Thursday, August 30, 2012

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

Looking back at something I wrote almost exactly 5 years ago, (See here.) I can't help but think man, I was a smart little 21 year old! Maybe that's what saved me in so many situations in life. But still I am no perfect human being and can always use this reminder. 

Life isn't something that happens, with you just a passive bystander to all it's whims. I admit, certain things are totally out of your control and there is not a thing you can do about changing them. But the one thing you can change is your attitude.

I have always felt strongly about the notion of having a positive attitude. I remember when I was 17 and failed my driver's exam for the first time, initially I came home and cried and cried until I could no more. I thought of nothing more than how mean and evil my examiner was, and how he must have just had it in for me and failed me for all these frivolous reasons that he made up (removed hands from wheel to fix her hair when approaching a stop sign...basis for failure, really?). Then I remember thinking, I can't change what happened but now I have two weeks to practice the hell out of driving, two weeks to prove that I can do this. I thought of all the people I knew, who weren't the brightest crayons in the box and how they managed to learn how to drive, so I certainly could too! Then I thought about all the people who were inspirational to me. There are friends and family I know, who always take struggle with stride keeping their chin up no matter how demanding life got or how stressful the situation became. To me, thinking of these examples motivate me at times when I am feeling discouraged. 

It was just something about my attitude that changed. Whenever I'm faced with difficulty I tend to get discouraged for a bit, I simply don't do well in adverse situations. I end up focusing on everything wrong with the picture and turning completely pessimistic abot the future. But then when I've wallowed in enough self pity, something inside me kicks me to think "no, if you just change your outlook, this entire situation can be totally different." It was the same feeling I had when I failed parts of the CPA exam numerous times. I would get so discouraged upon learning that I failed by just 1 point! One stinkin' point, those test graders could easily have given me me that on open ended questions, that I so rightfully deserved and it was all their evil plotting to make boatloads of money off of me knowing it was the only thing that kept me away from this license. And again I'd have to remind myself that I can't change how the judges grade, so there was no sense in dwelling on that and instead to focus all my energy on changing my own game plan so I could succeed.  

At the risk of making this post way too long I wanted to add something that I feel fits well with this topic. This whole situation reminds me of the saying

 "If the mountain won't come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain."

I found the below excerpt describing the meaning of this quote from doing some online research (gotta love my buddy Google), so don't quote me on the validity of this:

"It has its origin in a legend about something Mohammed (peace be upon him) said when he was asked to prove his prophethood. He raised a hand and ordered a nearby mountain to come to him. The mountain, of course, did nothing and Mohammed then declared that this was proof of God's mercy, because if God had granted his wish, Mohammed and those around him would have been crushed by the mountain. He then said he was going to go to the mountain and thank God for his mercy.

The meaning of the expression now is that you sometimes have to do things for yourself instead of expecting the world to give you what you want."

This makes so much sense to me. I just started at a new job and the first week which normally should be a breeze was tough! I have a manager who makes work his life. It's a Friday afternoon and the office is deserted except he's got me here being on conference calls and working on presentations due in two weeks! I can't change this, but I can change my attitude. We cannot expect God or people to do things for us all the time. And certainly we should not keep complaining about everything that is wrong with the situation at hand, instead keep hope that brighter days will come and use that hope to channel a positive attitude. With the right attitude you can bring yourself to achieve the things you want, instead of sitting around waiting for them to come to you. 

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