“Everything that’s worth doing involves headaches”

I’d like to give a short lesson on an aspect of life that we often find frustrating:

Book cover 300Important things are not easy to accomplish. This often seems ironic – because when we really want something, or love it, we expect it to be easy. But it’s not! The most worthwhile things to do are often the hardest.

Why is this? Well, as I say in Winning the Fight to Be Happy, it’s natural to ask “why?” in life – but don’t expect any answers. For some reason, life has embedded, in its DNA, the fact that the most meaningful things are also the hardest things. Why are so many good dishes hard to cook? Why are things like having a muscular body, getting a PhD, or being financially successful, so difficult?

We don’t have an essential answer to this question. But there is a bright side. Whenever we are doing something that we are really motivated to do, and finding it challenging and difficult, we should (a) not be surprised that it is so difficult, and (b) rest easy, as the most worthwhile things are always hard. In a sense, if something is hard to do, that usually means it’s worthwhile.

Pyrrhus 200
Pyrrhus of Epirus, 318-272 BC

Keep in mind, that we have to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. If the path to your goal is causing you so many headaches that it is making you miserable, and influencing your relationships, then you should sit back and examine what you are doing. You want to avoid having a “Pyrrhic Victory”, as I discuss in my book.

Going back to my original point: it is also pleasant to know that there are many meaningful things in life that actually aren’t difficult. Kindness is one. Good manners are another. Kindness and politeness don’t cost anything, and they make a huge difference in people’s lives. And it takes fewer muscles to smile than to frown!

I mention in my book that we should not be surprised when bad things happen. Once you’ve reached adulthood, you’ve seen enough bad things happen to know that this cannot be controlled. The same goes for the headaches that get in the way of completing or goal or project. Be thankful for the days that are smooth, and don’t be shocked by the days that aren’t. Life has put obstacles in the paths to our goals, but look at these as speedbumps, not Mt. Everest. Life likes to test our persistence and our patience.

Almost anything worth fighting for is difficult. Even the best boxers get hit sometimes, and have to backpedal. But the best boxers also don’t let a few punches destroy their will and momentum. Always try your best to keep things moving forward.

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