Why Struggle is Good For Us

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Photo By Julia Caesar via Unsplash

Struggle allows us to ponder the direction of our lives. If we never reflect, we forget to challenge ourselves to be better. I hadn’t realized what struggle does to our character until I was listening to a podcast about the subject. It was Joe Rogan who pointed out something profound, something I hadn’t thought of before on the subject of struggle.

When things are simple it’s easier for us to get bored of our lives and we find ourselves numb to the routine. We can often take for granted all that we have accomplished, as the euphoria of it all wears off. In psychological terms this is called hedonic adaptation:

“The idea is that no matter how good something makes us feel (or, for the record, how bad), most of the time we drift back to where we started, emotionally-speaking. One often-cited study famously showed that despite their initial euphoria, lottery winners were no happier than non-winners eighteen months later.”

Struggle just does the opposite; struggle gives us focus and perspective. It gives us aim, a goal to reach and something to look forward to. But, what if reaching the top is anti-climactic? What if we find ourselves saying, “I did this, I accomplish that, and so now what?”

As I listed to Rogan’s podcast or YouTube video, I was surprised at an almost moronically simple solution he came up with. Rogan said, and I am paraphrasing here, that if you’re feeling a little down try challenging yourself to learn something totally new. Get outside and do an exercise you’ve never done before. Challenge yourself. Push yourself and push yourself hard. Feel the burn and then feel the excitement of accomplishing the task. Pick up a hobby or something you haven’t mastered and do it. I thought about what he said and it sort of makes sense. It’s the concept of narrow thinking versus pushing ourselves outside of the comfy bubble we live in. Rogan went on to discuss affluenza the new term for kids who get into trouble or end up hurting themselves because they have too much money?

Now, I don’t know much about affluenza, the latest psychology term being thrown around. But, I do know one thing: hard work is good for us.

It’s like some of us writers when we’re creating characters. What if your character never undergoes a change? What if you write a character whether content or not, remains mostly the same throughout a good portion of your novel? When a character hardly changes then he/she is not a well-developed character, but instead is flat and one-dimensional. A well-written character has to go through change. Characters have to face trials and struggle, and over come them. The same goes with our own personal character, regardless if we’re 15 or 95. We’re never too young or too old to decide to shift our perspective. And it can be as simple as a perspective shift.

I mean, think about it. If you’re unsatisfied in your life…perhaps you’re not struggling enough? Sound’s crazy, right? Maybe you need a new challenge to face? And if you are struggling, then consider it a blessing.

You see, we can’t grow personally and surely can’t write three dimensional characters without struggle and new conquests. This isn’t a lesson on writing well. It’s a lesson on life, in general.


The Bottom Line:

If you’re feeling stagnant, bored, low energy, down, or just “blah” then try doing something totally new. How about retire from being your old self and go on an adventure to discover new things?

What’s most important of all is to never ever stop learning. We’re never too old to learn new things. Even something as simple as realizing that we’re never too old to try a new flavor of ice cream or new food. Hell, it sounds trivial but some people never do. Some of us get stuck doing the same thing, eating the same flavors, and being too afraid to do anything different.

Sometimes deviating from what is comfortable to you and instead being like an excited child, ready to learn, humbles us enough to realize that there is so much out there that we don’t know. Fulfillment can come in many forms and in various ways, there’s no need to evade an arduous undertaking, consider every struggle a precious gift.



Joseph B. Wirthlin



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52 thoughts on “Why Struggle is Good For Us

    Colors of my life said:
    May 24, 2017 at 7:38 AM

    My perspective is, make an objective to achieve is one part, the initial part has 2 elements:

    – What will happened when you achieve it.
    – What’s next.

    I have my objectives and goals but I also have 2nd one lined up. That as soon as I have achieved the present one, I will get xyz out of it. Once it’s done, the part 2 will start or the next in the same series.

    Never make a plan / objective without the purpose, no matter how good it is, you will lose track of it.

    I have some objectives that are their to achieve but since they are without purpose, they are prolonging for considerable amount of time.

    Liked by 2 people

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 24, 2017 at 11:07 AM

      Colors of my Life…you make a fantastic point on getting ahead of the situation. I think you’ve got a solid pro-active plan. It’s easy to get so busy that we forget what to plan for after said goals are accomplished. But, you’re right. It’s important to have a purpose in mind for our actions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

        Colors of my life said:
        May 24, 2017 at 8:36 PM

        If you see my objective post, I always have one picture in it. That picture is fascinating, I have placed in front of my eyes in office and in home on work table.

