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.