There’s a lot to be said for challenging and stretching oneself just for the sheer joy of it yet most people I see working on their bodies, their businesses or their bank accounts seem to show very little in the way of joy from their actions.
In fact, they seem to almost take a perverse pride in SUFFERING.
A distinction I like to make is this; struggle is often a positive and growth-inducing thing…
Struggling for your growth and improvement often (though not always) leads to the ‘next level’ version of ourselves that’s hidden inside and waiting to show itself.
Suffering, on the other hand, tends to reduce and diminish both our sense of self and our sense of joy, possibility and freedom.
Yesterday I chose to come off of the Mount Everest basecamp trek because the challenge I started had become a chasm and the struggle had become a source of suffering due to Acute Mountain Sickness.
All of my great memories and experiences on the way up (including the genuine struggles I had each day) were starting to become ‘polluted’ by the suffering that had taken over.
No doubt about it, the trek up to basecamp was REALLY challenging for me but I still found a lot of pleasure in the people, the places and the panorama of ‘the roof of the world’ and KNEW that my struggles were helping me to grow into the newer version of myself that I hoped it would.
Until it wasn’t.
Until challenge disappeared and chaos showed up.
Until struggles ended and genuine suffering took its place.
At that point I was no longer present to the miracle and wonder of being fortunate enough to be in a place of such rugged beauty, I was too busy looking down and my feet, gasping for air and hoping that my heart would hold out long enough allow me to see those I love again.
In other words Dax Moy had ‘left the building’ and another version of me had taken his place.
You don’t have to climb the high Himalayas to experience suffering.
Suffering can show up in the way you exercise and diet your way to the perfect body, approach building the perfect business, attempt to acquire the perfect bank account or try to create the perfect bond with your partner, family, kids and friends.
(In fact, even THINKING that there’s a ‘perfect’ ANYTHING is an automatic ticket on the fast train to suffering but I’ll save that for another post)
And it’s obvious when it has.
Because there’s no longer the feeling that fun, freedom and fulfilment is present in your actions and instead something darker, pessimistic and cynical starts to take its place.
Gradually at first, but over time more and more of who you DON’T want to be and what you DON’T want to experience takes over the day to day focus of your life.
So choose and use joy to direct your actions and use that joy to direct you to your challenges and self-appointed struggles.
The ones that stretch you and test you and ask you to take that next step beyond where you’re comfortable yet which still excites you and puts a gleam in your eye just the same.
But steer clear of suffering.
It’s a losers game.
It harms you where you most need to be healed, brings chaos where you most need to experience calm and brings darkness to where there is the greatest need of light in your life.
Choose struggles not suffering.
P.S – I believe we are each here to define, refine and align with the greatest versions of ourselves that we can be.
I refuse to believe that the greatest version of anyone is the one that lives a life of suffering xxx