There are times and periods in life where it simply stinks to be at the receiving end of bad news.
Bad news aka unfavorable outcomes are dreaded by all of us because they cause unpleasant feelings.
And if you’ve been following my writing, you know what my next line is going to be: The bottom line of all human suffering is aversion to unpleasant feelings.
But we live in a complex society with so many uncontrollable players affecting each other and hence there’s a great probability that something you do today might not result in a favorable outcome, no matter how much you prepare for it.
Flights get cancelled despite you planning your trip perfectly. Traffic messes your day’s plans. Your kid falls sick out of the blue and you have to cancel on some key meeting. Your supposedly good client suddenly acts like a jerk and causes frustration. Your paycheck and thereby your medical payments are delayed because of some political impasse outside your control.
I go through a few of these sometimes and I’ll be honest, I lose my balance and mindfulness and end up dropping my head and sigh, “life just stinks.”
No one can avoid the unpleasant feelings that life sends your way, no matter how prepared you are. You are not the master of the universe and sure enough rest of all the factors won’t play well according to your plans. Things change. Plans fail. Just got to sit with these moments.
But we have a choice. We can either resort to resignation and disappointment or make adjustments and keep the optimistic spirit going.
I was reading a book this morning called “Mindset” by Dr. Carol Dweck in which she describes two ways people approach difficulties.
One is with a fixed mindset: Where people attach their ego to their abilities and dread failure because it exposes their limitations.
Another refreshing way is called “growth mindset” where people love and thrive under challenging situations because it teaches something new. These people don’t have a “set-in-stone” ego but pride themselves in being the best learners and adapters. And that means they constantly need a challenge or two to improve their abilities.
That’s what I want to leave you with.
The next time something “sucky” happens in your life, ask yourself, what would a person with a growth mindset do here? Ask if you are trying to cherish your “fixed self’s abilities” or willing to stretch to learn and adapt which will enable you to overcome the difficulty?
“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” — Helen Keller
“Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.” – Steve Jobs