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The Struggle Is Necessary

The mechanic at Jiffy-Lube opened the door of my car for me.

"My wife wants to have a body like yours," he said. By then, I didn't take offense to remarks like these. I knew they weren't meant to flatter or demean me. Most of the time, they were just curious.

"It's mostly about diet," I said. "And a healthy balance of exercise."

"My wife doesn't want to do all that," he said. "What supplements do you take?"

His wife didn't want to watch her diet or exercise. She wanted a pill to give her a quick fix.

It's easy to fall into patterns of unhealthy behaviors. I know I've done so many times myself. It can be hard to get back on track, especially when you've lost the road itself. We look for a jump-start, something to kick us back into gear.

This might be ok for a short-term renewal, but the best methods are those that take time. It's important for us to endure the struggle so that we gradually teach ourselves new patterns of health. We can't rely on quick fixes or someone else to do the work for us. Here's a parable:

A scientist was observing a caterpillar in his lab. He watched it struggle to break free from its cocoon. There was one part of the caterpillar's wing that was stuck, holding it back from its metamorphosis. Feeling compassion for the caterpillar, the scientist loosened the cocoon.

The butterfly was now free, but its one wing wasn't fully developed. It would fly lopsided because the struggle within the cocoon was necessary for the butterfly's formation.

We might have adopted the role of the scientist, or we might have been the butterfly. The struggle we experience, the growing pains, is necessary for us to develop fully. The patterns we had fallen into might have gotten us stuck, so it's important for us to embrace the uncertainty and struggle of new patterns--or put us back onto the healthier patterns. The easy road isn't always the best one.

Endurance exercise also presents an interesting parable. Sure, there is quality training that is a little more efficient so you don't resort to "junk miles." However, you can't take shortcuts in an endurance race. You've got to do the work yourself.

We see a lot of clickbait that gives us life-hacks (I hate that term, btw), but why are we trying to "hack" life? We want to shortcut our time in the kitchen or cleaning, but what does this new-found efficiency prepare us for? More time for TV?

Perhaps by taking MORE time doing things, we learn mindfulness and adopt new patterns of reflection. By taking MORE time to prepare healthy food, we recognize how the convenience food might have contributed to our unhealthy behaviors.

Living life a little more slowly, without needing life hacks, might have us question some of the things that don't serve our best interests. We then learn that the struggle is necessary because it gives us strength to persevere and take on new challenges to fly.

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