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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

Why Is Life So Hard? 4 Things You Can Do About It

Why Is Life So Hard? 4 Things You Can Do About It

If you are wondering why life is so hard, then there is probably something missing from your life. Ask yourself, are you living a life of complacency or a life of purpose?

Regardless of how you define “purpose,” you know whether you are chasing it or settling for less. Interestingly enough, you will face challenges in both cases. The only difference is how you feel at the end of the day.

When you question why life is so hard and you are chasing your purpose, you know there is something that makes everything worthwhile. As “risk-free” as settling may appear, you will bear the burden of never reaching your true potential. You will always be wondering if there is more to life than the one you have lived.

While the journey to change your life is not always easy, it should ultimately be enjoyable. You should enjoy learning more about yourself, your goals, and your motivations. If you find yourself wondering if life gets any better, then this article is for you.

1. Surviving Versus Thriving

Every day, you have two choices. You can choose to listen to the loud voice of fear and self-doubt, or you can listen to the quiet voice of confidence and purpose.

The quiet voice of confidence is the voice that is pushing you to chase your dream life. Your dream life is the life you would live if you did not have any responsibilities or obstacles. If you are wondering why life is so hard, you could be struggling to accomplish your purpose. You may want to start a business, but you need consistent income from your current job. There could be the challenge of overcoming a disadvantage you were born with or the environment you grew up in. Whatever the reason, there is a struggle that you have not conquered yet.

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While you may feel you are making the best decision with the cards you have been dealt with, that doesn’t change the fact that you are meant to do more than survive. As essential as survival is, you don’t want to reach the end of your life never having truly lived. There are plenty of people who find their last days filled with regret because they always succumbed to their fears.

If you want to make your life easier, then stop putting your dreams on hold. Start taking small steps toward accomplishing them each day. Also, make sure you celebrate your small wins. This will help you build momentum and enjoy the process, so you don’t feel like quitting when challenges arise.

Even though you may not enjoy failure, it is okay to fail at trying something new. In fact, failure is a great sign to know that you are chasing your purpose and listening to your voice of confidence. Continue to learn from your mistakes and allow them to transform you into your ideal self.

2. Emotions Run High

If knowledge is power, then knowing what to do with said knowledge should make life easier. However, you will find that is not always the case. In fact, you can go out on a very stable limb and conclude that most people know what they should be doing.

Each year, close to half of the population makes a New Year’s Resolution. They have a plan of attack and they know what needs to happen for them to accomplish their desired results. Yet, less than 10% of people actually achieve their resolution each year. [1]

This begs the question: Why is life so hard when you have a plan you know will work?

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There are plenty of salespeople who know if they reach out to a certain number of people each day, they will have a successful business. Some couples know if they listen and consider each other’s feelings before taking action, their relationship will benefit. Whether you are talking about professional or personal goals, you know the action needed for success.

The disconnect occurs when you haven’t taken your emotions into consideration. It is difficult to consider someone’s feelings when you feel taken for granted or unappreciated. It can be difficult to make the next phone call when the last five people said no to you. There is an emotional aspect of life that makes doing the right thing difficult.

Studies show you can increase the likelihood of you overcoming your emotions when you use the ‘If-Then Principle’ to prepare yourself ahead of time. [2] The way it works is you create your response beforehand, so your emotions don’t get the best of you later.

For example, if you have friends who eat unhealthily, you can say, “If I go to lunch with them, then I will order a salad.” When you are dealing with sales, you may say, “If I am told no, then I will keep making calls until I hear yes”. As simple as it sounds, knowing how you will handle setbacks is what sets apart those who are surviving from those who are thriving.

3. Burning the Candle on Both Ends

If you are still questioning why life is so hard, then you need to ask yourself if you are working too hard. You probably chuckled a little at the statement, but humor me.

Your life is a cumulation of your experiences. Some of those experiences are going to be more pleasant than others. If you find yourself with an unbalanced amount of unpleasant experiences, you need to determine if you are setting unrealistic goals for yourself.

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For example, if someone sets a goal to lose 60lbs in 30 days, they may not know how unlikely that goal is to accomplish. If they knew the average weight loss regiment would recommend losing one to two pounds a week, then they would know two pounds a day is unhealthy. Nevertheless, if you set an unrealistic goal, you are going to feel deflated when you miss it.

Life gets even more difficult as you try to find a way to accomplish the achievable in an unrealistic timeline. You miss the fact that you have achieved tremendous progress along the way because you feel the failure of not achieving your goal. This can continue to be frustrating and have you asking yourself why is life so hard.

