BY SOFO ARCHON
Life is pretty complicated, right? Well, it certainly is, to an extent, but we tend to over-complicate it ourselves. How so, you might ask. Before I jump to that, I’d first like to share with you a short yet revealing story that will shed much light on the issue, so please bare with me for a while.
Here it goes.
Last summer, my girlfriend and I one night decided to spend some of our time in the most central and busiest square of Athens in Greece, a thing we regularly enjoy doing, mainly because it offers a great opportunity for people watching.
Athens is a very busy place with a population of about 5 million, and this square is usually filled with people all year round, but especially in summer when more people are out in the streets and the city center is packed with tourists, you almost can’t walk through the square without bumping into one person or another.
Among hundreds of individuals, we spotted a young male, looking not more than 20 years old, on a skateboard, trying to perform some impressive tricks. One of those was pop shuvit, a trick where the rider and the board leap into the air without the use of the rider’s hands while the board spins 180 degrees under the rider’s feet before the rider lands on it. But he didn’t want to do just that – he wanted to do it while jumping over 6 steps that were on the front side of the square.
In my teens, I was a skateboarder myself, so I know that this is not the easiest thing a person can do, but in this case it was obvious even to those who were totally unfamiliar with skateboarding that it was almost an impossible task for him to accomplish. Not because he didn’t appear to be good at the sport, but because of all the people who were unintentionally blocking his way walking towards wherever they wanted to go. Yet he was determined not to stop until he performed his trick, no matter what.
Every moment he started moving with his feet on the skateboard toward the edge of the stairs so as to carry out what he had in mind, some person would suddenly appear in front of him that made him freeze. A couple of times he even heavily bumped into people and almost accidentally hit a little girl with his board. Those occurrences, however, didn’t do anything to stop him – as I said, he was an obstinate man and wouldn’t give up quickly any time soon.
Long story short, the same scenario would repeat in front of our eyes again and again, until we stopped counting how many failed attempts he had made in total. We could see how frustrated he was, and his frustration quickly led to anger. His face had become red and his t-shirt was soaked in sweat. Whenever he had a chance to quickly attempt his trick, he would not successfully land on the board, and the more he failed to achieve his aim, the more pissed off he was, until at some point he started screaming at his skateboard and calling it names, as if the poor piece of wood was responsible for his failed attempts. Slowly slowly, he started getting mad at people. In the desperate situation he was in, he even yelled at some pedestrians to keep on walking quickly because they were blocking his way, while at others to halt, as if that part of the square belonged to him.
During a 20-minute period of time, he attempted the trick not more than 10 times. At last, he successfully managed to achieve the task that he had undertaken. He performed his trick flawlessly, and those who were observing him for all that time started clapping at his success. He, however, didn’t seem impressed, happy or proud of himself. Rather, he looked sad, embarrassed and drained of energy. Soon afterwards, he stepped on his skateboard and moved away from us, until he left the square and seconds later disappeared from our view.
You might be wondering, what does this story have to do with how people tend to complicate their lives? Well, trust me, it has a lot to do, and below you’re going to read some important lessons that we can extract from it.
How People Complicate Their Lives
They don’t consider the consequences of their actions
Just like the skateboarder decided to go to the busiest square of the city to practice his tricks, which obviously wasn’t quite a good idea, considering all the trouble he put himself in, people in general tend to complicate their lives by taking actions without forethought about the consequences they are going to have in their lives.
Some people eat animal products or processed foods, smoke cigarettes, get drunk and undersleep, not realizing how detrimental such a lifestyle is to their physical and mental health. Others do work they don’t enjoy, are focused solely on earning money and collecting possessions, forgetting that joy is derived from experiences and not things. Still others constantly lie to their fellow human beings, trying to compete with them and exploit them, unaware that genuine, heart-to-heart relationships are the alpha and omega of emotional well-being. I could go on forever pointing out ways people tend to complicate their lives, but I think the above examples are enough to make my point clear.
Every action has certain effects, so remember to be mindful of how you act so that you can positively influence your life and the world.
They constantly blame others
Another good lesson to be learned from this story is that blaming others doesn’t do much to help us overcome any problems that we might be dealing with. In fact, it makes them appear bigger and prevents us from facing them eye-to-eye.
In the same way the skateboarder was blaming the people and his board for not being able to perform his trick, but didn’t stop for a moment and think how idiotic of him it was to try to do so in such a circumstance, people in general tend to blame everyone except themselves for anything that’s not going as planned in their lives, never considering the possibility that they themselves may be doing something wrong.
For example, when people are having problems in their relationships, many times they choose to solely blame their partners and hold them totally responsible for that. Another example would be people who are constantly behaving in unkind ways to those around them, but when others choose to avoid them as a reaction to their behavior, they blame the world for being cruel and unkind to them.
Of course, I don’t mean to say that those we come in contact with and the overall environment we live in are not having an impact on us and that we ourselves are to blame for everything. What I am saying is that it’s simply not a responsible thing to criticize and blame others without first looking at our own selves in the mirror.
They don’t learn from their mistakes
Mistakes are an inseparable part of life.
As we grow older, we naturally make mistakes, and mistakes help us mature, become more conscious and improve the quality of our lives. When we, however, get stuck in repeating the same mistakes, then this is a clear warning sign that we’re not attentive to the lessons life is trying to teach us.
Let’s go back to our story. The skaterboarder was desperately trying again and again to perform his trick, not being able to realize that it’s utterly stupid to do so in that busy square. He was suffering and wasting his time unnecessarily, when he could easily go to some other quiet place nearby and accomplish his goal much more easily. Exactly like him, many people fail to realize that they are making bad choices in their lives, and hence don’t consider making different, more intelligent ones in order to have better results in what they are aiming for.
They care only about themselves
In our story, the only thing the skateboarder was thinking about was how he could practice his fancy trick, regardless of how that was influencing those around him. He disturbed them, yelled at them, told them what to do and what not to, just so that he could do what he wanted to do. He didn’t care at all about others — he only cared about himself.
Many people have this kind of mentality in common, thinking that the world revolves around them and that others need to be adjusted to their way of living, as if they are the most important beings on the planet. They are interested only about their personal gain and are ready to step over others in order to ensure their own success.
Although such people think that this way they will benefit themselves, in reality they are only attracting trouble and suffering, and that’s for plenty of reasons. One reason is that they are often disappointed with others when they realize that the later don’t always conform to their expectations. This disappointment usually leads to frustration and frustration leads to anger — like it happened in the case of the skateboarder on that day. Another reason is that because they can’t feel much empathy towards others, their social relationships are pretty dysfunctional. They can’t communicate with others well, they feel emotionally isolated, and find it extremely difficult to deal with interpersonal conflict when it arises.
When we put self-interest over social interest, we are benefiting neither ourselves nor those around us. Therefore, only once we learn to listen to, understand, and collaborate with one another, will we be able to live at peace with the world around us.
Life doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it to be. All it really takes to keep it simple is a change of mind.
By developing awareness of your power to shape your destiny through your attitude and behavior, you can consciously choose to make better choices that will lead you to a less complicated and hence much more peaceful way of life.
The only question is, how willing are you to do so?