Scott Peck, in his famous book, The Road Less Traveled, started the book with, “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
I want to riff off this observation and argue that life is not difficult at all.
I think that life is neutral.
It is our meaning, interpretation and perception of our lives that define our relationship with the things, events and people in our lives.
Life is a wonderful adventure, filled with mystery, joy, sadness, pain, ecstasy, love, hate, wonder, beauty, fear, safety, and awe — all of which we create for ourselves.
We give our lives their meaning. Whether we interpret and perceive these experiences as good or bad are both ok. Pain, fear and hopelessness, or joy, beauty, wonder and awe. One not better or worse than the other. The range of emotions gives our lives texture and depth.
What if we took the approach that each new activity or project is actually just a new adventure that can help us grow, have fun and get to know our fellow travelers better. Then, success or failure is less important, while the wonder of exploration and learning predominates.
I think Google figured it out when they reported that the single most important determinant of their highest performing teams is a high degree of psychological safety of their team members.
The perception of safety allows us to be authentic and to see the projects and tasks as fun shared, low-risk adventures as opposed to fearful, competitive, high-risk activities.
In one, failing is learning with individual and group self-worth off the table and in the other, failing impacts individual and group self-worth.
When we are with our family and friends, do we see each interaction as a special opportunity for connection or are we distracted by electronics or distant thoughts?
When we are outside, are we thinking about all the unfinished tasks we have or do we enjoy the beauty of nature?
Are we curious and open to the amazing experiences we all have each minute or are we authoritative and focused only on our relative position socially, economically, professionally, or personally?
Do we ask questions or make statements?
Are we open to wonder, awe and beauty?
Do we love ourselves and others?
Do we feel blessed and grateful or fearful and hopeless?
Whatever we choose to do or how we choose to live, remember, it is always our choice to regain the curiosity, wonder and awe we all had at one time in our lives.
I am finding that realizing this is a choice makes all the difference, irrespective of how we choose to perceive and interact with our world.