytelling and life-sharing is what I’m supposed to be investing my energy into.
So, life should be golden, right?
My sleep schedule is messed up, I’m stress eating and I can’t keep up with my home or my laundry. My son was sick this week and so was I. Or, I felt like it. It may have just been eating foods that shouldn’t be passing my lips in small amounts, much less by the truckload. It may be the barometric pressure changes as hurricane remnants come through. It’s probably a combination of all of those things.
And at the same time that I’m feeling that I’m doing something I’m supposed to be doing, I feel defeated, depleted, and discouraged. I’m overwhelmed. I’m celebrating successful adulting if I can just get my son to school on time, dressed, and with a lunch box.
If I’m doing the right things…why am I feeling so wretched?
Success Does Not Mean Easy
First, just because you have a success, a win, or are doing the right things in life does not mean your struggles will go away. We like to think those two things are related, but they’re not. Do the great thing and everything gets easy. Happiness bubbles over, birds sing and flowers bloom, like walking down an enchanted path in a Warner Brothers cartoon. Have you ever wished that was you? With every step you take, the world comes to life and sings around you?
Achieving a certain thing or living your dream life doesn’t change the fact that life can be hard. Hard stuff happens regardless. Your success or actions don’t insulate you from struggles and a struggle-free existence isn’t related to doing the right thing. My depression doesn’t really care if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. It will happen anyway, mostly regardless of what I do or don’t do and usually at the most inconvenient time.
Second, often, we create our own struggles. I know I shouldn’t be eating the things I’m eating. I know it. It’s not a shock or surprise that I’ll wake up feeling bad. That my joints will be swollen and sore. That I’ll feel sick and lethargic and have trouble thinking clearly. I’m creating that problem myself.
And last, if you think that a good life is built on achieving that thing you’ve been striving for, doing the right thing, having all the pieces fall into place or whatever you’re counting on to gain in order to make you happy, I have news for you. Even if you change your life, you’re still in the center of it. With all of your faults and your fears and your failures. With all of your quirks and your weaknesses.
What I’m trying to tell you is not to fall victim to the belief that being in your sweet spot or achieving that goal will make life easy, happy and painless. Easy, happy and painless are the cheap seats anyway. Set your sights instead on worthwhile, joy-filled and meaningful. These are found in the process. In the journey, not in achievement.
Expect that even on the right path, there will be sore feet, boulders to scramble over and rough weather. In fact, there may be more of those struggles on the right path than on the wrong path. In the War of Art, Steven Pressfield says, “Rule of thumb: The more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it.”
Are you sensing resistance? Then press in my friends, press in to that space.
This leads me to two other thoughts. Don’t assume that because someone does have their life together, is doing what they’re meant to do or had just achieved something that they aren’t struggling. I’m not even talking about the majority of people posting on social media showing their sanitized life. Those people certainly are struggling. I’m talking about the ones who legitimately have good things happening. They very well may be struggling at the same time.
And lastly, don’t miss the good stuff while you’re running after that thing. Whatever that thing is that you’re chasing right now. Remember that joy and meaning happen daily along the way. They aren’t waiting for you when you reach your finish line. They were the cheers of the crowd, the sunlight on your face and well-timed food tables along the way. You will have struggles, but there is joy and meaning to be found in the journey if you look for it.
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