I hope you get better problems

I find myself frequently recalling the words my dear friend Ardis spoke about misfits like me, “We’re not really human beings because we don’t know how to just be. We’re human doers because we derive our sense of self-worth from what we do.”

I have largely moved beyond the point in my life in which this was true of me. I spent the first third of my life running away from me. Today I have healthy things that I run toward.  For many years now, my life has been overflowing with good people, strong purpose, serenity, and a lot of passion.

The challenge for me these days is that I keep adding wonderful projects and undertakings and dreams to my life and it’s great…until I try to schedule it all…until I am facing multiple deadlines…or until I find myself preoccupied with everything I have to do…

The conversations I have with my Higher Power these days are pretty comical. I express gratitude for all that I am blessed with and then I ask, “For all the good that you’re adding, what will you take away so that I can balance all of this?”

I then suffer the recurring epiphany that what my Higher Power would like to take away is almost certainly something I’m refusing to let go of. My all-time favorite Facebook meme: “Everything I let go of has claw marks on it.”

Sooner or later, I will be faced with two more epiphanies that appear like light bulbs over the head of a cartoon character that has worked way too hard to come up with a good idea:

  • Everything falls into place when I let it.
  • More will be revealed: Whatever needs to go will become increasingly hard to hold on to

My problems are all good problems and I have been given a new way to look at that. In his book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Mark Manson argues that the key to happiness is overcoming problems. He points out that we are never without problems but that the reward for overcoming each one is that we get new and better problems.

There was a time in my life when my problem was I couldn’t afford my rent. Today I am blessed with the problem of a tenant that is not paying rent. That’s night and day different. It’s still a problem, but it’s not one that causes me to lose sleep or to feel badly about myself.

There was a time when I worked too hard, doing back breaking work because in my mind I was trapped without options. Today I do work that I love, with people I care deeply for, in an air conditioned office, and the heaviest thing I will  lift today is my huge coffee mug.

My stress today is a product of competing demands and good things to balance. Life is good. I hope you get to upgrade your problems soon!

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.