Wednesday, October 22, 2014

40 Pieces of Advice Challenge - Day 15

Every person has an idea of what their life should be like. And, it's safe to say that these ideal life visions don't involve having any problems, not significant ones, anyway.

For most people, problems are the unwanted stumbling blocks that keep us from having and being what we truly want. And the truth is, they can be. It's hard to find the value in problems like disease, major misfortune, the death of a loved one. I'm not here to say that we should accept these problems with open arms and welcoming smiles.

What I am saying, though, is that this thing called life comes as a bundle of joys, sorrows, highs, lows and in-betweens. It's a package deal, folks.

We're handed a life and we hope that we do the best with what we're given. Do we make mistakes, often very foolish ones? No doubt about it. Would we have done things differently with knowledge gained from the results of our mistakes? Yes.

And there's the rub.

You don't know better until you've learned. And you can't learn until you go through the experience of making the "wrong" choices. As Tom Bodett famously said, in school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson.

Is this fair? Probably not.

But, all of our complaining, resisting and protesting won't change the rules. It's like being unhappy about the weather - shake your fist at the sky all you like, if it's gonna rain, it's gonna rain, and the clouds don't care one bit that you just had your car washed.

So, it seems to me that the wisest course of action is to learn as much as we can from the problems in our lives, whether they are created by our own thoughts and actions, or they just seem to happen to us. Take what's valuable from our experiences and leave the rest behind.

Maybe we learn that our unkind words cause serious rifts in our personal relationships and, as a result, become more careful about the words and tones of voice we use to express ourselves. Or we learn that letting our taste buds dictate our diets leads us into obesity and disease. If we have a physical or mental affliction that makes life more difficult for us than for the average person, perhaps we become more sensitive to the plight of others, leading to a more compassionate and helpful outlook.

There are as many problems as there are people in the world, and I wouldn't dream of thinking that I know the best way for anyone to navigate the treacherous seas of life.  I do know that we can make the best, or the worst, of the circumstances we encounter. We can choose to make the same mistakes over and over.  We can choose to live with anger and regret about our life circumstances.

I'd rather make the best of things. And that includes giving my problems the chance to teach me something.

Besides, can you imagine the complete boredom of a life with no problems? Picture getting everything you want, when you want it and how you want it. There's an old Twilight Zone episode about that very topic, you may want to check it out sometime. Maybe even right now:

With love,

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