The best way to overcome this feeling of frustration is to give yourself more time. [3] You will be surprised how much lower your stress levels are when you give yourself more time.

Do you recall a time you had an assignment due in school or a project due at work and you needed more time? You know your presentation would be flawless if you only had another day or two. Then, by a stroke of luck, the meeting or deadline was moved back a week because someone got sick or had a conflict in attending. How amazing do you feel when you find yourself with more time than you expected? Go ahead and give yourself the additional time and see how it changes your perception of the situation.

4. Looking in All the Wrong Places

Life can be really hard if you are only thinking about everything wrong in your life. Believe me, I know there is a lot wrong in the world, but there is plenty right in the world, too.

You get to choose what you want to focus on. If you train your mind to only recognize what is wrong with the world, it makes it almost impossible to see the opportunities. Imagine someone who only watches the news. Most people acknowledge the news is full of negative stories that create fear, anger, and frustration. As a result, your perception of the world will be skewed by the constant bombardment of negative information.

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A negative perception can also be created by associating with people who are always complaining about something. Whether they are complaining about their family, their relationships, or their job, it will cause you to ponder about the issues in your life.

For you to overcome a negative mindset, you need to take two actions. First, you need to reduce the negative information you are absorbing. You will need to spend less time watching the news and you need to reduce the amount of time you spend with negative people. This can be difficult if the negative person is a family member or a close friend. However, if their mindset has you question why is life so hard, you owe it to yourself to change your associations.

The second thing you need to do is create a positivity journal. You don’t need to write in it every day, but you should read it every day. You should start each day reading about all the things you love about your life. This will help you appreciate the joys of your life even more because those joys are not being drowned out by the day to day challenges.

Final Thoughts

The reason why life is so hard can vary from person to person. Your personal growth and transformation should comfort you every time you look back and recognize how far you have come.

Don’t grow discouraged when things don’t happen as quickly as you want. Instead, focus on the fact that you are taking a step in the right direction each day. If you are better each day than you were the previous day, you will love you the person you become when it is all said and done.

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Featured photo credit: Krists Luhaers via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

Understanding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 5 Levels Explained

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a theory of motivation that lists five categories of human needs that dictate individual behavior. These five categories refer to physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.[1]

Motivation plays a big part in athletic coaching. I spent 44 years coaching basketball and each day at practice, I was trying to motivate our athletes to give their best effort. In this article, I will examine Maslow’s hierarchy and five areas of needs from an athletic perspective.

1. Physiological Needs

These needs represent the most basic human survival needs. They include food, water, rest, and breathing, and all four have importance in athletics.

Food has had an evolution in the world of athletics. I cannot recall my coaches in the 1950s and ‘60s mentioning anything about food. As time went on, the pre-game meal became important. Steak seemed to be the meal of choice early in the evolution. Research then indicated pasta would be the better choice.[2]

Today, I think most coaches prefer pasta. However, if the players are ordering from menus, some coaches believe the players should stick with their regular diets and order accordingly.

The next step in this evolution was that the pre-game meal, although important, is not nearly as critical as the athletes’ overall nutrition. At our University of St. Francis athletic seminars, we invited nutritionists to speak and to educate our players on their nutritional habits.

The ultimate change in food intake may be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Tom Brady. He adheres to a specific, disciplined diet that has allowed him to play superb football at age 43.

Water also has had an evolution in sports. It went from not being allowed in practices to coaches scheduling water breaks during the practices.

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Rest is extremely important in all sports, and statistics validate its importance. NBA research found that during the course of the season teams win 6 of 10 games at home but only 4 of 10 on the road. In the NBA playoffs, the statistics change to 6.5 at home and 3.5 on the road. Many coaches believe rest is the key factor to these statistics because the players are sleeping in their own beds for home games.[3]

Our St. Francis basketball team found the importance of breathing on a trip to play in a tournament in Colorado. In our first game, we were playing great and winning by 12 points early in the game. Then the altitude kicked in, adversely affected our breathing, and we lost the lead and eventually the game.

In our second game, having learned our lesson, we substituted more frequently! Maslow’s idea of physiological needs plays a major part in the athletic arena.

2. Safety Needs

Safety needs include protection from violence, emotional stability and well-being, health security, and financial security.

