I come from a family of overachievers. I thought it was because I was just trying to keep up with my older brother and my little sister in turn trying to keep up with both of us.
But when I became a father, I wanted my children to find happiness and fulfillment – to discover their own unique potential wherever that may lead. In fact, I told them not to count on awards or recognition for their happiness, and when my first son was born, I hid my box of high school trophies in the crawl space.
In spite of my best efforts, my sons have won enough awards to fill their own boxes.
Nevertheless, I’ve reminded them that life may seem unfair and they may be disappointed when they don’t get what they have expected. The mismatch between our expectations of life and what it delivers is a source of frustration and unhappiness.
When our life plans are sabotaged by accidents, bad luck, illness or relationship crises, we can be devastated. We react with anxiety (due to our loss of control), frustration (by the obstacles in our way and a sense of injustice) and sadness (with the loss of hope for our imagined future).
But that is the nature of life. It was not guaranteed to be fair. People become sick even if they live healthy lifestyles (Those who drink too much, abuse drugs, overeat and never exercise get sick faster).
And your life is not guaranteed to be perfect. No one’s is.
Next: Resolving to embrace our imperfect lives . . . and being happy today.