Making the Best of a Bad Situation

Friday was my last day of work before being laid off and many people wished me the best of luck in my future.  With all of the well wishes, I began to wonder how much “luck” influences a successful future.

"My Destiny" by kh2rac @ FlickrThere is no doubt that there have been many people who have been in the right place at the right time and found themselves in a lucky situation.  There are people who win the lottery.  At times I have felt that luck was responsible for what had happened to me.  I found $10 on the ground and felt lucky, but was it really luck that was responsible?

People feel as though their lives are guided by destiny and have a predetermined course of events which is beyond their control.  To a certain degree I agree that people have a destiny in life, but I do not think it is a predetermined nor beyond our control.  Each choice we make in life is like choosing a direction.  By making a choice you have eliminated the alternative.

That isn’t to say that if the decision that was made was not the best choice that we are unable to change our course.  Oftentimes the best way for a person to learn is from their mistakes.  By making mistakes we are able to understand what works and what doesn’t, what is right and what is wrong.  It is better to take chances and make mistakes than it is to live life cautiously and never take a chance at all.

There are times in life when fate seems to take control.  Something happens in our lives that was just meant to happen.  After a long history of bad relationships, a chance encounter with a nice young lady turns into a lifelong love story.  A person who has a constant run of bad luck may accept that this is their fate.  Fate is something that I do not believe in.  Things happen to people, some good and others bad, but it does not mean it is fate and it does not mean that you can’t change it.  If you feel as though you never catch a break in life it isn’t because of fate, it is a result of how you chose to live your life.  Any number of things control our fate and they are all things we have the power to change; attitude, fear, motivation, desire, ability.

Ninety percent of the world population practice some form of religion.  They feel as though God (Buddha, Allah, Jehovah) control their lives and what happens to them is of a divine origin.  I will not contest the theology of billions of people, however I am reminded of a story about a man who lived by a river:

A man heard a radio report that the river was going to rush up and flood the town.  The radio report suggested that all the residents of the community evacuate their homes. Instead of leaving his home, the man said, ‘I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.’

The waters rose up. A guy in a row boat came along and he shouted, ‘Hey, hey you! You in there. The town is flooding. Let me take you to safety.’ But the man shouted back, ‘I’m religious. I pray. God loves me. God will save me.’

A helicopter was hovering overhead. And a guy with a megaphone shouted, ‘Hey you, you down there. The town is flooding. Let me drop this ladder and I’ll take you to safety.’ But the man shouted back that he was religious, that he prayed, that God loved him and that God will take him to safety.

Well… the man drowned. And standing at the gates of St. Peter, he demanded an audience with God. ‘Lord,’ he said, ‘I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?’

God said, ‘I sent you a radio report, a helicopter, and a guy in a rowboat. What the hell are you doing here?

Destiny, Fate and God all seem like good options for excusing our situations in life but by doing this we are only limiting our possibility.  If we don’t take matters into our own hands and do everything we can to make our lives the way we want them to be, things will never change or get better.  There will always be exceptions to the rules, those who will get lucky, but why should you rely on luck when you already have the ability to change your life?

There are plenty of people who feel as though life has dealt them a bad hand.  If you are one of these people, it is time to change the way you think.  Stop focusing on the negativity of the past.  Instead, focus on the opportunity of the future.  You can change your life, you can improve your life, you can be a success.

There may be people, places and things in life that are restricting your potential.  Don’t blame others for where you are in life.  It is easy for us to blame these outside influences but it doesn’t help fix anything.  By blaming our problems on anything other than ourselves we are only further perpetuating our circumstances.

Luck isn’t something we need in order to have a successful future.  What we do need is the determination to change our situations, the ability to overcome our fears and the opportunity to break free of what is restraining our potential.  All of this falls squarely in our hands and we are responsible for improving our lives.  That isn’t luck.

2 thoughts on “Making the Best of a Bad Situation

  1. Wow… lots of good conversation starters here Steven… I don’t know where to begin…

    There was a football coach where I went to college that said we create our own luck. This was very true in the context of the game… a game that I think has many parallels with life so I’m comfortable with that idea.

    We’ve heard stories about the “overnight success” that had actually quietly dedicated himself to his craft for many years… he created his own luck.

    I share a religious faith with the river dweller in your article… but again, faith requires action as much as, at other time, inaction. If I am to beleive in something I must prepare for it and also be able to recognize it when it comes.

    In the context of a job loss or layoff or buyout… this starts to take on a very specific personality. Some of this I’ve written about because I accepted a buyout not too long ago and am still navigating the job search.

    I intent to write further about the faith and luck creation aspects of my own experience when the time is right. I find the parallels with your situation and even this choice of topic to be ironic…. or was it planned… hmm

    Hey, if you want to talk about your situation relative to my experience I’d be willing to lend and ear. You may be glad, sad, mad… all are valid. I’m available friend.

    Thanks for the great post!

  2. Thanks Dave! I feel like this is one of my better posts, one that really gets deep into the heart of our personal beliefs. I enjoy writing about topics that challenge people’s system of belief, whether it is fate, destiny or religion.

    I really believe we have an internal locus of control and it is because of this that I feel that we have the power to make life as we chose. Things work out how they will based on the choices we make or don’t make.

    You nailed it when you said that if you are to believe in something you need to prepare and recognize it when it comes. There are many people who are just like the man on the river, hoping and praying but not acting. If it is God that we believe in, then we must be aware of how God is presenting opportunities for us to capitalize on. Even that requires our action. Even if we are putting our faith in a higher power, we still need to do the legwork.

    Thanks for the comment, I’m glad you enjoyed this! I enjoyed writing it and hope to write more like it in the future. It is fun to think on a deeper level once in a while and open the door to conversation about values people hold near to their hearts.

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