We tend to understand struggle in a self-referential manner.
If I feel overworked, then the people who don’t have to work seem to have it easy from my point of view.
If I feel underpaid, then people who have lots of money are living THE dream.
If my love life stinks, then people who are in happy relationships are so much luckier than I am.
If I have physical ailments, then people with healthy bodies are better off than me.
Here’s today’s two cents:
Life is challenging for everyone.
Everyone doesn’t have YOUR challenges, but they certainly have their own.
Everyone has demons they’ve got to defeat.
Everyone has obstacles they need to overcome.
Everyone has illusions they need to see through.
If you can think of someone you know that has it easy, then you’re probably defining the word “challenge” solely in terms of the problems YOU identify with.
That’s a problem because the problems you identify with are only a small fraction of the challenges that exist in the world.
To state it inversely, there are a plethora of challenges that, regardless of who you are, you will never experience in this lifetime.
If you need proof for the above statement, request it in the comments. I’ll be happy to list off a string of problems that you’ve never experienced. Just be sure to tell me your gender, your ethnicity, and the country you live in (or the countries you’ve lived in), and I’ll give you AT LEAST three examples based on that information alone.
With that having been said, here’s an important distinction:
There’s a difference between acknowledging another person’s struggles and feeling pity for them.
I’m not asking you to feel pity for the people who seem to have it easy, but I am asking you to recognize that contrast is a part of all our lives.
This recognition offers you two benefits
1) It protects you from the destructive force of self-pity.
Nothing is more self-stultifying than the belief that your experience of difficulty is unparalleled and unprecedented.
2) It motivates you to handle YOUR business.
When you know that everyone else is busting their butt to get through the day, it’s a lot harder to use your own problems as excuses for not doing the same.
At least that’s the way I see it.