Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting a bull not to attack because you are a vegetarian.
Dear Life: I have a grasp on the fact that you are not fair. So please stop teaching me that lesson!
Hal Urban, in his great book, Life’s Greatest Lessons, writes: Life doesn’t always work the way we would like it to. If we had our way, it would be easier, consistently fair, and more fun. There’d be no pain and suffering, we wouldn’t have to work and we wouldn’t have to die. We’d be happy all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t get our way. We get reality instead. But reality is a great teacher. It helps us learn, although often slowly and painfully, some of life’s most valuable lessons. One of them is this: The world will not devote itself to making us happy.
A railroad engineer wakes up one morning on the wrong side of the bed. Because his alarm didn’t go off, he’s almost an hour late. He can’t shave because the water heater burst in the night. Breakfast had to be a glass of water because none of his appliances were working due to a power outing. He can’t get his car started. The cabbie who drives him to the railyard overcharges him by five dollars. He gets into the cabin of the train and manages to start it up, but just as the wheels start to turn, he sees another train on the same track, heading at him at ninety miles an hour. He turns to the fireman, shakes his head, and says, “Did you ever have one of those days?
Have you ever had one of those days? In a Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown states, “Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, 'Why me?' Then a voice answers, “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.” It is critical we develop the right perspective on having occasional bad days. So far, you have survived 100% of your worst days. And it’s just a bad day. Not a bad life.
The world will not devote itself to making us happy.
Ann Landers states: Trouble is not a sign of inadequacy, stupidity or inferiority, but rather an inescapable part of life-proof that you are a card carrying member of the human race. Harold Kushner adds, “There are no exceptions for nice people.”
It seems there was an old farmer who had suffered through a lifetime of troubles and afflictions that would have leveled an ordinary mortal. “How have you managed to keep so happy and serene?” asked a friend. “It ain’t hard.” replied the old fellow with a twinkle in his eye. “I’ve just leaned to co-operate with the inevitable.”
M. Scott Peck states in his book, The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.” He goes on to say, “Most do not fully see the truth that life is difficult. Instead they moan more or less incessantly about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and the difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy." Sydney Harris writes: “Whenever I hear someone say, 'Life is hard,' I am always tempted to ask, compared to what?” Tom Hanks, in the movie, A League of Their Own, on addressing the game of baseball, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard…is what makes it great! Life doesn’t necessarily get easier, you just get stronger."
So far, you have survived 100% of your worst days.
Life can also be good. William Lyon Phelps states, “One appreciates that life is really good when one wakes from a horrible dream or when one takes their first outing after a sickness.” It is critical to develop the proper perspective on life and what it deals us. While a steady rain can be a welcome sight for a farmer, it can make an evening at at a baseball miserable. As Dolly Parton once quoted, “The way I see it, if you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
We must understand the reality or law of cycles. Ups follow downs and downs follows ups, or vice versa. Your good times are temporary and your bad times are temporary. Life is full of twists and turns, ups and downs, and surprises. Calvin and Hobbes once said, “If good things lasted forever, would we appreciate how precious they are?” These inevitable cycles are a part of life.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to write him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. A couple of weeks later, after much thought and contemplation, they presented him with a ring with the following phrase inscribed on it, the words: "This, too, shall pass!” One of my favorite Aunt Jean’s expressions was, “I’m looking forward to looking back on this.”
Things will continue to happen, that’s a certainty.
John Kehoe writes, “All incidents in our life have their purpose. Both fortune and misfortune serve us in their own way. We often do not understand at the time why certain events are happening to us, but everything plays a part in the formation of our character and fate. One can find wisdom and lessons in the most unusual places, and destiny is always at work, even in the most casual of encounters.”
Hal Urban writes: “The problem with too many people, regardless of age, is that they don’t understand or don’t accept the fact that life involves a certain amount of hardship. They fight against it instead of adjusting to it. They talk as if their difficulties are unique, and seem to feel that life is easier for everyone else. Complaining doesn’t make problems go away. Complaining is an attempt to unload our problems on others, a way of refusing to accept them as necessary conditions of life.”
Cherie Carter Scott in her book Life is a Game, These are the Rules states, “Our sense of fairness is the expectation of equity-the assumption that all things are equal and that justice will always prevail. Life is not, in fact, fair, and you may indeed have a more difficult life path than others around you, deserved or not.” Max Beerbohm adds, “Some people are born to lift heavy weights, some are born to juggle golden balls.”
John Maxwell writes: “Once we align our expectations, and accept the reality that life, by nature, is both predictable and challenging, we remove much of the frustration we live with day by day. In fact, we can then find satisfaction - even joy - in facing the unknown and overcoming challenge.” In the wisdom of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “If I had a formula for bypassing trouble, I would not pass it around. Trouble creates a capacity to handle it.” Things will continue to happen, that’s a certainty. Sometimes it may be to remind you of what you take for granted. Difficult times may result in helping you understand and appreciate how good life really is.
Let’s close this article with a beautiful writing by Gilda Radner. “I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity!”
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Next month: You Choose Your Attitude