Sometimes I get a little disappointed with my life.
I start to look at all the work I have on my plate and it gets overwhelming. I see so many important things that need to get done and I dread it.
This is the moment I usually need to gain a little perspective.
I’ve had some difficult times in my life. I don’t want to dig too much into the details but I’ll give you the general idea.
*I added a tl;dr below this section because the details of my story aren’t all that important. I’m just trying to introduce my point and help you understand how I reached the conclusion I did.
I was bullied quite a bit. I was overweight (and kids can be cruel.) My family was on the border of broke. I got a bit of an eating disorder (and got insulted because I got so skinny. Damn kids… haha) I had acne and the lovely nickname Rudolph (the red-nosed reindeer.) Then factor in the emotional downs from this stuff… And after graduation, I spent some nights sleeping on a bench (It’s not as bad as it sounds.)
Life kind of sucked. I had a lot of painful problems.
Sure… I understand plenty of people have had it worse than me but looking back, it was bad.
After graduation, I took a minimum wage job. I worked late nights to get more money. I ended up saving every penny more than bare minimum survival. (I was literally eating nothing but peanut butter for days at a time. It’s cheap and high calorie.) I was about as motivated as I knew how to be at the time. I was surrounded by a similar environment as I had in high school but… it was a little better. At the time, I hardly noticed the difference.
Life still sucked but it was getting better.
Eventually, I made enough to start college. Now I was working full time and going to school full time. I was able to get a job for slightly over minimum wage. I started to eat a little more. I started getting more comfortable with life. I was able to milk some of the study strategies to make college a whole lot more fun than high school. I was busy all the time but I had some hope. The whole time I was still a bit overwhelmed with problems.
Life was getting good but was still challenging.
tl;dr: Life started bad but I worked hard and my problems became more tolerable.
Now I’m just going to fast forward a bit.
The acne is completely gone. I have a job that pays me more than my father makes (and I’m still under thirty.) I have some side businesses that round my take home income up quite a bit. I have a better body than I’ve had in most my life. I spend a good chunk of my day doing the things I enjoy but…
I still have problems. I can look back at my days of eating nothing but peanut butter and feel envy for those problems. No money = Eat dense cheap foods. It seems nostalgic. I think about one time I was laying on a bench on the side of a walking trail on a cold night. I was shivering but it was simple. I was tired. I slept.
I know this probably sounds nuts to a young person. It still sounds a little nuts to me.
My point is this:
You will never outgrow problems.
If you’re at all motivated in life then you’re going to keep running into more and more problems.
You’re not going to solve problems. You’ll get different ones.
You’re just going to get higher quality problems.
Higher quality problems have:
- Less suffering
- Less significance
- More potential solutions
Having no money is a low quality problem. It sucks to live through. You might be forced to pick whichever cheap ass food you can shove in your stomach. Wondering what brand of new car you’re going to purchase is a much higher quality problem. (“But if I get the leather seats I won’t want to sit down with shorts in summer!?!? Oh the humanity?!?” :P)
Your Goal In Life
You shouldn’t set out to live a life without problems. That’s never going to happen.
You should be looking to constantly improve the quality of your problems.
Today you may be struggling to memorize some information for class. The reason you’re doing that is (probably) because you expect that information to help your future. If you get good grades now, you can select between better colleges or jobs.
This is an oversimplification but:
If you don’t study then you get to pick between low-paying jobs.
If you study then you get to pick between high-paying jobs and low-paying jobs.
That’s the best part of quality problems. It doesn’t only give you better options. It gives you more options. You can always pick the lower quality option with your better quality problem. (Just because I can eat dinner tonight, it doesn’t mean I have to.)
Dedicate your life to finding quality problems.
If you don’t accept tranquility in this moment then you’ll never accept tranquility later.
It doesn’t matter how many problems you solve, you’re still the same person. If you’re reading this blog then I suspect you’ll never come to a day and say, “You know what… I’m good with life. I’m comfortable with this. I’m going to stop trying to improve things.”
This could be a case that you need to learn to enjoy the moment. That’s not my point though.
If you’re going in the right direction in life then the quality of your problems will regularly be improving.
Today you may struggle to get yourself to study. A few years from now, studying might be easy. The hard part becomes maximizing the efficiency of that studying. If you get particularly skilled, you might even come to the day where you memorize most of what you need in class. You’ll still have new problems. It won’t end.
The quality of your life often comes down to the quality of your problems. Watch your problems and try to keep a little perspective.
The goal shouldn’t be to make them go away.
The goal is to make bad problems into high quality problems.
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