If a fight breaks out during a basketball game, there can be serious injuries. This is the reason a coach steps in immediately when there is any violence or dirty play in practice. The coach must protect the players. You drill your teams to play hard—never dirty.

The importance of emotional stability has gained more credence in sports in recent years. Many teams hire psychologists to help work with their players. There is a great deal of player failure in sports and it is critical for the players to stay emotionally stable.

Health security is much more prevalent in sports today than in my playing days. I once got a concussion during a basketball game. We had no trainers. The coach handled it by telling me after the game, “Sullivan, you play better when you don’t know where the hell you are!” He was right, and my medical treatment ended there! Games today have trainers available to protect the health of the athletes.

Financial security is predominant in professional sports. Most players today use free agency to go where the money is because they consider sport not to be a sport at all. They believe it is a short-term business at their level. I personally appreciate the athletes who have taken less money so the team can retain teammates or use the dollars to bring in new players.

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3. Love and Belonging Needs

These needs can be summed up with two words: love and relationships.

After teams win championships, you will often hear coaches say, “I love these guys” or “I loved coaching this team.” You can tell by their body language and the tone of their voice that they really mean it.

I think coaches say this because the season can be a tough grind. Practices, scouting, film work, travel, and problems that arise take a toll on coaches. However, when you have teams that give all they have every night in practice, you do come to love them.

ESPN did a 30-30 segment on the North Carolina State national championship team coached by Jim Valvano. I was especially interested in watching it because I knew a player on the team who used to come to our camps. Terry Gannon played a major role in their championship.

The program was a reunion of their players. This was 20 plus years from their title, and if you were to take one thing away from the show, it would be how much the players loved each other.

In the last analysis, sport is all about relationships. You can meet former teammates with whom you played 40 to 50 years earlier and that athletic bond is as strong as it ever was. Although you may have not seen each other in years, your friendship is so cemented it’s like you have been seeing each other weekly.

David Halberstam’s book, The Teammates: A Portrait of a Friendship, validates the relationship between athletics forges. Ted Williams is dying and three of his former Boston Red Sox teammates—Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio—make the trip to Florida to see him. Even though 50 years had passed since they played together, the bond among them never waned.

Love and belonging epitomize the essence of sports.

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4. Esteem Needs

These needs are characterized by self-respect and self-esteem. Self-respect is “the belief that you are valuable and deserve dignity.” Self-esteem is twofold—“it is based on the respect and acknowledgment from others and esteem which is based on your own self-assessment.”[4]

Often the players on the bench are the ones the coach respects the most because they work so hard in practices yet receive none of the glory. The best coaches never let the starters or stars ever denigrate the players on the bench. Coaches must always acknowledge the value and the dignity of those who play little. They often turn out to be the superstars of their professions.

Some coaches will never get “it.” They think they can motivate their players by degrading them. They embarrass the athletes during games and they constantly berate their performance in practices.

Great coaches are just the opposite. They are encouragers. They do push their players and they push them hard, but they always respect them. Great coaches enhance the self-esteem and confidence of their players.

5. Self-Actualization Needs

“Self-actualization describes the fulfillment of your full potential as a person.”[5]

I believe three words are the key to self-actualization: potential, effort, and regrets.

You often hear in athletics that a player has potential. It also is not uncommon for the person introducing the athlete to rave about his potential. I was fortunate to work with an outstanding man in the Milwaukee Bucks camps, Ron Blomberg. Ron had the best definition of potential that I ever heard: “Potential means he hasn’t done it.” Will he do all the work necessary to fulfill his potential?

Effort is great, but it’s not enough. If you want to reach your full potential, you must have a consistency of effort in your daily habit. Only consistency of effort can lead to success.

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John Wooden, the legendary UCLA basketball coach, said that success is becoming all your ability will allow you to be. He agreed with his friend, major league umpire, George Moriarty, even though he used to kid him. Coach told him he never had seen Moriarty spelled with just one “i.” He followed this with, “Of course, the baseball players accused him of having only one ‘eye’ in his head as well.”

In his poem, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, Moriarty wrote,

“. . . for who can ask more of a man
than giving all within his span, it seems to me, is not so far from – Victory.

When your life is winding down and you look back if you can say you gave “all in your span”—that you consistently gave it your best effort—you will have reached your full potential and there will be no regrets.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve learned more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, consider reflecting on the last two needs (esteem needs and self-actualization needs) and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you doing all you can to enhance the self-esteem of those around you?
  • Are you doing all you can to self-actualize the potential you have been given?

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

Reference

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