While sweeping the kitchen floor yesterday, my monkey-mind brought the concept of struggle to my consciousness. Such is the nature of the mind–random thoughts and chatter goes on constantly. This proclivity is quite noticeable to people who meditate. Concentration can be quite a struggle.
Since I was simply performing a basic household task, there was no need to meditatively concentrate. It was easy to drift into contemplative mode about struggles in life.
Naturally, the first struggle to come to mind was personal. Like many folks, I’ve had to struggle to change other people’s perceptions about me. Family, old school mates, and others saw me as an inhibited, retiring, shy boy. But I never felt that way deep inside. In order to let the “real” me shine, I had to undergo years of personal growth through reading philosophical works along with trial and error experimentation. Although I’m not extroverted, I now let my introversion work for me, not against me.
As I swept the floor’s debris into the dustpan, the fact that a billion or so people around the Earth eak out a subsistence living on a dollar a day came to mind. The harsh struggles to support their families is more about basic life and death issues. In many parts of the world, people struggle to put humble amounts of food on the table if they even own a table. Meantime, people like me struggle with healthy eating habits, nutrition, being over-weight, and meal variety. While they worry about their children’s health and well-being, I struggle with existential questions. The juxtaposition of these struggles in my mind is baffling.
A universal human problem is that of struggling towards working towards our goals. Whether it is maintaining a family under subsistence conditions or it is career advancement for those of us who live in more abundant circumstances. Oftentimes we encounter numerous setbacks. There is the temptation to give up, sometimes we struggle to persist in order to complete the challenges. We draw upon our reserves of positive self-talk, resilience, and a bit of internal courage to perpetuate our efforts.
Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities and obligations. We might lack emotional or physical support of others. We have to analyze the situation in order to determine if we’re undergoing a temporary setback or if we’re struggling in vain about a lost cause. During the state of overwhelm, it helps to take a short recess in order to reassess the goal and how we might change our approach. If an impasse has indeed been reached, it might be time to work with a therapist or coach to help manage the circumstances.
The thing to remember is that we have struggles to face. We have to figure out how to cope with and overcome obstacles the rest of our lives. We have to navigate through society and deal with repression, stigmas, taboos, and self-doubt. We grow a little bit each time we remember that every person on this planet also struggles with something.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes F. Scott Fitzgerald. “Life is essentially a cheat, and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure, but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle.”