Whoever said life would be perfect?
My son came home the other day and casually asked, “How are things going?” I thought a moment, and said, “You know, life can be good, even when some parts aren’t so good.”
There were a couple of areas not going well but I was feeling happy anyway. And the conversation reminded me that there are things we can do to be content even when life is not perfect.
Getting to the Top
I lived in Arizona in my early twenties, and we used to go hiking in the Santa Catalina Mountains outside Tucson. Out west, beauty lies in the openness, and the ever-changing sky and endless vistas blend in a wonderful harmony of nature.
One hike, I looked up and got excited about how close we were to the top of the mountain. That point turned out to be a false summit, and the trail continued upward. We ran into more false summits, and each time reset our expectations and continued our upward journey.
Life presents us with false summits as well. We think everything will be perfect once we get that next job or when we get married, or get out of debt, or retire. Guess what? Life won’t be perfect when those things happen. Because life is not perfect, ever.
Changing Our Point of View
Are we doomed to perpetual disappointment when life is not perfect? No, we can learn to think differently and build joy into our daily existence. We do that by changing our point of view.
Alter our expectations – In this world, we will have troubles. Since life is not perfect, we should stop expecting it to be, and quit worrying when it’s not. It’s easier to be content when we stop assuming everything is supposed to go our way.
Adjust our perspective – If we fixate on ourselves, we obsess on what we don’t have. Our view changes when we look around. Nearly half the world’s population lives on less than $2 a day. Compared to the homeless, or those enduring wars or famine or disease, we’ve got it pretty good.
Adapt our approach – If we change our approach and look out for others more than we normally do, it changes everything. Visit a home for the elderly, serve in a community soup kitchen, take meals to the homeless, or something else. Slowly, our point of view will change for the better.
Count our blessings – We’ve all heard the expression, “Count your blessings,” but few us actually do it. Why not give it a try? Create a list of all of things you have to be thankful for: life, friends, family, country, God, and on and on. Keep going until you are totally out of ideas.
Take eternity into account – Do you remember the last day of fourth grade? Even with school things left to do, the excitement of the summer overshadowed everything. Shouldn’t life be like that all the time, since our short time here on earth is but a brief prelude to what is to come?
Enjoying the Journey
After my years in Arizona, I moved to Atlanta. I still enjoyed hikes, but the scenery in the Blue Ridge Mountains was vastly different than out west. A typical trail winds through dense forests and along murmuring streams, and hikes are more about the beauty immediately around you.
Without the allure of false summits, it was easier to just enjoy the scenery and stay in the moment, with plenty of time to pray and practice thinking about things differently. In those moments, life was good.
Life is not perfect. But it can be wonderful journey, and we can improve our life.
Question: Do you get distracted by an obsessive search for a perfect life?
Action: Read “Changing Our Point of View” and pick an approach to work on, just for today.