When Life Sucks
It’s so intriguing the way Law of Attraction works. Just as I am living with the question of, “Why?” with regard to my soul mate Bill’s cancer and death, I am spending a lot of time with a teenager I love dearly who is asking that same question about life in general. Depressed (and getting help for it), she wonders aloud, “What is the point of all this? Why do people even want to live when life sucks? “
These are both great questions that have been explored by philosophers for centuries.
One of the startling pieces of data I have uncovered was in the book, Stumbling on Happiness by Harvard Professor Dan Gilbert. He revealed that we humans are abysmally bad at predicting what will make us happy or unhappy. For example, many people believe that if they were ever to become quadriplegic, they would want to die. And yet, people DO become so and, after about a year of adjustment, few feel that way any longer.
People think that, if they become rich, life will be a constantly fun party. When it happens, they are sorely disappointed to find out it’s not that way at all, no matter what it looks like from the outside.
Three years ago, before he was diagnosed with cancer, if you had told Bill, that there would come a day when he would weigh 130 pounds and be weak as a kitten and STILL want to live, he would have said, “There is no way; you are crazy.” He would have told you in no uncertain terms that he would find a way to end it all.
And yet, when he arrived at that point, he still wanted to fight and he still wanted to live. Why?
A clue arrived today via email. (Law of Attraction strikes again). Every day I receive a very cool, personalized email from TUT (The Universe Talks). This morning mine said,
Silver, I want to let you in on a little secret… E V E R Y O N E has issues… everyone. Even those who don’t seem like it. Because without issues, NOTHING WOULD BE WORTHWHILE.
That really made me stop and think. If there is no sadness in the world, how can we ever feel joy?
We all share a strong desire to feel positive emotions. The problem is, we become used to things so quickly that, if life were good all the time, we couldn’t experience joy. We need the contrast of the negative to be able to enjoy the positive when it occurs.
Bill wanted to live for two reasons: to spend more time with me and to spend more with his grandchildren. He had plans for 2014 and beyond. To him, the pain of the cancer treatment would be worthwhile if those wishes came true. Because of his plans, he outfoxed the cancer for much longer than all of the medical experts predicted.
It seems we are willing to endure pain if we have something to look forward to. Psychologists tell us that someone who is making plans for the future is unlikely to commit suicide.
Without something to look forward to, depression sets in which is where my young friend is right now.
So the trick to a happy life may be to make sure you always have something compelling to look forward to.
What are you enduring now that you feel is worth the trouble because, as a result of it, you’ll be able to have or do something pleasant in the future?
What are you enduring now that could become less painful if you were to develop a plan for something to look forward to?