Your question reminds me a little bit of yesterday’s column in which the LW complained about being miserable in the new town where she lived with her husband. In both letters, there’s an assumption that happiness and personal growth and fulfillment are easily attained and if you aren’t attaining those things easily, there’s either something wrong with you or something terribly wrong with your situation. You even use the phrase “flip a switch” as if that’s all anyone has to do to get over a broken heart or an unfulfilling relationship, friendship or lifestyle. Honey, if everybody else were flipping switches left and right and you were the only person who had any trouble moving on, I’d never have any letters to answer.
Of course, “precious few” have the ability to move on easily. That’s because moving on is not easy. It’s really fucking hard, actually. It means leaving the comfort and relative safety of the known for the scary and unfamiliar unknown. It means giving up on a hope that things as we know them will eventually get better and accepting that the only way things will improve is if we make some big changes. It means putting work and effort into creating the happiness we want, rather than passively waiting for happiness to happen to us. Does this sound easy to you? It’s not, and for that reason a lot of people get stuck in patterns that no longer — or never did — work for them— patterns that keep them feeling totally unfulfilled and miserable.
So, HOW exactly do you break those patterns? How do you MOA, you ask? You just do it. You set the intention and you do it. You make a goal, figure out the small and big steps you’ll need to take to get to that goal and you simply start putting one foot in front of the other until you get there. If you fall, you pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on moving. If you slip and backtrack, you turn yourself around and keep moving forward. If you get stuck and feel unable to move, you go back to the intention you set for yourself and envision your life as you wish it to be. You meditate on that happy state of being you want for yourself and if you can’t get there alone, you reach out and ask for help. You ask your friends and family for help, you seek out mentors who have traveled the path you’re on, you go to therapy and work through whatever issues are holding you back and keeping you stuck, and you move on already.
We are humans and we’re not meant to live alone without any influence from anyone else. We’re meant to thrive in communities — communities of people who help one another. So ask for help, dammit. Ask for help when you need it. And for God’s sake, if you’re in a position to help someone else, offer your assistance. If you recognize someone struggling with the same issues that have plagued you, or stuck in the same rut that once stuck you, reach out your hand and pull that person up. It’s your job as a functioning member of society; it’s your duty as decent human being to be of service when you can.
Life is not easy. It’s not meant to be easy. I can’t say I know exactly what life is meant to be, but I know it isn’t to live as easily as possible. Where are the rewards in that? Where is the personal growth and fulfillment in always taking the easy way? I suspect, instead, that life’s greater meaning is to solve problems. Why else would we be faced with a long series of problems — one after another after another after another — if we weren’t meant to solve them and grow from them and teach others the lessons we’ve learned? If you’ve ever seen the look of joy on an infant’s face when it’s solved one of its earliest “problems” — how to fit the round peg into the circular hole, for example — then you know that what I’m talking about. We are here to solve problems and to celebrate solving them and to revel in the space between those problems — those rare, wonderful, fleeting moments when livin’ truly is easy. It’s the effort and work we put into creating the happiness we want that makes us really appreciate the moments when we feel it most deeply.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.