We all face different kinds of problems and trials. The solution only depends on how we handle those life’s hardships.
Let me share to you one of the most treasured articles in which I caught my favorite motto.
If I were asked to give what I consider the single most useful bit of advice for all humanity, it would be this: Expect trouble as an inevitable part of life and, when it comes, hold your head high, look it squarely in the eye and say, “I will be bigger than you. You cannot defeat me.” Then repeat to yourself the most comforting of all words, “This too shall pass.”
To forgive oneself in the face of a devastating experience is perhaps the most difficult of life’s challenges. Most of us find it much easier to forgive others. I’ve received letters brimming with self-recrimination – letters that prove no punishment is so painful as the self-inflicted kind.
It was my high-school English teacher who taught me the the futility of rehashing the past. One day, as the students filed into her classroom, we noticed on her desk a quart bottle of milk standing in a heavy stone crock.
“This morning,” she announced, “I am going to teach you a lesson that has nothing to do with English, but it has a lot to do with life.” She picked up the bottle of milk and crashed it against the inside if the stone crock. “The lesson is,” she said, “don’t cry over spilled milk.”
Then she invited us to look at the wreckage.
“I want all of you to remember this,” she said. “Would any of you attempt to restore the bottle to its original form? Does it do any good to wish the bottle had not been broken? Look at this mess! You can moan about it forever, but it won’t put the bottle back together again. Remember this broken bottle of milk when something happens in your life that nothing can undo.”
I’ve reminded myself of that broken bottle of milk in the stone crock time and again. It has helped me remain steady and calm, as well as physically sound. Our bodies take a beating when we put ourselves through an emotional wringer. To try to undo what has been done or agonize about opportunities missed is not only foolish, it’s futile.
In many instances, we can’t control what happens to us, but we can control our reactions to what happens to us. We can stay down for the count and be carried out of the ring, or we can pull ourselves back to our feet. If we are victimized by others, we must refuse to give them the power to break our spirit, make us physically ill, perhaps even shorten our lives. Most doctors will tell you that worry, anxiety, tension, and anger can make you sicker than a virus.
The expression “nervous breakdown” suggests that nerves have broken down, but organically, the nerves are healthy. The problem is purely emotional.
When you find that someone has “done you wrong”, refuse to allow yourself to be consumed with hatred or bitterness. Hatred is like an acid. It can do more damage to the container in which it is stored than to the object on which it is poured.
Even though we may lead the good life and fight the good fight, we are sometimes ripped up not by others but by the mere process of living. Call it bad luck, fate, whatever you choose – some troubles are beyond human control. How do you handle them?
I believe in blind faith. I have known people who have suffered deep personal tragedies, and this faith has helped them. But I also believe in the efficacy of positive action to overcome grief. Time is a healer, but those who help time by using it wisely and well make a more rapid adjustment.
Grief, in part, is self-pity turned inside-out. The widow who wails, “He was everything to me. How can I go without him?” is crying for herself, not for him. The mourner to refuses to let go of his grief eventually isolates himself from his friends. The world may stop for a few hours, or perhaps a few days, to hold a hand or to wipe away a tear, but friends and relative have problems of their own. Life goes on – and those who refuse to go on with it are left alone to wallow in their misery.
The best prescription for a broken heart is activity. I don’t mean plunging into a social whirl or running off on trips. Too many people who try to escape by doing just that succeed only in taking their troubles with them. The most useful kind of activity involves doing something to help others. I have told thousands of despondent people, “Enough of this breast-beating. No matter how bad things are with you, there is someone who is worse off – and you can help him.”
No one knows why life must be so punishing to some of God’s finest creatures. Perhaps it is true that everything has a price and we must sacrifice something precious to gain something else. The poets and philosophers say adversity, sorrow, and pain give our lives an added dimension. Those who suffer deeply touch life at every point; they drain the cup to the dregs while others sip only the bubbles on top. Perhaps, no man can touch the stars unless he has known the depths of despair – and fought his way back.