My friend, H., kicks ass at bootcamp. She never complains. She yells at me to suck it up. She has this great, guffawing laughter that fills an entire room. I love working out next to H. She’s fit and strong and a devoted mother. Her no-nonsense view of life can be summed up by her alcoholic beverage of choice: “Why drink expensive wine when 2 buck Chuck gives you a great buzz?” One morning while doing a brutal set of hoverjack push-ups, someone whined about how hard it was and remarked that H. made it look so easy.
H. guffawed in her big, gut-busting way and said: “What? Of course it’s hard for me! HA HA HA. I didn’t get fit without pain! HA HA HA.”
This little exchange reminded me of an important truth in this pursuit of happiness. You have to want it. You have to want it so badly that you’ll put in the blood, sweat and tears to achieve it. You have to want it so much you’ll despise wasting time on wishing for it instead of earning it.
I didn’t become a decent writer by sitting on my ass wishing I could write well. I became a better writer by sitting down every day and writing for two hours. I wrote for two hours every day for five years before I got a literary agent.
It’s tempting to fall into the trap of thinking other people have it easier than we do. It’s a common mistake to assume women like H. are fit because being fit comes easily for her. H. hurts, sweats and gets sore just like every other human. The difference is that H. perseveres.
I think happiness might be the same way. You have to want to get better. You have to want positive change. You have to want it so badly you’re willing to examine all the ways you sabotage yourself and then, forgive yourself, accept yourself and try a new approach.
Right now, H. has a bum knee. She injured it somehow and can’t run on it. But she hasn’t quit bootcamp. She hasn’t quit exercising. She’s just modified her workout. She’s found a new way of achieving the same good results—despite working with a physical disadvantage.
This inspires me to view my challenges from the perspective of relentless optimism. Yes, there may be loss. Yes, there may be challenges. Yes, I’ve had to overcome setbacks. But there’s also a hidden benefit. I just have to look for it. I can’t give up.
Sometimes you have to write for five years in obscurity before someone notices. Sometimes you have to sweat and cry and dry heave your way through the timed mile before you figure out how to breathe and run at the same time.
Don’t get discouraged. Everyone who has ever achieved something has traveled this way, too. It wasn’t easier for them. They didn’t have some secret advantage. You have everything you need to achieve your dreams.
Start with faith. And follow it up with action.