Create a Meaningful Life, Not a Hard One

Not all pressure is good, so how do you create the right kind of pressure for success?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

We often hear that challenging environments are a necessary ingredient for success. We need productive tension and constructive competition to stretch our limits and do more. However, much as tension can be good or bad, and competition can be good or bad, the idea of a challenging life can be done in a positive way or a negative way.

“Remember diamonds are created under pressure so hold on, it be your time to shine soon.”

Sope Agbelusi

One should neither strive for an easy life nor a hard one. Although an easy life sounds relaxing and enjoyable, and a hard life can create the pressure for success, an easy life also breeds complacency and mediocrity, while a hard life breeds embitterment.

Nor is the truth in the middle. Striving for a life that’s the right mix of easy and hard doesn’t accomplish much, either. Besides a range from easy-hard, there’s an entirely other axis that’s far more important: How meaningful what you’re doing is. Let’s just call it meaning.

A hard life that is meaningless is just pure suffering, as described by Nietzsche. However, even a hard, but meaningful life (stoicism) is not the end goal, because there is no intrinsic value to difficulty. Wouldn’t you prefer an easy, pleasurable life? That is hedonism, the pursuit of pure pleasure. While pleasure, unlike difficulty, does have intrinsic value, it does not have intrinsic meaning. There is no higher purpose to pleasure.

When you combine these, you get what we might call “enlightenment” – a life that is easy, but meaningful. (Note: I hesitate to use the term “enlightenment” due to its pretentious connotations, but it fits). It has higher purpose, but is not difficult. The reason that so few of us ever reach that quadrant is because nobody ever starts there. A human doesn’t crawl out of the womb seeking higher purpose and an effortless life.

However, many people do start in suffering – over a billion people lack access to proper sanitation and clean drinking water. Further, many people are born into hedonism, as they experience no hardship, but grow up in a protected bubble.

Enlightenment, then, is something you have to grow into through a series of levels, so to speak.

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...


    Are You Ready to Love Your Life?

    by Emily Madill

    “Take care of your body.” With Michael Edwin & Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

    by Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

    Executive, teacher, chef: how to juggle all of your new jobs

    by Melissa Reinking

    Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

    Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

    Thrive Global
    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.