Sometimes you just literally feel like you’ve got the worst life in the world. You’re filled with pain and frustration. Problems emerge from all angles and swarm you like flies. Why you? You’re going through so much and you wonder why life is so hard. And the worst part is: nobody wants to — or can — come to your aid.
So what do you do when you feel this way?
It’s simple, really. Slap yourself. Hard. As hard as you can. Why? Because slapping yourself really shouldn’t feel like much if you’re already going through far worse pain in life.
But you can’t, can you? The fact remains that it’s only when you’re truly wallowing in the depths of pain and failure that you can think, “Hah! Slap myself in the face? That’s nothing compared to my problem. Watch, I’ll do it three times.” So either slap yourself or shut your mouth and get on with your life.
That there is the view of Mark Manson, author of the New York Times bestseller The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k. And I agree with him — strongly.
A psychologist friend of mine said to me once that around 90 per cent of what people think are problems are not actually problems. They’re just subconsciously overblowing it so they can feel sorry for themselves or feel relevant and important.
Now, neither my psychologist friend nor I am saying that people don’t have actual problems — they do. But those real problems are fewer than you think. And when you face them, follow Manson’s advice: slap yourself really hard, or just get up and get going.
So how do you get going? Well, first of all, you need to understand that you’re fine. You’re OK. You have problems, yes — but so does everybody. The thing is, it’s a natural human feeling for people to think that nobody else has problems but them. And the Internet and social media aren’t helping matters. People post the best moments of their life — the “happiest” moments — on social media for everyone to see; and when you do see them, you start sulking. “Everyone is having fun except me!” “My friends are getting money but I’m broke!” “Ah, look, Cynthia’s face is so smooth; she’s so pretty and everybody loves her but nobody talks to me!”
Yeah, we hear that every day. But do you know what? That’s exactly what you’re programmed to do as a human. It’s a part of our nature and we can never change it. When you look in the mirror, you don’t look to see the beautiful parts; you look to see the ugly, the defects. And when you see them you fuss and you moan about them.
So, here’s the advice. If you really want to be happy and confident in yourself, you need to understand that you’ll always feel that way. You’ll always feel like there’s something you don’t have, because the truth is you can never have everything.
When people don’t have money, they go around shouting that money is everything, that all they need in their life is money. But anyone of them who does get the money suddenly realises that he’s still chasing something else. So, like I said, if you really want to feel better, then you need to tell yourself: “I’m fine. I’m OK. There’s something I lack — in fact there are probably many things I lack — but then everybody else lacks things too.”
And you will have told yourself the plain truth. The lesson here is that people aren’t perfect. Nobody was built to be perfect, so no matter what you do, no matter what you attempt and how hard you fight, you will never be.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people who are fulfilled in life. There are. Loads of them, in fact. But the truth is they’re fulfilled not because they have everything, but because they understand that they can’t have everything. And that’s just the 101 to being a happier and less troubled person.
Now this doesn’t mean that you should sit down and not bother with anything. If you do, your life is going to get pretty ugly pretty fast. What you should do is do your best, while bearing in mind that you can never be perfect, because perfection, as Manson says, is not some endpoint you achieve, but the process of improvement itself.