On Handling Shit

Let’s say a steaming pile of shit shows up in my life.

If I allow circumstances to drive my life, I may conclude: ‘my life is a steaming pile of shit’, and my conclusion (neither right nor wrong, but merely one perspective) will dictate my next steps. I may feel resigned, like a ‘victim of circumstance’. I may wallow in my feelings. I may seek to accrue sympathy from others… perhaps by fishing for compliments, like sighing heavily within earshot of others, or just putting myself down in front of others. Social media is a GREAT way to accrue sympathy from others… just post a woe-is-me to Facebook and watch the sympathy roll in!

If I allow my goals to drive my thoughts, words and actions, the pile of shit is merely an obstacle to my goals, and I will have my goals shape my next steps. “What do I need to do to get past this pile of shit to where I want to be?”

Neither of these two perspectives is more right or wrong than the other, though one is more useful.

Living life in a goal driven manner—rather than driven by circumstance— is not intuitive, and it can be incredibly scary and tough. Getting through shit can be immensely difficult; otherwise we wouldn’t call it that. But it can also be immensely rewarding: we replace a feeling of helplessness with the more useful feeling of control, we learn a lot about ourselves, we become stronger, more compassionate people through hard work, and we increase the likelihood that we will achieve our goals.

The perspectives we adopt are our choice, and which ones we adopt impact our lives tremendously. But because there is no manual for life, most of us never even realize we have made a choice, or even that there are any alternatives. Without realizing there is an alternative, we are not even aware that our actions are the result of a perspective we have adopted; unaware of our choice, we are asleep to what we do. Once we become aware that we have a choice, we must then face the next question: which kind of person do I want to be? One who passively lets circumstance drive my life? Or one who actively drives my life towards my goals?

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