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Recognizing Happiness in Life’s Struggles

The topic of life and the perception that life is hard has been coming up a lot in my personal and professional discussions and has piqued by interest lately.  The question of why life is so hard is such a complicated topic to pursue. Whenever this question is posed to me directly, I am often tempted to do the typical therapist response of silence in order to catch my bearings because how the heck am I supposed to have an answer for why life is so hard?

After the initial internal panic passes, I continue to process this question and really started to think about this concept.  But, let me be clear, this post is by no means contains the answer to this complicated and often asked question. It is just a collection of my thoughts that I have developed as I struggle with my own life’s difficulties (because everyone does…yes even therapists!) and as I am able to bear witness to others attempting to process this age old question.

As a therapist, I listen to the life struggles of others. The single mother struggling to make ends meet; the young professional with a lifelong struggle with anxiety and depression; the woman who experienced childhood abuse that continues to effect their relationships. Life is hard and often sucks that’s for sure.  But, why is life so hard? Is this what we are destined to go through for the rest of our lives?

These questions resonate with me because how can one have answers to those questions? I am then reminded of a quote from Buddha stating “Praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and sorrow come and go like the wind. To be happy, rest like a giant tree in the midst of them all.”  A thousand people can read this quote and come up with a thousand different meanings, but I can only share what this means for me and those experiences I have had opportunity to witness in my life and the lives of others. Life is hard and yes it sucks sometimes, but that is part of the experience of humanity because if we are able to be still in the midst of chaos we can appreciate and experience the happiness that we so long desire.

It strikes me as ironic that the happiness we often search for in the midst of our struggles are right there present with us. Just like yin and yang, they are two distinct concepts complementing one another; we just have to mindful enough to recognize it and appreciate them.  I can attest that this is extremely difficult to do, but think about the happiness you can experience when you recognize even in your darkest moments.


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