Life can suck sometimes

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Sometimes life sucks, bad. There are different kinds of suckiness that I have discovered personally:

  • There are the weekly suck days: Mondays… getting back to traffic, making lunches, getting kids up and tackling email inboxes and a pot of coffee.
  • Seasonal suckiness: January in Canada is not the funnest place to be. Snowstorms, -35 degrees Celsius (you know Cold because it slaps you on your face and kicks you in the ass at the same time, just like Chuck Norris) and summer being six months away.
  • School suckiness: exam week. What’s more fun than an exam? Bet you can’t guess… a whole week of exams!! What an excellent idea.
  • There is also the Plunger suck of the first day back to work after vacation.

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Depressing? No, it sucks!

So why write about suckiness? Sometimes life sucks. Recently my brother experienced a mild heart attack and a friend was recently diagnosed with cancer. These situations worry me and they suck. Health is everything and when we lose it, it becomes our entire focus to get our health back. I finished up with some work projects and work is not too exciting right now. Parenting a teenager and a “teeny-wannabe” (Say it like an Aussie…) who are not really sure they like responsibility, argue like they are married to each other, make annoying burping noises and need reminders for nearly every human function gets just a little bit old now and then.

Suckiness is relative (but it is not my relatives fault…). When we have a family, friends, a job, and health it is easy to slip into an expectation that life should be somehow different. I am a slow learner. Not too bright sometimes. It is slowly dawning on my slow moving prefrontal cortex that embracing life when it sucks is what life is about. Hmm…

I have not always felt this way. For years I chased what I thought was living with more passion… being positive (stoking it up all of the time), finding work that I love (by avoiding what I hate doing, which changes based on the day, the season or whatever else may be happening), and living with “balance.” After years of moving from thing to thing, unable to find something that will keep me perpetually “up” I finally realized that a lot of this is just avoidance of hard work.

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Embracing passion is not an excuse to avoid hard work.

Life sucks sometimes. Bills, talking about bills, paying bills can suck… just like cleaning or cooking or organizing or washing or parenting can suck. But that is part of the deal that we all sign up for. In my work as an Addiction Counsellor and now Counselling Supervisor, I have run into one or two (well actually hundreds… and a few staff!) youth who tell me that treatment sucks and it is boring. (“Welcome to change” I think to myself!) I tell clients that boredom is your brain being hungry. “What is it hungry for?” I ask… Blank stare… “For stimulation.” More blank stares. I tell them that their brain is used to being constantly high from substances and from a life where they rarely allow themselves to come ‘down.’ –“Your brain needs to get out of it’s comfort zone.” I recommend things like hard exercise, finding a challenge, reading, talking about new ideas, laughter, patience, meditation. Funny, this advice is not often welcomed. It is tempting to want something to keep us up all of the time. I am not much different than my clients that way.

I confess, I am a hypocrite because I hate boredom even though I encourage other people to embrace it. I distract myself with my iPhone, downloading apps, doing useless internet searches, engaging in busy work, making excuses, searching for the next great book or the next exciting project. It is a sucky, hard lesson but I am learning that when I deny the hard work, I deny myself depth. Part of work is embracing the suckiness but doing it professionally, bringing my best to a project or situation that lacks energy. Letting it suck but not being a WUSS about it. Most times, all that it takes is feeling the suckiness, but starting anyway and then the momentum kicks in.

What helps you to embrace the suckiness of life? The ideas below provide me with a little perspective and embrace whatever I face:

“Doing the same thing today, results in doing the same thing tomorrow. To be different tomorrow, you have to be different now.”

Sean M. Swaby

“The richest learning is when you struggle, operating at the edge of your ability, make mistakes that force you to slow down and correct.” Daniel Coyle, The Talent Code.

So until next time, Keep it Real.

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