Let’s explore the concept of challenge in your life. On the surface it is easy to dismiss challenge as something you would prefer to live without. And perhaps you have worked hard to lessen the challenge in the lives of others around you.
Especially children. You may be like many mothers or dads and try to make things always go well for your child. It sounds like a good idea, but it is not how life works. Unfortunately, by making sure everything always goes smoothly for your child, you are also eliminating challenge…
It may be easiest to see this in relation to a teenager. When teens do not have interests, activities and people in their lives that expect a lot from them and push them to learn and grow, they often turn to other sources of challenge. Challenges that can cause problems.
Those less healthy challenges can be in the form of drugs, sex, or delinquency. Teens will add challenge to their lives somehow.
Teens need challenge in their lives.
So do other children.
So do you.
So do all of us!
Here’s the reason we need challenge. Easy success – success without adequate challenge – in your life leads to pleasure. Yet pleasure is the most fleeting form of happiness that there is. You can’t sustain happiness with only pleasure.
In order to have long term happiness, you have to put effort into your successes. That’s your challenge! And it leads to what psychologists call Gratification.
Gratification is the juicy, powerful feeling you get when you have risen to a challenge and done your best. It leads to long term happiness.
Left to your own devices, maybe you are fairly good at finding reasonable challenges to provide spark to your life. I hope you are.
But too many people now aren’t challenged enough (don’t confuse challenge with stress!). I hope you won’t let yourself be one of them.
You may avoid challenge because you have fallen into routines and patterns to make life as easy as possible. This sounds like a good idea, but in the long run makes things worse.
You may avoid challenge because you are afraid of feeling powerless or being overwhelmed. This usually comes from not realistically looking at your own effort level. It isn’t comparing your results to others that matters. Gratification comes from looking at your own effort level and knowing you did your best.
Of course, it’s OK to ramp down and coast a little when times are difficult or stressful in your life. (Don’t forget that the challenges from life are part of the package as well.)
But don’t let yourself stop seeking challenge because you are afraid. You’d be giving up an important path to happiness.
Let’s hear your thoughts about challenge in the comments below. Is the idea of adding challenge to your life (or your children’s lives) a new one for you? How do you best face challenge in your life? Let us know your ideas.