In my last column, I narrated the tale of “Good Thing, Bad Thing, Who Knows?”
My coaching clients and alumni of my course remember this as one of the most useful lessons they learned from me.
Suffering does not begin when an event occurs. Suffering begins the instant you label that event ‘bad thing’.
Let’s say you get fired with no notice. You now have a lot of spare time. And maybe you never liked your job much anyway. It is an event.
But your mental chatter takes you places. “How will I make my mortgage payments? My kid’s college tuition is due next month. What will my partner think of me? Will I be evicted? This is BAD!”
And the moment you decide that your being fired is ‘bad’, your suffering begins.
As I pointed out in my blog, you can sidestep this by not labeling any event as a ‘bad thing.’ Ask yourself if there is any possible way in which this event could, after a few years, turn out to be a ‘good thing.’
And if you then ask yourself the next question, “What can I proactively do to make this a ‘good thing’ and can I start doing this right away?”, you will move seamlessly from the realm of despair to the realm of possibility.
This is how you become super-resilient. You never have to bounce back from adversity because you never define anything that happens to you as ‘adversity.’
Now, let’s talk about the other side.
Have you ever had a ‘good thing’ happen to you that, later, turned out to be not so good?
I remember a group of MBA students who got handsome offers from a prestigious company at the leading edge of technology in several different areas. And they got signing bonuses.
They went off on a lavish, no expense spared, vacation to celebrate.
By the time they returned, Enron had imploded. Their offers vanished. The signing bonuses did not materialize. Placement season was over and there were no more companies coming to campus to recruit. And their credit card bills, with their vacation charges, would begin to appear shortly.
There is a lesson here as well.
When something ‘good’ happens in your life, do not be exultant. Don’t start thinking about the ways in which this ‘good thing’ could eventually become a ‘bad thing.’ But do temper your rejoicing. Be pleased but not exuberant.
Use this event as a trigger to be grateful. As I explain in my blog here you should be grateful. Not grateful ‘for’ something.