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Don’t hold your Happiness Hostage

Don’t hold your happiness hostage to the absence of pain, uncertainty and work

You can be happy while you are in pain. Ask anyone completing the last 100 yards of their first marathon. You can be happy when you are full of uncertainty. Ask someone who is about to travel abroad for the first time. You can be happy while you need to work. Read Tolstoy’s description of cutting and binding wheat. 

Part of the miracle of being human is that we get pain, uncertainty, and work. This trio of human experiences make the game of life feel really real. Their presence fills us with desire and energy and, as a result, creativity, the most human thing of all.

People who are in pain, uncertain, or needing to work often delude themselves into believing that the only way to experience happiness is to remove the pain, the uncertainty, and the work. 

That’s trouble. Don’t believe it.

Believing that pain, uncertainty, and work make us unhappy is a delusion that justifies our unhappiness. It fortifies unhappiness. It’s self-destructive. It rips us away from our natural happiness, which is available regardless of pain, uncertainty, and work. What we want to do is to relish our human experience. That’s what unveils our happiness.

This doesn’t mean we stop playing the game of getting rid of pain, uncertainty, and work. We don’t stop taking Advil. It means we notice when we’re believing the delusional thought that keeps us unhappy. The more we notice it, the less it happens.

[Thanks to Phil Stutz and his wonderful book, Lessons for Living: What Only Adversity Can Teach You, for focusing on this particular trio.]

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