By Charles Franklin
Chance’s Note: Charles is a friend of mine. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve seen him choose some mighty dragons to face, and then to fall on his face… Yet each time he’s hit the dirt, he’s climbed back up, picked up his sword and charged back into the fray. He’s made real progress on several fronts, and it’s been great to watch him grow. The following is his advice to fellow warriors.
Happily Ever After: The Childhood Fairytale that Traps
All of us have reached a point when it seems that there is just one big obstacle blocking our happiness:
“If I just get this degree, everything will be fine.”
“If she just says yes, I will have everything I need.”
“If we had more money, everything will be OK.”
There’s a subtle fairytale in those thoughts – the idea that we will find a “happily ever after”, where life gets easy and free of worries – hakuna matata and all that.
We want to go on believing the childhood fantasy of a “happily ever after”and we like the idea of slaying the dragon once and walking off into the sunset.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that childhood fairy tale: When you slay one dragon, another one shows up.
It may not show up today or even next year, but that dragon always shows up as the next obstacle guarding the path to happiness.
For some people, this constant struggle is a reason to stop fighting. It’s a reason to give up, to be average, to stop moving the needle forward.
This giving up shows up in thoughts like these:
“Why isn’t life fair?
“Why can’t life just be easier?”
“Why did this happen to me?
Why You Should Never Stop Slaying Dragons
Now, don’t get me wrong, there is no problem in asking why things happen -there is no problem in getting mad, angry, sad, or even upset about the obstacles that are in the path – we can grieve loss, be staggered by pain, and feel the hurt.
But, you are never to give up.
You must never stop slaying the dragons in your life.
Obstacles actually make us stronger. While it might feel as though obstacles make us weaker, the truth is, they make us stronger.
I don’t mean in the cliche “What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” kind of way that you see in Instagram posts.
I mean in the very real sense that obstacles force us to tap into power that we didn’t know we had – it doesn’t matter whether that power is emotional, mental, physical, financial, relationship-wise, or spiritual – facing any obstacle requires us to do things that we normally don’t do.
They force us to wake up from the childhood fairytale that life is supposed to be without problems, that life is supposed to be the way we want it to be, into the true story that life is never going to stop bringing it to us.
Why Slaying Dragons Means Treasure Hunting
Let’s say, for example, that you are laid off from your job unexpectedly. This new obstacle presents you with a new challenge – finding a new source of income – but also a new opportunity – finding better work, developing new skills –
Opportunity/Obstacle A: You must now decide if you are going to fight this new obstacle and find that new and better career path, or decide to surrender to the dragon in your way and give up.
Opportunity/Obstacle B: You can choose to continue working out and continue working on new skills while you’re looking for a better job, or you can give up, get fat, spend time on social media railing about the economy and taking the next crappy job that’s available.
If we tap into the opportunity embedded in our obstacles, we can become a stronger person.
The dragon that you have to slay always guards a treasure.
That treasure is your next level, your better self.
By slaying that dragon, you earn the treasure, a treasure that will prepare you for the next dragon. So on and so forth.
That is why you cannot stop.
When you keep slaying dragons, you keep getting stronger. You get wiser. You become more resilient. You become something bigger and better.
There is no end to the adult fairytale.
When you realize that life is not like the childhood fairytale of “happily ever after”, but is more like the adult reality that there’s always a dragon around the corner – when you realize your goal in life is not to end obstacles forever, but to keep getting stronger and smarter by overcoming each of those obstacles – you stop looking at life as a series of burdens and you realize what life really is….
An opportunity to be a dragon-slayer.