Life’s pretty simple when we’re young. We know what we’re going to be doing for the year; go to school and attempt our hardest to get good grades. Yes, we’ll get a few curveballs thrown at us: heart-breaking crushes, difficult friendships, mean teachers, tough lessons. Generally though, we’re surprisingly adept at hitting these curveballs. We get down, pick ourselves up and move on, knowing that next year will be a different year. Some revel in the newness of each year, some are of the nostalgic kind, but when we’re young we have this pretty awesome ability to see things as temporary.
Unfortunately, the ability to see things as temporary is in itself, temporary. Once adulthood strikes and responsibilities come our way, we become overwhelmed by the situations that life brings us. We’re unable to see that life is but a series of phases. Our wonderful, happy moments are supposed to last forever, and our not-so-awesome moments seem never-ending. This sort of thinking makes us feel like failures when things don’t go our way. Our troubles seem bigger than they are, and our lives feel like a spiral into a deep, dark hole of negativity.
The key to leading a simple and happy life is to understand that everything is temporary, much as we did when we were bubble-blowing, tantrum-throwing children. Eventually, everything comes to an end; the good times and the bad times.
If life is going wonderfully, be thankful for it and realize that this moment won’t last. Enjoy the joy of a life working perfectly, breathe it in, and know that even this phase will end. Understanding that your good times are temporary will make you appreciate them even more. You’ll regain that childlike wonder for life. Everything will become new to you if you accept that it’s all fleeting. When the world comes together to make everything work for you, it’s a beautiful thing. Don’t take it for granted, for soon enough, it will all be gone. You’re meant to enjoy the beauty so you can gather the fuel you need for the rough times ahead.
And when those rough times show their faces, bear in mind that every valley is surrounded by mountains. Your rough times, like the valley, will eventually come to an end. So forge ahead through these times, do what you have to in order to solve them. The valley doesn’t end unless you walk towards the end. Likewise, your rough times won’t end unless you take steps towards making them temporary. You may come across a few rivers with vicious rapids, or arid lands with no shade, but if you keep plodding along with resilience and a clear mind, you’ll eventually find your way through and move towards easier travels. However, resilience and a clear mind can only be formed if you understand that this is also a phase that will end.
Sometimes, while in the midst of a trying time, it’s difficult to see the end and to realize that things are temporary. It helps during that time to look back to your past and see how far you’ve come along. You’ve managed to overcome numerous challenges before, all of which have given you the skills and strength that you need to move through your current difficulty. The smallest of tribulations can be inspiration for you as you move through your current phase of life. Remember that subject you found difficult back in grade nine? You managed to pass it anyways. How about the time you were kicked off the basketball team because you made a stupid decision? It was the lowest point of your life at that time, but somehow you still survived it. Now you know that you shouldn’t make stupid decisions like that—lesson learned.
Life is full of different phases. Some are good, some not so good. Some phases seem never-ending and some are over quickly. If we understand that everything in life is temporary and will eventually end, we’ll appreciate all our moments a little bit more. We’ll look back fondly on the good memories and have pride in how we survived the difficult times. So make the most of every day and every experience life offers, for it will not come back again.
Read more on this topic in THE LONG ROAD: Step through each phase of life with fearlessness, compassion and acceptance»