        Whenever I forgot or don’t want to go ahead I look at that photo and say to myself, where I am.

        Do copy that picture it will help you.

        You should and must have a purpose, without it no point of having an objective. Our life should have a purpose, everything is created for a purpose. If we don’t have a purpose than what’s the point of having anything.

        Once you have solid principles in life as to what they are for your life. You should ask, what’s your purpose of life, what your mojo, what skill you have in life, how you can serve others in anyway through your gift of life. Than anything you do have a purpose. It’s just putting the goals to your purpose.

        That’s how I go at my end. That’s how I am discovering myself. Since this blog of mine is about that!

        Liked by 1 person

    rjlboom said:
    May 24, 2017 at 7:40 AM

    Our Brazilian Jiu Jitsu team has a motto, you either win or you learn. There is no losing, you simply learn from your mistakes and become better.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 24, 2017 at 11:10 AM

      Rjlboom, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no joke. Talk about challenging oneself…I wonder if every person who was bored or depressed with their life, if they would get into Jiu Jitsu, how they might feel? I have considered doing it for the exercise and for how it helps our mind. I agree…we either win or learn, there’s no losing. I think people are afraid to try new things because of that fear of failure.

      Liked by 1 person

        rjlboom said:
        May 24, 2017 at 11:35 AM

        Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is amazing. If you have a club near you I would highly recommend trying out a class. There are so many skills that you develop through Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that translate to other areas in our life., patience when you are in tough spots, perseverance, self confidence etc…

        Thank you for bringing up about how people with depression may feel if they trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I think may actually tackle that topic in an upcoming post. Great idea!

        Liked by 1 person

        Sonyo Estavillo responded:
        May 24, 2017 at 1:20 PM

        I think you should because Joe Rogan the guy I listen to is a black belt in BJJ and is also a comedian…what a combo, right? Depression and fighting it off with something really physically demanding like BJJ is something he tapped upon in his podcast about the late Chris Cornell. I think since you do BJJ…you should write about it in the context of how it helps mentally. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    hintsoflifesite said:
    May 24, 2017 at 8:11 AM

    A human mind is capable of much more than we realize. Change is a constant and one must strive to change for good. And I believe we are blessed with the ability to learn different things in our life. Sonyo, an interesting read. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 24, 2017 at 11:16 AM

      Hints of Life, thank you! Our mind is indeed such a powerful machine. You’re right…I should have specified in the post that “good change” is important. Because we can often get bored with our lives and run to addiction or bad stuff, too. I did this once with red wine. I don’t do that anymore, I escape in books. But, also I am learning to meditate which helps to ground my mind in the present and exist in it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    Tanya Simone Simpson said:
    May 24, 2017 at 11:45 AM

    Setting challenges for yourself is such a wonderful thing to do. When I decided to get serious about writing this year, I found a set of flash fiction prompts, one for every day of the month, and worked my way through them all in January. It was really difficult and I had days when I didn’t feel inspired, but I still did the thing and it was the perfect start to the year.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 24, 2017 at 1:23 PM

      That’s a great example Tanya. Challenge is always good, initially we all go through that dreaded feeling at first. It’s like going to the gym or going for a run or whatever. But then, once we actually get past our fear of starting and get past procrastinating, then we feel way better after we actually do it. Writing prompts definitely help to keep the writing juices going and inspiration flowing. You never know what a short writing prompt can lead to. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    Rayne said:
    May 25, 2017 at 3:08 AM

    I always look forward to new posts from you. I got something valuable from this article. Trying something new, or improving on a skill I’m interested in learning or want to grow in. Thanks for sharing this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 25, 2017 at 9:06 AM

      I think looking at our struggles as a good thing, helps us to see it in a positive way. I heard from a group counselor once advise to do just the opposite of your negative feelings. Which makes a lot of sense. So if we don’t feel like doing anything because we’re depressed- do the opposite and pick up a hobby that challenges us. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    Sadaf Siddiqi said:
    May 25, 2017 at 3:17 AM

    Struggles helps to be strong, passionate and outshine in life! This was such an inspiring post.

