Got problems? I’m betting you really don’t. Even if from some objective viewpoint you have a big “problem”, developing a different perspective can help you through it. We are immobilized by the small stuff. Our lives are one drama after another. Everything is an emergency. We actually convince ourselves that this stuff is important and matters, but in reality the problems are coming from inside of us and not being dictated by external reality. The way we react to our situations is critical to whether we improve them or not. Instead of reacting to these situations, we need to develop a perspective that reminds us that these situations are not really that bad, important, critical, or whatever.
“I was sitting with a friend at lunch about ten days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. With tears in her eyes, she said, ‘Did you notice that not a single person on any of the hijacked planes who had the opportunity to make a phone call called their stockbroker?’ Far from being facetious, she was making an obvious but very important point.” — Richard Carlson
Did somebody cut you off on the freeway? Will that matter tomorrow? Will it matter in an hour? If it does matter for five seconds, what good does it do to get upset about it?
Do you have a lot of bills that are stressing you out? Why don’t you join the estimated 2,000,000 pavement dwellers in India and lay your head on a rag spread on the concrete at night. You won’t have to pay rent.
Did somebody “disrespect” you? That seems to happen a lot to young people nowadays. God help you. Did a colleague dump his work on you? You could join the ranks of the unemployed and then maybe you would have something to bitch about. Or would you? Would you starve? No, but a child dies every 5 seconds from hunger-related causes. Your stress from the uncertainty of being unemployed wouldn’t seem so bad to them. If you got sick while unemployed and without insurance, you could go to a hospital emergency room. What exactly is going to happen to you that is so bad?
In the U.S., I’ve personally observed the “poor” using cell phones, wearing expensive sneakers, and struggling through the aisles at the supermarket because of their obesity. They didn’t look look like they lacked for food. They virtually all have electricity and probably cable TV. I’ve seen them in a hospital emergency room when they were sick. But they are such terrible victims. Just ask them.
My father was born during the dust bowl in rural Kansas in 1935. My grandmother told me they put wet rags under the doors to keep the dirt out. They went outside in the cold winter to use an outhouse. When it snowed, they packed the snow into a hole in the ground inside a wooden shack they called the ice-house so they would have ice when the weather warmed. My grandparents filled the hole in and were using the building as a storage shed by the time I saw it. I think my father variously rode a horse or a bicycle to a one-room school house. By my standards, and by the standards of the modern welfare recipient, that would suck. But he would tell you he had a good childhood.
Problems relative to what? Less than a year ago I was stressed out, feeling horrible, taking 12 different prescription drugs, and was given a diagnosis of MS by my neurologist. I had a lot of “problems”. I sure felt sorry for myself. But twelve years ago, at the age of 39, my sister died a horrible weeks-long death hooked up to a respirator in an ICU. Her death was the culmination and quite frankly the relief from more than a decade of a miserable and painful illness. At my worst moments, I couldn’t even imagine what she must have went through.
Just so you know, a second opinion from a different neurologist disputes the MS diagnosis. I agree with the second opinion. In any case, I don’t take any of the prescriptions any more. I do take an over-the-counter anti-histamine. I took myself off the drugs and started eating right and exercising. I don’t know what the future holds, but I don’t have any problems.
At any moment in time you will find yourself in a particular situation. Some of those situations are more pleasant and healthy than others. In any moment you will face a myriad of decisions. In any situation that you don’t like you can accept it, get yourself out of it, or change it. Those are your basic choices. It doesn’t help to get worked up, stressed out, or call your girlfriend to bitch about it.
You will want to make decisions that drive you to the happy and healthy end of the continuum, but all the bitching, complaining, and feeling sorry for yourself is not going to do anything but divert valuable energy away from your effort to improve the situation.
Come on! The economy is not so hot, but relative to what? They way it was last year? I was sitting at a traffic light today in four lanes of traffic. I looked around as far as I could see looking for the “worst” car I could find. It appeared some poor slob was driving a Nissan Sentra that might have been five or six years old. We are really suffering aren’t we?
I am not making light of your situation, whatever it may be. I’m just willing to bet that it’s not really that bad. Regardless, treating life’s situations as “problems” and creating drama is doing nothing to help. It is actually hurting. Enjoy what you have. Calm down and relax. It could be worse. You’ll then be in a much better position to see your way to a better situation.
You are never going to be happy and develop that sense of well-being as long as you blow little inconveniences up into problems and drama. You are never going to have peace as long as you turn difficult situations into tragedies of life. 150,000 people die every day. Your situation is not the end of the world. Whatever it is, there are a lot of people in worse shape and there are a lot who are in the same situation.
I understand how relative to your ideal situation you think you have problems. I’m a human too and I suffer the same malady sometimes. Don’t get so attached to what is wrong. Besides, what is wrong gives you a contrast that allows you to enjoy what is right.
So what are you going to do about it? You can whine about it or you can change your perspective and get on with enjoying whatever you have, even if it is not as much as you had yesterday. Develop the attitude of resilience to your life.
“The solution here is to catch yourself when you fall into your habit of insisting that things should be other than they are. Gently remind yourself that life is ok the way it is, right now. In the absence of your judgment, everything would be fine. As you begin to eliminate your need for perfection in all areas of your life, you’ll begin to discover the perfection in life itself.” — Richard Carlson
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
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