— Life —

How to Never Hate Your Life

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Last weekend I attended a yoga weekend at a holistic retreat house. They had lots of snow, and I decided to join the group for snowshoeing. I’ve not been snowshoeing before, but the others were novices too, and the woman leading us seemed to survive on nothing but kale. How strenuous could it be?

Pretty freaking strenuous, as it turned out.

As we clomped over bumpy terrain and pulled ourselves up the top of the ski hill, using trees as handgrips, I was quite proud of myself for keeping up. We’d been doing a lot of yoga and my glutes were barking, but the scenery made it all worthwhile.

When we came to a fork in the woods, she explained we could take the path to the left and start heading back, or do a longer loop with some beautiful views

I was not sure what to do, so I paused. Seeing my hesitation, she said, with a voice imbued with wisdom, “You should never hate your life.”

I looked at her for a moment, not fully understanding what she meant.

“If you take the trail back to the house, you won’t hate your life,” she clarified. “If you take the longer trail, you might.“

I decided to take the shorter trail back. I did not want to hate my life. I returned to the house to drink tea by the fire.

How often do we opt for the longer trail instead of the shorter one and end up hating the process?

I spent most of last year working on a novel about a woman trapped in suburbia, which highlights how awful people can be. The novel itself is not bad, but the writing process was draining. It dredged up too many things from my past, making me relive the most painful parts of my life whenever I wrote. I realized, as I came to the book’s conclusion, that I was writing more and more slowly. The truth was, I dreaded the idea of spending the next year being my book’s best cheerleader, driving the sales, marketing and publicity efforts needed to birth a book. God forbid it was a success: I’d never break free from the thing.

I hated the idea of all of it, but still felt compelled to press forward for the sake of pressing forward. I pride myself on never quitting anything. Throughout my life, I’ve finished academic programs I didn’t like, stayed in relationships that made me miserable and worked far too long in jobs that chipped away at my soul. I don’t give up, even when it does me harm. I always take the longer trail.

When our snowshoeing guide spoke those words – “you should never hate your life” – it felt like divine counsel. It felt like permission to get off the path that was no longer serving me well. In that moment, I made the decision to abandon my work and to move forward with another project: one that is more healing.

This year give yourself permission to take the shorter trail. You never want to hate your life.

 

 


13 Comments

  • Reply Cathy Chester February 7, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Great advice that we need a little push on sometimes. My health gets in the way of not hating my life. If that cleared up, well, I’d choose something different for myself. Doing my best, one day at a time. Bless you all.

    • Reply Jen Lawrence February 7, 2017 at 8:53 am

      I’m sorry you are having health struggles – that’s always a tough one. One day at a time is a great approach. Thank you for reading and commenting. xo

  • Reply Rena McDaniel February 7, 2017 at 8:18 am

    What a great story! I think as women we all do this way too often. Good for you for deciding to change it up in the name of happiness.

    • Reply Jen Lawrence February 7, 2017 at 8:54 am

      It seemed like such simple advice and yet I’d never taken it before! xo

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace February 7, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    It usually starts with giving ourselves permission, doesn’t it? If we don’t… Who will? xoxox, Brenda

    • Reply Jen February 7, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Exactly! xoxo

  • Reply Diane February 7, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I LOVE THIS! I’m going to remember that line forever!

    • Reply Jen February 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      It was a gem of a line for sure!

  • Reply Renee February 7, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Great advice and wish I would have had this 20 years ago. Thanks for sharing and bringing some inspiration in life.

    • Reply Jen February 7, 2017 at 7:50 pm

      Thank you so much, Renee. xo

  • Reply Hilda Smith February 9, 2017 at 5:22 pm

    I used to make my children finish anything they started. I don’t think.it was a good idea now.

  • Reply Beckye February 12, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Hmmmm. Thank you for posting this. It’s food for thought in my current work situation!

  • Reply Donna O'Klock February 13, 2017 at 9:18 am

    Great reminder… and wonderful inspiration as I begin my day.
    Thank you, Jen!
    XO

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