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Are We Entitled To An Easy Life?

Written by: Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Though humanity has experienced pockets and periods of peace and prosperity, one does not have to look far geographically or temporally to discover significant conflict, unrest, disease and illness, suffering, oppression, and poverty. Even within the US, where many of us take prosperity and safety for granted, many Americans continue to face violence, hunger, pollution, oppression, and abuse on a regular basis.

Yet the cultural narrative seems to reinforce the idea that bad things shouldn’t happen. For example, we often hear people say that we shouldn’t feel bad, have poor self-esteem, get sick or have an illness, have accidents, lose businesses and jobs, die, suffer the pain of separation or divorce, or have to work hard to create good relationships.


It seems we’re missing the point about whether they should or should not happen. They do happen. Such events are facts of life, same as feeling good or having positive self-esteem, having abundant health, avoiding accidents, getting jobs and starting businesses, and enjoying periods of ease in relationships. They are the yin to the yang.


This notion that life “should” be devoid of major challenges does us a major disservice. We all eventually face loss, including the loss of loved ones, health, vitality, good looks, and eventually, our lives. All of us will also encounter conflict, financial instability, change, and uncertainty on a personal or collective level. We know such events are unavoidable facts of life, but often we assert the notion that they shouldn’t happen.


Such beliefs have consequences. To believe that the “good things in life” (such as health, material wealth, prestigious positions, etc.) should be easily accessible and permanent can set one up for psychological distress when those realities are not realized.


So how can we minimize the trap of unrealistic expectations? Here are five strategies:


First, be realistically ambitious. Working hard and focusing on meaningful goals creates the right environment for success. But success is never guaranteed, especially when our goals are not realistic (for us or our circumstances) or authentic (we’re doing it for someone or something else). Expecting that success should come easily or believing there’s something wrong with us if the path is difficult sets us up for failure. Instead, set your goal for incremental improvement and learning. Then you will always be successful, especially when you “fail.”


Second, be willing to evolve and adapt. You might have a dream of starting a business by the age of 30, but your financial responsibilities or health issues may preclude you from being able to get the training or experience you need. Remember that there are many paths to achieving a goal, and being flexible and resourceful can help you achieve your dream even if the path is winding or takes longer than you wish.


Third, embrace obstacles and setbacks. Question the belief that life is supposed to be easy. Life will have periods of difficulty, which are invitations for learning and growth that can happen on many levels. If you’re struggling with your mental or physical health, relationships, money, or career, then you will benefit from your attention and skill development in those areas. Be open to exploring new ways of being and doing. Clinging to beliefs and habits that keep you stuck delays the implementation of solutions and prolongs the pain in the process.


Fourth, don’t overlook what really matters. Of course, meeting our basic needs for safety, food, clothing, housing, work/education, and health is critically important. And while we’re caring for our bodies, loved ones, and pocketbooks, we often overlook nourishing our hearts and spirits. Food for heart and soul are frequently free and readily available: gratitude, beauty, kindness, appreciation, love, friendship, forgiveness, meaning/purpose, and connection to nature. By intentionally focusing on creating positive emotion, healthy relationships, and a connection to something greater than ourselves, we can create balance with and energy for our aspirations for our material and modern world.


Finally, remember that learning is a life-long process for everyone. Your challenges do not make you flawed or unlovable; in fact, learning and growth can continue infinitely along the many often unseen trajectories that we can expand and develop.

The good news is that in this age of technology, the resources available for our holistic development are abundant and often low-cost or free. Nature, the internet, the public library, role models, mentors, and teachers in our families and communities offer a range of options to support learning that may not cost anything. Also, the Foundation for Family and Community Healing (www.HealingEdu.org) has many skill development modules available to youth and adults on a gift economy, so everyone can access them.


Reaching for the stars requires that we balance realism with optimism and learning. By pursuing this balance, we get a little taller and closer to the heavens every day.


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Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Susanna Wu-Pong Calvert, MAPP, Ph.D. is a leader, coach, speaker, entrepreneur, educator, and writer who inspires and enables others to make our beautiful future a reality. She is the Founder, and Convener for Mission and Vision at The Foundation for Family and Community Healing, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that helps all to develop the skills needed to create healthy, rewarding, and resilient relationships with ourselves, each other, Earth, and the loving force that unites us. She is a blogger for Psychology Today and hosts Finding Our Fit, a radio show on WRWK93.9 FM. Her mission is to help individuals, organizations, and communities to become their highest selves and fulfill their deepest, most authentic purpose – our spark within that creates ripples throughout. Learn more about her at SusannaCalvert.com. Photo credit: Rebecca D'Angelo

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