“Life” is not a neat and tidy affair in which everything lines up according to plan. It’s more like a concatenation of chaos. Just when we think we’ve figured it out and gotten it under control, something hits us we didn’t see coming. The unplanned twists and unexpected turns are enough to send us reeling. You may ask if it’s even worth it. You may wonder if you’re better off doing next to nothing because whenever you try to accomplish something, life throws an insurmountable obstacle in your path. So are there ways to deal with the innumerable and unpredicted twists and turns dished out by this thing called LIFE? Fortunately for us all, there are.
While I could not possibly tell you everything there is to know about life (that would be something), I can give you some practical tips and recommendations:
If you think you can tackle everything on your own, you are mistaken. One person against seven billion is not very good odds. Hopefully you have at least a few trustworthy friends and family members to lean on. Sometimes life hits us with something truly unbearable. That is when we need our friends and family more than ever. If you feel you don’t have any reliable friends or family, seek help with a pastor, teacher, counselor or coworker. Even your boss may be more helpful than you previously thought.
We all need teammates. You need them and they need you. Life is a group effort. Never forget that.
Life is a Game
Life can get extremely “serious”. But that doesn’t mean that you must be serious all the time. The more you approach life as a GAME, the better off you’re likely to be. In a game, you have a goal or objective. You have rules or barriers. You have freedoms. You have a playing field. And as mentioned above, you have teammates. When people play the game called life, they all too often start treating their teammates as adversaries. They do this unconsciously. If you step outside the situation for a moment and see this happening with yourself or others, remind all concerned that you are all on the same team. The game of life is one of mutual cooperation, prosperity and happiness. The game is NOT to “get each other!”
Simply approaching life as a game and re-directing one’s attention and others’ upon the intended destination helps one and all weather the inevitable storms encountered along the way.
The Way Through is the Way Out
Poets and philosophers have offered up different versions of this statement. The basic idea is that running and hiding from a problem, pretending it doesn’t exist, hoping someone else will take care of it, etc. will never truly solve a problem. The answer then is to really look at it and take action. The first step – really looking at it – is more important than you may realize. When you truly confront something, you have taken a massive stride toward its resolution.
Another important point to know is that the way through or the way out is very often going to be the most simple and the most direct. Having financial trouble? You’d better cut wasteful spending and work out how to make more money. Trouble with the spouse or partner? Have you sat down and honestly talked about it? Feel guilty about something? Have you come clean with the person involved? Some of these points are not particularly palatable. Well, life is not always palatable. But here’s another tip: The little victories add up. Start by tackling one thing, however small. Then move on to the next thing. You may find yourself emerging on the other side, stronger and more confident than ever before.
A common symptom in life could be summed up in one word: DISPERSAL. By this I mean going off in multiple directions simultaneously. Specifically, starting one task, not finishing it, starting another one, not finishing that either, and so on. The results of this are disastrous. For a business, a mountain of undelivered orders could spell the end of that business. Some people are very good at multitasking, but that means they COMPLETE what they start. Their rate of starting and completing is faster than the average.
Do this: List out all your incomplete tasks, large and small. Start with the priorities, like paying the rent and the power bill. Then start getting each DONE one at a time and work down your list. You’re likely to see a reduction in the unexpected twists and turns, as well as experience some welcomed relief.
What role does creativity play in problem-solving and weathering unpredicted problems and disasters? Quite a bit it turns out. I mentioned earlier taking the simple and direct approach, and this holds true. But take the example of “not enough money” or “no money” and the solution being “make more money!” That is simple and direct, but it will likely take some ingenuity and creativity in order to accomplish that. There are a lot of articles and books out there about making more money, and I’m not talking about all the “get rich quick” schemes. Another effective approach is networking. Talk to people. Find out what they are doing that works. Keep your eyes and ears open. If you see someone that is obviously successful, ask them how they did it. If you stay perceptive and inquisitive, you’ll likely stumble on something that you can adapt to your expertise, or come up with a brand new idea.
That word, creativity, applies to any facet of life. Ever notice how some people seem to imbue life into anything they do? They walk into a dark room at it automatically brightens up. There is no reason that can’t be you. Attitude is important. When you get up in the morning to face the day, do you assume it will be a rough, arduous day? Or do you decide that it will be – or even better, already is – a great day, one filled with creativity and promise? Creativity is an attitude as well as a continuous and animated series of actions.
Ability to Change
One reason, primary in nature, that people have trouble coping with the unexpected is the inability – or more properly, unwillingness – to change. We get set in our ways. We are apprehensive about change, and this is understandable. But we must be able to adapt and accept change if we are to move forward. Embracing change is a balancing act between staying true to your beliefs and values while being receptive to unexpected events and new ideas. If you can get over your initial shock at an unplanned and inconvenient event, you may be able to turn it toward your advantage. Today’s disadvantage can often be turned into tomorrow’s prosperity.
What Not to Do
When faced with adversity, many ill-advised people resort to drugs. Seeing no other solution, they use drugs to “solve” their problems, “take the edge off” or make themselves numb. Drugs smother real emotions and create a false sense of euphoria. The drugs wear off and the problem is still there, only it is now worse when combined with the depression of the drug “come down” and other factors (such as addiction).
People become slaves to drugs. But you don’t have to be an outright addict to let drugs ruin your life. Insidiously or shockingly, drugs take away vitality, creativity and ambition. Many a drug user (deep down, despite what they might say) would much rather have real solutions to their difficulties – solutions which do not entangle them in the web of deceit and pain wrought by drug and alcohol abuse.
Real solutions do exist. Even just talking about a situation with a friend or family member is a form of therapy, one which can help bring solutions to light where previously none were in sight. Having a solution-oriented frame of mind goes a long way, and often the answers were right there in front of you all along. You just needed to take a look.
Past, Present, & Future
Coping with life’s curve balls can be taxing indeed. But when we successfully cope with them, we emerge stronger. Instead of dwelling on the past, being stuck in the present and worrying about the future, work on learning from the past, acting in the present and building a future. The future is limitless. Keep that in mind the next time you’re hit with a sudden turn in the road. Over to you!