Here in the 21st century, first world humans have created an extraordinary expectation of comfort. Almost every problem we encounter has an exceptional ease at which it is solved.
• Leaky pipes – call a plumber
• Stuffy nose – call a doctor
• The dog stinks – call the groomer
Since it is so easy to solve our problems with security and ease, we are at the point to where having problems is the problem. Suddenly, the problem now becomes difficult to figure out, so there must be something wrong with the solution. There are probably some new clothes, a pill, or a new diet that could keep those problematic solutions in check.
The problem with this approach to problem solving is that there is now a lack of personal development. Each time we take the easy way out, we have now stripped ourselves of an opportunity to develop something more. The relentless pursuit of an easy fix does a great job of making sure that we are a more limited version of ourselves.
Challenges are an essential part of our existence. They will always be there and they will never go away. Only the way you approach those challenges can be modified. Some things are not supposed to be fun…either you accept and drive through them or you chose to be defeated. If you change how you approach the challenges and embrace each one as they come, your approach to life will intensify.
In our day and age of perpetual distraction and abundance, despite our improvement in circumstances, many people will always return to a baseline level of happiness. This is called Hedonistic Adaptation. As a country of people with seemingly unlimited opportunity, this concept may be why the masses are chronically depressed.
Here is an example of rising and then falling back to baseline:
Start a night off with a nice glass of scotch. It may be the best glass of scotch you’ve ever had. Your happiness level suddenly increase to a 10 because it is so fantastic! This may work well for you, but only for a short amount of time. The next night, you still have the scotch but the happiness is diminished. It’s old news. A nice cigar would really bring this back to the original level! On the third night, moderation is in order so there is no scotch and no cigar. Now, the perception of the original experience has lost its luster and there is no satisfaction short of a fast sports car with no cops on the road – all while having the scotch and cigar, of course.
Having a skewed perspective in not something new. The philosopher Seneca, who was also a very wealthy Roman, wrote a letter entitled On Festivals and Fasting. He suggested taking a few days a year to basically cut out everything but the cheapest fare to determine if it is a condition that was livable. Through the process of self-denial there comes a reset in perspective.
We must realize that problems provide opportunities for growth and that problems are needed. For me, traffic jams used to send me on a tirade. Now, I look at it patience training. Certainly, I’ve grown through the process of dealing with the problem. Most of what we complain about are good problems to have.
• Too much sugar in your diet – try cutting it out for one day a week.
• Too much useless stuff laying around the house – make a purchasing rule to put something you want on a list and review it at the end of the month before buying. By delaying gratification, you can determine if the purchase is really worth it.
• Can’t seem to stay productive – check personal email and social media twice a day. One time after lunch and one more time after work.
Little changes like these are examples of what healthy people do in life. Each change is small and sustainable. Keeping a mindset of growth and training your perception are important parts of being healthy and being able to persevere towards a goal. Work on slowly changing your mindset a small piece at a time and you will see great success in the gym, at your job, in your relationships, and in your life.