April 04, 2015

to try very hard to do, achieve, or deal with something that is difficult or that causes problems

Most people probably associate struggle with something unwelcome. Look at the definition - the words “very hard”, “difficult” and “problems” are in there. We do not like problems, especially very hard ones, or do we?

In a peculiar way, we enjoy struggle. Most successful past-times involve struggle in some form or another. In many video games there is an increasing level of challenges to overcome—just as you begin to reach one milestone, another is set out ahead of you. When you reach the final milestone is often the last you play. When you play a musical instrument, you try to reach the next level of expertise, learn the next song, increase your proficiency. Faster, stronger, better - we are always in pursuit of perfection, achievement, accomplishment. There is always another level to reach and we are never quite “there” yet.

The very thing we want all along is a wholeness and completeness, when we reach (or almost reach it) our enjoyment starts to wane. No one that I know accomplishes something and says it is enough for them. There is always an urge to keep going further.

Maybe struggle is both an ally and adversary. We wish that it was possible, sometimes, to achieve and reach goals without paying a price, yet it is the pain and the effort we pour into pursuing those goals that make them matter to us, that do not make them ring hollow… empty.

If we embrace our struggle, perhaps we can realize that this is part of the enjoyment we have in the pursuit of bigger and better goals. Realizing this may be a life-long pursuit, we should give ourselves some slack. If we burn ourselves out chasing each milestone, that is how our whole life may look. If we try to pin our self-image on whether we reach our goals, we may never be satisfied in ourselves. A form of chasing the wind. There is a deeper well that we need to draw our self-worth from than our achievements. In baseball, winning games are often done with base hits and team plays, not home runs. Pace yourself, enjoy the process, remember to find enjoyment in more than victory. Do life for the love of the game.

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Written by Joshua Granick. Lover of all things cute and quirky. Writer, speaker and empathetic problem solver.

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