    Liked by 1 person

    Carolina said:
    May 28, 2017 at 2:44 PM

    I’m happy I found your site. This article is right on point as to what I am experiencing. I am learning photography and starting to train with a personal trainer to get my mental health recovery started. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 28, 2017 at 7:50 PM

      Oh, that’s great to hear Carolina. I’ll check out your site. I was told once to do the opposite of what you’re feeling when you’re depressed. So, if you feel like isolating and not doing anything…force yourself to do the opposite. I did this and it’s worked, but it’s work getting ourselves to push beyond our comfort zones. I’m super proud of you for reaching out and getting help for your mental health and for getting a personal trainer. So glad that you found photography too. I love taking pictures also! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

        Carolina said:
        May 29, 2017 at 4:30 AM

        I love your site and attitude…so upbeat and encouraging!

        Liked by 1 person

        Sonyo Estavillo responded:
        June 3, 2017 at 9:54 PM

        Thank you so much! ❤

        Like

    Pam Avoledo said:
    May 29, 2017 at 6:14 PM

    Struggling is my motivation. It what keeps me going. Without it, I would become complacent. Good persceptive.

    Liked by 1 person

    Lisa Newman-Morris said:
    May 29, 2017 at 7:18 PM

    The greatest amount of personal growth is achieved in dealing with struggle, challenges and failure. Celebrate the struggle!

    https://lisanewmanmorris.com.au

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 29, 2017 at 8:11 PM

      Perfect summation 🙂 let us celebrate the struggle indeed!

      Like

    stacilys said:
    May 30, 2017 at 12:30 PM

    Hi Sonyo. As you know, I believe that struggles are our teachers. That is if we let them be. Oftentimes people become bitter because of struggles, which is unfortunate. I made a decision last year to try and make lemonade out of the lemons life throws at me.
    Interesting thing you touched on about constructing characters in writing. I saw a video not too long ago about the construction of characters and how the story is always the same. There’s always a hero in the story (whether portrayed as a hero or not). Something along the lines of the person being your average everyday person, then they go through some serious struggles, then they fight those struggles or battles, then they have victory over them, the all is well. Very interesting video. I should try and find it and pass you the link.
    Hope you’re doing well, and please have a great rest of the week.
    🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      May 30, 2017 at 12:37 PM

      Yes, I would love to watch that video. I think it’s true that our struggles can be the best teachers and many people can become bitter. But, if we get past the bitterness, we find that we are stronger after we get up off the ground. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

        stacilys said:
        May 31, 2017 at 10:23 AM

        Agreed.
        I will have to see if I can find it. If I do, I’ll pass it on to you.
        🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    […] via Why Struggle is Good For Us — Writing With Hope […]

    Liked by 1 person

    thereluctantpoet said:
    June 7, 2017 at 4:58 AM

    Hi Sonyo, Good to see You! Really loved this post. Universal application of the topic makes it great for everyone. Makes me think of the performer on stage who act is to keep 8 plates spinning on sticks across the stage. Not hard with 2 or 3 but 8 keeps him always running back and forth. Reminds me of life and struggling to keep everything in balance – the motto at our house “It’s Always Something”. It helps when you realize that change and struggles are a regular part of life and not the exception!
    Bravo Sonyo!!

    Loved the comment above on movie characters and writing. It used to slay me to no end when my Dad watched Perry Mason that within the first few minutes he would announce who did it? His trick: The Second most famous actor is the guy. Works most of the time!

    Come by and visit me!!! My words get lonely some times!

    Like

    thereluctantpoet said:
    June 7, 2017 at 5:22 AM

    Reblogged this on The Reluctant Poet and commented:
    Here is something to think about and some solutions when you Struggle from our Friend, Sonyo Estavillo of lilpickmeup.com. Today it is “Why Struggle Is Good For Us” Please enjoy this and go visit Sonyo’s site lilpickmeup.com for other great articles.

    Check her Bio – The Bio of a Super Multi-Tasker. Also, An old pastor once told me to be very careful if You pray for patience because God will give You lots of opportunities to develop it!!

