The Struggle

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You know those annoying people who read a certain book or watch a super lofty, award winning documentary and then can’t shut up about it? They think they’ve learned some great, life-changing wisdom and then are super annoying because they want to tell everyone else about it. And you’re like, yes, shut up! I know all about visualization! I’ve been visualizing a Snowflake bracelet from Van Cleef & Arpels for ages and it still hasn’t materialized! Yeah I know it isn’t how you really read The Secret! It was just a joke!

Well I’ve become one of those people. Over Thanksgiving I read The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A F*ck, by Mark Manson, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I would recommend the entire book, but the part that really stood out is this idea of “the struggle” (which luckily, for you people who can’t make it through a few hundred pages, is covered in the beginning). It’s the idea that all good things in life are worth a struggle, and that it’s better to list out the things in life that you are willing to struggle for, rather than just the things you want. Because when you just think about the things you want in life, the list can be endless, but when you think about the work in actually getting and achieving them, and what it takes, you really hone in on what’s important to you. And the key lesson is accepting that to get good things in life, you have to struggle. You have to feel pain, and despair, and exhaustion, to get to the great things in life. So the next time you feel like you’re really having a tough time of it, you are comforted in the understanding that it’s part of the path towards the good.

Before reading this, I had never thought of things this way.  I was miserable, so I was miserable. I was tired, so I was tired. I was sad, and that was the end of it. Afterwards however a lot of things in my life made more sense to me. The areas that I’m proud of – oh man how I’ve struggled to get there.  And the areas I’m disappointed at, or have completely failed – I view them differently, like maybe somewhere deep down they were things I wasn’t willing to put in the effort with to begin with, or maybe I didn’t realize that I would need to work hard and struggle, and now I have a renewed charge to do so.

What this philosophy has been particularly helpful with is understanding that frustration and pain are part of getting somewhere good. Here are a few examples of questions I’ve been asking myself:

  • Am I willing to deal with the struggle of traveling/going out with children, so I can feel like I haven’t had to give up too much of my old life?
  • Am I willing to struggle to be a good mother?
  • Am I willing to struggle/give up certain things to have an assured and happy retirement?
  • Am I willing to struggle to have a good relationship with my husband, even when we are both tired and stressed?
  • Am I willing to struggle to have a fulfilling career that I’m proud of?
  • Am I willing to struggle to keep up relationships with old friends?
  • AmI willing to struggle to be healthy and reasonably fit?
  • Am I willing to struggle to do all the things I want to do and accomplish (aka be super tired)?

As we come up to the end of 2017, which has been a year of major ups and downs at least for me personally, I know I’ll be thinking of the struggle.

Thank you for all indulging in my self-help rant of the week…I promise we will be back to regular programming now (and yes I have been enjoying the holiday sales).

But for now, I’d love to know: what is your struggle?


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  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 8:38 am

    At 67, carrying one APOE4 gene, and having a history of Alzheimer’s in my family that strikes in our early 70’s, I am facing the fact that no amount of money can buy my way out of the likelihood that I will be dealing with the disease too. I read about all the possible interventional behaviors that may help stave it off but, in reality, no one really knows what might, or might not, help keep cognitive decline at bay. I struggle to find a way to just live my life not abscessing about it and, yet, trying to maintain healthy choices that might help. -Diane

    • Reply
      Jaime Stephens
      November 29, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      Diane, I wanted to let you know that I am so sorry to hear this but I am sending very positive thoughts. Stay in the moment and enjoy one day at a time, all that any of us have, really.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 8:43 am

    I just ordered this book on Amazon. -Diane.

    • Reply
      November 29, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      Diane, thank you for sharing your personal experience and I am thinking of you. I hope you enjoy the book (would love to hear your thoughts, positive or not after you’ve read!)

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Thank you for writing this- I really needed this today.

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Know about the concept but just wanted to say I’m sorry about your hard year. This year of the Rooster/2017 really threw some people for a loop! (My year -ugh) On to better things!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Good morning – thanks for the recommendation, i looked at this book several times and figured it was one of those “funny” books. Your list of questions is very long, and the pool of energy and will is so limited. I’m trying to answer these questions every day too but I never have enough energy to dedicate to all things that seem to matter in my life. Which makes me even more stressed:) Have a good holiday season!

