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Beneath the rose lies a thorn, under the darkness is light, taste fuels disgust, sorrow reaps joy, hard work brings pleasure.

What is a paradox? A paradox is something upside down, inside out. It appears insane or contradictory but is true.

An ability to understand how paradoxes work leads to destruction in the modern age. Obsessions with prosperity fuel emotional poverty, selflessness fuels fulfilment while selfishness breeds death.

Get too caught up in appearances with no emphasis on meaning and you are doomed for disaster.

Jesus emphasised this point in Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”

Profits. Career paths. Big houses.

Depression. Downward spirals. Dissatisfied inner beings.

Don’t be deceived.

Anxiety and depression reach new highs annually while people will usually avoid this reality as they post on social media to try and fuel envy. People love to act as if they have it all together and that their career is giving them all they need. Deep down, however, they are insecure someone will expose their vanity, someone will be better than them or that things won’t work out.

They cling to things they can’t control while leaving their soul which they can control one sick untidy mess much like a garden with weeds cracking through the pavement, bird droppings smothered across all the water features and broken pots dispersed across the garden.

Outward success inward chaos.

We see these paradoxes in everyday life.

People who are grateful to others tend to have better wellbeing according to the Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing.

Giving to others makes you happier according to a study by the Utah State University.

Spending less time working to sleep actually helps you work better.

Volunteering your time to serve those in need helps fulfil some of your own needs. Neuroscientist Andrew Huberman pointed out in his dopamine podcast that one of the best ways to sustain dopamine “the feel good hormone” in the long run is to put in effort into meaningful and difficult tasks. In other words sowing difficulty reaps reward.

Look beneath the surface. Mould and grow your character in service and faith to Christ who will strengthen you in the process.

Life is complex. Things are not always as they seem. Remember this the next time you come across a difficulty or a success. Do not forfeit your soul.

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