    Like

    lindaluna583 said:
    June 8, 2017 at 6:12 AM

    Reblogged this on Dark Side of the Moon and commented:
    Note to self: There is purpose in there struggle. Embrace it.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      June 8, 2017 at 10:34 AM

      Thank you so much for the reblog I appreciate it. 🙂 It’s so true as long as we remember the big picture. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    wells baum aka bombtune said:
    June 12, 2017 at 4:28 PM

    I think it was Bernard Malamud who said: “if you haven’t struggled, you haven’t yet lived.” Always stuck with me.

    Like

    […] hardship. However, obstacles in life can lead to great rewards because we cannot come out of struggle without being inherently changed by it. Nevertheless, it’s up to us to make sure that change […]

    Like

    mamaboss9091 said:
    June 17, 2017 at 4:49 AM

    Similar to exercise, your body can’t change if you keep doing the same workout 3 years later. Your body needs that muscle confusion in order to change itself. You explained the mind version of That! The mind is absolutely amazing and I don’t believe that we will ever be able to unlock it’s full potential…but why not try! I am a planner but I am trying to not plan somethings and watch myself grow in being ok with some unknown.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      June 17, 2017 at 4:54 PM

      Ah hah…you are right Mamaboss! Your body needs muscle confusion. I love how you worded it! So true. The unknowns are so hard, I think that I find the unknown the biggest challenge for me. Struggle is good, if you are struggling with internal stuff or circumstances, it’s okay. Breathe. Just breathe and say…you know what, I’m going to get through this. I’m going to be just fine. I’m going to learn and I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m going to be just fine. Nothing and I mean nothing can break me. I won’t let it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    Peter Tubene said:
    June 21, 2017 at 6:20 PM

    My muscle memory and dopamine levels take me to the same things that I struggle with. I’m 18 and I have been a christian all my life.I feel like I have persistently tried all of these strategies to overcome my struggles.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      June 21, 2017 at 9:03 PM

      I am so sorry that you feel as if all of your efforts have lead you to feel empty or like a “failure.” But, your are not a “failure” you are special and we do go through struggle in order to become better versions of ourselves. I hope that with guidance and loving people surrounding you, that you can see this too. That your struggles are only making you become a better version of yourself. ❤

      Like

    wildsoundreview said:
    July 8, 2017 at 9:12 PM
    Edis Rune said:
    July 8, 2017 at 9:16 PM

    I love this!

    Liked by 1 person

    jaynemagdalentraver said:
    July 19, 2017 at 11:42 AM

    Thank you for reminding me that struggle is a blessing. And you’re right; if you are satisfied and are not feeling challenged, then your creative juices need a tweak. Overcoming a challenge is the best feeling! Diamonds do not shine without friction, right? I will do as you are doing; I shall write with hope when I am writing upside down! Love your blog title! Look forward to reading you more often, Sonyo!

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      July 19, 2017 at 1:52 PM

      Thank you I will have to check out your blog too! Overcoming challenges is definitely a great feeling! 🙂

      Like

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      August 5, 2017 at 7:12 PM

      Exactly diamonds always require friction, as I have found that all that I have ever struggled with I have become better and stronger as a result.

      Like

    jaynemagdalentraver said:
    July 19, 2017 at 11:45 AM

    I enjoyed reading this, Sonyo. As a writer I continue to struggle, but it’s a challenge I enjoy. Diamonds don’t shine unless they’ve come in contact with friction. Thanks for reminding me that it’s not a blessing but a curse. I love your blog name! Looking forward to reading you again.

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      July 19, 2017 at 1:51 PM

      Awe thanks, I definitely have to remind myself that struggle is actually a good thing. It’s a positive and not a negative. 🙂

      Like

    Gabby said:
    August 14, 2017 at 12:36 PM

    Thank you for this post. I’m experiencing some struggles with my writing, which can be frustrating sometimes; however, you’re so right about struggling being a good thing. Thanks for reminding me of that!

    Like

    biancowriting said:
    August 19, 2017 at 4:07 PM

    I enjoyed reading this very much. A lot of the writing I post on my page is the results of past struggles in life. Hearing the perspectives or others is great. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

      Sonyo Estavillo responded:
      August 19, 2017 at 7:50 PM

      That’s awesome, I’ll have to take a look at your blog. I am glad you connected with my writing. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

        biancowriting said:
        August 19, 2017 at 7:53 PM

        Indeed, and I hope you enjoy some of my postings as well! Cheers

        Like

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