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Saturday, 4 January 2014

Life is a Struggle

Is life really a struggle or is it a matter of perspective? Read the story.
I go through anywhere between two to three thousand emails every month. Ninety percent of these emails are from people who are struggling with one thing or the other. Some of them are tired of battling and resisting, they are on the crossroads, they don't know what to do, they say. In many cases, they write, Life's been too hard on them. Life is a struggle and it's been like that for them ever since, they say.

Yes, life can be hard, life can be a struggle. But then again, is it really any different for anybody else? Those who lack money think that people with money have it easy. Those with wealth and stressful businesses think others with simple nine-to-five jobs have it easier. The healthy think the wealthy are better, the wealthy think happy people are better. Yet, there are many who are healthy, wealthy and everything else you can imagine and they are still depressed, they still struggle to go through their life.

The truth is that's what life is about. For everyone. As long as we are working towards accomplishing anything, there are going to be obstacles. Some see these obstacles as challenges and others see it as struggle. People may change, things may be different, situations may be more favorable, circumstances more pleasant, but that doesn't mean challenges will cease. There will always be hurdles and I've realized that when people talk about struggle, they are mostly referring to challenges. And, whether we see a problem as an opportunity or a barrier, it's a matter of perspective, it's a question of mindset, it's a personal choice. Here's an interesting story for you:

On a tree in his backyard, a man saw a cocoon of a butterfly. He observed it everyday for the next few days. One day, he saw a tiny opening in the cocoon with a bright caterpillar inside. It was at a larval stage. He observed the grub for hours and saw its struggle to come out of the swathe. Everyday, he witnessed it struggling, but with each passing day it was out bit more, wings were forming on its body. The cocoon was becoming more taut and cramped for the growing larva.

The man could clearly see its struggle and decided to help the butterfly. He snipped off the cocoon and out came the butterfly effortlessly. It fell straight to the ground. Its body was swollen and its wings shriveled. The man sat there expectantly waiting to see the butterfly take off, but it never did. It crawled around helplessly with its bulbous body. Its wing never grew fully and it couldn't fly. Before long, it perished. What the man saw as struggle was Nature's way of preparing the butterfly for survival.

Our struggles shape us, they define us. I'm not saying all struggle is good, but I'm asking if it's really struggle? How does a body builder build his body? He has to undergo resistance training if he's serious about growing and chiseling his muscles. He can look upon lifting weights as a struggle or a rewarding task. His state of mind will depend on his perspective. And, more importantly, the results, in turn, will depend on his mindset.

Our Nature has evolved on challenges. It will continue to stretch you based on your capabilities. You cannot reduce the magnitude of those challenges. If you have something to offer, Nature will extract it from you. We are not the center of the Universe but a tiny artifact in Nature's grand scheme. But, yes, you can reduce the intensity, frequency and number of those challenges. How? Simplify your life. Start by de-cluttering. Once you start to simplify everything about you, never again will you look upon an adversity as struggle. I'm not saying you'll consider every challenge as an opportunity either. But, you'll not be deterred by it.

Life may be a straight road, but it is rarely a smooth one. Certain stretches, some aspects of it may be velvety, but overall it is topsy-turvy to keep you alive, to keep you awake. Enjoy the ride. Imagine you are standing on the roadside and moments of life are passing like the traffic on a freeway. Life doesn't stop for anyone, it doesn't stop to listen to complaints or compliments. Our earth or other planets don't stop rotating or revolving, not even for a moment, lest it should lose its existence. The intricate, interdependent and fascinating play of Nature never comes to a halt. Life can't afford to stop. If you want to enjoy it, you'll have to learn to negotiate with it.

This life is real and transient, like the bubbles in froth, love it, live it before it pops.
(Image credit: Allison J. Bratt)
Peace.
Swami

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