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In search of purpose: Choose your struggle

<photo: basecamp at Island Peak, Himalayas, Nepal>

Altitude sickness (also known as AMS - acute mountain sickness) occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air at high altitudes. This causes symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, tiredness and trouble sleeping. Experts still do not know a lot about altitude sickness - who will get it and who will not, how fitness levels play a role or whether it matters whether you are male or female. Altitude sickness is painful and it can be deadly at high altitudes.

"If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything. Everyone wants that. So what’s the point? What’s more interesting to me is what pain do you want? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives end up. People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to love the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not. Some people are wired for that sort of pain, and those are the ones who succeed."

In planning to climb a mountain, it's normal to aspire to want to reach the summit. Get to the top, take a selfie, be immortalised in Instagram and gain instant fame. But mountaineers know that many things can go wrong on a climb - avalanches, bad weather, altitude sickness, a fellow climber falling ill and the list goes on. Mountaineers don't just choose which peak to conquer. They also choose their struggles - they embrace the negatives, they endure the pain, and they are prepared to turn around when conditions become bad. It's painful to turn around, especially when you are near the peak and it's just 5 more minutes but you will have another amazing story to tell. Purpose can be found when we choose our struggles.

"Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. Be smarter, faster, richer, sexier, more popular, more productive, more envied, and more admired. Be perfect and amazing and crap out twelve-karat-gold nuggets before breakfast each morning while kissing your selfie-ready spouse and two and a half kids goodbye. Then fly your helicopter to your wonderfully fulfilling job, where you spend your days doing incredibly meaningful work that’s likely to save the planet one day. Ironically, this fixation on the positive—on what’s better, what’s superior—only serves to remind us over and over again of what we are not, of what we lack, of what we should have been but failed to be. After all, no truly happy person feels the need to stand in front of a mirror and recite that she’s happy. She just is." Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

"What determines your success is - What pain do you want to sustain?”

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