You know that expression, right?
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”
Well, it struck me just now that there are basically two camps you can fall into when you hit a bump in the road and fall off your bike. It’s probably obvious and it’s sure to be something I’ve written about before, in another guise, some time ago. And I don’t want to get all verbose about it, since it’s really just the simplest equation in the world.
When life throws you a curveball, you have a choice.
You can add it to one of two lists.
You can add it to your victim story list: “And then, poor me, this happened.” You know the one, right? And you know when you’re on that kick because you’re not focused on what actually happened, or how best to deal with it, or how to fix it, but you’re reciting in your head how best to tell it when you next meet someone who’ll listen. And you know that you’re learning to kick that habit the moment it begins to feel less than comfortable reciting the same tired old lines; when, and I know you know this one, you’re actually beginning to bore yourself.
Or you can add it to your survivor list. You can add to the strings on your bow. You can hold your head up and say (to yourself because, come on, who else needs to hear it anyway? Whose opinion of you is more important than your own? Seriously. Whose? The number one person who needs to love and approve of you is… uh-huh… YOU) “I survived that, and this is what I learned.”
Victim consciousness is a honey-trap. You think you’ll feel better telling someone how unhappy you are and how it’s anyone and anything else’s fault other than your own. But you don’t. You never ever do. It just perpetuates the misery.
But when you take responsibility for your own happiness, it can change in a heartbeat.
Last night, watching a film with some of my family, one of my sons was, frankly, bloody miserable. From an objective perspective, I had grasped the storm in the teacup, I could see how simple it would be to forget it, to get over it, to let it go. But it isn’t something you can do for someone else. They have to do it for themselves. And it isn’t always easy. And unless you’re Buddha, you’ll still have times when you struggle with it.
In a lull, I leaned over to him:
“The only person unhappy in here,” I whispered, “is you. And you don’t have to be. You can choose to let whatever the perceived grievance is… go. Just let it go.”
He guffawed, somewhat sarcastically, but I know how it works with him. Plant the seed, walk away and let him think.
Shortly afterwards, during a particularly heavy and gruelling scene, and as though nothing had happened:
“If you close your eyes and listen to Tom Hanks in this film, it’s like Woody’s swearing. I can’t be the only one to think that, right?”
The rest of us fell about laughing and the entire atmosphere was diffused.
Because he chose to let it go.
Small example, simple principle.
Massive life lesson.