Until we take complete responsibility for our lives, we won’t have the success, the satisfaction, the meaning or purpose or joy that we deeply and intuitively crave. And taking responsibility for everything we have control over, and releasing what we do not have control over begins with the simple understanding that…
No One Is Coming.
No one is coming to save you. No one is coming to give you a gift, a helping hand, to solve your problems for you or to tell you what to do.
That’s right, in that aspect of life you are alone. Coming to grips with this can be a little scary, but to avoid reality is to avoid life. Life is great and grand, it’s also lonely and hard, difficult and dangerous.
A few months ago now I was sitting around a fire with a couple pals. One asked the question, of me specifically, since both pals had already figured out the answer to this question in a previous conversation, What do you want from life?
I gave the typical answers, a yacht, a ranch, horses, a porch where I can shoot clays off of in the morning with my shotgun and a cup of coffee. You know, stupid shit, trivial shit, half-being-funny, have serious answers.
They both chimed back with, naw, go deeper. What do you really want from life.
As they gave their answers, I realized that I didn’t know. I was also looking at the question from the wrong perspective.
What we want from life cannot be something we get, because then life is over. It’s done. We’ve got it, it’ll feel good for a moment, but then we’ll want more – if we have an ounce of ambition, of course.
What we want in life has to be something we do. It has to be something that gives us some joy, but more than anything, gives us meaning, purpose, and pride in the good sense that we’re here for a reason and we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re maximizing our gifts.
The next two months were spent figuring this question out. I read a few books on understanding the Self, who we are, what we want, how we think, what influences what we think and so on. Then, the answer popped into my head as if it was thrown in there by some external force.
Life is Struggle
The more I read about life, history, philosophy, faith, and so on, the more I realized that life is itself a struggle. There’s the unknown, which many can’t handle. There’s the ups and downs, even the highs have their own struggles, as we earn more and gain more we adopt new struggles, sometimes even greater ones.
Being a Christian, my understanding of God and His role is also evolving. I’ve always seen blessings as already have been given. That is, I’ve already been blessed with everything I need to get what I want, to become who I want. We all have. So, I read the Good Book for guidance. I pray for wisdom. I talk to the Man Upstairs to work out problems. I don’t want Him to come and save me because He already has.
We’re told how to live well in the Bible, in the many books by the Stoics, in books about wisdom, and so on. We have our basic instructions for living well. We have the information we need from external sources, and the gifts we need within ourselves.
It’s up to us to use them and more importantly develop them.
Thus, no matter what we want in life, where we want to be, what we want to get, who we want to become, life requires struggle. And no one is coming to take that struggle for us. Nor should we want them to, expect them to, or wish that they would.
We have to understand this reality, this fact of life, that our life is on us, on our shoulders, and we’re tasked with making it a great one.
There came my answer…
To struggle with a smile on my face.
No matter if I’m at the depths, feeling despair about some event, some thing I did that was wrong or some seemingly catastrophic event that befell me, I want to understand that it’s a part of life, and to find joy and meaning within it.
If business isn’t going as well as I want it to, the challenge is clear, right the ship, think bigger, do more, work better, provide more, deliver more, accept the challenge and not wish things weren’t so.
If I’m focusing on something I don’t have I have to question whether I really need to have it. I need to see reality rather than being a slave to desires and wishes that often aren’t real, or are influenced by marketing or movies or friends or family and so on.
When we understand and fully accept that life is struggle, filled with good pain, good tribulation, and that no one is coming to take that away from us, we open ourselves up to appreciating the pain, the struggle, the obstacles as life itself, as a part of the journey.
And then we aim higher…
We adopt greater struggles as we become greater. We aim to conquer, not just take it. We grow our influence, our impact, our reason for being here because we don’t just not shy away from the necessary struggle of growth, but we thrive amidst it. We relish it. We cherish it and appreciate it in the moment while looking to greater goals to hunt down in the future.
Struggling with a smile on my face requires worthy struggles. We have a choice of who we see ourselves as, and our vision of ourself is aligned with what we think we can endure.
Men who see themselves as winners, alphas, leaders, conquerors, really just see themselves as men who can endure more. They can take on more responsibility. They can climb out of greater depths. They can endure greater hardship, bigger obstacles, greater foes.
Thus, they can conquer whatever the fuck the world puts in front of them – or better yet, whatever grand obstacle they choose to stand before – and win.
That’s drive. That’s hunger. That’s ambition.
It’s not wishing and praying for great things to happen, it’s having the balls to face something great and imposing and fight. That’s a man. That’s virility. That’s drive and ambition. That’s who you and I are meant to be, but far too often shy away from.
The Cancer of Life
Which finally brings us to the antidote to a great life, self-pity.
It’s wishing someone would come save us. Wishing things were different. Wishing our lives weren’t this tough or that we were living in someone else’s shoes.
Smiling while you struggle and adopting greater struggles is a position of power. It’s being driven to become greater and not being so soft that you wish things weren’t so.
Self-pity is weakness.
And the beautiful thing about this life, who you are, what you are, and all of that stuff, is that you get to choose which view you adopt.
You get to choose your struggles. Or you get to wish and wine that you didn’t have any.