Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Can't Change the Outcome, Only My Outlook

There for a moment I took hit after hit from a series of unfortunate events. It seemed that as soon as I recovered from one blow, life took another swing and once again I was knocked to my knees. Over and over again I called out to God "What is the lesson?" and of course my pleas were met with silence. So many times I needed a burning bush moment and all I heard were crickets in the midst of the silence. I was desperate for some answers because I wanted to hurry up and learn the lesson so I wouldn't keep repeating the same painful experiences. Finally while journaling one morning I had an epiphany. It seemed that all of my bad luck could be grouped into one category: lack. I never seemed to have enough of something. Whether it was money, time, energy, faith, my tank was always running on empty. That's an easy fix I reasoned, so I changed how I thought about what I had. I began to show gratitude and appreciation for what I was given even if I felt I needed more. I was confident that I had learned the lesson and then I received a one two punch that didn't knock me on my knees. Instead I landed flat on my back.
I was devastated. Shouldn't I be able to move on if I understood the problem? I was a good student, I reasoned, why couldn't I proceed to the next life lesson? Finally God spoke to me, but it wasn't the larger than life Morgan Freeman voice that I expected. It was a still small voice that sounded very much like my own. "Michelle," it whispered, "how are you reacting when you don't have enough?"
Aha! It wasn't that I didn't understand the principle of gratitude, it was that any time I was faced with a problem I would freak out. I would go into a full tailspin until I figured out a way to fix the problem. What all of those setbacks were showing me was that I needed to change my reaction to the bad event. There was nothing I could do to change the event itself because bad things happen and that's just a part of life, but I could change my reaction!
As you know, I am a teacher, so I feel compelled to teach those things that I have learned. I'm by no means declaring that I've learned all of life's lessons, but I have learned this one and I want to make sure you learn it too. Here's the lesson: There is nothing you can do to change a bad event in your life, but you can change how you react to it. If someone cuts you off in traffic, smile. If your pay check is too small, smile. If your lover leaves you, smile. If you burn dinner, smile. It's all good so count it all  joy.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Yes. Smile. Great lesson.
    Thank you Dr. Thompson.