The graveyard’s both the most expensive real estate on the face of this earth, and the only place you’d find people without troubles.
“Only the dead have no problems.”
Three things about that statement:
- My shrewd Christian readers would note that it’s not theologically sound; if one dies without Christ, one spends their after-death existence suffering through an eternal problem.
- You now have your first glimpse into the morbidity of my thoughts and internal debates. You did not know, of course, that I once wore a Spartan helmet ring inscribed with “MEMENTO MORI”, nor can you read the “DIE EMPTY” band around the middle finger on my right hand at this moment. Perhaps one day we shall discuss those two mantras I live by (granted I don’t pass away before then).
- If the above statement is true, the inverse is also true – the living have problems.
But here’s the catch.
We the living have the option to choose which problems to have (for the most part).
This thought has captured my attention since a friend first introduced me to Mark Manson’s “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***” (a book I’d highly recommend but for its heavy use of language).
Growing up into adulthood, we sooner or later realize that life is made of problems to be solved. One after another. Sometimes more than one simultaneously. Sometimes solutions breed new problems. Sometimes we have to come up with a solution without fully understanding the problem(s) at hand.
And on and on it goes.
Yet we have a choice of which problems to have, and which ones to simply not deal with.
Sit with that thought for a moment.
Problems are inescapable. And to an extent, problems are what makes life fun, meaningful, and challenging.
Marriage problems (if addressed properly) are the reason why your 30th wedding anniversary is so much sweeter than your third. Creative roadblocks or even technical difficulties are what makes those breakthroughs so satisfying and exhilarating.
Some problems massage your life into something beautiful. They force you to grow, adapt, and become a better human being.
While others don’t.
These other problems stem from things you think you care about (but don’t really). They simply distract your mind, drain your emotional tank, and lead you to the brink of existential despair. (You know which ones I’m talking about, so I won’t drag any examples from my personal bottomless pit of demons for show-and-tell here.)
Drawing those lines in the sand for yourself and working towards having to only deal with the problems that actually matter to you, I find, makes life stand out to yourself in sharper focus.
When you realize you don’t need to care about, or even pay attention to every single thing that comes across your path; that things other people think are crucial to “making it” don’t matter to you at all; that you don’t need to take most things personally; that you only have a limited amount of love and focus give to things and ideas and people throughout life, this thought becomes vital to grasping just how you are living your life and making necessary changes.
So even if you won’t express it the same way Manson does, it’s still worth asking yourself the question:
Which sort of problems do you want to have in your life?
P.S. Besides death, money has been another recent mindworm of mine. So I thought I’d leave you with two additional thoughts that might seem to contradict each other, but both of which are probably worth a think or two each.
- The first: “More money, more problems.” Straightforward, but easily forgotten.
- The second: “If it can be solved with money, it’s not a problem.” Let’s be real – if the boulder in your way disappears at the sight of dollar signs, is it really that big of a deal. (This can be taken too far though; thus, it requires consideration.)