If you’ve been reading my posts for a while you may think you know where I’m going with this title. Perhaps you believe I’m going to ask you to embrace the ‘good things’ and release the ‘bad things’ in your life.
Nope, not this time.
Instead, I’d like to make a case for something else.
I’d like to suggest that we find ways to learn from both the good things and bad things in our lives. I believe we’d be best served by looking for the enormous values inherent in each, far beyond what we might imagine exists.
But first, a few thoughts about the usage of the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’. I think they’re problematic, mostly because they depend on the situation.
For example, salt. For some situations it is an absolute necessity, while in others it contributes to high blood pressure, which can in excess, be fatal. And what about water or fire. Both good and bad.
I think the concept extends to other areas as well. Compassion, when given, offers support, hope and love. When compassion turns to enabling it can hurt the giver and receiver and make the situation even worse.
So, maybe it’s best to accept that it is our choice how we interpret good and bad that sets the stage and realize that it is more about what happens next, once we’ve decided which category something falls into.
I’d like to ask you to do something. Grab a piece of paper and pen then sit quietly and allow your mind to drift a little and see what comes to you when you ask yourself to name one good thing and one bad thing from your life. It can be something that just happened or something that stands out from some other time in your life.
I’ll pause while you consider.
Okay, hopefully you’ve decided.
Here’s what comes next.
Write down what you chose for a good thing, skip a few lines and write down what you choose for a bad thing. Then, choose one to focus on first.
Let’s say you picked the bad thing. In the space you left open, write down your reasons for why you chose to view it as a bad thing. Now, look deeper into it and see if any good also came out of it. Then, repeat the process with the good thing.
I’ll share my example to help illustrate.
My car heater fan stopped working one day this week. Here’s why this seemed like a bad thing. It’s January in the northeast US and very cold to drive without heat in your car. Also, it’s inconvenient to get my car to the shop since I still have places I need to go. There’s also the matter of the potential expense.
What I ended up writing down after considering what took place is this; my wife and I were able to fairly easily work around the inconvenience, the heater fan actually began working again (still took it in to have it checked out) and the cost for repairs was only $46.56. Plus, my mechanic was able to thoroughly check out my elderly car and tell me I could keep it for several more years without concern (which is great news for me- I don’t have to buy a new car!)
It turns out that examining the actual outcomes presents a much clearer picture of reality than paying attention only to my initial fears.
For my good thing, here’s what happened.
I received some very positive feedback on my book, talking with (god) which I really enjoyed. After glowing for a while, I realized that I haven’t actively pursued my marketing plan to share the book with the world. This made me sad and a little frustrated with myself.
These bad feelings inspired me to think deeper, to brainstorm directions I could take and eventually to decide that what I really want to do is to donate copies to places where folks really need a sense of love and hope (prisons, half-way houses, domestic abuse centers, shelters, hospitals).
Allowing yourself to look beyond your initial concerns and fears and view each situation from different directions may provide you with wonderful new insights. I hope it does.
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