The Meaning We Give Our Lives

airports challenges Dec 29, 2014

The meaning we give events in our lives

You're traveling on a long trip and wake up from a nap in the airport, only to find your one pair of glasses broken in half.

This just happened to me.
How do you react? What meaning do you give that event?

There is no good or bad, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.

And that choice, that meaning you choose to give that thing in that moment, whether it’s waking up to broken glasses, or winning the lottery, is so important as your next thought feeds on the previous thought, and so on.

Here were my options when I saw the broken glasses:

Option 1: Oh, that is horrible! See nothing is going right for me! What am I going to do? I can’t afford to get these fixed and that's just another problem I don’t need! Why do bad things always happen to me?

Option 2: Wow! Look at that my glasses broke into two pieces. Wonder how that happened? Ok, so let’s think of a creative way to temporarily fix them until I can get a new pair....ok...what do I have in my bag that might help? And what is also amazing is that I’ve had these glasses for almost 5 years now and this is the very first thing that has happened! That’s amazing and I’m so grateful for how they help me see this amazing and beautiful world we live in!

Option 1 plants that seed into my day that is negative, that “why me” or “poor pitiful me” mentally. My mind will be focusing on the negative, and whatever our mind focuses on we end up seeing more of it. It would also affect how I react with every person I interact with throughout my day and nobody wants to be around someone who is negative.

Option 2 put me into a creative and grateful state where I was able to come up with a temporary solution, while also thinking about how grateful I am that I even have the gift of sight. And set my day up for one of gratitude and being mindful as to just how grateful I am for even the simplest of things in my life. (Pardon the pun) Option 2 sets me up for seeing everything around me in a much more positive light!

The Stoics were the first to really write about these ideas, and in my wanting to learn more about their ideas, I just finished reading “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphby Ryan Holiday. This short section speaks to exactly what I went thru today with my broken glasses:

So how will you react next time you face an obstacle or situation that so many would choose to see as negative? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

You will come across obstacles in life— fair and unfair. And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure. You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming— or possibly thriving because of— them. Where one person sees a crisis, another can see opportunity. You must realize: Nothing makes us feel this way; we choose to give in to such feelings.

Lastly... I came up with a creative solution until I can get a new pair of glasses...nothing a little strip of black duct tape can’t fix! I know it’s not a fashion statement, but it continues to allow me to see this beautiful and amazing world in which we all live.

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