Have you ever asked yourself what life would be like if you had no problems? If your life followed that perfect path you’ve imagined over the years, with no bumps, no setbacks, how do you think it would feel? Bliss? Satisfaction? Enjoyment? I’m not so sure.

Think about the best movies you’ve ever seen, the most inspiring stories you’ve ever heard. They typically require the hero to overcome difficult challenges before obtaining ultimate success. Ernest Shackelton’s voyage wasn’t incredible because he quickly and easily crossed Antarctica. Martin Luther King isn’t a hero because he was warmly welcomed throughout the Jim Crow South. Abraham Lincoln isn’t revered as one of the greatest men to ever live because he lived a life of luxury and privilege. 

While we may continue to strive for the perfect life, we must see that in the striving, life finds its meaning. 

I think we all have some idea in the back of our minds that life would be great if there was nothing to worry about, that we really shouldn’t even have struggles. What if we changed our approach?

From Four Thousand Weeks, Oliver Burkeman addresses this idea. He states,  “… we seem to believe, if only subconsciously, that we shouldn’t have problems at all. Yet the state of having no problems is obviously never going to arrive. And more to the point, you wouldn’t want it to, because a life devoid of all problems would contain nothing worth doing, and would therefore be meaningless.

I don’t mean to minimize anyone’s challenges. I feel genuinely lucky to have the life I do and recognize the truly awful situations that many experience in life. But each individual life holds unique challenges. Each individual life also holds unique opportunities. I’ve been wrestling with certain ideas in my mind now for years – ideas that deeply impact who I am and how I approach life. I’ve desperately wanted a solution to this problem that’s caused long days and sleepless nights. Up until recently, I just wanted the issue settled and a path forward. I wanted an answer. But, in a moment of stillness and reflection it came to me, that the journey was indeed the destination. The process is the answer!

Burkeman concludes, “Once you give up on the unattainable goal of eradicating all your problems, it becomes possible to develop an appreciation for the fact that life just is a process of engaging with problem after problem, giving each one the time it requires – that the presence of problems in your life, in other words, isn’t an impediment to a meaningful existence but the very substance of one.”

The Stoics repeated oft the phrase, Amor Fati.” Love your fate. What if we developed a taste for having problems?