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There's a repeating and concerning theme in many conversations in my professional and personal life.
The following words may not be the exact ones that are said or typed or texted, but the message is clear:
Does life ever get better?
But not in the ways you might think.
I've highlighted the four main points below, but you won't fully understand unless you digest the context that comes before them.
Will Life Get Better? - The Translation
It's such a loaded question, "Will life ever get better?"
And, for me, when I ask these words, I don't actually mean that.
Like most difficult questions, the first words that come to the surface aren't the ones that are submerged deep below.
Let me explain.
"My life is horrible. I want this pain to go away."
When I was dealing with major depression years ago, I absolutely had these thoughts.
But they weren't the precise thoughts that described my exact situation.
Life is more nuanced than that.
My precise thoughts took time to find, and I only could get there through deep reflection.
- Why isn't my doctor listening to me?
- Why can't my coworkers understand how much pressure I'm under?
- I wish I had more money to meet all these financial obligations.
The massive overwhelm of "Does it get better?" is really a combination of several heavy thoughts, and the ones I've listed above only scratch the surface.
If you've gotten to a point where you're overwhelmed and wondering if it will ever get better, or if life will ever get easier, you have to understand a few things.
The Road to Life Getting Better
Things will get better. They always do.
That seems like a bold statement.
But the undeniable reality is that life is always changing.
You are not the same person at the end of the day as the person you were when the day started.
And because life is always changing, that means there are millions of moments for you to step into "better."
But let's quickly move away from the abstract and dig deep into what this all means for you.
Here are the 4 truth in the struggle, the gold flecks in the long river of time
Nothing--and I mean nothing--is permanent.
The pain you're in now is evolving at this very moment. The only permanent decisions are the most drastic ones, and that's not actually a solution. It's removing yourself from the game of life. I've been in that position before, and it's not an answer. The answers are out there--you just haven't discovered them yet.
"Better" is relative.
Better for you is not better for someone else. Remember that. To find your "better" you need to find the questions and thoughts that are hidden deep beneath the surface. You need to understand the vast ocean that is your life--and that takes time.
It's not about hope. I'm sorry, it's not.
I thought that just having hope was enough to make things better for me, but it wasn't. It was always deep reflection followed by mindful action. It was the act of being intentional. Action is what shifts you into a new reality.
Horrible, painful emotions like desperation are not all bad. In fact, they can lead to a better life.
It is during the times you feel these emotions that you actually are closest to windows of opportunity. When you don't know where to go, it's precisely at those moments that you can go anywhere. Think about that.
These four guiding posts will not change your life on their own. They are only part of the equation.
You still have to plug yourself and your mindful action into the equation.
And please, please remember to be gentle with yourself.
Better is not a one-time thing.
It's an accumulation of thoughts and decisions and habits.
To be better is a personal journey.
The decision is where it starts.
And the end never comes.
Because "better" is all in the becoming.