Some good friends and I recently shared our best and worst stuff from 2012. It was poignantly painful and pleasing watching the Scales of Life balance out all the good and the bad sh*t that had come our way.
There was no-one who hadn’t had good stuff: some were Champagne-worthy, fabulous successes, others were wondrously light, little daily blessings – always there but easy to ignore. There was no-one who hadn’t had bad stuff: some were small and irking, others were huge, heavy and devastating.
If there’s a man who knew about bad stuff then it was Victor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor. He said “If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.” Of course, the truly cool thing about this man and his story isn’t the fact that he survived those horrendous circumstances but that he continued to see the beauty and meaning in life. And if that’s not enough – he felt and rose to a responsibility to help others learn and take inspiration from his experiences. He developed Logotherapy, a meaning-centered psychotherapy which propounds the idea that we can choose the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.
Frankl also said “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances”.
If he can then we so can.
So, we may as well expect some bad stuff but know that we can choose to look for the lesson in it and we can choose how we react to it. We can choose not to let it flatten and defeat us, we can choose to fight it and learn a ton of useful and meaningful stuff from that fight. I can’t say this any more eloquently than the man who wrote an entire book about green eggs and ham: “I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead, others come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see. Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me.”
I have my own bat – yeah, it’s a metaphorical one but it’s vintage willow and is hand-painted with flowers, little rabbits and birds. Don’t get me wrong, it might look all delicate and pretty but it was wittled by the bad stuff life’s chucked its way and it’s ready to knock the total sh*t out of the next batch. Until then, I’ll keep counting my blessings that I have such a delightful and useful thing because blessing counting: frantically, furiously and frequently is how to to be sure when we look back at 2013 we’ll see that we had far more good stuff than bad.