Trade Up Problems

Below is the transcription of the best three-minute segment of an interview I’ve heard in a long time. And I listen to a lot of interviews.

[01:37:53] It’s not like you read one book and do one thing, and it’s figured out, and you’re done. it’s a constant course correction. You need to have those rituals to go back to. [01:38:29] People don’t get it. It’s messy. Life is messy. [01:38:45] It’s messy. Life is always going to be messy. It’s in figuring out how to manage that mess, and planning, “what am I going to do with this?” [01:39:30] Life is suffering. If you expect to your life to miraculously dissolve all your problems with a new car, a new wife, a new husband, a new “fill in the blank” you are mistaken. When you conquer your current set of problems, you trade up. You just get a new set of problems, and those challenges are set out by the universe, by whatever force you believe in, to challenge you. [01:40:37] It’s like, okay, you think Brad Pitt has a perfect life? I tell you, he has crazy stalkers, he has frivolous law suits, he has, “fill in the blank.” You trade up. You just have a different set of problems. The reason I bring it up is not to be depressing at all, it’s to underscore the importance of expecting adversity in a sense of looking forward to adversities as a growth opportunity. If you want to be a higher performer in high stress environments, you need to get to the point where you relish the opportunity to prove yourself in the face of challenges.

This was from a webcast between Ramit Sethi and Tim Ferriss in November 2012, right before the launch of The Four-Hour Chef. I don’t remember where I found the link to the audio, unfortunately.

When I listen to my own self-talk about the important aspects of life (love, family, career, money, etc.) I “hear” that it revolves around the following framework:

“If I just got ‘this,’ then I could be happy.”


“If I just solve this problem, I’ll be satisfied.”

For example:

  • Love – “If Amy just moved from Ireland to Los Angeles, our relationship will be perfect.”
  • Career – “If I just get out of the agency business, my career will be on track.”
  • Money – “If I can just put X amount of dollars away in the bank, I’ll feel secure.”

This Is Not True

And everyday, I’m coming to terms with that.

Regardless of…

  • How successful your online business is
  • How many Emmy’s or Oscars you win
  • How many books you write
  • How many restaurants you own

We are all constantly trading up problems. We’re encountering new challenges.

So happiness isn’t something lying just past, the mirage beyond our grasp.

Happiness is facing the challenge, not conquering it.

It’s the journey, not the destination.

Photo Credit: Naveen Kumar

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