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Good things in life take lots of work; it's time to get busy

Sunday June 16 2019

Mostly, the good things in life – the things

Mostly, the good things in life – the things that really make us happy – all take a long time and a lot of work. Like learning a new skill, building a relationship, or rearing children. ILLUSTRATION | IGAH 

CHRIS HART
By CHRIS HART
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Some events can instantly change your life, forever. And mostly they’re bad things. Like car accidents, losing a loved one, or hearing bad news from your doctor. Because there’s a bias in the way the world works. Things are far more likely to go wrong than they are to go right.

Good things rarely happen so suddenly. Apart from perhaps meeting someone and sensing an immediate connection. So you do need to be open to moments like that, because they can change your whole world.

But mostly, the good things in life – the things that really make us happy – all take a long time and a lot of work. Like learning a new skill, building a relationship, or rearing children. Which is why perseverance is so important. Think how long it can take to find a job or a spouse. And how easily you can lose them!

It’s hard to hang on to this idea. Because modern life’s all about instant gratification! So we’re never satisfied. Endlessly dazzled by the lives of the rich and famous, and forgetting our own achievements. Desperately trying to look younger, while ignoring the benefits of age. Like experience and wisdom. Worst of all, if you only measure success by your possessions and your appearance, life’s inevitably just one long disappointment.

Because real satisfaction never comes from quick fixes. It comes from building something really worthwhile. And that takes years. Like studying for a degree. Or creating a business. Or improving a relationship. Or getting rid of bad behaviours. It’s here that we always want things to happen the fastest. But they sure don’t!

Like trying to drink less. If you’ve ever tried to cut down, you’ll know just how hard it is.

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Because things like that are habits. Driven partly by chemicals in your brain’s reward system, but also by cues that lead on to the next step in the behaviour. Like how settling down after dinner makes you think about a drink. You could just as easily develop good habits, like cleaning your teeth. But it’s amazing how it’s the bad ones that dominate our lives, or even destroy them.

The same’s true in relationships. They can be ruined by habits that might have originated in childhood. And are hard to change, however much you want to. Even though it feels like it should be simple.

But it isn’t, so be prepared to work hard. As hard as if you’re learning to play the piano! You’re going to have to figure out why you started behaving the way you do, find new routines and try them out. And that all takes time and perseverance. So don’t give up too soon. Because it’s the people who stick in there who succeed in life. While if you only believe in the big chance, you won’t work at becoming the person you want to be. And so your dreams will forever stay just out of reach.

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