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Gifts and Limits of "Meaningful Struggle" ☯️

3things integral theory jordan myska allen personal growth relatefulness stayinlove May 26, 2022


A couple of days ago my eight-month old son struggled valiantly on his first army crawl across our floor. It was a big moment. I witnessed my own discomfort at his frustration as he’d been grunting and failing for some time. It reminded me of this term, "meaningful struggle", from investor Ray Dalio. Meaningful struggle is when a good life is not one of achievement/status (orange), happiness/well-being (green), but of meaningful struggle/evolution (teal). I like the phrase because I think it points to something beautiful and true. It helps me look for the meaning in my own struggles, and not to reframe my pain or find silver linings, but to see it as something inherently valuable. It rhymes with the Aristotelian concept of eudaimonia and eustress. It's part of why we like solving puzzles. And why games that are too easy aren't fun to play.

But I also notice that I’m addicted to meaningful struggle. Isn’t life inherently meaningful? Won't I struggle and grow, like my son, whether I look for it or not? Then my attachment to the ‘meaningful struggle’ of even service or improvement ends up as an avoidance of simple, immediate, now.


With love, Jordan


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