Struggling and striving causes happiness and satisfaction
Erik Bertrand Larssen
Why people become so similar and do quite the same in life? After all, why extreme performances still fascinate us? I believe that answer can be summarised to one word: Fear. (Larssen 2021.)
That is the most highlighted line for me in the book of Helvetinviikko (the week of hell) by Erik Bertrand Larssen. It summarises the nature of the human mind. We always looking for balanced life which brings us a feeling of safety and comfort. But at the same time, we always admire people who have the bravery to take risks and do something that most people would not do. We might be dreaming of changing our lives to make them different, but we end up with a safe and convenient option. Are safety and comfort truly the feeling which makes us happy and satisfied or do they make humans too afraid to do something which would cause happiness and pleasure?
Fear makes us similar
According to Bertrand Larssen, we are afraid of strange, uncomfortable, and mistakes. We rather choose safe and familiar options than the more difficult ones. (Larssen 2021.) We all can identify with this. No one likes to make mistakes or struggle with difficulties. Although, living life only in our comfort zone makes us avoid trying new things or do something which causes us to strive. It is nicer to watch TV in the evening and eat some chocolate than go for a run in the dark during snowfall. Which one of these makes you prouder of yourself or makes you feel satisfied in the long-term period?
Larssen’s answer is the last option. If we are always picking the easier and more safe option, our mental development is going to be incomplete (Larssen 2021). And it is not making us happy and proud of ourselves in the end. That is why Larssen recommends challenging own behaviour, habits, and comfortable zone to develop as a human being in any field of life.
Looking for a balanced on comfortable life makes people end up in a life situation that looks similar and stable. We wake up, eat breakfast, go to work or school, end in the afternoon or evening, go to a grocery store, then make food and have dinner, go to work out if have time and watch Netflix series one hour or two and see that it took longer than was planned, go to brush teeth and then to sleep at 11.30 pm and set the alarm to 7.00 am as always.
We have our life rhythms and our schedules, and there is nothing bad about it. It is not bad to watch Netflix either. The bad thing is if you don’t feel proud or satisfied about things you are doing. If you continuously thinking that “afterwards”. Would you like to do something else in the evenings than watching TV too late, but it feels hard to make the difference? If you feel that your comfortableness makes you not achieve your goals and dreams, there is something wrong in your life. In that case, your comfort zone ruins your goals and success.
According to Larssen (2021), fear is mostly about habits. We fear to make changes in life and face something uncomfortable. We are afraid to die but also to live. (Larssen 2021). Changing habits and routines are not easy to do. It forces processing own mind and doing hard work to make new ones. It is also scary to face the fact that your behaviour and habits are the ones that make you unhappy, inefficient, or ruins your dream. It is also scary to do something you have not done before, even though it would be a very small thing. It is still a change and different.
Larssen wants to encourage people to make the best in their life and stepping out of the comfort zone and facing fears. His book Helvetinviikko is all about that. Larssen challenges his readers to plan their week of hell, which includes early mornings, hard and long working days, healthy food, and exercise, stepping out of their comfort zone. To try to be the most productive as possible and do something which causes the stress if it can’t be managed. The week includes the same activities as usual, but the thing is to do everything extremely well, strive persistently, and focus on one specific topic each day (Larssen 2021). The purpose of the week is to be the best person you can be in your life. It does not matter what you do as a work or what kind of family you have. You try to be the best person in your life.
Strive, success, satisfaction
Success causes satisfaction (Larssen 2021). It is the point in life and doing hard work. Larssen highlights that after struggling and striving, all comfortableness and prizes feel more pleasure and big than having that comfortableness without any struggling. (Larssen 2021).
Larssen’s will is to encourage people to not be content to live which stays in balance without putting effort into it. He encourages people to try to find their full potential to do their normal life activities or be brave to do things differently. It does not mean that you need to change your life totally, quit your job, or move to another country. It can mean that you put effort into your sleeping habits to have more energy to do things during the day or start to meditate in the evenings instead of watching TV series till it is time to go to bed.
Stepping out from the comfort zone. That is the goal of the week of hell. The meaning of that week is to focus on things in which you could be more efficient or productive. During the week you focus on doing more than you usually do, putting extra effort into everything: sleep, healthy eating, exercise, work, and family. It is not just doing a long day at work but also focusing on family time when you have that time. For example, putting cell phones off-line when you spend time with your family and not multitask work and free time together.
Larssen (2021) highlights that when you have done your best, everything, and succeeded, your mind gives that acknowledgement as pleasure. If you want to feel pleasure and satisfaction, you need to be ready to step out from the comfort zone more often and for longer than you would like to. Only if you are ready to give up on your convenient life, you can experience true pleasure. (Larssen 2021.)
Variability makes life more satisfying
No one can live life by striving all the time and putting extreme effort into everything, and it is not the point in the week of hell. The point is to show to yourself that you can do more than you thought you could and succeed in tasks you feel difficult. Do something which shows how potential you are and something you can remember for the rest of your life. (Larssen 2021.)
Variability of life makes it more pleasant and satisfying. If there is only striving and struggling, life gets easily miserable and unhappy. On the other hand, if there is only enjoying easy life and comfort without the adversities of trying hard, life would get boring and meaningless. Looking for happiness and satisfaction in life is to balance between struggling and pleasure, have times to challenge own skills and habits between times to enjoy stable life with eases. Everyone’s function is to find their way to do that, with their limits in their own life.
Look the fear in the eye and say you can do it
Fear makes humans humane but it does not mean that it needs to make humans weak and unable to try. Like Larssen says, you need to know your limits, try them and learn how much can you truly reach them (Larssen 2021). What would be your task which causes you to struggle and reach your limits? Could you try it next week or even tomorrow?
Larssen, E. B. 2021. Helvetinviikko. Bazar. Audiobook. Date of publication in BookBeat: 4.1.2021.