AUTHENTIC LIFE

Out of the Dark

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What do you do whenever you run into something that you’re not good at? Maybe a spin class that kicks your butt, or that musical instrument you started to learn how to play. We all have things we’ve gotten ourselves into that turned out to be a lot harder than we had realized.

Walking out of a dark theater into the midday sun hurts your eyes and you want to shrink back inside to the comfortable darkness. The same is true when we encounter something that shines a light on a weakness. We want to run away from it because it shows us for what we really are.

It’s easier to ignore the shortcoming and stick with what you’re good at. That way you never have to acknowledge the deficiency. You can go on pretending you’re the man. When you avoid the uncomfortable light of difficult new things your world gets smaller. You’re like a trapped rat hemmed in to a dark corner by rays of brilliant light.

But if you’ll embrace the discomfort of the arduous new challenge then your world will expand. You’ll grow with a newfound confidence and enjoy a life that is both large and bright.

The Superpower of Success

If you had the superpower of always succeeding--failure was impossible--what would you do? If everything you put your mind to turned out to be amazing, what would you do? It’s a big question.

Would you want to be a billionaire? President of the United States? A movie star? Own a restaurant? Be a farmer? What on earth would you do with your life if you knew you would succeed?

Your answer to that question reveals what your personal definition of success is. And success is something that you’d better define for yourself. If you don’t, then others will define it for you. Maybe the world has told you that success means money for early retirement or achievement and promotion in the workplace. But maybe you’d rather own a farm and spend your days helping people. Maybe your definition of success has more to do with quality time and relationships than it does money or prestige.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with either definition of success; just make sure that it’s your definition, not somebody else’s. You don’t want to come to life’s finish line only to realize you were running somebody else’s race.

Don't Get Too Comfy

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When it comes to comfort, we’re the cushiest humans in history. Never mind our entertaining tech toys, how about air conditioned houses – no splitting wood all summer. Or hot water heaters – no boiling water over the fire for a warm bath. Electric lights, washing machines, refrigerators, microwaves, and indoor toilets! We achieve in seconds what the Pilgrims labored for hours to accomplish. 

Now that we can just sit at desks all day and have food delivered to us by tapping on our phones we must be the most joyous people in all of human history, right? Not even close.

We’re depressed, lonely, addicted, and complaining. It turns out that the rigorous, hand-callousing toil of our great-grandfathers actually made them happy. And it brought them together as a community - as a tribe. The La-Z-Boy life is incapable of producing the chemicals our brains need to feel true joy.

Don’t you love that feeling of exhausted accomplishment after a day spent working outside? It’s surprising how good we feel. When we pursue comfort, happiness will elude us. When we do good, hard work outside with our hands and our backs, happiness has a way of showing up unannounced.