Most of us have enough trouble (thank you very much), we don’t go out looking for it. What we’re looking for is a trouble-free existence, free from responsibility and things breaking down, where the drinks are cold and the water’s just right.
But is that really what would make us happy?
I had this realization watching my two young daughters playing in the train (a real, life-sized train!) in the Children’s Museum the other day. They excitedly scrambled into the conductor chairs, eager to push every button and pull every lever.
We all have those days when we envy our kids’ lives. No stress, only playing and messing around all day. They live the good life! But put kids in charge of a train, and what do they pretend to do? Take a joy ride on the beach-side tracks, admiring the sunset?
Within seconds of climbing aboard, my kids found nothing but trouble. First there were animals on the tracks. Then they got going to fast. Then the brakes went! As soon as they solved one problem, the next one would suddenly "appear"!
Nobody asked or even suggested that driving a training was particularly stressful, but they found plenty of problems that needed fixing!
Watching my daughters save animals and keep passengers safe aboard the train, I realized that we’re made for trouble.
We’re most alive when we’re solving difficult problems. The “easy life” that we dream of would be boring, because we’re built for fixing problems, pushing through adversity, and helping others who are facing trouble.
You can see this in the stories we tell. Do you talk about every other day when the commute was uneventful, or the blizzard day, when it took 3 hours to get across town?
Adventures filled with uncertainty and, yes, trouble, these are what we live for.
Of course, none of us have to go looking for it, because there’s plenty of trouble to go around. But rather than trying to escape, we can focus our efforts on leaning into the problems that we face.

Wishing you an adventure-filled 2016,

Twitter: @brentmanke

A few recent posts that might interest you:
Wait, Back Up
Small Things
Norman Doors and Designing for Humans
Copyright © 2015 Brent Manke, All rights reserved.

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