Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Life Throws You a Curve Ball ...

That's just life!

Life is a bit tough at the moment.  I suspect it is like this for most people right now.    During tough times in the past I've pedalled like mad to get through the tough spots so I can relax back in the "happy" life that should be the norm.   Problem is I get there, and then as quickly as I grasp hold of it, it slips away again.

How often do you hear people say ... "If only I could pay my tax bill, I'd be happy then", "If only I could find a job doing something I like, I'd be happy then", If only we had a decent car, I'd be happy then".  We hear it all the time. In fact, I say things like that myself.   We are all waiting for that something to happen so we can live in happiness, just how life is meant to be.  Right?

What if the concept of having a "happy" life doesn't exist - it never has and it never will?   What if we just accept that life is a struggle, it is hard.   Fullstop.   There is no "easy" life.  There is no utopia at the end of the road.   We don't work hard and get through the tough bits in order to get to the good time/easy life that awaits us.  It simply isn't there.

Wait for it ... what if the hard times were the norm and the happy times were sprinkled throughout to give us a break and a chance to build strength to keep going?   Novel thought isn't it?

Don't worry, I've not gone all emo and traded in my optimism card for a pessimism one.  In fact I'm having a mindset change that actually makes me happier.  Instead of waiting to be happy, I am learning to accept that how things are right now is exactly how they are meant to be.  On any given day I can always find some sparkly bits to make my day brighter, no matter what is going on.

We give our children the message that life should be easy, fun, happy.  We protect them from the hard stuff as we wear the brunt of everything we have to deal with.   Protecting them from life.  I know.  I've done this for 20 years!   Just recently my sons have been going through some tough times and I realise how ill equipped they are to deal with this.  When I said, "welcome to real life - it's actually hard" a light bulb went off in my mind.  They had no idea how hard it is and I've spent years pretending life is easier than it really is.

Books and happiness coaches tell us that if we live life this way or that way we will be happy.  Life doesn't have to be hard.  De-clutter our homes, our minds, our garages and "shazam" happiness will be ours for the taking.  Bucket loads of the stuff!    If we "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" all of a sudden we won't be burdened with worry and stress.  And so it goes on.   If we don't feel "happy" and life isn't "easy" then we must be doing something wrong.

I've got an idea.  To really simplify things why don't we just accept that life is hard.  Your life, my life, everyone's life.   Bad stuff happens all the time.   People get sad.  People worry every single day.  People get sick.  People die.  People lose their jobs.  People become homeless.    The problems we face today are much different to the problems our caveman ancestors had to face, yet essentially we are both fighting for the same thing ... survival.   They spent their entire life trying to not get eaten by saber tooth tigers and making sure they had enough food to keep their family alive.   Same thing now, except the Saber Tooth tiger comes in many forms - banks, tax office, cancer, bullying, jobs or lack thereof.  There are Saber Tooth tigers everywhere!

So ... accepting that life is hard and there won't be a gold prize at the end of the rainbow or a light at the end of the tunnel, is liberating.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on something or that other people have it easier than I do.   Life is just that, life and we navigate our way through it with one thing in mind ... survival.  That is our reward - surviving it to the end, not finding an unattainable utopia!



ruddygood said...

Love where your musings have taken you, lovely one.
My personal epiphany came a few years ago, after a long-ish season of loss: I realised that *nowhere* was it written that Life HAD to be fair. Expecting it to be so gets us into all sorts of strife ... so I gave it up. It helps me to maintain my naturally optimistic frame of mind. :) x

traceyb65 said...

nailed it Annie! i often wonder about people who say they won't have children theses days because it is too hard … harder than routinely dying in childbirth, or of influenza?

i love your 'new optimism', of basking in the tiniest sparkle, instead of pushing it aside impatiently waiting for the pot of gold that surely is owed to us!


emlykd said...

It's not pessimism, it's reality. And I love it! I also think that deciding to be content with what you have is the first step.

Kerri Sackville said...

The Buddha said 'happiness is accepting that life is suffering'. I'm no Buddhist, but smart dude.

Shelley @ My Shoebox Life said...

I came to this exact conclusion last year, and stopped looking for the elusive 'happiness'. Hubby and I had a lightbulb moment when we were going through a really tough time of it before the end of last year, and we said you know what? 90% of life is shite. But it's worth it for the other 10%. xx

Benison said...

Brilliant post, Annie. And you are right; once you stop expecting to be happy all the time it's a huge release, and relief. I went through the same epiphany a while ago, not long after my son was diagnosed with autism. I heard Alain De Botton on the radio talking about the Roman philosopher Seneca, who wrote about this two thousand years ago. Yet we're still getting it wrong! There is a popular book, called 'The Happiness Trap', which covers this very topic. I haven't actually read it, but people I know swear by it. And, as for belatedly teaching your teenage sons that life can be hard, I sooo know where you're coming from. xx

DeepRecesses said...

Right on Annie. Stop chasing the rainbow and just enjoy looking at it when it's there.
Or something like that :/

Mishaps and Mayhem of a Gluten Free Life said...

So true! After a big car accident n severe injuries and not working for 18 months, moving back with parents, the list goes on. I focus on what I do have the small things that until something happens we don't realize, we won't more. My life isn't want I want it to be but I have the best husband loving friends n family n I'm alive! That's what's important not the material stuff!

Denwise aka Denyse Whelan said...

Firstly, may I say how good it is to see you writing here again. Missed you, and missed your spot-on topics.
Today's is one.
Indeed, that book (I've got it on CD) of Alain de Botton's is so true.
Like, people, like nothing's different.

I love that in my ageing comes a freedom to explore and discover these Life issues, without worrying 'what will people think' .
One of the reasons I am doing some travelling at the moment, is 'why would I wait' and 'isn't now the best time'
We get hung up on, "ill get this done, then I can have my reward
It IS hard to keep at bay the shoulds of happiness, but in doing what we've all done, protect our kids from the knocks of life, we haven't taught them as much resilience.
Like the way you are thinking, lady!!

Katrina from The Block said...

You are right. Life is hard. Just when I think I have it sorted, BAM something crap happens! Argh! But I always know that the sun will shine again. It always does. So glad to see you back blogging! X

4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle said...

Annie I watched a movie on the weekend "The Happy Movie" have you heard of it? I think it might REALLY be your cup of tea about now.


Katy_Potaty said...

I love that it's finally becoming ok to say to our kids - maybe things aren't always great, deal with it.


Linda said...

I'm glad I read this Annie. xo

Easy Peasy Kids said...

Annie you are so right, a lot of my counselling with parents is to do with the search for happiness, when at times it is just a simple moment or thing amongst all the hecticnes of it all. It is a state of mind, expectations and the grass is greener on the other side. I find many self help positivity books actually make people feel worse as they don't deal with actual real life problems, trauma etc.. I too have the Happiness Trap -fab book.
I try and find the happy in very simple things and a lot of my work with children and families is about looking at the bigger picture and finding their happy in just feeling OK too.

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