At the end of it all, it isn’t the moments of glory or the cars or houses or fancy dinners. Everyone already knows that those things don’t make you happy. But everyone is determined to prove it to themselves anyway.
What makes us happy is progress. What makes us happy is growth. Growth requires suffering.
We are conditioned to suffer.
It’s only been for 100 years or so that life has been this easy for us. Cornelius Vanderbilt was the richest man of the 19th century and he didn’t even have running water. He never got to know what a hot shower felt like. That must have sucked so bad.
For the majority of existence, life has been extremely hard.
We need that. We thrive under that pressure. Challenges bring people together more than love, culture, food or even family.
In London during the Blitzkrieg, depression rates dropped, suicide rates dropped, community involvement went up and work attendance improved. The culture got tougher and became more tight-knit and happier, even though the Germans dropped 1,540 tons of high explosives and 12,500 incendiaries. You had to shut the lights off at night so the German’s couldn’t see the city when they were flying overhead. There are many personal accounts of people recalling the dark nights sitting around kitchen floors laughing and telling stories. Their suffering brought them happiness.
Suffering is proof that life has meaning.
It is my belief that we all find meaning in the pursuit of that which we must endure. Our greatest moments in life are always centered around something that we worked hard for.
Nothing takes more work than raising a family, raising children, or being faithful in long term relationships. Nothing takes more work than winning the battle against yourself. The battle against compulsive action, impulse, and temporary pleasures.
That is why there is nothing more tragic than a man or a woman who has not lived up to their greatest potential. Because it is in the pursuit of finding this “higher self” that we all find fulfillment.
So by nature, someone who hasn’t at least tried to live up to their greatest potential has never found fulfillment. What’s the point in that? Why be alive and never be fulfilled?
What a waste.
Okay, Tim… where are you going with this?
Here is my point.
In a world and a culture that is inundated with self-help books, Facebook ads promising to make you rich and entire cultures trying to help you “hack” your way to success, there is still only one road to fulfillment.
To be truly fulfilled, you must be giving all of yourself to a cause bigger than yourself. It’s the only way. You must be willing to sacrifice, suffer and endure or else there will be no meaning in whatever your pursuit is.
There is meaning in trying to better yourself, in taking on responsibilities, in giving a piece of yourself to a cause. There is meaning, there is fulfillment and there is contentment.
So I hope you take it seriously. I hope everyone takes their lives and happiness seriously. I hope we all find a cause worth working for. I hope we all find something we are willing to suffer for.
Because that’s how you get happy.
It’s weird I know. But it’s true.
Lisa Stoddart says
LOVE this article!