This post is a bit off the cuff, compared to most of the others you’ll find on this site. The reason I’m including it is because I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the past few days and I want to touch on it briefly, before I lose my train of thought.
We all struggle from time to time. The problems we struggle with might vary, but struggling is a part of life. Another thing that varies from one person to another is the amount of complaining we do. Some people have average problems and seem to complain all the time. Surprisingly enough, you’ll also find people whose problems seem nonexistent, or at least very minor, who also complain at every opportunity.
Then there are those whose problems seem to make the rest of ours seem pale, by comparison. These are the folks who absolutely fascinate me, because compared to the rest of us, NOTHING seems to break them. I have long admired those who struggle with deadly diseases and physical disabilities, because of the level of mental strength they’re able to muster up to tackle the various complexities of their lives. While the rest of us are comparing our situations to great tragedies, they struggle to do some of the most basic things we take for granted.
Upon reflection, I think I understand better now why you don’t hear these people complain as much. The problems they face are rarely fixable. If they’re suffering from something like cancer, it’s highly unlikely that complaining is going to help them. In fact, it’s probably only going to make them feel worse and they certainly don’t need that. Whereas with the rest of us, when we complain, we get people to feel sorry for us and do nice things for us in an attempt to cheer us up. That might help if you’re having a bad day, but it’s little consolation when you’re facing your own mortality.
Since I’ve never suffered from anything that bad, I can’t say for sure how I would be affected by it. But I do read lots of books and articles by people who have, and for most of them, the last thing they want is for anyone to feel sorry for them. If you were to ask them what they want more than anything else in the world, their answer would most likely be to get better again. That indicates that they would rather not be reminded of their misfortunes, despite our most compassionate intentions. Most of them just want to be thought of no differently than anyone else. They don’t want to be defined by their troubles.
Of course, another point worth mentioning is that sometimes what one person considers a struggle might not even faze someone else. But see, that’s the whole reason why I started this website to begin with. This entire site is about topics that pertain in some way to mental strength, because I believe it’s the biggest factor in determining how effectively we’re able to handle the struggles of our lives. Whether we want to admit it or not, a large number of people today have nowhere near the coping ability of our ancestors in the not-too-distant past.
Don’t get me wrong, as I don’t mean to beat up on them here. Everyone has their struggles and how they feel to each individual depends on a number of factors such as how they were raised, what sort of childhood they had, whether they were bullied or not, the quality of their relationships, their attitude toward life, their state of mental health, etc… What I aim to do with everything I post on here is not to knock those who struggle or to get them to forget that ugly things might have happened to them, but rather to promote the cultivation of mental strength as a way to both counter the way one chooses to process these things and to help them prepare for the other struggles that life will undoubtedly bring in the future.
Try as we might, we cannot change what has already happened. If we were bullied or abused as children, nothing on Earth can ever make that go away. Nothing can bring back the parent who abandoned us. The past has been both written and read. At this point, all one can do is turn the page and prepare for whatever struggles the chapters ahead will bring. The best way to do this is to get out of our comfort zones and learn to challenge ourselves on a daily basis.
Just as physical exercise makes a body stronger despite whatever it has been through, mental exercise strengthens our ability to endure the psychological beatings of life. Pushing yourself to overcome your fears, develop better habits, drop harmful addictions, and chase after loftier goals is basically just resistance training for the mind. It is my hope to get my readers here more focused on doing these sorts of things for themselves and in turn helping me promote THIS type of message by their example, rather than enabling the current trend toward a victim mentality.
If there’s one thing we can learn from our sick and disabled brothers and sisters, it’s that regardless of what we may be going through, it could always be worse. Unless you’re dying, there will almost always be someone who would gladly trade places with you to get some relief from the pain and suffering they push through every day of their lives. They would gladly take your shitty job, put up with your social media haters, and even kiss that awful mother-in-law of yours if it would give them back the full and relatively painless use of their bodies.
So instead of thinking of your life as a series of consecutive tragedies, try to think of your struggles as opportunities to test what you’re made of. You never know what the future might bring and it’s entirely possible that as hard as your life might seem right now, you might someday find yourself fighting an incurable illness or paralyzed below the waist from an accident you never saw coming. Don’t wait until then to appreciate the blessings you’ve been taking for granted, as you wallow in self-pity. Life is far more beautiful than many people realize and the stronger you become both inside and out, the more beautiful memories you’ll have to look back on when the clock runs out.