In a discussion I had with a good friend recently, the subject of how to react to lifes trials and tribulations came up.
My friend said, The older Ive gotten the more I realize that what is important in anyones life is how they react to adversity. So many people seem to go into a tailspin after having gone through a traumatic event. Yet others who have experienced the same type of situation recover quickly and go on with their lives. So what it means to me is that the right attitude can make all the difference in the world.
These same thoughts are contained in Charles Swindolls wonderful epistle entitled Attitude, which I quote from frequently when I speak to any group. Basically, he makes the same point as my good friend when he says that life is made up of 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.
On a recent trip to Florida, my wife and I attended a surprise birthday party for one of her friends, and the conversation invariably got around to reminiscing about past experiences and events. Some of it got quite maudlin. From the conversation it became evident many of those in attendance felt that their lives were mostly behind them until one woman spoke up.
Heres what she said: Look, if you want to dwell on what happened before, thats OK to some extent, but life is all about living. I concentrate on today and tomorrow and leave old memories in the closet. Theres too much living to do yet. So why waste time thinking about yesterday?
Her comment fell flat in the room, as nobody spoke for a moment. But the lady was right and I told her so. In other words, get on with your life and live.
On the same trip to Florida I played golf with Ed Eckenhoff, who runs the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington. Ive mentioned him before in a number of articles I have written because he has been such an inspiration to me over the years. Ed suffered a life-altering car accident when he was a freshman in college and has been paralyzed from the waist down since. However, he has accomplished so much in his life that on more than one occasion it gives you pause to realize the incredible courage and stamina Ed has demonstrated time and again in life.
Shortly after that horrible accident, which killed his roommate, he has gone on to become one of the great icons in healthcare. So as we were playing golf a few days ago and had just finished a tough hole he said to me: Chuck, if it hadnt been for my accident, I wouldnt have had all the wonderful experiences that have happened to me. I wouldnt have met people like you and so many others whose friendship I cherish. I probably wouldnt have met my wife and had the career Ive had. I have a wonderful life, and it seems to get better all the time. Life takes so many twists and turns and you can never be sure how its going to turn out.
We all go through tough times: loss of a job, a spouse or even a child. All sorts of things can occur without a moments notice and theres no question it can be devastating, but then there is the question of how we respond, what we do with our setbacks. It all comes down to whether you have the mindset to persevere, even grow from adversity, or whether you are overcome by it.
One of the steps in the process of grieving is anger. Used right, anger can be a wonderful tool to accomplish something. It doesnt have to be a negative feeling. It can be a real energizer.
Whatever happens, dream your dreams and make them come true. If people such as Ed Eckenhoff dont let serious adversity stop them, neither should you.
Always react in a positive manner.