I’m sure many things made up your favorite day from the past week, but I’ll bet one of them was an activity that stuck out above the rest. Think about what activities come to mind when thinking back on a great time in the past week.
Your favorite activity from the past week was probably something that challenged you and made you feel good. Maybe you rode your bike for the first time in years or cooked a complicated recipe from scratch. Whatever it was, it gave you a sense of accomplishment and made you feel good about yourself. And that’s precisely what we need to do more to improve ourselves.
We need to be challenged.
Too often, we get stuck In the game of complacency. We sit around waiting for things to happen to us rather than actively pursuing the life we want to live. We become content with just getting by, and our days start to blur together into one big, indistinguishable mass. But if we’re going to live our best lives truly, we need to find ways to regularly push ourselves out of our comfort zones.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that we need to put ourselves in danger or do something that makes us unhappy. But it does mean that we should challenge ourselves intellectually, physically, and emotionally on a regular basis. By doing so, we keep ourselves sharp and prevent ourselves from becoming stagnant.
As Marcus Aurelius pointed out, “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” In other words, it’s far better to challenge ourselves and fail than it is to play it safe and never truly experience life.
When was the last time you felt happy?
Ask yourself an honest question. When was the last time you felt happy?
Chances are, it was during some period of growth. The combination of humility and eagerness to learn allowed you to accomplish something great, and in the process, you found joy.
Humility is needed to acknowledge we are still a work in progress. Eagerness to learn is needed to improve upon our position continually. The key is not to dwell or obsess about becoming happy. Arthur Schopenhauer said it best:
“The two enemies of human happiness are pain and boredom.”
Focus on the process, not the result.
The problem with constantly seeking out new challenges is that we can become so focused on the outcome that we forget to enjoy the journey. We get so caught up in our destination that we forget to appreciate the view along the way. We become fixated on summiting the mountain instead of enjoying the climb.
It’s important to remember that life is a journey, not a destination. The goal is to enjoy the ride, not just arrive at the finish line. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Our natural tendency is to focus on what lies ahead, which can often lead to anxiety and stress.
It’s not about winning or losing.
In our culture, we tend to see life as a competition. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others and striving to be the best. We keep score of our successes and failures, and we define ourselves by our victories and defeats.
But what if we stopped seeing life as a competition? What if we stopped trying to win or lose and just focused on enjoying the game? Would we be happier? Would we be less stressed? I think the answer is yes.
Growth is not a straight line. It’s full of zig-zags and starts and stops. But if we want to experience true happiness, we need to be okay with embracing the chaos.