It seems like I was born with the notion that life must be a struggle.
Even though my birth into the world was apparently not too challenging—I was the fourth born to my mother and it was a fairly quick and easy labour.
I don’t know when the idea of struggle came. I think it was from hearing over and over again as I grew: “Life will be hard;” “Good things don’t come easy;” “Work hard and you will be successful;” and other such quick quips that would leave a long lasting impression on me.
From what I remember, it wasn’t my parents telling me these things—it was moreso my teachers at school and perhaps media-driven messages.
If a young person is repeatedly told that life will be hard, it would take a lot of personal perseverance and strong will to consider the opposite…that maybe life is easy if we let it be.
I’m 34. I graduated from high school in 2000. I barely attended classes in my last year. I turned in assignments late—but they were always really well-done assignments and projects, and I always got good grades on them. I never liked deadlines. They seemed so limiting and forced—that wasn’t the way I wanted to live my life.
Sometimes, teachers told me they were preparing me for the real world—the world of hard work and fancy corporations where deadlines meant profit or loss, deal or no deal. In my mind, I didn’t know I’d never be part of that type of corporate world but I guess in my heart and soul, there was a knowing that I’d be going a different route.
A route that served me rather than me serving it.
In some ways, opening my own small business at the age of 26 was the most mainstream thing I’d ever do. But even then, I didn’t really follow the rules.
I community crowdfunded before crowdfunding was even a thing. I’d heard of small villages around the world partaking in micro loan programs and I went that route. I did try to get a more conventional loan to start the business and it didn’t work out for me—the corporate world didn’t believe that my business would be viable (and it’s possible it went this way because of my anti-corporate mindset) but I did know it would viable and I knew to some extent it would be an easy business to make successful.
My community wanted a health food store and that’s exactly what I wanted to bring them. Choosing the crowdfunding route to raise starting capital was easy and joyful. In the process, I met new people in my community who believed in my vision and I felt fully supported by a network of people who would soon become some of my best customers and supporters of my community vision.
Writing my business plan was easy because I was passionate about how this business could transform my community, as well as bring great value to my own life. I had fun with the business plan writing process. I wanted this business to bring more joy into my life, and I knew that I needed to do what I could to bring joy into every aspect of it.
This is not to say that some things weren’t challenging. It’s just that when I came up against something challenging, like getting all the permits and paperwork in order—when all the permit givers and paper signers were sending me back and forth saying I needed this before that and that before this—I just laughed it off and opened my business anyway knowing that it would all fall in to place and trusting that the powers that be would acknowledge my attempt at getting it all sorted. I couldn’t wait around for the town by-law officer (business license issuer) to get back from his vacation before I opened for business—I had rent to pay and customers to serve.
Rather than struggling and waiting and getting frustrated…I moved on with my plans and set my opening date. It all did work out in the end. I got my business license about three weeks after opening and I’ve now just passed the eight year mark of being in business!
I remember my father telling me one day, when I was in partnership in a community project, that he saw that my partners were frustrated at how at ease I was at getting all of my commitments accomplished. He said something like, “It’s easy for you to do these things and so it looks to people on the outside that you’re not actually doing much work.”
There was so much truth in his words and they really gave me a better perspective on how I have chosen to operate in the world—with ease.
This comes back to the deep conditioning of struggle so many of us have had battered into our minds.
“It’s not an accomplishment unless there is struggle and hard work” is one of the biggest lies I’ve ever heard, and it’s a lie that so many of us hear on a daily basis—to the point where we truly believe it to be the only reality.
I choose a life of ease. I choose this way because I know that life has and will inevitably give me challenges that are not so easy to deal with. Life is hard enough with dealing with death of loved ones, illness and disease, broken bones, and broken relationships.
These are the real struggles in life. Why would any of us choose to make it any harder than it already is?
Leaving the struggle behind when it comes to more trivial issues in life has been, I believe, one of my biggest accomplishments. It’s a mindset and it’s something I remind myself of often: the mindset of ease. If I ever feel myself getting frustrated over something rather insignificant to the big picture, I bring my view of whatever I am focused on into a wider scope and change the way I am looking through my lens into the world so I can be quickly reminded of what is important to me.
Ease, joy, and happiness are my driving forces in this lifetime, and I feel great about it.