Life is hard, and I'm sure everyone has asked themselves at some point something along the lines of: "Why am I doing this?" or: "Is my life really joyful and fulfilling?" There is no one answer to these types of questions, but I have a philosophy. My idea isn't an all-encompassing solution, and I don't pretend to live perfectly—no sir! However, this idea sure has opened my eyes to the value of the time that I am so lucky to have on this planet.
I train for triathlon roughly fifteen hours every week. That's on top of going to school and trying to maintain somewhat of a social life, which, on its own, is no easy feat. My level of training requires early mornings and nights, literal blood, sweat, and tears; lots of food, and most importantly, dedication. It's hard to explain what it's like to train hard, and why exactly I do it, but I'll give it a shot. Giving it my best every day isn't always fun. It doesn't always make me feel great physically or especially mentally. Sometimes there are days or weeks that just plain suck out every last bit of energy and happiness I've got. To put it lightly: it can be hell...
So why do I do it? Why do I choose to hop out of bed at 5:21 AM to drain myself for two hours before another (arguably more draining) school day, and then drain myself another hour or two afterwards? It's one thing: Passion. I am passionate about working hard to get where I want to be and to achieve everything I set out to do. Somewhere along this journey, I picked up a weird addiction to pain. I often think to myself when I'm training that I've got a great ability to endure suffering. I try to embrace the suffering that comes with everything I do because, in the end, it always makes me a better person, and I am passionate about constantly strengthening myself in all aspects.
Working out isn't all I do, though. If it was, I might then accept the label "insane." Having a healthy balance of other happiness sources is key, especially when training becomes stressful. Honestly, it doesn't take much to make me happy. Spending quality time with people I care about is probably my favourite way to recover mentally. Blasting music and just wailing is also great medicine, and I'm lucky enough to be able to combine both those things regularly.
In the end, though, it always comes back to passion. Whether I'm in a dark place mentally or on top of the world, I remind myself of why I push myself so hard. That's always a good kick in the pants. I do it because I love it, and as long as I'm doing what I love, then I have no reason to be down.
The same should go for everyone, because everyone has something they are passionate about. I'm a prime example that doing what makes you happy isn't always fun. However, if someone is willing to devote a lifetime to their passion, only then can they be truly happy.
If you really think of what has value or meaning in your life, a lot of external things start to seem small and useless. Shifting your focus towards your passion can help remove attachments to what doesn't matter. Only you can decide what that is, though, but a good place to start is with the simple question: What am I passionate about?