do you have to struggle?

Today we ask that you examine your beliefs about struggling.

99% of humans agree on one thing:

Life is a Struggle.

Liberals and conservatives agree: people must struggle, to survive.

Greedy capitalists must struggle to expand their wealth.

Social activists must struggle to protect the oppressed.

Struggling shows that you are “worth” something.

Students must struggle to achieve.

Athletes must struggle to win.

Workers must struggle to be productive.

Parents must struggle to raise children.

Religious people must struggle to make themselves pleasing in the eyes of their God.

Jews, Christians, and Muslims all struggle, because their sacred texts say it is virtuous to do so.

Hindus and Buddhists struggle, and believe it is because of karma.

Women struggle, and men struggle.

Young people struggle, and old people struggle.

Characters in books and movies and on TV struggle.

Everyone struggles!

You are told: you must struggle to earn love.

You must struggle to earn money.

You must struggle to lose weight, or keep weight off.

You must struggle to win a mate, Mr. or Mrs. Right.

On and on it goes.  Everyone, everywhere is struggling.  It doesn’t matter if you’re rich, or poor.  Everyone has his “struggle” in life.

But what if people only struggle because they believe they are supposed to?

It’s okay if this question upsets or angers you.  

People are very attached to their struggles.  It gives them their sense of self-worth, and identity.

If you listen to most people talk about how the day went, what you will hear is a long list of struggles.  “You won’t believe what happened!  My boss did this, my coworker did that, the car repair shop did this.”

People tell you these things because it affirms their sense of self-worth.  The more they struggle in life, the more virtuous they feel about themselves.  “Well, I really struggled terribly today.  See, I’m worth something.”

How often do you meet someone who simply says: “Oh, I had a wonderful day today.  I’m really enjoying my life.”  Such a person would generally arouse the hostility, jealousy, suspicion, and contempt of other people.  They would dismiss such a person as being either lucky, or lazy.  They would find ways to make themselves feel superior to such a person.  

What if people don’t have to struggle?

Before you get angry, an explanation is in order:

There is a difference between “struggle” and “healthy challenge.”

Humans do need to expose themselves to healthy challenges.  Healthy challenges take people out of their comfort zones, and encourage growth and learning.  

Letting go of struggle does not mean you sit on the couch watching TV all day and check out of life.

The difference between “healthy challenge” and “struggle” is very simple:

“Healthy challenges” make you feel good.

“Struggles” makes you feel terrible.

“Healthy challenges” are energizing.

“Struggles” are exhausting.

“Healthy challenges” make you excited to wake up and see what the next day will bring.

“Struggles” make you anxious, depressed, and full of dread about tomorrow.  

It is true, that countless people in this world are born into poverty and very harsh living conditions.

However, it is also true that some impoverished people actually experience far less struggle than many average middle class workers.

That is because struggle is, to a very large degree, a state of mind, indoctrinated into humans via very old belief systems.

Religions have typically depicted the earthly realm as a vale of sorrows.   The Earth is a bad place.  Humans have been cast out of the Garden of Eden, and must struggle for their daily bread.  This is the realm of Maya, where humans suffer endlessly through many lifetimes.  Mortal existence is viewed as a kind of punishment.  It is supposed to be painful.  People are supposed to struggle and suffer and be miserable.  In fact, that’s the only ticket out of this Purgatory.

None of this is true.  And even if you don’t subscribe to these beliefs, they run so deep in the human collective unconscious that they surely have been passed down to you.

Please examine your beliefs about struggle.

Do you believe that everyone must “struggle to earn his keep?”

Do you believe that love must be earned?

Do you believe that self-worth must be earned?

Do you believe that God’s love or a heavenly afterlife must be earned?

None of this is true.  It is simply not true.  The love of what you would call “God” is unconditional, infinite, and fully available to you at every moment.  You are completely loved.  You can’t earn what is already fully yours.  

The more you believe in the virtue of struggle, the more struggle you will experience.

While it is important to experience healthy challenge in life, you should not be struggling.

Healthy challenge may be temporarily uncomfortable, but the overall feeling around it is good.  You enjoy it.  You do it because you choose to do it, because you want to.  

Struggle is painful.  It hurts.  It’s a grind.   It’s joyless, dutiful, obligatory.

Look at your life.  Ho much of what you experience is a “healthy challenge,” and how much is a “struggle”?

Meditate on this.  And examine you beliefs about the virtue of struggle.

Just because almost everyone believes in “struggling to earn,” does not make it true or right.  Humans have believed many crazy, untrue things throughout their history.

Question your destructive beliefs.