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I haven’t read the book, so I’m likely not be getting the nuance from your post, but I don’t think life should be that difficult. Yes, there are things that are worth the struggle, but not everything good should be a struggle, and not everything end up worth the struggle in the end. You may feel better about yourself for giving the extra effort to achieve something, but an achievement should not be diminished in your eyes if you didn’t need to sweat blood for it.

    • Reply
      November 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

      I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes you just need to get a break and have things easy. You can’t be fighting all the time, life goes by:)

    • Reply
      November 28, 2017 at 7:57 pm

      i absolutely agree – we tell ourselves that we struggle to accept our self-imposed limitations. Or we tell others that we struggled when we see that they don’t think that they can achieve what we have achieved. Or to make our achievements seem more special. Life is supposed to be easy, and it can be. Maybe this is more “the secret” stuff, but if we focus on life being a struggle then it will be. But I do love the title of the book!

    • Reply
      November 29, 2017 at 10:41 pm

      Great point and you are often the voice of reason 🙂

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    This is a great post. This « struggle » philosophy is pretty Chinese I dare say. In Chinese you say a person must endure the hardest of the hardest to be able to arrive on top of the top. The sweet things only taste sweet if you know what bitter tastes like! It is very true in life! I think in Western countries people put accent on enjoying rather on making efforts. So many people get disappointed….

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Motherhood. The thing i wished and prayed for, for so many years, has been crippling difficult. Thank you for this post, needed to read it today.

    • Reply
      November 29, 2017 at 10:42 pm

      So sorry to hear this but I hope you find solace in that I think almost all women I know have gone through a similar struggle. Thinking of you.

    • Reply
      December 1, 2017 at 8:29 am

      I’m so sorry to hear that too 🙁 I’d love to have kids, but I’m in my mid-30’s and am single, so sometimes I get sad that that that won’t happen for me. So I feel you! Best wishes.

      • Reply
        Alisa Gabriel
        December 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm

        Dear Anonymous,

        You never know! I got married at nearly 34 and had my children at 35 and 39. The marriage was a mistake but the kids made it all worthwhile.

        If you’re open to possibilities, many things can happen. And p.s. I married the love of my life at 60 after pretty much giving up on men after all the rotten stuff my ex did.

        • Reply
          December 4, 2017 at 8:43 pm

          I love this, thank you for sharing your own personal experience!! And what a happy ending 🙂

  • Reply
    November 28, 2017 at 10:00 pm

    I’m interested in reading the book. Good points, especially with the parenting aspect. Being a good parent is often hard because you’re trying to do the right thing and many times it means having to take the harder road….it’s often bittersweet. Try to see the good in the small everyday things, that’s my motto.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2017 at 9:12 am

    Wow – great post. Downloading book now! This framework of thought is really interesting.

  • Reply
    November 29, 2017 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for an inspiring post! I read Mark Manson’s articles and find them spot on.

  • Reply
    S. Jean
    November 30, 2017 at 4:50 am

    I now know what I am going to read on my vacation! This year has been a year of transition in my family and perhaps this will allow some “reasoning” to it – I believe that things in life are worth sacrificing for, doesn’t mean that it has to be easy but it does make it worth it. I’ve had this book in my cart but you have now pushed me to procure.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2017 at 9:26 am

    I just finished this book about a month ago. As cheesy as it sounds I found it life changing. I usually care too much about everything. This book has given me guidance to “pick my battles” and only care about what’s important.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Seems like you listed the areas that I need to struggle as these are all applicable to me in which the answer is a resounding yes, God would help me though. Thank you for this post Katherine, I haven’t thought of putting it this way and I’m so glad to read this.

  • Reply
    Alisa Gabriel
    December 4, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    Great post — the book recommendation and your honest approach. Sometimes giving up the struggle is actually the best solution — say, a dead-end job or a relationship that will never make you happy.

    The hard part is telling the difference between what’s worth fighting for and what truly isn’t.

  • Reply
    December 4, 2017 at 7:54 pm

    If you liked this one, I HIGHLY recommend Fuck Feelings by Dr. Michael Bennett and Sarah Bennett. It really, really helped me at a time in my life when I was navel-gazing to the max and just needed encouragement to well, suck it up and get on with my life. It really emphasis charting your own standards, living up to them best you can, and being accountable for yourself. Common sense ideas that I found really appealing, Lol! Mark Manson’s site has always been really motivating to me, his book sounds the same.

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