When life hits hard, challenge your challenges

lifeYou’re on the bumper of the guy in front of you, frustrated beyond belief that there’s traffic for some reason today, when you need to make an important meeting. As you’re pulling into the parking lot late, it starts to rain. You try sprinting to the door, but slip and hurt your ankle. After a second to collect yourself, you think, ‘why is everything going wrong today?’

After taking a step back, many realize how often these situations happen; everything seems to crash down all at once, usually at the most inopportune times. Your kid gets sick, work gets busy, and you and your spouse have been having martial disputes. Why don’t these life challenges sometimes feel more spaced out? I looked to physics for an answer to this question. Murphy’s Law simply states that anything that can go wrong will. Feels familiar, doesn’t it?

I went searching for this answer after going through an impossibly hard month. On my way to a work meeting, I was in an accident and totaled my vehicle. It was the first car accident I had ever been in, and I was devastated. To my complete and utter shock, not even two weeks later, I was hit in a rotary while borrowing my parents’ car. A couple of days later, I came down with a cold that seemed to hang on forever. That same week, the kitchen sink broke and I could be seen washing dishes in my bathtub. The next week, I faced stolen packages from the stoop of my apartment. When the month was nearing its end, I felt relieved; did this mean my bad luck streak was finally going to be over too?

On the very last day of the month, one last challenge slipped in; I was awakened to my cat eating rat poison! After a long and expensive trip to the ER, I can finally say that it’s all over. The month has finally ended and there were no casualties (much to my surprise).

So what can you do to counteract Murphy’s Law? Unfortunately, not much. Try to refrain from this pessimistic way of thinking whenever you can, and instead, take responsibility for your life and the circumstances that you can control. The more you feel that you are steering your life rather than having life happen to you, the better. Secondly, expect the unexpected. Life rarely happens how you think it will, even when you’ve taken the same route to a work meeting a hundred times. Take a deep breath and realize that that uncertainty is okay; it’s up to you to react to it the best way you can. Lastly, try to find any good that you can in challenging incidents. Your kid gets sick – it could have been something much worse; work is busy – at least you have a job; you’re fighting with your spouse – maybe you’ll be closer after working through these issues.

The better you become at letting unexpected events roll off your back, the easier you will find your day to day. Ask yourself, will this matter in five years?

Most of the time the answer is no. It’s easy to get distracted and brought down by a million little things that can go wrong, but when you stop to think about it, what really matters? Very little actually; security, health, love, happiness… and will any of those be permanently affected by a minor car accident, or a plumbing issue? The answer’s probably not… so why are you still wasting your precious energy on it?

These are questions that I, too, have to continually ask myself. Challenge your challenges.

Erin Edgecomb is our guest blogger. Erin is a young adult and a member of PPAL

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4 thoughts on “When life hits hard, challenge your challenges

  1. I agree. The only power I have to to act as opposed to react. this takes a great deal of practice. Fortunately, we will all have the opportunity to do this as life will provide challenges. Some will be major and other minor. I have found it is helpful to repeat the mantra’s given like, ” This too shall pass.” and “what can I learn from this experience.”
    Finding friends who will empathize and stand with you in your funk is helpful as well. Not the well meaning but misguided ones that minimize your experience, rather the ones that say, “yes, that sucks, let’s go out to eat!”
    The difference between an event and a crisis can be our attitude.

  2. As an adoptive mom to two girls, life sometimes occurs as a string of these months rather than just one month here and there. I teach at university, and I had my grad students read Michael Jensen and Werner Erhard’s “The Four Ways of Being that Create the Foundation for Great Leadership, a Great Organization, and a Great Personal Life.” Foundation #2 is “Being Cause in the Matter,” which I quote here, and this is what keeps me going:

    By “Being Cause in the Matter” we mean being cause in the matter of everything in your life as a stand you take for yourself and life, and acting from that stand. To take the stand that you are cause in the matter contrasts with it being your fault, or that you failed, or that you are to blame, or even that you did it.
    It is not true that you are the cause of everything in your life. That you are the cause of everything in your life is a place to stand from which to view and deal with life, a place that exists solely as a matter of your choice. The stand that one is cause in the matter is a declaration, not an assertion of fact. It simply says: “You can count on me (and, I can count on me) to look at and deal with life from the perspective of my being cause in the matter.”
    When you have taken the stand (declared) that you are cause in the matter of your life, it means that you give up the right to assign cause to the circumstances or to others. That is you give up the right to be a victim. At the same time, taking this stand does not prevent you from holding others responsible.
    As we said, it is not true that you are the cause of everything in your life. Being cause in the matter does not mean that you are taking on the burden of or being blamed for or praised for anything in the matter. And, taking the stand that you are cause in the matter does not mean that you won’t fail.
    However, when you have mastered this aspect of the foundation required for being a leader and exercising leadership effectively, you will experience a state change in effectiveness and power in dealing with the challenges of leadership and living a great personal life (not to mention the challenges of creating a great organization).
    In taking the stand that you are the cause of everything in your life, you give up the right to blame others or the environment. In fact, you give up the right to blame the circumstances for anything that is going on with you or your organization.

  3. Although theoretical physicists are still debating Murphy’s data, one theory is that bad events are linked by quantum stress, which might be a form of the “dark energy” that might be driving the accelerating expansion of the universe. In this theory “stress bozons” describe waves of misfortune that are charged to attract adverse events but at the same time repel supportive humans. As observed, stress bozons may have a half-life of 1.5 events (“bad things come in threes”) but other estimates range up to a two year half-life. A large body of anecdotal data suggests that stress bozons colliding with positive supportrons or pay-forward waves decay rapidly, emitting energy in the life-strength-compassion wavelengths. Job’s postulate argues that bozons can accumulate into stressoid objects of observable negative charge, but that these may be encapsulated by prayer, supportive friends, and good deeds. The contained stressoid object eventually implodes and could be experimentally observed by psychic scars and unusual concentrations of positive life-strength.

    Research is constrained by ethical issues, but retrospective studies indicate that you might as well hang in there.

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