Life always seems to present itself as a worthy opponent.
Imagine if you were playing tennis with someone who is considerably better than yourself. You would get discouraged and give up. If they were considerably worse than you, you would get bored and give up. But that magic zone where the opponent is right at your skill level? That’s where all the fun can be found.
Life seems to work that way. No matter whether you’re a king, a genius, an office worker, or a bum, life presents challenges that keep you – right where you stand – fully challenged without being totally overwhelmed.
It might seem like some people have it rough and others have it easy, but that’s shortsighted. Yes, some people do suffer more than others, but suffering is mostly relative anyways. Whether a child is starving in Africa or you just broke up with your boyfriend, the struggles present the same feelings on the inside. You’re each playing against the right opponent at the right time.
This way of thinking has interesting results…
First, empathy. You can see that everyone else suffers just as much as you do (yes, even the jerk in the Ferrari!). While we might look at someone else and think they have it easy, that is never the case. No matter whether someone is perceived to be “better” or “worse” than you, they have just as many struggles that feel the same as yours.
Second, contentment. You simply can’t think this way and expect to get “one up” on your opponent. It won’t work. And if it did, you would simply become bored and disinterested. The goal isn’t to get ahead, but to fully invest yourself in the game at hand.
Image Credit: m.bagattini