Imagine for a moment that you found Aladddin’s lamp. I know. Humor me. Imagine that one day you’re taking a relaxing stroll around your neighborhood and you suddenly spot something shiny hiding in the bushes. At first you ignore it and dismiss it as something unimportant (perhaps an empty soda can?).
You continue stroll but a few moments later you can’t shake the feeling that you were meant to see that, whatever it was. What if it was something important? “I better make sure,” you think. So you walk back to retrieve the shiny object and to your surprise you find yourself staring at what appears to be a magic lamp. Could it be? “Yeah, right.” You let out a sarcastic chuckle and laugh at yourself for thinking such a ridiculous thing. “Still… what if it is?” You take an inconspicuous look around to make sure no one is looking, and carefully rub the sides of the lamp.
As soon as you do that, smoke starts oozing from the lamp and suddenly, out comes a genie who, to your amazement, utters those amazing words you’ve been waiting to hear all your life, “Your wish is my command.” He then tells you that he’s there to grant you all of your heart’s desires. Not just 3 wishes, but all of them.
Now think for a moment. What would you ask for? You’d probably ask for all the major things right away. Love, health, money, success, vacations to exotic locations, mansions, more money, more love, etc. etc. etc. You would basically ask for all the things that you believe would make your life easy, happy, pain-free, and struggle-free. You’d go wild, testing the waters to see if you would really be able to get all you want.
You’d then realize that you can ask not only for you but for everyone else around you. So you’d become the biggest philanthropist, sharing your good fortune with everyone around you. At some point, however, you’d start running out of things to ask for. You’ve had all the vacations you could think of, helped everyone in the world (work with me here), have more money than you know what to do with, all the success and love you can imagine, all coming instantly to you without any amount of effort or struggle on your part.
How long could you live like this? Honestly. How long? A year? Ten years? Twenty? How long would it be before you were bored out of your mind and were left feeling depressed and worthless? How long would your mind be able to live without a challenge or a worthy goal? How long before you felt like you were no better than an inanimate object that adds no value to anything?
Sooner or later you’d start looking for things to do, challenges to face, goals to pursue, problems to solve. But you wouldn’t ask the genie to bring these to you, you’d want to go out and find them yourself. We would all want to do this. And do you know why? Because that’s our nature. We think that we want life to be a breeze; we think that we’d just as soon be without the worries, the pain, the suffering, the sorrow, the struggle. From our vintage point, we’d trade our lives for the imaginary scenario I described above in a heartbeat. But how quickly we would tire of it. We’d soon find out that a life like that is not much fun. You probably know by now that the things we value the most are those that required some involvement or contribution from us, no matter how small; and the higher our contribution, the greater its value to us.
There is a lesson in all of this. I’m not saying that life has to be difficult in order for it to be fun, exciting, exhilarating or rewarding. What I’m saying is that life is not supposed to be pain or struggle free. I’m saying that the pain, the struggle, the challenges and all the emotions associated with these things, the good and the bad, are what make the human life such a magnificent experience.
The true joy of living does not stem from never experiencing difficulties or struggles, but from overcoming them. So don’t get all bummed out about how life may be right now. It won’t stay that way forever. In spite of what it seems like at times, there is perfect balance and order in the universe. The seemingly negative experiences we encounter are meant to help us become better versions of ourselves. Embrace the challenge and push forward with confidence.
Pain may be inevitable, but suffering is optional.
Decide today that you will suffer no more. Decide today that you don’t need to wait to find Aladdin’s lamp to be happy. Decide today that no matter what situations you encounter in life, you will make it your dominant intent to look for the good in them, for there is good to be found if we only look hard enough. Decide today that you will take on every day with unshakable confidence, and the determination to feel good, to spread love, to experience joy in everything you do. Decide today that you will go after your goals and your dreams, and that you will enjoy and appreciate the ride as much as, if not more than, getting there. Decide today to share your gifts with the world, which no one but you can share. Decide today to leave your mark in this world.